Thursday, February 5, 2015

Plan to go to Paris for a vacation or a visit? Then take this with you

Right in the heart of Paris is the Notre Dame cathedral, which celebrated its 850th birthday a little while ago. If you plan to visit Paris, then you should download my book from Amazon (a printed copy) or Kindle (an ebook with some photographs).

The book has details about the cathedral which you won’t easily find gathered together elsewhere. During my research for my thriller, The Euros: Notre Dame Point Zero, I came across some surprising information about what lies buried beneath the huge cathedral.

Naturally, I incorporated a lot of this into the novel. My ebook version (available from Kindle), has photographs of scenes that are used in the thriller.

There you will find a map showing the mysterious Triangle Churches which play such an important role in the book: these are three old churches, two long lost but one still partly prepared.

You will also learn some interesting facts about the mysterious Archbishops’ tomb, a crypt beneath the choir stalls inside the cathedral, that was excavated by King Louis XIX in 1711. You will find out how the coffins are the archbishops are arranged, so that any new archbishop being buried there is welcomed by his predecessor; you will also find out about their red hats, still inside the crypt.

And, of course, there are two other underground crypts that play a part in the story: the archeological crypt discovered beneath the parvis (the empty land in front of the cathedral) when it was excavated in 1965 to build an underground garage; and the ancient and massive burial crypt that ran from the three front doors almost the full length of the huge building.

What is my latest book - The Euros: Notre Dame Point Zero – about?

How would you rescue women and children held hostage in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris by a band of faceless, nameless and ruthless men, who have attached bombs to each hostage, and threaten to blow up the cathedral if their demands are not met?

That is the problem that The Euros face in this, the first book of the series about them.

The Euros is the name for the Euro Protection Bureau, the highly skilled, well trained super cops unit formed to protect the European Union from threats to its integrity.

With five headquarters – the Puzzle House in London, the Grooming House in Paris, the Toy House in Berlin, the Garage in Rome and the Story House in Prague - the PuzzleMaker and Headmaster, directors of the London and Paris HQs, have a limited time to find a way to make themselves invisible so that they may enter the cathedral, rescue the hostages, save the cathedral, and capture the Bad Guys.

As little children are marched to Point Zero in front of the cathedral, with flickering lights on their explosive vests, and the Headmaster is forced to go into the cathedral as a hostage, the PuzzleMaker turns to Knuckles, the leader of the Onsite Prediction Unit, to cast her knucklebones and help him anticipate the actions of the Bad Guys. 

He also asks a young gypsy girl to help him, and the Gypsy takes him on a hair-raising trip through the catacombs and sewers of Paris.

You can find my ebook and Amazon print on demand book on sale here.

The Euros makes a very good gift for someone about to visit Paris, whether for the very first time, or during a stopover there.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Care for some Tea with Dr. Johnson? Then reflect on this

Most of us would be at home taking tea at Dr. Johnson’s, hearing the contact of a civilized man with society discussed with British common sense and good nature, with British idiosyncrasy and prejudice. Only we should be aware that we had stepped back out of a scientific, romantic and mobile era into an era literary, classical and static. Dr. Johnson and Burke had never heard of ‘evolution’ in our meaning of the word. They thought that the world would remain what they and their fathers had known it. With them, time moved so slowly that they thought it stayed still withal. A very different experience has taught us to perceive that the forms of our civilization are transient as the bubbles on a river.


British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782 – 1901) by George Macaulay Trevelyan 1928

For more Quotes, please CLICK HERE and for even more, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My family tree

Lucy, Glenn's ancient ancestor
Forgeddabout – all I need to do to find out who my ancestors are, is to read this article:

It is not even clear where in Africa modern humans evolved. Lucy suggested that Ethiopia was a crucial site. But in 2008 another species of Australopithecus, A. sediba, was discovered in South Africa. It lived around 2 million years ago, around when the Homo genus first emerged. The Taung Child also hailed from the same area, so the find suggested that South Africa could have been our species' birthplace.

We may never find our true ancestor

Despite this, White says Lucy's species is still the best candidate for a direct ancestor, but that more fossil evidence from that time is needed. "I am confident that the fossils will be found in that interval, because I know that in Ethiopia there are already four study areas with fossiliferous sediments of that age," he says.

I rather like that my ancient ancestor was named in a tent in Africa after the Beatle’s song Lucy in the sky with diamonds …

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Was Shakespeare really Catholic? Only the Folio knows

Every now and then a rare book surfaces, worth a fortune; and even less rarely, a rare book that might solve an enduring mystery comes to light.

This is the case this week:

Few scholars have yet seen the book. But its discovery among holdings inherited from a long-defunct Jesuit college is already being hailed as a potential source of fresh insight into everything from tiny textual variants to the question of Shakespeare’s connection to Catholic culture.

“It’s a little like archaeology,” James Shapiro, a Shakespeare expert at Columbia University, said. “Where we find a folio tells us a little bit more about who was reading Shakespeare, who was valuing him.”

The folio, whose discovery was first reported by the regional French newspaper La Voix du Nord, is not the rarest book the St.-Omer library owns. It also has a Gutenberg Bible, of which fewer than 50 are known to survive.

But few books hold the first folio’s value — one was sold at Sotheby’s in 2006 for $5.2 million — or its mystique. It contains 36 plays, nearly all of Shakespeare’s output. Printed in a run of about 800 copies in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death, it is considered the only reliable text for half of his plays. (No manuscripts of any Shakespeare plays survive.)

Today, first folios are tracked like rare black rhinoceroses, right down to their disappearances. One is known to have burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; another went down with the S.S. Arctic off Newfoundland in 1854.

New ones come to light every decade or so, Mr. Rasmussen said, most recently in the library of a London woman who died without a will. “It was a mess, with a bunch of second-folio bits mixed in,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

The St.-Omer folio, which is to be put on display there next year, will no doubt draw legions of visitors. It also, Mr. Rasmussen said, may feed one of the more contentious disputes in Shakespeare studies: whether the playwright was a secret Catholic.

That claim, Mr. Rasmussen said, has long been the subject of much “intelligent speculation,” most prominently of late by the Harvard scholar Stephen Greenblatt. The discovery of the folio in St.-Omer provides a bit more ballast, he said, if hardly a smoking gun.

The plot, as the Bard says, thickens …

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Richard Nixon’s revenge on Mount Rushmore?

Just returned from touring the Joshua Tree National Park in California, and discovered something remarkable. President Richard Nixon, of Watergate fame, is not honoured by having his likeness carved into the side of Mount Rushmore, but it seems that Tricky Dick might have pulled a fast one on all of us!

We were driving from along the Keys View Road in the Park, towards Hidden Valley, when I spotted Nixon’s Revenge.

A large rock formation reared up on the side of the road. As we passed it, the side view of the rock showed the profile of Richard Nixon. No Ifs, Buts or doubts about it: it was the spitting image of Tricky Dick.

Saddle Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park aka Nixon's Revenge

Known as Saddle Rocks, the largest single rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park rises some 600 feet from the valley floor, just below the west flank of Ryan Mountain. Rock climbers divide the rock into three parts, the Saddle Rock Skirt, at the bottom, the Pommel in the middle, and the Cantle at the top.

You can find Nixon’s revenge in Queen Valley in Joshua Tree National Park, on the site of a former cattle ranch spread known as Ryan Ranch. Brothers Jepp and Tom Ryan laid pipe in 1896 to pump water from the natural spring to Lost Horse Mine, as well as raising cattle. Two adobe structures are all that remain of their ranch.

Saddle Rock has three summits – they make up the heavy chin of Nixon, his most prominent facial feature (the long, oddly shaped nose), and his prominent forehead. Rock climbers call these the Lower, Middle and Upper Summits.

When you compare the various photos of Nixon in this post with Saddle Rocks, you will note the similarities that struck me.

President Richard Nixon in repose

Rock climbers who love face climbing love Saddle Rock, but those who prefer crack climbing can find plenty on this big hunk of rock, and slab climbers will not be disappointed. There are routes for all up Nixon’s Revenge.

The names for the various routes up Nixon’s Revenge are interesting, and illustrative of the difficulty of the climbs: Walk on the Wild Side is one; then there is Right On, Harley Queen and Where Have all the Cowboys Gone.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Harpers Ferry: The only bedroom shared by Generals Lee & Grant

After visiting the huge battlefield of Gettysburg, Loraine and I drove down to see Harpers Ferry, the first time for both of us.

A memorable place, it is a small town, located at a point where steep mountains sweep down into deep water. In 1859, before the Civil War broke out, this town was unfortunate to be located at the wrong spot, between the warring states.

When the Civil War broke out, the South, with a population less than half that of the North (just over 6 millions compared to over 13), had 347,000 slave owners – 1 in every 18 Southern whites. In the Capitol, there were 30 senators from the 15 slaveowning states, with 32 senators representing the 16 free states. In the House of Representatives, 90 representatives came from the slaveowning states, and 144 from the free states.

We were familiar with the battle hymn John Brown’s Body that was sung by soldiers from the Union marching into the Confederate states:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

So we wanted to learn a little bit more about this divisive figure, and the tiny village he chose as the launching pad for his attempted insurrection of slaves in the South.
John Brown's Fort

We wanted to walk down the narrow streets, getting a feel for how the place looked during the Civil War. Like so many of the Civil War sites, there were many well-drafted and very informative plaques which guided us, including period photographs which gave us a clear idea of what was there during the War.

John Brown’s 1859 Raid:

On October 16, 1859, the fiery John Brown and 21 followers invaded the federal Armory in Harpers Ferry. They had surprise on their sides, and swiftly took over the US armory, arsenal, and rifle works, and the bridges over the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

What on earth was this shaggy, bearded man up to? What did he want to achieve, and why did he fail in the takeover, but succeed – after his death – in becoming such a hero to the North? 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ebola: Will a US city have to be quarantined if it spreads?

USA problems in coping
Today we saw an ebola nurse defy the order of the Governor of her state to remain in quarantine, after she returned from ebola-stricken Africa. Kaci Hickox took to the streets to indicate her opposition, by riding her bicycle.

And Governor Paul LePage of Maine was not amused:

Kaci Hickox took her campaign against an Ebola quarantine out for a spin on Thursday.
The Maine nurse, openly defying an order to stay home after she treated patients in West Africa, sped off on a bike ride on a sunny morning with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur. She returned after about an hour.

“I hope that we can continue negotiations and work this out amicably,” Hickox told reporters. “There is no legal action against me, so I’m free to go on a bike ride in my hometown.”

Authorities in Maine are pursuing a court order to enforce the quarantine through Nov. 10. Hickox says she is completely healthy and free of symptoms, and that the quarantine is unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Several hours after the bike outing, Gov. Paul LePage said that efforts to negotiate with Hickox had failed. Citing confidentiality laws, he did not specify his next steps. But his office pledged in a statement: “The governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law.”

In an interview with NBC affiliate WSCH, LePage suggested it was all right for Hickox to leave home, as long as she doesn’t touch anyone or go into a public establishment. He said a police cruiser outside the home was there for Hickox’s protection.

“Her behavior is really riling a lot of people up,” he said.

He said he hoped for legal clarification later in the day on enforcing restrictions on her movement. The governor said he was looking out for the 1.3 million people of Maine.

“I don’t want her within three feet of anyone,” he said.

Kaci Hickox’s stance throws into high relief a topic that right now concerns not only the President, but the Governors and Legislatures of several States. There is no vaccine for ebola, and the lethal disease (it has a very high mortality rate for those infected) has caused thousands of deaths in several countries of Africa.

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox
The Problem: How to contain the Infector Pool

The countries in Africa grappling with this deadly scourge have been unable to date to solve this problem. Because ebola is spread by contact with an infected person during the infection period, it is very easy for those tending the sick to fall victim. So far, ebola has not been spread through the air, but only by bodily contact with fluids of the sick persons.

Preventing such contact is the primary goal of all efforts to prevent ebola spreading. This means putting infected people into containment structures that limit their contact with others, and making sure that all medical and other personnel wear appropriate biohazard clothing. Intense training in the removal of such clothing is also needed.

But what if there are not enough containment structures, and not enough protective clothing?

What then?

The simple answer is that ebola will spread, unless none of the sick are attended to.

Ebola container
Even if all helpers moved away from the sick, ebola will spread of infected people move into fresh populations.

This brings us back to the steps being taken by Governor LePage and by others, to require that any person who has – or might have – come into contact with a person infected with ebola, whether in Africa or in the US, be placed in physical quarantine for the incubation period of some 21 days.
Quarantine in the USA: Is it legal?

There is some doubt whether it is. Some Governors have said that they will insist on mandatory quarantine of persons at risk, regardless of legality, in order to protect the citizens of their states.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shameless promotion: Review of my Purrfect Way Book

Thought I would give my how-to book another shameless plug – the delightful review on Amazon of my book, Your Purrfect Way to Publish & Promote Your Amazon & Kindle Books said it all, I think.

It's been given 5 stars by the reviewer, also an author, and a great boost. Here's Sarah Sheard's review:

"Customer Review
A powerful go-to manual for aspiring self--publishers, May 21, 2013

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Your Purrfect Way to Publish & Promote Your Amazon & Kindle Books (Paperback)

I thought it absolutely fantastic in its usability and breadth. I'm a novelist who recently began ebook self-publishing. I've figured out some of the basics but this book maps a gazillion new pathways onward and upward.

I've found nothing to compare to this manual in clarity, range of topics and dip-in-ability. Ashton's been generous in offering this amount of research so affordably to ebook self-publishers at all levels. Written in a readable, friendly style too.

Sarah Sheard
author of: Krank: Love in the New Dark Times."

There you have it. Now, if you know ANYONE who is or might be writing a book, or who, in your mind, should be thinking of writing a book, tell them about this one – better still, gift it to them (Amazon softcover 400 plus pages only $14.99, and Kindle eBook only 99 cents).

And really, really think about writing a book and publishing it, yourself. 

What have you got to lose? Gift it to your relatives, your friends, and your carefully selected enemies.

If you are in business (employed or your own), how about writing a book about a field you know about? Looks good on your resume, eh?

Go for it!

Join the revolution!
You know that you are a Rebel.

The chances of a north American writer finding a publisher for his or her book are slim. But that does not mean that your book must forever remain unpublished.

You have an option.

You can decide to rebel against the traditional publishing way, and  become a revolutionary. You can ride the wave of the future.

You can join the ranks of the thousands of Independent publishers – also called Indie publishers or just plain Indies. That's a title to wear with pride. As such, you will become part of a major historical movement, as dramatic as the first invention of the printing press in 1458 by Johannes Gutenberg.

You can join the Gutenberg+ Revolution by publishing your own book, using Amazon's print on demand (POD) for your soft cover version, and Kindle for your eBook one.

Just as Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in the 1450's started a massive revolution in the production of books, so too the services offered to all of us by Amazon and Kindle are triggering a similar revolution.

And once you have published your own book, you will need to promote it.

That's tough.

But not impossible.

You will need to build your Author Platform, along the lines of this diagram:

And you will need to prepare your own Promotion Plan, like the one described in this post.

Don't forget to check out my manual for self-publishers – Your Purrfect Way to Publish & Promote Your Amazon & Kindle Books, which you can  read about at my Amazon author site:

And the best of luck to you!

And please consider subscribing to my author Newsletter using the subscription form in the right hand panel of this site.

When you subscribe, you will get a FREE 16-page summary of Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! beat sheet.
Welcome to the Rebellion!

Some more of my random posts for you: