Tag Archives: SeumasGallacher

…paying it forward… it’s the gift that blesses the giver as well as the receiver…

…this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler has been the recipient of so many blessings throughout a life that has had its fair share of absolute highs and desperately dark lows… looking back is the epitome of 20/20 hindsight… and I can see now so clearly where the ‘anonymous hand of my Creator’ continually put people in my path who were there at the right time and the right place… one such episode occurred when I was all of 11 years old… in Scotland, we had this thing called the 11+ exams where we were tested for the simple purpose of streaming us into the next level of secondary education… by some miraculous fudge (I’m sure), it was discovered that the young Master Gallacher was allegedly possessed of the highest IQ ever recorded in a Glasgow primary school up to that time… let’s be clear, however, that that IQ rating doesn’t mean I’m necessarily intelligent nor smart – it merely indicates that I have a propensity for solving logical issues in an extraordinarily fast time frame… the upshot was, that this wee lad from the Dockland, Govan slums was invited to sit the entrance exams for a scholarship at Allan Glen’s High School of Science and Technology, at the time, a prestigious fee-paying school in the city…

…I won the bursary and was told I could start at the new school at the beginning of the next term… however, my mother had to tell the headmaster of the primary school that her son would be unable to take up the position… when asked why not, she told him with blunt honesty, that although the bursary would cover the expenses for the school books and the tuition, the student’s elegant, but expensive, motif-adorned school uniforms, gym kit and sportswear were beyond our family’s budget, and I would not be going… he would have none of that argument… instead, this marvellous man, Carl Caplan, paid from his own pocket for my uniforms for the three years duration of the scholarship… ever since that time, one of my own pet areas for ‘giving back’ relates to providing assistance where possible to other children who otherwise may be denied the kind of opportunity that I was given… but it’s not about money… as I’ve written here before, I learned long ago, from someone much wiser that  me, that whatever it is you have, (and I don’t mean money!), you keep it by giving it  away… paying it forward... it’s the gift that blesses the giver as well as the receiver… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH – BE MY GUEST

7 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…when you want to light up your life… tell Teddy Bear stories to children…

…it has been a couple of years since last this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler was invited to talk with children in a classroom setting… World Book Day provided a plausible excuse for the invitation for Master Gallacher in his guise as an author, to come tell a story at The Budaiya Pre-School in Bahrain

…my dear friend, Jess Stansfield, the (much) better half of my writing buddy, Glen Stansfield, teaches a class at this superb kindergarden, and extended the opportunity for me to appear… which I almost bit her hand off to accept… I met first with the principal and founder of the school, the wonderful Janeann Mohseni, who led me to the classes… I was privileged to tell to three different class-loads my story about The Greedy Teddy Bear… the intensity of participation from these wee maestros of mischief was terrific… noise levels were decibel-bursting… great fun!… all of the children were dressed in costumes  depicting their favourite story hero and heroine characters… everybody from Spiderman and his crime-busting buddies to assorted Elsa Princesses

…the story line of the Greedy Teddy Bear is about a wee teddy bear who discovers a cottage when he’s walking in the woods… and where everything inside is made of confection… he touches the door and finds it’s made of chocolate... then the table… made of ice cream... and, of course, he eats everything he finds… when I got to describe what the chair was made of, I asked the children, ‘What do you think the chair was made of?’ … one little girl said ‘Lollipops’, another boy said ‘Cake’.. . but I was blown away in a fit of laughter at one wee fellow who looked askance at the question and announced, ‘The Chair was made of Plastic!’... what a fabulous morning for me!… I totally recommend, when you want to light up your life, tell Teddy Bear stories to children… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH – BE MY GUEST

12 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…from Marie Antoinette to Docklands Govan… ‘let them eat cake’… and we did…

……the early 1950s in Docklands Govan in Glasgow didn’t boast much in the way of haute cuisine… indeed, given the harshness of life for thousands in the inner cities back then, any kind of cuisine itself was sum’times completely absent… money was scarcer than an honest politician… our family, with four children, myself as the eldest, was no different from many in similar circumstances… it’s amazing what a mother could rustle up in the large pot simmering away on the gas stove, with bits and pieces added to it as the week progressed… potatoes, lentils, barley, bits of corned beef, cabbage, minced beef, onions, carrots and the ubiquitous Bisto Gravy… (Ah..Ah..Ah..Ah… Bisto Gravy’s best by far! went the advertising jingle)… my father worked all sorts of part-time jobs, as did my mother… sum’times cleaning jobs in the houses in the more middle-class areas, where a shilling or two was available for outsourcing a ‘non-working’ lady’s housework… she also had an evening job as a cleaner at the local cake-making factory of Galbraith’s in Govan…

…as I recall, her stint began around 5 o’clock in the later afternoon until around 10 pm…  we children would wait patiently for her return, because often, she was able to bring home a veritable confectionery goldmine… all the cleaners were allowed to take away whatever leftover cakes that were not shipped for delivery and unsold during that day, as these were not allowed to be sold the following day… however, the booty was not carried away from the factory in fancy cake-boxes, nor in any sort of boxes…

…instead, the takeaways were bundled in one conjoined mash-up in plastic bags… eclairs, doughnuts, jam tarts, and creme pastries, all in one enormous melange… did that deter us from tucking-in big-time?... not a bit!… the massive mound of Galbraith’s best leftovers was excavated with great vigour, with nary a thought for dental welfare, nor of potential stomach ache, nor of hyper-sleeplessness from over-inflated sugar rushes… from Marie Antoinette to Docklands Govan… ‘let them eat cake’… and we did… until this day, I still find it difficult to eat just one cake... see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH – BE MY GUEST

16 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…what price a bottle of water when you have nothing else?

…over a chat about life in general, and about charity in particular, with a great pal of mine at Bahrain Islamic Bank, Mahmood Qannati, the superb Brand and Marketing guru, I recalled an incident that occurred in Manila in the Philippines around 20 years ago… at the time, I was the boss of a domestic shipping company, Negros Navigation Co Limited, whose fleet of vessels carried cargo and passengers up and down the length of the entire country…

…with my armed bodyguards (another story for another time!), I was out mingling with the queuing passengers before one of the sailings, and in the crowd a young woman, looking kinda battered by circumstance, was standing there silently, with a small girl about three years old by her side, a veritable angel with a dirty face… in one arm, the woman held a chubby wee Buddha of a baby boy, in the other, a bottle of water and an envelope enclosed in a clear plastic wrapper… my guards, thankfully, recognised the envelope to be one of the frequent requests the company received from the Department of Social Welfare, requesting a free ticket for some of our less fortunate wannabe passengers… the blistering heat was the typical dockside furnace, bashing up from the roadway tarmac… the family looked exhausted… I instructed the guards to accompany the woman and her children to my office and I summoned the lady who looked after our ticket sales and passengers… while we waited, I ordered some fast food and soft drinks for the three of them… they obviously had not eaten in a while… the woman wanted to travel down to the south of the country, an overnight journey, to try to get back to her original family, long since visited, and probably when the woman had known happier times… we arranged the complimentary tickets and a goodies bag of things for the children and the mother… meantime, the little girl, full of fun and mischief, had removed the rubber flip flops from her feet, and unexpectedly lobbed one of them at me, giggling… my guards were alarmed!… the boss was under attack from an infant assailant!… I could hardly contain my laughter and picked up the flip flop and threw it back at the child… there ensued ten minutes of flip flop warfare, with everybody in my office reduced to helplessness with the delight of this kid’s laughing shrieks… then I learned a bit more from my sales lady…

…this poor woman had been surviving, without a husband to support her, for goodness knows how long by purchasing one!, yes one!, bottle of water at a time with a cluster of coins, then reselling it for a few centavos profit, then buying another, and repeating the process as many times as she could manage in order to keep herself and her two offspring alive… that day, I learned much about the meaning of ‘living on the edge’, and what real charity means… it isn’t about money, although of course that always helps, but more to do with caring for our fellow human beings… about being responsible for putting a smile back on the face of somebody who has been suffering for far too long… it’s a lesson I have carried with me ever since… and one that I hope never, ever to forget … see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

23 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Seumas (Casper the Ghost?) Gallacher…

…my grateful thanks for some of my Guest Posters over the past few weeks who have helped to keep my blog alive, while I was BDOT (Busy Doing Other Things)… I make no apologies for the absence, as pressure of the day job (which pays the light bulbs and printer ribbons) have seen each day filled with ‘stuff’… part of that ‘stuff’, frankly, has been a commercial stream of business allied to my writing… I’ve alluded to it a few times last year, and it has grown into a sizable chunk of my waking day… ghostwriting… sum’how, (thankfully), the WURD has gone out that Master Gallacher ‘writes a bit, and writes rather well’ – so much so, I have just embarked on my eighth ghostwriting engagement in the past twelve months, doing autobiographies and family/corporate histories… the personal biographical commissions are absolutely, mind-blowingly humbling… to have sumb’dy trust in my  confidentiality as they tell stories about themselves and their lives, some elements of which they have never shared with another soul until talking with me… it’s unlike any other sharing experience I have encountered in a career in which, at times, I have been a counsellor and a private confidante… this stuff is different and it is special… my sixth Jack Calder crime thriller is still bubbling away as Work-In-Prigress, but ever so slowly, and I’m okay with that,,, the book gets done when it gets done… I have resisted trying to force-pace that one, as I know that would not produce my own level of optimum writing standard… so, as I morph into ‘The Phantom of the Laptop’, I have to guard against shouting ‘Boo!’ at the screen every now and then… I think I scare my Mac enuff as it is… meantime, my novels are still available as noted here…

THE VIOLIN MANS LEGACY

myBook.to/theviolinmanslegacy

VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK

myBook.to/vengeancewearsblack

SAVAGE PAYBACK

myBook.to/savagepayback

KILLER CITY

myBook.to/calderkillercity

DEADLY IMPASSE

myBook.to/Calderdeadlyimpasse

…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

18 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…a rerun of a superb post from my pal, Brendan Gerad O’Brien…

…this Guest Post featured on my blog a couple of years ago, and it popped up again on the files recently… well worth another read from my great writing pal, Brendan Gerad O’Brien… enjoy…

Interview with Brendan Gerad O’Brien for the Seumas GallacherBlog

1 – Tell us about your connection with Wales:

I was born in Tralee on the west coast of Ireland and came to the UK when I joined the Royal Navy at 18. It was while I was on a course in Portsmouth that I met a beautiful Welsh girl, Jennifer Marshall, who was on holiday from Newport, South Wales. After a short romance we got married and when my service contract ended we went to live in Newport to be near her family. We’ve been there ever since.

2 – Tell us about yourself as a writer and as a person:

When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came in September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it, and I won the only prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.

So writing was in my blood from a very young age. I loved essays and English literature

My grand-uncle Moss Scanlon had a small Harness Maker’s shop in Lower William Street, Listowel – a rural town in Kerry that was just a bus ride from Tralee – where I spent some wonderful summer holidays. The shop had a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters who’d wander in for a chat and a bit of jovial banter. One famous storyteller who often popped in was John B Keane, and I asked him once where he got his ideas from. He told me that everyone has a story to tell, so be patient and just listen to them.

And I was there when John B’s very first story was read out live on Radio Eireann. I can still remember the buzz of excitement and the sheer pride of the people of Listowel. And the seeds of storytelling were sown in my soul.

Another source of encouragement was Bryan MacMahon, one of Listowel’s finest writers and a schoolmaster to boot, who was a very easy person to talk to.

Anyway, I left school at fourteen and went to work in hotels in Killarney, and I quickly got caught up in the excitement and colourful buzz of the tourist industry – remember, this was in the 60s when the Beatles were creating a heady revolution and engulfing the youth with hopes and dreams of a wonderful future – so I felt no great urgency to write. I dreamed of being a writer, of course. I wanted to be a writer – but somehow life just got in the way.

When I joined the Royal Navy at eighteen I was sent to the Far East. I spent the first three years between Singapore and Hong Kong, and again I was having so much fun I didn’t get to write anything, although there were loads of stories bursting to get out.

It was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to put pen to paper, and the result was Dark September, an alternative history novel set in Newport during WW2.

I loved writing it – I always write in longhand – but I hated having to type it. After working a ten hour day, I’d be clattering away into the early hours on an old Olivetti typewriter and getting on everyone’s nerves. Then I’d scream in frustration when I’d discover that hours of hard work were ruined by some horrendous typo error, and I’d have to start all over again.

Amazingly, I found an agent almost immediately but she insisted on some major changes so I spent a year re-writing it.

Unfortunately my agent died suddenly and the agency closed. It took ages to find another agent, but he too demanded even more changes. It became too much for Jennifer and the kids, so my manuscript hibernated in the attic for a few years.

Then Jennifer bought me a computer for Christmas – with Spellcheck!

This time finding an agent has proved impossibility – they only want to represent people who’re famous for just being famous – but now I’m delighted to say the book has been accepted by Tirgearr Publishing and I’m delighted with the result and all the hard work they’ve put into it to make it a great success.

In the meantime – while my book was languishing in limbo – I discovered that writing short stories is amazingly therapeutic. I get a great buzz from taking an idea and developing it, often watching it evolve into something completely different from how it started out. And I realized too that great ideas are all around us. Little gems are waiting to be harvested everywhere we look. I found myself listening to what people are saying, and the way they say it.

For instance, the Irish are famous all over the world for their colourful and exaggerated expressions, always using a dozen words when one would have done. So I build on that and set all my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit. I’ve written hundreds of stories, most of which are still stuffed in drawers somewhere, but I did manage to get more than twenty of them published over the years, in anthologies, e-zines and magazines as well as web sites.

Dreamin’ Dreamspublished as an eBook and in paperback by Amazon KDP – contains twenty of my published stories, of which I’m very proud. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other, or events that actually happened to me. Enhanced, of course, and sometimes exaggerated out of all proportion.

The title comes from something my father said years ago, when I got poor grades at school. ‘What do you expect?’ he said to my mother. ‘He never does any studying. He just sits there, dreamin’ dreams.’

3 – Why did you decide to write in your chosen genre?

My favourite reading material has always been fast paced thrillers, murder mysteries, war stories. I write what I think I would like to read.

4 – Tell us about the concept behind your first book

The idea for Dark Septembercame to me when I was in the Royal Navy and we were on exercise in the Brecon Beacons. I wondered what it would be like to be running for your life through such inhospitable terrain from someone who wants to do you a serious injury.

Later on I saw some disturbing footage of Nazi guards disposing of people with special needs and I felt tremendous sympathy for their families. How would I react if I was in that position and Germany invaded the UK? Where would |I take my child? Being Irish I felt it would be natural to gravitate to Ireland, which was neutral during WW2.

Of course once I started writing the story it took on a life of its own. Characters reacted in ways I never intended. People who were created as decent characters turned into monsters half way through a chapter, even a sentence. It was exciting and disturbing all at the same time, and I enjoyed every moment of writing it.

My favourite character is Danny O’Shea – vulnerable, naïve, basically honest but thrown into a situation that he has to face into or go under. I see a lot of myself in him. Not sure who could play him in a film – someone who was sensitive – Aidan Turner, perhaps.The theme tune would be Running up the Hillby Kate Bush, all thudding drums and loud pulsing music.

One concern I did have about the story was making Cerys and Bethan Frost direct descendants of the famous John Frost, a treasured character in Welsh history. They started out as beautiful, kind and loving girls but they got corrupted by both love and promised riches. But so far I haven’t had any negative feedback on that aspect, although some people thought the sudden sex and brutal violence should have been flagged up in the blurb.

5 – Which Welsh person would you like to invite to dinner and what would you serve?

John Frost. I would love to know what makes a man stand out from the crowd and put himself in harm’s way while pursuing a principal. What did he think about the justice system at the time, and people who were steeped in religion but oozing hypocrisy from every pore? And I would serve Welsh lamb, carrots and new potatoes with Welsh Ale from a keg.

6 – What’s the best thing about Wales?

Its similarity to Ireland. Parts of West Wales are so like the places where I ran as a lad in Kerry. Listening to Owen Money every Saturday makes me laugh. The warmth he displays fascinates me – I could be listening to Kerry Radio. And of course my wife …

7 – What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished re-editing my thriller called Gallows Field.  This one is set in Tralee during WW2. A crowded pub. The music is loud. The singing is louder. Joe McCarthy is shot dead. And no one sees a thing.

8 – How did you find the experience of self-publishing?

To be honest I always hoped my work would be snapped up by a main stream publisher who would take responsibility for the sales and advertising. But the reality is totally different. Most publishers now demand that the author does as much self-promotion as possible while imposing restrictions on pricing. I love the writing aspect of it all, but I’m not comfortable pushing for sales and reviews. There are companies who will promote your work for you but it cost more than you’ll ever make in sales. But if you want people to read your stuff you have to put it out there so the world will notice it.

9 – What’s your advice to new writers?

If you are a budding writer, or just thinking about trying your hand at writing, remember to have fun with it. Be aware that very few writers make it to the top of the tree – those that do will tell you that it involves a copious amount of self-publications and a shed full of luck. And of course a good story too.

Yes, take your craft seriously – it’s a God given talent and it’s your duty to share it with the world – but enjoy it too. Just don’t get so immersed in it that you lose track of the people you really care about, the ones you’re proud to show it to first. (And listen to them, as well, even if what they’re saying isn’t what you want to hear!)

And keep working at it, even if it’s just 100 words every day, because every time you write something, you’re fine-tuning your skills.

10 – What are you currently reading?

Val McDermid Wire in the Blood. In paperback.

11 – What’s your favourite book?

So many it would be hard to whittle it down to just one. The Wind in the Willows had the most magical effect on me – I lived in that story and still get the feeling whenever I sit on a riverbank. I also remember running home from school to listen to Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe being read on the radio. In my teens I was hooked on Mickey Spillane and Zane Grey, but now I have to say Val McDermid is my all-time favourite. Followed closely by Ann Cleeves and Andy McNab.

…thanks once more, Brendan… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

2 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…my pal, Tony McManus, ponders Amazon’s ‘killing the golden goose’ policy on Author reviews…

…the following superb piece from my Author friend, Tony McManus, mirrors what so many of us in the self-publishing community feel right now:

A LOW BLOW FROM AMAZON

I have mixed emotions regarding Amazon. On the one hand, and I guess like most indie authors, I am grateful for the opportunity Amazon has given me to become a self-published independent author of thrillers. On the other hand, they do things that puzzle, baffle and annoy me.

Writing a book, a novel, fashioning a work of fiction, and doing it well, is not easy. Even for ‘natural’ writers, highly gifted and driven writers pursuing destiny, it’s hard work. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable. A writer on a roll, writing well, enjoys a ‘high’ like nothing else on earth. Like a ride to the moon, it can be the most satisfying thing he’s ever done. He gets to feel good about things.

But then, after completion, he has to sell his book. This is the hardest part.

In order to sell their books, indie writers need to build ‘platforms’ in the form of websites, blogs, and newsletters; all time-consuming chores. It helps to be something of a huckster, a showman. Being shy and reclusive is a drawback. But more than anything else they need reviews. Readers’ reviews are essential, the lifeblood of the enterprise. Good reviews drive sales. Without reviews, a book lies ignored, beached in the shallows. The problem is, reviews are not easy to come by. Only a small percentage of readers are prepared to write them. So, writers are faced with the task of cajoling readers into making the effort. At the end of my latest novel, in the hope of a response, I left a little note:

‘Note to the reader

I hope you enjoyed A Bangkok Interlude. If it’s no trouble, a short, honest review would be greatly appreciated. ‘ 

Getting reviews can be really tough; it’s a hard road to tread. And now, thanks to Big Brother Amazon, it just got a lot harder.

An Australian lady recently purchased and downloaded a copy of my novel, A Bangkok Interlude. She thought it was, ‘Awesome’ and said so on Facebook. She then wrote a review reflecting her enthusiastic opinion. Amazon rejected her review and directed her to their ‘Community Guidelines’. She went there and found that in order to publish a review she had to have spent AU$50 minimum; I imagine that is per year. I have discovered that this rule applies in every ‘Amazon Community’; in Britain, (Amazon.co.uk) for example, one must spend 50 pounds sterling in order to place reviews. The same holds for all the ‘Amazon Communities’.

It wasn’t always this way. Once it was easy and straightforward. You bought a book on Kindle and, if you had a mind to, you wrote a review. It made sense. Not anymore.

I’ve concluded that this financial threshold is the latest salvo in Amazon’s War on Fake Reviews.

Amazon has been waging this war since around 2012. And in so doing they’ve deleted vast numbers of reviews, many of them genuine and not in the least fraudulent. It appears that many innocent writers and reviewers are being cut down, ‘friendly fire’ casualties of Amazon’s unfeeling robots.

Authors are forbidden from holding the slightest relationship with a reviewer. So if a writer develops a group of fans, those fans could be banned from writing reviews, as a fan club could be deemed a relationship by Amazon’s bots. Punishments can include banishment. For life. And there is no appeal. I’m told the entire Kindle store is run by robots and AI. Things are getting more than a little scary. And it appears that the war is largely a failure as the real scammers are getting through.

This latest move, placing a minimum of purchases, will, no doubt, have its effect. But reviewers who get their reviews rejected, like the Australian reader, will be put off from writing reviews; once bitten, twice shy.

At school, I was taught that it was a far, far better thing that a guilty man escapes justice than an innocent man suffers punishment. I feel that Amazon should take note. Far better that a few fraudulent reviews get through than so many genuine and honest reviews get deleted.

Honest reviews benefit Amazon as well as the authors. What a pity they can’t seem to see that.

…thanks, Tony… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

24 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff