There is a permanent page for Memories of the 1960s here.
This week: Books Available on Wattpad, Free Giveaway Honorary Cliff Robertson Documentary and Memories of the 1960s: Issue II
Books Available on Wattpad
Wattpad is fast becoming the book writers’ and readers’ social network. The website at www.wattpad.com has a nice, neat interface and in fact the whole approach is heavy on ‘simple.’ This allows you to start scribbling a story or building up a library of free reading material in seconds.
The simplicity does make it a bit difficult to figure out some features but I quickly got the hang of it. I have about eight of my books there, mostly short stories, but also the first chapters of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and Too Bright the Sun.
If you are just starting out as a writer or want to read lots of free stories, take a look.
From Saturday 14th June until Monday 16th June, erotic odyssey The Ice Boat Volume I will be FREE on Amazon. If you like adult fiction, and be aware, this contains vivid scenes of a sexual nature, then make sure you grab a copy.
Honorary Cliff Robertson Documentary
Just a quick mention that the project has had roughly 50 followers in the last week! Thanks to all those who have liked the page. If you are interested in getting your name up in lights (for as little as $5) on a Hollywood produced documentary on the Academy Award winning actor, please like the project page here: https://www.facebook.com/cliffrobertsonhonorarydocumentary
Memories of the 1960s: Issue II
I had several nice comments about Issue I so here is another:
Most people will remember the most two most prominent aspects of television in the 1960s; no colour and the dreaded test cards!
Colour television didn’t arrive in the UK until 1967 (BBC2) and late 1969 (BBC1 and ITV). There were some early test programmes on BBC2 and I think I remember one featuring a carnival. My father designed television cameras for a living so we were the first family I knew to have a TV set that could receive and display colour. I remember the riot of ultra-vivid colour blasting out of the screen. It seemed to completely transform the world. There were of course hiccups. Many people turned the colour button up to full, which made greens and red so bright that you would quickly get a headache. Paul McCartney had been assured that the Magical Mystery Tour would be broadcast in colour on Boxing Day 1967. But BBC1 still had not made the transition to colour so he was to be disappointed.
Test cards were what you saw when there were no programmes being transmitted. This was usually between about 1 am and 5 am, 10 am and midday and between 2.30 pm and 4 pm (5 pm on BBC2, which was the ‘educational’ channel). During these times, all you would see was a strange grid pattern with the picture of a young girl holding a piece of chalk against a blackboard and a baloon behind her, in the centre of the grid. Classical or, if my memory serves me correctly, easing listening music would accompany the picture. It would suddenly disappear when transmissions started but this was haphazard as schedules would vary by up to ten minutes.
A curiosity was the National Anthem, played right at the end of transmissions, at about 1 am. This would be followed by a continual tone. Many times neighbours would fall asleep, drunk or otherwise intoxicated, leaving the loud tone to drone on all through the night.
It wasn’t unusual for transmissions to be interrupted by atmospheric condition or even other local phenomenons. There were rumours of ‘ghost’ transmissions from crazy amateurs or TV-guerrillas!
I met one of these later in life. A physics graduate, this guy, along with some mates, figured out how to fire their own transmission at the BBC transmitter aerial somewhere in London. if they got the modulation just right and cancelled out the original signal, they could broadcast their own anarchist message. They were not completely successful the first time because some of the original transmission did reach receivers within a very small radius of the transmitter.
Undeterred, the pirates came up with an ingenious solution. They surrounded the tower at the right moment, and let rise a circle of helium-filled balloons. From these, a reflective tube of thin material was raised to form a ‘curtain’ around the tower. When this rose, they were able to block all transmission from the BBC and broadcast their own to the home counties. My friend never did tell me what message they transmitted.
And what of TV programmes themselves? The first, I remember clearly, there was Muffin the Mule, followed by the Woodentops and Andy Pandy. These were closely followed by Bill and Ben, Play School, Trumpton and Camberwick Green, Pogles Wood and of course the ubiquitous Blue Peter.
As I grew and (some would deny) matured, I progressed to a list of classics which hardly anybody will remember but I can’t resist listing: Barrier Reef, Skippy, Flipper, The Singing Ringing Tree, Jackanory, Belle and Sebastien, The White Horses, early Japanese anime Marine Boy, Origami, Yoga with Richard Hittleman, Painting with Nancy Kominski, The Magic Roundabout, Hector’s House, White Horses (so romantic that girls loved it) and of course Doctor Who.
The 1970s were ushered in with some of my all-time favourites: The Aeronauts, The Crusader (sometimes called Tibor: The crusader) and The Flashing Blade. I suppose if one thing marks out these programmes, it’s the high level of action and the driving R&B soundtracks. In those days, The Beeb (as we called the BBC) was not above hiring small R&B bands to play their them tunes and in fact Pink Floyd actually sat and played along to the 1969 moon landing, live! Unfortunately, the recordings, if there ever were any, have been lost. These, slightly kitsch, programmes may have been the progenitor of my love for driving rhythm and blues and rock.
In my childhood, we weren’t encouraged to watch ITV. This was the ‘cowboy’ channel. Mind you, some parents forbade their kids to watch it. I was lucky. I could watch it and I did. I quickly discovered programmes like Catweazle and Magpie, ITV’s answer to Blue Peter.
ITV had a much more laissez-faire attitude to broadcasting. Where else could you get a gorgeous blonde, two middle-aged guys and an Old Father Time pretending to be American Indians while showing you how things worked (How). The gorgeous blonde was Jenny Hanley, daughter of the comedian Tommy Hanley, and I immediately fell for her. I was love struck and I think I may have even written and sent a letter to her. She never replied! The Old Father Time was Jack Hargreaves, one time director of ITV, who wrote How and went on to do another of my favourites, Out of Town. I only recently found out that he made and appeared in Gone Fishing, which I referred to in Memories of the 1960s Issue I. I do remember him saying that chubb tasted like ‘cotton wool filled with pins and needles!’
Who can forget The Banana Splits or the immortal phrase “Uh-oh! Chongo!” The Banana Splits were a wacky team of men in animal suits – a dog, a bear, chimpanzee and an elephant (which never made a sound!) who delivered a crazy menu of jokes, one-liners and zany music, interspersed with comedy or adventure mini-serials like Microcar, Danger Island (Uh-oh! Chongo!) and The Arabian Knights. Their theme tune has been immortalised by punk band The Dickies and anybody who watched it as a kid will never forget the assault on their senses by the colour and sound of the Banana Splits.
I must also make a quick mention of H.R Pufnstuf, which was almost as psychedelic as The Banana Splits and more surreal – I have to believe both serials were invented by guys taking too much acid. In it Jack Wild, the talented youngster from the hit musical Oliver! strutted his stuff while battling through puberty himself. I never understood what the hell was going on, but then I guess that was the beauty of it!
Some more of my all-time favourites were the Gerry Anderson serials; Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO. I am too young to remember Fireball XL5, Supercar and Battery Boy etc, but I loved Thunderbirds.
The first episode, Trapped in the Sky, I watched, as I watched many, with my father. We would have been out, possibly fishing or to Church and come home to chicken pie or roast chicken at Sunday lunchtime. I would beg my mother to let me eat it in the lounge, with my knees stuffed under and ancient, miniature titling stool like a piano stool and, if I succeeded in persuading her, my dad would watch too. The amount of testosterone pumping through my system after watching these superhero brothers dicing with death in futuristic, jet or diesel powered behemoths probably gave me indigestion!
Then there was Captain Scarlet. This was one man against the evil Mysterons. And he was reincarnated! In fact, he died in every episode and his steady stare above a square jaw, only slightly more mobile than Mount Rushmore, gave no emotional hint of his suffering! I was hooked! Unfortunately it was rarely shown. A rumour would go around that there was one on TV (God knows where kids heard about it) or I would see it in the listings and then tune in, goggle-eyed! I would later learn that not only was the theme of death and reincarnation, Captain Scarlet representing a modern ‘Jesus’, considered too scary for kids but apparently Anderson had had his funding cut and all the character represented his revenge’portrayal of senior ITV management personnel. Captain White was Lew Grade, for instance. Soon the programme was moved to a late night slot. It was followed by UFO, which I also loved, but again, it seemed to be rarely shown on TV, unless I was out playing at the time. I did’t get to see the full series until about 2010.
Then there was Star Trek! By 1970, I was allowed to stay up until about 8.30 pm, twice per week, with my father chaperoning me. He loved Star Trek so I was able to drink in the colourful American vision of the future. The other evening programme, which I watched a lot, was The Virginian. This may seem vastly different from Star Trek, and it was, but it featured many stars of the future; Angie Dickinson, Doug McClure, Lee Majors and many others. And how can I ever forget the dry wit and calming influence of Medicine Bow’s sherrif, played by Clu Gulager?
In 1970, my father brought home the first portable television I had ever seen. None of my friends had one, or had even seen one. For me, it wasn’t that surprising – I regularly found bits of TV cameras strewn across my father’s study – but it was a mouth-watering opportunity. With two televisions, and one being portable, I could finally see a way to get access to the mythical ‘European movies’ that my friends whispered about reverently at school.
The portable TV was only black and white and only had a ten inch screen (I think, possibly twelve) but I quickly made excuses to watch it:
“Oh, star Trek is on at the same time as that film, you and mum want to watch. Can I take the portable upstairs?”
My parents, trusting me as they did, let me take it to my room on condition that I would turn it off after Star Trek. Of course, I did. But then, a careful perusal of the Radio Times’ late night schedule would reveal some dubious ‘European’ movie, usually with no, or very little, description and no (in those days) cast list. I would put the TV in my bed, so that the sound and light were muffled. Then, until the early hours of the morning I would watch Sylvia Kristel (only guessing here, I don’t remember who these people were) undressing and committing carnal acts on wiry, shady men, who always wore socks, and usually their underpants, I seem to remember. Thankfully, they usually left their umbrellas and bowler hats at the door. I guess I nearly came unstuck when I saw Get Carter (1971, I know, but indulge me!). The violence in the film didn’t bother me too much but when he murders the prostitute by injecting her with heroine, I was shocked. I think this may have left a lasting mark on me but I do think the late-night films widened my horizons considerably.
The daytime and evening film fare was usually a Western but the first daytime film I (vaguely) remember being impressed withe was The Wages Of Fear. I had to see it again recently to remind myself of the nitro-glycerine, nerve shattering tension in the film. If you haven’t seen it it yet, make sure you do.
Finally, I have to mention other activities resulting from watching TV (apart from romantic, that is). I probably first felt the inspiration to try fishing while watching Out of Town. During the massive interest in the Gerry Anderson programmes, there was the TV21 annual. 21 stood for ‘Twenty-first Century,’ and the annual, much more exciting than the Blue Peter annual, had plans for all sorts of crazy things you could build.
My two favourites were a version of a tree-house, which you actually suspended from the eaves of a house using pulleys, rope and packing crates or bits of destroyed go-carts, and an SPV simulator. The SPV was Captain Scarlet’s vehicle and SPV stood for ‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle.’ Of course, nearly every boy I knew had a toy SPV. But to actually drive one? That would be something. The detailed drawing showed you how to make scenery, which would then run endlessly on a conveyor-belt within a cardboard box, cut to look like a TV monitor. In the full-sized SPV (nobody ever built one, but indulge me again here), the driver faced backwards, to save his body from damage during high-G braking, so he could only see the road through a monitor. The conveyor belt was powered by pedals which in turn were powered by the ‘driver’s’ feet. It was all hilariously good fun. I didn’t, but if anybody did build any of these things, please let me know!
Well, I think that’s about it. Please let me know your memories by posting a comment below.
This week: OCD Update, special offers and: How do you market your books?
I am proud to announce that today is my first OCD-FREE day of this year (and for about 20 years for that matter!). It is probably just an excersise but if it works I will stick to it.
Basically I woke up this morning, took a long, hard look at things and decided I didn’t have time for the OCD any more. Anyway, my fear of getting fatal diseases (like AIDs for instance) simply haven’t come true, probably because I have been very careful. For whatever reason, now seems a good time to try this. I already feel I have burned my bridges somewhat so there may not be any way back in the short term.
No doubt, my mind will try to take over and my ‘OCD-self’ will try to gain the upper hand so watch this space. But if you don’t hear any more about my OCD, then I am free of it. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed.
In order to achieve an OCD-FREE state, I need to be very focused on something; I get bored very easily and I have a hyperactive mind, so expect me to be working very hard on the books and promoting myself in the near future. Read on, if you are interested in the promotion and please do buy one of my books if you are at all interested in my views or stories. I really appreciate the support of all of you and I would love to sell more books!
To mark the occasion of my OCD-FREE day attempt, I have changed one of the eyes of my twitter and Facebook header’s. It now represents blue sky, for optimism.
How do you market your books?
This question has plagued me recently. My sales almost stopped after 10 March. I could see no reason why. My sales were good for January and February. I was beginning to sell books at a higher price so I was happy. Then, the slump! I have thought long and hard about it and I conclude that the only possible cause must be that I am marketing less hard lately.
So I have created some new marketing images (see below) and I will be trying a few tools other than the infamous Facebook adverts over the next few weeks.
I will be spending half of my profits (after personal hours spent writing!) on adverts so I will let you know how I get on.
If anybody has tried either of these tools or knows anything else I can try other than Facebook or Google ads – both of which I have tried and had limited success, please let me know.
I have found that although I can achieve a fairly high CTR (click through rate) of 0.08% on Facebook, these simply don’t convert to sales. This may be because my blurb about the books doesn’t appeal or because my ads don’t relate clearly enough what I am offering. If anybody has any interesting views on this that they wish to share, please do.
A reminder: Inchoate: (Short Stories: Volume I) is FREE if you are in the States and I have added Vampire Beneficence to it. Get it here: http://bit.ly/IRGYaE Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be 99c from Friday 2 May until Tuesday 6 May. Get it here: http://bit.ly/15R1xOL
Below are the new marketing images, including my first attempt at a Lazlo Ferran logo. Please let me have your opinions and any other ideas I can try for marketing.
This week: An interview with Jake Nanden from the Iron Series and: Where could vampires have come from?
Where could vampires have come from?
I am not going to say here whether vampires exist or not; that is a question I might never find an answer to. But where could they have come from if they do exist? That is an interesting question.
funnily enough, since the beginning of man’s history, vampires have been seen to be some kind of ‘elite’. They are even idealised versions of humans in some stories. Recently this thought has played on my mind a lot.
It would seem logical to assume that the natural suspicion working and middle class people feel for royalty and nobility might naturally lead to an attribution to them of ‘unnatural powers’. I don’t think this is a modern trend and might have even been more prevalent in the age when Royalty were seen to be mandated by by God to rule
Vlad III, known posthumously as Vlad the Impaler because of his cruelty was just one such ruler. His first name, Dragwlya, is the origin of the modern name Dracula and Vlad is most likely the source of the legend of Dracula – a fiend who drank blood.
Then we have Elizabeth Báthory (be patient if I seem to be going over old ground here). She was also accused of drinking the blood of virgins.
What do both have in common? They are both European royalty. What else do we know about European Royalty (and indeed what did common folk know at the time about them)? They tended to inbreed. what sort of symptoms can one expect from inbreeding? An increased chance of haemophilia. Indeed Vlad III is rumoured to have suffered from it.
According to wikipedia: Haemophilia lowers blood plasma clotting factor levels of the coagulation factors needed for a normal clotting process.
In genetics it is linked to the X-Chromosome. Men have an X and a Y chromosome and women to X chromosomes and a Y chromosome. Thus haemophilia in women is very rare: if one X-Chromosome will not support the coagulation, the other X-Chromosome will express it. That is perhaps a good thing because the gene for haemophilia is inherited through the mother. The last thing you want in a royal family is a woman with haemophilia. If she is a silent carrier, her sons are 50% likely to suffer from haemophilia, if she herself shows symptoms, her sonds are 100% likely to suffer. And certainly in the middle ages it dramatically cut life expectancy; few sufferers would even reach adulthood.
But guess who was a silent carrier? Queen Victoria. From her, were born most of the European royalty for the next 100 years. And of course Czar Nicolas’s son suffered from haemophilia. A haemophilia sufferer will tend to be mororse, tend to stay inside and probably exhibit a paler complexion than other children or adults (if they are lucky enough to reach maturity). Is it too much of a stretch of imagination to suppose that haemophilia, and more particularly, haemophilia in royalty may be the source of the legend of vampires?
I am not discounting the idea that Vampires have a separate existance from this and indeed a legitimate place in the tree of evolution. But I propose that one of the legends around them originates in the European Royal Disease – haemophilia.
What is your opinion? Please let me know and join in the debate by commenting below.
An interview with Jake Nanden from the Iron Series
This interview appeared on the Library of Erana blog a few weeks ago. Thanks very much to Alexandra Butcher for permission to publish this.
Tell Us About Yourself
Name (s): Jake Nanden
Please tell us a little about yourself. I am 5’11’, dark hair, short – Army cut, slightly curly. Green eyes.
Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Getting middle aged, slightly paunchy with drying skin – like paper in places – except my mech arm. That’s synthetic skin on there and as smooth and supple as the day it was sprayed on. I even had mine tattooed but don’t tell anyone.
Would you kill for those you love? I kill every day – most days – to keep my culture intact. I would say that is killing for those I love. Of course there is a moral code… And as a soldier the moral code is almost everything. After a while… killing… it sometimes seems to be the only thing you have left. Family are too far away.
Do you like animals? I love animals. Their love is unconditional. You can never quite be sure with humans, can you?
Do you have a family? Ha! Ha! Yes. A test-tube. No seriously my mother – Mary, my sister Justine and a dog – a collie called Frisky. My adoptive dad was the famous robotics designer Robert R. Nanden but he’s dead. My mother was his assistant and pretty accomplished at that!
Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? I am not sure about any of my childhood memories. They are probably all implanted. I am a replicant. The first memory I am sure about is playing on the grass with my adoptive mother watching me playing cricket.
She shouted out, “Jake! You are such a talented cyborg!”
Even at my tender age, I knew a replicant was not the same thing as a cyborg and I knew that she should know, as her first husband had been a famous robot designer. Her words had always stuck in my head.
But anyway, adoptive parents of replicant children are always told to create some vivid experience for their kid in the first few days so that the imprinting takes properly. So it’s probably not significant.
Do you have any phobias? Mirrors. Can’t stand them. They make me sweat and… well, I’m very nervous around them. I avoid them.
Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I write books – well, I am writing my first; a detective thriller. It’s kind of Raymond Chandler-ish. I call it Chandleresque, but I guess that’s bad English. My adoptive parents are first generation J5 – that’s a space station – so they kinda inherited a USAC – United States of America and Canada – accent. Anyway, I am rambling. The main character is Dusty. He’d a sucker for the pretty ladies!
Tell Us About your world
Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Well, I was born on Mars – at least I was adopted on Mars. We lived under a dome for most of my childhood. My most precious memory is of my dad taking me out on a hoverbike to see the real Mars sunset. Of course, you could see sunsets from the dome, but the U.V. protection took out most of the colour and I had nagged him for weeks to take me outside to see one. With difficulty, because my fingers were so small, I lifted the outer U.V. filter and gasped. The white disk of the sun almost burned a hole in my head. Its white was so intense it was almost blue and the blue became a corona as my eyes quickly looked up and away from it. The corona gradually faded into a riot of colour that filled the rest of my vision. The purples and oranges were deeper than those in a bowl of the freshest and most tangy grapes and peaches.
Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? That’s three questions in one! Yes of course there is religion but I struggle to believe in anything other than a goal of justice – for my friend’s death. We have the usual Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, and a few others that go way back on Earth. Plus we have the got Mech! Well, what can I say about him? It started with cyborgs and androids worshipping the God of mechanical things. They believe Mech created humans to service the machines. Lately even replicants are converting. Most replicants find it difficult to have faith in anything other than themselves.
Name and describe a food from your world. We can make what we like using n-gens; nano-generators. ‘Fried’ is my favourite: bacon, eggs, potatoes, beans, fried-bread and mushrooms. I am old enough to remember what these things are called, and what they look like. To most grunts they are just ‘fried’,
Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another? We are more concerned with Ischians – aliens. We call them ‘Dogs’ because they have evolved from something like dogs. Pretty formidable though… You don’t want to mess with Ishuns. Races? I don’t think anybody notices any more. Still a stigma to being a replicant though. I think that’s where people’s racism has gone.
Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Mech, the god for all A.I. beings, as robots and androids were now permitted to call themselves, lived in a red world of dust which corroded him and he had three sons, Iron, Tin and Wire. They lived in the desert for they were afraid of the sea, but one day Iron, who was the eldest son, committed a sin by openly doubting Mech and Mech banished him. Iron wandered alone until he came to the sea, and left his mark upon a rock but no more was ever heard from him again.
I guess the other one is that God looks after us all. Replicants don’t agree. You should see the size of funeral urns replicants get. Then you would know all about inequality.
Book(s) in which this character appears.
The Iron series: Iron I, Too Bright the Sun, Iron II, Unknown Place, Unknown Universe and Iron III (published soon) Worlds Like Dust
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This week: The Moon, Shape-changers and Consciousness – what is the truth?
The Moon, Shape-changers and Consciousness – what is the truth?
I recently started a discussion group around the concepts in my Ordo Lupus series. You can find the group here and I invite you to join. I am planning a pure Vampire novel as a follow up to this series and I want to try to understand further how shape-changing has become buried so deeply in our consciousness and explore whether it actually exists in humans.
Notice how I carefully say ‘humans’, for it certainly exists in other animals. Look at butterflies, moths and flies for instance. The crysalis stage is a fascinating example of metamorphosis in nature.
In Vampire Beneficence I go one stage further and suggest that it exists in humans and that the change to a kind of benevolent ‘super-being (which we currently call vampire or werewolf though sheer superstition and fear) is triggered by diet. In other words, when man became adept enough at gathering food that a diet of pure blood was possible, the human body could transform into something quite different.
In conversation I often say to people that I am affected by the phase of moon but I experience the worse effects during the new moon. Twice I have felt out of sorts and guessed it’s a new moon and I was accurate to within 2 hours and 1 hour.
In my Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate FB group we recently had a discussion that went like this:
Another member said: No [werewolves don’t exist], but full moons, Friday 13th and clock changes do seem to have an adverse effect on those who are psychiatricly unstable.
Possibly in times gone by, those people may have been considered ‘wild’ or ‘animalistic’ in behaviour. I said: Personally I am absolutely convinces that my mood is affected by phases of the moon. Twice I have suddenly felt it was a new moon and when I checked, I was accurate to within 1 hour. As somebody said to me, the brain is over 70% water so why should not the pull of the moon have an effect? Yet another member replied: I do hope Werewolves do not exist, same as with non-Twilight Vampires. Last thing I want to discover it that we’re not at the top of the food chain. Why no problem with Twilight-Vampires, because at worst they’ll try to seduce dumb 16yo girls. Not such a risk for humanity, if anything they’d be doing us a favor by making sure dumb 16yo don’t pass on their genes to anyone else.
Seriously though, the phases of the moon do affect mood swings, as far as I know.
I went on to do some research: I watched a program about Metamorphosis: the Sea Urchin is really strange. It had an a juvenile which grows inside a larva and when it is ready the larva dives to the bottom of the sea and the juvenile breaks out of the larva fully formed and eats it!! this raises all sorts of questions for me, as one who believes in the soul:
Where is the soul when the larva is being eaten by the emerging adult?
If it’s in both bodies of matter how can a consciousness be in two places at the same time?
If the above are both the case, does one defer to the will of the other?
You can see my problem. How does one get around the idea of a consciousness occupying two bodies at the same time. Is it possible that vampires and werewolves have a parallel existence within this world? Or do the lycanthropes or shape-changers just exist within a separate world of pure ‘consciousness’?
What do you think?
I estimate that I am within 2 days of completing the first manuscript of The Ice Boat Volume II! It has been tough going making something out of something I wrote ten years ago. And yet somebody I know is actually reading it and they like it! I was told, “Dude, your description of that Santana album while they were high was AMAZING, a true joy to read,” and that the book is erotic. Expect it to be published as an unexpected bonus for 2014. Sign up for my Newsletter to get the release before anyone else.