Sunday, 22 June 2014

BBC cover up

When the most powerful news reporting organisation in the UK appears to deliberately ignore peaceful protest and refuses to report it, I get worried.

My Facebook feed this morning contained this short clip about the BBC hanging up on a member of the public (we're all members of the public when it comes to paying the licence fee!) -


Okay, technically, they didn't hang up, they just redirected to a line that wasn't answered.

The peaceful march was reported in The Guardian and on RT.com. Why not on the BBC?

In fact, when I searched the BBC, ironically the only mention was under the Elsewhere on the web feed:


I have to wonder if this is just an automated spider script that hasn't been adjusted to hide reports of public discontent with the UK government.

Why doesn't the BBC want to report that 50,000 people reject the Coalition government austerity measures? Is it because many millions more of us also reject those painful, brutal measures that punish the poorest while allowing that same Coalition government to offer tax breaks to the rich?

Is it because the BBC is not - and maybe never has been - an honest, impartial, public service?

Is it because the government have put pressure on the BBC to avoid reports of UK discontent and only report on wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere - hoping to cause a fear of similar outbreaks of civil war starting in the UK?

Or are the BBC actually just incompetent?

I decided to have a go myself since the clip above only showed an attempt to call the London desk of the BBC. It's a big organisation. Many news desks, surely one of them will answer... Right?

At this point it turns surreal. Getting a phone number to call the BBC off their website is rather tricky. They're happy for you to email or tweet or fill in an online form, all of which could be conveniently lost. But a phone number...

Here's what I get when I click on the Daily & Sunday Politics link:


Other links have more options to email.

I give up. I've made a formal complaint to the BBC about their lack of reporting on this news story. If you believe the BBC should be reporting on peaceful anti-austerity protests, you can complain here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

This one issue could be enough to push me over the edge and stop paying the TV licence. How do you feel about it?

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Marketing mad

I'm thinking I have to be more than a little bit crazy to attempt to write three books and market them over one summer.

I finished emailing all 128 MSPs last night, asking for their feedback and offering them a free proof copy of the first book. Had several dozen auto replies from some telling me they could only deal with matters relating to their constituents. I do sympathise with MSPs, I assume all are incredibly busy. A couple have replied and have been sent their copies. Hopefully many others will do the same.

I now have an author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/my100goals. I couldn't believe that address was still available!

Several of you have suggested sites I can promote the book on and given other helpful ideas, thank you! All suggestions will be gratefully received!

I've started contacting radio stations and newspapers. Emailed the BBC. Will contact the other networks as the week goes on.

I've got some ideas for guerrilla marketing of The Great Scottish Land Grab. Or should that be gorilla marketing ;)

If you would be willing to help with some subtle promotion, let me know through landgrab at tajikweb com

I'm now up to two reviews on Amazon: The Great Scottish Land Grab. Please consider reviewing the book. Love it or hate it it will help me as I need a minimum number of reviews before book bloggers will be willing to consider promoting it.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

My father taught me

I bought my father a card, late. I still haven't posted it... I've never been terribly good with cards. Much better with blog posts. So here goes...

When I was six, my father uprooted me from my friends, my home in Aberdeen, the city life I'd been born into and took me to the Shetland Isles. One hundred miles from anywhere. Sea and wind battering daily on the black rocks of the shore.

Why would he do this? Because he believed God had called him there. I believe he was right. My father taught me that being obedient to God is more important than security and stability.

We spent the first night in our new home alone. My mother and sister staying with my grandparents. Dad and I camped out. The next morning we toasted bread over an open fire. I'll never forget that.

My father gave up a secure job and career. He started his own printing business and built that up until it thrived and he could employ several people. He taught me not to trust in someone else for a successful career. Instead, he taught me to work hard, to take risks, to try new things.

He taught me that success comes from treating customers with respect; from building long term relationships. From taking responsibility for ones own work.

He made mistakes. Entire print orders had to be binned because something had gone wrong. It was worth it to ensure the customer got what they ordered.

My father employed me. Paid me an excellent wage. But I was made to work for it. Long hours spent collating and numbering and folding. Hours spent in rhythmic monotony watching paper churn out of a machine, valuable to him to ensure a problem was caught early on.

He started in a rented room. Not even big enough to swing a cat. I don't believe he ever tried to swing a cat. It was tiny. Don't despise small beginnings, my father taught me.

I missed the city but my father gave me the country. Miles of white sandy beaches. We built sandcastles on every island. Rocky beaches where he taught me to skim stones until I could equal him. Endless hills where we could run and tumble and roll.

Long walks until my legs hurt and my moaning scared the birds. He taught me that being outside is wonderful. That God has given us an amazing planet. That there is a need in every human to explore and also simply to be still.

I missed my friends but my father was my friend. He asked my advice, told me his plans, shared his struggles.

We played games. Endless games. My father taught me chess and draughts and rook and monopoly and scrabble and risk. He taught me to be competitive and laughed at my anger when I lost. He taught me to accept defeat with grace but also to keep striving to win.

My father taught me to love God and to love God's word. He lived as a follower of Christ with honesty and transparency. He read Jesus words and tried to live by them. He made mistakes. He confessed them. He got angry. He said sorry. He acknowledged his weakness. My father wasn't perfect but he was real. And, he was blessed.

There is a simple truth in God's word. God blesses people who acknowledge him and who seek wisdom and who work hard. My Dad did all three. As a result we never wanted for anything that we needed. We had an abundance. As I've applied this truth in my own life, I've seen the same results.

One evening we passed a bus shelter where teenagers were hanging out sporting their bright pink and purple mohicans, studded leather jackets and Doc Martin boot. My Dad stopped and talked to them. Invited them to our house. I was mortified.

He welcomed them into our home, treated them as equals and told them about Jesus. My father taught me to accept everyone, no matter how different they appear.

He was passionate for Jesus and persuaded and challenged almost everyone he met. He also loved debating and would pick holes in my arguments. Yet, while he was fascinated by science and logic, he chose faith to underpin them. My father taught me that faith in God allows science and logic to make sense.

My father taught me to laugh uproariously and to cry unashamedly. To love crazy and be content with normal.

I am in large part who I am today because of my Dad and for that I am grateful!

Dad, this ones for you.

Love

Mark

Friday, 13 June 2014

Grab your copy of The Great Scottish Land Grab!

I am now a published author!

I wrote on Monday that my goal for this week was to publish The Great Scottish Land Grab. Goal achieved!

The first book of the novel went live on Amazon this afternoon and is now available worldwide.

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KYU26XK

USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KYU26XK

Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00KYU26XK

Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00KYU26XK

Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00KYU26XK

India: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B00KYU26XK

France: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00KYU26XK

Spain: https://www.amazon.es/dp/B00KYU26XK

Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B00KYU26XK

Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00KYU26XK

Brazil: https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00KYU26XK

Mexico: https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B00KYU26XK

I'd love to hear what you think of the book:

The Great Scottish Land Grab

Can one man turn the Scottish Referendum into a revolution?

Threatened while walking across a Scottish estate, Robert Castle tries to find justice but neither the police nor courts will help him. His quest to find justice will bring him into conflict with the highest powers in the land. Facing off against politicians and judges, Castle fights to reverse centuries of corruption that has seen Scotland's land stolen from the people. With the Scottish independence referendum fast approaching, he calls on Scotland to reject the politicians lie there can only be a Yes or No vote; and to reclaim the right to decide their own future.

The Great Scottish Land Grab will be split over three books to be published in the months leading up to the Scottish referendum on independence. Book one to be published in June, book two in July and the final book released in August.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Great Scottish Land Grab elevator pitch

The Great Scottish Land Grab... So, what is it all about?

A friend asked me last night and for a second I felt like a rabbit caught in headlights. I know what the novel is about but I'm still struggling to condense all that I've written and am planning to write over the next couple of months into a short snappy elevator pitch.

I had my first shot at one of these fabled elevator pitches last week when I bumped into two people on the train who were talking about radio in a way that made my ears perk up. Afterwards I knew I needed more practise.

Here's my current pitch (and back cover blurb) for The Great Scottish Land Grab:

Can one man turn the Scottish Referendum into a revolution?

Threatened while walking across a Scottish estate, Robert Castle tries to find justice but neither the police nor courts will help him. His quest to find justice will bring him into conflict with the highest powers in the land. Facing off against politicians and judges, Castle fights to reverse centuries of corruption that has seen Scotland's land stolen from the people. With the Scottish independence referendum fast approaching he calls on Scotland to reject the politicians lie there can only be a Yes or No vote and to reclaim the right to decide their own future.

The Great Scottish Land Grab will be split over three books to be published in the months leading up to the referendum. Book one to be published in June, book two in July and the final book released in August.

Love it or hate it, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Designing the perfect cover

"Don't judge a book by its cover." One of those half truths that we kind of believe but also inherently reject.

Book covers are important. Most of us will be attracted to a good looking cover. A good cover may not make us buy the book, but we'll be more likely to than if the cover is poorly designed or presented.

Ian Hallett recently asked subscribers to his website to give him feedback on his planned book cover. It was an inspired idea.

He writes: "...the response was overwhelming, including two mocked-up alternatives." Now that is generosity! Friends and maybe complete strangers going out of their way to offer constructive advice.

I'd love to get your feedback on some drafts for the cover of my planned novel: The Great Scottish Land Grab.

Back when I had the original idea for the story, I had a picture of grass letters. I finally got around to searching for a grass font and found several options.

The covers below are two I'm considering. What do you think, love them or hate them? Leave a comment below or email me at landgrab@tajikweb.com



Monday, 9 June 2014

I am a writer

Back in 2009 I wrote I wanted to be a writer. Not any great secret. I've been telling people that since I was eight years old. Almost five years on and a couple of hundred blog posts later and this goal is still one of my top priorities.

If you scan back over the blog you'll notice I've not posted at all in four months. Hardly at all in the months before that. But I have been writing.

I realised in 2009 that my original list of 100 goals had ten devoted to writing:

1    To write an enjoyable, bestselling novel
2    To change and influence people through my writing
7    To write and sell a screenplay
36    To have written 50,000 words for my novel by 31st December 2009
37    To write characters that people can identify with
38    To create emotional connections with readers
81    To direct a movie
83    To own the screenplay rights to successful novels
84    To earn a living as a writer
100    To publish Fallen Warriors

I'm nothing if not ambitious...

By the end of this week I plan to achieve a major goal, to publish my first novel: The Great Scottish Land Grab.

I've still a fair bit of work to do and most of it connected to the administrative side of publishing: tax planning; ISBNs; licencing etc. etc...

I don't have a fixed publish date (though I have an internal deadline.) If the book is ready to go I'll upload it and press publish.

Whether I achieve some of the more subjective goals on the list above (like creating emotional connections) will be for you to decide. I'd love to hear what you think.

I'm going to achieve my goal. If you want to achieve your goals, you can.

There's nothing magical, nothing secret about achieving goals. You set them and preferably write them down.

Work out what you'll need to do to achieve them. Set yourself targets - the easier and closer together the better. For me as a writer, a daily word count works really well.

Experiment. Try different things to see what motivates you best. I've gone from writing 100 words a day to 2,300 a day to 500 words a day. All have helped me at different times.

Be willing to fail. I've rewritten parts of this novel several times and ditched entire chapters. I believe the story is better as a result.

Don't give up! It's taken most of my life to get to this point and I believe there are greater things ahead.