Monthly Archives: January 2008

Grovelling as an art-form

Amazon / Amanidiot – And the award for overlooking the blindingly obvious goes to….me! Quite a large number of  people seem to be reading this blog between 1 and 4 o’clock in the morning. Either I’m cultivated a following amongst the insomniac community, or else it’s being read outside of Blighty. I’d previously restricted the amazon settings so that The Melting Pot was only available in the UK; the thinking being that no one would pay the international postage. It didn’t occur to me that it cost nothing to set up and hugely increased my potental customer-base (fool). This has now been rectified.

Vicious circleBook-Chuck – Writing this blog is a lot like hosting a telethon. At regular intervals I have to make a cringeworthy, emotional appeal for charity (favours – not monetary), whilst painting a scandalously innaccurate picture of poverty and depravity. Today that peak (or is it trough) has come round again…

…A number of people have been kind enough to look me up on the Facebook application i-Read which allows you to ‘chuck’ a book at your friends with a recommendation. If you’re a facebook user and liked the book please seek me out (The Melting Pot can be found in the international search). It’s for a good cause*. (*The previous sentence can’t really be substantiated).

Moral-bending – Staying on a Facebook theme, it was suggested that I find people with the same names as famous authors or movie stars and then ask them to write reviews of the book – Couldn’t find a ‘Meryl Streep’ for love or money, but did find a great many ‘Michael Boltons’ and ‘Peter Stringfellows’ – proof if ever it was needed that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world! Wrote to a few ‘Janet Jacksons,’ ‘James Bonds’ and ‘Harvey Keitels’ without success before the same person who’d originally suggested the idea added that it was somewhat deceitful.

Latest Google-search query: ‘Boobs You Tube.’

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…Or your money back (part 2)

lies.jpgNot content with charging double the going rate without actually possessing any copies, ‘Caiman Bargain’ have waded into the fray promising to dispatch the book from Florida!

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…Or your money back

There are an amusingly large number of on-line book-sellers who purport to sell ‘The Melting Pot,’ despite the fact that the sole warehouse is via my spare bedroom. The latest are ‘Browns-books,’ and ‘Caimazone uk,’ who offer the book (via amazon) in ‘Mint Condition – with immediate next working day shipment from the UK to anywhere in the world.’

They also offer it at £1.30 and £5.19 more than I do! A double-whammy of disappointment.

Whenever I contact other sellers and ask them how they are planning to fulfil the orders the conversations always follow a variation on a theme:

Them: ‘If we can’t find the book within 4 weeks we refund the customer.’

Me: ‘But you already know you can’t find the book. I’ve got all the copies.’

Them: ‘You expect me to take your word for that?’

Me: ‘Well…yes. I’m the author.’

Them: ‘You could be anyone.’

Me: ‘OK…in that case – check on the system. Is it available?’

Them: ‘…No.’

Me: ‘Would you like to stock the book?’

Them: ‘No.’

In closing: The latest bizarre google search to find me is “Pregnant eating.”

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What I did with my weekend…

It was an unusual shopping list to be sure:

– Watermelon, fake nose, comedy vampire teeth, microwave, skateboard, Village People moustache, Plastic dinosaur, various chocolate items, something to eat –

A brief sojourn in ‘Fun and Frolics’ sorted me out for the fancy dress gear, and a nice supermarket lady confirmed my thoughts with a frown that ‘the green melon did indeed make a better monster than the yellow one.’ Couldn’t find a dinosaur, but did discover a cut-price ‘Ben Grim’ doll from ‘The Fantastic Four.’

Back at home I set about assembling the bits and pieces into a makeshift creature -‘the vicious circle.’ As I did so I thought about all the normal people out their going for meals with their friends or watching TV. My abomination completed I went to bed, leaving its limbs balanced on cups while the glue dried.

This morning with unbridled joy I let rip with the lawn mower – waking the girls next door who had only just finished their all-night giggling contest. Curtains stirred as I lay on the dew painting ‘How do you escape from a vicious circle?’ (the tag-line for the book) on the wall. I imagined concerned citizens with their hands hovering over phones (Do I inform the authorities?)

…Had a bit of a mishap with the melon, resulting in the loss of a limb, which then had to be strategically placed giving the monster an unfortunate nonchalant pose (not a good look for a monster).

Next came the problem of lighting – too much sun – couldn’t see the wall-writing. The problem was solved by dragging a table into the garden and draping towels over it to project a shadow. With conditions finally right I took a million photos, chose up and put it on the header above.

Why did I do all this? It seemed a good idea at the time, but now all rationale has been lost into the ether…

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The most fearsome being known to man…

The closing date for entries to the BBC short story competition is about to expire. I had my submission ready – ‘Method Acting’ – a story about a man who gets the starring role in a Broadway play and becomes so immersed in the character that he loses his sense of self. Just before posting it I read the small print and discovered that you had to be previously published, and that self-publishing didn’t count. I thought about writing a strong letter of complaint to Henry Kelly, but then reasoned that one 15 minute interview several months back probably doesn’t constitute an unbreakable sacred bond.

As stated in a previous blog – I don’t feel hard done by with the stigma that seems to be attached to independent/self-publishing, but it’s still worth mentioning whenever doors remain closed to me as it’s all part of the journey.

On the 5th of next month I’m heading up to ‘The Flask’ pub in Hampstead to take part in a reading group’s discussion about The Melting Pot (6-8 people) – quietly excited whilst mildly petrified at the prospect of meeting readers in the flesh, but then as I keep telling myself – why else did you get it published!

I’ve also started to approach reading groups outside of the London / M4 corridor. My initial thoughts were that people would be more open to taking on a book by someone who was vaguely local, but emboldened by a few successes I’ve decided to branch out a bit.

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Old habits die hard

HEY! It’s the all new, safe, polite, boring me…

At parties, when asked what I do for a living, I’ve been known to introduce myself as a wizard. The reason for this can be traced back to twelve years ago at university where an accountancy degree made it difficult to impress women.

‘Come back…I’m really interesting once you get past debits and credits,’ I would shout as they faded into the distance…

…But now that I’m a wizard all manner of opportunities arise. Most recently a woman asked me what my best spell was, to which I perfected an eccentric, insular-but-tinged-with-mania expression and replied ‘I can give people boundless physical pleasure without touching them.’

Apparently she’d heard that one before and successfully avoided my feeble trap; disappearing off with a guy who manages hedge-funds-stock-portfolios or something.

In a similar vain, an intrusive psychologist once tried to impose an unwanted personality test on me by saying, ‘you can find out a lot about someone by their answer to the following question – How do you feel when you hear an ambulance siren?’ to which I replied ‘aroused.’

Didn’t go down too well and wasn’t invited back (which was the idea!)

Being free from the constraints of convention is a wondrous thing – A lot like telesales, but with the added benefit that you can also see your recipient’s eyes glazing over.

The relevance of which is this – Getting biblical for a second, there’s a premise of being either hot or cold and NOT lukewarm. The slightly off-balance approach I’m taking has a split reaction – Some people are put off by an author doing their own marketing and are fogging over before I’ve even uttered the second syllable – Others think it’s great and give me a chance. Being middle of the road (sensible) seems to lose everyone…which brings me to…

Literary-based achievements this week:

  • Momentarily reaching the pinnacle of 39,000th in the Amazon rankings – A new high (!)
  • Being approached to take part in a literary festival (London-based) – Faaaannnnttttaassstttiiccc!
  • A third reading group has taken me on.

Come on momentum!

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Two months without central heating and still no gangrene…

Signs that show you’re arrived:

  • Gorgeous women stop you in the street and ask if you wouldn’t mind signing their underwear.
  • Burly Italian waiters wave you past a queue of irate customers, turf a couple of supermodels out of their seats, present you with a bottle of their finest plonk, (on the house naturally), and then hang off your every word, (along with the gathering crowd), as you regale them with hilarious anecdotes about your various famous friends.
  • Complete strangers come up to you at the bar and adorn you with cigars and brandy before kissing you on each cheek and sobbing at just how great you are.
  • You find your book in Oxfam.

Only one of the above has happened to me this week, (although another nearly did), and the closest I came to achieving social euphoria occurred when an after-work gathering was momentarily reduced to silence by a colleague yelling, ‘I’m so hungry I could eat the arse out of a low flying duck.’

Inspirational writing has been somewhat curtailed in recent weeks due to my hands no longer working. This in turn is as a result of spending the winter months huddled around a portable heater. Whilst I would love to cry Dickens-style poverty, my predicament is in fact caused by a series of rogue heating specialists dis-improving my ancient combi-boiler (‘Oops…now that’s broken’ etc).

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