Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Are we Neanderthal?

      Think of the term ‘cave man’ and your mind’s eye will probably picture a representation of the Neanderthals.
      Most people assume that the Neanderthal died out during the last ice age or were wiped out by our own ancestors, The Cro-magnon.
      However there is a current debate within scientific circles that argues that Neanderthal did not die out but were absorbed by the Cro-magnon through interbreeding
      There is nothing shocking or new about the idea that Neanderthal Man and Cro-Magnon man may have interacted. Considering the ancestors of both shared the planet for hundreds of thousands of years it could be said that it is not only probable but an absolute certainty that their paths would have crossed thousands of times and interaction at all levels and at all intensities would have occurred.
      So why is it such a difficult idea to contemplate? Could it be that Neanderthal Man is often seen as a vastly inferior species and therefore our global subconscious rails against the idea. After all, they were nothing but stupid awkward cavemen, dirty giant brutes slow of mind and ignorant of anything except clubbing animals to death for food.....weren’t they?
      Due to an unfortunate and mistaken analysis carried out over a hundred years ago, Neanderthal Man has often been portrayed as described above, however, due to new discoveries and a better understanding, a veil is being drawn back to reveal a completely different creature than the stereotypical cave man that has been embedded in the psyche of modern humanity.
      These people lived in mutually supportive groups, played music, carried out minor surgery, looked after the sick and the old and even buried their dead with gifts and flowers. They made tools, traded with other camps, mastered fire and ensured their species survived in the harshest of environments, long before Cro-Magnon spread into their lands.
      As far as their intelligence goes we may never know, but when you consider that Neanderthal Man's brains were at least as big as, and often bigger than modern day man it would suggest that their individual achievements were only limited by their own imagination.
      Neanderthal Man survived for over two hundred thousand years, and if you compare that with our own recent history of two thousand years since the birth of Christ, we can perhaps begin to understand how successful they actually were. Therefore, it could be argued that for a large expanse of time Neanderthal Man was at least the equal of our own ancestors in many areas, and until strength of numbers overwhelmed them, actually their superiors both in number and survival success.
      Statistically It is not only a possibility but a certainty that the two species would have interbred. Humanity in all its guises share certain needs and wants. Food, water, safety and companionship are amongst the most basic, but lust is also a natural human feeling. It lies at the very basis of reproduction and would have been just as potent hundreds of thousands of years ago as it is today.
      So step forward Neanderthal Man. Family oriented, and forward thinker. Take your place as an important member of our family tree. You lived, you loved and you died. No different to modern day man.  No different to us.
      Neanderthal Man did not die out, they are here.........no, not they.......WE... are here!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Rise and Rise of E books

     Is the era of the slush piles coming to an end? Will Agents be staring at the phone, hoping it will ring? Are publishers sneaking a glance at the job pages over their morning coffee?
     Perhaps not yet but one thing is certain, the big boys are getting worried. In the past, self publishers were derided and sneered at for having the audacity to even think they could challenge the big publishing houses. Tomes have been written about the difficulty of getting a book deal and the rejection slips probably accounted for the equivalent of many rainforests in their time.
     But no more. At last, all us budding writers have been given the opportunity that we could only have dreamed of a few years ago. Our books, the way we want them, published and available to millions of potential customers almost immediately.
     'How so?' I hear you cry. 'The younger generation!' I reply. They are the leaders, the innovators and the instigators. They are the ones who see palm readers, kindles and I phones as the norm. It is they who are driving the book industry to its inevitable evolution.
     Sales of E readers are booming and subsequently, books to put on them. Why buy 1 paperback when you can have perhaps 5 for the same price?' All of which and indeed thousands more, can be carried with you on a device half the size of a paperback.
     Combine this with the many websites that now offer free formatting along with free distribution to names such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Borders and many many more and the door is finally opened. But what is more important, is that these companies not only accept these submissions, but actively encourage them and many authors make a living by following this route.
     It is not difficult, and anyone can do it, but a word of caution. Make your novel the best you can. Your subject matter won't appeal to everyone and your style may be an acquired taste, but don't compromise on standards. Spend time on your spelling, formatting and grammar. Don't give the naysayers the opportunity to cry, 'We told you so.'
     Once this is done and you feel you have done your best, search the web, pick a suitable provider and click send.
    Fellow writers unite. Kick off the chains of literary oppression. This is our time.  E books ARE the future. Be part of the revolution.
    Watch this space
Best regards

Friday, 26 August 2011

I want to write but where do I start

Okay, where do we start.
Well, I'm not going to patronise anyone and go through the 'first you need the idea' spiel. I assume, by the very fact you are reading this, you already have the type of book you want to write in mind.
So, assuming this is the case, you need to get it down on (electronic) paper. Now I am no expert, and there are countless pages out there advising you how to do just that, but I can give you one piece of advice that many seem to skip over, and that is Just write.
Forget structure, and formatting. Don't worry about spelling or grammar, that can come later. Get your work down on some sort of media, preferably a word processor.
Now that may sound simplistic, but take it from me, a couple of years ago, I wasted no end of time trying to set out the perfect book.. My pages were numbered and formatted beautifully. My spelling was perfect and grammar was great. After 3 months I had written 1, albeit perfect, chapter but had lost my enthusiasm. This was too much like hard work and my story was still untold. I had focussed so much on doing it right, I had lost sight of what was important, the story. I decided to forget all the well meaning, and sometimes expensive advice and get my story down. Three months later, I had a draft novel consisting of 120,000 words sat on my desktop.
So, don't wait. Set yourself a target. A thousand words a day is achievable, but dont stress about it. Do what you can but for heavens sake get it down while the ideas are there. Don't worry if it is an end or middle chapter before the beginning is done, you can knit it all together later.
Don't even worry if you have an idea, but it doesnt fit into the theme of the book, get it down. It may come in useful later, (Or in a different book) That's the beauty of word processing. Thank heavens for cut and paste.
I call it the Rolf Harris approach. For those that don't know him, Rolf Harris is an Australian entertainer/singer/artist and does not write as far as I am aware. But what he is partly famous for is the catchphrase, 'Can you tell what it is yet?'
This came from the days when, as a children's entertainer, he would throw all sorts of paint on the canvas, often repeating the phrase 'Can you tell what it is yet?' The overall picture was never clear, but finally, at the end of the show, he would refine the canvas with some final adjustments, and sweeping strokes of a pallet knife or brush. Finally, as the camera panned back, the picture was revealed as a very clever picture that had been there all the time but just needed tweaking to reveal the finished article. The point is, for most of the show, he was just applying the building blocks onto the canvas.
This is what I am encouraging. Get your ideas down. Don't worry if the chapter fits into what you have written already, you can sort it out later. I guarantee that when your story is complete, the feeling you get will rekindle your enthusiasm and you will set about the more boring bits with a refreshed vigour.
The fun is in the writing. Do yourself a favour and get your story down while it is fresh in your mind.
One last bit of advice before we move on to the process, is to make notes as you get ideas. I dread to think how many times I have had an idea and thought, I'll make a note of that later, only to forget what it was.
One night I woke up after having a particularly vivid dream. I was very thirsty so went downstairs for a drink and there was a notebook and pen on the dining table. I wrote down a few bullet points about the dream and went back to bed. The following morning, my wife asked me what the words meant and it all came flooding back. Those notes have now become my third novel, Mortuus Virgo. The point is, If I hadn't wrote the notes down that night, I may never have remembered them and Motuus Virgo may never have been written.
Now, go and write something..

25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day | WritersDigest.com

25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day | WritersDigest.com:

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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Hello World

Where do I start?

Question - How many people have asked that question when they write their first blog?

Answer - Everyone so I am in good company.

I have got things to say, (I am quite opinionated really) we all have, but when you first start these new sites it's better to feel your way through gently. Discretion is the best part of valour, to coin a phrase.

So, just to start off, I'll tell you something about myself. (Just to see how this thing works)

My name is Kevin Ashman and I live in South Wales in the united Kingdom. I am almost half a century old and have four grown up children, a dog, and some fish. I am a professional PFI Project manager looking after several educational premises in South Wales.

I have written a few books, trodden the self publishing path and am currently embarked on the networking route in this brave new world of facebook, blogging, twitter, tumbler etc.

Oh my god, that means I have to TALK to people.

Oh well, so be it. Here I am, laptop at the ready, fingers poised, and ready to socialise. I'll play about with the site for a while and get used to it a little before sharing my inner thoughts with the world.