Wednesday 27 February 2013

So there is a Point! - An acid influenced children's classic!!

A few weeks ago I posted an article about the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (you can find the article HERE ). The documentary got me interested in Nilsson and after buying several albums I found myself constantly playing the albums Nilsson Scmilsson and Harry - the music really got under my skin and I wanted to know more about Nilsson who I really only knew from his mega hits, Without you and Everybody's talking.

Regular Archive reader Davieboy directed me to an album called, The Point  and I immediately took a trip up the Amazon and bought the album. After the first few listens I thought what the hell is this? What's the point of this? What has Davieboy been smoking? But it soon grew on me and now the album is also on constant rotation.

The Point, certainly isn't a regular album.On the face of it it seems to be aimed at children, which it is  but after a few listens it starts to get to you and you realise that there is, after all, a point to The Point. And far from being sickly sweet there is a real darkness and depth to several of the tracks. It may in fact be a hippy daydream but the album is focused and extremely tight, so whilst new listeners may fear it is a work of an artist over indulging it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case. Making the album was not the most commercial move for Nilsson but it was a work that occupied his thoughts and one that he was going to record no matter what the bosses at the record company said - there's an integrity in that and something that should be applauded. The Point certainly isn't pointless.

"I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, "Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it." – Harry Nilsson.

Nilsson was a unique artist and his catalog is truly eclectic, and his vocal range and harmonies are truly incredible.

The Point is unlike any album I've heard before and among all the madness it features some great tracks - "Everything's Got 'Em," "Me and My Arrow," "Think About Your Troubles," and "Are You Sleeping?" - and the whimsical story, narrated on the album by Harry himself, is quite charming and can be enjoyed on many levels. I like the album because of its wackiness and it's wonderful melodies but I tried it out on my ten year old daughter and she was quickly checking out the animated movie of The Point which can be found on You Tube. So even now, all these years later, the album still works with children and adults alike. Popular Music at the moment is probably in the worse state it's ever been, thanks to people like Simon Cowell brainwashing the masses into buying frothy nonsense by performers who are largely nothing more than glorified karaoke singers, and vapid obnoxious teens who are here today, forgotten by the afternoon and gone tomorrow. But it doesn't really matter when there's so much music still to be discovered from years gone by.

They sure don't make em like this anymore. There's more creativity and originality in this one album than an entire years worth of what passes for pop music these days.

So if you get The Point then enjoy it for what it is and now I leave you with the thought that we all have a point and that's as hippy as I'm 'gonna get. As Ringo Starr, who actually narrated the animated movie made from the album,  would say - peace and love....and I'm not signing any bloody autographs!

Monday 25 February 2013

Archive's Writers' News

UK based Collca, a company that publishes eBooks across all major formats are looking for non-fiction proposals of around 20,000 - 25,000 words for their series which takes in history, religion and biography. Proposals should consist of a 250/400 word outline of the book, a list of the likely sections and the first 2000 words.

Random House are soon to launch three new eBook imprints and are looking for submissions. The imprints will be Alibi for crime and mystery, Hydra for science fiction and fantasy and finally, Flirt for young adult romances. The editorial team are looking for works between15,000 and 60,000 words. In the first instance  a query should be made via the website HERE

The Ty Newydd Writer's Centre have announced their range of courses for 2013 and details can be found HERE

Egmont Publishing have named Sarah Hughes, formally of Puffin, as their new director for their fiction lists.

Ladylit Publishing is celebrating its first anniversary with a sizzling collection of lesbian tales called “Anything She Wants.” The editors are  looking for  erotica  (fiction only).According to editor Harper Bliss: “It doesn’t matter how many characters end up in bed (or anywhere else) together, as long as they are all female. " is adding two new imprints for children’s books to its publishing empire. Two Lions will be devoted to children’s picture books and Skyscape will focus on YA and New Adult titles.

And some personal news - next month will see the publication of the second book in my popular Granny Smith crime series. Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs will hit digital print on March 31st 2013. The first book in the series, Granny Smith Investigates is available now - if you've not read it then go grab yourself a copy before the second book hits the virtual store.

RIP Ray Cusick: DALEK Co-creator

Whilst it was Terry Nation who created the DALEKS for the BBC show, Doctor Who, it was Ray Cusick who came up with the iconic design. Mr Cusick died peacefully in his sleep last Thursday.

As Cusick was a BBC employee at the time he designed the Daleks, he was on a salary and not paid royalties. Given the large revenue generated by merchandise featuring Cusick's Dalek design, some feel that he should have been paid a royalty (as was script writer Terry Nation, who created the concept of the Daleks but not their design or appearance), but this was not in the terms of his contract. When Cusick left Doctor Who in 1966, unhappy with the lack of recognition he had received for his work on the series, the show's producer and head designer did arrange for the BBC to recognise his contribution with an ex-gratia payment of around GBP ₤100 (around ₤80 after tax) and a gold Blue Peter badge.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 18 Feb - 24 Feb 2013


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits2592582872392492002621,754251
First Time Visits2432342612302331852461,632233
Returning Visits162426916151612217

Saturday 23 February 2013

The Digital Man

The BBC are to make selected programs available on the BBC iPlayer - the BBC have done this previously for pilots or one-off shows but in the new move the broadcaster will make forty hours of TV available on the iPlayer and if the move is successful the BBC plan to offer forty hours per week on the iPlayer before regular broadcast. It's another indication that the days of the humble old TV set are numbered. The scheme now means that the BBC iPlayer moves from being a catch up service to something much more exciting.

In fact it can be argued that standard TV is already dead - YouTube channels are being added to the FreeSat service and recently Netflix put all 13 episodes of House of Cards onto its servers for watching in one go or as the viewer chooses - it's the digital equivalent of the DVD box set. TV no longer seems to create movements but rather follows (slowly) in the trail blazed by the internet and the rise in devices capable of receiving all the internet holds, means that many people rarely switch a TV on and consume their media via smart phones, tablets and on laptops and desktops.

I'm embracing the digital world and all the opportunities it offers but at the same time I'm gonna's miss some things. CD's for instance, I still can't get my aged head around downloaded music. Though it's not so much that you only get a digital file that bugs me, but rather than music downloading seems to have killed the album - it's all about single songs these days. The album is an art form that must continue and likely will but the glory days have long gone. DVD's too are heading the way of CD's. Industry predictions are that the DVD's got maybe ten years left to run as a viable ways of obtaining media

It's a different digital world out there - I've seen music go from vinyl, to cassette, to CD and now to MP3, and I've initially felt uneasy about each change before bowing to the inevitable. I never liked cassettes and it took me years to finally realize that vinyl had actually sounded way better than CD. When it became inevitable that MP3s would replace CD's I didn't feel the same emotion as when I realized CD's were killing off vinyl. I didn't have the same love affair with CD's that I'd had with those twelve inch black plastic beasts. Still the facts are that vinyl is, with some exceptions, dead and should be now filed away in C:folders/Fondmemories.doc  along with Spangles, Players NO 6, paperback novels and the Dandy Comic.

These days I read on a Kindle, listen to music on an iPad, take my radio in DABs and watch TV on a computer screen. By day, I am a mild mannered author but by night I walk in gangnam style and when I get those ones and zeros swirling around me,  I become Digital Man- a superhero for our times.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Amazon's secondhand eBooks

Amazon's plans to create  a secondhand digital market place are moving closer to becoming a reality, but the plans have horrified the publishing industry and authors alike. Amazon was recently awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office with a patent for a "Secondary Market For Digital Objects," a marketplace for the transfer of used digital objects.
Such objects may include audio, eBooks, images, video, and even apps, with the patent indicating transfers "may include a sale, a rental, a gift, a loan, a trade, etc.”
Clearly, a secondhand marketplace for digital objects is coming. How extensive it is, what limitations will be built into it, and who will be the major and minor players are still unknown. Regardless, it is just one more way that the digital world is trumping the physical and changing the consumer landscape, but the problem is that there is no difference between a new digital file and a used file- we won't see dog eared MP3 files or eBooks with folding to the covers, so the worry is that digital consumers will see no reason to buy new books, music or movies.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Mr Spock wouldn't do that: Who the fuck is Kitty Glitter?

With books entitled, "Wil Wheaton: Teenage Hump Machine" and "Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of Dicklessness, author Kitty Glitter is the latest unlikely bestseller on Amazon. The author's books will not be to everyone's taste but reportedly depict people having sex with cats or people having sex with anything that moves. One book - I kid you not-features period blood coming to life to defend a bullied teenage girl.

The author's Wil Wheaton book, which was previously titled Wesley Crusher: Teenage Fuck Machine, hit no 12 in the New York Times bestseller lists and was then pulled when Paramount sent Amazon a cease and desist letter. The author simply retitled the book, Wil Wheaton: Teenage Hump Machine and it's once again available.

I wonder what Paramount will make of , Geordi La Forge: Mother of Darkness.

And despite reviews like, - "i could not get past the first's just that awful. and it's not even sci-fi!!!! it is a horrible attempt at erotica. ugh!!" or "Written like the porn books of the 1970's that I found cleaning out an uncle's house absolutely nothing but crude language. Glad that I didn't waste money on this. This is such a piece of trash it needs to be thrown out with the kitty litter." - the books are still selling like hot cakes.

The identity of the author remains a mystery - is it a he, a she?

"My background is a mix of all kinds of lies and facts and delusions. I'm like the Joker in "The Dark Knight". So my background depends on like my mood. Today I am Kitty Glitter though and I'm a black female writer from East Orange, NJ. I was actually born in the Queensbridge projects though. Before me, Nas was the biggest phenomena to come out of those projects. Now it's me. As a writer of fiction though the most important thing to know about me is that I am the protege of Patricia Highsmith. She was my mentor, or at least her ghost was. She taught me how to write." The author recently stated in an interview which can be found here-.

The true identity of the author though remains a secret and browsing the books on Amazon and using the Look Inside function is enough to tell you that this isn't particularly well written- it's fact is looks rather stupid but that's not stopping the titles racking up high sales. Is this an indication of our eFuture?

Monday 18 February 2013

Skyfall DVD

Just watched Skyfall again - the DVD hit the stores today and I've not revised my opinion one little bit. I loved it in the cinema and I still love it on DVD. Skyfall, to my mind, is Daniel Craig's best Bond movie and represents a true return to classic 007. The producers seem to have given up on buggering about with the formula and have brought back all that made the 007 series unique from other action movies. Daniel Craig still gives his hard edged performance but thankfully things have lightened up considerably from the previous two Bond movies.

Casino Royale, Craig's debut, was an OK action movie but it didn't really feel like Bond and was much too dark and the less said about Quantum of Solace the better, but with Skyfall many of the classic elements are returned to the franchise and not before time - we get Moneypenny, we get Q, we get a new we also get much of the outlandishness that's been missing since Daniel (miserable bastard) Craig slipped on the tux.

If you've not seen Skyfall yet then go get the DVD. This is one of the better Bond movies.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 11 Feb - 17 Feb 2013


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits3122482462392082352601,748250
First Time Visits2912302292241922172351,618231
Returning Visits2118171516182513019

Sunday 17 February 2013

The first of the Granny Smith adventures!!

“It’s Miss Marple on steroids.”

A brutal murder in a small Welsh village leaves the police without a clue. With no motive and no real suspect the investigation soon grinds to a halt. Enter Mary Anne Smith, otherwise known as Granny Smith, the seventy-one years young, pipe smoking, heavy metal loving, chaos causing amateur sleuth with a difference.

Granny has a talent for mayhem and soon those talents are put to good use as our intrepid pensioner starts the unravel the case, which finds her provoking Chief Inspector Miskin as she comes up against a full scale police investigation, proving that you’re never too old to make a nuisance of yourself and that seventy-one is actually the new twenty-one.

Murder’s never been so much fun.

" I liked the story, entertaining, easy to read."

"laugh out loud funny and Granny Smith is a wonderful invention"

"Granny Smith complete with pipe , what a vision... proves where there is a way she will take try it...enjoyed this book easy reading ."

And next month the story continues....

That evil old Amazon

Amazon have seen a 4% rise in share prices this last week after analysts published data that showed the eBook market is bigger than previously estimated - Morgan Stanley's Scott Devitt, a leading Internet and e-commerce analyst, told investors in the research note that eBooks are performing better than expected.

Devitt estimated worldwide eBook unit sales of 859 million in 2012, up considerably from a previous estimate of 567 million. With almost 45 percent of the e-book market, Amazon likely sold 383 million eBooks last year, compared with an earlier estimate of 252 million..

  It was initially assumed that early adopters of eReader devices would be avid readers and, therefore, the marginal buyer would read less.However, data from a recent Amazon presentation show that consumers who bought a Kindle in 2011 read 4.6 times more eBooks, on average, in the 12 months following their gadget purchase, compared with the 12 months before getting the device, the analyst noted.
Similar data from 2008 show consumers reading eBooks 2.6 times as much after their Kindle device purchase, on average.

Amazon is seen by many to be an evil faceless cooperation that seeks to put traditional publishers out of business, but I really can't see that.

Is it the fault of Amazon that by and large traditional publishers were not fully serving their customers? 

Back in prehistoric times, several years ago in fact,  when eReaders had yet to go mainstream, and Amazon were still selling the original Kindle, I wrote on the Archive that the growth of eReaders would see the return of mid list fiction that the traditional publishers had long dropped. As a big fan of western novels I wasn't being catered for by traditional publishing and I'm a big book buyer, so it seemed odd that publishers didn't want my money and insisted that there was no longer a market for cheaply produced westerns and other genre fiction.

 I longed for the time when western paperbacks, as well as horror, fantasy and other genres could be found in any bookstore. Well with the Kindle and other eReaders those years have now returned - Yep, evil old Amazon have brought back choice.

Many of the old classics I once devoured in cheap paperbacks are now back on sale for various eReading devices. One of my favorite digital imprints are Piccadilly Publishing and if you like westerns you should check them out HERE. Most of their titles were once published by the likes of NEL, Corgi, Sphere, Mayflower, names that were once big in mid-list fiction, but sometimes during the 1980's when publishers were looking for the next Stephen King and ignoring everything else, huge chunks of genre fiction simply disappeared from bookshops, even the Edge western series which to my mind represents a high point in male orientated fiction went the way of the dodo - Yep, you've guessed it the Edge series is now eBook and available everywhere, evil old Amazon!

So reading is on the rise, eBooks are gaining market dominance and although there are many companies serving eReading readers, and many devices on sale, it is one company that have done the most to raise the profile of eBooks with the average person on the street -and by this I mean those not predisposed as many Archive readers are to rummaging in secondhand book shops for a fix on long vanished genre fiction -  that company is evil old Amazon - they have made books cheaper, more easily available and I really can't see what's so evil about that.

However there is one storm on the horizon and that is Amazon's plans to create a market for secondhand digital content, but that's a topic for another post and another rant.

Anyway I've a fancy for a good western today and so I'm off out to buy a new westerns - Wait do I really want to struggle through the traffic, brave the hordes of shoppers only to be told at Waterstones or W H Smith that the last time they stocked new westerns was 1986? No, I guess not. Still I could always take a trip up the evil old Amazon and come away with a new western in minutes.

Damn, those guys at Amazon are so evil ... they give me just what I want.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Shiver me timbers, pirate bay are hot on the heels of pirates

Now this story amuses the heck out of me - Piracy website Pirate Bay are to sue an anti piracy group for, pirating their design. The folks behind Pirate Bay are upset over a new Web site from antipiracy group CIAPC that looks just like their own site.

To kick off its latest antipiracy campaign, the Finland-based CIAPC (Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center) set up a new Web site urging people to find more legal means to download music, TV shows, and other digital content. To hammer home its point, the CIAPC site intentionally borrowed the exact design and style of the Pirate Bay site.
The group even duplicated the CSS stylesheet used by the Pirate Bay, ensuring that its site is a virtual duplicate, according to torrent news site TorrentFreak. The only difference is that the CIAPC's site shows an image of a sinking ship in contrast to the floating pirate ship that marks the Pirate Bay site.
"We are outraged by this behavior, Arr shiver me timbers, Jim Lad.People must understand what is right and wrong. Stealing material like this on the Internet is a threat to economies worldwide. We feel that we must make a statement and therefore we will sue them for copyright infringement. We will have their pieces of eight." A Pirate Bay spokesman told the CNET website.

Pirate Bay also stated it now expected to receive a payment from the CIAPC for the use of its intellectual property.

"We reserve the rights to charge for usage of the site in case this policy is violated.The charge will consist of a basic fee of EUR 5,000 ($6,663) plus bandwidth and other costs that may arise due to the violation." A Pirate Bay Spokesman

However there is a darker side to all this and the anti piracy organisation, the CIAPC made international headlines in November 2012  when they raided the home of a 9-year-old girl who'd shared an album via TPB. Police famously confiscated her Winnie the Pooh laptop and her father ultimately had to settle by paying the Finnish group 300 Euros - see story HERE. "If there’s anything more ridiculous than the image of a squad of policemen making a 9-year old girl hand over the laptop, consider also that this particular laptop was adorned with images of Winnie the Pooh and crew. And that in parting, police reportedly suggested that next time, the father just hand over the €600 (which can’t help but sound like protection money in this context)."

However the irony that a piracy site is suing an anti piracy group for piracy is delicious.

Friday 15 February 2013

It's Raining Frogs

Image licence acquired from iStock
Throughout history, there have been tales of it raining frogs. 

These stories, as crazy as they may seem, are actually real events! 

From Biblical tales of Egyptian storms to British towns suddenly finding themselves covered with frogs falling from the sky - all of these occurances are recorded fact.

One reason for such events are that a wind storm passes over a pond or lake teaming with frogs, picking them up and dumping them elsewhere!

The arrival of the Deadly Frogs is imminent.


Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs

Of course Granny Smith’s real name wasn’t Granny but everyone called her Granny. It wasn’t because she was a grandmother, though she was three times over, but rather because as a child she had loved apples, would take one to school for her lunch each and every day. It seemed that wherever she went an apple went with her and so associated with the fruit had she become that eventually some bright spark had nicknamed her Granny Smith after that popular Australian variety of apple. 

Bond is Back!

Skyfall hits DVD this coming Monday in the UK, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again after being blown away in the cinemas. I still feel that Daniel Craig is not right for James Bond but this time out he was excellent, and gave a performance that did feel Bondian. It also helped that the blackness of his first two Bond movies was lightened with the reintroduction of Q and Moneypenny - prior to Skyfall the Daniel Craig Bond movies were miserably bleak. Of course Craig's first Bond, Casino Royale is hailed as being the closest the franchise has managed to get to the spirit of Ian Fleming - it's not, though and the Bond of Skyfall is closer to Fleming's creation and it's also a far more enjoyable film than the vastly overrated Casino Royale.

I loved Skyfall which surprised me since I am not a fan of Casino Royale and I walked out of the cinema half way through Quantum of Solace. As far as I was concerned Pierce Brosnan's last stab at the part, for all its faults,was the last real James Bond movie I'd seen and the two Craig movies that followed were merely Borne derivatives. That was until Skyfall and by ten minutes into the movie I felt like cheering, at last James Bond was back.

The special features on the UK DVD are listed thus:

Special Features:
  • Title Sequence--Working Titles
  • Women--The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful
  • Locations--License To Travel
  • DB5--Behind the Wheel
  • Soundtrack Promotional Spot
And no doubt there will be an extended edition out later in the year - this seems to be the way DVD works these days, so fans may want to consider this when buying Skyfall. I'll be buying one this week, though and won't bother with the inevitable special edition. I've got far too many DVD's as it is.

Still Skyfall is pure Bond and I'm looking forward to seeing Craig's next Bond movie - ain't that a turn up for the book! I was one of those who maintained that Daniel Craig was not James Bond, but after Skyfall I think he finally fits the tux.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Valentine Day


I want to talk a little about the insidious spread of political correctness that is threatening to turn us all into bland Mr Smiths, all thinking the same thing, dressing the same, looking the same, happy because we are told we're happy.

Political correctness destroys individualism and rewrites our linguistic heritage.

In recent years political correctness had resulted in certain councils renaming Christmas the Winter Celebrations, the famous gollywog emblem being removed from Jam jars, cartoon characters being removed from children's breakfast cerials, the cigarette in Paul McCartney's hand on the Abbey Road album being airbrushed over.

At the end of the day political correctness is social tyranny and censorship dressed up under a new name.

The following quote comes from The Political correctness website

Why do the PC Brigade seem obsessed with rewriting our history and not teaching it to our schoolchildren? Schoolchildren leaving school are now almost completely ignorant of British history. Is it in a mistaken attempt to portray a harmonious Europe or as a way of forgetting our colonial past? Is it in a misguided attempt not to offend the losers? Changing history is a dangerous thing to do as it is only by learning the lessons of history that we may manage not to repeat them!

In the pages of a history book, however, most of us would expect Britain’s role in the years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 to at least warrant a mention. But in a work for schools produced by Brussels, there is no reference to World War I or World War II in the section on Britain. The glaring omission consigns key events such as the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, Dunkirk and D-Day to the dustbin. And, in a move seen as rewriting history for the sake of Euro-friendliness, it erases the pivotal role Britain played in shaping the future of Europe. Nothing of note is recorded as happening in Britain early in the 20th century, with the Great War conspicuous by its absence. Again, nothing significant is marked between 1931, when the author notes the Commonwealth was created, and 1947, when Britain pulled out of India. World War II is not mentioned – although it does feature in sections on many other countries in the book. In the section on Germany, meanwhile, the word Nazi is not mentioned. Instead, it is merely noted that 1929 saw ‘a surge in extremist movements’ and that in 1933 Hitler became chancellor. The book Histoires de l’Europe Volume 1 was produced by the European parliament’s Office of Information. About 10,000 copies have been distributed to Belgian children aged 16 to 18.

There was incredulity at its omissions. Historian Dr David Starkey said: ‘The jaw drops. Only one country resisted Germany in 1939-40 and it is important that country is mentioned. And World War I is one of the central events in British domestic history.‘What this must seem to suggest is that Britain decided not to take part in either of the two European conflicts of the 20th century, in which case the outcome of those conflicts would have been somewhat different, to put it mildly.’ The book allocates four pages to each of the 28 members and prospective members of the EU. But Dr Starkey said: ‘It’s ludicrous that we should get the same as somewhere like Estonia. The whole history of Scotland warrants only one and-a-half lines.‘This tidying up of history is an indication of a move towards greater European unity. It’s airbrushing.’

Chris Heaton-Harris, Tory MEP for the East Midlands, said: ‘For World War I and II not to get a mention is bizarre. I think it’s part of an agenda within Belgian society nowadays to have as little as possible to do with the Brits or the Americans. It’s sad, because if it were not for those two groups of people it would have been a very different picture on the Continent for the last 60 years.’ Robert Whelan, of think tank Civitas, said omitting World War I made any claim that the book is a history of Britain ‘ridiculous’. A spokesman for the Belgian section of the European parliament’s Office of Information, said: ‘Everyone knows about World War II so we didn’t think it was necessary to put it in.

There can be little doubt that if you were German you’d want to rewrite your history. After all, the responsibility for two world wars, the murder of six million people in concentration camps and another 15 million outside them — all within living memory — are acts with which only a masochist or a psychopath would want to associate himself. However that was then and does not reflect on Germans of today. In recent days, though, the campaign to airbrush the evil out of the Teutonic past has assumed a new vitality. Last week Joschka Fischer, the Fourth Reich’s foreign minister, complained on a visit here that the British view of Germany was an obsession with ‘goose-stepping Prussians’, whereas his country was now peopled by ‘real democrats’. Then it was revealed that a new European Union-sponsored history makes no mention of the apparently minor events of both world wars, or of Winston Churchill and Britain’s heroic, lone resistance to Fascism in 1940. Brief mention is made of Hitler, none at all of the Nazis. Yesterday, it was reported that a group of British history teachers are spending their half-term in Germany, being persuaded (at the German taxpayers’ expense) to take a more benign view of the country and its past.

The organisers of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson’s triumph and heroic death at the Battle of Trafalgar have been told that the celebrations must not offend the French. Instead, they must focus on the hardships of ordinary seamen on both sides. The aim is not to celebrate his victory over the French. Portsmouth, home to Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory is preparing politically correct education packs for schools. They will include information about the diets of 19th Century sailors and recipes for ships’ biscuits but there are likely to be few mentions of the glory of the 1805 victory off the coast of Spain.


History is history -only from the study of it, warts and all, can we learn of our mistakes and try not to make then again. And make no bones about PC is one big mistake and enough is enough for tomorrow will be too late.........

New eBook service launched.

Another indication that the emphasis in books in shifting from publishers to indie authors, is that last week Apple launched Breakout Books in the U.S - a new book merchandising feature that showcases books from popular self-published authors, including several that have already achieved New York Times bestseller status. The launch of the new service was covered in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

The service which is now tied into the US iTunes store is expected to make an worldwide over the next few weeks. The Apple's merchandising team hand-pick the titles to be featured and all of them have earned high ratings from Apple customers. So does this mean the team have read the book themselves or are selecting titles that have scored good reviews from customers? I don't suppose it matters really. The service is definitely a good thing and is helping change the image of the self published author as being inferior to their traditionally published contemporaries.

There are said to be many advantages of self publishing over the traditional model - such as the opportunity to bypass publishing gatekeepers; faster time to market; access to global distribution; higher royalties; and greater creative control, but no matter how good a self published book is the real power lies with the distributors, the Apple's, the Amazon's and so on - so when retailers start putting their weight behind schemes such as these, the sole aim being to aid new authors to break into the mainstream then it seems self publishing is fast becoming a must for the professional author.

For my westerns written under the name, Jack Martin I'm traditionally published by Robert Hale Ltd and will continue to be so for as long as they want me, but I have also moved into publishing my own work, under the Red Valley Publishing banner, which is a company I set up to ePublish books to the internet. Sales have not been huge but they are certainly healthy for my Granny Smith series - the first of which is available now with the second book coming this March - If you've not read Granny Smith Investigates yet then why not go and get a copy. The price is low and you never know you may enjoy the book. I certainly hope so, anyway.

Forgive me my little self promotion there, but this outlines the need for service such as Apple's Breakout Books. And I'm looking at making my own books available at the Apple store later this year, but for now you can find them at both Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Getting noticed in the eWorld

The hot buzz word in publishing, particularly ePublishing, is discoverability  How do you get your books noticed among all the thousands out there? Social media - Twitter, Facebook and blogging, is vitally important to give an author an on-line presence, but there are no guarantees even then that your book will get noticed.

A new a service called Author Alarms is very useful and authors should encourage their readers to sign up for the service - the way it works is simple. You just fill in a request to be notified whenever a favourite author releases a new book and you will then find details in your inbox.

Find the program HERE

Joe Konrath celebrates a million eBook sales

The outspoken author Joe Konrath is celebrating reaching the 1 million sales of his eBooks. The Archive often finds itself at odds with many of Konrath's views but I have read and enjoyed many of his books and he certainly works hard and deserves his success.

So congratulations from the Tainted Archive.

Check out Konrath's blog HERE

eBooks - Size does matter

Smashwords have released some interesting data that seems to suggest the claims that eBook readers prefer shorter novels is just not true -  a nine-month chunk of sales data, aggregated across multiple Smashwords retailers was analyzed, to determine if there were potential data-driven metrics that might reveal the answer to this and other common questions regarding reader preferences. The data encompassed millions of dollars in book sales for a data set of slightly more than 50,000 books.

The answer? The data indicates a strong preference among customers for longer e-books.

The chart above  analyzes Smashword's 1,000 bestselling ebooks across all genres and categories, broken into ranges of top 10, top 25, top 50, etc.It paints a remarkably straight line that indicates as the word count decreases, sales decrease. Our top 10 bestselling titles averaged 121,000 words. It's a length that most print publishers would discourage because of the cost of printing, shipping and handling.
It's worth noting that print publishers typically won't publish extremely short works either, simply because they need a minimum number of printed pages to create a solid spine upon which they can print.With ebooks, however, there is no paper. An ebook publisher can create an ebook of 500 words (possibly a single poem) or an epic title of 500,000 words. Now that so many ebooks of all lengths are published, we finally have the data to start understanding what readers really prefer.

The second chart provides a more detailed perspective. In this chart above, and  focuses on specific bands of bestsellers, so the top 1-50, top 1,000-2,000, top 5,000-6,000, and top 20,000-21,000. By examining books within each band, we gain a better understanding of how readers are reacting within each range. The top 1-50 titles average 106,000 words, whereas the books ranked #20,000 through #21,000 -- a veritable no-man's land of poor sales and obscurity -- averaged under 50,000 words.

Find the all the data Here

Monday 11 February 2013

Fifty years ago today.....London Zoo could have been as big as Abbey Road

Fifty years ago the four fresh faced and incredibly nervous Beatles came together in an EMI stuio to record their first album. The entire LP, Please Please Me was recorded in one 12 hour session and in fact as I write this, at this precise moment fifty years ago, the boys were working on Misery which would be the second track on the album.

For the album cover George Martin, a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, owners of the London Zoo, thought that it might be good publicity for the zoo to have The Beatles pose outside the insect house for the cover photography of the album. However, the stuffy old Zoological Society of London turned down Martin's offer, and instead, Angus McBean was asked to take the distinctive colour photograph of the group looking down over the stairwell inside EMI's London headquarters in Manchester Square.

The New Musical Express reported in January of 1963 - Please, Please Me recorded on Parlaphone by the Beatles had been publicized as the record of the year. I have the slightest nagging doubt about that, with fifty weeks of releases to come this year it may prove a teensy weensy exaggeration.

However it wasn't any exaggeration and after the album the world would never be the same - the album would be released on 22nd March. The Album sold strongly,helped along by some killer singles and by May hit the top spot where it would remain for thirty weeks until it was hit off the top spot by the Beatles second album. In the week that Please, Please Me hit No 1 the UK album top five looked like this:

1 Please Please Me - The Beatles
2 Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard
3 Reminiscing - Buddy Holly
4 It Happened at the World's Fair - Elvis Presley
5 I'll remeber You - Frank Ifield

The same week Roy Orbinson, interviewed in the Daily Mail, said that The Beatles sounded fresh and could be big in America. The big O went onto say that it is rare to find a new group who are not just a watered down version of Elvis Presley. He said the Beatles sound seemed to be all of their own and he thought it was great.

How right he was - the Beatles second album came out in November of 1963 and that week the top five UK albums were:

1 With The Beatles - The Beatles
2 Please Please Me - The Beatles
3 How Do You Like It - Gerry and the Pacemakers
4 Sugar and Spice - The Searchers
5 West Side Story - Original Cast

It truly is incredible but the recording of this album marked the appearance of the band on the world stage and even now they are still the biggest thing in all music. There's got to be a reason for this and indeed there is. The reason that the Beatles will last forever is quite simple - it's because they are f**king fab. The greatest band the world's ever seen - and that's a fact!

Note - Ringo yet to adopt Beatle hairstyle

Psst wanna buy a used eBook

Traditional Publishing will have another headache if Amazon gets its way for a secondhand eBook system.

Amazon have a patent for a secondhand eBook delivery system which means that customers should be able to sell on their digital files once they are finished with them - Am Amazon press release describes he process thus: Digital objects including e-books, audio, video, computer applications, etc., purchased from an original vendor by a user are stored in a user's personalized data store ... When the user no longer desires to retain the right to access the now-used digital content, the user may move the used digital content to another user's personalized data store when permissible and the used digital content is deleted from the originating user's personalized data store.

An article published on stated that - Used eBook shoppers could buy your digital copy, directly from you, and Amazon would facilitate the transfer of files--and it would pocket a fee. It's a fascinating concept, really, but it could ultimately be devastating to the publishing industry and, potentially, to authors. First, the elephant-sized absurdity in the room: a "used ebook" is identical to a new one. It is a precise digital reproduction. The file does not age, it cannot be damaged, it cannot be altered--therefore, it is worth no less than any other copy, and the only premium purchasers of "new" eBooks would be paying for would be the right to read it first.

Bill Rosenblatt, a copyright expert and witness in numerous digital content patent cases, argues that the online retail giant may be angling to push publishers out for good with such a move, and that a secondhand digital market would be bad for authors.

" A digital resale marketplace wouldn’t ultimately make Amazon a lot more money on books or music, at least not at first. But he thinks it would move much more of Amazon’s digital content business beyond the interference of publishers, just as publishers can’t dictate the terms of, for example, the sale of used physical books on Amazon. Just as with physical books, publishers would only have a say — or get a cut — the first time a customer buys a copy of an e-book. The second, third and fourth sales of that “same” e-book would be purely under Amazon’s control." Bob Rosenblatt

Bestselling Black Horse titles at Amazon 11-Feb-2013

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1 Two for Sonora (Black Horse Western) by Ryan Bodie (30 Jul 2004)

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2 The Forgotten Man (Black Horse Western) by Terry Murphy (Jan 1992)

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3 A Man Called Savage (Black Horse Western) by Sydney J. Bounds (31 Dec 2000)

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4  McBride Rides Out (Black Horse Western) by John Dyson (31 Oct 2005)

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5 Teal's Gold (Black Horse Western) by Abe Dancer (30 Nov 2012)

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6 Shoot to Kill (Black Horse Western) by Ben Bridges (28 Sep 1990)

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7 Wild Bill Williams (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (31 Oct 2012)

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8 Standoff at Liberty (Black Horse Western) by Daniel Rockfern (30 Dec 2004)

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9 Ambush in Purgatory (Black Horse Western) by Daniel Rockfern (31 Aug 2005)

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10 The Ballad of Delta Rose (Black Horse Western) by Jack Martin (29 Jul 2011)


Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 4 Feb - 10 Feb 2013


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits2632672792612362542141,774253
First Time Visits2492502582492262401981,670239
Returning Visits1417211210141610415

Sunday 10 February 2013

You must Press to Play

Whilst I was browsing and Googling, I did pause  upon a blogger blasting the Paul McCartney album, Press to Play. Now this album is, I think, very overlooked and actually one of Macca's best and so below, underneath these words, down the screen a bit, that's it right there,  you will find my deepest thoughts, or thoughts of this particular moment, on the sonic masterpiece that is Press to Play

Stranglehold is a great album opener - a rocker that is best appreciated from behind earphones, as there are so many interesting things going on in the mix that this is the only way to experience the full mix  - the song leads into a McCartney classic in which two similarly themed songs are merged into an astounding single entity. This is Good Times Coming/Feel the Sun - the first section seems to be culled from memory - that was a golden summer, so long ago - while the second half basks in the warmth of the present - feel the sun shining in on you - it don't get much better than that. Then we have a weird but compelling oddity called, Talk more Talk which is actually a classic tune with as much substance as anything Macca did with the Fabs and I'm not kidding. The song oozes rhythm and melody and it doesn't matter that the lyrics are mostly nonsensical. The song is all about the feeling and it's a bloody good feeling - words of a feather are worn in a hat. I hear water going through the pipes. Music is ideas. Then we have one of the Macca's greatest ever ballads - Footprints which starts out with the imagery of an old man gathering wood for a fire. It's a snowy landscape and the lush score helps create this movie in the mind as our attention shifts to other scenes in this winter wonderland. It's almost like wandering around in one of those snow globe thingies - the song also rubbishes claims that Macca is never any good at lyrics. There a wonderful sparse poetry about this piece - snow white blanket, covers the memory of all that used to be. And then we have the richly produced, Beatley number, Only Love Remains. The song is piano led and epic in scale but one of the nicest things is the warm bass line that holds things together as we move into a full blown orchestral sound.This certainly ain't no Silly Love Songs.

On the original album we are now onto side two with the title track, Press to Play - now this to my mind is the weakest track on the album but that's not to say it is bad. It isn't but it's just not as strong as everything else and the 80's pop production on this track sounds far more dated than anything else on the album. Pretty Little Head follows and this is a cosmic experiment that really should be better known. The lead in is infectious with chanted wordplay- Hillmen come down from the lava, Carrying trinkets, silk and precious stones. This is perhaps the most experimental track Macca did up to this point and its simply awesome. Then we have some good old rock and roll with typical Macca whimsey in Move Over Busker - any song that puts Mae West in a sweaty vest in our minds is OK with me.  Angry follows in which the Macca gets all irate and blasts the critics who keep harping on about his silly love songs - what the hell gives you the right to tell you what to do with my life - right on, Macca. However Absurd follows which is another big production number with whimsical lyrics.

When I originally bought the album it was on cassette and However Absurd actually ended the album, but the CD version had other tracks which I didn't experience until I got the album on CD a few years later- the extra tracks are Write Away, It's not True and Tough on a Tightrope. Write Away fits perfectly with the rest of the album, but the other two tracks, whilst good, don't really fit the vibe, so I actually think I prefer the original album, still bonus tracks can be skipped. And to me the album is much more satisying if it ends with However Absurd and then fades into silence, at least until the click of the play button releasing as we run out of tape. Remember that! Time to get up and change the tape!

The current CD version also contains another two bonus tracks - the shite, Spies Like Us which really should have been strangled at birth and the excellent, Once Upon a Time Ago.

Strange that this album was one of the lowest selling of all Macca's albums, and doubly strange that so many fans dislike it, even Macca's rubbished this album in interviews, because I really think it is one of his best. Maybe the reason so many fans don't like this is that they still expect Beatle Paul from a McCartney album, and yet in some ways that is just what you get because when you think about it Beatle Paul never played it safe either...

Saturday 9 February 2013

Who the F**k is Harry Nilsson

"When you mention Harry Nilsson people either love him or look with a blank expression - who?' So says Mickey Dolenz at the start of the documentary movie, Who is Harry Nilsson which comes from the same team who brought us last year's, John Lennon V the USA.

I must admit I sort of knew of Nilsson - well I knew the mega hits, Everybody's Talking and Without You and I knew he had been a drinking and hell-raising buddy of John Lennon, but other than that zilch. However since catching the documentary, which is now available on Netflix, I found myself so interested in checking out more that I picked up six Nilsson albums this past week. The reason I checked out the documentary was because I heard Nilsson's version of the Beatles, You Can't Do That in the Breakfast with the Beatles radio show. Nilsson does something clever with this song - not only does he give us a pretty good reading of the song but he also manages to reference 20 other Beatle lyrics in the backing vocals. It was this song,  Beatle nut that I am, that drove me towards Nilsson.

The documentary is brilliant - it shows us a man born into terrible poverty who has an incredible talent - an awesome vocal range, but this boy grows into a man who is never going to toe the line. He frustrates his producers and record company by refusing to play it safe. His early albums did OK but it was the 1971 effort, Nilsson Schmillson that  went into the stratosphere. There were three hit singles from the album, Without You, Let the Good Times Roll and the insanely catchy The Coconut Song. The record company wanted a follow up that would follow the same pattern but Nilsson delivered Son of Schmillson which was an altogether stranger record - one track, I'd Rather be Dead has a chorus provided by a bunch of old age pensioners singing, I'd rather be dead than wet my bed. And another song went, you're breaking my heart, you're tearing it apart so fuck you. Can you imagine the executives faces? They had seen Harry give them a worldwide smash with his reading of Without You and now he's putting the phrase, Fuck You onto a major release but not only that he's belting out a tune with a group of old foggies from a retirement home in the UK.

Nilsson also refused to tour which was unheard of at the time - even The Beatles had to go through years of hard touring to achieve success, and yet Nilsson became a major artist without ever touring. Harry seemed to do everything different. The documentary covers the infamous antics of Nilsson's lost weekend with John Lennon - actually an eighteenth month period in which Lennon separated from Yoko Ono would often hit the bars and clubs and drink and drug themselves into senselessness.They were famously thrown out of a Smothers Brothers show at the Troubadour club in Hollywood. Both Nilsson and Lennon were acting like complete dicks, but we've always known Lennon had a wild side and by the sound of it Nilsson did too.
Lennon and Harry
"John Lennon and Harry Nilsson - a friendship made in Hell!"

Ultimately the documentary charts a tragic course of missed opportunities and a death at an absurdly young age - a death that was mostly self inflicted by a lifestyle of drink and drugs, but that was Harry and he couldn't be anyone else. And, I suppose, he did ultimately get his wish and manage to get out of it before he wet the bed.

"He committed suicide," one of the talking heads in the documentary points out. 'It might have taken him twenty years but he killed himself." Eric Idle provides the theory that Harry didn't think he deserves his massive success and became an alcoholic in order to cope. While Mickey Dolenz said Harry moved at five hundred miles an hour until he simply stopped - dead.

It's well worth checking out the documentary especially if, like me, you move onto discover some of the great music - Harry gives us a great reading of the Beatles She's Leaving Home on his album, Pandemonium Shadow Show and then on Harry gives us a direct sequel in the song Mournin' Glory. Other Beatle songs covered include a great reading of Mother Nature's Son. There may be more but I've only got the six Nilsson albums so I'm not sure - I can't be arsed to Google the track listings of the albums I've not yet got. I will be getting more though - I love Nilssson Schmilsson, Pandemonium Shadow Show, Ariel Ballet and Harry. A Touch of Schmillson in the Night, not so much, but Son of Schmillson is growing on me.

Anyway the next time someone asks who is Harry Nilsson, I'll say he was that guy who.....

and remember you putt-da lime in de-cocount

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