Monday, 18 May 2015

The end of the blog

4 years, and it is over

Concepts of the blog
Basic plan
 Many writers are under the idea that writing a blog will keep your face in view, and will help sell some books. For some it may work, for me it didn't.

When I started the blog, I put my books on Amazon, at the time there was no other large concern available. In the four years since then, my sales have dropped from one a month to one a quarter- if I'm lucky.

Barnes and Noble
 It is only since putting books on Draft2Digital, and selling through Barnes and Noble that the sales picked up, to the extent that even my worst month on D2D is far better than my best on Amazon.

 Anyone who knows me, will tell you I fight my demons on a daily basis, and more often than not, I lose the battle. This situation has led me to my present position. Despite being an award winnning e-book Chronicles of Mark Johnson never sold, neither did its sequel Wharfemere Finale
I enjoyed my writing experiences, and made some good friends, but over the last year I found it hard to believe in my craft. Since I wrote A Sailor's Love I haven't wrote anything worthwhile, and each day I find it harder to write. 

 My only success story, a seven book series which became so popular it sells itself I had planned an omnibus edition, but the latter stories never sold well; even though all the stories in the series out sold my Amazon best sellers.

The killing blow
 I was worried how I'd feel if ASL died a painful death, after spending 14 months writing/ living the story. As I suspected, the lack of response has killed my drive. I no longer feel I can hold the attention of the reader. On this note, I am drawing the curtain on a 50-year old dream. What will I do? I have plenty to read, but that means I cared about someone's work enough to buy their books, if only more e-books had sold I may have been able to hold my demons off longer.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Where it began: Cat Lady

Where it began: Cat Lady: A scent of Jasmin rose from the old lady in the ancient coat. On the conveyor belt beside her lay a packet of carved ham, milk, and four...

The slow month of May

What is it about May?

A coincidence, or a bad omen?

 May 2014 was the previous low point for my sales. Last year, my monthly sales fell from 15 to 7, and the scenario looks likely to repeat this year. For some reason, May is my worst month of the year, however there is one big difference; I don't think I'll recover this time. 
I want to write new stories, but I have distanced myself too far, for too long from my work, to find the power within to fuel the drive.

Broken dreams

What if?
I wonder

Award winning writer
 I have often said, three things make your name known. 
 Money - If you have the money, you can go to University, and get a degree. If you have the money, you can pay for mass publicity, and get noticed. 
 Degrees - If you get the education, and stick a BA after your name, people will assume you know what you're writing about - that does NOT make you a writer - I tried to review two works by authors with BA's, and couldn't. One was so bad the number of grammatical errors gave me a severe migraine. The other, despite being edited three times, still had basic errors in grammar. But, as the writers had degrees, people took notice. One of the Universities I am sure was a University which needed a certain % pass rate to maintain its status.
Luck - To a greater, or lesser extent, we all need a certain amount of luck to advance. One man I used to know, was put in touch with an expert in the field of Mayan studies at the time of the Mayan calendar craze. Naturally his book thrived during 2012, and did wonders for his other works.

Alan Place
 I had none of the above. Until two years ago, when I met my friend, and editor, Julia, I was forced to struggle and endure vicious put downs by a jealous person I had the misfortune to cross paths - and swords with. I have friends with degrees, and we respect each others views, the worst people are those who think they are better than you, and find out they are not, as this lady did when I beat her in a writing contest.
I do wonder what it would have been like to have had the chance to get a better education. There again, there is no use wondering what may have happened, it wasn't to be, and that is that. 

Bar fights

RAF Lossiemouth

Royal Navy Vs Royal Air Force / England Vs Scotland

Saturday nights
During my tour at RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland there were many bar fights on Saturday evenings. At one point the station commander decided to instigate a "flying picket" system. Groups of airmen would be assigned to go in to the bar, and attempt to break the fights up. I was one such airman. 

Like many other coastal stations, Lossiemouth was once a naval air base, and the conflict between the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force personnel was an open sore. Add to that there was a large contingent of English on a base in Scotland, and you have a situation as volatile as dropping a match in a barrel of kerosene. 

The weekend I was to be part of the picket squad, my sergeant told me on the Friday before. I had but one question to ask What am I armed with? 
Not fully understanding the situation he replied What do you mean, Al? You're going in as you are. This comes from the station commander.
I expanded my situation, by explaining the situation I would face. You want me to go in to a bar, with a fight between the Navy, and our guys on a Saturday night, unarmed. The only way I am going near the fight is if I have at least a pick axe handle for self-defence. You can charge me with refusing an order, but there is NO way I'm going in unarmed.

My sergeant nodded, and no more was said. The situation on Saturday's never got better during my two years, but the pickets were never sent in. Probably because my opinion was one which many men shared.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

How do you remember the day?

19 innocent lives taken

Schoolchildren's murders forgotten

 I remember the day well, the news of the massacre of 19 innocent Norwegian children shocked, not only me, but the sane world. Are these innocent lives remembered? Not outside Norway.

Amy Whinehouse
 The day is remembered as the day a two-bit junkie singer(?) committed suicide by drinking getting five time the lethal limit of alcohol. Her life is to be reviewed in a new film- she was only 23 - what life did she have? 

 What is wrong with this scenario? People will remember the saddest day in recent Norwegian history for the wrong reasons. How cares if she committed suicide? That is a life choice, she had a life, and gave it away to drugs, and booze. Who knows what the innocent children would have contributed to society? Certainly more than the screeching voice of a drug fuelled junkie.

Weekend editions

Extra reading


Al's Delights
With the continued growth of readers for my paper - now standing at 415 readers a week - I decided to extend the spread by bringing out three editions a week. Starting today, there will be a weekend edition; so, the paper now comes out on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Behind the curtain?

Patti does Germany again

Noir thrillers on the rise

Pat Canella
 I don't usually check my Amazon sales - with less than one in six weeks - I didn't see any reason to check up on them. Today, I did and got a shock; I had a sale, not in the US, or even the UK, but in Germany.

 On Draft2Digital the PI stories have had a boom in the last month. The noire style has made a comeback. I put this down to the popularity of series like The Bridge, and The Killing from Scandinavia; Spiral, and Braquo from France, and the liking for gritty drama like the stories of Harry Palmer. I have been asked why the stories are liked so well in the old Eastern Blok countries - where I have a big following - including top UK noire writer Paul D. Brasill. The answer to me is simple to understand, the people of these countries can relate better to the cold harsh realistic style of Harry Palmer, than the glamorous lifestyle of James Bond.

East or West? 
While I have a huge following in the old Russia, early sales of the Pat Canella went to a lady living outside Munich. I know this because we used to chat a few years ago. I have no idea, which side of the Iron Curtain my sale was on; all I know is it sold in Germany. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

A man of simple pleasures

Scarborough, 2010

Richard iii's house
King Richard iii
 The picture on the right is the house Richard iii stayed in during his life in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. I took the picture on my last trip to my homeland in 2010-the picture is identical to one I had on a child's viewing toy - apart from the modern cars.

Scarborough 2010
 The trip I took was to be a remembrance, and a farewell to a lovely lady I knew in Lac La Biche, Alberta. Faye died the winter before I took the trip, and I was never able to say my goodbyes to her- to this day, I feel I let her down, I wasn't there when she wanted me - nobody else feels the same way. A few years earlier I had tickets for the Scarborough jazz festival, but owing to a family row, I had to cancel the trip. After that, the desire to go grew more intense.  I was very grateful the Lord allowed me this trip, the next year my tendon tore, and left me disabled. Another aspect which came into play is I developed a phobia of main line trains, caused by seeing videos of people slipping off platforms and under trains. True, the first was of a drunken lady, but if my ankle failed me it could have been me. 

My wife queried the small amount of money I took with me, but as I said to her, I'm going on a working holiday, and I never go in the arcades. The main draw on my limited money was my dongle; I had arranged to chat via webcam with a former friend in South Carolina, a deal she never fulfilled. This arrangement cost me about $80 over the four day trip because the guest house had no internet connection. The other big draw was my camera, I didn't realise until I got back, I'd been using the wrong batteries, I had to replace the batteries every day, not once a week. 
Could I have wanted more money to spend? Sure, but if I hadn't had to waste my money on a futile chat, and had realised my error about the batteries earlier, my money would have done more than I wanted. 
Did I miss anything? Yes, if I hadn't wasted that money I could have fulfilled a life-long wish to see an Alan Ayckbourn play at the Stephen Joseph theatre The one on at the time featured one of my favourite British actresses, the lovely Liza Goddard Even though I missed the chance of a lifetime, I still have fond memories of my last trip, and don't think there was much I left undone- my main wish to return was fulfilled.

I got into a system - caused by my disability - I would go out after breakfast for a couple of hours walking, then return for coffee, and a spell of writing. After a couple of hours rest, I would repeat the walk, and write during the afternoon. During the weekend I wrote my two earliest ghost stories The ghost of St. Mary's and The rocking lantern The photos on the covers of these books were taken by me. I used the story of a Yorkshire pirate - John Andrew -from Saltburn-on-the-Sea in my book Sea ghosts . This story won third prize in a Facebook writing contest in 2011, despite the contest being hacked twice by a jealous lady I knew. Last year I used my trip as the foundation for my last novella A Sailor's Love I also based my award winning e-book Chronicles of Mark Johnson loosely on the Scarborough area. The ill-fated third book in the series was to have been set on a town based loosely on Whitby, but the book got shelved. 
After my evening meal, I would spend a few hours calmly sitting in the park watching the sunset, and feeding the waterfowl. In all my years away, Peasholm Park had not changed, I'm pleased to say. Unlike many seaside venues, the town had changed little. True, there were the arcades I recalled from my younger days - I had long ago kicked that habit. The new shopping centre was like many across the country, but the house I stayed in was in the non-tourist section, not far from the park, and the area was beautifully calm.

Monday, 11 May 2015


You did it

Al's Delights
The Booktrap
 Last night the on line paper reached its 400th reader. I thank you for making the paper a success. I will never know who, or where you are, but it's nice to know something I did pleased people. in the two days since I did my midweek update, the numbers have jumped from 381 to 400,

Google books
After an early rush of sales on Google, my opinion is the site after being on there for a month is it is only marginally better than Amazon, if you read my posts you'll know that is no recommendation at all, considering they have over 7 million people listed as readers on the site. My choice - and that is all it is - as what works for some, doesn't work for all, is Draft2Digital. They are an expanding distribution network,their connection with Barnes and Noble has been a godsend to me.

My work
 With the success of the paper, I am going to continue spreading the news. I have been coaxed to continue writing, even though the last quarter has seen a constant down trend in my sales