Blog: Operation Crossbow

This week: Sneak Preview, Reviews and Sales of Attack Hitler’s Bunker!

Sneak Preview

This week’s is from December Radio (aka The Farmer’s Wife). By the way the tongue-in-cheek title of the blog this week refers to the mediocre George Peppard film featuring V2 rockets; these feature in the current project December Radio.

 

December Radio

Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran

All Rights Reserved.

The needle scratched yet another circuit of acetate from Duke Ellington’s Cotton Tail locked groove. A ray of sun threw it’s first shadow over the boy’s buttock cheeks, muscular escapees from a pair of Levi’s. From under them a Maria had only minutes before unhooked herself, checked her purse and quietly shut the door. The click had opened one of the boy’s blue eyes. Without moving he surveyed the strewn cushions, vino stains, fag buts and ash; soirée memorials. No neighbour complained. Membership of the right-wing NSB party guaranteed this.
After snapping shut his eye to regret, Carl pulled on a t-shirt; the very latest thing, grabbed his notebook and made for his usual watering-hole. The absynth-ine crowd of poets, artists and musicians at the cafe was reduced by three Jews to four sopping intellectuals. Saddest of all was the liberal painter Dieter. The truth was that Carl couldn’t write but poet was a good disguise for a dissolute with few talents.
A ruddy-faced man with a stick who Carl knew wore a jock-strap, wriggled in the wicker chair and suggested, “Hey, Carl? Isn’t it your round?”
“Would be, if I had a sou.”
“Gave it all to Maria, I guess,” a man with blonde hair like a thicket and limbs like briars interjected.
“Ah the gorgeous Maria! I fear her lack of philosophy will make her the banker of us all!” added the first man.
Peeved and protective, Carl retorted,”And hyper-philosophy will make someone wanker of us all!”

Reviews

I received my first review of Attack Hitler’s Bunker! By Ash Buttle, whose opinion I hold in great esteem. Highlights of the review include ‘A rip-roaring sky-ride’ ‘The flying sequences where this story shines, tense, exciting, dramatic…’

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Blog: Carnival of Souls

This week: a story’s soul,  Frankenstein and the Monster, Strunk & White: The Elements of Style

A Story’s Soul This week I have returned to another incomplete work, December Radio. The story is a sci-fi WWII whodunnit of sorts. So far I haven’t written a lthis although I have spent many hours thinkabouit it. The problem is that the story’s soul as I last envisaged it may be too obvious. The problem has been compounded by the recommendation by a friend, based on my description, to read Gravity’s Rainbow. I am on page 50 and so far I have very little idea what is going on; a British Agent is investigating V2 rockets amidst a chaotic kaleidoscope of disjointed feelings, weird characters and disparate locations. What is clear is that the main story is uncomfortably close to mine.  A battle has begun for the soul of my story. Attack Hitler’s BunkWas was a simple story; men fighting against immense odds for Good. It’s soul was born without hiccups on page one. The Ordo Lupus series have their origins in my own private obsessions with the darker side of Religion and more specifically, Faith, God, the Devil and luck. However, both Escher’s Staircase and December Radio have been born of the nebulous (to quote William Shatner) inspiration of a relationshhip; they have neither a beginning or end when I start wItch think think the former title has now settled into a comfortable childhood but the latter may lack something to distinguish it from it’s distinguished competition. Once I have the soul, the story will tell me what to write. This probably probably sounds lkid whimsy and not a little bit pretentiousI, but I believe it! If a book doesn’t have a soul it can’t live.

The soul of a book can be as simple as a basic plot or it can be as elusive as Faith itself. I just need to try harder to find this story’s soul, and if you are struggling with a book, maybe you do too.

Frankenstein and the Monster

I couldn’t blog this week without mentioning the above film, last Frankenstein film by Hammer. It made a very average, if not poor, start but Peter Cushing was the reliable screen presence usual ways is. Those cheekbones never fail to impress and here his gaze bore into the cheap camera lens as if he is the mad doctor himself; willing the genre to succeed, and challenging you to forget him. I can easily forgive the crude jokes early on, the policeman falling into a grave, the local ‘Neanderthal’ who looks more like a gorilla; both are slapstick tools usually sexy seen in Carry On films, and the brain transplant is actually fairly convincing. David Hemming has since proved himself a talented actor and here he is very good. Mabeauties ties one of the great 60s beauties known for her wide-eyed innocence does well with almost no lines as the supposedly mute Angel. All in all it’s quite a point mix, and the film echoes Dickens in some cutting jibes at beaurocracy. Great fun. Watch it!

Strunk & White:  The Elements of Style

I wanted to quickly mention this little book. If you write anything and want to be clear you need this. In a few pages they explain elements of grammar which have confused me for years.

Blog: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

This week: Attack Hitler’s Bunker released and a sneak preview.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker
This book is now available as a kindle book on Amazon and will be available as a paperback in the next 6 days. Response has been good so far, plenty of people have responded to my posts and tweets: 190 people read the first post on Facebook which is a higher figure than in the past.

Sneak Preview
This week’s is from a story which I am provisionally calling December Radio (I might have referred to it in the past as September Radio but it’s just a working title). I am back working on this now and I will attempt to complete this before December. This book can best be described as WWII/sci-fi and is about a whole number of characters in the War gradually discovering a secret plot by some unknown enemy. They do this through evidence from a series of supernatural events. It’s quite an existential project.

December Radio
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

07.56. The signal was not clear. Eric thought he might be dreaming. He tried to feel for the signal, twisting the knurled radio tuning knob. He watched the needle hover around 550KHz. Faint, but audible he heard again a Morse code signal: “May Day. May Day. KG100 1H H-Heinz, ditching seven miles north-west of Ostend.” Seven miles north-west of Ostend, and 100 feet beneath the bottle green North Sea swell, a conger eel settled back into the Daimler-Benz cowling on the Heinkel 111 H-Heinz, his home for the last two weeks. The decaying, pale corpses of the two crew members were unable to escape, then and now. They were wafted by the strong current, slow-motion dancers.

***

The farmer’s wife smelled, to her husband, of freshly baked bread. He nuzzled the nape of her neck. The howling wind, screaming across the Veldt was banished from this bedroom, as on many other nights, by the warmth of their love for each other. He slid his ham-hand under her night-dress and around her large, soft breast. She lifted her arm to grant him access.
“Are you asleep?” he whispered.
“No dear.”
Feeling himself stiffen, in response to the call from her timeless body, he eased up the hem of her dress – the one with pretty red flowers which had been a gift from her mother before her death, and placed his hand firmly on the her rounded haunch. His breathing quickened. Hers quickened in reciprocation.
“Can I?”
“Yes.”

Other News
I don’t know if the film in this week’s blog title is any good or not – I haven’t seen it, but I do know that Spike Milligan was a very funny man so this is my tribute to him.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Released today

attack-finalAttack Hitler’s Bunker! – a Wartime action adventure about an air-attack on Hitler in Berlin featuring Short stirlings, Hurricane’s and a love-triangle is newly released on Amazon today @ $.99. http://ow.ly/oNW5w GET YOUR FIRST EDITION NOW!

Blog: Best Seller

This week: Stats from FREE Promo, sneak preview from Escher’s Stairs and another FREE OFFER. This week’s title is from an obscure movie but starred James Woods and Brian Denehy, both great actors. What happened to Woods after that recent Lawyer series?

Best Seller
BookCoverPreviewThe big news this week is that I had over 2500 downloads of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate last week during it’s free promotion during which it made it all the way up to #74 in the Amazon US Best Sellers lists!! I can hardly believe it. Anyway more of that in a moment but don’t despair; the sneak preview is below this section this week.

First of all, my apologies for the late post this week. I was so busy trying to keep up with the unexpected high downloads of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate; staying up all night to see how high it reached in the ranking and tweeting about the success in every language I could manage, that I didn’t have time to post. I really wish Amazon had a more logical system for feedback on how well your book is selling.
After some research I have found that it actually reached #74 and not #82 as originally posted. It was probably for a few minutes and there is no way of seeing this unless Amazon report it as they did in this case. See image below:

74rank

As I mentioned, one has to stay up all night to be sure you see your highest ranking, and, if you are lucky, see how high it gets in both the Best Sellers ranking and the Top 100 Free Kindles ranking. I made the mistake of not keeping an eye on things last time and I wasn’t goint to make the same mistake twice. Unfortunately my book never made it into the Top 100 Free Kindle lists on the Amazon website which is very odd because number one on the web page listing was only #119 in the rankings and number two was only #1500!! Confused? I am. I did however make it to #74 in the Best Sellers ranking but again this didn’t show up on the website. Furthermore there are books such as this which are always in the Top 100 Free Kindle list. I am not sure how this is possible so I emailed their support and this was their reply:

“We have minimum list prices that we require to accept KDP books for sale on the Kindle Store. However, sometimes we match free promotions on other sales channels, and we may do that in the future for this or other titles.
We’re sorry we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. We will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.”

Hm, very helpful!
I think it’s possible 1) these authors have died, 2) They have renounced their rights to the work and thus it is in the Public Domain, 3) The book is free elsewhere and Amazon is simply price-matching. I want to offer my first set of short stories for free permanently to draw in new readers (it would be a loss-leader) and method 3) seems to be the only one available to me. So I have made the first set of short stories free on smashwords.com. So far Amazon hasn’t price matched this but I will wait and see.

Anyway for the records here are the download figures for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate:

US 2495
UK 46
Germany 17
France 4
Spain 1
Italy 3
Japan 1
India 3
Canada 8
Brazil 1

Total 2579

Since the sale ended I have had 15 sales of the book at the £2.99 rate (and about 4 sales of other books).

I am still not quite sure how the downloads took off so fast. Until the third day I had reached about 150 downloads but the curve was tapering off and I was a little disappointed. I decided on the Sunday to pay for a Facebook advert and started this late that night. Until Monday afternoon it had made little difference. I went to get something to eat and when I came back there had been 150 new downloads. I can only guess that something viral happened or perhaps the timing was right in America. As you can see, almost all of the downloads were in the USA. I find Facebook adverts a bit hit-and-miss; my first one wasn’t really good value for money but this one was- perhaps due to luck. If I sell a few more books I will have made back the money I spent and then it will all be profit!

Sneak Preview
This week’s sneak preview is the last from Escher’s Staircase. It’s from the section; Monk. It’s almost the only passage I can post here safely; the erotic content of the rest is far too erotic for the general public. If you like erotic literature, wait until the book is released and then download it! It should be out by the end of the year. I am still not sure if Amazon will ban it or not; the content guidelines say simply:

Pornography
We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.

What the hell does any of that mean? My book is not pornography but serious literature. Furthermore they do carry books like Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and Ada by Nabokov, both of which contain references to incest and other taboo sexual subjects. I don’t think my book is more offensive than these. What worries me is that Amazon might delete all my books as punishment before giving me a fair hearing, simply because I am not well-known. If any other writers have had to deal with such content on Amazon or anybody else has any suggestions, please get in touch.

Escher’s Staircase
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

Whereas the men had not much spare material to construct the pew, they had made it short and consequently the two of us had to sit and kneel close together. Thus it was I could hear each one of her gentle breaths as we prayed.
During one particularly miserable evening, with heavy rain pattering on the wet linen roof, I thought I heard her weeping. I continued to pray but part of me was listening and then I knew it; she was weeping. This was the more surprising since I had come to think of her as a hard woman, belied by her gentle looks. Now I had the almost irresistible urge to look at her. It was however impossible for me to comfort her. Our vows did not permit such interactions between a monk and nun, unless it were in confession.
This weeping reoccurred several times during prayer over the next few days until I could stand it no longer. We were always alone during prayer – the lay brothers were not permitted to pray at the same time as we, so I suddenly turned to her:
“What is ailing you, Sister?” I sounded almost angry. This I regretted.
“It is nothing, Brother. I am old, an infirm. I am prone to various pains and ills. I… I… No, it doesn’t matter.”
Her reply irritated me more than if she had kept silent. Now there were questions in my mind. I tried to dismiss these but they persisted. They began to have a life of their own. It was not long before I found myself having tender feelings towards the Sister. This was confirmed to my conscious mind during an encounter she had with one of the other Sisters.
“What are you doing, Sister Agnes?” she admonished. “That bucket is too full! You are spilling half of it. If it is too heavy for you to carry, get one of the other sisters to help you, or lighten the load!”
“Yes, Sister Justyne!”
Though the girl looked hurt by the rebuke, I felt angry with her, and not Sister Justyne.
‘This is not good!’ I told myself. I began to think about talking to the Abbot about my feelings.
That evening, we both prayed as usual. I recited the Lord’s Prayer, which I usually did first, when I thought I felt something on my hand. I assumed it was a fly and attempted to flick it off. Then I knew it was something bigger. I finished the prayer with some difficulty and glanced to my left. Sister Justyne’s hand was against mine and again she was weeping. Instantly I felt my member stand to attention. I was shocked. I hadn’t felt this for so long that I believed it would never happen again.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.
“We are old,” she whispered. I sometimes wonder how it is women managed to make pithy remarks which somehow seem self-evident. If law courts made decisions purely based on verbal delivery women would make the best lawyers. For a moment I could not think of a suitable response. Then I nodded. I looked into her brown eyes. She held my gaze and for just a moment I believed that what we did was not wrong. It’s effect was like a rock entering a pool. The ripples spread through my soul until the calm water was once again a living, vibrant body of water. I finished praying and somewhat abruptly left for the security of my cell. I prayed right through the night for my own soul. However I did not mention it or confess. I didn’t even believe my own prayers that night.
The following day she grew bolder. I had hardly begun to pray when she took hold of my hand. Hers was cool to the touch but it was so delicate that I felt a welling of emotion. I clasped her own hand between my own and continued to pray. I was praying for both of us. I have to admit that I gave her little hand a tiny squeeze before finally releasing it. Now I was an accomplice. There was no going back. I didn’t even pray for our souls that night and went to work the following day almost sanguine about our secret alliance.

Other News
The Ice Boat Volume I is now FREE until 11 September. It’s my earliest major work; it has many faults but I think it’s of value so download it and give it a go. I have now relocated the manuscript for Volume II so that will be published one day.
I am within a day or two of finishing Escher’s Staircase, at last! This has been a pet project I worked on between other projects, on and off for the last two years. At first it was simply a sketch, then a series of sketches before I realised it might actually make a complete story. it still needs a lot of work but at least I can send an initial draft to two test readers. It has a lot of erotic content but this is not the heart of the book. That is a non-dimensional odyssey of consciousness for one man.
In the next few days I will do the final corrections on Attack Hitler’s Bunker! and then it will be published. The cover is already complete.