Saturday, 29 June 2013

I was asked who the characters in Armageddon's Song are based upon, and to be honest there are a few who are amalgams of people I have met throughout my life.

'The President' is an easy one, as I tend to picture a situation and hear dialogue form before I write it I found that the 'ideal' of a President I was trying to describe was not a real person but rather one created by Aaron Sorkin, at least so far as speech and mannerisms in my minds eye anyway. President Josiah Bartlet as portrayed by that great American actor Martin Sheen pretty closely fits the bill. Mine of course is a little more complex as you will discover. A good man by nature who may have trouble sleeping some nights owing to the dirty political waters he is forced to do business in.

Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Stone, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards is a mix of three terrifying individuals (if you happened to be a young soldier in the British Army in the early 1970's) RSM Torrance, Scots Guards, who reigned over the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion at Park Hall, Oswestry in Shropshire.  Garrison Sergeant Major 'Black Alec' Dumon  The Guards Depot, Pirbright, Surrey and later Garrison Sergeant Major London District, and finally Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Smith, 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards. Sarn't Major Torrance was outwardly fierce but inwardly fair and an ideal individual to be dealing with a couple of thousand 15 year old schoolboys who had to be turned into the next NCO corps of the British infantry.
'Black Alec' is of course a legend. Those dark sunken eyes and unblinking, cold stare. 'Captain Black & The Mysterons' except for that voice, the gruff Yorkshire accent that barked a command out on one side of a parade square and the flowers in their beds outside Battalion Headquarters a quarter mile away would wilt and die.
RSM Smith was a pretty good actor I think. The act was to make everyone, including young subalterns, believe he was permanently angry and a heartbeat removed from downright furious.
I was on barrack guard one night when one of the old soldiers, an 'old sweat' with a few campaigns under his belt, and as it turned out at least one demon, went berserk. He had a rifle and bayonet attached  to it in a barrack room he was trashing. The Picquet Officer wanted to arm the Picquet Sergeant, with obvious consequences should the soldier in question make a fight of it, which he would have. The RSM intervened, whatever old trauma was troubling the soldier, he knew about it. He sent everyone away except for a couple of us and he waited out the storm, entering on his own an hour later and spoke in a normal voice for long minutes before exiting and handing me the rifle before leading the soldier to the medical centre, speaking quietly to him all the time.
Next day RSM Smith was of course again a heartbeat removed from downright furious.

General Henry Shaw USMC, another easy one, but also oddly out of time.  It was back in 2004 when I added General Henry Shaw and in my mind Henry is Tom Selleck as 'Frank Reagan' except that 'Blue Bloods' wasn't screened until 2010. Possibly Mr Selleck played another role around that time which was solid, professional and reliable to the end in character. If I say so myself I do like General Henry Shaw, I could serve under a leader like that.

Sir James Tennant, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is to me 'Foyles War' Michael Kitchen a very good British actor of the finest type.

Keeping it real

The heady-ish rise up the ranks in authorishness, or should that be 'being more authorish'? 
Neither of course are correct and the Grammar Gestapo are doubtless closing in as we speak.
Some of my fellow indie authors make a great deal about correct grammar and will launch into blog debates at length, preaching to the choir when what they should be doing is writing, and carving out a successful career.

To that end I have been watching my own, less than meteoric rise, up the ranks care of's 'Rank' application on Author Central.
Up from 280,000th at the end of April 2013 to 3,816thth today, which sounds far more impressive than it actually is.
In the interests of keeping it real, if a public library had upon its shelves each day that same number of different books available for the reading public to check out, I would be the least read book.
Best I tell Mum to stop clearing a space on the mantle shelf in expectation of it being occupied any time soon by the Oscar of all writing awards that the Daddy of all Authors is awarded.

Monday, 24 June 2013

From Pixels to Ink

This is my third career, the first lasted seven years and consisted of running around the countryside with guns.
The second involved running around cities with a silly bit of wood called a truncheon, but the last six were cool because I got to hang with TV and movie crews on location, eat really good free food, and fast track through the notoriously slow and strict security at the BBC, all with a flash of the badge.
Going to Buckingham Palace for briefings and meetings was cool too but I had to use the tradesmen's entrance at the side.

But I digress.

The point I was trying to make was that all that experience did not teach me how to format in HTML, how to increase DPI from 72 to 400, or what a gutter was, other than the usual usage of the term.

I converted my two Kindle formatted novels, and the abridged editions into print format and uploaded them to a print on demand company which assured me the cost of production would be $6.10 minimum list price to produce the 500+ pages in each.
The novels were re-uploaded twice as this guttering business had not taken, but then I received an email all was satisfactory. I logged on, pressed 'Proceed' and looked upon the finished product, and the price...$16.10.

The printers have not explained this discrepancy, but it was obvious that hardbacks at paperback prices may sell but paperbacks at hardback prices never will.

My trilogy, at least in print, is now a six part 'ology', which required work on the covers so as not to confuse the buyer.

The Kindle books sell five hundred times better than the paperbacks though, as in I have sold one.

Well it kept me busy I suppose.

Next thing to do is get them translated.

Andy Farman's Novels on Amazon

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Ah, reviews and stars. Either the nectar of Gods or the bite of an asp.

I have been fortunate so far in not to have any malicious comments or surreptitious visits by unscrupulous fellow  authors of military fiction, although I have been warned that both exist.

Genuine readers are moved to comment for two reasons, they either love all the hard work you put in and the way the prose flow, or they hate it enough to tell the world.

Being in the writing game is the same as being back at school, except whereas the author is sat at his or her old desk (with the old cement hard chewing gum stuck on the underside by pupils long since moved on), the teacher is the great reading public.

Getting a review is like getting your homework back, and if you are like me you move the pages with trepidation like a poker player down to his last ten bob looking at the hand he has been dealt and gulping audibly.

Five Stars is the same as getting an 'A' and knowing your Dad is going to let you go out and play with your mates at the weekend.

Four Stars is an encouraging 'B+' and you still get to go out and play.

Three Stars is a 'C' and you may get to have a kick around in the local park but your Dad will expect you to be home by 3pm and hitting the books.

Two Stars is a 'See Me' and not even a chance at watching John Wayne on the afternoon matinee TV movie.

Do I need to point out that One Star is a 'Continues to disappoint' in red ink' and you may not even get any pocket money this week?

Of course no reviews can be even worse, a complete indifference to your best efforts and being sent to bed without any supper to-boot!


Volume 1 (UK)

Volume 1 (US)

Too racy Madam? Try on this Abridged size then...

The learning curve continues.......

It is something akin to being hit in the face with a wet fish when you look at your detailed book sales and see someone asked for a refund. "Why?" you ask yourself, but the publisher does not see fit to supply any feedback. Two hundred and four copies sold between 26th April and 12th June will help with the grocery bills but three people hated it enough to ask for their cash back. That is a box of babies formula!

I was fortunate that two thirds of the returnees were good enough to contact me. Both had bought the first volume for their sons but had not seen the introduction's comments about a spy removing her clothes to learn the secrets of others, as sufficient indication that there lurked some sexual content within.

Arriving at her Kensington flat Svetlana powered up her computer and selected a classical music CD that she placed in the drive before carefully removing her hand made Italian shoes and unpeeling like a second skin the Emilio Pucci sheath dress to stand naked but for sheer black hold-up stockings.
The dress, like her looks, was a tool of her trade. Lingerie would have been visible through the £2000 garment and spoilt the desired effect had she been stopped by the police.
As the music began sounding through the speakers either side of her PCs base unit, Svetlana leaned across the keyboard and carefully placed fingers over three separate keys, and paused, letting the music flow forth. If anyone else had been present they would have observed an exquisitely formed young woman in her mid-twenties, clad only in stockings and whose tan lines and full Brazilian showed a preference for G-strings as beach wear. The gleam of Chinese gold at her nether region where a stud pierced a particularly sensitive item, and a pair of tattooed dogs paws on her right buttock gave hint of a somewhat kinky vein running beneath that chic and apparently sophisticated surface.

Apparently overtaken by the strains of Bizet’s Farandole from ‘L’Arlesienne’ and frozen in some Pre Raphaelesque pose, Svetlana closed her eyes as she listened. Thirty-nine seconds into the piece she depressed all three keys simultaneously before logging online. With the anti-tamper software thus neutralised and therefore no chance of the powerful electromagnets incorporated in the speakers from being activated and frying the hard drive, the auburn locks bounced on her shoulders and tattooed buttocks as she strode elegantly on thick piled carpets through the flat to the shower." 

It is a passage that what I would describe as being more sex in silhouette than the graphic swinging-off-the-chandeliers-and-full-on-penetrative-descriptive variety. 

Sex-in-silhouette would not of course find favour with ones Granny, indeed the only Granny Approved Porn  can be summed up in just four words at the end of a sentence in a book, or accompanied by the camera panning up to the sky before fading out. "And so to bed" was steamy enough for Granny, much to Granddads chagrin.
However, the feedback had value and I learned from it. *Contains some sexual content now sits as a warning at the foot of the intro, and in order to cater for the under 18's I spent an hour editing the text and cover in order to produce an Abridged Edition, which I can happily report was eventually bought by both.


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Volume 2 in the trilogy...and back to school

The second book in the trilogy had a number of proofing issues owing to my becoming very much used to producing one off operation briefings and operation plans for all manner events, from small protests to the policing plan for Europe's largest Latin American Carnival. I was a one man band ten years ago and my workload was hefty for each of the three hats I wore. Glossy works of literature that would be archived the day after the operation simply did not require much in the way of finesse. Provided that everyone arrived on time, in the correct equipment, in the correct transport, were fed and knew what was required of them then who really cared if an apostrophe was missing?

Enter Nick Gill, a thoroughly good sort, a well educated and solid kind of guy who does care, very much.
Nick sent me back a sample of the first book he had proofed.
There were so many highlighted errors it looked like a STOP LIGHT.
My style of capitalisation and punctuation  was ruining his enjoyment of reading it. 
Where there is one Nick there are sure to be many others.
Why spoil all those years research and writing by lazy penmanship, was his reasonable argument and whilst he held down a demanding job he proofed the first hundred pages of the second volume during his daily commutes.
ARMAGEDDONS SONG volume 2 'Advance-Contact'

First novel and something of an IT learning curve

ARMAGEDDON'S SONG  'Stand - To' was published on 20th April 2013 and out as a Loss Leader, being my first effort as a novel, and for the first five days it was available as a free download on Kindle. One hundred and thirty eight downloads in the UK, five hundred and sixty five downloads in the US and eighty four elsewhere around the globe.
Hopefully that will result in interest in the two other novels in the trilogy. 
ARMAGEDDONS SONG Volume 1 'Stand-To'