Not Your Heart Away On Kindle

Just starting to finish editing the Not Your Heart Away MS for Kindle. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I can’t quite believe I typed that badly. But I also can’t believe Microsoft Word is such a pile of crap that it leaves in things that simply aren’t there on screen. Quite where it gets its ideas about English is something else again.

So what’s it about?

Ben met Claire in the late 1970s, the summer before everyone left for university. And in many ways, that was it. After a magical trip to the theatre Ben discovers she’s about to leave for America, starting a summer job that might just last a lifetime.

After a bohemian week of drifting about London and with the sense of the ice cracking under their feet, Ben comes to realise how much she means to him. And then she disappears.

More than twenty years later Ben thinks he’s found her again, thanks to an old school-friend and a little help from Facebook. But the course of true obsession rarely runs smoothly. Neither does friendship, cars, history, wife-swapping or love. Especially not love.

Haunted by the spires and farms of that summer and the blue remembered hills of Claire’s jeans Ben keeps asking himself the question Bob Marley sang at every party back then. Is this love? Is this love that he’s feeling? He wants to know now. Before it’s too late.


Meanwhile, back to putting in the hyperlinks on the Contents page. Is there any coffee going?

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Stuff to do

Busy day today. Dogs and SO and her daughter all cavorting around the flat at 06:00 in various states of undress. Dogs then decide they need a wee so a quick pyjama clad trip to the back garden, slinging Barbour over tracky bottoms and sliding feet into brown Lobbs as first available footwear.

Have to Kindle Not Your Heart Away and get it out there, coming to think more and more that agents and publishers are soon going to be pretty much the same as chain-mail manufacturers, really skiled craftsmen that nobody really needs any more. Maybe a few beery blokes doing historical re-enactments will be into them.

I don’t like the idea of Googleopoly but like everything else, that’s what people want. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t buy it so apart from getting on the Richard & Judy show I can’t see what agents are now for. All it takes is a phone call and you either believe in it or there’s not much point churning it out.

Talking of which also working on TV version of Not Your Heart Away, which appeals to me greatly. There are some hugely visual elements of it, the UFO, the shipwreck, the car crashes, all of which would make a brilliant film or TV play.

I’ve re-installed my key customer-interfacing first cross-platform social media node, or Tweetdeck as we call it. Take the dogs out, go to Poundshop to buy them a towel because we’re having a big muddy walk later on, get some script down and Kindle publish the finished book MS.

I think it’s as ready as it’s going to be. This time my cross-platformness needs to be more interfacey.


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Total Horsemeat

For the past three weeks the government has, as usual, asked the companies who contribute to the government’s funding if they wouldn’t mind awfully doing something about the fact that ‘value’ food isn’t what people thought it was. Specifically, it was bits of old horses instead of cows. So if the supermarkets and supply chains could possibly get around to doing something about not breaking the law any more, not advertising falsely and not selling meat that was unfit for human consumption that would be much appreciated. No rush, obviously and equally obviously no hint of anyone being prosecuted for breaking the law, unless they were dreadful foreign types in faraway countries.

Our brave supermarketeers were portrayed as victims, this time of the dastardly Eastern Europeans. Sinister crime rings were dumping horses into the food chewed by plucky Brits. Nothing to do with the fact that the supermarkets didn’t know what was in their food and were breaking the law at all.

What happened was this. Tesco, Findus and other major food producers and retailers were caught red-handed with horse-meat in their burgers. First it was supposed to be ‘trace elements’ of DNA in the burgers, the kind of contamination you might get from picking up a pork chop with bare hands. Next it was 29% horse. Now Findus lasagne has been found to be 100% pure horse meat. Last week the head of the Food Standards Agency decided to lie about it on Radio 4. He said that nobody knew how the horse meat had got into the food chain and there was no danger.

Obviously if he didn’t know how the meat got into the food chain he could not know whether it was fit to eat or not. No-body challenged him that I’ve heard. Because fundamentally, we really don’t care.

We want it cheap. Cheap is good. More is better. We want to watch more and more cookery programmes and eat more and more processed meals. Read any Mintel report you like to check the truth of that. I’ve asked in five-star hotels if the eggs were free range and got asked what that meant and then what difference did it make?

When it comes to food, people want to say they care. But as Tesco almost say every day, very little helps.


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The Cult of Cheap

This morning I saw an advert for some writing that needed doing.

“I need six articles for my website.”

Ok, what about?

“Six different medical topics about how nutrition can prevent these six things.”

Go on.

“You’ll need to do the research yourself.’


“In a week. For $20.”

I saw another ad, for help wanted to do a market research survey. I’ve done these for 20 years. I’ve worked on them all around the world. I sort of know what I’m talking about on this topic, on a good day. But not in web world I don’t.

Someone wanted to survey IT workers. Actually, they didn’t. they wanted to say they had done it. They wanted to survey one company and extrapolate the results for the entire industry. By email, obviously, as that sounds nice and cheap. Yes, I’d have to find 100 people’s email adresses. Didn’t we mention that? Well, that’s officially not a problem and if it is then you’re being negative.

The normal email response rate is well below 3%. To get 100 people that means the company would have to have at least 3000 IT workers. Given that a company is likely to have other workers as well that means the entire ‘survey’ would be skewed towards just the very biggest companies.

Then they wanted ‘inferences’ drawn from the quantitative research. Let’s think about this a minute. We’re measuring how many and using results that say things like 59% t ‘infer’ what people mean. That is what qualitative research is for.

I estimated if this job was done properly it would cost between £5,000 and £10,000, depending how much ‘inference’ you preferred to actually knowing what was going on. But most of all I recommended not even starting it this way, because this excuse for research was just going to produce nonsense. Give me a call, I said. I’ll talk you through it.

Difficult to work with, obviously. They didn’t call. They put the job out to someone else. For £158. Nice and cheap. And a total waste of every one of those pounds.

It is endemic. It is not about the recession. It is about a fundamental attitude shift commoditising life, where cost has to be inversely, perversely correlated with value; the message that cheap is good and more is better.  You cannot get something for nothing. Ask the Daily Mail, or any of the other market champions who use half their space to condemn ‘scroungers’ who want to ‘get something for nothing’ and the other half telling people that’s exactly what they can buy.

And maybe that’s the key word: buy. Better value equals lower price. And anyone who says otherwise is a cheat. Welcome to the brave new world.



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Total Horse Burgers

Once again the food chain has been shown to be essentially lies. The supermarkets don’t know where their food comes from, nor do the wholesalers. The people who eat it mostly don’t care.

The issue isn’t that the meat isn’t what it says it is. That’s bad enough. The real issue is the barrage of insulting lies the government, every government, feels obliged to trot out to protect contributors to Party funds.

“We don’t know what’s in the food chain,’ said the head of the Food Standards Agency. ‘There is no danger.’

If a corner-shop had been caught selling meat that was unfit for human consumption – all horsemeat in the UK, by definition – they would be shut, immediately.

Have you seen any supermarkets closing?

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Strange Brew

I’ve just finished a manuscript. Someone said ‘oh, its a bit autobiographical, is it?’

I prefer the phrase roman a clef, moi meme. But maybe. A bit. It worked for Charles Dickins and Will Self, after all.

Very strange things are happening with this MS. A friend suggested a better ending. Re-wrote. Then discovered new Facebook pictures that seemed to substantiate the fiction as if in a mirror.

As the man said, strange brew, look what’s inside of you.

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