I have always enjoyed air travel, and have spent hundreds of hours in the air over the last ten years, mostly traveling between UK and Asia. In that time I have used most of the airlines. On these journeys most airlines stopover somewhere on the way – I used to enjoy stretching my legs in Dubai, or Bahrain, or Singapore (the airport is full of orchids – it’s very beautiful).
I am writing this blog in the UK – it’s bloody freezing – I can’t wait to get back to Hong Kong, but I won’t see my kids now for a year, and that makes me sad. The good news is I WILL see them in a year! (Glass half empty/full – pull yourself together, Arthur!).
My flight here was with New Zealand Airways – my first time with them – A direct flight – 13 hours – I did not dream it would be such a pleasurable experience! The film buffs among you will know that the Lord of the Rings films were made in New Zealand. N Z Airways have capitalized on this. The safety video features the airways staff dressed up as hobbits, orks, elves and wizards – it is very funny.
The food was excellent and the staff very helpful and courteous – but best of all, the seats had extra legroom – I actually managed to get a comfortable sleep for the first time.
Are you asleep yet? No? Good! My point in boring you all with this trivial information is this: I take my hat off to New Zealand Airways for making efforts to keep their customers happy on what could be a long and miserable journey. It made me think.
When we are writing our masterpieces, are we thinking about our readers – the people who will hopefully be with us on the maybe ten hour or more journey through our book? Or are we concentrating on getting ideas and scenes out of our head and straight onto our word processors. How much thought are we giving to how our readers will enjoy their journey?
As usual, here is the disclaimer (lawyering habits die slowly), These ramblings are an account of MY thoughts and My experiences – I am not a best-selling author, or an expert of any sort in writing or selling books – these are my own naive thoughts, but It is reassuring that other more experienced writers say the same thing in different ways.
Before republishing my book I am now going through it and trying to look at it through the eyes of a reader. It takes a little bit of practise, but you soon find yourself looking at your own writings through new eyes and asking yourself questions like ‘does this phrase add anything to the story?’, ‘would a reader really want or need to know this?’ and ‘is there enough (but not too much) detail and info for me to understand what is happening, and want to read more'.
It is actually a refreshing experience, and, believe me (I’m a lawyer) you will end up with a more readable story – my book is now down from 127,000 words to 98,000 words – it is now a lean, mean, reader-capturing machine! (well, I think so, anyway).
I am looking for beta readers/reviewers for my book – please email if you are interested. I am happy to reciprocate. You can email me here – firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks. My website is also developing as fast as time will allow – check out my Amazon bookstore (tab on the left). Please also register to regularly receive this blog (and get a really good freebie!) – there is a box on the right ->
If you want to see the New Zealand Airways safety video – you can see it here - www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCbPFHu3OOc
I am getting a nice collection of cat pics now – please do keep sending them. See you next week – Happy writing! Arthur.
Frank Selmo - WANA commons
As a child we give and receive unconditional love - it is such a shame we lose that instinct as we grow.
I read a self-help book many years ago and a very simple concept put forward by the author (I cannot remember who wrote the book) talked about being a ‘go-giver’ not a ‘go-getter’. It was the common thought at in that time that to be successful you had to aggressively ‘go’ and ‘get’ what you wanted to become successful.
In my younger, more ambitious days that is how I thought as well. My ‘friends’ were those people who I thought could be useful to me and each situation I faced was approached with a ‘what can I get out of this?’ attitude. I have learned that most experiences, good and bad, have a way of shaping and changing your views of the world, and of other people.
I was one of the world’s most cynical ‘glass half empty’ people, and, being a lawyer, have always insisted on proof before accepting a concept. Well, now I have the proof.
My roller coaster ride of transition from lawyer to writer has been disappointing, uplifting, upsetting, exhilarating, and above all educational and instructional – mostly in a very positive way.
When you start out as a writer, with no connections, no money, the IT skills of a goldfish and limited time, but with the skill and genius of all the best writers who ever lived (sadly, so far unrecognized by anyone but me and my cat), promoting your product and your skills is challenging (I have learned that ‘challenging’ is the ‘in’ word for ‘bloody difficult’).
The good news is that the community of writers has proven to be warm and receptive, welcoming and friendly. Being a Go-Giver is definitely the way forward – I have given what time and resources - re tweeting, sharing posts, reviewing books, and helping other writers in whatever way I can – I can spare. I can honestly say that these small, helpful acts have come back to me a hundredfold and I have built up a wonderful group of writer and IT friends who will help me with any problem or need. Writers really are, in general, a selfless and giving group – I am proud to aspire to be one of them.
I am not an expert in writing, marketing or IT. I am an expert in Law, I am reasonably proficient as a piano player, and I am half decent as a beach fisherman. I do not claim to be imparting expert knowledge in these strange blogs. I am just sharing some of the more positive meanderings of my experiences.
If you get time to look around my site you will get to know me more – check out my book and film reviews, my family pics – and stay with me on this personal journey to fame, fortune and fun. Then, when I am a household name, you will be able to say “I knew him when he was had a weird blog, with a range of fur balls, and was talking a load of....”
For now, you will have to put up with my alternative views and opinions, with the odd touch of humor, and fur! As usual here are the cuddly cat pics. Please register (on the right) to keep updated – and follow me on twitter : https://twitter.com/arthurcrandon and like my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ArthurCrandonAuthor Thank you for your time. Happy writing.
Grammar gremlins and spelling sprites – A tale not fit for the squeamish.
I do not write childrens books or fantasy, but my world is infected with unworldly entities. They infect all my writings, hiding behind the paragraphs and chapters – dodging the beta readers, the well meaning ‘helpful’ friends and the many attempts by me to re read the piece and catch them by surprise.
They jump out laughing with glee after I have published – in ebook and in print – relishing their damage to my wonderful work which WAS perfect when I uploaded it, wasn’t it?
Worse than that, they have ‘muggle’ friends in the real world who are all too quick to fire off reviews pointing out their devilish work, and implicating ME, suggesting that I have ALLOWED them to be there! I had no alternative than to finally resort to calling in a Word Wizard.
The Word Wizard appeared in a flash of lightning, to a mighty crash of thunder, with flowing cape, mighty staff and long, grey, wispy beard (it quite suited her, really) and informed me that she much preferred to be called an ‘editor’. I presume there is some great power in such a mystical name.
I showed her to the magical box containing the creatures, who were even then still ripping away at my wonderful style and constructions. I powered it up and ran out of the room, locking the door after me, then quickly retreated to the kitchen to make sweet tea to calm my nerves.
As I sat, with trembling hands, slowly gaining comfort from the warmth of the cup held tightly between my hands, I tried to close my ears to the thuds, bangs and ungodly screams coming from my study and solemnly reflected on all the advice I had ignored to my cost and my embarrassment.
“I don’t need an editor,” said a plainly stupid earlier version of myself. “Eight friends. Three of whom are English teachers, MUST be enough. How could they sneak any mistakes or clumsy construction past this army – especially led by ME, their fearless General.”
I never had much sympathy for General Custer until now. Wait, everything has gone quiet. What can be happening? I waited another ten minutes in silence before daring to slowly and carefully open the door and peer within. As the tiny crack between door and wall widened a sooty smell hit my face, causing my nose to wrinkle and my eyes to water. It was not a pretty sight. Thesauri and Dictionaries were scattered all over the floor and the possessed pc just sat there on the table, quiet, but with menacing lights flashing. “I’m not dead yet, what are you going to do about it?” They seemed to say.
I was relieved to see the editor sitting on the couch, smiling through the smoky mist and packing her short wand into her handbag “It’s ok now,” she said. “Next time, call me in earlier before it becomes such a big problem,” she , peered admonishingly over her spectacles. “I will, I will,” I nodded, rather too vigorously.
I offered her a drink, I had whisky, wine, anything... Back came the cold stare. “I am an Editor, not a Writer.” “Sorry, sorry,” I mumbled, as I followed her towards the door. As she left I watched her rise up into the sky.
Is it a bird? is it a plane? No its superm.... “PLAGIARISM!” I heard her scream as she disappeared into the clouds. I shut the door and retreated into the safety of my kitchen. How could I have been so proud and stupid. Not calling her in earlier was obviously the reason why my book had not sold the millions it deserved, instead of (I stared down at my Amazon statement) ... 3.
Please learn from my mistakes. Without professional help they WILL get in, there is no way to keep them out, and please pass this advice on to your friends who may consider going ‘bareback’ – publishing without a professional edit.
As usual there are cute cat pics – if you really like them there are plenty more on my facebook page. If you go there (and ‘like’ my page) you can see them – www.facebook.com/arthurcrandonauthor - and don’t forget to sign up for my blog so you get it stuffed into your inbox regularly.
Until next time, happy writing, Arthur. :-)
I have deliberately steered away from politics and religion (I will NEVER steer away from sex!) in my blogs so far, but an item I saw on the news this morning has prompted me to give you my thoughts on an aspect of our writing lives that few of us ever need to give any thought to – our freedom of expression. In the West we take it for granted, but we should be aware of and very grateful for ALL of our freedoms.
CNN (Asia) woke me up here in Hong Kong this morning and told me that the New York Times had revealed that its computer systems and websites had been hacked – all its staff passwords had been stolen. Ok... Who would want to do this, and why?
A month or so ago the newspaper broke the story that Hu Jintau, the powerful Chinese leader who had ruled the country for the last ten years, and had ‘fought against corruption’ during that time, was leaving office with around $3 Billion dollars salted away in secret accounts and holdings in his family’s name. Whist it was denied by the Chinese leader, he did little to counter the allegations.
The NY Times hacking incident appears to be an attempt by the Chinese authorities to find out who was giving the reporters their information about this. Doubtless Mr. Hu would like a word with them! China is now officially acknowledged as the most corrupt country in the world – and the horrific tales of what happens to those who try to buck the system are far too distressing for this blog.
What I really want to tell you, is about the restrictions and problems facing writers in this enormously populous country, which is ‘developing’ at an alarming rate. Do not worry, my blog is not going to be a political rant, well, not so much, and next time it will revert to being a comical, bizarre, humorous rant. I just wanted to get this off my chest, and living close to the Chinese border – I felt I may have a view you may be interested in.
All newspapers are owned by the state, and censors check, and very often alter or remove anything that is in the least bit critical of the Government or of officials. Just lately, some brave journalists protested about this in Guangzhou, a large city just a few hundred miles from me. Writers of fiction fare no better. It is impossible (not to say illegal) to publish a book without getting approval from the censors. Needless to say, many writings which are in any way critical of the state or its leadership will not see the light of day. Mainland Chinese people flock over the border into Hong Kong just to buy books which they are not allowed to obtain in their own country. Countless writers and their families have been killed, jailed, and otherwise punished over the years for pursuing their craft, and many are still languishing in jails in dire conditions.
The country is now immensely wealthy, the people are good people and if only a slight change in direction could occur, it could become the envy of the world in ALL respects – and not just for the Pandas! The seeds are there, and the internet – which frightens the Chinese leadership so much – has already proved to be a force to reckon with in paving the way for transparency and justice in government. The Government should harness this and use it as an opportunity, rather than trying to curb and control it with tens of thousands of online censors watching out for any signs of dissent or criticism. One day they must realize that trying to mend large cracks in the system with scotch tape won’t work, and that they should work WITH the people to put things right rather than against them. The signs are there that the people will respond positively to such moves.
So, with all its faults, we are lucky to be living in our western democracies – not having to worry about a knock on the door in the middle of the night for tweeting ‘Obama sucks!’ Sorry for the ‘heavy’ tone of this weeks blog, but I live in Hong Kong and see the influence of China growing disturbingly each day – I just thought that those of you who are a bit more removed may like this insight, for a change.
Even with this heavyweight topic – you are not going to get away without the cats!!! – the overwhelming majority of me has decided to keep them! Please register for this blog over on the right to make sure you receive it regularly every week. Take care - and happy, free, and safe writing. Arthur.
Meet the author
Arthur Crandon is a lawyer, the boring office kind, not the exciting (and much better paid) courtroom type. He worked as a solicitor for a while before embarking on an interesting life overseas. He has spent most of his time in recent years in South East Asia, more recently in Hong Kong. Before that, Arthur lived and worked in the Philippine Islands.
He loves to fish, and play the piano – but spends most of his time writing, eating, drinking and sleeping
– usually, but not always, in that order.
His first book, Deadly Election, draws on his strange imagination and his
experiences, together with those of others, in a land that, beneath a veneer of civilisation, operates like the Wild West and is very
dangerous to innocent and gullible foreigners.
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My thriller - Deadly Election - is now on sale at Amazon. Anyone who buys the book and leaves a review will get a signed paperback. Please subscribe to my blog and newsletter here