Monthly Archives: April 2018

…a few thoughts on reviews… one of the most valuable commodities for Authors…

…I’m appalled to learn from news snippets on the Web recently that the pernicious practice of false reviews being purchased on Amazon is rife… as a scribbler myself, I consider each and every review that any of my WURKS attract is a a precious commodity…

…since first dipping my authorly toe into the swirling maelstrom that is the Auntie Amazon Kindle universe ten years ago, my wee literary babies have been honoured with in excess of 500 reviews… the majority of these have been 4-star and 5-star offerings, for which, of course, I am indebted to the reviewers  for taking the time and trouble to record their opinions… but I never lose sight of the fact that they are simply that… opinions… if sumb’dy buys one of my books, then I firmly accept they are at liberty to say whatever they want, positive or negative about it…

…I recall the first time I had a negative review, with only 2 stars out of 5… the dagger to the heart felt real… however, when I checked that reviewer’s other reviews, I found he had only published one other, and given 1 star out of 5 stars for a John Grisham novel… thankfully, teaching me early in this game, to treat ALL reviews with a  pinch of salt… why?…  because I think that not too many people will be troubled to publish anything below 4 or 5 stars anyway, so the average balance in the critical mass of reviews is biased toward the positive side… also, after a while, an author’s own internal HONESTY gauge can sense when the reviews are real, which, by the way, are the only type that I wish to have… which brings me back to the dreadful trading of reviews for money… it besmirches the landscape for the vast majority of excellent writers who offer the products of their own sweat, blood, tears, and endless, sleepless nights… however, ‘fessing up, there is a pleasant frisson attached to any review which compliments my books…and I believe that the reading public are not daft… quality titles will surface regardless of the charlatans… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…the digital dumbing down of wordsmithing and numeracy… p’raps all is not yet lost…

…many of yeez of a certain age will recall the basic schooling process of the three ‘R’s Reading, (W)’Riting and (A)’Rithmetic… happily, this ol’ Scots Jurassic has always enjoyed WURDS and NUMBERS… I firmly believe that’s down to the intrigue of connectivity I found between ‘communication’ and ‘understanding’ – two quite different elements in ‘comprehension’… in primary school classes, ‘times tables’, thrust upon we infants from the age of ‘why-and a- half?’, built up an instant awareness of how numbers related to each other… the modern way of teaching children multiplication and division leaves me flabbergasted… the old adage of ‘K.I.S.S’,- ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’, seems to have been thrown into the academic garbage can… I recall from an early age having a dictionary as a constant companion, much thumbed through – always at hand when reading books…

…stories became much more vivid and alive when I knew what the nuances were… and the treasure trove that abides in any worthwhile Thesaurus is a literarist’s incredible gold mine… comes now the wave of electronic gadgetry… and the infernal scourge, textese – a condensed form of screen grunting, and a contrivance of the alphabetically-challenged  – has replaced for many the art of spelling… admittedly, I proudly hold to be an old-fashioned writer… I revel in the use of vocabulary… I still use mental arithmetic for calculations, eschewing the ‘garbage-in,-garbage-out’ handheld compoooters…


…it beggars belief to watch store checkout-till minders punching into a machine an amount of 5 to see how much is left from 10… however, amidst the digital dumbing down of wordsmithing and numeracy, p’raps all is not yet lost… properly used, the Google Beast gives instantaneous access to online lexicons… compendia of collated information, derived meanings, interpretational summaries et al, but I guess the trick is to ensure that the user has been trained in how to open the digital door to that knowledge… and hope that some of the wee grey cells in the brain still manage to function independently… oh, for a plethora of pre-Web, William Manchester-style authors to demonstrate the beauty that exists in the loquacious plying of the English Language (he of the fabulously crafted trilogy on the life of Sir Winston Churchill- ‘The Last Lion’ – read his WURKS, and be transported across a smorgasbord of written eloquence, so rarely found among modern scribbling giants)… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…aren’t top Literary Agents and Big Five Publishers imaginary species?…

…this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler has long since realized that any complaining or whining from me, about anything, seldom achieves positive results… and that fact pertains especially to my publishing aspirations… over the past ten years, I’ve experienced the sum’time exhilarating, sum’time depressing, pendulum familiar to many authors… when my first wee literary baby came hot onto Auntie Amazon Kindle, I savoured the high that came with a successful first book sales volume… that tome reached #3 on Amazon (all titles) at the time… subsequent titles were equally well received… from a novice self-publisher, I graduated into having an excellent, small, hybrid publisher, but amicably parted company with them after a year, as the sales were not to my expectations, dropping to levels well below those that my own marketing and promotional activities generated… in between then and now, I’ve also dabbled with a freelance agent, but equally friendly severance came after a few months… ergo, here I sit (comfortably) in the same self-publishing persona that I had when I started… my question is quite simply this (as it has been for a couple years)… aren’t top Literary Agents and Big Five Publishers imaginary species?

…I ask that in all sincerity, safe in the knowledge that my books have been downloaded on Kindle more than 100,000 times, registering me by any measure as a ‘bestseller’… so, where are the phone calls, the battering down of my front door, the pitches from the elusive top agents and international publishing houses, whom, I’m led to believe, like to have authors in their stables who produce serial titles that sell lots of books, thereby enriching their coffers as well as mine?… are there any of them lurking on Facebook? or skulking around on Twitter? or prospecting on the Blogosphere?… don’t get me wrong, I’m more than pleased with the continual offtake across my titles on a regular basis, but the dream is always there of having that big swinging hit that propels Master Gallacher (Iconic Writing Legend In His Own Lunchtime) onto the global reading market… if any of yeez are a top Agent or a Big Five Publisher, don’t be shy, I really  don’t bite… give me a call… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…manners, respect, politeness… yes, they DO exist aplenty…

…this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler is as susceptible as the next person to knee-jerk reactions to headline nonsense on the news channels, even though I watch SKYNews, coz it’s so bad it’s good, if yeez get my drift… the incendiary commentary that spews so facilely from ‘experts’ is fashioned in such a manner as to elicit emotive response from a gullible public (of which I am certainly one from time to time)… if I were dumb enuff to think that the whole WURLD is represented by the ‘truths’ disgorging from (alas) almost any of the major news disseminators, I would be a truly sorry man… happily, most of the time, I’m able to get my neck and mind above the parapet of the gutter, and to observe real people around me…

…and therein lies the proper balance… antidote to the mud-slinging politicians and self-serving spouters, antidote to the boorish personal attacks on any who disagree with their philosophies and causes… antidote to a pernicious pattern of behaviour… manners, respect, politeness… yes, they DO exist aplenty… I see and hear it daily… the baristas at my local coffee shop, always with genuine, warm smiles and greetings… taxi drivers here in the Middle East, who are happy to share a few minutes chat on the way to my various destinations… the front desk attendants in the building where I live, who have a tray of sweets on the service  counter, free to any who want them… the janitors in the various offices I go to for my day jobs, exchanging ‘Good morning, Sirs’, them to me, and me to them, in mutual respect…

…and the dross and scumbags about whom we learn too much from the headlines seem less important… because they are less important… the dignity of the human being is alive and well, and we don’t  have to search too far to find it… have a great day…. see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…the simple pleasure of chit-chat… how precious can that be?…

…there’s a certain grotesqueness in the WURLD which features daily in the newspapers and the ubiquitous 24/7 television ‘news’ channels… it would be all too easy to summarize that everything we see and hear is evidence of overwhelming evil and badness… but let’s hold on just a minute… ‘news’ outlets traditionally prosper and thrive on negativity…  ‘Bad News Sells Newspapers’… that could almost be a perennial banner headline in its own right… I don’t suggest for a nano-second that all the dreadful occurrences ar0und the globe should be ignored, and to ‘tuck our heads neatly deep into the sand, ostrich-style’… however, in an effort to retain a modicum of my own frail sanity, I am frequently given to looking for the ‘balance’… the sum’times wee things that bring a glimmer of light into an otherwise dark, gloom-threatened day… a coupla such snippets coruscated across my ken in the past day… the first started off as a possible harbinger of seismic proportion… I left my mobile phone in a taxi…

…the first time ever… the discovery that it was missing caused me much more panic than I should ever have experienced… how dependent have I become on that device, Mabel?… an hour or so afterward, the driver made sure it was back in my hands, and the relief, again, was prob’ly more than I should have registered… that the man should take time out to ‘re-mobilize’ me was a timely reminder of the good that still exists in people… the second episode involved the owner of a shop I was in…

…I’ve been in the guy’s place maybe half a dozen times over the years, but this time, he and I set to chatting about ordinary stuff… I think he enjoyed my conversation as much as I did his… more than an hour of pleasant discussion about anything and everything passed as easily as yeez like… and I left his store feeling happy…. yes, happy, to have had the chance to ease the hour away that we did, just flapping our gums… the simple pleasure of chit-chat… how precious can that be?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

… ‘the moving finger having writ, moves on…’

…they say there are lies, damn lies and statistics, Mabel… that may well be, but I couldn’t help notice this morning when I tapped into my blog pages, that it tells me I’ve posted 1,700 posts since this blog first saw the light of day back in May 31st, 2012… and seemingly it has attracted a nudge over 17,000 comments, a delightfully balanced wee bit of symmetry in that… it all started back then, when this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler was advised that since I had become ‘an Author’, I should have a blog… I thought that was a terrific idea, except, I hadn’t the faintest clue what a blog was!…  a speedy learning curve ensued, from which I’m still recovering, and presto, hey!… the blog was born… I think yeez might be tickled to see what I wrote as the maiden post… here it is, in all its historic gaucheness:

So how does this thing work, Mister…?

May 31st, 2012

…having dipped my toe in the bubbling waters of Writer-dom, the rest of my leg has suddenly been tugged under as well… I’m uncertain as to whether it’s a pleasurable, continuing excitement or p’raps the start of a niggle of fear… being the new social-media-challenged kid on the block here, I’ve been scratching around at other people’s blogs and stuff… none of your rummaging in dustbins or sneaky industrial espionage, you understand, just a peek at this fella and that gal, just trying to figure out really how it all works… results of that research, you’ll not be surprised to learn, is that I’m mostly none the wiser… I think I may have the equivalent of a black belt in ignorance… however, people who have had to suffer me in the past will tell you that being ignorant of matters has never deterred me from lunging right ahead a la Bull in the China Shopso, if you hear the metaphorical tinkling of disintegrating porcelain, send me the bill… but here’s the thing… it seems (whisper it if you must) that there’s a growing swell of opinion that ‘going the self-publishing route’ may be casting off its former stigma… shudder the thought, it might even start to become fashionable… what is clear to this neophyte at any rate, is that droves of hitherto unpublished authors now rejoice in the fact that their name is attached to the ‘published’ label… it may be that Uncle Fred and Auntie Mabel are the two sole purchasers of the masterpiece that’s taken blood, sweat, tears, and not a little psychiatric counselling to tease out, but their baby is breathing somewhere in the ether world of Kindle et al… of course, it doesn’t really matter to me if anyone downloads my book or not (who the hell am I trying to kid!!) …another flash of the blindingly obvious is that having tasted that sweet, sweet ambrosia, the hypnosis of seeing my own name on Auntie Amazon Kindle best seller lists, my approach to this whole adventure is radically changing… as sure as eggs is eggs, I’m becoming resigned to the fact that I’m now destined to spend the rest of my life trying to catch up and understand even a smidgeon of how this all works… in the meantime, my minders here at the writing asylum would like you to know that I can be visited at weekends and other days with a ‘y’ in them… bring ice cream, lots of ice cream… I’ll report back soon… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…time to spend a little timely time with my pal Author, Glen R. Stansfield…

…my great pal, and fellow scribbler, Glen R. Stansfield, he of the crime writing prowess that produced Fishing for Stones, and Harry, is also on the verge of launching a cookbook, a superb culinary compilation, Around the World in Eighty Dishes, which comprises a series of feature articles which first appeared in a local publication here in Bahrain in the Middle East… in the Guest Post below, Master Glen has a few thoughts for us on the issue of ‘time’… enjoy…

Glen R. Stansfield

Time – We all know what it is, or do we? Try to define time and you may find yourself struggling, yet it appears in our everyday conversations. Examine some of the sayings about time and you start to get an uneasy feeling that we don’t really have a grasp of it – not yet, anyway.

For instance, when we do things to save time, where are we actually putting that time we save? Is there some sort of time bank where we can keep it for a rainy day? Clearly, the phrase isn’t meant to convey that message, we are merely shortening a process to … well … spend less time doing it.

There we go again! Spending time, as though it is some sort of cosmic currency stored in the Universe equivalent of Fort Knox. On the other hand, humans are notorious for wasting time. When asked what he had done with all his money, George Best famously said, he’d spent it on drink and women – the rest he wasted. Is that what we do with time, squander it on trivialities?

Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech is trying to understand time. He points out, time has a direction, which is why we can remember the past, but not the future. But time doesn’t have a size. We might think it does because we divide our days up into little parcels. It makes it easier for us when we can point to a specific point in time and give it a name. However, time is not constant throughout the universe, or even on our own planet – something that is perhaps a little deep for a small blog post.

Coming back to humans, I think we all know people who never have enough time, for them there are just not enough of those convenient parcels in another arbitrary period. Then there are people, like Seumas Gallacher, who are able to manipulate time in such a way, they never run out of it and can achieve any amount of work in a given time period. I once worked out his timetable and came to the conclusion he has a thirty-six-hour day.

Or maybe he knows the whereabouts of the time bank and is making withdrawals. He was a banker after all, and you know what they say – time is money.

…profundity indeed, Glen… thanks for sharing… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…the beauty of the ear is in the lobe of the beholder…

…it takes a l-oooooooooo-ng time for this ol’ Scots Jurassic to adapt to new things… I didn’t start wearing long trousers until I was about 15 years old… when I acquire a new cellphone (I believe they’re called ‘mobile phones’ now), it takes an absolute age for me to understand what WURKS differently from the old one… and as for calculators, to this day, I still eschew them in favour of using my mental arithmetic skills, honed at the desks of great Scottish primary school teachers…  and I recall when I moved to Hong Kong as a fully-fledged Master of the Financial Universe in 1980, it was all of six months before I dared attempt to eat the local Chinese food (which, of course, is excellent fare, by the way)… little wonder then, that as an Author of some ten years standing now, it has taken until now to embrace the non-written version of my books… namely, Audio Books… it had been suggested several times as I created my Jack Calder crime thriller series, that the stories lent themselves easily to voice, but I resisted, more because, as with many things, I didn’t quite know where to start… comes now the magnificent Master Chris C. Hogan… he of the gravel-coated tonsils, with perfect cadence and pace… and voila, presto hey! a whole new dimension to my literary toils was born… THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, my initial tome in the series, is now live on Audible/Amazon… given the darker inflections in parts of my novels, Master Hogan’s (not-so) dulcets fit admirably into the narrative… so much so, I reckon that his voice and timbre are now integral parts of the book itself…  I would invite any of yeez with a yen for Audio to have a listen, and let us know what yeez think, before we consider plunging throat-long into the ensuing titles… the links are here… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon Australia



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