A Book Geek

A Book Geek

Just what exactly would a book geek do, if one won the lottery?

Honestly, I might well start a bookstore. Except it would be an awesome bookstore. There would be a new section, a used book section, and there would be classes somewhere in book-binding, old-style press printing, and even manuscript illumination if I could find someone able to teach it. Papyrus-making. The works.

The bookstore part would look like a Hogwarts set, and there’d be tourist attractions like ‘Print your own “WANTED” poster!’ going on to lure people in and get them to buy books, read books, and play with books. There would be absolutely effing zero kitschy cushion displays and God-awful scented candles that smell of the wide-open chemical vats.

…I realised at this point in my daydream that I was probably a book geek. Possibly even a book junkie. Don’t judge me.

I got hooked very young. I remember reading those truly terrible ‘Learn to read’ books from Ladybird – ‘Peter and Jane saw a BUTTERFLY!!’ is permanently scarred into my long-term memory from those – before my third birthday. I’d graduated to Barbar the Elephant and Wind in the Willows before age four, and George MacDonald Fraser and J.R.R. Tolkien by seven (explains a lot, if you think about it…).

Not completely illogically, one of my few fond memories of boarding school was the library. First, it was generally avoided and abhorred by the cool kids, and as a bonus, it was full of books. It was also in the oldest part of the school, and had been put together sometime in the 1800s. Some of the books dated from then as well. Before anyone asks, if there were ghosts I never saw them.

To keep the books that weren’t actually antique, but were falling apart, in shape, a book binder would come in every so often, and open up a room which was normally locked. In there was all the paraphernalia needed to stitch and bind books, and if you showed a capacity to sit still and not break things, he would teach you book binding. Beyond the lure of being something to do with books that I hadn’t known existed, book-binding also wasn’t one of the school-approved ‘hobbies’ we had to spend 90 minutes doing on Saturday afternoons, like silk-painting, or photography. While it didn’t get me out of those, it did interest me much more.

Shortly after I met the book binder (dayum, there should be a horror story in that line), I started surreptitiously writing. Very surreptitiously, in the back of classrooms as the balled-up bits of paper and flying elastic bands of an orderly academic environment ricocheted around me, and under my covers by torchlight after lights-out.

These days, I publish my books electronically, and most of my readers buy them electronically, but I’ve never quite lost that fascination with seeing a heap of pages turn into orderly sheaves, get stitched together, and gradually get turned into a book.

Father’s Day memory: Daddy will eat the ones that wriggle

Father’s Day memory: Daddy will eat the ones that wriggle

Well, it seems to be Father’s Day.

I thought I’d share a memory that still makes me grin, because poor Dad always got the shitty end of the stick when it came to dealing with things that wriggled; whether those were edible things, things found in the shower, or things no one else wanted to scrape off the bottom of the boat.

I was a couple of days short of my second birthday, and we’d just completed the second Atlantic crossing of my short life aboard the Gub-Gub. We’d had, by all accounts, a particularly evil crossing,with lousy weather and headwinds, and I’m therefore quite happy that I don’t remember it.

My memories start the morning after we’d limped into harbour at Flores, in the Azores. Because of the aforementioned lousy weather across the Atlantic, we were very short on supplies, and a fishing boat took pity on us and dropped off a bucket of their catch with us.

Despite being only two, I wasn’t a particularly fussy eater. I was willing to try most things once, so when I was told to grab a shellfish and get stuck in, I did.

It grabbed back, or at least wiggled slimy appendages at me. I dropped it back in the bucket. I probably shed a few tears for the look of the thing, I can’t remember.

What I do remember is Mum saying that I shouldn’t worry, everything was fine – Dad would eat the ones that wriggled.

Those fishermen had just come in from a very successful trip. Those shellfish were fresher than Febreze, and each and every one of them wriggled.

Amazon Author Central – Undercover to El Dorado

Amazon Author Central – Undercover to El Dorado

Ingredient X

I was kidding about El Dorado. This is much better hidden.

There’s something provided by Amazon. It’s free, it’s useful, and it’s remarkably well hidden if you don’t have its exact coordinates. It’s Amazon Author Central.

Amazon Author Central is a hybrid of the Kindle Direct Bookshelf, where you can track sales, add books, etc., and a personal profile page for you, the author. Whether it will eventually expand to other Amazon country sites, possibly not even Amazon knows.

As anyone who’s spent a few minutes wandering around Amazon scoping out the competition knows, there’s the customer reviews, and then some people have an entirely different section, called Editorial Reviews.

Editorial reviews are one of the fun things that you can only access through Amazon Author Central. Amazon doesn’t allow professional book review sites to publish reviews directly to your book sites on Amazon, but you are allowed and encouraged to take your professional review and put it into your Editorial Reviews area.

Give me directions

To do this from Amazon Author Central, click on the book you want to add an editorial review to, and go into the Editorial Reviews tab below the book image. You can add (a) review(s) there, as well as product descriptions, some ‘about the author’ blurb, and a number of other tidbits. Other people, to whom ‘SEO’ isn’t just a series of sounds, have written very informative articles on how to improve your search ranking by adding judicious wording in these sections; I recommend you do an Internet search and benefit from their wisdom. This is all ammunition in the war to get people to stop and buy your work of genius.

Your Author Page is another nice extra that comes with Amazon Author Central. You can add a photo, a bio, your Twitter feed, and feed(s) from your blog(s). I recommend that you actually do this in as many of the country sites as you can, even if it isn’t translated, just to show that you care. UK, France, and Germany are easy to figure out where to click and where to plug in text, although co.jp is more of a challenge,

I’ll take Death over the Tower

I’ll take Death over the Tower

I’ll take Death over the Tower any day

My living room windows blew in, less than a second after I hit the deck under my table. Sadly, this kind of thing happens often enough that my reaction is reflexive. The howling and the light show, those were new.

I should stop reading the Tarot. I tell myself this often – almost as often as I read the damn things. The problem is, I have to wonder, if I didn’t read the cards…who’s to say the same crap wouldn’t still happen, but without any warning?

I’m Maurice Ferland. I read the Tarot. I also listen to the dead (try and get a word in edgeways and you’ll see why I put it that way), know enough about herbs to sound convincing, and can draw really cool shit with coloured chalk. Because I’m…who I am, these things are a little more effective for me than the other gris-gris totin’, rum-drinkin’, chicken-frightenin’ types you can find taking easy money off tourists.

They say my grandmother sold her soul to the Devil, but frankly, I doubt it. A devil, maybe. The Devil has nearly as many layers of flunkies between him and the public as the President, and I doubt grand-mère would have had the patience. Still. I wish the old bastard a good morning every time I turn over his card…just in case.

Etymology Excavation: Quixotic

Etymology Excavation: Quixotic

Seems as if once you start a good thing, the ideas just keep rolling. Today’s excavation concerns the word ‘quixotic’.

It’s a fun dig. Let’s start off with the dictionary definition as used today, courtesy of the Cambridge English Dictionary: ‘having or showing ideas that are different and unusual but not practical or likely to succeed’.

The origin of the term dates back to 1605, and the work of fiction written by Don Miguel de Cervantes, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. It’s more commonly known in English as Don Quixote. It’s a pretty lengthy story, but the basic idea concerns a nobleman (you guessed it, Don Quixote) whose brain has slipped a few vital gears and who thinks he’s a knight in the chivalric tradition. Amongst his antics are included tilting at windmills, which he mistook for giants.

As a point of general trivia, he names his long-suffering horse ‘Rocinante’, also the name given to the Mars ship used by James Holden and his crew in the TV series ‘The Expanse’.

Quixotic, and quixotically, are words which I feel deserve more use than they get. They also have a wide range of definitions; I used the Cambridge one as it sums it up well, but the word can be applied for anything from ‘odd’ to ‘quirky’ to ‘flaky’ (in the sense of someone not to be relied on).

What is etymology, and why are you excavating it?

Etymology is like the archeology of a language (definition: the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history).

Writing Myths: Slay the Dragon

Writing Myths: Slay the Dragon

Writing Myths that need slaying

I must write something other people will like and approve of.

No. A thousand times no. As Oscar Wilde put it: “You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.”  Write your truth. If it pleases everyone, chances are high you’re doing something wrong. Offend people. Make them think. Challenge their beliefs. Challenge your own. The world is too full of people tiptoeing carefully through their existences without ever standing up for themselves or what they believe in. If everyone is comfortable with your words, you’re using the wrong ones.

I must write at a level everyone will understand.

Don’t insult the intelligence of your readers. Don’t be complicit in the dumbing-down of society. Write to the level that your book demands and your characters dictate. If you have a story able to reach out and grab your readers by the balls, they will find themselves a dictionary if they have to. Don’t lessen your work or yourself to please the masses – because often the ‘m’ is silent.

I must write something that will sell.

Why? Are there writers who seriously go in expecting to get rich from their work? Write what pleases you, because the trending genre this month will have blown away with the autumn leaves next month. Write what pleases you, because forcing yourself to write what everyone else does will be a brutal exercise in boredom. If no one else is ever to read your magnum opus, you had best make certain it enthralls you. Be original. Be yourself. No one else can be.

Writing is a slog, a chore. Writing is like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life.

Writing is an adventure. Every time you pick up a pen or sit at a keyboard, you create a world that only you can; live for a while with the only people you’re willing to invite inside your head. Writing is an addiction and a cure. Writing is an antidote to the tedium of life that was the same today as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. Writing should make your heart beat faster and the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Writing should be what gets you through the things you ‘have’ to do; the thing that wakes you up in the night with the next scene more alive in your head than the walls around you.

error: Content is protected !!

Pin It on Pinterest