Monday, December 20, 2010


I have done a lot of good things over the last ten days but apparently blogging hasn’t been one of them.

Life at present is dominated by the fact that my friend Jo is dying. Her cancer is progressing at any alarming rate so it’s now not a matter of weeks or months, as we thought until recently, but of days. For all that, and despite being in great pain, heavily drugged and physically very constrained, her mind, and her sense of humor, seem to be as sharp as ever.

Remarkable people tend to have remarkable friends. so through Jo I have met some terrific people recently. Strange to think of the business of dying being a social occasion but there it is. And from the beginning, we all share one common interest: To do the best for Jo. The star in that respect is her daughter Penny who is proving to be about as devoted a care-giver as one is likely to find.

This whole business has made me think a great deal about death and the manner of it and it’s something I hope to write about in the months ahead. And it’s destination we all have in common. If we all handle the manner of it as well as Jo, it will be a fine thing.

Jo, who has essentially been a world class traveler and tour guide for most of her life has managed to explore all of the nearly all 360 degrees of the this Earth of ours in the course of a fascinating life, but has missed out on two. If that puts you in mind of a female version of Indiana Jones, you should know that even before her illness she was a slight little thing; attractive too, both physically and intellectually – and with a compelling personality.

The French have a word for such a package: Formidable!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, G...Image via Wikipedia
"I've got to get back to feed my cat."

Department of Adequate Angst
I normally try and work out what I’m going to write about before opening my eyes in the morning so that after I have commuted to the computer, I can go straight to work.

It’s also a neat way of avoiding writer’s block – if that is something you suffer from. I’m largely spared that particular form of angst although I have adequate supplies of angst about other issues so still qualify as a real author. 

Angst is de rigeur as far as we creative types are concerned. It is as adrenaline. Or so they say.

Currently my angst is being dissipated by Charlie (Charlotte to strangers) a three legged white cat of singular personality and an ulta-loud purr, whose presence is so calming that I’m wondering what history would have been like if Hitler had had a cat.

But I’m glad to report that even with my angst meter temporarily set at low, I still seem able to write.

This morning I woke up with a new and better beginning to THE BOOK-LOVER’S MOVE in my mind. The story has been gestating since I drove across the U.S. back in April but now it seems determined to emerge regardless of my personal priorities.

Writing is less a vocation than a compulsion; and, for many of us, it is even more soothing than a cat.

Hitler, of course, was a writer too - so maybe Charlie wouldn’t have succeeded with him after all.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

You’re going to be in a book.

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Monday, December 6, 2010


Take Pride Spokesman Clint EastwoodImage via Wikipedia
It's amazing who one can find on the front covers
of one's books.
Clint Eastwood made one of the Russian editions.

Department of Inadequate Brainpower
It’s interesting to write against one’s own strengths. I have spent much of my life trying to develop the skills required to write what used to be known as Big Thrillers (satisfying reads of over 400 pages in length – perhaps 150,000 words) and now I’m battling to write short pieces of perhaps 500 words in length.

My brain is creaking at the strain.  

I seem to be able to do it though I’m still too slow. However, my respect for the masters of the art of blogging grows by the day. My favorites are Jim Fallows' blog in The Atlantic Monthly and The Big Picture which is awesomely good.  

Ministry of Culture & Movie Stars
On Saturday, I attended a highly enjoyable dinner party but didn’t get to bed until 3.00 am. Among those attending were a delightful pair of Bulgarians, a physicist and chemist respectively, who are effortlessly familiar with half a dozen languages, have travelled much of the world, and manage to personify both the strengths of European culture and the American Dream; and are charming into the bargain.

As if to rub salt into my sense of inferiority – I only have school French and speak virtually no Irish – Stan, the physicist, had read one of my books, GAMES OF THE HANGMAN, in both Bulgarian and English.

The whole experience was a reminder to think more globally.

It’s fun being translated into foreign languages but mildly frustrating when one is unable to read the translation to see how faithful the translator was. According to Stan, my Bulgarian counterpart did an impeccable job so now I am minded to track him down.

The Russians put Clint Eastwood on one of my covers. I’m far from sure they asked him first.

Anyway, now you know why the post I wrote yesterday that was destined for my TITANIC NATION blog – the site devoted primarily to U.S. economic issues – ended up on this blog. It had to do with what I shall discretely call “a heavy head.”

But the evening was a great success.

I am reminded that one of the attributes of being a cultured human being is having a reasonable working knowledge of the world, and, in particular, the nations that one’s friends come from; and the fact that I know remarkably about Bulgaria.

Time to remedy that situation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Share of financial sector in gross domestic pr...Image via Wikipedia
The Financialization of the U.S. Economy
has gone hand in hand with this country's
economic decline. It is not a coincidence.

When I first started writing TITANIC NATION back in 2007, I was far from sure that America was in decline; although I was certainly aware of the possibility. Three years later, I am now entirely sure of the fact despite the official pronouncements that we are now officially out of recession, and that the numbers indicate that the economy is actually growing.

A country that cannot - or chooses not to - care adequately for the wellbeing of ALL its citizens cannot be deemed to be in a satisfactory state.

Growth, at least as expressed primarily in terms of GDP – Gross Domestic Product – is a false god. In the United States of America today it means an unparalleled concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few, an army of careerists who serve them, and the steady erosion of the economic stability of much of the rest of the population. It makes a nonsense of democracy. It turns the Constitution into a legal instrument of oppression to be wielded by the privileged few. Above all, even if you don’t have an atom of compassion in your body and believe that un-regulated capitalism is the way things should be, it palpably isn’t working. The U.S. economy is losing ground – and jobs - under nearly every heading.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


William Butler YeatsCover of William Butler Yeats
Department of Concern About Ireland and Wild Geese
It appears that the Irish economy has been tossed a lifeline but on terms which are harsh in the extreme. 

I feel that other solutions could, and should, have been found, and that this standard government reflex – as implemented in quite a number of countries from the U.S. to the U.K - of saving banks at the expense of the population is a fundamentally flawed approach. 

The financial community should not be immune from the normal fate which results from insolvency.

I look forward to writing about that subject in the future, but my main focus right now has been to wonder what, if anything, the Irish diaspora can do to help. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that this disaster may be turned into an opportunity. Ireland was headed into becoming a singularly unpleasant place. 

With luck, new leadership and application, it may now head in a sounder direction.

Marshall Aurerback – wrote a fine column on the Irish tragedy on November 29 2010 and finished it off with some poetry from W.B. Yeats. Let me quote:

“As always, leave it to the Irish to come up with the most poetic response to the crisis. True, W.B. Yeats did not live to see this disaster, but his passionate “September 1913” does evoke the tragedy of today’s Ireland and the futility of the current policy responses for their people (and beyond):

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Graves that might soon include not only the O’Learys, but also the Garcias, Texeiras, Moreaus, and Schmidts if a more rational course of action throughout the euro zone is not adopted soon.

Marshall Auerback is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and a market analyst and commentator.”

Department of Amazingly Interesting Websites
Junta42 are all about content and they practice what they preach.  Here is an example from founder Joe Pollizi’s blog on that site. Junta42 are all about linking those who need content with the talent that can provide it – and they seem to know exactly what they are doing.


“The following is compliments from my friend Sage Lewis. A good reminder for everyone in marketing.
  • 80% of all Internet users go immediately to a search engine when online. 
  • 30-40% of users click on the first organic listing. 
  • 62% of search users click a link on the first page of search engine results.
  • Years to reach 50 millions users: Radio, 38 years; TV, 13 years; Internet, 4 years; iPod, 3 years. Facebook added 100 million users in less than nine months; iPhone applications hit 1 billion in nine months.  
  • 77% of search users choose organic over paid listings when searching, 67% choose organic search when purchasing. 
  • 40% of SEO campaigns aware of their ROI achieve returns in excess of 500%, while only 22% of PPC campaigns were able to achieve this value. 
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the world's fourth largest, between the United States and Indonesia. 
  • The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55- to 65-year-old females. 
  • Social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the Web.
What makes all this work? Consistent and compelling content marketing.”

End of extract.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Courage: Eight PortraitsImage via Wikipedia
"Eight Portraits of Courage! We need room for a Ninth."

Department of Courageous People, & Death With Dignity
I spent the latter part of yesterday afternoon in a meeting. Its purpose was the notarizing of various documents to do with a truly remarkable woman who I shall, for the moment, merely refer to as 'A.' She is a friend, a neighbor whom I have grown to respect and admire. 

She is only in her sixties. She has had an astonishing life. 'A' is not the initial of her first name. I have chosen it because it stands for 'Adventurer.' 

She is, as we speak – bar a miracle - dying of cancer; so the meeting was mainly to do with her will and what she wanted done if she was rendered incapable: 

“Pull the plug!” conveys the essence of her message.  

The affair could have been tense and generally miserable. In fact, it was surprisingly cheerful, largely thanks to A’s vibrant personality – despite her pain – and the presence of another remarkable woman, B., who happens to be the condo president. It also went on much longer than expected because the notary got stuck in traffic.  

I felt very peculiar when I was asked to witness A.’s request to obtain the medication necessary “to die with dignity.” I was brought up a Catholic and to believe that life is sacred. On the other hand, if your cancer is so pervasive and severe that your death is certain within weeks, and your pain unimaginable, don’t you have the right to determine the time and manner of your passing?

I have no doubt at all but that you do. 

I signed willingly; but inside I confess I just wanted to cry. I still do. Death is as normal as sunrise; but we need all the people of courage that we have. Sadly, the world doesn’t work that way.

Today, I feel a true mixture of emotions; but dominating all is a sense of real hope about the human condition. 

We seem to be remarkably inept at the political level, but down in the weeds, where real people live - and die - there is true grit.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010


Isaac Newton's personal copy of the first edit...Image via Wikipedia
"Of course, I started with a Business Plan."
Department of Bifurcated Writers, Conflicted Authors & Business Planning
We creative types have a tendency to think of ourselves as somehow apart from the commercial world. We have the notion that whereas business people spend their days doing things that are socially dubious, in pursuit of no higher goal than material gain; we authors, painters, movie makers and the like, are out there pushing the envelope of creativity, wisdom and beauty – while not only entertaining the over-salaried and their wage slaves, but illuminating the human condition into the bargain; and, hopefully, making a buck as well.

In short, we – the under-appreciated and seriously unrewarded – seekers of a higher truth - tend to think of ourselves as the antithesis of business people and, just perhaps (though we mightn’t say this publicly), superior.

Let me cross my fingers: Needless to say, I am too high-minded to ever having been guilty of such intellectual arrogance, but I will admit that for much of my life I have been conflicted about the relationship between commerce and creativity.

Department of Epiphanies and Sudden Flashes of Insight
I certainly prefer to think of myself as a writer but recently, while planning to re-enter the writing arena – perhaps sparked off by the most intensive period of work in my life, and arguably the most enjoyable into the bargain – I have had an epiphany: Not only do I like many aspects of business, but I am convinced that we creative types could learn a great deal from the business world – and vice versa.

In fact, in relation to the latter, I feel that U.S. business is far too important to the community be left to the speculators and dealmakers who currently seem to have a lock on that sector, and would benefit enormously from  leveraging that underused asset, American creativity.

Creativity, when you think about it – and you should think about it – is all about adding value in an innovative way – and is about as entrepreneurial as you can get.

I will be pursuing this theme later, but for now, let me just say that, apart from producing works of originality and genius, we writers might be well served if started off by writing ourselves a Business Plan.

“OVERKILL!” I hear you shout; or maybe the Big One has finally hit Seattle.

No. If you don’t where you are going and have determined how to get there, it is exceedingly unlikely you will succeed.

Friends, fellow authors, creative types and related crackpots, oddballs and misfits, planning can be a creative activity too.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010


M1A1 Abrams TankImage by San Diego Shooter via Flickr
"A battle is fought to be won!"

Department of Excellent Writing Advice
As part of learning how to blog – and these days I sometimes wonder whether I’m not more student than writer (or whether the terms should not be interchangeable), I’m currently subscribing to a number of blogs who specialize in giving blogging advice and advice on writing in general.

I’m not just interested in the specifics of such advice, but how they present themselves in general. Inevitably, there are similarities, but all the good blogs have distinctive personalities.

Today, Walt Shiel, author of VIEW FROM THE PUBLISHING TRENCHES  offered a nugget that resonated:

“Begin your writing, fiction or article, where the action begins. This action can be internal (e.g. An important insight or personal decision) or external (e.g. a calamity or key even). Begin too early and you lose your reader. Begin too late and you lose your story.”

Now that is good writing.

Department of Book Doctors
Editors used to do all that that is necessary when it comes to critiquing and developing a book. Unfortunately, with the ever increasing of the corporate ownership of publishers followed by the inevitable pressure to cut costs, the editors of traditional publishing houses rarely have the time to do what may be necessary. 

That is a pity for all sorts of reasons starting with the fact that even the most talented writer cannot bring perspective to his or her own work.

Enter ‘Book Doctors’ who do much the same thing as editors used to but who are prepared to do even more than a commercial editor to save book. Here I refer you to Jason Black at PLOT TO PUNCTUATION  I have neither met Jason, not done business with him; but his site is impressive.

I have done some book doctoring myself, and once spent six exhausting months on a project trying to rescue and restructure a truly excellent book about THE BATTLE OF 73 EASTING. The topic was the famous tank battle that took place in the first Gulf War in 1991. The patient survived and you may read the result as WARRIOR’S RAGE by Douglas Macgregor.  

I should probably have claimed co-author status, but he was the one who had been under fire and had seen his men die so it was, quite rightly, HIS story; and a fascinating one at that. 

We also serve who re-write.

I have to say it is a pretty good book.

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Friday, November 26, 2010


Witch doctor of the Shona people close to Grea...Image via Wikipedia
"I'm an expert, head of my local Tea Party group,
and a pretty good cook. So shut up and listen!"

Department of Fantastic Thanksgiving Dinners
My friend, Chris Carrdus, loves to cook. He says that cooking calms him and wonders why we aren’t all taught to cook well. Good cooking starts with locating superior raw materials – a skill unto itself - largely frees one from the dubious merits of the processed foods industry, and results in a tastier, more nutritious and generally healthier end result.

Yesterday, he produced a perfect Thanksgiving Dinner. We are all in awe.

He believes that if you don’t learn to cook at your mother’s knee, the chances are that one will never learn to cook competently. I fear my situation supports his theory. I am no better than an adequate cook. Food at home was prepared by our housekeeper, a lovely woman, whose culinary skills topped out at frying an egg. Food away from home was the product of my boarding school’s kitchen and no better than one might expect under such circumstances. 

My mother could write, paint, spoke excellent French, was a pretty fair opera critic and a compelling conversationalist but there it stopped. When I once remarked that the food at school, unlike that at home, was, at least, edible, she deployed the full power of her extraordinary personality to render me silent and terrified. But I was telling her no more than the truth. Still, through experiencing the really bad, I have come to truly admire the outstanding. 

Thank you, Chris.

Department of Experts, Witch Doctors & Earthly Gods
When I was young, I had the notion that by a certain age, I would be an expert in something or other, and would have the air of confidence, respect, rewards and defensive armor that go hand in hand with such a lofty status.

Over time, I have seen so many experts in so many fields get it wrong so often that I have become skeptical of the societal convention that causes us to largely accept the pronouncements of experts in an unquestioning manner.

This doesn’t mean that I reject the concept of expertise – clearly there are many people who have considerable knowledge and experience in their own subjects. It is more that I deplore the way so many of us abdicate our ability to think clearly and cogently in favor of the pronouncements and posturings of witch doctors (whether they be business leaders, politicians, medical doctors, academics or the military). In fact, it is a favorite journalistic practice to write something like: “Experts say that …” instead of evaluating the evidence.

It is so much easier to pass the buck intellectually.

Perhaps I would adore the rewards and accolades that come from being inside the club that is a professional association – I’m probably no less venal than most – but I find it very hard to believe that they would equal the satisfaction that one gets through retaining one’s intellectual integrity by thinking for oneself.

Because that is what some of us writers do. And regardless of our circumstances, we love it.

Thanksgiving indeed.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010


"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"...Image via Wikipedia
"Any more eel anyone?

Department of Conflicted Bloggers
Thanks to reading the blogs of a number of extremely talented bloggers – as part of endeavoring to master this curious activity – I now know that blogs, and the paragraphs and sentences contained therein, should be short, content filled, entertaining; and punchy. Nonetheless, I violated the ‘short’ rule with a vengeance this week to write a veritable essay on the U.S. economy which you can read on my companion blog at  Essentially, it is a 22 point critique of the current predatory, and valueless, American Business Model, which seems to be very good at making the Super Rich richer but very bad at raising the living standards of the U.S. population as a whole. In fact, they are in decline.

In truth, I do think blogs – generally speaking - should be short, and as described, but I do feel there is a need for longer pieces on occasions, and I am somewhat conflicted as to where to put such essays. There are plenty of possible locations – online storage is booming – but not so many where such thought pieces are likely to be read. Currently Scribd seems the best option, but I’m open to suggestions.

Department of Thanksgiving and Eels
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Though I have had my ups and downs since arriving in the U.S. in 2001 – just in time for 9/11 – I cannot think of a more fascinating time to be alive and writing; so I count myself a very lucky man indeed.

There is a nice piece about eels in the New York Times today. It posits that eels played a significant role in ensuring the survival of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and suggests that eel rather than turkey should be the “symbol of colonial resilience and gratitude.” In short it implies we should be eating eel today instead of turkey. Now there’s a thought to chew on.

Writers tend to do strange things so I had better confess here that I was once briefly in the eel business under decidedly bizarre circumstances. You can read all about it, and other many other adventures, when MY COTTAGE IN IRELAND appears very shortly.

Enjoy the day.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Samurai of the Satsuma clan, during the Boshin...Image via Wikipedia

I prepared for a year before going to Japan to research my second thriller, RULES OF THE HUNT, and it was time well spent. 

It’s a paradox of research, which I have written about before, but the reality is: the more you know in advance, the more people are likely to tell you. They feel that you must be genuinely interested to do all that work, they feel you have paid your dues, and you start the discussion with sufficient knowledge to know what questions to ask, what nuances to pick up, and – especially important in Japan – how to behave.

Chalmers Johnson is dead at 79.
As part of the process I read a great many books and was particularly struck by the works of Chalmers Johnson. Subsequently, I became an even great fan after reading his BLOWBACK  trilogy which documents many of the undesirable consequences of our activities overseas and then moves on to deliver an exhaustive critique of U.S. imperial overstretch which not only generates enemies in itself, but which we cannot afford.

One of the most attractive qualities about Chalmers Johnson, whom I never met except through his writing, was that he was intellectually fearless. He said what needed to be said and the consequences be damned.
He died yesterday at the age of 79.
This is an extract from the eulogy his friend, James Fallows, wrote:

Johnson -- "Chal" -- was a penetrating, original, and influential scholar, plus a very gifted literary and conversational stylist. When I first went to Japan nearly 25 years ago, his MITI and the Japanese Miracle was already part of the canon for understanding Asian economic development. Before that, he had made his name as a China scholar; after that, he became more widely known with his books likeBlowback, about the perverse effects and strategic unsustainability of America's global military commitments. Throughout those years he was a mentor to generations of students at the UC campuses at Berkeley and San Diego.
Johnson and his wife and lifelong intellectual partner Sheila were generous and patient with me, as I was first trying to understand the world they had studied and analyzed. I vividly remember spending an afternoon in the early 1990s on the sunny patio at their house in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, north of the UCSD campus. I'd moved back from Japan, was working on a book about it, and spent hours writing notes as fast as I could as Johnson described Douglas MacArthur's mistakes and (occasional) successes during the U.S. Occupation of Japan, and why Japan's economy was unlikely to open itself on the Western model, even if U.S. or British economists kept giving lectures about the importance of deregulation. I have never concentrated harder as I tried to be sure to capture his bons mots.”

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Monday, November 22, 2010


high wire 2Image by _gee_ via Flickr


Department of The Twins Are In The Tulips
I’ll let you into a secret: mostly ideas don’t come from under a cabbage. Babies, of course, do; as I’m sure you know. I can confirm that for a fact. I’m the eldest of twelve (true) and I remember full well that our garden always featured a healthy crop of cabbages. Mind you, we also grew much else, but I don’t recall any of my siblings being found under the rhubarb. 

Department of Heavenly Voices
Though I’m fascinated by innovation, and have worked with creative people for significant chunks of my life, I don’t profess to understand the creative process to the extent I would like. Then again, perhaps that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t like a good mystery! Nonetheless, this morning I gained an insight into the process. I have been thinking about writing a science fiction novel for some time but had failed to come up with a theme. On the other hand, I had a location – Seattle.  Then this morning, as I was gazing out at the snow falling into Lake Washington, the whole concept came together in a flash and a voice thundered from the heavens: “And don’t forget my byline.”

Did the heavenly voice have an American accent? Doubtless: I don’t recall. But the incident made me realize that one of the ways I assemble a story is by racking up a series of elements on a mental shelf and not worrying about whether they connect or not. 

Time, one’s subconscious and faith does the rest. Here I don’t mean faith in a religious sense but more in the sense of the confidence of a high-wire walker. Somehow, you know that things will work out even though any observer with his or her head screwed on would say that your chosen profession was hazardous, insecure, stressful in the extreme and scarcely conducive to marital stability. 

Yet you persevere because it’s what you do; and you can’t conceive doing anything else. It’s not a job. It's a mission in life. It’s a compulsion - and it is truly satisfying. 

Sounds like writing to me.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010


James JoyceCover of James Joyce

Department of Hubris , Corruption, Greed, Incompetent Banks, Interchangeable Words & Predictable Outcomes

As I write this, Ireland is frighteningly near being bankrupt – and would be if it hadn’t got the EU to backstop it - a sad fate indeed for a country that had transformed itself from being one of the poorest nations within the EU, as late as the Eighties, to becoming one of the wealthiest by the first decade of this century.

The scale of the catastrophe – an entirely appropriate word in this context – is hard to grasp.

I find it particularly upsetting because I was once heavily involved in trying to reform the Irish economic system – with some success at the time - so now it is particularly galling to see so much of the progress that resulted being destroyed as a consequence of entirely preventable, and reprehensible, behavior.

Department of 'So what happened?' 
I’m going to write about it in detail some other time when I’ve dug a little deeper, but, in broad terms it seems to be a classic example of a nation getting rich too quickly, thoroughly bad political leadership, massive greed at just about every level, a property bubble that reached insane proportions before it burst, and a banking system that performed just about as badly as the U.S. financial sector.  Add in arrogance and corruption in large doses – and stir.

And now the Irish are emigrating once again. Since I devoted over a decade of my life, and all I possessed, to preventing that very thing, my initial reaction was to feel very, very angry. But since I have mellowed with the years – and everything is fodder to a writer – I have moved on to feel more philosophical than irate – and to await ‘The Big Picture’ – the scaled up version of Ireland’s economic collapse where the currency in question is the U.S. dollar.

I have run across two quotes about Ireland that fits the mood. One is the disturbingly accurate classic from James Joyce:

“Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.

The other makes me smile – which is exactly what I need to do right now to counter these bitter developments. It comes from Dave Barry.

“Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep.”

If we don’t change our ways, much the same fate await the U.S. economy – and for much the same reasons; and, as with Ireland, the collapse will come with disturbing speed. As for the sheep, could it be that the American version comes with two legs, is also known as ‘the voter’ and is disturbingly easy to manipulate.

Watch this space.

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Monday, November 15, 2010


A fan dance by Michelle L'amour at the 2007 Mi...Image via Wikipedia
Department of Fans & Other Fantastic People
If you are debating whether you should write to an author or not, all I can do is answer for myself: PLEASE DO!

I doubt that most other authors, no matter how famous, feel differently. Whereas you, the fan, might feel that well known authors never see their fan mail and that it is processed by some underling or machine, I suspect that is not the case where the reading of it is concerned. Most of us are human, after all, and we humans like praise. I cannot speak for the Martians amongst us.  

Fan letters are a great motivator and, at least in my case, they have a habit of arriving at just the right time. My daughter, Evie, used to joke that she wrote all of them – and I’ve had about 7,000 - but I think otherwise. Indeed, I know otherwise because some of my fans have become very close friends.

I try and reply to all my fan letters personally. That makes me think about the person who wrote to me initially so don’t get the idea you are taken for granted. You are not. Some email gets lost in the sheer volume of the stuff and where that happens and you don’t get a reply, all I can do is say ‘I apologize’ and encourage you to write again. But mostly I do reply first time around – and with pleasure.

I appreciate all fan mail but am especially touched by those who go on to achieve writing success for themselves. I know how hard the struggle is.  I salute those who persevere. Indeed, I salute all who try. Writing is marvelous but it’s very tough.

Department of Number 1 Fans
My Number 1 fan is a delightful lady called Debra G. Waggoner who has been writing to me for fifteen years now and includes an elegantly penned Christmas Card as part of the process. She is a woman of great courage who holds down two jobs and looks after her unwell but much loved husband with grace and fortitude. To me she symbolizes the very best of America; and I feel honored by her regard for my work.

Department of Terrific Fellow Authors
I received an intriguing fan message today via Facebook from fellow author ZAC HAMRIC.

Zack says, "Victor, Just wanted to let you know that your first three books were a major influence in my writing. I'll have to check out your ebooks that were just released...".

Unfortunately, the ebooks aren’t up yet but they will be soon. 
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Thursday, November 11, 2010


Cover of "The Devil's Footprint"Cover of The Devil's Footprint
Department of Blogs, Blogging & Bloggers
Here is the plan – and like all plans subject to change. As matters stand, it’s a work in progress but my overall intent is to:

Keep Victor O’Reilly – Letters From An Author as my personal blog mainly devoted to my fiction writing, my life, and the business of writing in general. There will be separate pages for my different fiction books so, as matters stand, these pages will be headed:
How will I know when I’ve got my blog writing approach right? Almost certainly as a result of your telling me – plus the ‘inner voice’ that we writers are supposed to possess. But right now all of that is academic because I know perfectly well what you want – from thousands of emails - and that is to get the books I have already written published as soon as possible.

Set up separate sites for my non-fiction works because they each cover distinctly different areas. They are:

Economic & Political Stuff: TITANIC NATION: How To Avoid Icebergs: The Case For Fundamental Change In The American Way Of Life

Military Stuff & Memoir: GETTING TO KNOW THE WARFIGHTERS: The Fascinating True Story Of Victor O’Reilly’s Research Into The U.S. Army For His Book ‘The Devil’s Footprint.’

Personal Memoirs: MY COTTAGE IN IRELAND: A True Story Of Dropping Out To Write, To Find Love, And To Live A Very Different Way Of Life

My intention is to update my main blog, Victor O’Reilly – Letters From An Author, roughly five days a week, except when interrupted by traveling, particularly intensive writing and so on, and to update the other sites only when particularly relevant content comes in. With the next Presidential Election now only two years away, that may be quite often where Titanic Nation is concerned.

So far, Victor O’Reilly – Letters From An Author and Titanic Nation are up and running. The main delays have more to do with my lack of technical competence than anything else. The time has come to get some compatible technical help.

By the way, all the above books are finished – subject to any fresh ideas that may hit me – so any delays in launching them have to do with matters other than writing. However, I’m confident that once the publishing process starts, which will be the ebook phase, it will happen at some speed.

Next Book Department
I’m planning to write novel inspired by my own recent experiences which will seem at first to be a classic short novel, free of action and primarily concerned with the human condition, which will morph into a thriller; and which will end with a scene of absolute violence and a twist. It’s proving to be something of a challenge because I’m not relying on action to hold your interest but am more dependent on character and story; that said, I expect the action in the book to blow your socks off. After that, I intend to write the fifth Fitzduane in the series. Not sure about a sequel to TITANIC NATION. I would like to do one but am far from sure there will be the time before November 2012. But, I could be tempted.
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