Friday Digest: 5 February 2021

Several varied points to conclude this week…

First, I have a question for my U.S. government:

[From my Instagram Stories.]

Not that I expect the United States Department of State to respond to insignificant me, of course. However, it needs asking from OUR American perspective (especially by those of us overseas). NOWHERE in all of the public discussion I have seen of this horrible Harry Dunn case, in which diplomatic immunity has become a huge issue, have I seen ANYONE in the U.S. government actually address that most fundamental question of all: WHY was she driving?

Are our immune U.S. diplomats allowed routinely to drive themselves? I had thought they were provided with local drivers? For immunity is a two-way (no pun intended) street, of course: an immune foreigner stationed at an embassy or consulate inside the U.S. could also hit and kill an American and flee the U.S. and claim “immunity.” How would we like that? I can almost guarantee in that situation Americans coast to coast would be incandescent with rage.

Diplomatic immunity is meant to protect diplomats from politically-motivated harrassment or worse from capricious and/or not exactly friendly governments.

It is NOT meant to shield idiots with pleasant postings in democratic and closely allied countries who in heading to say, the supermarket, don’t know how to operate a car there safely.

* * *

To books. I am the author. I have the “product.” If another party wants to market those products to get a cut of sales for doing the work of marketing them to a potential reading audience, that is fine.

However, what is described in that tweet is increasingly the agency and publishing model: for the privilege of working “with” them, and giving them a cut, YOU do most of the work on social media.

Don’t fall for it. My (now late) mother had a “colorful” description or two for those sorts of people. Most new writers do not seem to understand that is where publishing is now. This is no longer the authoring world that my (now late) uncle inhabited thirty years ago – when the author wrote the book, the agent dealt with the publisher, and the publisher did the marketing.

First rule as a writer: Yes, you may get seriously lucky, but do not expect to get rich doing this.

Second, if you do not expect that the universe will fall at your feet, you will not be disappointed.


Readers may find my books based on what I am doing here. So why should I pay someone else to do anything when they will base what they do for me on what I am doing here? That is ridiculous.

* * *

Readers need to be discerning. I am a reader, too. I try to be careful about what I buy.

I cannot get over the number of people who seem to buy “indie” books online having read only the purchase page blurb. A blurb is ADVERTISING, and is NOT necessarily an indication of the “quality” of what is inside. I STRONGLY advise anyone to READ A FREE SAMPLE of EVERY book pre-purchase.

[Screenshot of the opening to the free Kindle sample of Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Click to expand.]

They are certainly not perfect (because nothing is perfect) books, but I am willing to post excerpts on here from my books or manuscripts in progress because I am proud of what I write. And this is not only about just “indie” books either. I recall having read in the last year or so the free samples of a couple of “award winning” novels by “much praised” authors that have been even adapted for television… and frankly I found the writing in both was NOT at all to my reading taste – I would NEVER have finished, much less enjoyed reading, books like those.

Do you walk into a bookshop, read only the back cover of a book, and then buy it? Surely not? Don’t you at least open the book and have a skim of a few pages to see if it is your thing?

* * *

Speaking of “much praised” and “award winning” authors. J. K. Rowling seems rapidly on the way to alienating herself from many of her (now often former) readers, who grew up reading Harry Potter and watching its early 2000s film adaptations:

The reason is apparently Rowling’s views on women and gender. I do not want to discuss them here; I don’t feel I know enough about the entire issue – and the three most underused words in English remain “I don’t know” – other than to offer this: I have never been a big fan of sticking it to people who have more than enough trouble in their own lives already.

Thinking back to Potter-mania of the late-1990s, I suppose “Beatlemania” may have been the closest comparison to it. Briefly those children’s books were the center of the publishing industry – particularly children’s literature. I cannot recall growing up myself having anything similar that as a children’s book so captured me in my youth in the late 1970s (a similar age to Potter’s major audience in the late-1990s). Even adults read them too: I will always remember a male then colleague of my wife’s in the 1990s – a middle aged man who had been a major in the British army and served in Northern Ireland during “the Troubles” in the 1980s – reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

I don’t know where I was actually going there. I suppose I am just incredulous. Finding yourself hated by some – for whatever reasons – while aiming at an adult readership is one thing, but losing hordes of your own once young readers who grew up to dislike you cannot be what anyone – even she – wants as a CHILDREN’S author.

Those now young adults are certainly not going to direct their own young children to Rowling’s Potter books.

* * *

A vital question, answered:

There are times you should just get to the point. LOL!

* * *

Oh, I almost forgot: I have a YouTube channel now.


[From YouTube.]

As you see, nothing is there yet. I have no idea what to use it for. My yoga videos?

I keep seeing that I am “supposed” to as an author have one. Why? Because everyone wants to see me talk?

Well, at least no one got my name. I do have an idea of a couple of things I may post, but beyond that I have no clue. At the minimum, I will just “squat” on the page forever.

* * *

I have some of these around me:

[On my desk, February 2021.]

Those are among some major books I recall reading by age thirty (which was, now, an, uh, long time ago):

The Last of the Mohicans
The Winds of War
Pride and Prejudice
The Sun Also Rises
War and Peace
The American
With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful

Oh, look, someone’s reading suggestions for books in your 20s…

[From Instagram.]

Well, um, I guess I blew that. LOL!

Have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂

4 Replies to “Friday Digest: 5 February 2021”

  1. No one should walk free from a crime. Such a terrible thing. Those poor parents! 😥

    That whole author platform thing just makes me laugh. The only Insta author I “know” that published her book through an agent and publishing house works like a dog to market her book, not just on social media but by making public appearances, appearing on local news shows, and showing up for events as well. Even if I had that kind of time—I wish!—I still wouldn’t want to work that hard. I’d much rather be working on my next book.

    YouTube? Same here! Great minds and so on and so forth. Yoga videos get my vote. 😂 I’m off to subscribe! Stay well and happy Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) If she won’t do jail time here, the US government should make a financial settlement at least to the family.

      2) Traditional publishing is now nothing of the sort – unless one is a celebrity beforehand. Lots of writers don’t seem to know that. It’s not 1922 any longer, and they are not Scott Fitzgerald.

      3) Ha! I’m not sure when the first yoga vid will appear. Good if you subscribe!😂

      Liked by 1 person

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