Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

I tend to start these posts with a quote from a famous song or words from a bestselling book. For a change, how about some words from a book I hope will soon become a bestseller?

“Not quite,” she said gently, “look closer. As each image gets repeated it loses strength, it passes closer to the realm of the supernatural. As it does so, some essence of its being becomes captured by the spirits that reside within that realm and are so lessened. The entities within the realm beyond the glass of the mirror absorb and feed on the lifeblood within the images and they become fainter and darker. There are no more than perhaps a hundred or so reflections, although it may not appear so to you.”

I peered intently into the depths of the glass and saw that she was correct. The images did diminish as they disappeared into the distance. Each smaller and fainter, more shrouded in shadows than the last.

“Do you also see how thin the divide is stretched between this world and the next?”

For a moment I was puzzled as to what she wanted me to see, but as I stared at our images, I began to realize there was something wrong. As I scoured the farthest images, so small that my eyes ached, I discerned a darkness behind a distant, tiny reflection of myself. I leaned in closer to see better. My reflection also leaned in and revealed a dark and shadowy shape that stood at my shoulder, dark and indistinct, but moving, its face close to my own, almost touching.

“What is it. What do I see?” I whispered, still staring at the dark shape that stood behind me.

What Joseph is looking into in the story, are two scrying mirrors, set facing each other to create a seeming ‘infinity’ of reflections.

You can read the whole story by clicking on the book cover below.

Scrying can be interchanged with terms like ‘seeing’ or ‘peeping’. The word itself comes from the English word ‘descry’ which means ‘to make out dimly’ or ‘to reveal’. It is the practice of looking into a suitable medium, usually reflective, to detect the presence of a paranormal entity or vision/message. The medium can be things like the crystal balls, stones or glass. One of the more infamous mediums is the scrying mirror. Scrying, regardless of medium can be traced back through the ages, as far back as 3000 B.C. in China.

Since the day when Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, humankind has been enthralled by the facets of the worlds, and the possible insights into paranormal realms they reflect.

Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, for instance, made a magic mirror that showed the past, present and future.

Perseus used the mirror of his shield to defeat Medusa. Anybody who looked directly at the face of Medusa was turned to stone, Perseus defeated her by fighting her by looking only at her reflection.

In Europe, it has long been a tradition to cover the mirrors in the home of someone recently deceased. The belief is that the soul of the dead person could easily become entrapped within the hidden realm of the mirror, unable to depart and find peace in the afterlife.

And then there was John Dee. Born in 1527 he became Queen Mary’s astrologer, but he was also an astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher. The application of these sciences all held one common theme, Dee sought to use them to find a way to speak directly to God. Dee had a scrying mirror built from obsidian and for seven years he claimed to have used the device to communicate with angels who taught him the original language use by humankind before the fall.

John Dee’s Scrying Mirror

Dee created a massively convoluted mathematical system in which to achieve his communications and in later years it greatly influenced members of the magical society of the Golden Dawn and the esteemed Aleister Crowley. You can read more about The Golden Dawn and Crowley below.

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Mr. Crowley – did you talk to the dead?

In the iconic words of the legend who is Ozzy Osbourne:

“Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head?

Oh Mr. Crowley, did you talk to the dead?

Your lifestyle to me seemed so tragic

With the thrill of it all

You fooled all the people with magic

Yeah, you waited on Satan’s call”

Songwriters: John Osbourne / Randy Rhoads / Robert Daisley

If you don’t know, Mr. Crowley refers to Aliester Crowley, and Crowley would have spelled ‘magic’ here as ‘magick’.

He was a late 19th century occultist who founded the religion of Thelema based on a modern form of paganism. Crowley was often accused of being a satanist, although he refuted this and countered that he could not worship “satan’ as he didn’t believe in the Christian biblical version of the fallen angel. Not much of a denial really, when you stop and think about it…

Crowley was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a sect founded in London in 1888. The Golden Dawn was a secret magical order devoted to the study and practice of the occult..

Aleister Crowley in his Golden Dawn regalia in 1910

William Woodman, William Westcott and Samuel Mathers were the three freemasons who founded the society with a focus on spirituality and self improvement. Crowley joined in 1898 and soon rose to prominence, although he was largely disliked due to his bisexuality and libertine lifestyle. Most of our modern concepts of magic, wicca and the paranormal still stem from the philosophies of the Golden Dawn and the teachings of Crowley himself.

The Rose Cross of the Golden Dawn

It is also the same secret society that Doctor John Carter belongs to in my novel, “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” It is from the Golden Dawn that two errant members, not willing to be constrained by the ethics and limits on power that the society imposes, decide to leave and found their own order—The Dux de Obscurum or The Commanders of Darkness. A sect much more willing to embrace the inherent darkness of the underworld.

As Doctor Carter states as he explains to Joseph Snodgrass, Edgar’s would be savior, when they first meet in Baltimore:

“of course, knowledge of power is one thing, to become adept at its summoning and control is another thing entirely. My order is a peaceful one, we seek knowledge, its members are dedicated to the advancement of humanity by the perfection of the individual on every plane of existence. Like your venerable profession doctor, we seek to do no harm.”

An extended silence fell across the room, broken only by an ember from the log that spat and cracked, musket shot loud in the silent chamber. Carter looked up, his eyes wide and glassy.

“The spells however are from an ancient world, a realm where harm, torture, and immolation was more commonplace. To re-enact their full efficacy and master true dominion, sacrifice is required.”

Unlike the Golden Dawn, The Dux de Obscurum will stop at nothing to master true dominion. The scholar of esotericism Wouter Hanegraaff asserted that Crowley was also an extreme representation of “the dark side of the occult”. In my sequel to “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe“, The Order of the Golden Dawn once more pitches battle against the Dux de Obscurum. I am currently writing the book, and who knows, given much of the action takes place in London, perhaps Mister Aleister Crowley himself might make an appearance!

Once more in the words of the great Ozzy:

“Uncovering things that were sacred

Manifest on this Earth

Ah, conceived in the eye of a secret

And they scattered the afterbirth”

You can read book one by clicking on the link below. It’s available in ebook, paperback and hardback and always free on Kindle Select.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Check out the re-branded website for similar posts and random musings. I will post some more on other supernatural elements that are used in my books – Furies, Scrying and Goetic circles amongst them, so sign up and give me a like, a share and a follow 😉

Did the printed page make us who we are?

I saw a post on someone’s Facebook page that quoted Carl Sagan on the nature of books and knowledge and it made me think.

This is the quote:



The irreplaceable Carl Sagan

For 99 percent of the tenure of humans on earth, nobody could read or write. The great invention had not yet been made. Except for firsthand experience, almost everything we knew was passed on by word of mouth. As in the children’s game “Telephone,” over tens and hundreds of generations, information would slowly be distorted and lost.

Books changed all that. Books, purchasable at low cost, permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate — with the best teachers — the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses.

— Carl Sagan The path to freedom


Thoughts? You certainly wont find me arguing with the esteemed Mr. Sagan btw. But is that all there is to that story? That once man/woman kind discovered the secret of transitioning learning from our individual thoughts, rhymes and songs and instead recording them onto some medium: cave wall, pottery, papyrus, paper, whatever, did that simple act make knowledge accessible?

How old is the written word anyway? An ancient Mesopotamian poem gives the first known story of the invention of writing:

Because the messenger’s mouth was heavy and he couldn’t repeat (the message), the Lord of Kulaba patted some clay and put words on it, like a tablet. Until then, there had been no putting words on clay.

— Sumerian epic poem Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. c. 1800 BCE.

Bloody hell – so the history of writing dates back to at least 1800 BCE! Of course glyphs and pictographs have been around much longer, we have examples of those that have been dated back to 6600 BCE.

But Sagan’s quote specifically states books, so perhaps the invention of the printing press was at the heart of Sagan’s “great invention”?

So, Gutenberg?

That was Johannes Gutenberg in 1436 of course. He invented a new printing press that used precisely molded printing blocks to create high-quality and consistently identical printed pages. If that wasn’t enough, at the same time he created an oil-based ink that was much more durable than the previously used water-based inks. A true revolution was about to be launched on the world.

Early wooden printing press, depicted in 1568

So in that era we now had the capabilities to create mass, identical copies. Erasmus for example became a best seller. He sold at least 750,000 copies of his works during his lifetime (1469–1536). I might be tempted to kill for those numbers!

And yet, one more element was needed to allow the true, timely and precise sharing of information. It was to come only a few years later, in 1470, when Cologne’s only second printer ever, a man called Arnold Ther Hoernen, printed a book titled “Sermo in festo praesentationis beatissimae Mariae virginis.”

Translated the book title says “The Sermon on the Feast of the Presentation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,” but that’s irrelevant. What is important, the one subtle difference that would truly change the world forever? Hoernen unilaterally, amazingly, for the first time ever, after 3270 years of the written word having been in existence, thought “you know what bitches? Today, I’m gonna number these fuckers!” I am paraphrasing slightly.

Amazingly, that first numbered page is still in existence, you can see it in the image below half way down the page and in the right hand margin.

Earliest known book to have page numbers.

Literacy and the emergence of scholarship

Doesn’t seem like something that would rock the world right? But here is the thing, page numbers were revolutionary. They made it easy to quote, cite, and to cross reference — they made accessing, studying, and comparing texts much, much easier.

The printing press meant that the same information would fall on the same pages. That was an undeniable game changer. But the seemingly humble, simple page number allowed tables of contents, and indices to be created. Suddenly one reader could quickly and easily direct another reader to the same precise piece of information they needed to share. Scientific collaboration was made tangible.

Authorship, particularly as it related to scientific papers became more meaningful and profitable. It was suddenly important who had said or written what. This allowed the exact citing of references to become common and a required practice.

This era of mass communication permanently altered the structure of society. Ideas transcended borders, captured the imagination of the masses in the Reformation, and threatened the power of political and religious authorities.

Literacy increased exponentially, threatened the monopoly of the literate elite and with the increasing cultural self-awareness of the European languages, led to the slow but steady fall of Latin as the long held lingua franca.

I do hope you enjoyed this blog post. You can find other musings on seemingly random subjects and updates on my book projects on my website. Follow the blog and sign up for the regularly irregular newsletter.

Give me a like a follow and a share while you are here!

Better still, buy a book – they have page numbers and everything 🙂

Back to the Paranormal

I am currently querying literary editors for representation of my latest Sci-Fi book tentatively titled “River is Rising.” You can read a blog post that discusses the main themes of this book by clicking on the image below.

Māori warrior with facial Tā moko

It was a real challenge to write, although the research for all of the hard Sci-Fi elements was fun (between just you and I, I am starting to think that I really should be a researcher rather than a writer). The intent is that this book will be the first in a trilogy. The problem is that while I wait to hear back from agents, my passion for the themes of the book have gone off the boil. Not to say they couldn’t be instantly rekindled, they just need a positive push from the publishing world to get me back on track.

So, what to write in the meantime. Well, I really enjoyed writing the paranormal story surrounding the last days of Edgar Allan Poe. That story was self-published and the rights are entirely within my control. It also turns out that I left the ending open for a sequel, where the unlikely assemblage from book one (spoiler alert – most of them) get to fight another day. With at least 50% of the characters already written I just needed an idea.

I really liked writing within the atmosphere of “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” If you haven’t read it yet (shame on you, you must!), the tale carried an American gothic theme. Gas lit streets, steam ships, wet cobbles and large rooms full of ancient mirrors where beasts and secrets could lie concealed within.

You can read a sample and buy a copy here:

So, where to set book two. There was only one place – 19th century London. Where better? Massive overcrowding, crippling poverty for the masses, open sewers, narrow twisting unlit streets and Brasses a plenty to act as my unwitting victims for a new denizen of the dark to pick off in awful ways.

Brass in this context is Cockney Rhyming slang. The slang was claimed to have been invented to obscure the meaning of words to allow criminals to speak freely without being easily understood by the Ducks (see below). Only the first word of the rhyme is typically spoken, so the listener needs to already know the complete phrase to ascertain the meaning.

So? Brass? Well, its meaning has one of two derivatives. Brass Door (whore) or Brass Nail (Tail). A prostitute to you and I. And this in an era in London when the number of Victorian women working the trade was staggeringly high. Poverty and lack of opportunity for the working classes led to as many as 80,000 women and girls working the streets in 19th century London. A great backdrop for a re-inventing of the Ripper story perhaps? One where the killer slips through the shadows with ease, not because he has Royal connections, but rather because he (it) is bestowed with supernatural prowess.

19th century London

I am finding that the slang of the era lends an additional element of authenticity to the time and place, which was already a dark and dangerous time and place to live, even without a murderous creature living in your midst

Here are a few more examples of popular rhyming slang words. Note of caution, this was the language of the street and so can be a touch on the colorful side.

Boat Race (Face)

Brown Bread (Dead)

Ducks and Geese (Police)

Dustbin Lid (Kid)

Gypsy’s Kiss (Piss)

Some require some minor linguistic mental gymnastics

Titfer = Tit for Tat (Hat)

Porky = Pork Pie (Lie)

Whistle = Whistle and Flute (suit)

Richard = Richard the Third (I will let you figure that one out)

And some have come into popularity through more modern vernacular, which I love, although its use for the book is more than doubtful. How about:

Rockford Files (Piles)!

So, the book is about a third written. One element I have added is much more depth around the paranormal antagonists from the first book. In book one the motives and main actors of The Dux de Obscurum were only hinted at. In book two, they play a much more central role and I am busy fleshing out two of the central characters. There will be a few blind alleys and several surprises woven through the tale as well. The plan at the moment is to finish book two by Summer and drive straight on to the final book three in the series to publish them all together by the end of the year.

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Wiccan’s wearing tin foil hats

Writing is a hard and lonely business and personal motivation can be a real challenge. I often go for weeks without a single idea and then, when I finally begin to focus on a project and lever open the lid of my dusty trusty Mac to tap at the keys in an effort to make magic happen, five new competing ideas leap, distracting antelope like, into my mind. Instead of writing, I procrastinate and, instead, check Twitter to see what Boris Johnson and our other world leaders have decided to lie about today and what new conspiracy theory has leapt to to the forefront of the hive mind. While busy not writing, it got me thinking, how do conspiracy theories begin and how do they propagate through a society?

Beginnings

Conspiracy theories are nothing new, although when I was a kid they were confined to such fanciful but brilliantly chilling tales about folks randomly spontaneously combusting or staggering into deadly quicksand. And, of course, the hardcore staples of the Bermuda triangle and the fake moon landings.

As it almost always turns out with these types of theories, I spent way too much time as a ten year-old worrying about quicksand.

My 10 year old brain the horror!

But why do people believe and even propagate such bunkum? COVID-19 was a stellar case of such a phenomenon. Most people, around the world, believed that the virus began as a mutation in a wet market in Wuhan China, but in the United States as much as 28% of the population believe it was manufactured and distributed with malign intent or simply did not exist.

Wiccan

SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 21: Summer Solstice participants wait for the midsummer sun to rise over the megalithic monument of Stonehenge on June 21, 2007 on Salisbury Plain, England. Crowds gathered at the 5,000 year old stone circle to celebrate the Summer Solstice; the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

I was doing some research for a new book which is centered around the Wiccan religion. Wicca is the name given by its practitioners to the New Age religion of Witchcraft. The word ‘Wicca’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for witch and has been used since the religions founder, Gerald Gardner, coined it in the 1930’s. Turns out spirituality is one of the three groups of motives that can be seen as crucial in drawing individuals to conspiracy beliefs.

Motivations

Turns out, people cannot help themselves but to seek meaning in randomness and try to obtain definitive knowledge of any given situation. People also have a tendency to find patterns in random events, named Illusory Pattern Perception (IPP). Both of these were found to drive conspiracy beliefs. This can be viewed as an Epistemic behavior.

Existential Motives, are reflected in the desire for control and security (Douglas et al., 2017). Lacking individual control, people turn to external authorities, such as government, David Icke or religion…

David Icke 2020

Which leads me back to spirituality and the Wicca. Spirituality, like religion, has been consistently seen as a way to seek meaning in life, feel secure and connected with others. A solid reason why spirituality might have an important role in conspiratorial thinking comes from the combination of ethnology and sociology: as Ward and Voas (2011) noted, a new philosophy named “Conspirituality” has emerged, based on the core convictions of New Age spiritual beliefs and conspiracy theories, namely the idea that nothing happens accidentally, and that everything is connected.

As Gardner himself put it “Witchcraft was, and is, not a cult for everybody. Unless you have an attraction to the occult, a sense of wonder, a feeling that you can slip for a few minutes out of the world into the world of faery, it is of no use to you.” (Gardner 1954, p.29).

Bit like reading a good book then! Join the blog and give me a follow below or click here to check out (and buy) a book on the website!

The bullet hole paradox

I saw a post the other day, on LinkedIn of all places, that piqued my interest. It was titled “the bullet hole paradox.” A more accurate term is survivorship bias.

Survivorship bias

During World War II, fighter and bomber planes would come back from battle, riddled with bullet holes from a combination of the guns of enemy fighters and the Flack bombardments. FlaK is the german short term for Flugabwehrkanone – essentially an 88mm projectile which exploded at altitude, sending out jagged metal fragments that tore through nearby aircraft. It also left that characteristic black cloud hanging in the sky that we all remember from WWII movies.

B-17 Flying Fortress Attacked by Me-109s

The Allies analyzed the returning aircraft. They found the areas that were most commonly hit by enemy fire were the fuselage, the outer wings, and the tail. They sought to add armor to these most commonly damaged parts of the planes to reduce the number that was shot down.

Spitfire

Lucky for them, as armor is expensive and heavy, Abraham Wald, a Hungarian-Jewish statistician pointed out that there was another way to look at the data. Perhaps, he cleverly deduced, the reason that some areas of the returning planes were not covered in bullet holes was because the planes that were shot in those areas did not in fact return.

Wald’s singular insight led to the armor being added where there had been no holes, the cockpit, and the engines. This ‘leap of logic’ I shall call it, helped turn the tide of the war.

The problem is seldom information scarcity, but rather in the interpretation of the data itself, and that interpretation is often biased by our upbringing, our education, our “intuition” and our life experiences.


It turns out that survivorship bias is present in many parts of our lives.

Cats

Yep – bare with me…

There has long been a belief that cats that fall from fewer than six stories have greater injuries than cats who fall from more than six stories. The reason I was told, was that cats reach terminal velocity after righting themselves at about five stories, and then presumably, thrilled with this acrobatic feat, relax, land on their feet and stroll away, while their more vertically challenged cousins lacked both time and flexibility and hit the pavement in a more uncontrolled and permanent fashion.

One, possibly more likely version of this story would be survivorship bias. This version of events simply states that cats that die in any fall are less likely to be brought to a veterinarian than injured cats, and thus many of the cats killed in falls from higher buildings are simply not reported.

The arts

This concept of survivorship bias is interesting right? Well, I thought so. But what does it have to do with writing? Well, the theory goes that it is prevalent in the arts as well.

Why is the music of the 70’s and 80’s so well regarded? Survivorship bias provides a possible answer. Only the best music from those eras continues to be played. They are the tracks that survived the ravages of time.

Who remembers ‘Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce’ or ‘The Birdie Song by The Tweets’ from the 1980’s? Sadly, I do.

All of today’s music, both brilliant and dreadful remains current and so we unconsciously apply our biases.

I think the same thing is true of some cornerstones of literature. I am reading a novel right now. The story is solid, not this person’s best I suspect, but it’s good. This author has written bestsellers and had some of the best movies ever adapted from his works. But the actual writing. Meh. It’s just OK.

OK – so 99% of you clicked away because you think this is all hard cheese from a self-published nobody (and you would be right in thinking that). But honestly, one page had four paragraphs and they all began with the word ‘then’. How can that be considered great writing?

Reading is hugely down to personal taste, but I remember finishing reading ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and throwing the paperback directly in the dustbin with a combined huge sigh of relief at finishing, and a wistful groan at the not inconsiderable moments of my life I would never get back. ‘The English Patient’ was a brilliant film adaptation of one of the most tedious books I ever had the displeasure to slog through, and you, my friend are talking to someone who has read ‘The Silmarillion’ three times and managed to finish, and even moderately enjoy, Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ AND ‘The Odyssey’.

There is a little of the Emperor’s new clothes applied to many facets of our lives, and apparently, previously unknown to me, a liberal dash of survivorship bias as well. I read a review on Amazon the other day and the kindly fellow stated that he ‘refused to read books by self-published authors because they are all amateurish and baldy written.’ — Baldy written you say? All of them? What an utter knob!

I carry my inner bias too, we all do, it’s partly what makes us who we are. All I ask is that every now and again we all attempt to rise above those limitations and give some of the Indie authors out there a chance and an honest review. Together we can create a new group of survivors.

I hope you enjoy reading the blog as much as I enjoy writing it!

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‘Oti Rawa Ati’ – Finished at last

Six months and 73,000 words later I have finally finished my latest WIP – “River is Rising.”

Well what a long slog that was. The book began simply enough. Set in the not too far distant future, antimicrobial resistant pestilence forces humankind’s hand to strive for the stars. Three vast galaxy cruisers are created and set off for the far-flung reaches of the galaxy.

The twist that gave me complications as a writer, but hopefully depth and interest to the reader, is that a chance discovery based on an abundance of Bismuth in New Zealand, leads to the discovery of a highly oligodynamic metal compound, one that kills bacteria on contact. The race that rises to sudden wealth, and to fill the political vacuum, are the Māori people. At once the book took on another angle, the richness of the Māori language coupled with their ancient myths and legends, all set amidst a world ready for decolonialism, provided the flawed character of River Te Toa with a broader path to travel.

River has to navigate a new world founded on the brittle friction between ancient Māori traditions and science, while she strives to understand why the fleet of galaxy cruisers are being destroyed by some unknown means.

It was complex to write, but at the same time, carefully weaving the threads of custom, language and song into the tapestry of the story was a joy. I love research, so to gain an insight, even at a very basic level, into that rich culture was fascinating. The symbolism of Tā moko and moko kauae became central themes. You can read about the meaning, and the resurgence, of this art form by clicking on the image below.

Moko Kauae

I have moved to querying to see if I can hook a literary agent (any out there who happen to be reading this – don’t be a stranger!). In the meantime I have started book two, in what I believe will end up as a trilogy, I already have the outlines for all three books. If traditional publishing doesn’t work out I will self-publish all three towards the end of the year.

Follow the blog to keep updated on the status of the new book and the writing of the next two.

You can read two prior blog posts relating to the themes and topics within the book here:

As my flawed and personally challenging female protagonist, River Te Toa might say “Ko te tumanako i pai ki a koe te korero, whai mai i ahau mo etahi atu whakahou.”

Or in English (thank goodness for Google translate) – I hope you enjoyed the update, follow the blog and join the newsletter for more updates.

Postscript: In my earnest and honest attempt to represent even a fraction of the proud and ancient heritage of the Māori nation, I hope that any omissions or errors have caused no offence.

New Year my arse! Give me a good old Solstice anytime

Ahh, the New Year, isn’t it the worst time of year? Brimming with hope, good resolutions and rancid pies, seemingly lost, but now found, festering in the backs of dusty cupboards.

Like most things in history The New Year has moved around the calendar. For the ancient Romans it originally corresponded with the vernal equinox, the first day of Spring. But the Romans were great tinkerers with dates and many other things, you know, sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health?

If you remember Etch-A-Sketch and Hungry Hungry Hippos you are old enough to understand that reference. If not, Google it.

Anyway, after years of tampering with the solar calendar they eventually established that the year should start on the now familiar date of January 1. For the Romans, the month of January carried a special significance. Its name was derived from the two-faced deity Janus, the god of change and beginnings. Janus was seen as symbolically looking back at the old and ahead to the new, and this idea became tied to the concept of transition from one year to the next.

Here in sleepy, drippy, mud and apple filled Somerset, land of druids, witches, and Arthurian legends, we prefer the Winter solstice. A genuinely astronomical event that is truly worthy of celebration. The incredibly welcome transition from dark winter nights towards the, admittedly distant, anticipation of Spring.

In expectancy of Spring and longer days, better weather and pretty white apple blossoms, my latest WIP is finally done! 71,000 words, it is in final edit. I am going to query for six months while I write the sequel. If that doesn’t work out, it will be self-published later in the year.

Only one ask in this blog. My last book “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe” is currently entered into a writing competition run by Inkitt. During the competition you can read the entire book for free. All I ask, given the competition is driven by social media engagement (what is not…sigh) is that if you like it, give me a like, a share and a review.

Click on the Inkitt icon to give it a read.

A writer’s winter’s tale

Good lord don’t you just hate the endless plethora of tedious self indulgent, self-gratifying, self-aggrandizing end of year summaries that plague our lives during the Holiday season? I certainly do, but I hope you are in the minority coz here comes mine!

I started my marathon of a journey as a writer and author on the 1st of January 2021, so we are fast approaching my first anniversary. We are two self-published books into that long haul trip. One more book is essentially complete and is in its final edits.

I have made a lot of mistakes and learnt an enormous amount about the business. Here are some stats from this last 12 months:

Stats (12 month period)

201 Total units sold

6074 KENP page reads

69 KENP full reads

43 Global Amazon ratings – average 4.7 out of 5

Stats (6 month period)

328 Total units sold

7298 KENP page reads

32 KENP full reads (much longer book)

12 Global Amazon ratings – average 4.5 out of 5 (this should be 4.8 but some wretch, you know who you are, gave me a single 3 star rating – no review mind, just a rating in the same week the book got released), not bitter, just saying…

So, you know what? Not amazeballs, I didn’t set the world alight if I’m honest. A solid B—, could do better, see me at the end of class.

For you few foolhardy souls who have read the books, you have generally really liked the writing and a lovely few have even taken the time to email me and let me know that, which is massively motivating. I started the journey wondering if anybody would bother to read them, and when strangers started to do so, I sat waiting for the 1 star reviews and criticisms to roll in. That definitely did not happen, quite the opposite. So I guess I proved I can actually write a bit, and possibly even craft a tale sufficiently well to engage with my readers. You know what, for year one, I’ll take that!

I started with something like 6 twitter followers and currently have 1,708 followers. To be honest I am not sure what to do with them, and 95% are fellow writers, they certainly are not buying my books! Maybe next year I will be struck with inspiration and find a way to leverage Twitter more meaningfully.

I played around with Instagram and TikTok but lets be brutally honest with each other, I’m a 56 year old bald white guy, I have no idea what I’m doing and its all just too embarrassing. Not for me.

I posted a total of 24 blog posts (this will be the 25th). I do enjoy writing the blog and it gets good traction and always drives traffic to the website. You can read them all, and sign up to follow the blog, here:

I finally got started on Goodreads and have a few reviews and a handful of followers. Give me a follow here:

I launched the website which has been a great success, not in sales you understand, but I think it’s pretty and represents well the brand I am trying to build.

The website received 1,390 views from 891 individual visitors originating from 26 different countries, that obviously included the USA, Canada and the UK but also from such unexpected outliers as China, Romania, Malaysia, Tanzania and Vietnam. My biggest referrer was Facebook which tells me (too late, because I just ran the report) that I should pay attention to my FB page. Sorry FB followers! I will do better next year i promise.

Follow me here:

I did start a newsletter and managed to get an email list started with 102 subscribers. but the percentage of “opens” was very low and I got disheartened and lost interest in this midway through the year. Genuine apologies to you, my sad and lonely friend, if you were my one subscriber waiting for the next release, I commit to a different and more innovative approach in 2022.

As far as narrow vs wide, I liked to keep this, as one might define, on a “loosey goosey” strategy, as in I just couldn’t decide what to do. As we move into 2022 I have decided to keep “Mistakes” on Amazon exclusively but move “Haunting” wide so that is now available on the following bookstores.

I am also going to have “Haunting” available, at a discount, on a niche boutique site that supports Indie Authors, called Godless. This is partly because the owners give a better margin than Amazon but they also support a cool charity called Children of the Night who provide intervention in the lives of children who are sexually exploited and vulnerable to or involved in prostitution and pornography.

Lessons learned:

Series sell better than standalones. That’s why I am writing a Sci-Fi trilogy. It’s not really the book, it’s more to do with the ability to flex one or more books in marketing to drive sales of subsequent books. With a standalone, it…well…it stands alone.

Write to your audience – hint #1 – you need to figure out who that is. Hint #2 unless you are writing about your friends and family, it is not your friends and family.

Amazon ads drove better sales than Facebook ads for me, but many authors state the opposite.

Reviews drive sales and ratings. BUT. It’s really, really hard to get reviews. Please consider that when you read any book by any Indie writer. Stephen King and Dean R Koontz really don’t need them, Indie authors live or die by them.


If you are new to the blog – welcome. If you have followed along its been a great year because of you. Your feedback, reviews and the occasional personal email telling me to keep going has been truly inspirational. In 2022 I plan on completing the trilogy and will try and seek representation within the first 6 months. If that isn’t successful I will self-publish towards the end of the year. I am also considering adding a series of books to Haunting.

As always, ping me on the website, on Goodreads or email me at author@andycwareing.com

Have a great Xmas and see you all in 2022!

Hard Sci-Fi (ciencia ficcion dura)

This blog is the long-delayed follow-up to the previous blog on Hard Science Fiction. Read the previous blog post here.

The original blog was posted on August 16th, so I have been extremely remiss in not getting around to the sequel. In my defense, I did move countries again (!) and have almost finished the 60,000 word Sci-Fi book around which this post is based.

So, in the last blog, I promised a discussion on Qualia and Quantum Consciousness. It is an extremely central theme of the book.

Qualia? Yup, it’s a word I hadn’t come across before I started writing the book. But in running through some research it popped up and I was hooked. My book’s (soon to be published, follow me here or on Goodreads for updates) major theme is interconnectedness, even across vast spatial distances and temporal barriers. Qualia helped me bridge those issues.

First termed by C. S. Lewis in 1929 (a bit of a pervert old CS, so factor that into your consideration of what follows), Qualia can be referred to as the phenomenal properties of experience, and experiences that have qualia are referred to as being phenomenally conscious.

OhhhhKayyyy? So let’s dumb that down a little. In terms that I can understand, it is the concept of why we all share a common set of properties of things that defy scientific explanation. The smell of a fine Bordeaux, the touch of the skin of a peach, the pain of a paper cut.

These things are essentially experiential, not experimental.

TBH – it is mostly a philosophical discussion, but it begins to touch on the subject of telepathy which of course makes scientists balk. For full disclosure, I am as far from being spiritual as is possible, but as one of the characters in my book states:

But isn’t that puzzling to you?” Aroha looked around at the faces of the other researchers. They all looked back, serious as they considered the conundrum. “We all recognize the sensation of red, and we all agree when we see it, but we have no way to communicate it, and there is nothing in science that tells us what it should be like. The color red and the smell of the rose are examples of qualia. We humans perceive them as strong and firmly unified properties of our surroundings, of the real world, whereas in actual fact they are simply products of our consciousness.”

It made me sit up and think, and the concept that perhaps we ‘share’ what we consider to be unified properties, precisely because we ‘share’ elements of our consciousnesses, lent itself to what I think is a very strong chapter and a lead-in to the later stages of the book.

I am 5 (FIVE!) chapters from finishing the first draft. Close to the current word count of 60K, I am certain it will end up at 63-65K. I always add even as I edit.

Shannon Hale said it best “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that I can later build sandcastles.”

It is such a true quote. I am both exalted and at the same time dismayed by some of the chapters and the work that lies ahead, but it is by far my most adventurous and far-reaching novel and I am excited to get it finished.

Good grief!

Did you really read to the end of that blog? You may be the target reader for this book!

Go on, go on, go on…sign up for the blog to keep posted on release dates. I honestly think it might be more than OK.