V is for Vanity

From the Oxford Dictionary

Excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements: e.g. ‘it flattered his vanity to think I was in love with him’

1529

 

He certainly had a way with words didn’t he?

Are we living in the Age of Vanity?

An age where people ‘share their status’ – through a variety of media.

People seem much keener to tell the world that they are shopping in Harrods than they are to let us know that they have gone to the corner shop to buy milk.

Judging by Facebook, the world is a place where everyone is fabulously wealthy, taking exotic holidays and drinking only the finest Champagne. And their children? Oh don’t get me started on that…

“Vanity asks the question: Is it popular?”

I am a writer. I want people to read my words. Ultimately, I want people to pay to read my words. Vanity is an essential driver.

In the new world of publishing, I am expected to ‘build my following’, to attract followers on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. I am not even sure that I understand Instagram! (Nevertheless – I can be found on all of those channels and more, feel free to follow me.) I am expected to persuade you good people to subscribe to my blog.

In the age of vanity, the more popular that I can demonstrate I am, the better support I would get from a publisher.

This is just business sense I guess; but it does seem a little backwards.

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More blogs here

S is for Sex

That has done it.

I used the word Sex.

I will spend most of tomorrow moderating comments from robots offering me ways to buy more sex or to get tablets to make me better at sex.

I’m writing a book.

Have I mentioned that already?

Sean, the hero, is most definitely about to get some action.

Lucky him.

This brings me to my challenge.

How on earth does one write about sex?

I suddenly find myself being incredibly English. “A stiff upper lip” has the right adjective – but the nouns are all wrong.

What to do?

Take a course? Phone a friend? Ask the audience?

Don’t get me wrong, I have had sex. More than once actually. Sometimes with someone else.

Never though, have I written about it.

After much thought, and even a little fretting, I believe that I will simply close the bedroom door and let the reader work out the rest.

What do you think?

Was Fifty Shades incredibly erotic or toe-curlingly awkward?

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Click here for some great blogs from the A to Z Challenge 2015.

R is for Rutherford

Sean Rutherford.

My hero.

In my books I mean.

When I say books, I mean the books that I am going to write.

I am currently in the midst of the first in what I hope will become a series of novels about Sean Rutherford.

It is with complete honesty that I can say that I do not know how the series will proceed or finish.

Sean has his own ideas about how the Rutherford books will go and he is not saying as yet.

Young Sean is, at present, enjoying himself in post-Soviet-bloc Hungary.

He has new Russian friends with seemingly endless supplies of beautiful girls and currency. What could possibly go wrong?

Curiously, he is spending a lot of time in places that I once saw. Sean is perhaps a little braver and more adventurous than I was.

Although obviously, he is not as dashing or handsome as his creator…

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Great blogs here

P is for Purple Patsy Collins

Patsy Collins.

She wears purple too.

Patsy Collins is an author, curator of #writingchat on Twitter and all round good egg.

Find her on Facebook here and her blog here.

If you like a good read, then get along to her Amazon author page here. There is even a FREE book for you to check out before you buy the rest. It’s good too.

Go try it. Let me tell you again. It’s free. What do you have to lose?

Patsy led a twitter chat (#writingchat) this evening.

The topic was ‘Promotion’. Can authors over promote their work? Can they turn people off their work through over-enthusiastic promotion?

#writingchat happens on Twitter every Wednesday evening at 2000 UK time for one hour. Come along.

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Check out more A to Z blogs

N is for Novel Writing

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Where does the time go?

All of a sudden, I am way behind.

More organised bloggers are posting S – and I am at N.

I will make a concerted effort to catch up by Monday.

I would love to report that I have been so caught up in writing my debut novel that my blogging has suffered.

However, I have simply been caught up in ‘stuff’. Sorting out the garden, bits and pieces of corporate tasks, bits and pieces of golf club admin and other important, but uninteresting chores.

Am I avoiding my novel?

No. I’m not. I have gazed intently at my navel. (Not an easy task in itself) Sometimes, we have to concede that life can just get in the way.

The novel is still being written, in my head. It will come out.

I’m sure of it.

Now – got to run, I have O,P,Q,R,S and T staring over my shoulder.

I is for International

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In my last post, I explained how the hero of my novel was living and working in Hungary. I expect that he will visit many more places in the course of his adventures. He will be an international hero.

If you are here on a tour of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – then you most likely will cover the USA, Europe, Asia and beyond in just a few clicks.

The rapid advances of technology and democratisation of travel are making it increasingly easy for all of us to be ‘international’.

Migration is a hot political and social topic which I mentioned in “E for Elections” a few days back.

Increasingly, the dividing lines between nationalities are disappearing.

Just thinking of the extended families of my wife and I, we have relatives in Canada, Australia, USA, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Germany and Switzerland.

The international theme is one that is increasingly common in many families.

I think it is fantastic. I love that I am able to travel more, to see more places, experience more cultures, both through travel or through virtual experiences on the internet.

Yet, for all of those positives, attempts to create a United States of Europe seem doomed to failure.

In Scotland, very nearly 50% of residents who voted,  wanted to leave the United Kingdom.

So – are we becoming more international? Or Less international?

Is your nationality more or less important to how you think of yourself than it was for the generation before you?

What do you think?

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A list of A to Z bloggers here.

H is for Hungary

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Hungary is a breathtaking country.

The picture above is of the ‘Chain Bridge’ which spans the Danube between Buda and Pest, which together make up Hungary’s capital city.

The bridge was designed by an Englishman called Clark, then built by a Scotsman, bizarrely also called Clark. How spooky is that?

The potential for metaphors on the roles of the home nations within the United Kingdom throughout history is just too obvious.

As a city, Budapest is up there with Europe’s great capitals. Some of the architecture is stunning, the people generous and fun and the language is so incomprehensible as to be charming.

Helen Baggott has an amazing blog going on Rome. Worth a look here.

Much though I love Rome, Budapest shades it for me. On and off, I lived in Budapest for the duration of the 1990s.

Outside of the capital, landlocked Hungary has some great beaches on the shores of the Balaton lake and the magnificent Danube river. There are fabulous wine regions, plains, towns and cities. We shall visit some of them in another post.

My ‘Work in Progress’ is largely set in Hungary.

While the hero Sean visits many places that I know well, his adventures are mostly fictional, as if I wrote of things that really happened, then the reader would not believe me.

Hungary was a wild place in the early nineties. The Berlin wall had crumbled, the USSR was in turmoil and a new era was beginning.

It is in this milieu that Sean is trying to do his job and have fun. Sean works in currency – and so is a person of great interest to many parties, not all of them benevolent.

Some of these people play very rough and young Sean will have to tread very carefully.

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Find some more blogs in the A to Z Challenge here.

D is for Death….

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The fourth day of the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

Thank you for reading and commenting. There are masses of blogs to check out. Here is a list.

Death. Christians are now celebrating Easter, with Friday being all about death.

An important and profound subject.

Way too important and profound for me to tackle.

I am writing about “Death to the Stock Photo“. Not really about death at all. This is a fantastic service provided by Allie Lehman and David Sherry for people like you and me.

As my last post illustrates, I am a dreadful photographer.

My shots require captions as explanations.

Each month Allie and David send me a pack of beautifully crafted tableaux, absolutely free, which I am able to use here on the blog. There is one at the top of this post.

There are, of course, great pictures all over the internet. Here is the thing, these photographs belong to people. They are creations.

I aspire to write books, books that people might pay for. I daresay I am unlikely to demand masses of cash for my debut novel, but I know that I would be upset were I to find my work free all over the internet.

Photographers, writers and other artists create. They invest heavily of themselves and toil to make their art as good as it can be. Most ask for very little in return. Some ask for recognition, some ask to make a living. (The very cheek of it!)

Get yourself over to “Death to the Stock Photo‘ and sign up. There is a free service and there is also a subscription model (more artists looking to make a living, tsk, tsk) with completely unfettered access to a growing library of great shots.

Quite apart from the fact that they take beautiful pictures, these guys seem really cool too.

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Expert Raindancer for Hire

IMG_0430I posted not long ago about the dangers posed to writers by sunshine. Somebody was listening.

We had booked a week in Ajman (a lesser-known Emirate) certain that we would have uninterrupted heat and sunshine. We were half right.

All around the pool, experienced visitors explained to us how they had never seen cloud like this at this time of year. As the raindrops fell onto our towels, friends posted on social media that they had lived in the Emirates for three years and had never seen rain.

The silver lining must surely be no distraction. What else could I do, but boot up the wireless keyboard and the writing app on the iPad? It turns out that there were quite a few things that I could do other than write.

Drink beer was one.

Attempt to amuse a grumpy sun-worshipper spouse was another.

Catching a vicious variant of the common cold was an unexpected insult to be added to meteorological injury.

Not a word was added to the count in the soggy Emirate. Not a word was added in the week following as I bravely fought off the cold. (I know, pathetic.)

In 2013, we brought rain to the Mayan Riviera. This year it was the turn of Emirates. Next year – we are going to rent our services to a country stricken by drought. I think that there is money in it.

In the meantime – I might have to make this writing lark work; so off to the grindstone for me.

Oh No! The Sun’s out.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am usually partial to a bit of Spring and sunny weather. Right now, I am thinking that I need to be outside enjoying it rather than sitting at my desk writing about it.

I bought and read a book yesterday. (This is a habit I encourage you, dear reader to develop. Keep an eye out for anything by Stuart Lennon).

I found this particular book while wandering around in the slightly mad worlds of Twitter and Blogs. The book can be found on amazon (Click on the word book earlier in this sentence!)

It is by a guy called Ben Adams. I enjoyed it. It is an easy read, and good fun. Ben is a little cagey about which bits are his experience and which are his imagination – but that is at it should be. We are British males. We don’t want too much of this metrosexual nonsense. We are uptight and proud of it, what?

Currently, I am stalking Ben. He published ‘Six Months to Get a Life‘, his first book, in January and his blog records his experiences. Damn it.

I will definitely use different pictures here if nothing else. He posted about #MondayBlog.

You can read it here but essentially it is a hashtag which one can add to tweets. Fellow authors then pick up on this and retweet and favourite it.

I only have a rudimentary understanding as to what the last sentence means, but I am hopeful that it is a good thing.

This page is on a new theme. Again.

Mrs L pointed out to me that having a ‘sign up’ box right at the bottom of the page was not necessarily very clever. So now it sits proudly top left.

So…no excuse not to sign up now.

Oh yes!

The book. Sean is getting along OK. With my long and varied experience of Central European hangovers, I found writing about Sean’s remarkably easy.

Until of course, the Sun came out.