Tuesday, April 22, 2014

“Remembering Lorelei”, “A Snipers’ Conflict”, Dates and the Publishing of Books

During the 1990s, as part of my endeavours to set up a Technology Diversification Centre to bring business to the South of England, I was travelling to various events across the region, as well as to London. One of those events was in Basingstoke, at the Anvil Centre, as I remember, though not the details, other than meeting one of the Army authors who had made something of a name for themselves. I am not completely sure whether it was Chris Ryan, or Andy McNab, though, at this distance in time, I am not sure which one. The event was, primarily, business based but the author, his books and my own emerging interest in writing a book, chronicling the remarkable personal events that had taken place in the early 1990s in particular, had drawn me to the small literary component of the proceedings. There were still many remarkable developments involving higher level, non-physical, matters during those years and they would continue for many more but that is subject matter for potential sequels.

“A Sniper’s Conflict”

I recalled the above when I learned, “on the grapevine”, about the progress of another book in the genre, “A Sniper’s Conflict” by Monty B, published by Barbarossa Books. Of course, as is the case with many, most, books these days, “A Sniper’sConflict” is available on Amazon.

There was interest on my part for two reasons. The first was that, some time ago, I had been invited to a meeting, as well as being picked up and driven there, at which someone, who turned out to be Monty B, a retired Army Officer, was present. I had not met him before, nor have I since, and I did not know much about his proposed book at the time, other than its title and general theme. I looked the book up on the Internet and read what was available about it on Barbarossa Books and Amazon U.K., and might buy it sometime, out of curiosity, though it is not exactly my type of book. On the other hand I got the impression that it is quite a popular genre, which is, presumably, why Barbarossa have given Monty B a contract and there will be more books. The second reason was that while I would wish any author well, there was a little chagrin involved as my own book, “Remembering Lorelei” was finished, at long last, in October 2013 but I am still not sure when it will be available. I had, originally, expected “Remembering Lorelei” to beat the release date of “A Sniper’s Conflict” by a good three, or four, months.

Recently, someone I know had a day out with a friend, who had heard more about Monty B’s book. Part of the little I heard, via that route, was that “A Sniper’s Conflict” had been the best seller on Amazon for a day, in the U.K. at least. Because of the earlier mentioned meeting at which the author was present and being interested enough to look the book up on the Internet more than just the once, I found that Barbarossa Books had been trailing its publishing date for a few months, so, perhaps, that contributed to the peak, though it appears to be doing quite well anyway and I had already gathered there were other books to follow.

Stansted House Christmas Fair, Loykey Jennings and “The Shadow of Old London Town”

On 24th November 2013, Jo and I went to the Christmas Fair at Stansted House.

One of the exhibitors, in the Garden Centre area, was Loykey Jennings, of Loykey and Lillibit, children’s authors. I had quite a long conversation with Loykey, whose name, it transpired, was the Chinese equivalent of Lloyd and that version was down to his mother. Books, in general, as well as the publishing of them and our different interests, were, mostly, what we talked about. I said that my publishing prospects were, at that time, with Arima Publishing, who had agreed to take on my book “Remembering Lorelei”, on a previous occasion before the glitches in my computer, the hang-ups and delays, indicating no great difference during a telephone conversation with Richard Franklin, at Arima, in September 2013.

Loykey said they sold their books privately, directly, deliberately avoiding Amazon and similar outlets. From the beginning, they knew what they wanted in terms of presentation of their books, found what suited them in the way one of Jamie Oliver’s books was put together, contacted the publishers, or at least printers, in Italy, negotiated with them and had their books produced their way.

As I recall from my conversation with Loykey “The Spirit of Old London Town” is a story about a friendly phantom, ghost, who guides children around London and involves a series of puzzles to be solved as the reader progresses through the story, learning more about London on the way.

Loykey’s and Lillibit’s way with books had worked for them to the extent that there latest book had sold in excess of six thousand copies in the previous twelve months

“Remembering Lorelei”

The history of my book, “Remembering Lorelei”, certainly in the sense of finalising and publishing it, is rather longer than I would wish, embarrassingly so, really, especially the delays, which are really down to me. The existing manuscript of “Remembering Lorelei” only runs up to mid-1994 and should have been published many, at least several, years ago. The nature of the book is such that it was always going to be at least a little problematic, because it is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, unique; well, who else has written an autobiographical book involving their Soulmate, of many millennia, who, in one of their lifetimes together, was not just famous but a Legend.

The content of “Remembering Lorelei” covers my earlier life in four retrospective chapters but the first chapter opens with Lorelei’s appearance in this lifetime of mine, at a Healing Arts Exhibition, in London, in the early 1990s. I had felt a presence before, albeit ill defined, though on that occasion I saw her in considerable detail, even if I did not know who she was until sometime later. That which came out over the following three years, the events, the memories which came back, not just from this lifetime but many others, included some in which we had been together before, including one in which I was a German huntsman, Kurt Langerhan and she was the person, it appears, from whom the Legend derives, at least in part. The latter is more easily understood from the German point of view, interpretation, my understanding of which is, mostly as a result of a conversation with Dr Jur Bernd Atenstaedt, Deputy Director General of the German British Chamber of industry and commerce, at the time.

The events alluded to, at the beginning of this Blog, were during the five years I spent setting up a Technology Diversification Centre, to bring high technology business, largely involving advanced materials, to the region, which was wrecked by certain events within, actions by, a Local Authority, among others. That is described in, for example, the “Engineering Background” page of my business oriented web site and happened after 1994 and so does not appear in the book.

I, originally, approached Arima Publishing at the suggestion of Caroline Collingsof Stafford Rhodes, Portsmouth, who, for various reasons, thought they would be suitable publishers. It was just after that and agreement from Arima to proceed, that the delays set in. Those “hang-ups” and delays will be explained elsewhere and in any sequel(s) to “Remembering Lorelei”.

The content of  “Remembering Lorelei” is so unusual, that someone I met during the Mystics and Scientists Conference at the University of Winchester in 2012, rated the likely non-book income very high. He is heavily involved with the media, mostly from the film point of view, said most of my income would come as a result of the story being the public domain and that it could even be justified to give the books away to achieve that, or at least not bother too much about the income from them. On the other hand, that income would be useful for ploughing back into marketing the story, as well as for a few other things.

Having returned to the manuscript to finish it, that summer, progress, over the succeeding months, was not as fast as it might have been, though going reasonably well.

The following year at the Mystics and Scientists Conferenceat the University of Warwick in 2013 I was involved in a conversation with Ruth Padel. As I described in the earlier Blog, I responded to Ruth asking what the book was about by explaining that I had a discarnate Soulmate who was a legend in a previous lifetime, adding that, at that time, a few hundred years ago, I was Kurt Langerhan, a huntsman in Germany, and Ruth’s reaction was, “Wow, a very powerful book.” Obviously, I was delighted by such a comment from an author and academic of Ruth’s standing, her relationship to Charles Darwin being an unusual added bonus, in a way.

Little more than a couple of months after that conference, I had a telephone call completely “out of the blue” from a stranger, who urged me to finish “Remembering Lorelei” and quickly, encouraging me, mainly by means of E-mails, to do so. The first contact was the telephone call towards the end of July when the revision of the manuscript was already progressing and material connected with my engineering career was brought back in, several thousand worlds of it, as the highly unusual events in and around those, especially following, did not make sense without it. However, the intervention of the stranger and constant encouragement, ensured that it was completed a little over three months after that first ‘phone call. I thought I would only need to re-write part of the original proposal that I had sent to Arima in the early days but it ended up as an extensive rewrite of eight thousand words. That was completed in a couple of weeks and sent, along with the Preface, Introduction and initial Chapters, to Richard Franklin at Arima in October 2013, together with the hope that, as he had said in our earlier telephone conversation, in September, that Arima would also honour the September offer for new authors, not absolutely necessary, just very helpful

Oddly, during the latter part of 2013, several things seem to fall into place, at the rate of one every two, to three weeks, which added to the disappointment of lack of movement on the publishing front. To that was added the success that Loykey and Lillibit were having with their books and learning that Monty B had been given a contract by Barbarossa Books to write more.

Those developments extended to the point of me seriously considering writing a sequel, to “Remembering Lorelei”, or even sequels, depending on the volume of material in my diaries and other places, in other words from 1994 onwards. That was particularly the case when, while clearing out some old paperwork, I came across even more than I had already put aside regarding events in the latter half of the 1990s, additional to that which is electronically stored and in various locations.

Soon afterwards I took Noel Bingham’s original paintings to Staples, in Portsmouth, for them to go on an A3 scanner. Noel had painted a scene of the Rhine for me as a book cover but I could not see how the titling would fit on it. He painted a second scene, that of the countryside, apparently North American, I had seen, during the guided meditation, just before Lorelei appeared at the Healing Arts Exhibition. Noel had found my description of the scene so vivid that he felt he had to paint it. The layout of that scene does happen to fit well with titling on a book cover.

Noel Bingham’s contribution is also a significant bonus as a professional in the publishing field confirmed that original artwork for a book was a considerable selling point, along with me already getting the impression that such matters were not common, and, presumably, meaning an original painting as opposed to a simpler form of cover design. There is an unusual feature about Noel’s painting which will not be obvious to most but may be apparent, at least eventually, to those with higher level senses and understanding, those not being matters which caused him any problems.

As I wrote above, I am still not sure when “Remembering Lorelei” will actually be available. There was a time when I thought it would be out by Christmas 2013, albeit only just. I had even spoken to the manager of the Tesco store in Havant about a book signing there, getting the response that, if Tesco sold it, including online, that was a distinct possibility. The quickest route to publication would still be via Arima as they have, the files to make a decision, or at least I believe they have, unless the said files have been lost in the “electronic ether”, which, I suppose, is always possible. If that is the case, “Remembering Lorelei” will be available in a couple of months, three at the most, say June, or July 2013, otherwise it will not be available for three to six months, though, hopefully, will at least be out by Christmas 2014.

There are other options, apart from Arima, obviously, but one I have spoken to wants to do all the artwork, setting up, everything, effectively, whereas I have already spoken to and visited Colin Woodman of Woodman Design, in Angmering, West Sussex, about one hour’s drive from where I live, in Havant. When we met, Colin came over as friendly, helpful and very capable to the extent that he could set up the complete book, including the cover artwork. We decided on a book size and paper colour which did not seem to be within Arima’s range of available combinations but, on checking with Arima, they seem to be more flexible than their website indicates, to the extent that Colin could set up a complete PDF file, to be sent to Arima and printed in, within reason, more or less, whatever form we preferred; hence the disappointment that there seems to be some confusion over files, their location (?), decision as to whether it first with Arima’s portfolio, etc, though Arima, as already noted, agreed to publish the book before and there are a number of other books of the same genre in the Arima catalogue.

Another option did not get the best of write-ups online, at least from a couple of sources, but they do have a significant presence in the publishing field of interest. I only need someone to print the books as and when required, which, given the stir on the Internet and elsewhere that the Lorelei Legend connection is likely to cause, should be a reasonable number, probably to put it mildly.

As noted above, Loykey and Lillibit sold quite a large number of their books, in excess of six thousand, without going through Amazon. Arima say they will pay £3-30 per book in royalties, if sold through them, 20% less if sold through a third party, like Amazon, which comes out at £2-63 per book. Even on a basis of £2-50 per book and the aforementioned sales rate, that works out at £15,000 per year. The non-book income should be considerably more, given the views of a number of high level business people along with those involved in film and printed media, who I met. I have spoken to several people at local business events about potential links for mutual benefit but there is nothing I can do until the story of Lorelei and I is in the public domain.

Hopefully, “Remembering Lorelei” would do even better than suggested above. I am not too bothered by which route it goes public, as long as it does, preferably sooner rather than later.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Southern Entrepreneurs

I asked  Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Southern Entrepreneursfor assistance. I heard nothing from Southern Entrepreneurs, not even an acknowledgement of my E-mail, even though they have taken over from Business Link Hampshire, which was somewhere between singularly useless and completely negative. Hampshire Chamber of Commerce did respond, in due course, and I have begun to receive help, though, to be fair, both the Chamber and Southern Entrepreneurs will come more into their own once the book is published, given the boost it will be for tourism in the region.

Amusingly, ironically (?), during August 2013, I received a telephone call from Lucy Lomax who was enquiring, on behalf of Southern Entrepreneurs, if I was satisfied with the help available, questions about the general performance, of the organisation. As I have been in a sort of hiatus for a while, I have not been in a position to make more use of the services Southern Entrepreneurs offers, or Hampshire Chamber. However, I did learn from that conversation that, following the demise of the Business Links, Southern Entrepreneurs was receiving the funding from local councils that would have gone to Business Link Hampshire.

Towards the end of our conversation, Lucy asked if my local council provided much support for business, in my case that is Havant BoroughCouncil, who are noteworthy for not being very good, generally. I said that I doubted Havant Council would help me promote “Remembering Lorelei”, even though it would help local tourism a great deal, but, regardless of that, I fully intended to ask Havant Council for assistance and publish the E-mail requests on the Internet. Lucy commented favourably on that, her words being, as I recall, “What a good idea.”

Now all that remains is to secure a route to publication for “Remembering Lorelei”.

Comments Moderation:

Comments will only be accepted if they are presented as a contribution to mature discussion and are from people who use their own names with a link whereby that is easily verified, as well as, ideally, their background, qualifications, experience, etc., essentially, total clarity for all readers of a comment as to precisely who is making it.

No comments will be accepted that contain libellous comments, or those of an abusive nature, or are “off topic”, at least seriously so. Constructive criticism is one thing, juvenile name calling and similar is quite another.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Assessing Reliability of Knowledge and Experience: “The Three Whys”

A common problem in all walks of life is determining the value and dependability of information as well as that of its source. Sometimes that is sought and sometimes offered. These days, especially with the advent of the Internet, it is thrown at us by some people, almost on an attempted force feeding basis, though that, immediately, tends to mitigate against its usefulness and reliability, similarly with the person, or person promoting it.

The Three Whys

Early in my engineering career I learned of a useful way of assessing the reliability of information put forward by someone else, whether they have been asked for, or offered, it, without having to have as much knowledge as the person themselves. The exact origin of the approach is partially “lost in the mists of time”, though I am virtually certain it arose during my years at British Aerospace, through the 1970s and into the early 1980s, and that it derived in large part from a good friend of that era, W.J. (Walter John) “Dickie” Bird, a very unusual and inventive character who worked in the Project Office.

The approach is founded, to a large extent, on the basic principle that, a person who really understands their subject and is endowed with even just a reasonable amount of professionalism, basic civility, will be able to explain themselves, their specialist subject, or any other subject of which they claim to have knowledge and experience, in a straightforward, reasonable and civilised manner without any overt emotion, histrionics, or abuse. “The Three Whys” approach adds just a little more formality as well as being structured.

The basic principle is simple and is as follows. When someone puts forward an opinion on a particular matter, whether sought, or, simply, offered, consider what has been said and, on the basis of what you have been told, ask as in depth a question as you are able, endeavouring to take them “a level deeper”. On the basis of the answer you are given, ask a further question to take the matter another level deeper. Reflect on that answer and, with a third question, endeavour to take them deeper still,.

All of the questions you ask, should, of course, be put in a gently probing, considered and civilised manner, and the answers you receive should also be considered and civilised.

It is a basic convention of discourse that discussion, exchange of views, is carried out in a polite, mature manner and that when someone becomes abusive they forfeit the argument. Applying that to the previously described questioning process, if the person responding to calmly posed questions responds in a similar manner, he/she is likely to know the subject in question to a useful, even reliable, depth. Even if you do not fully understand the answers, particularly the third one, as long as the response is in a measured, calm, reasonably detailed manner, it is likely that they really do know what they are talking about, even if you do not follow it fully, or at all. However, if at any time there is any evasion, or abuse, it is likely that the person’s opinions can be, safely, ignored, quite apart from them having demonstrated a lack of professionalism which would rule out any involvement for them in any enterprise related to the subject matter.

Unfortunately, there are people who are abusive even before being asked a question on their subject, or any other. It is quite reasonable to ignore, even dismiss, the views of such persons, perhaps in their entirety, though at least to the extent of not bothering to take matters any further with them. Even if there just might seem to be something worth while in what they have to say, it is rarely worth pursuing when exchange of views becomes hostile; far better to seek out those of a more civilised and worthwhile disposition. Among those people are high level academics, who, one would have thought, would be more likely to take a professional approach. One such person seems to know his subject area but not a great deal beyond it though seems to think he does. Another professes knowledge, quite literally but is unwilling, or unable, to answer questions on his own subject, as well as displaying an unpleasant manner, at least to anyone who does not agree with his outlook. Rather than bother which such people simply go elsewhere; there are plenty of other people with as much knowledge and experience, likely more, of a pleasanter disposition and, therefore, far more likely to engage with people on a mutually productive basis.

As far as my own profession of engineering is concerned, there is a tendency towards conservative views, in the non-political sense, of course, so histrionics in debate, discussion, from an engineer is very rare and the sign of a not very good engineer. In recent years I have come across the apparent practice of intense and heated debate among scientists, at least those people of a pure science, classical science disposition, rather than the applied sciences and engineering sciences. If that is there way, fine, though it seems to belong more to, as well as being more suited to, the laboratory and academia. The engineering world is more a place for civilised informed discussion and debate rather than arrogant histrionics, hot headed decisions and similar. Much the same goes for the medical world, though one would be forgiven for not thinking so, given the opinions freely given on the Internet, frequently unsolicited, by, for the most part, people who have no relevant knowledge, qualifications, or experience, as well as it being done so rather forcefully, to put it mildly, as well as extremely rudely, also to put it mildly. Needless to say, by far the greater majority of such views are worthless and if there is any suspected worth in such views it would be far better to go elsewhere and find someone of a more civilised disposition to explain further, even more so if specific advice is desired, or required.

Related Thoughts

In engineering there is a willingness to take risks, though, mostly, only in terms of small steps and the situation being retrievable, if something goes wrong. That is combined with welcoming new ideas and approaches, subject to careful evaluation. That evaluation is from an engineering perspective, which includes science but is certainly not limited to science, or by it, no competent engineer would be. A great deal of knowledge and experience is required, along with knowing one’s own limitations in that sense. However, some knowledge of many subjects is also part of the profession, which provides a good basis for assessing the reliability of other sources of information and expertise; knowing and being aware enough to be able to ask questions of sufficient import to judge the quality and value of the information received, as well as the person, or person, imparting it; hence the approach outlined above. A competent engineer will be well aware of that and will engage with others in an appropriate manner. Should someone claim to be an engineer and not take a reasoned and civilised approach, go elsewhere; such people are distinct outliers, in the minority, close to the vanishing minority level, in my experience. If in any doubt, go to a professional institution, their claimed Institution, if they have one, for advice. Note that by “engineer” I mean in the professional sense, someone who is registered with the Engineering Council as a Chartered Engineer (CEng), Incorporated Engineer (IEng), Engineering Technician (EngTech), in the U.K., and the equivalent in Europe (EurIng), the United States, Canada, etc., rather than in the colloquial sense, especially the more general U.K. sense and similar.

On a final note, I am willing to give views beyond my areas of knowledge and experience, at least in those in which I have taken an interest over the years and with which I have at least some knowledge, or familiarity. However, I tend to make clear my limitations in such areas, at least where practicable; certain interactive systems, such as Twitter, for example, are not exactly geared to detailed explanations and qualification. On the other hand, I am open about my professional background and other involvements, most of which can be found on the Internet, though my engineering interests, knowledge experience and involvements, outside engineering, are such that a number of mainstreamers are unable to engage about them in a mature manner, though my experiences, in that sense, are rather similar to those of many other people. The sort of approach I take as a guide when going outside my own fields of expertise and knowledge is that of Irwin Schrödinger, about which I write in “Science Knowledge and Noblesse Oblige”. Obviously, I do not claim to be at Irwin Schrödinger’s level, though he is a much better role model than  many scientists, let alone of those who can only claim to be “of science”, though do not seem to be as knowledgeable of it as they suppose, or even very good at it.

Comments Moderation:

Comments will only be accepted if they are presented as a contribution to mature discussion and are from people who use their own names with a link whereby that is easily verified, as well as, ideally, their background, qualifications, experience, etc., essentially, total clarity for all readers of a comment as to precisely who is making it.

No comments will be accepted that contain libellous comments, or those of an abusive nature, or are “off topic”, at least seriously so. Constructive criticism is one thing, juvenile name calling and similar is quite another.