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Saturday, 25 June 2016

The morning after...

Not an opportunity I could miss really, to post a comment on the EU referendum. Yesterday's vote has been discussed,  argued over and specffulated about for months. For some of us the opportunity to make our mark regarding the relationship with the rest of Europe has been a long time coming. Forty one years have past since the people of Britain went to the polls over Europe. Back then it was a 67% yes vote from 65% turnout.

Back then it was the European Economic Community, no-one was openly talking about fiscal and political union. I wasn't old enough to vote, a couple of years short of voting age. Now you're trying to do the maths and work out how old I might be, well, good luck.

The important factor is that I, along with the biggest turnout (72;2%) for any vote since the 1992 General Election, made our way to the Polling Stations and put our cross in the relevant box.

In the first past the post system in British politics, a vote over fifty percent of the votes cast is a majority. 51.9 voted to leave, 48.9 voted to stay across the country. A close call nationally but looking at the country region by region the vote was clearer. Across the Yorkshire region the split between the votes was 61,56% to leave, 38.44% to stay. A clear majority. The BBC website has an intriguing scale of how the regions voted

London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain, and had the lowest turnout. Flooding in parts of London may have had some effect. The south east mirrored the national vote almost exactly and in every other region the vote was to leave, only the margin varied.

I'm sure that will be investigated by future historians who look back on the events of the past few days.

The result throws up as many questions as it answered and the ripples of the vote were felt in the financial markets across the world almost immediately. The reaction from some of the figures at the heart of Europe was emotionally charged and maybe had the power to launch teddy bears out of prams. Behind all the flimflam, bluster and bull I think the establishment thought they had it in the bag.

It takes nerve to be the first to get up and leave the party, you just know everyone will be talking about you when you've left.

So how did I vote, well, it's a secret ballot, so I can't say.

Through the window from my desk I look out on trees, and the greatest tree in the English wood is the Oak. Roots planted firmly in the soil and its trunk, with a good solid heart pushes up to the heavens, gnarled time worn and weather beaten boughs reach for the sky, branches lift a crown fit for a king: a crown of... leaves.

I'm going for a beer now; a Spitfire, a good Kentish ale,  Seems appropriate to the day.
I waited a long time for this one!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Sliding back into the groove

I've had a slack couple of weeks from a writing point of view; the day job and life generally disrupting the yet to be achieved ideal habits of creativity. After I had spent April punching Gone to Earth further towards a conclusion and suffered an impromptu plot twist that threw me off course for a while.

Set the clock to do a bit of digging around on twitter yesterday, 23rd June, inevitably the referendum generated some amusing traffic and hashtags including #dogsatpolingstations and after the Internet poll to select the name for the new survey vessel,  eventually named the RRS David Attenborough, in honour of the Naturalist and broadcaster who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. The public vote wanted BoatyMcBoatface; the name was given to the small remotely operated vessel on the "Attenborough." Inevitably the referendum threw #voteymcvoteface into the mixture. 

Skipping past all that I tracked down some of the people I follow, and have done since I started out as an author. David Gaughran always come close to the top of the list here. I began reading his blog before Iceline hit the digital shelves and have found his book Lets Get Digital a valuable reference. It's currently on the updated second edition, and now free, maybe forever!

David has been grinding an axe against the machinations of Author Solutions for as long as I can remember and his twitter feed has been busy with traffic regarding the attitude of the big publishing houses and their relationship with authors. Go for the fifteenth of June and work your way back.

The sub-title of David's book, Let's Get Digital, is How to self-publish, and why you should, goes a long way to explaining the choices I made in my personal journey to authorship. 

I was tempted, honestly, before I took the plunge with smashwords, the adverts were very tempting especially to an Internet newbie. What saved me, what held me back from the promised honeypot? Cash was tight, there was no spare to throw away, and so I kept my wallet in my pocket and looked deeper. The shadows behind the glittering facade were deep and dark like the spooky cellar in the haunted house that you just know  the dumb ass hero is going down to their fate.

I had to find another way, and David's blog is worth following, for his dogged persistence, he is not alone, Victoria Strauss at WriterBeware weighs in with her own research, valuable stuff for the newbie and the more experienced. 

Finding David Gaughran still working the case for the self-published author against the vanity presses and their relationships with the big publishers rekindled a spark somewhere, breathed life on to an ember that seemed to be cooling. 

The past few weeks have been a reflective time, ideas percolating at the back of my mind have found their way forward and hopefully a resolution. Realistically, the end product may be a classic English compromise. Cheekyseagull, the name again, and I have been over this before, weighing up the pros and cons of sticking with it, well, the solution may be found in the header of the website. Reconfigured over the past couple of weeks, the tag is now cheekyseagullbooks.co.uk. The familiar cheekyseagull.co.uk is tucked underneath, just below "home of the Grange Thrillers by Martyn Taylor." 

The next question, where to go from here, and in the spirit of the re-ordered website, the new About Me page I have to make the journey myself, independently. I may have to rejig one or two other things before I'm happy with the result.

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Working the Angles.

The previous post "Who's the Man," touched on the identity of a character in Iceline, a voice heard over the telephone and referred to as The Man. Suggesting a person of power and influence, but leaving the details of legitimacy vague and unexplored, the insinuation of the context is that the power is illegal and beyond reach of the civil power.

The thought stayed with me and provoked a look at Rudyard Kipling, and his six honest serving men; What, Why, When, How, Where and Who! A handful of troops I've mustered to unravel a number of situations, both fictional and real.