Monthly Archives: January 2017

…Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air…

…I saw again the other day a You Tube clip about Joshua Bell, one of the best concert violinists in the world, who played like a busker, for free, for 45 minutes, on a Stradivarius violin worth 3.5 million dollars at a subway station in Washington… over a thousand people passed by Bell, but only seven stopped to listen him play, including a 3-year old boy, and only one person put a dollar bill in his violin case, lying open at his feet… it brings home the truth that so frequently extraordinary beauty appearing in ordinary surroundings is more often as not overlooked… I recall many years ago, when I lived and worked in Manila in the Philippines, a country blessed with tremendous singing and musical talent, listening to an impromptu performance by a young man in a bar in the city… he was a part time bartender in the place, but the resident band asked him come and ‘guest’ with them for a couple of numbers… he strapped on an electric guitar and proceeded to render one of the most spine-tingling versions of blues music I’ve ever been privileged to hear… the guy sang with his heart and soul wrapped into the moment… the entire bar crowd stopped to listen, enthralled… I later learned he was self-taught, and lived in one of the squatter areas near the dockside of Tondo in the city… I never saw or heard of him again, and often wonder if his talent was ever again recognized and appreciated… or has his light gone unnoticed since that episode back then?…  anyway, here’s some Buddy Guy to enjoy in the same vein…

…and he IS acknowledged as a one of the greatest blues and soul musicians… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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…my terrific pal, Authoress April Taylor, shares about creating promo videos…

…if ‘Music be the Food of Love’ for great novels, then April Taylor, accomplished writer of the Georgia Pattison crime novels, and no mean soprano in her own vocal right, serves up some great self-made videos… but more than that, she tells yeez how to go about creating similar productions yerselves… have a wee look and listen:



Promo vid/visual presentations for authors by April Taylor

This is aimed at writers who are not necessarily computer wizards and just need a few pointers on how to put together a short video/slideshow presentation to upload to social media to publicise their books. I shall use the term video throughout for convenience.

It is really important that you create this show in plenty of time and not at the last minute. There will be snags and you do not want to sit at your computer tearing out your hair as I did trying to create the video, from start to finish, in one day for Dearly Ransomed Soul.

Go to your favourite search engine and enter “Slideshow software” or “video software” as a search term to see what is out there, how much it costs and what it does. In other words, do your research, just like you would do when you are writing a book.


The most used software at the moment is probably Animoto  – videos are easy to create and you can get 30 seconds worth free but you will pay through the nose for anything more. If you only want to do a vid once or twice a year, think carefully. Here is the current pricing structure. That said, you may find the free 30 seconds is fine for what you want to achieve.

I use iMovie, but this doesn’t always play nicely and, in the case of Weebly, refuses to load into my website, which is why I have changed website provider.

Powerpoint. Available in MS Office for Macs and PCs. Creates quite sophisticated slideshows.

Here is a rough template of my process.

When I first began to make these videos, I subscribed to Animoto and became drunk with the powerful tools it has. However, people surfing the internet get bored very quickly, so I advise making the presentation/video last a minute or 90 seconds at most

  1. When I first began to make these videos, I subscribed to Animoto and became drunk with the powerful tools it has. However, people surfing the internet get bored very quickly, so I advise making the presentation/video last a minute or 90 seconds at most.
  2. How are you going to go about collecting the material you need, from where and how are you going to present it? Finally, what music do you think will best accompany your show?
  3. Crack on and play. Check it is right before publishing.

Let’s flesh that out.


First, you need to write a rough outline of the story you want the video to tell. Choose a few key points in your story and put them in a phrase or sentence. Make the sentences ramp up the tension. Include a question or two, especially in the last picture. Don’t forget, everything is tweakable, so don’t agonise too much at this point. Avoid using too many pictures. If you check the YouTube link below, you will see that all my videos to date are too long. Ideally, in the space of a minute, you only have time for 8 or 9 pictures, otherwise your audience will go cross-eyed. If your software allows, use two captions for one picture. Just because you can change your picture doesn’t mean you have to.

Now you know the caption for each picture, you will have a better idea of what kind of pictures and music will match. Go find them.aaaaaaaaaa

And here is a word of, not caution, but warning.

Do not assume you can romp into Google images or music sites and start downloading and using the pictures you find there. 98% of them will be subject to copyright. If you find the perfect picture, try to contact the copyright holder and ask their permission to use it. If you do not, you are liable to prosecution and a HUGE fine. Trust me, I’m a librarian!

Read this –

And this –

Infringing copyright is THEFT!

Collecting your source material

Right, now I have scared you half to death, how do you find the material you want?

There are several websites where images are free. I use,  or I am also lucky enough to have a husband who can manipulate photos that we have taken. I sometimes realise I only need part of a picture, so I crop that in Powerpoint or Paul plays with it in Affinity.

Here is another beware. Loads of websites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, freedigital photos et al, all have the word free in their banners. They are not free. Earlier, I said about creating your show in good time and not at the last minute. Why? Because in the stress of trying to get the whole thing put together and out there, you can fall into the trap of signing up to these websites, only to find afterwards that there is maybe a month’s trial free after which you pay megabucks for each image. If you do sign up, you will find your inbox stuffed with spam e-mails for months afterwards. Of course, if money is no object, go right ahead.

Music can be more tricky. There are no fixed amounts of a song you can use without violating copyright. Beware of sites that come with added payload you don’t know about, downloading things like MacKeeper to your computer and making Yahoo your default homepage without your permission or knowledge.

Because these sites come and go almost daily, my best advice is to enter “copyright free music” or “public domain music” into your favoured search engine. When I wanted to use Nigel Hess’s It Came Upon The Midnight Clear for the accompanying music to the Georgia Pattison Christmas short The Midnight Clear, I wrote and asked him. I was permitted to use one minute of the track on Facebook, Twitter and my website until 31st January. Very restricted. I have now put public domain music on it and it is on YouTube. Notice how the music is placed so that it begins to grow on the words The family dinner was not. From that point the music helps increase the tension of the video. Compare the number of pictures in the Midnight Clear video with the others. It is far less frenetic. By the way, if you do write and get permission to use music, make sure you acknowledge that in the video.

A final word on music. It can make or break a video. When the film Jaws was run without the music, the test audience laughed in the opening scenes where the shark is swimming back and forth. When the iconic soundtrack was added, some of the audience screamed.aa

Crack on and play

This is the fun bit. Getting the pictures in the right order, making sure they match the caption, getting the right bit of the music – if you end the video on a tense point, you need the music to reflect that, so probably use the end bit with the climax. When you are happy, keep playing it through. Wait until next day and play it through again to make sure. Chances are you will find something that needs amending. Then you can publish it.

To sum up.

  • Don’t do this if time is short. Leave enough time to get it right without you becoming frazzled.
  • Plan and outline what you want the video to say. This is a marketing tool after all.
  • Do not infringe copyright. Get permission if necessary.
  • Keep the photos in one folder. You may be able to use them next time.
  • Remember that the video clip will likely be small in frame size and not hi-res so there is no point in having huge and busy pictures.  A small portion of a picture is more likely a better choice.

Happy Playing!!!

Here is a link to April Taylor’s YouTube videos for The Tudor Enigma and the Georgia Pattison Mysteries:


You can read more about April Taylor here:

FaceBook  Twitter  Amazon UK  Amazon USA  Website and Blog

…many thanks, m’Lady, April… for the rest of yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, I expect to see yeez transformed into mini-Scorsese clones in short order… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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…Scots?… wha’s like us?… damn few, an’ they’re a’ deid…

…wee reprise of an earlier post , in time for the Burns Nights Season! … enjoy :)…before yeez all go running off to the Berlitz Language School in search of  translations for the header up there… it paraphrases into English (which, by the way is the ultimate foreign…

Source: …Scots?… wha’s like us?… damn few, an’ they’re a’ deid…

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…of bullies and angel strangers…


…a common trait amongst Glaswegians, and especially from my childhood environment in Docklands Govan, is a loathing of bullies and bullying of any kind… my own instinctive reaction of rage when I encounter it dates back nearly sixty years… a coupla 8-year old school pals from my street, and I, decided to venture from our granite and sandstone slums for a day trip into the ‘country’... as we were kids, for a few pence, the city’s corporation buses travelled to the outskirts of Glasgow, where green fields beckoned… we had wee plastic bags in which we carried tin mugs, a packet of tea and spoons, cheese sandwiches, and a box of matches to light a fire to brew the tea… adventure time, indeed, for this intrepid  trio… the eldest lad carried the bus fares… we made to set up our camp in a farmer’s field when along came a pair of much older lads, prob’ly in their early teens… friendly they were not… in a matter of minutes it became clear they were out for mischief… there was no way that our puny wee muscles could take on these apprentice thugs, so discretion being the better part of valour we did the smart thing… and ran from their threat… three small boys, but clever enough to run in three different directions… saved us from a hiding no doubt, but produced another kind of problem… we were each on our own… in a place completely foreign… disoriented, I ended up on a road, deserted of people or traffic, but boasting a bus stop with a red sign… the non-Corporation ‘SMT’ buses… I kinda knew they led back  into Glasgow, but the problem was I didn’t know which direction led back home… and even worse… I had no money… so I did what all sensible eight-year-old kids do… I bawled my eyes out… then I waited at the bus stop… deliverance came along in the form of an ‘old’ woman…


…in retrospect, she was  possibly about 30 years old, but everybody is ‘old’ to a wee boy… she asked why I was crying and I told her about the bullies… she uttered wildly colourful WURDS that every Govan inhabitant understands… and she gave me a halfcrown… two shillings and sixpence in old money… when the Glasgow bus came she got on and even paid my fare, and told me where to get off on arrival in Govan… an angel stranger in every respect… now, here I was back home, about ten hours earlier than expected, so what to do?… with a fortune burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to treat myself… the local cafe produced my first ever coffee, which I didn’t like, and promptly purchased some ‘ginger’ (Scots for ‘lemonade’)… a bar of ‘Caramac’ chocolate… and a few pennies into the juke box… Boy King of Govan for a few hours, me… the balance of the halfcrown bought a ‘sling’ (Scots for ‘catapult’)… and some joke itching powder and stink bombs… what a day… as for the bullies?… all they did was engender in me a latent rage to tackle any future specimens of their kind when I was older… but that’s for another story… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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…99,999… 100,000… yup, 100,000, Mabel !!!… 100,001… 100,002…



…there are many ‘firsts’ that occur in most of our lives… f’rinstance I remember my first kiss… it was more of a slobbery lick from my twice-the-size-of-me pet dog when I was about 5 years old… and it turned me off the idea of canine romance forever, I can tell yeez… my first day at primary school… as part of a howling choir of sobbing infants who wailed in concert at the mass departure of our mothers at the school gates…


my first football team goal at the age of six… the ball hammered home from all of seven inches, attended by the triumphant raised arm a la Denis Law as I wheeled to trot back to the centre circle restart… my first monthly pay packet as a green fifteen year old Trainee Master of the Financial Universe at the noble Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank Limited, Govan Cross Branch, the centre of the Glasgow docklands economic WURLD… about twenty quid it was, and I splurged a quarter of it on a sixties-style, button-down, multi-striped shirt… sadly, my sense of elegant couture hasn’t advanced much since then…


…comes now another first… and one that brings an immense sense of disbelief, twinned with gratitude… I’ve held off to err on the side of caution in tracking the running tally of aggregate Amazon downloads and sales of my Jack Calder crime fiction masterpieces… but my reckoning is that they’ve now sailed past the magical 100,000 mark… as fellow scribes will appreciate, not all of these are paid sales, given the frequent ‘freebie’ marketing and promotional programs on Auntie Amazon, but they do consider ‘freebies’ as ‘sales’… it has taken just shy of nine years to reach this number… I know, I know, I know… the likes of that wee J.K Rowling lassie can manage that on a dull Wednesday… but we mere mortal scribblers take a tad longer... and it feels just GREAT!… thanks to every one of yeez who have bought, downloaded, shared and told yer pals… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!












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…let there ALWAYS be libraries…



…by any stretch of the measurement of age, this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler is no longer a youth… I adulted around a-hem years ago… and having become in recent years an Author, I have more than a passing interest in the comparatively new debate as to whether books are better in print or on an eReader such as Auntie Amazon’s Kindlekindleand despite being part of the, (a-hem again), ‘older’ generation, I have no negativity toward the modern downloaded reader versions of books… don’t mistake me – I still enjoy immensely the feel of a paper book in my hands, and even, yes, the smell of the paper and the gum paste thats binds the spine (emb’dy else remember ‘sniffing’ a new book?)… but times move on – the electronic age has become an imbedded part of our lives whether we embrace it or not – however, that does not mean we should surrender the bedrock of readers everywhere… the local library… once a ubiquitous presence in any village, town or urban conurbation… now sadly, it seems, becoming as rare in some parts of the country as an honest politician… I recall fondly my first visit to our local library in the grounds of the Elder Park in Docklands Govan in Glasgowaa… standing guard over all things readable in our slum setting of the early 1950s, it became a haven for this then wee five-year old, National Health spectacles and all, devouring picture books, reading primers and illustrated tomes of the Wonders of the World… y’see, grand and all the Kindle phenomenon might be to some, it cannot take the place of sitting on the floor in the children’s section of yer library with several open books scattered around yer legs… no child is ever going have a circle of Kindles spread on the floor in such an accessible manner as that…


…for that alone, and for millions of other good reasons (mostly books) our libraries should be protected and preserved… now, where did I leave the bookmark for my Kindle, Mabel?… see yeez  later… LUV YEEZ!



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…hey, Mama, look at me… I’m a SchizAuthor… both of me…


…yeez don’t have to be crazy to be a writer, but most of we scribblers will prob’ly tell yeez it helps… it wouldn’t be the first time (nor, I s’pose, the last) that this ol’ Jurassic’s sanity has come under question… the journey thus far into my crime fiction masterpiece production over the past almost ten years now has had more than its fair share of madness… coming to terms with debating with the imaginary committee of characters in my head was the first sign… staring blankly into space in public areas for interminable passages of time, while plot lines flow through my wee grey cells, is another… and let’s not dismiss the demented sudden scribbling of story notes on assorted paper napkins in restaurants, then surreptitiously folding then with the greatest of care before secreting them in various trouser pockets… then yeez have the insane giving up of entire weekends to sit in the depths of a major book store with a pile of yer tomes on a table, ready to sign yer name on them for anyone kind enuff to purchase one of yer babies… then watching how many potential ‘buyers’ avoid yer eye so that they don’t have to indulge yer pleading look to buy a copy…


…comes now a different strain of the looniness… having established my JONGGR as crime fiction, I’m embarking on another… so called ‘literary fiction’… sounds a bit high-falooting, eh, Mabel?… which means I’ll be giving up writing about Jack Calder and his buddies, right? wrong!… and here’s the depth of my surrender of any semblance of mental stability… I’m indulging both JONGGRS simultaneously… flipping from writing one to the other and back again, ad inforeverum… nuts? betcha it’s nuts!… but y’know what?… it’s great fun… stimulating… a real buzz… it certainly dispels any notion of boredom… I’ll keep yeez advised as it goes along, but for the meantime, hey, Mama, look at me… I’m a SchizAuthor… both of me… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



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