Tuesday, 26 November 2013


I wrote an article some time ago about my first wage packet and how far money used to stretch and how great life used to be back in the eighties. I suppose our parents could relate to that in some way by saying how great life used to be back in the sixties. Will the present younger generation be saying the same thing in thirty years time and remarking how great life was back in the noughties. When I was younger I didn't take a lot of notice of politics, economics or banking crises. I worked, I earned and I spent, without any worry about where the next pound was coming from. Youth was a blessing indeed and taking things for granted was par for the ever green course. Now I am in the midst of middle-age and everything seems blurry and every under-handed politician, corporate trick and erosion of the pound in my pocket seems to nark me even more and whereas before I didn't give a flying what they did, I now want to ask why and question there very existence.
Whatever your politics might be and mine is stuck in the 'I don't care what party you represent, I don't trust any of you' corner, it seems we are all being taken for a giant ride here. My father was a two pints of beer and a fag after work man, when he finished his shift he would go to the local pub or club and relax with a drink before coming home, kissing my mother on the cheek, throwing us kids a treat of a bag of crisps and watch Bruce Forsyth on the television. How many men can actually afford to do that these days?
Our pubs and clubs, which were hubs of many societies years ago, are all but gone. Alienated in government rhetoric, wrapped up in the pretence of 'We know what is right for you' civil servants creating laws and more taxation usually in a effort to justify made up jobs and using the health card to warn us of the dangers. So there is one element of our society taken care of, basically 'Don't socialise, because we have made it near enough impossible for you to afford to.'
So we finish work and have very little choice but to go straight home, which brings us to the cost of living. Over the last twenty years, prices have steadily increased especially on the basics of life like food, heating and fuel. Anybody that has a car will be able to testify to this, five years ago my little Vauxhall Corsa cost me £100 a year to road tax, now it is nearly £200, I could fill up the tank for £20.00 and now it costs me over £50.00. So it sits on the drive more and more and gets a clean on a sunday for a treat. I must admit that the food bill is something I leave to my wife but her constant complaining about how much more it is costing to feed us, is evidence enough that food prices are rising on an almost weekly basis. So we come to the biggest bug-bear for everyone, heating bills. Maybe I am stupid but the justification to put up gas and electricity prices by 8,9 and 10% is beyond me especially when these companies announce huge profits before hand. In a civilised country when we are struggling to keep the vulnerable of society warm, i.e. our elderly, disabled and less fortunate, then we certainly have a problem. So on the one hand we cannot afford to go out and it is getting to the point where we cannot afford to stay in.
So this brings me to the detrimental effect this organised chaos is having on society. A recent article I read stated that the financial breakdown we steadily face in our society has not only affected the working class but also the middle class, the majority of wealth in this country is owned by just 1% and so is not evenly distributed. The rich really are getting richer and the poor are getting very poorer. The increased cost of living over the last few years has affected more people than at any other time in history. It is not only the three issues I mentioned earlier but it is other things that have crept into our way of life, we now pay more fines for things than ever before, speed cameras, parking fines etc, it is said that almost 1 in 2 people pay a fine in this country for one reason or another. Local councils now top up there budgets with millions of pounds taken in fines. We are all enslaved by the banks and offers of credit, 90% of salaries are now paid into bank accounts, without one we are screwed, credit card debts are on average responsible for £15.000 of debt per person. A recent statement released by one of the big banks stated that anyone with a credit card debt of £4.000 or more, in the banks opinion will never pay it off. Maybe they should change the name to a 'Debt card,' and then see how many people will apply for one.
But we are all responsible for our own actions, I hear you say and I totally agree, but our conditioning over the last few years have made us susceptible to the clever marketing and the greedy corporate marketeers behind it. It is a modern form of enslaving the people and keeping them in debt. We also live in a want-it-now society, any modern house is now fully equipped and what was once viewed as luxuries are now classed as essentials, televisions, washing machines, microwaves, dish-washers and of course flabaloss machines.
Lets move on to the 'carrot-danglers' as I like to call them, Amazon and Ebay. Basically what started off as good ideas have now slowly manifested into corporate bullying and fee snatching.
Amazon had this wonderful concept not so long ago to give creative and maybe not so creative individuals myself included the chance to compete with other well established authors on a level playing field. Write it and publish it as a download on the Amazon Kindle site. Bring in a few bells and whistles, KDP select, lending libraries etc and away you go. Now from my own point of view I write for pleasure and for myself, most of it rantie granted, now and again I may knock out a good story or a readable book and if it is liked and appreciated by the wonderful public that is a massive bonus and I thank you for that. The only problem though is that Amazon decided to, for the want of a better word, 'piss about' with the formula. Changing algorithms, downloads. In essence making it far more difficult for any decent author to get recognised or be propelled to the top of the best-sellers list. Was this because the big publishing houses weren't happy about having a bit of competition from some housewife from Tunbridge Wells who had written an absolute blockbuster and it may just eat into there vast profits. I don't know?
I used to stress about Amazon and why my books were not selling and why I wasn't climbing the list and getting rave reviews and blah blah blah, but now I just realise the bleeding obvious, either they are not that good, I don't market enough or my vast competition is just working harder and better than I am.
I love writing but have many other hobbies, I also buy, collect and sell vinyl records, check me out here all you vinyl collectors, http://www.discogs.com/seller/Booktimes
Which brings me to Ebay, every review or forum I read concerning them is not very good, but they  now have what they set out to get and that is a monopoly. The competition in auction online sites is non-existent, only Ebid comes to mind but they do not have the buyers and as we all know auctions are a two way street, you need buyers as well as sellers. So over the course of the last few short years Ebay have made a few changes, from seller restrictions to a vast increase in fees, the most recent being, taking a percentage on the cost of posting, in my opinion the biggest 'piss take' ever. So now any amateur or professional seller on Ebay has to pay a listing fee, a final value fee, a percentage on the cost of postage and not forgetting a PAYPAL fee, a company that is now owned by Ebay. This in my opinion is a way of squeezing out the small seller. Only the big power sellers can make enough to justify the increases and the volume of sales and price per unit will swallow up the extra cost. Until another competitor enters the market place to challenge Ebay, they will only get bigger and the small traders will suffer. I know people personally who have turned there back on Ebay because they simply stopped making any money, one a good friend of mine who used to sell items to afford luxuries for her three kids, she wasn't greedy, just wanted a bit extra, a few quid here and there to treat her little ones. When she had the audacity to ring and complain to Ebay customer service, they froze her account, obviously the small amount they were getting from her in fees wasn't enough to justify giving her a break. Corporate big brother strikes again.
Okay rant over for today, please keep an eye on my blog for future book releases and definite future rants.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


Hi everybody

I am pleased to announce my catalogue of Vinyl Records and CD's for sale on DISCOGS.

please pay me a visit..


Many thanks

Happy Browsing.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


When I left school many years ago, okay 30 to be exact. I remember the excitement of collecting my first wage packet. Friday lunchtime a little brown square packet with my name and clocking-in number on the front. The thrill of opening it and finding real cash inside and a paper wage slip telling you how much you had been stopped in tax. Not that I took any notice at that age, all I was interested in was the new crisp notes inside. I think if I recall my first wages were £35.00. A fortune to a spotty 16 year old. I would give my parents £10.00 for my board, which actually made them happy to be getting something back after all those years of spending a small fortune on bringing me up. I'd also discovered a whole new world of independence, pubs, smoking and shopping. Suddenly I was a man, pubs served me, I could buy records, clothes and concert tickets. The world was my oyster, I readily indulged in this newly found hedonistic life. I would smoke, go to the pub at least four times a week, every Friday I would go to a rock disco, buy a couple of vinyl LP's every saturday and take in every concert that readily came around. I was having driving lessons and managed to keep a succession of girlfriends happy. All this on 35 quid a week. So have things changed so radically in thirty years? Maybe I was just at the back end of a golden generation. Things seemed to have crumpled around our ears without really noticing. I am old fashioned in my outlook to such things, I believe that the working man is entitled to a pint and a fag after work, it seems to have been the main stay of society for dozens of years, but not any more. Pubs and clubs are not the hub of any community anymore. Where once it was a God given right, now it is a luxury. The present generation are nannied and instead of given that freedom to decide are being told what they can and can't do. All wrapped up in scare tactics and propaganda, we don't hear you can anymore, that has been replaced with you can't! or even worse don't!
Don't drink!
Don't smoke!
Don't socialise!
Don't be young and learn from your mistakes!
Let us decide what you should or shouldn't do, better still lets tell you how to live your life, because we know better!

Over the years, the pound in your pocket is worth less and less, prices have increased ten-fold, every day living expenses, food, housing costs, heating, concert tickets lol. Very few people now work to live most people live to work. 1984 has become 2013 as people work longer and earn just enough to live. The topic of most conversations are 'What's on telly tonight' So most people sit around glued to their ever increasing in size televisions watching even more channels and being brainwashed by subliminal images in more and more soap operas. Just one interesting thought, the government knows where 20 million people are at 7.30 most evenings watching Coronation Street or Eastenders. Be careful of those subliminal images, if Derren Brown can do it then the government certainly can.

Education has taken a huge swing over the years, are we really any brighter now than we were thirty years ago?
When I left school, 75% of kids got a job and 25% went to University, nowadays the figures have reversed. We had careers teachers and apprenticeships. We sat down one to one and were asked what do you want to do when you leave school? My mates became mechanics, engineers, bricklayers, plasterers, electricians, the girls wanted to be nurses, secretaries, nannies.
Ask the majority of kids today what they want to do when they leave school and the answers will probably range from singer and dancer to Simon Cowell and Justin Bieber. Thank you the X-Factor.
Maybe its because the jobs just aren't there anymore. I wanted to be a builder, I remember my careers teacher setting up interviews with building firms, who were offering apprenticeships. I actually ended up in a shoe factory but it was a start I guess.
Now I am not against higher education in the least, I am probably an advocate of it but in the right context. Today our Universities are spilling kids out into the world with degrees in Social Science, psychology and Physiothingymebob. Just a footnote there are actually more students studying Psychology at University then there are actual Psychologists in the country. Makes you think! Maybe that is why we are building so many shopping malls and McDonalds to employ them all.

So where is all this leading? I hear you ask. Well it is a bit of a semi Autobiography I guess, mainly brought about from the fact that as I have gotten older my job opportunities and the money in my pocket have diminished. At my age now which is well in my forties and with no formal qualifications to speak off, my chances of getting any type of a job are really next to zero. Here are a few examples, when I did actually decide to go to University, well into my twenties. I studied and achieved City and Guild qualifications in 'Computer Aided Design' Well done me! I then worked for a few years at various companies on a contract basis producing top notch drawings and designs. My contracts were always short term, maximum 3 months. Then it would be off again to another Company and another short term fix. The last company I was at was great, I loved it, I was there 11 months and one day the boss called me in his office and said that work was short and he was terminating my contract. I was devastated and so on the spot I decided I didn't want to do this any more. I actually did try and get back into it a few years later but by then I was competing against 20 year old fresh from college kids who could tie me in knots, the stress was just too much. I explored various options in the jobs market and came to some pretty startling conclusions. It is near on impossible these days to get any type of job without some kind of qualification or experience, but how do you gain experience if nobody will employ you in the first place. This includes such jobs as shelf stackers, labourers, drivers and anything to do with the care industry. NVQ's are the new by word even for waiting tables in a restaurant.
So over the years the choice of our kids going to University or not isn't actually a choice anymore, if they don't study something or other until they are 20 something means that they will probably get left well behind or end up behind the counter at McDonalds. The small matter of the cost which on average is about £9,000 a year doesn't seem to have been taken into consideration by the law makers at all. At a time when most people are struggling to make ends meet, is it just me or what was once a God given right now seems to be just a luxury.

So anyway back to me. I am probably one of the lucky ones, I work for myself doing what I want to do, I managed to turn my hobbies into my job. I started gardening about 10 years ago and kept it going to the degree that I now maintain a few gardens and cut my elderly neighbours grass for free. (Nice to give something back) I am a habitual writer if such a thing exists, I write novels, short stories and blog posts and now and again get paid for it. I am also an avid collector of books and Vinyl records to the degree that I now buy and sell them in my own online shop, check me out,

The main reason for this post was to highlight how we take so much for granted even when it seems wrong and the figures don't add up.
How I wish for those happy £35.00 a week days again.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Author Interview with Barbie Sue Johnson

Welcome to my Author interview and many thanks to Barbie Sue.

Author - (B.S. Johnson)

1/  Can you tell us a little about yourself?
    B.S. Johnson (affectionately known to friends as Barbie Sue) was raised up in rural towns in North Georgia. She has been writing poetry and short stories since she was very young. It wasn't until her forties that she finally decided to start doing something with her writing and started submitting some of her work. 
2/  When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?
   I was raised an only child. My parents adopted me at the age of eleven months old. I was told about his at the age of eight or so. Hearing something of that caliber when you're so young is a difficult thing to deal with. I didn't understand it, and thought it was a bad thing. I turned to poetry as an outlet for my feelings and frustrations. 
3/  Can you tell us something about your books, genre?
   As of right now, I have several poems that have been published in magazines. As far as my books, I have two non-fictions out. The first one is a free e-book available on Smashwords.com called Being Kind In An Unkind World. It is more of a compilation, really. It's about doing random acts of kindness for people, whether directly or indirectly. My most recent book, Maters, Taters & Grits, is available in print format, and on Kindle, through Amazon, B&N.com, and many more. It is about life in the South, from mud runs and Southern Hospitality to Traditions and how to treat your mama. 
4/  Where do you get your ideas from?
   The voices in my head! Actually, my poems mostly stem from experiences in my life that were painful. My books have just been about my life so far. I am currently working on a fiction novel, and those ideas are based on the Southern lifestyle and things that happen around me. 
5/  Are you working on a new book at the moment?
   Three, actually. I have one almost completed that is a collection of my poems. The other two are completely new genres for me-  one is a murder mystery, the other is an adventure series. I'm not sure the direction it's going to take yet. It's surprising me at the moment!
6/  What are your ambitions concerning your writing career?
   I just want to entertain and inspire. If I change someone's life for the better, or encourage someone to write, or become someone's inspiration, I've done what I set out to do. 
7/  Which writers inspire you?
   J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Clive Barker, John Grisham
8/  What book are you reading at present?
   Honestly, my schoolbooks! I have homework and studies pretty regular, as I'm taking Animal Behavior classes and Dog Obedience Training. It takes up a lot of time at the moment. 
9/  What are your thoughts on reviews, good and bad?
   If they are honest, fine. I've heard people say they review books and they never even picked up the book. You are not doing the Author any favors- good or bad- by doing that. Be honest. Not everyone is going to like your book. But don't put a bad review because someone commented something you didn't like on your Facebook status, either. 
10/  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
    Believe in yourself. Above all. Do not let anything or anyone get in the way of your dreams. 
11/ Do you have any advice on how to market your books?
    Use any and all of the Social Media available to you. Talk about it. A lot. 
12/  What would you consider to be the worst thing about being an indie author?
     Trying to get the word out about your book among the zillion others. Marketing is key. Being different and standing out is important. 
13/  What do you like to do when your not writing, hobbies etc?
     Fishing, hiking, horseback riding, gardening, four-wheeling, and cooking out with friends and family.
14/  How long on average does it take you to write a book, what is your schedule?
     Since I have so much going on, I don't really have a schedule. I should, but I don't. I have a Windows Phone, so anytime I get the urge to write, I use the Microsoft Office feature on my phone to jot down ideas, paragraphs or poems. Maters, Taters & Grits was written using mostly my phone. It really comes in handy. 
15/  What is your favourite positive saying?
     Stop telling God how big your problems are and start telling your problems how big God is!
16/  Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your books?
     Sandra Bullock. She has natural beauty. She's real. 
17/  Who did your fabulous book covers?
     On Being Kind, it was Tatiana Villa. For Maters, it was the wonderful design team at Sweatshoppe Publications and the talented Paul Brand.
18/  What is your favourite movie and why?
      Twister. I don't really know why. I have watched it a thousand times if I've watched it once, and it never gets old, I can quote it, and it just remains my favorite.
19/  Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
      Running a farm where we host a number of programs for special needs children to come out and learn about animals and take part in caring for horses, riding them, and earning certificates for their participation. 
20/  Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
     Billy the Kid. I'd love to sit down and have a beer with him and get inside that head of his.
21/ What is your favourite takeaway food?
     That would have to be Pizza!
Where can you be reached?
Blog/Website: www.bsjohnson.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BSJohnson12
Twitter: B_SJohnson
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/BS-BarbieSue
Smashwords: smashwords.com/books/view/256101
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Maters-Taters-Grits-B-Johnson/dp/0988782057/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365006359&sr=8-1&keywords=maters+taters+and+grits

My thanks to Barbie Sue for a wonderful and insightful interview.

Sunday, 10 February 2013



The 2nd Sam Lucas Thriller 
      'Czech Mate' 

Sun 10th February


http://amzn.to/W50hzw    Amazon UK

http://amzn.to/WWoqGx  Amazon US

BLOGGER BOOK FAIR Marian Lanouette

Welcome to day 4 of the Blogger Book Fair, today I am featuring wonderful author Marian Lanouette.

Marian's Bio:

Marian born and raised in Brooklyn, New York is the seventh child of ten. At the age of sixteen her family moved from New York to New England. As a typical teenager, she felt her life was ruined and took to journalizing her feeling and this new life. The journal helped her realize how easily she had adapted to the change. Although, she did miss her cherished friends terribly; she's thankful, they are still friends today. The four of them refer to each other as the cradle to the grave friends.

IF there is not enough space this part can be deleted.
Unbeknown to her parents, at the age of five she started reading the New York Daily News story about the murdered nurses in Chicago and the investigation. Marian followed the story every day as authorities rushed to solve the brutal crime. It had caught her attention and her imagination. To this day she stills checks her closet before going to sleep. Marian thinks it was on that day the mystery lover was created.

At the age of eight she wrote every day, whether it be a poem, a short story or in her journal. An eighth grade assignment got her published. Though she failed the assignment, the nun was impressed with her poem. It was supposed to be a four line poem, but she couldn't still her pen. The Beach her first official published work is still her favorite though much longer than four lines. It was the nun who submitted the poem for her to the local paper. Thus, the writer was born.

Marian's first book If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery will be released on September  2012; and will be followed up in January 2013 with the second book in the series, Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery. Each book's a mystery with romantic elements, because to quote Marian, "Life is both mysterious and romantic." As the World Ends, a romantic suspense  will be released in February 2013.

Marian resides in New England with her husband.

“Son of a bitch,” Kyra whispered.

Life’s not fair. In the last two hours she’d dumped over three thousand dollars into the Goddamn machine. This bitch sits down right next to her and hits the jackpot on the first spin. I’ll never get my son back this way.

Kyra Russell wiped away the tears that rolled down her face. Why couldn’t she hit the jackpot? Ten grand—she only needed ten grand to pay her lawyer. Taking another hundred-dollar bill out of her purse, she stuffed it into the machine and hit the maximum-credit button, anticipating the results. Loving the rush, her stomach jumped with excitement. Each time, her mind cheered ‘this is it.’ As the wheels rolled into place, a cold chill raced through her veins. One by one, they landed. By the second symbol, she realized she’d lost again. Kyra’s heartbeat increased, pounding in her chest, beating in her ears like African tribal drums, causing her anger to spike. It’s the next one, she told herself, banging the maximum-credit button again. Lord, she needed to take a pee break, though didn’t dare leave her machine for fear someone else would hit the jackpot after she’d primed the machine.

Watching the attendant pay the woman, Kyra counted along with him. The
bitch won seventy-five hundred dollars. After the woman received her payout, Kyra tried signaling the attendant.

“Excuse me,” she called.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“I need to use the restroom. Can you watch my machine or lock it down?”

“I need to call a supervisor over. It’ll be a few minutes.” He pressed the button in his earpiece.

She watched him whisper into it. After ten minutes, the supervisor came over and locked down the machine for her, letting her know she needed to be back within the hour or they’d release the machine.

“Thank you.”

“Not a problem, Kyra,” the supervisor said.

He read her name off her reward card, addressing her like he knew her. Well, screw him.

She pushed off her seat, rushing to the ladies’ room. Kyra didn’t want to stay away too long, giving them a chance to re-program the machine against her or reset it. She hated the new system with the tickets. Since they’d installed it, she hadn’t won like she used to. How else could she lose constantly? Winning used to be the norm when she first started. It became addictive. She’d won twenty-five thousand dollars on one spin. On another night, she’d won eight thousand dollars.

Boy, the cash rolled in then. The feeling was indescribable when those wheels rolled into place and the bells went off. The noise the machine made when it hit a jackpot had crowds surrounding her. Though on that night she’d gone home with only twenty thousand dollars—she’d blown five grand trying to win more. Greed always took over. Winning excited her. It was the rush, the euphoria she got every time she pushed the spin button that kept her coming back.

The casino treated her like royalty, even gave her a host. He got her into the
popular shows or restaurants anytime she wanted. Nothing was too good for Kyra, as long as she showed up and put her money into the machine. She became a regular at the players’ lounge—eat and drink for free. Yeah, free, her ass. The cost was extreme. Somewhere along the line, Kyra lost her self-respect—along with her marriage, her son, and her savings.

Many thanks Marian.