Saturday, 28 January 2012

Twitter Adventures (or how not to network)

So, everyone has been telling me to get on Twitter. My daughters, friends, well wishers --- those who would like “Gaia’s Children” to be as successful as Harry Potter. After a lot of procrastination, I decided to swallow the bullet. So, Twitter fans, I’m there with the pompous sounding ID of @paulauthor. (I refuse to use Kieniewicz as only Poles know how to spell it.)

A week on Twitter has sobered me to the realities of social networking. It’s not as if I haven’t read and taken to heart good advice on how to attract followers. There’s a ton of it out there but like reading about driving a car and actually doing it --- well things don’t quite go as expected.

What’s my purpose --- it’s to connect with people who read science fiction, who may appreciate a book review, recommendations on interesting books, who may even want to sample “Gaia’s Children”. Plus I want to get closer to the zeitgeist and find out what people are reading and what they’re thinking about.

After choosing an ID, and building a profile that I though might not be too offensive, I started following people. Twitter is a time commitment. You can spend an hour on it and find you’ve barely moved from home base. Using various search engines I quickly found science fiction fans. Most are science fiction writers, publishers and editors. Where are normal people who don't write, but love to read?

Perhaps the readers don’t always list “science fiction” in their profiles. To find them I searched through tweets that contained the name of one of my favourite authors (Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Philip K Dick etc.) I did find a few SF readers that way, though I was never sure if the tweet I latched onto was a one-off. After hours of searching I found 65 people I wanted to follow.

I started tweeting --- about interesting books, book reviews,science fiction small news and so on. Also retweeted some tweets and replied to a few. I never mentioned "Gaia's Children" as I didn't want to appear to be selling a product. My followers began to grow. I now have 6. Of those, four are women who are promoting porn sites. Maybe the tagword "fantasy" threw them off? The two others are people I'm glad to connect with. I'll find out soon whether my future followers will maintain the same ratio of 2 porn-site followers to 1 SF reader.

I have a lot to learn about how Twitter works.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Gaia's Children --- Kindle Edition

The Kindle Edition of Gaia's Children is now available for download. Please pass the word on to your friends, facebook friends and tweet-ees, those who'd like science fiction, wolves, a uniquely Scottish story, or just a good read. You'll meet some unforgettable characters that you'll want to spend some time with. Try out some sample chapters.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sophia Through Time

Sophia Through Time tells the story of a woman who has fallen from heaven to find herself trapped in our world with no memory of how she got there. Alone, but immortal, she searches for the way out of the world. Her path crosses the lives of many eminent philosophers: Lao Tse, Socrates, Aristotle, Rumi and others but none of them can tell her why she is in the world. In a series of vignettes (taken from my unpublished novel Aristotle’s Beard) we follow her journey through time, confused and perplexed by our world, to finally discover liberation.

Individual installments will be posted monthly. Click on Sophia Through Time

Monday, 2 January 2012

Scottish Rain Dance

Over here you don'r expect to see a rain dance. In Scotland there are only three certainties: death, high rail fares and constant rain. Last year, while England had record-breaking droughts, Scotland had record-breaking rain. The met-office pundits wagged their heads and claimed that they’d expected it all along. A consequence of global warming. However prolonged dry spells do happen. For several weeks we haven’t had a decent downpour. Plenty of gale force winds to tear slate tiles from the roofs; a few snow flurries, but no rain. Last April we had a month-long dry spell that made me start watering --- something I almost never have to do.

Perhaps because of those dry spells the locals, for hundreds of years, conducted weather spells to open up the heavens and dump some extra rain on the land. According to “Description of the Parish”, 1726, every May 3, there was a fair held in Botriphne (today’s Drummuir). Among the festivities, a woman ritually washed a wooden statue of Saint Fumac in a nearby natural spring. We don’t know who she was, other than her function, as the keeper of the statue. Presumably that statue was passed down to a designated family member upon her death. The purpose appears to have been to secure plentiful rains for the fields. If the ritual smacked of witchcraft, that didn’t seem to bother the locals much as there’s no record of any censure by the Kirk.

As far as we know, Saint Fumac, an associate of Saint Columba, established a mission at Botriphne in 570, close to the natural spring. Because springs were venerated as healing centres, and sacred places, Christian churches tended to be built nearby, to give a Christian meaning to the old practices. Pilgrimages to the wells were banned following the Reformation but despite the bans, such pilgrimages were common until recent times. People still sought out the help of the Well Guardian for healing, rain, wealth or protection from damaging winds and rain.

Botriphne Kirk, built 1820 on the ruins of an older Kirk

According to MacKinley's, "Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs", the statue-washing at Botriphne ended in the late-nineteenth century on a memorable May 3 when the skies opened with a vengeance, and the nearby river Isla broke its banks. The statue was caught up in the flood and washed downstream. It came to rest at Banff where the local minister, a bit less tolerant than the folk of Botriphne, declared the statue as idolatrous and ceremoniously burned it.

Today the spring still flows strong. Recently, the Rev. J. S. Stephen conducted several baptisms there. A curious irony. Despite all our attempts to construct our human temples over the spring and officially suppress it, the spring’s ancient power still makes itself felt.