1960 was challenging!

For all the popular songs in the UK in 1960, there was not one that made a huge impact on me at 14! This is not intended to take anything away from The Everly Brothers, The Shadows, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Lonnie Donegan … and so the list goes on with artists releasing some really nice sounds. So what will I link to for this 1960 Post?

This was different and catchy to me back then!

1959 was …

… an interesting year for me. While I never took to Elvis Presley, and my interest in Buddy Holly was quite a few years ahead, the Everly Brothers were a different story! Even though my older sister (now 16) really liked them, and as much as I (now 13) refused to like them …. “Crying in the Rain” really got my attention. I do not recall any reaction to the lyrics until many years later …. but the harmonies? This song was my introduction to close harmonies, and I loved them!

And to 1958

Still in the Lonnie Donegan era, “Jack of Diamonds” was apparently released in 1957, but it was some time after “Cumberland Gap” before I heard it. If I recall correctly, “Jack of Diamonds” was the first 45rpm record I owned! As with “Cumberland Gap”, the lyrics are not particularly meaningful, but then … wasn’t skiffle all about rhythm?

 

So to 1957

Young Colin (11 years old) really liked the skiffle rhythms after hearing “Cumberland Gap”.  With reference to the thought provoking (not!) lyrics, I am assuming that Lonnie Donegan was used to a cabaret style of entertaining hence the insertion of a few “funny lines” which had nothing to do with the song. I listen to it now and, while the words are meaningless, I still like the skiffle sound and rhythm!

Music 1956

1956 was a fascinating year because my interest in music started a little earlier after hearing some of my Dad’s classical pieces; my Mum’s interest in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, and my older sister’s interest in Elvis Presley (and later Pat Boone, Sal Mineo, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly). Given that variety coming “at me” at such an impressionable age, it is no surprise really that I looked for, and found, my own niche. I liked traditional jazz, and I liked skiffle rhythms, but I also liked the fun stuff!

I have been reviewing the UK hits just to ensure that my timing was correct, and that I had not forgotten a song which impacted me at that time but …. my memory is good. The “Ying Tong Song” by The Goons (Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan & Peter Sellers) was definitely my 1956 favourite. It is still in my music library, and I still occasionally play it! It is ……………………………………… different!

I’ve included this version with the lyrics, so those of you who look for hidden meanings can be challenged!

 

 

A New Direction!

This Blog was started predominantly by my desire to share my experiences with our 80lbs of fur … otherwise known as Ray. That road ultimately resulted in my book about him “Who Said I was up for Adoption?”

Music is a very strong force in my life and so, inevitably, it crept into this Blog, along with a variety of other topics which I found sufficiently interesting to share. I even posted some of my poetry which also resulted in a book “Just Thinking”

Meandering through the Blogging community resulted in a book writing partnership which created “The Odessa Chronicles” (stories for children of all ages!).

I have many other interests which were now taking a “back seat” to Blogging, and the only way that I could effectively re-focus was to relegate this Blog to a lower priority in my life, which is where I am currently at however, I just thought of a compromise.

How about I create a regular Post with music as its basis? In fact, I could cover all the years from my first attachment to music … being 1956 when I was 10! The beauty of this idea (from my perspective) is that it does not take much time to come up with a song, and as long as I can find it on YouTube, then all is well!

Stay tuned for a 1956 musical memory. Who knows … it might bring back good memories for you!

One more benefit of self-publishing!

A short time ago, I published (here) a Post about various aspects of self-publishing (link below).

Publishing your Book!

My general message was that anybody who has a dream of publishing their writings should do so, even though there is a strong possibility that the financial costs involved may never be recouped.

As some of you already know, there can be great pleasure in simply holding a copy of your first book. Imagine then the sense of satisfaction when a copy is sold and, further, the big smile on your face when you read a review and realize that your book has impacted another person sufficient for them to express their views publicly.

Another cause for self-satisfaction would be when the owner of another Blog decides to review your book! Not only are you getting the benefit of another perspective on your endeavours, but your work is then exposed to their readers with the resulting sales potential.

“Who Said I was up for Adoption?” has just been reviewed by Tiana Kelly who authors Sit, Stay, Blog – link below:

https://sit-stay-blog.net/2021/09/17/who-said-i-was-up-for-adoption/

Thanks Tiana and, being a dog person yourself, I was so pleased that you saw aspects in the book which could help new dog owners develop a relationship with their dog.

A Diversion From Our World?

Our world is currently a stressful place to live, as we hear about global warming, violent uprisings, discrimination, intolerance and of course COVID! I am not a great believer in escapism as a method of dealing with unpleasant/stressful circumstances, but sometimes __________________?

The following is the Introduction from “The Odessa Chronicles” (a collection of fun short stories), and gives you some ideas about the personalities of the various characters. The book is available from all the usual on-line book retailers around our troubled world, so perhaps there is a point where escapism is a healthy approach to life? Christmas is also not too far away, so perhaps you should not only treat yourself … but others as well!

Odessa is a Barn Owl – Jaxon is a Jackalope – Dewey is a cat – Man Servant is a human

___________________________________________________________________

There was the familiar whoosh-whoosh sound as Odessa flew down from her roof beam, and landed on the floor very close to Jaxon. “Where are the others?” she asked.

Jaxon rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. “I told them to be here for an important meeting at seven o’clock this evening.”

Odessa paced around for a few minutes, and then turning sharply to Jaxon, said, “Did you make it clear that I wanted this meeting?”

Jaxon smiled inwardly. “Of course, I did.”

Just then, the barn door squeaked open and the man-servant walked in. “What’s up, guys?” he asked, looking from Odessa to Jaxon, and then back to Odessa.

Odessa just glared at him. “You’re late! Do you have no respect for other folk’s time? By the way, where’s Dewey?”

The man-servant looked around him. “I don’t see him here, Odessa.” Then he turned to Jaxon. “Have you seen, Dewey?” Jaxon shook his head. “Well,” said the man-servant. “I think we can conclude that Dewey is not here!”

Odessa was getting a little agitated. “I know very well where he isn’t. I need to know where he is!”

The man-servant smiled at Jaxon. “Well, Odessa,” he said, “we would have to find him in order to know where he is!”

At that moment, they saw Dewey just coming around the partially open barn door.

Odessa looked straight at him. “You are late for my meeting!”

Dewey just stretched out, flexed his claws, and yawned. “So? What’s so important about this meeting? Anyway, I’m here now, so let’s get this show on the road. I have some nocturnal hunting planned for tonight. By the way, Odessa, why aren’t you out hunting now? Frightened of missing your own meeting?”

Odessa didn’t blink, but just stared at Dewey. “Are all cats as uncooperative as you?”

Dewey stretched and yawned again. “Are all barn owls as demanding as you?”

Odessa turned her back on him with a “Hrummph!”

The man-servant decided to get things under control. “Odessa,” he said, “you called this meeting, and we are all here. What’s up?”

Odessa just looked at all three of them. “Do you know that all our adventures have been documented? Did you know that we have been monitored by Carolyn and Colin?”

All three of them looked at Odessa with puzzled faces. The man-servant spoke first. “I don’t fully understand what you are saying, Odessa. Perhaps you could explain it in more detail?”

Odessa did a few circles on the barn floor, suddenly looking more agitated. “Well, Carolyn and Colin are making arrangements to have our adventures published in a book! How can they do that?”

Jaxon looked at her. “Well,” he said, “given that the two of them create our adventures, I, for one, am not surprised. In fact, I am rather excited!”

Odessa went over to Jaxon. “Don’t you think that our privacy should have been considered? Don’t you think that we should have been asked first?”

The man-servant intervened. “Look, Odessa, not only do they write our adventures, but they are also writing this discussion. Whatever they decide will happen to us … is going to happen to us! We would not exist without them!”

Dewey stretched, flexed his claws, and yawned again. “So, is that it then? Is there any other business?”

Odessa walked over to him. “Do you understand anything that I said?”

Dewey grinned. “I understand perfectly, Odessa. I understand that none of us would have lives at all without those two writers, and that includes the almighty Odessa!”

“Wait a minute,” said Jaxon. “That means that our adventures will make people happy, as they read about us. That means that we might become celebrities. Just think, Odessa, people might want our autographs!”

The man-servant was also smiling now. “Yes, our adventures will be available for everybody to read and enjoy. What a wonderful purpose we will be serving! Are you still unhappy about it, Odessa?”

Odessa ignored him and just flew up and onto her roof beam. “I don’t know whether I want to be a celebrity,” she said. “Look what happens to so many human celebrities! They go really silly and act really stupid, but then … being a celebrity does have its advantages, doesn’t it? I could probably adapt if I had to. I can just imagine… ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to a wonderful barn owl. Welcome … Odessa!’ I will have to give this some serious thought!”

Jaxon then made an announcement. “Look here, guys. While you have all been going around in circles with this thing, I have been using my magic to see what else I could find out.”

“What else did you find out, Jaxon?” asked the man-servant.

“Well,” said Jaxon, “our adventures are being put into a book that should be released soon, and will be available from major bookstores and on-line from Amazon.”

The man-servant looked at Jaxon. “Colin told you to say that, didn’t he?”

“Yes!” said Jaxon.

Odessa was still up on her roof beam, deep in thought.

Dewey looked up at her. “Odessa! Wake up! You do realize that Colin just made you go into a ‘deep in thought’ mode, don’t you? You really have no power to do anything. You’re just going to be an odd character in an odd book. Congratulations!”

The man-servant laughed. “Yes, congratulations to all of us, because we’re going to be in a book!”

“Does anybody know what the book will be called?” asked the man-servant.

“I know!” said Jaxon. “It’s going to be called ‘The Odessa Chronicles’!”

Odessa flew down from her roof beam. “Oh well, I can now understand things much better. A book about us is obviously an excellent idea! This meeting is adjourned.”

___________________________________________________________________

For more information about the book, please click The Odessa Chronicles book cover over to the right (may have to scroll to find it!).

Publishing your Book!

There are a lot of writers “out there”, and they are generally visible by their Blogs. That is not surprising really as blogging offers a golden opportunity to expose one’s writings to a very broad audience. However, some bloggers are more productive than others and the temptation to market a book can be very tempting. Imagine the sense of achievement when your book is in print for the whole world to see!

For anybody contemplating this “adventure”, there are a number of challenges which must be  confronted. The main hurdle (based on my experience) is the initial cost to publish the book, and the ongoing promotion costs that must follow.  The traditional publishers will often cover those costs if they are certain that sales will be sufficient to warrant the investment. That rather limits their perspective to already established authors, politicians and other celebrities.

A very practical alternative is to self-publish. There are a number of companies that will assist with this … but it is not free!  They will, quite reasonably, expect to have their costs covered as they prepare your manuscript to be published in book form with all that entails. There are copyright details and ISBN registration and other facets which ultimately make a book available. When your book is available, it is unlikely that a book retailer will purchase copies unless there is a guarantee of reimbursement for books not sold (dead stock).

A very convenient solution to the inventory issues is Print on Demand. This means that when (e.g.) a copy is purchased from an on-line retailer, they simply order a copy to be printed and shipped.

Having said all that, there are some realities to be confronted. Below are the key statistics from my three books:

“Who Said I was up for Adoption?” – Published August 2015 – Cost to publish $5809.22 – Total Sales to date 118 – Current debt $6066.52

“Just Thinking” – Published September 2017 – Cost to publish $3835.06 – Total Sales to date 20 – Current debt $3822.20

“The Odessa Chronicles” (as this book was a collaborative effort, all costs are mine i.e. 50% of the total costs) – Published July 2018 – Cost to publish $2183.06 – Total Sales to date 88 – Current debt $1948.72

Why the significant costs to publish? It was because I valued an independent review of the draft and received valuable information covering structure, grammatical errors and overall presentation of the book. I also had the book covers professionally done. Finally, getting the book registered for sale and the administration involved in creating (and making generally available) the POD software had costs attached.

Why has my debt load generally increased? Simply because the cost of advertising has been greater than the royalties generated from sales. Advertising is quite expensive and, with book royalties generally around the $3.00 to $4.00 per book, must be considered carefully.

It is difficult for me to express the immense satisfaction I have felt with getting those three books published, especially when the reviews have been so positive. The fact that the revenues from sales have not covered my costs is rather immaterial when balanced against the pleasure of knowing that people have enjoyed the “fruits of my labour”!

So should you publish your book? Absolutely!

 

Some memory!

“Some memory” could be a facetious statement about my memory, which is showing distinct challenges as a result of aging, but my memory was not on my mind when I started this Post … but rather Ray’s memory!

When Ray moved into our home in 2013, we needed a way for him to tell us when he wanted to go outside (for body function reasons!).  He had no issue with using the garden as necessary,  but we were not always out there on his timing. Our solution was to hang a small bell on the handle of the back door, and showed him that when the bell rings … the door is opened. He caught on to that very fast and everything was fine until ……………………………..!

Ray decided that he wanted to go outside at around 1:00am one night and so he rang the bell. The door was opened for him and, with flashlight in hand (must look out for skunks, raccoons and foxes), he was lead out into the garden. If all was clear, then he was unclipped from his leash and allowed to do whatever he needed to do. After a number of “early hours” bell ringing, we realized that he simply wanted to be outside. He then started to resist coming back inside and, as we both needed our sleep, we had a decision to make.

Ray was estimated at 2 years old when he adopted us from our local shelter, so he was old enough to establish a routine for his body. He would relieve himself completely on his daily walks, so we thought that he should be encouraged to do the same before we go to bed.

A few days later, he rang the bell in the early hours, and he was ignored! His solution was to keep hitting the bell with his nose until somebody got up and took him outside ….. where he did nothing but lay down on the grass. The bell was subsequently removed from the door handle.

Ray, once again, adapted very well to his new circumstances. Now fast forward to August 2021, and Ray is now around 11 years old.

Carol was out shopping and I was sitting in our general kitchen area (the back of our home), so Ray would normally be curled up on one of his beds, or on “his” chair, or stretched out on the floor in front of the refrigerator! We now have a small flashlight hanging on the door handle.

I suddenly sensed some movement, and looked up just in time to see Ray side-swipe the small flashlight which went flying across the room. He then stood facing the back door, but with his head turned and looking at me. I can only conclude that he remembered  the bell routine from long ago!

Ray had a developed a single “Woof!” routine for when he wanted attention, so I can only assume that I did not hear him that time. Perhaps I was dozing?  🙂

Way to go Ray! You have always been one very special dog.