The election of a new President shouldn’t be divisive nor does it normally throw the whole world into a state of panic. There is something terrible going on. Comments from friends on Facebook have me convinced that if we aren’t exactly going to Hell in a hand basket there must be something hallucinogenic in the water at the very least.

From his position as President Elect Donald Trump must be wondering why everyone except the party faithful is against him. Perhaps he thought of all those blockbuster movies in which deep voiced heroes say “Mr President” and he is offered universal love and acclaim – except for a few terrorists who always come to a sticky end. Not so, he is compared to the worst dictator of all time, a position not corrected by his appointment of a white supremacist to his cabinet.

Meanwhile the world inside and outside the USA is divided it seems into two camps who will never be reconciled. Those two camps being those who fear the democratic process itself must have been undermined and those who believe the entire world except Breitbart and Wikileaks (ironically enough) is on the side of communism. I find myself increasingly confused at this attitude. Sensible older people who I had previously regarded as rational are screaming conspiracy at every turn. Hillary Clinton, an experienced politician and public servant who is loved and highly respected on this side of the pond, is continually berated as a criminal at best and a satanist at worst.

The language of the pro-Trump lobby gets more and more hysterical by the day, there is a lot of foul language from people wrapping themselves up in the flag or, even more more bizarrely, the altar cloth. This is puzzling to British Christians I know who don’t think Trump is that nice a guy and that somehow this ruthless businessman, perhaps by virtue of his appearance on reality television and the popularity of the billionaire romance genre, has become almost a martyr in their eyes. Shrieks of “lock her up” grow again by the day as Jill Stein tries to unravel the mess created by rumour and an apparently lax electoral system. Anything about Trump that is not good is denounced as communist propaganda when, bizarrely, the communists helped him get elected. He is almost holy in his supporters’ eyes and can do no wrong it seems.

Personally I find this all very confusing and ultimately frightening. I like Americans, I have many American friends of all political persuasions, I have always thought of it as the country of the free but now it seems some of them want the clock turned back – and turned back all the way past Franklin D. Roosevelt I fear. What are we to do as the deluded children of Europe who can’t forget the lessons of the past? The only answer is to wait and see. If the recounts do show electoral fraud, the Trumpers and Trumpettes will never accept that is actually true. If on the other hand they don’t it should give him legitimacy as President but I don’t see the Republicans tolerating him for long unless he reins it in and starts to play by the rules.

There is one thing certain, we simply can’t go back to the 1930s. The jobs in industries that are not environmentally friendly either no longer exist or will poison the world for generations to come, perhaps cause our extinction. As one elected popularist found in the 1930s, millions of new jobs can be created – but only in the army… All I can do is pray that the desire for peace wins in the end and, if it doesn’t , just “Duck and Cover”.

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I haven’t written much this year. In fact I am saddened to confess that I haven’t even read very much. In the month of NaNoWriMo I suppose any writer worth their salt should have produced the outline of at least one great novel but quantity was never my forte, least of all when blocked by a combination of family bereavement and seasonal affective disorder. However I gave myself a kick in the butt and managed another short story this week.

The Nefarious Deeds of Flautobel: Tales from the Edge of Darkness – 3 is a very British story. You won’t find Webster’s spellings here and you may be easily offended by the “ing” words in the writing, but it is a little piece of English humour, with a “U”.

The Nefarious Deeds of Flautobel: Tales from the Edge of Darkness – 3 is firmly set in the East Midlands, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire to be specific, and it deals with the surprises that real people can often spring on you. There is no magical realism, no vampires, evil empires, talking spiders or spaceships just a growing relationship between a young forensic science student and a blind baglady who turns out to have a few little tricks up her frayed sleeve. Is it literary fiction? Who knows, “literary”, like beauty, is largely in the eye of the beholder. All I know is that Flautobel spoke to me early one morning when she could have chosen a myriad of far more highly regarded authors. God bless Flautobel for dragging me out of my lethargy and I hope I have done her character justice.

The best-selling album of all time in the United Kingdom is Queen’s Greatest Hits, a compilation album that was first released in 1981. According to authorities in the music business, as of February 2014, this album had sold more than six million copies, of which only approximately 124,000 were from downloads – the rest were vinyl, CD and other media. Now if I wanted to advise a young guitar student of mine  how to succeed in the music business I could look at all the reasons why Queen are still in that coveted number one slot and enumerate them into a prescriptive (or proscriptive) thirty point list. I could say that you have no hope of succeeding in the business unless you do all these thirty things. I would be wrong and I would be laughed at because in music what succeeds and maintains success long after hype and payola have ceased to artificially boost a band’s reputation and sales is PERSONALITY.

Queen, when they first burst in on the music scene in the 1970s, had already been going for some time doing all the important stuff that people told them would help them succeed. They were not brand new and they did their share of emulating former stars too. That is called serving an apprenticeship and it is pretty vital to success in the business; likewise The Beatles played many live shows in Europe, played covers and changed band members before they got their break courtesy of Brian Epstein and “made it”. Eventually there comes a time when the band gets tired of doing the same-old-same-old received wisdom that never works and they say:

“Sod it! We are going to do…”

That is often the point at which A&R men sit up and say:

“Hang on just a bleedin’ minute…”

Then they get the push and they break out big time.

It helps to have an exciting hook line, an amazing voice up front like Freddie Mercury, a fantastic skilled guitar player like Brian May and all the rest of the talented lovelies in Queen but to be radical and not to slavishly copy is the secret to lasting success. This is what Queen did. This is why they are still selling downloads to the grandchildren of the first generation of their fans. This is why, amongst all those money making published bands, they will never be forgotten.

When it comes to writing, is there any need these days of that long, long list of rules the publishing houses put together to account for half a dozen mega successful genre authors? My belief is that the market is now far more new and exciting than it ever was. Many of the classics break many of these “rules” and my belief is that the new “classics” will break them too. If your sole interest as a writer is to get a toe in the door of a genre publisher then follow them however you have no need to do this if you self publish. In self publication there are few rules although there might be a few guidelines:

  • Have a good story
  • Tell it well
  • Be original, sparkling and personal in your writing
  • Don’t apologise for description, scene setting or adverbs, just use them tastefully
  • Strive for balance but allow your words to have a life
  • Write fewer words rather than more but make every single one of those words count
  • Read
  • Edit
  • Re-read
  • Edit
  • Read aloud to a friend
  • Edit
  • Let a friend read the proof
  • Edit
  • If you can’t spell or punctuate get a PROFESSIONAL to do the final edit
  • Publish
  • Promote
  • Eat if you are lucky and sell a book…
  • Write another book

It may be that you will not be all that successful as an author, maybe that is not in your karma for this lifetime, maybe you will have to content yourself with a day job BUT you will be a writer because you love to tell your story in your own words.

whitby 123

Good luck, be brave, be original!

In some two years of using Radio Airplay (formerly Jango) I have noticed one overwhelming trait that I think artists SHOULD be aware of. Now, as someone of fairly advanced years for a recording artist my main focus tends to be on building a following for my songs and hoping that someone prettier will eventually go through the appropriate channels and record them commercially. As a composer with a catholic taste, there is no way anyone could accuse me of recording the same song 15 times on one CD as pop stars do. Every single one is different and for that reason targeting is an ongoing mystery that I am only just getting to understand. Then in comes the Spring Break or the Summer Vacay – or Christmas.

Now, why should that be a problem? Having gotten used to pop scores in the range between 80 and 95 on a fairly regular basis, I will suddenly see my popscore plummet below 55 during vacation periods. This is becoming such a regular feature for me, that I am starting to wonder if other Radio Airplay users see similar? The songs are the same, the geo targets are the same (although they do sometimes go a little screwy!)  More worrying is that even profiling for age has relatively little effect on the plunge.

The other issue is that popscore plunges in vacation times EVEN WHEN NEW FANS INCREASE FAST. Yes, I am telling this correctly, you may get twice as many new fans in the week as usual and still get a drastically lower pop score. Now that leads me to consider two possibilities; either there are simply more kids – huge numbers of them – on Radio Airplay signing up and voting for other more mainstream bands OR kids cruising the site and DOWN VOTING older looking performers. The worrying thing is profiling kids OUT by using premium targeting has no effect, so I believe they may be using parental accounts to do this down voting.

I don’t think this is a trend we need to worry about, as it restricts itself to those times of year when teens and kids are off school, but I do think that artists who notice a sudden plunge in pop score need to be aware of the demographic that may be causing it….

Persimew also writes as Photahsiamirabel and profiles Radio Airplay as a useful resource for independent musicians in this article:

Flying To Meet The Sunrise (album) and St Francis Prayer (single) are her most popular CDs.

Creativity, Content, SEO and Balance….

(Mewsical Musings)

Well, don’t you just love it when you make a blog post that disappears? It just illustrates the point above. With internet publishing you will probably spend twice as much time on the nitty-gritty of trying to get noticed as you do on the main purpose of creating and sharing ideas….

I am a musician, and the democratization of the publishing process via the internet is the promise of a foot in the door! In reality, it is a hard slog, especially when you are doing it in your spare time and others are doing it as a job. I would rather just make the music, post it somewhere and let it sell itself, but it ain’t-a-gonna!

Take Sibelius for instance (www.sibeliusmusic.com) a great site which is presently in a ferment (or torment) of upgrading which has left the little guys to flounder. Under the previous system your peers could vote you into prominence as a composer and arranger on the Top 10 board and there was the commission board where you could bid for work. On the new site the Top 10 is now a degenerate mess of unchanging hymn and anthem arrangements from one store which has so many meta tags in its store heading that it takes as much space as 4 usual store ads!

Now eventually the overworked technicians may address that problem, but in the meantime what was one of the largest shop fronts for new compositions on the web has stalled. Stores manned by those already in the publishing industry are getting vastly more coverage than those manned by independents although the fees are the same. The scent of SEO manipulation, or of friends in the business at Avid? Who knows? Anyway, I am happy to muddle along selling a bit here and a bit there and one day, who knows, I might just cover my rent! They say “let us know if you think it is unfair” but nothing has changed so far in respect to Ave Maria Top 10s or some stores’ over-exposure at the expense of others.

What I was greatly pleased to discover however is that http://www.Amazon.com have selected some of my guitar books for distribution. This is both a surprise and an honour. My books have no ISBN, so I could not put them up, but Amazon have taken a “punt” on me and that means something!

Here are some links….

http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Reef-Octo-Pieces-Young-Guitarists/dp/B002AD9FPQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243587362&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Tunes-Flute-Fingerstyle-Guitar/dp/B002AD9G3M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243587362&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Christmas-Carols-Guitar-Ensemble/dp/B002AD9FZG/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243587362&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Christmas-Carols-Guitar-Solo/dp/B002AD7NNW/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243587362&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Christmas-Carols-Guitar-Solo/dp/B002AD7NNW/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243587362&sr=1-5

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