Saturday, 26 January 2019

Under review...

I've been extremely lucky since The Glorious Dead was published in that, without asking, several people have logged in to Amazon (.com and and left reviews... even luckier that they've all, by and large, been very positive.

But, y'know, us authors are never satisfied. That's why we keep writing. There's always another, better, book to be written. And there are always more reviews to seek.

I was fortunate to receive a particularly good print review in The Soldier magazine (trade journal of the British Army) who gave the book five stars and chose it as 'Book of the Month' for November. But the silence from the book pages elsewhere has been deafening... if not entirely surprising.

Book reviews in the national press are hard to get, especially for relative unknowns (like what I am). But reviews from readers on Goodreads, Amazon and the like are thankfully not as scarce. And neither, I'm very pleased to say, are direct emails (through my website) from readers telling me (in almost all cases) how much they've enjoyed the book.

Now I know it's asking a lot, but... if only all these lovely emails could be converted to Amazon reviews. Here's what a difference they could make...

And here's how easy they are to do. First (assuming you're logged in to Amazon) go to the product page and click the book. Scroll down to the 'Customer Reviews' and you'll see a 'Review this product' heading under which is a button 'Write a customer review'.

Click this button and it takes you here...

After that you can add your star rating (*ahem* five, perhaps?), a headline for the review, and then the review itself. Click 'submit' and this will appear...

After which, if you're lucky (Amazon do reserve the right to withhold or remove reviews, especially one's they suspect have been paid for) you'll receive a message like this...

And, contrary to popular belief, you don't have to have bought the book on Amazon. This one - Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin - was picked up for £1 in a charity shop. (I know, I know, that means my poor fellow author doesn't make a dime, but - hey! - he's richer and more famous than I am. I'm sure he won't mind. Especially as I left a five-star rating for him!)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Ivor Cutler

Ah, where we would be without the wonderful world of Ivor Cutler, eh?

Where would Ivor Cutler be if he hadn't been born on this day, January 15th 1923?

Cue one of those fascinating flights of fancy that the man himself was so well known and loved for. What if he hadn't, we hadn't, they didn't, it wouldn't...?

I was introduced to Ivor Cutler by a friend at teacher training college in London. Neil had come from Aberystwyth University to do a PGCE in London and his digs had a spare room at a time when I was sofa surfing.

We hit if off, not least due to the hours spent in his room (it was much, much larger than mine) listening to his extensive record collection on his large and expensive hifi. (I had a small cassette-radio...)

And chief among the records was one by Ivor Cutler. I've been a fan ever since. The man is - was - a genius, one of those rare, genuine 'one-offs'. No-one was like him. No-one else could've been him.

My affection for him - and collection of his many records and broadcasts - grew.

Neil, however, dropped out and went back to Wales taking his record player with him. Still, I got to move into his much larger room. (The same room erstwhile Labour MP Eric Joyce had to break in to a few months later.)

I lost touch with Neil, which is a shame.

But I still remember Ivor Cutler with lots of affection...

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Rural Rhymes: Winter Poetry

Christmas isn’t over, contrary to what I’ve read today on a Twitter: in fact, it’s barely even half way through. Anyway, there’s still plenty about the season to enjoy and celebrate, not least this small selection of winter poetry...

Monday, 24 December 2018

Jake Thackray: Joseph

Joseph, Joseph, in your cattle stall.
Joseph, Joseph, what do you make of it all? 

Christmas Landscape by Laurie Lee

Tonight, the wind gnaws
with teeth of glass,
The jackdaw shivers 
In caged branches of iron,
The stars have talons...  

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