If we don’t stop destroying the planet and making wars, we have no future.
Read my latest treatise on war, December Radio, when it is published by A-Argus in January 2015:
Based on real events.
February 1945: despite the Allies turning the tide of war, the Nazi’s are almost ready to test their ultimate weapon off the coast of America. A weapon which could win them the War.
Two Dutch brothers are thrown into a chaotic world of spies, traitors and scientists when Arnaud is incarcerated in a concentration camp as a dissident and forced to work on the secret weapon project. Their mother begs his older brother, Carl, to find him and bring him home.
A fascist who loves only smart clothes, jazz and women, Carl disowns his brother. But after witnessing a murder, he is forced to hold a mirror up to himself.
Arnaud is desperate to stop the project. But he is dying, hanging on, hoping his brother will come…
The third book in the Ordo Lupus series, The Synchronicity Code, is out on 5 November. To celebrate this the Halloween classic, Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate – Second Edition (the on with the original Secret Codes), will be only 99 cents on 30 October.
And don’t forget that with the release of The Synchronicity Code, you will have all the clues you need to win the $500 Prize offered with the free book Vampire -Find my Grave
Here’s the my interview, during which I discuss my writing and the Ordo Lupus series in particular.
[UPDATE: CLICK ON POST ABOVE OR ‘INTERVIEW’ IF YOU WANT TO HEAR MY INTERVIEW. IT WAS ONLY UP ON THE AUTHORS SHOW WEBSITE FOR ONE DAY. THIS POST IS LEFT IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE FOR HISTORIC REASONS]
It should just start playing.
Please let me know what you think and share it around. Hop on over there. It’s only up today! (link no longer available)
If the link above doesn’t work, go here:
(link no longer available)
Click on the underlined text next to my name in the short list (5-6) of inrterviews underneath the subtitle Broadcast Schedule.
Then on the subsequent page you will need to click on the correct interview in the grey box near the top (under the list of featured authors), which has forward and back and play buttons, much like a cassette tape deck.
The results are in! I wonder if you will agree or disagree with the people’s choice! Please comment with your opinion or tweet me @Lazlo_F or facebook.com/lazloferran
In first place we have Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire.
In second place, we have Salma Hayak as Santanico Pandamonium in From Dusk till Dawn.
Tying for third place, we have Jack Nicholson as Will Randall in Wolf and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula in various Hammer movies.
Did you know?
Interview with the Vampire:
Tom Cruise and all the other vampire actors were required to hang upside down for up to thirty minutes at a time during the make-up application.
Johnny Depp was offered the role of Lestat.
There’s a scene towards the end of the movie where Louis is watching Superman (1978) in a cinema. This scene doesn’t appear in the novel because the book was written in 1976, two years before the film was made.
There is going to be another vote; best vampire or werewolf acting!
Please nominate your favourites in the comments and I will add them to the list. Nominations close 5pm, 18 May. You can nominate by commenting here, tweeting me at @Lazlo_F or messaging me/commenting on Facebook.
Es wird wieder eine Stimme zu sein; beste schauspielerische Vampir oder Werwolf!
Bitte benennen Sie Ihre Favoriten in den Kommentaren und ich werde sie in die Liste aufzunehmen. Nominierungen in der Nähe 17.00, den 18. Mai.
Hier sind meine Nominierungen (in keiner bestimmten Reihenfolge):
एक और वोट होने जा रहा है; सबसे अच्छा अभिनय पिशाच या वेयरवोल्फ!
टिप्पणी में अपने पसंदीदा में नामित करना और मैं उन्हें सूची में जोड़ देंगे। नामांकन, 18 मई 17:00 बंद कर दें।
यहाँ (कोई विशेष क्रम में) मेरे नामांकन कर रहे हैं:
Il va y avoir un autre vote; meilleur vampire intérimaire ou loup-garou!
S’il vous plaît nommer vos favoris dans les commentaires et je vais les ajouter à la liste. La clôture des candidatures 17 heures, le 18 Mai.
Voici mes candidatures (sans ordre particulier):
No va a haber Comentarios otra vez; mejor vampiro o la actuación del hombre lobo!
Por favor nominar a sus favoritos en los comentarios y voy a añadir ’em a la lista. Nominaciones estrecha 17:00, 28 de Mayo.
Aquí están mis nominaciones (en ningún orden en particular):
ایک اور ووٹ ہونے جا رہا ہے؛ بہترین ویمپائر یا ویئروولف اداکاری!
تبصرے میں آپ کی پسندیدہ کی نامزدگی اور میں فہرست میں شامل کرے گا، براہ مہربانی. کاغذات نامزدگی، 18 مئی 5pm کے بند.
یہاں میری نامزدگیوں ہیں
Here are my nominations (in no particular order):
Willem Defoe as Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire (movie)
Robert Pattinson in Twilight (movie)
Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger (movie)
Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula in Nosferatu the Vampyre (movie)
Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire (movie)
Jack Nicholson as Will Randall in Wolf (movie)
Nina Dobrev as Elena in The Vampire Diaries
Kate Beckinsale as Selene in Underworld (movie)
Gary Oldman as Dracular in Dracula (movie)
David Naughton as David Kessler in American Werewolf in London (movie)
Christopher Lee as Dracula (various Hammer movies)
Lina Leandersson as Eli in Let the Right One In (movie)
I am delighted to announce that Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is now FREE on most Amazon sites, Google Play globally, most iTunes (Apple) sites around the world, Smashwords (including FlipKart) and all Bookbaby outlets (including Oyster, txtr and E-Sentral). See my Availability in your country page for more details. If you cannot find it free, email me: email@example.com
This week: Profits from eBooks! and: Memories of the 1960s: Issue V – School
Memories of the 1960s: Issue V – School
Prepare to have all the myths of how school was Heaven in the 60s blasted away and for myths that it was Hell to be destroyed. This is what it was like for me.
I spent my school years, until the age of fourteen, in Buckinghamshire. Now, I am not saying the true-blue ultra-conservative Buckinghhamshire is backward but the last time I looked at the council’s website it had chains running down each side! That was back in the 90s. In the 60s, they were just about as blue as you can get and they certainly believed in giving every child’s sanity a run for its money.
The Bucks model of education was simple: your kid had to pass their eleven-plus exam to get a proper education. Anything else was failure and rewarded with being sent to a ‘secondary-modern,’ which in Bucks meant a school for dunces. There you would never get the chance to do O’Levels or A’Levels and you would certainly never go to University. So every day of your school life, you were having the message ‘Success is everything’ rammed down your throat. Unfortunately, the flip-side of this philosophy was the message that ‘humanity is nothing.’ It was only many years later that we would all discover Hans Eysenick’s IQ based formula for the eleven-plus exam was all based on fake research.
My first memory is of the first day. I was five. I somehow managed to annoy the teachers, Mrs Barnes and Mrs Farrow, and was made to stand in the corner. My reputation as a trouble-maker seemed to grow from there. But in general, being made to sit next to girls and getting to play in the sun for hours couldn’t have seemed too bad in 1967. I actually remember many of us dancing to Yellow Submarine in the playground, a year later. We thought the song was a traditional song!
The School Day
Our day would begin with assembly, basically a church meeting complete with prayers and hymns, followed by our first lesson, a break of 15 minutes and another lesson until lunch at 12 noon. At 1 pm, later extended to 1.15 pm, we would have another lesson, then another break at 2 pm, followed by the last lesson and then home at 3 pm.
Once or twice per week, a whole morning or afternoon would be give over to sports. We had to play in any weather and in fact, we had to spend every break-time outside, even in the direst thunderstorm or the worst snow. Nobody questioned this. Undoubtedly the weirdest ‘sports’ experience I had was when we were split into pairs of a boy and girl and told to slap each other’s legs as hard as we could. I was lucky enough to be paired with Shirley, who was to become the love of my life after this! She had dark, curly hair, darting, intelligent eyes and the looks of a Thomas Hardy heroine although she said she had gypsy blood. I learned that she had strong legs too after slapping them for ten minutes. Why the Bucks education system considered this an acceptable game, I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps they thought a bit of S&M would teach women their places. Anyway, Shirley, if you are out there, sorry I was so good at slapping your legs.
With the baby-boom in full swing, class sizes rose to 58, in the case of mine. It was a scandal that was reported in the papers and parents protested. But there was nothing to be done. Nothing, that is, except get the children to teach. Yes! I’m not lying. As the best reader in my class, I was given my own remedial reading class which I took under the stairs near the entrance to the main block. It was a challenge because most of my small class of perhaps 8 readers had dyslexia. I can’t remember if I managed to improve their reading. I just knew they had a problem. It was only two years later, that one of those pupils, by this time a friend, was diagnosed with dyslexia.
Time to dish the dirty: school dinners in Bucks were crap! In fact, not only crap, but most of the time, inedible. All would be served in stainless steel containers, even the water, which was our only drink. The steel gave everything a certain ‘tang.’ I particularly hated the pilchards which were pickled in vinegar and tomato sauce. I hate vinegar anyway, it makes me sick, and the tomatoes used were so stewed that you couldn’t tell what they were any more. I used to hide my pilchards under the scoop of Smash (commercial mash potato which tasted like cotton wool). But then, Mrs Parks, the most evil teacher in the school, wised up to my technique and forced me to eat it while she held my spoon-hand firmly. I warned her: “I will be sick on you if you make me eat this.” She ignored me and, consequently, I vomited all over her skirt. Besides the teachers, local women came in for lunchtime to watch over us, while the heads of each table, usually two children from the senior year, would serve the food frim the metal containers. We called them ‘Serving Ladies,’ one being Mrs. Rance. Other odd dishes were: the strawberry blancmange which tasted of lipstick and stuck to the plate if you turned it upside down; swede; parsnips and jam pudding. All were prepared so badly that they put me off such food forever. The only dishes I liked were: fried cod; semolina and chocolate sauce; chocolate sponge cake and shortcake biscuits with dollops of strawberry jam on top. In fact, a friend and I tried to eat as many portions of fried cod as we could and made ourselves sick this way!
Here are the 10 school dinner combinations I can remember:
Roast lamb with mint sauce, carrots and peas, boiled potatoes Roast beef (and Yorkshire pudding – Yum), gravy, roasted potatoes Toad in the hole (sausages in battered pudding), roasted potatoes, turnips Battered cod fish (this was ok), chips, peas or carrots Pilchards in vinegar with turnips, synthetic mashed potatoes (yuch!) Kippers with swede, rice Sausages with baked beans, synthetic mashed potatoes Scrambled egg with baked beans, synthetic mashed potatoes Liver with boiled potatoes, carrots or peas Fishcakes or fish fingers with synthetic mashed potato and peas or carrots
Yellow blancmange (lemon) Pink blancmange (raspberry) Spotted dick (sponge with currants) Shortbread biscuits with jam Jam doughnuts Semolina with chocolate sauce Tapioca with jam Rice pudding with jam Chocolate sponge pudding (hot) with hot chocolate sauce
A special mention has to go out here to Douglas McKelvie, the head teacher, and the best teacher, of the school. I had him in my last year and hated him at first. He had the habit of running across the desk tops or flicking chalk at you, if you talked. He would often sit a boy next to a girl just to see what happened. In fact, even though I was desperate to sit next to Shirley, he put me next to Alison, a pretty blonde. The strange thing was that a few months later, my sister and I were sent to stay at the Alison’s house for the week before Christmas. To the eternal anthem of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody (video) I tried to puzzle out what was going on. There were many things I didn’t understand about the Buckinghamshire education system; why did they line us all up from time to time and inject us with strange things called ‘typhoid jabs’ or run eye tests that showed us we had deficient vision and then try to force us to wear thick lenses which clearly (pun intended) made things worse? Why did they get boys to slap girls’ legs? But most of all, I wanted to know why the parents and school seemed to be in league, matchmaking, or indeed match-breaking, pupils?
In the autumn of 1974, it all came crashing to a ugly, heartbreaking halt for me. They had wanted to know my IQ for so long that I thought it might be some kind of biological substance inside me. Was I toxic? Every few weeks, we were given these strange tests called ‘mocks’. And then, without warning, I came to school one day and found the classroom desks equipped with a pencil, eraser and a stapled examination paper. It was the eleven-plus exam. There were three papers, the last in February or March. I did well at the first two and I had no reason to worry; I had scored 86% in the last mock exam. But late in the spring, the awful ‘results day’ came. Buckinghamshire Council didn’t mess about. Douglas McKelvie called out each of our names and we went to the front of the class to collect our white envelope. If it was fat, you had passed but if it was thin, you were going to a secondary modern. Mine was thin.
Whether you liked it or not, within minutes, everyone knew everyone else’s results. Shirley has passed and would go on to Dr. Challoners High School for girls, the best school in the area. But worse than this, my friend, who had passed, and I had a fight. I don’t know for certain what it was about; my memory is that he teased me about failing and I insulted him back, calling him fat. That may be wrong. In any case, we ended up, that very day, on the playground tarmac, fighting it out. It was dirty and no-holds-barred. It was my first fight and I won. That I do remember clearly.
Was that the last time I saw Shirley? Actually, no. I cried for days at my own failure. Never has failure been driven home so absolutely as it was in Buckinghamshire. I lost most of my friends that day and I lost most of my hopes and dreams. Later, I would be saved when my parents moved to a different, more progressive county. Before the end of term, another girl organised a birthday for the summer holidays. I wasn’t invited. But I lobbied hard and managed to get in. It was a ‘Tramps’ party, in which you had to dress up as a – tramp. Who should be there but Shirley. My little autograph book had been all round the class on the last day of term and had every signature, except hers because she had been on holiday with her friends. Now was my chance to steal something! We played spin-the-bottle, a kissing game, and a kiss from Shirley would certainly be something worth stealing. Now, I have to mention here that Shirley had always been nice to me, she had taught me Origami under the stairs, but I had never had the guts to tell her how I felt, so I couldn’t call her my sweetheart. I had certainly never kissed her. But I was hopeful. In the end, the kissing gods were not on my side and I didn’t get the chance to kiss her. I didn’t even have the guts to ask her for a dance. I might well have said to myself: “Welcome to the real world!”
What are your memories of the 1960s? Leave a comment below.
Finally, I have made a profit from a promotional campaign to promote one of my eBooks, Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. We’re not talking big figures here, in fact, well less than $100. Nevertheless, It has taken me over a year to find something that works. From what other writers are telling me, it’s getting harder and harder to rake in the cash for eBooks. But I managed to beat the odds, at least once. Read on for how I did it:
I have tried marketing using twitter, Facebook paid adverts and google’s AdSense. For free downloads, Facebook’s adverts worked best but you are looking at upwards of $40 to get a couple of thousand downloads if you’re lucky. Of course, there is no money in that!
I have tried for almost a year (since hearing about them) to get on Bookbub and E Reader News Today (ENT) . I am still trying to get accepted for Bookbub, which costs at least $110, depending on genre, but have so far have been unsuccessful. I finally managed to get on ENT about a month ago and, what is more, they scheduled me for 5th July, a day after American Independence Day. I was delighted. But I wasn’t convinced it would draw any sales. Consequently, I signed up for (initially) 1 day of tweets from The Book Tweeting service. This was to be on the 4th July, just to get things going. It wouldn’t help the other sales but it’s always good to coordinate these things to get the highest rank possible. High Rank = More Sales.
By Saturday 5th July, I had seen no sales at all from hundreds of tweet to over 100,000 potential customers. I cancelled the second day of tweets although I must say, the staff were very friendly and helpful and did their best.
However, by midnight of the Saturday, I had already seen 8 solid sales from the E Reader News Today service. It works! I was delighted and will try them again, if they will have me.
Egypt or any part of Africa through Kobobooks.com, I am told. I need somebody in Egypt to test this. http://store.kobobooks.com/en-gb/Search?Query=lazlo+ferran nb: you will have to convert the book to .mobi using a free software programme called Calibra if you want to read them using a Kindle device.
If you have problems let me know by commenting or emailing me so that I can send you a workaround.
You can always find details of availability and updates on the Catalogue page of this website.
If you live in Egypt please can you test the Kobobooks source and get back to me?
This week: Grammar and Onomatopoeia and – Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?
Grammar and Onomatopoeia
I am just doing a light re-edit of the second book in the Ordo Lupus series: The Devil’s Own Dice. I have been pleasantly surprised how good it is! I occasionally go back to old books to just bring the grammar up to date. This is because, not only do my grammar skills improve as I publish more work but also there are fashions in grammar and these gradually change! Yes, it’s true!
Of course everybody knows that the meaning of a word can change over time. This field of study is called semantics. The obvious example is ‘gay’. When I was young this simply meant ‘happy’ or ‘bright and cheerful’. Now it most usually denotes someone physically attracted to the same sex.
Another word which changes meaning with time is ‘insidious’. The meaning of this word seems to actually fluctuate during cycles of about ten years. It can sometimes mean ‘subtle’ and sometimes mean ‘subtly bad’.
In two of my books, written in the mid-noughties, the phrase ‘in-control’ comes up quite a lot. People actually used said that a lot during the 80s and 90s. Now, nobody seems to use it so I take it out wherever I see it.
While I edit, I also look at ways to subtly improve the text. Occasionally, particularly when the action gets going and where most writers tend to use less commas, I find too many of the blighters. This sentence had two but by removing them, I created a much simpler sentence with a more flowing ‘feel’. Actually, I am quite pleased with this sentence; its quite difficult to create one this long which has no commas and yet is grammatically correct (correct me if it’s wrong somebody):
I did my best to stand up straight and look dignified in the doorway at the top of the stairs while the water dripped from my cloth hat onto my nose and then to the dry stone floor.
Finally, I had the rare chance to improve on my use of onomatopoeia when I came upon this sentence:
At the sound of eight tolls of the nearby Abbey bell, I made my way back to Herleva’s room.
I instantly saw that this sentence had some onomatopoeic potential. I wanted this sentence to communicate a gloomy mood. What if eight syllables reminded me of the sound of a bell being tolled? What I ended up with is this:
At the sound of eight bells, tolled from the nearby Abbey bell, I made my way back to Herleva’s room.
Here we have the eight syllables: eight (1) bells (2), tolled (3) near- (4) by(5) Abb- (6) ey (7) bell (8).
Of course, strictly speaking this is not onomatopoeia. Nevertheless, the sounds of the words reflect the feel I want to get across so I think it’s very effective.
One wag quipped that in this case it may even simply be euphony (any agreeable (pleasing and harmonious) sound) because the sound of a bell ringing is pleasant but I would argue that I am not trying to create a pleasant sound, but a gloomy one.
See if you can find a sentence in one of your books where you can try this sort of trick. Writing can often be about mood-setting and this trick can work well.
Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?
I have often been asked where my idea for the Ordo Lupus occult thriller series; Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and The Devil’s Own Dice, came from. Well, to be honest, the idea didn’t come completely out of the blue.
I had been interested in werewolves and vampires for a while. I was also intensely interested in cults and secret societies. Long before Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, I was interested in the Knights Templar and through this came to books by Henry Lincoln like Key To The Sacred Pattern: The Untold Story Of Rennes-le-Chateau (sadly out of print but still available on Amazon as a hardback). These books led me to an interest in the lost treasure of Rennes-le-Château and from there to an interest in the Cathars.
All this interest may well be because my family’s roots are in that region of France. In fact, one of my ancestors may well have been a Cathar!
So the seeds were there for a book about mysterious treasure and secret societies were planted in my mind. Then I stumbled upon this video on youtube while googling wolf cults: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpJwzIC4G_4
I typed the address into my browser and came upon the most bizarre website I have ever encountered! The appearance is nothing special, forbidding crossed swords on a plain, black background and with nothing in the way of information about the cult apart from the enigmatic phrase ‘Don’t forget who you are’. Perhaps the introverted aspect of the website tempted me to enter my details in the hope that I would gain membership, if only for journalistic reasons.
I was to be sadly disappointed. Not only did they not respond to my submission, but when I messaged them on youtube, they didn’t respond there either. Frustrated, I copied their video, colour-corrected it and posted on my own youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFYgIWQXS4Y). I was sure this provocative act would get them talking to me but no! They have never once contacted me. In fact, apart from a brief mention in a UK national newspaper (I can’t remember which one) and two mentions in Le Monde (29 September 2009), I have been able to find no other references to the cult.
And yet the website is still there!
Incidentally, from the Le Monde article I was able to find the park in Lyon where the beast was filmed and even the balcony from which it was most likely filmed. The trees are Plane Trees and from their size, I would estimate the beast was one of three things: a large alsatian/newfoundland cross, a smallish newfoundland, a wolf (they are not uncommon in Southern France although they are not known to enter the cities) or something else…
The website never changes. Clearly, my submission for membership did not arouse their interest, nor did I fit the credentials they are looking for. They ask the nascent member to say a bit about themselves and check that you are an adult but nothing I have tried, arouses their interest. Perhaps I need to be a werewolf? Ha! Ha!
In any case, I decided to write about Ordo Lupus. I made most of the detail up but speculation about this most secret, and exclusive of cult societies in inevitable.
So, tell me what you think. who do you think they are?