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31 August 2017

A few months ago I had a new book out, and wanted extra copies a.s.a.p. Quickest, easiest method I thought, would be to pick up a couple from Amazon. Go there, find the book, buy a couple, go to pay and – find they don’t have pay pal, or not as anything I recognise. Chase my tail around the site for ages, no sign. Do they or do they not accept pay pal?
So I ask their help section. I click on the first of two questions on that – and get nothing that even refers to PP. Click on the other and ditto. I give up. A month later I try again for several books by other authors. Same result. Today I try for the third time. And yes, same @#$%^&* result. I still have NO idea if I can pay that way, what I do know is that I won’t be bothering to try again.
What use is a site where I can’t even get an answer to a very simple question. Next time I want to buy a couple of hundred dollars worth of books I’ll go to the Book Depository UK who are great, or I’ll get them direct from my publisher. (I only didn’t because with me being on the other side of the world, shipping and postage are complicated.) But they can’t be as complicated as trying to buy on Amazon…

4 August 2017

A week or so ago I trotted off to the annual bookarama at our nearest town. Amid the other forty or so books that I bought was a Penguin Classics copy of Jack London’s assorted tales, including White Fang, and The Call Of The Wild. I happily read my way through them, and then turned idly to the ‘introduction by James Dickey,’ to be startled, surprised, and then annoyed, by the pontificating of a man who seemed intent on pulling down the author. Hmmm. Who is this guy? I looked him up on Wiki, and wasn’t that impressed. He seemed to me to be decrying London’s poverty-stricken background – from his own of middle-class privilege, to comment on London’s lack of education – from his own extensive one (clearly affordable, as London’s wasn’t.) And to comment unfavourably on London’s knowledge of animals.
In connection with that I noted in particular his denial that a fighting dog is capable of learning its trade. What? He suggests that he knows fighting dogs, that he had seen dogs fight often, and I suggest that ‘the heck he had.’ Animals that fight do learn ‘tricks of their trade.’ Why else do the bull-fighting organizations refuse to allow a bull to return again and again to the arena? Because a bull learns, with each fight it knows more, is more dangerous, and after several fights, it has learned enough to, more often than not, kill the matador. I’ve seen dogs fight, and I’ve observed that they do learn from each fight. I had a small Doberman in the 1970s, Cassie was a fighter when she felt it was necessary, fast, deadly, and more so with every time she fought, so that she could take on a considerably larger dog, and have it pinned by the throat in two passes. She most certainly did learn, and I wonder why James Dickey was so adamant dogs don’t.
Dickey complained that London anthropomorphized animals, that’s true, but he found it a grave and huge fault. What part of metaphor/lyricism, didn’t he get? London is saying that if a dog or wolf could think as a human does, this is what he would think. That an animal may be driven by instincts, but then so are people. We merely verbalize ours, as animals cannot. And which of us who are long-time owners of animals genuinely believe that animals do not feel emotions. Even sheep can grieve, remember, and build on instincts to achieve the occasional action that is something like intelligence.I’ve been a farmer for almost 30 years now and I can cite instances of that.
Of course, it may be that Dickey was only saying what he honestly believed, however his introduction reads like a condemnation of London’s impoverished background, his lack of education, and even his ability to write 50 readable books over his 20 productive years. (Dickey produced fewer than a dozen over a long lifetime.) In my opinion there are two things wrong with this introduction, one is that reading it before the book is likely to put off whose who would have normally gone on to read London’s work. The other is my own impression that here you have a man who could afford everything Jack London could not, who could do little if anything that Jack London did, and who produced little that has even already lasted as long as London’s finest works, who chose to use his position to tear down the greater man. He may not have intended to do so, but that is the impression I had, and in the end, the reader’s impression is what counts.

So July finished on 156mls of precipitation, yes, the whole place is soggy, that’s something over 6 inches of rain, and we’ve had so much this year it’s not all soaking right in any longer. Got firewood delivered the other afternoon, and the driver had to use FWD to depart my lawn. Sigh. And a night of -5′ with several more of -4′, have NOT made me happy, or rather my damaged leg, the rest of me would have been mostly fine if it hadn’t been for that screaming about the current chill. And August looks as if it may not be too dry either, it’s 3 days in and we’ve already had almost an inch of rain so far. (21mls.) Oh, well, we’re on the upswing towards summer – when it becomes too hot. However, roll on late spring/early summer when I’m expecting American friends, and then Autumn which is my favourite season, not too hot/cold/wet/dry, or too busy on the farm. Ah, autumn, just right.

Yes, QUEEN OF IRON YEARS, my collaborated (Sharman Horwood) alternate history fantasy, is now out again. With a new cover, re-edited (by the estimable Carla at Wildside) and Sir Julius Vogel Award winner of 2013. I don’t count it again on my list if published books, but it’s really great to see it back out there once more.

time and time again, I input a new item on my blog, and all too often it is then announced that there has been a server error and I should tell someone. It does this now and again when I access and delete spam, when I check on others of my posts, and then I want to look at settings. It seems to have a ‘thing’ about it, and I’m getting irked. Frankly, I don’t care if the site has a hangup on server errors, I just wish it would stop telling me or having them on my site!!!

sigh, it seems that I am a bit busy these days. At the start of the year I signed five contracts for books already written – and assumed that I could now get on with writing more. What I’d overlooked was revision. Six months later I’d completed the revision, and am now up to my eyebrows in writing the ‘more’ I’d planned. However either because of age, or sheer busyness, I keep forgetting to blog. For anyone regularly accessing this blog, please forgive me. But there are only so many hours in the day.
Something that has NOT been helped by problems with my new computer – which resisted the attempts of three different technicians to get me either onto dial-up again, or, when that consistently failed, to get me on to broadband. In fact things are still not quite sorted with the latter, but may be so in another few days. However there are times when I long for simpler days of word processing. (Of course, in those days the alternative problem was editors or the PO losing mss, so nothing is perfect) however I still think that computer technology could be made more user-friendly, and what I’d like to know is – why isn’t it? Because this user doesn’t find it all that ‘friendly.’