Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Mystery Of The Property Developer

A business deal might go bad, and leave a person deep in debt.

There could be a bit of criminal mischief done in an attempt to make a big score, but things don't work out as planned and there you are, facing jail time and all the humliation that follows.

There are countless reasons for a successful man to go on the run, whether he is attempting to escape creditors or a mistress or his personal demons.

No one knows why Kevin McGeever went missing in June.

By all accounts, he prospered as a developer in Dubai, opening up shop when the government allowed non-natives to own land. He founded KMM International, based in Dubai, but like so many other Irish land ventures, it did not last.

Whether or not the firm was completely legitimate is surely going to figure in to the ongoing saga of Kevin Michael McGeever.

After not being seen nor heard for eight months, Mr. McGeever was found on the side of the road in Lietrim. He was more than disheveled, and not a little disoriented. A large plastic bag covered his clothes, and he was without shoes.

To add to the bizarre scene, he had with him a torch and a mobile phone.

By all accounts, he was dumped out of a van by some unknown persons, abandoned like some unwanted dog. He was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, and was promptly taken to a nearby hospital.

Gardai plan to inverview him, as you'd expect, but they are waiting until Mr. McGeever is restored to some semblance of health.

Only then will some questions be answered, while much speculation swirls.

Was he kidnapped by some oil-rich Arab sheikh, distressed over investments gone bad? Was the IRA involved, and did it have anything to do with that huge bank robbery in Belfast several years ago, in which not all the money was ever recovered?

Or was Mr. McGreever a victim of his own excess, creating a false scenario as he fled from creditors or the failure of his enterprise? A link to drugs?

There's the makings of a fine little thriller in there for someone looking for an intriguing plot. And don't worry about getting too far off the rails as you flesh out the bones of the story. The truth may very well turn out to be stranger than the fiction that you as a writer might create.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Multi-Billion Dollar Category

Investors have been lapping up Amazon stock since the Internet behemoth released an earnings report that largely failed to meet expectations.

So why didn't the stock drop, as one would expect?

Conventional wisdom is failing when it comes to the yet unknown aspects of Internet marketing.

CEO and founder Jeff Bezos laid it all out for investors, and what he had to say was enough to charm those who hold large quantities of Amazon stock, and those who think it would be wise of them to follow suit.

Physical book sales declined over the past year, according to Mr. Bezos, but that does not worry him at all.

Digital publishing, he said, is a multi-billion (yest, with a "b") dollar category for Amazon.

Digital sales are up and climbing.

Where once people waited for the paperback version of a new book to be released, so that they could afford to buy, people now turn to the cheaper version of today. The e-book.

Amazon owns its own digital publishing firm. Twenty-three of the authors who publish via the Kindle Direct program sold over 250,000 copies of their books.

Those are books that will not yield a payday for a single major publisher. All the profit goes to Amazon, and the author gets a small encomium for their troubles.

There are no deals to be worked out in regards to the percentage the author gets. It's take it or leave it. If you want your book to appear on Amazon, the largest online book seller, you have to accept their terms.

It's a business model that investors like, because the firm in which they own stock holds all the trump cards.

And authors don't have much of a choice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Write A Story About This

Over four hundred years ago, someone residing in Carrick-on-Suir in Tipperary bundled up a cache of gold coins and buried them beneath the floorboards.

The value of the money was considerable at the time. Eighty-one gold coins, guineas and half-guineas, was not a sum to be had by the average person of the time.

Yet who would bury that much cash under a public house?

And why?

Clearly, whoever it was never came back for them.

Modern-day builders working on the pub, said to be one of the oldest in the town, uncovered the coins that appeared to have been stacked and then wrapped in some material that rotted away over time.

The coins date from the 1630's into the early 1700's, a span of time in which the Catholics were being severely penalized by a Protestant government. The first of the Penal Laws came into effect in that time period. Catholics, the vast majority of Ireland's population, were barred from voting, owning a gun, or availing themselves of a Catholic education. Catholics could not leave their land to their oldest son, if they had any land, but had to divide it amongs all their sons equally.

It was an era of ever increasing oppression, so do you think whoever buried the coins was trying to get around the law and protect what little they had?

But where did the owner go, to never return and reclaim the gold?

The coins are now the property of the Irish State, as they are considered archeological artifacts that might be put on display at a national museum.

The story, however, is yours to create.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Agency Moves, Or, No Unpublished Authors Need Apply

ICM and Andrew Wylie were wed but the union did not produce universal love and solidarity, if the latest rumblings in the agenting world are any indication.

Jeff Berg, ICM chairman, has started up his own agency, and he's taking a few of his ICM colleagues with him.

Ari Emanuel did the same thing when he bolted along with a few other mates from ICM and founded the Endeavor agency, which they then merged with the old William Morris agency to form a serious threat to ICM's position of power.

You'd have to guess that if Mr. Berg were happy with the direction ICM is going that he would have stuck around to do battle against the likes of Ari Emanuel, who is so well known in Hollywood that he had an entire HBO television series based on his antics.

Instead, Mr. Berg and his as yet unnamed band will form a new agency, to be called Resolution.

Not as catchy as "Endeavor" but still succinct and to the point. Sounds a bit too much like vows made on New Year's Eve in a drunken stupor, but the name isn't all that important. It's the names of the agents under that banner that matter.

The plan is to set up twenty-five agents in Los Angeles and another ten in Nashville (don't let anyone tell you that country music isn't hot). Those agents will all be established, with a roster of clients that they will bring to Resolution.

Which means talent will be leaving ICM and whatever other agencies lose agents to Mr. Berg.

Clearly, Resolution won't be in need of talent that hasn't been proven. If you're looking for an agent and you don't have a string of blockbuster books trailing in your wake, don't bother applying. If you are so fortunate, well, they'd be calling you, wouldn't they?

Where you'll want to search is lower down the food chain, as those up high who lose talent seek to siphon off the next level of talent from other agencies, who in turn look to replace what they have lost.

At some point, you'll find agents who are willing to take a chance because they need authors bringing in royalties to fill the slots of those authors who were lured to other agencies seeking to replace those who followed their agent elsewhere.

Agency moves can open up more doors for writers who are struggling for admittance. It's just a question of watching the next set of developments and figuring out where to take your manuscript.

Easier said than done, of course.

You still have to be telling the right story at the right time at the right place. The odds might shift ever so slightly, with the disturbance in the force that will be Resolution. But they're still very much not in your favor.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Not What Was Intended By "Storage"

Art museums have more pieces than they can exhibit at any one time, and when a museum has to be refurbished, that only adds to the need for storage.

Storage normally means that the works are put someplace safe, kept under lock and key until such time as they can be returned to the museum.

Killarney House
In Ireland, as far as works owned by the State are concerned, storage has come to mean somewhat the same thing, but without the lock and key or security business.

If not for an alert perusor of an auction catalog, no one would have known that the portraits of the first Earl of Kenmare and the second Lady Kenmare were being offered for sale when they were supposed to be in storage.

The paintings once hung in Killarney House, once the seat of the Earl of Kenmare but now owned by the Irish State. It's being turned into a museum and tourist attraction, which means that the artwork on the walls had to be removed until the work was done.

Then the portraits were to be hung back in place, but instead someone lifted them and sold them on to a London auction house. The paintings ended up at Adam's in Dublin, listed at a value of between Eu20,000 - Eu30,000.

Not that the thief got anywhere near that much, but further information won't be forthcoming until the gardai complete their investigation.

Oh, yes, and then those in charge of maintaining the storage end of the State's collection will have to complete their inventory, so the guards can see what else might have gone missing while no one thought to ensure that "storage" came with "security".

The government is skint, but could someone scratch up a few euro and buy a new lock for the door of the storage unit? It will more than pay for itself in the long run.

Agents Who Publish So Other Agents Don't Have To

The ethical question of literary agents acting as publishers has been simmering for some time, ever since a few brave souls stepped into the role of e-book publisher for their clients.

For ages, the mantra has held that an agent has a conflict of interest if said agent can also publish the manuscript being shopped. Where is the incentive, goes the reasoning, to hustle and push and cajole and wheedle some publisher when the agent has the ability to do it...and reap more of the rewards.

With so many options available today for an author to produce an e-book, from Smashwords to Kindle Direct, the agents could also warm themselves with those ethical standards and watch their clients do all the work and reap all the rewards, with not a crumb for the agent.

So for all the literary agents who feel squeamish about stepping over a boundary that has long been in place, Trident Media Group offers a service that can keep hands clean and ethics intact.

Trident Media has erected a little boundary of its own, in that the firm has made its new e-book enterprise a separate entity under its media group umbrella.

They will begin with the backlist from the John Campbell Agency. They intend to offer the service to their own clients as well.

It used to be that writers hunting for legitimate literary agents were told to watch out for those who asked for money up front, or those who had a conflict of interest because they also were publishers.

The culling process will become more complex, as writers will have to determine if the agent they're querying is genuinely trying to sell manuscripts to the big publishers, but with those big publishers merging and realizing synergies, who can say but that guideline could fall by the wayside.

Will there come a time when it will be commonplace for literary agents to also act as publishers, competing against the likes of the Random Penguin House and HarperCollins?

Is the future in publishing the creation of hundreds of small publishing houses, in which authors can submit directly without an agent, because the agent is the publisher? Or will the bigger agencies, like Trident Media, join the ranks as junior members of the Big Six publishers?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is It Better Late Than Never?

The query was sent so long ago that I had forgotten all about it.

It's a good thing that the agents of Einstein Thompson Agency include the original query in the response or I wouldn't have known what manuscript they had rejected.

At the moment, they are closed to queries as they try to catch up with a backlog of submissions.

And a serious backlog it must be. I sent the query last summer, which sure seems like a very, very long time ago.

Of course I had tagged the query as a no response means no submission, added my stat to the Querytracker listing, and moved on. If an agent hasn't asked for pages after a few days, you start to figure they aren't ever going to ask and there isn't any point in waiting.

No hard feelings about the non-response either. Agents are busy people. Many of them have discovered that they can read the hook line, decide if it's worth continuing, and then either ask for the manuscript or move on to the next query in the inbox. Creating an e-mail response, even a standard rejection letter that goes to all, takes time. For many agents, that's time they need to take care of existing clients.

Yet there are Susanna Einstein and Meg Thompson, plowing through months of queries in search of a hidden gem, making an effort to get back to the writers even though it's bad news.

Is it worth it?

It's an indication of how they do business, with this decision to not leave a writer without an answer. They made that extra effort, albeit months after the fact, but they did it. And it's an example of good manners in a fast-paced time, when stopping to be polite is becoming rare.

I didn't need the response. I pretty much knew what it was, way back when. But still, it's nice to know that someone took the time to write back.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Definition Of Fiction

People don't read as much as they once did. That would explain why some members of the general public are unclear on the concept of fiction versus how-to manual when it comes to their choice of reading material.

Steven Lock is such a confused individual.

His other half is equally clueless.

The courts will now attempt to clarify the definition of fiction for them.

Mr. Lock and his unnamed lover mistakenly thought that E.L. James' novel was an instructional guide, rather than accept it for the make-believe that it is.

In this Internet-driven world, the online bookshops don't have shelves and sections to guide the purchaser. If the couple had gone into Eason's, for example, they would have found the book in the "Fiction" section, along with other works of non-reality. They might have gotten a clue that way.

But to the surprise (and extensive bruising) of a woman unnamed, they did not.

Mr. Lock is facing assault charges in an Ipswich courtroom, making for a phenomenally embarrassing period of his life.

It's all come out: the chaining, the whipping, the goings-on in his home on Plover Road.

It doesn't take a novelist to imagine the twittering and gossiping passing over fences and down the street, through the queues in the shops, and at his place of employment. The man will have to take up an assumed name and move far from Ipswich once this is over.

According to Mr. Lock the master, his slave agreed to having her genitalia tattooed with his name, and she was all for being chained to the floor of his bedroom. Agreed to be whipped as well, for disobedience.

However, as he pointed out during testimony, she was a willing participant and they used Fifty Shades of Grey as their instruction guide. No one was injured in the novel, now, were they? So how was he to know that the thing wasn't a true account, something to provide guidance to the bondage rookies?

They followed the rules. They had their code word to indicate when the kinky sex play crossed the line.

Unfortunate that the slave was so shocked by the intensity of the pain that she could do no more than scream and cry. There's nothing in the book about that, you see. The manual lacked an appendix for those finding themselves outside the novel's text.

Twelve jurors must now decide if Mr. Lock is to be found guilty of assault, or sent home to suffer the pain and anguish of public censure.

What are the chances that the ten men will find him innocent, and lucky to have lived out a sex fantasy even if it ended badly, while the two women will be holding out for life behind bars?

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Penguin House

The poor penguin.

The future isn't looking so bright as it might have thought when it acquired that house from the Germans.

Penguin's owner Pearson announced its projected earnings for the upcoming year and those earnings are down. So far down that the stock has taken a hit as investors heed the warning and clear out.

It's nothing new, actually.

Educational publishing, Pearson's heart, has been in decline for some time. School systems still don't have a lot of money to throw around on new textbooks, new technology, or new anything. It's all local districts can do to pay the salaries and keep the roof from leaking. Which means Pearson doesn't get that boost to the bottom line that stockholders so love to see.

Until the Penguin-Random House merger produces results of some sort, the lack of confidence will continue.

Will enough synergies be realized to cut costs while retaining profits? Will the merger be the income producer as advertised, or will it be another example of over-reaching in the Barry O'Callaghan mode?

We've all heard that markets hate uncertainty, and there's plenty of uncertainty to go around at Random Penguin House these days.

But not to worry, if you hold stock for the long term.

At year's end, Penguin may well meet or exceed those lowered expectations, and buyers will flock (not that penguins can fly, but surely they flock, don't they?) to snap up the stock of a well-run company.

Unless the penguin doesn't fit well into the house.

But that's a story for another day.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meeting The Competition

To much hoopla and twittering, Penguin introduced Book Country.

The publisher was looking over its shoulder and saw Amazon rushing forward, planning to overtake the traditional firm and sweep up all sorts of digital revenues.

To meet the competition, Penguin created its own area where writers could self-publish their books and find a distributor, and one with an impressive name.

Take that, Amazon.

The writers had to pay for the privilege, however. A list of services and expenses came with the ability to get a manuscript into a digital form and then into the catalogue. The writers, as you'd expect, did a bit of complaining about the fees.

Would they recoup their expenses, as opposed to going on the cheap at Amazon's Kindle Direct Program? Did the Penguin name have as much value as suggested?

Pearson heard the patter of self-publishing feet as well, but rather than build new, they purchased Author Solutions. Penguin took note of this additional oncoming competition, and has now expanded Book Country.

Now you can create your e-book for free if you become a member of the Book Country community. In addition, the royalty rates are higher, to attract those authors who might have considered Author Solutions. And finally, the types of books that Book Country will allow has expanded to bring in those who were not writers of science fiction and fantasy.

There is one other place where a writer can go, and that is Smashwords.

It's completely free, but you have to do all the work yourself. And you don't have that Penguin cachet to use in promoting your work.

For an author looking for a way to get into the market, there are several choices and numerous options. Little wonder that publishers are unsure which way the market is going and where they should invest.

Digital publishing is part of the future of books, but that future is still just over the horizon, not yet clear. And all the competition is racing towards it, hoping to be on the right path.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What A French Woman Wants

Everything in France is about seduction, from selling perfume to conducting business to closing a deal.

Frenchmen take pride in their ability to seduce. Not only to seduce a woman, but to seduce a potential client and thereby close a key business deal.

So of course they think they understand women and what women want. After all, how else would a man succeed in bringing her to his bed if he did not possess some inside knowledge?

Quelle surprise, non? It turns out they are blind.

And when a trashy piece of mommy porn hits Parisian bookstores, it does not lie about to gather dust because the heroine is utterly unlike the typical French heroine of classic erotic literature.

For all their style and fashion sense, French women are not blessed with equality. They are not liberated like their American sisters, who do not have to tolerate the sort of sexual harassment that we equate with the 1950's. Their erotic novels do not feature strong women who are taking charge of their sexuality, of being the dominant force in a relationship.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is selling like Berthillon glacees in France, and that after the men in-the-know all insisted that French women would never buy such Anglo-Saxon drivel. Too Puritanical, too much morality with love inserted into the relationship. French women don't want that, they said. But as it turns out, they do.

Perhaps it is correct to say that French women are snapping up the erotic trilogy because they want to be entertained with a fairy tale.
Those wise men have forgotten that Cinderella is a classic French fairy tale, one in which the female protagonist defies her stepmother and goes to the ball anyway, meets the prince, and then dares to come forward when he searches for her.

No shrinking violet there, but a woman taking charge.

And therein lies the appeal of a trilogy that is at its heart more classic of a fairy tale than the stories concocted by the Marquis de Sade.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do You Answer The Call To The Post?

Did you listen to the bugler in the video and feel an urge to run, as fast as the wind, for about a mile and a quarter or thereabouts?

Perhaps you were recently in Ireland to attend The Gathering, and you left with a hankering to nibble on Kentucky blue grass. You were thinking it was the country itself that infected you, what with the Irish love of horses and racing.

Do you look at yourself and the mirror and think that you're hung like a racehorse since your trip abroad?

Think back and ask yourself if, at some point, you wearied of the New Irish cuisine and settled for a simple hamburger. Was that meat patty on the lean side, tasting like beef but not exactly like beef? 

Did you ascribe the taste difference to the fact that you weren't dining at home but in another country where the cows grow differently and their meat has a unique flavor?

More likely you were savoring the remnants of what was last out of the gate at Leopardstown.

The Food Safety Authority in Ireland discovered some equine DNA in beef products imported from the Netherlands and Spain recently.

The beef was used to make burger patties, so if you tried some Irish salami, not to worry. You won't be attracted to leather bridles or find that you've developed a pony bondage fetish.

We're being told that the contamination is all a pure accident. Those foreign meat processors grind up all sorts of creatures and there's no surprise to find the rare scrap of horse left in the machinery which then ends up in your hamburger.

Except that some of the meat sampled was 1/3 horse, 2/3 beef per patty. That's quite a large accident.

Although it would make the patty exceptionally lean.

Just ask the French. They are connoisseurs of horse meat.

Are those oats that you're eating there?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent

With the upcoming release of THE KING OF THE IRISH, the staff of Newcastlewest Books wish to present author and guest blogger Jack O'Malley.

If you have lived in Chicago for any length of time, you know that the city's politicians are crooked and corrupt. But not everyone appreciates the longevity of that state, that the corruption and political shenanigans predate the arrival of Richard J. Daley on the scene.

THE KING OF THE IRISH will take you back to the time when police officers were hired based on their connections to significant power brokers, where a man got a job if he knew someone.

Often, those same men were hired based on their ability to get out the vote for their clout's party, and representatives of the opposition would do all they could to undermine the other side. Back in 1889, where the novel opens, there were two parties in Chicago, each one battling for supremacy.

Look back a few years in Chicago and you'll see the "Hired Truck Scandal" reported in the local newspapers. It was just another example of corruption and greed, with friends of the Mayor (Richard M., son of Richard J.) siphoning money out of the public trough.

And who took the fall? Who went to jail? The middle management, if you will. The protective layer that did the bidding of the untouchables, the men who performed the dirty work. The men who didn't want Nobody nobody sent because only your clout could send you and he was never a Nobody.

In Chicago in 1889, so too did the high and mighty have a protective layer below them, loyal followers who owed those leaders their jobs and their livelihoods. Chicago police detective Daniel Coughlin was one of those trusted lieutenants in a patronage army, and when his clout's opponents sought to topple power-broker Alexander Sullivan, they targeted Daniel Coughlin.

THE KING OF THE IRISH is a fictional telling of what was called the crime of the century at the time. It is told from Daniel Coughlin's point of view, the version that never made it to the pages of the newspapers in a time of yellow journalism and virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic sentiments.

It is the story of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, and how he endures when the odds are stacked against him and his very life depends on the same corrupt political system that landed him on Murderer's Row.

Watch this blog for news on free book giveaways coming in early March.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Because Publishing Is Just Another Business

Books, the written word, would seem to be works of art.

A novel can make you angry over the fictional injustice. It can make you cry over the sorrows of fictional people.

But in the end, the process of taking those lovely words from the author's pen to your eyes is nothing more than an ordinary business.

You have only to read Linda Zecher's piece in the New York Times to understand this.

Today, she is the head of HMH, the publishing entity that remained after Barry O'Callaghan took his little Riverdeep publishing concern and swallowed up a few big whales like Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt, which went on to collapse under a pile of debt.

Ms. Zecher is a smart woman, but she was never a literary agent or an acquisitions editor. She did not arise from the educational publishing department at Pearson and then move through the industry as she climbed the ranks.

She started her work life as a scientist.

Like so many executives, she bounced around and climbed the corporate ladder, touching down for a time in software-related industries. Not a single blockbuster textbook to her credit in all that.

Publishing requires selling of product to succeed. Like any other business, the executives are crunching sales numbers in their corner offices, and it makes no difference if the product is textbooks or software or reams of paper. Profit and loss is profit and loss.

So when your literary agent submits your beautifully crafted novel to a publisher and it's rejected, keep in mind that your artistry is not coming into question.

It is whether or not the executives believe there is a market for your product, if they can make a profit from its sale.

Publishing is just another business.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Way With Words But Not With Money

Few writers make a decent living from their words alone.

Patricia Cornwell is one noted exception to that rule.

She has earned a tidy fortune from her wildly popular series of crime novels, featuring protagonist Kay Scarpetta solving mysteries with a medical bent.

Her talent for writing has not translated into a talent for managing her income and investments. Her talent for writing has not been honed into an instinct to trust everyone, but always cut the cards.

Ms. Cornwell is suing the firm she hired to handle her fortune, claiming that Anchin, Block and Anchin churned her and burned her to the tune of over $100 million.

For their part, Anchin et al. claim that Ms. Cornwell was so demanding that she drove up her hourly billing and so she brought on the added expensive. They did what they were hired to do, but sadly the economy tanked and the author was not alone in losing big.

The author states in her complaint that she was shocked to learn that Anchin, Block and Anchin had invested her money in risky ventures when she wanted to act conservatively.

Conservative is subjective, like a reader's dislike or enjoyment of a particular novel. Fund managers and those whose money is being manipulated may not see eye to eye on the meaning of the word.

Sadly, Ms. Cornwell failed to examine the books until after the downturn, whereupon she found some strange dealings that would indicate Anchin's managing partner, Evan Snapper, helped himself to some of the author's funds without informing her.

Like writing a check to his own daughter as a bat mitzvah gift from Patrician Cornwell, a $5000 gift when tradition dictates that monetary tokens be $18 or a sum divisible by the same.

Mr. Snapper is going to blame the economic downturn, and the fact that Ms. Cornwell failed to look over his shoulder.

She could have examined the books any time, but she trusted someone to not be tempted by vast sums of money. That's the problem with having someone else do things for you. If it goes wrong, the courts will dump a large share of the blame on you, for not cutting the cards when you sat down with the dealer to gamble on the financial markets.

In the end, it will be up to a court in Boston to decide how much of the fault lies with her and how much with the bean counters. Ms. Cornwell may not come away with all that she lost, but she will come away with a better understanding of the limits of trust and the meaning of risk-taking in a world outside of fiction.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Four More Weeks

The new year has only just begun and already we're being told to wait four more months for a report that was promised for the end of 2012.

Will it really happen this time? Will the women who slaved for the nuns in the Magdalene laundries finally see the results of a government investigation into the abusive system that the State did nothing to end?

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is waiting for Mr. Martin McAleese to bring him the final report, due in ten days time. He will then review it before releasing it to the public four weeks later.

Review it? Why would that be necessary?
Good Shepherd Convent & Magdalene Laundry, Cork, after a recent fire

The women who were victims of an inhuman system fear that Mr. Shatter might be planning to scrub away the State's involvement in the incarceration of women for no other crime than that their parish priest judged them too pretty and therefore a temptation to men.

Will Mr. Shatter be able to admit that when one of the unfortunates ran away, the gardai brought her back? He would if he could prove that such action did not constitute "State involvement".

State involvement, you see, sets up a legal case for those who were slaves to sue for just compensation. The interest on those back wages alone would be a phenomenal sum, and the nuns have all cried poor. So it would fall on the government, which just happens to be skint.

Unmarried pregnant women were locked up in the laundries, which operated into the 1980's. Their children were taken from them and put up for adoption, not because the women chose that route, but because it was forced on them by a religious institution that ran roughshod over the Irish people.

While the truth has come out in recent years, as the Catholic Church has lost its influence in Ireland, the cost of the Magdalene laundries has yet to be met.

The report that Mr. Shatter delivers next month will resonate, but if you want the plain truth, you have only to listen to the words of the women who were locked away with no hope, whose lives were destroyed.

They are getting older by the day. They are slowly dying off. Will one of them live to see a penny in compensation for her suffering?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Harkening Back To The Good Old Days

Once upon a time, Ireland was entirely in British hands and weren't those grand times?

The Catholics were kept in their places, far at the back of the line, and the Union Jack flew over every public building, to remind all citizens of their Britishness.

What has the peace process brought but more power for the Catholics, who aren't behaving like proper underlings?

What's to be done to reverse this nightmarish tide?

 Where is today's Edward Carson, to rally his troops to combat the threats of Rome Rule?

There's precious little sympathy for the loyalists up in Belfast, rioting every night because the Catholic majority running Belfast decreed that the Union Jack would no longer fly over City Hall 24/7. It's only for special occasions, they've said.

How about making the Irish in the Republic feel the pain?

Gardai are bracing for a planned protest in Dublin, in which disgruntled Protestants from Belfast will ask the government to not fly the Tricolor over public buildings.

Not exactly an Edward Carson moment, like when he brought in guns while the British government turned a blind eye, so that he could arm his Ulster Volunteers in case Home Rule became law. Back then, the Crown did all it could to keep the republicans from gaining access to arms. Wouldn't want a repeat of the debacle in those other colonies, the ones that became the United States of America...where all the people gave themselves the right to be fully armed, to form militias to keep their government on its toes.

What the authorities in Dublin expect from this fool's errand is rioting, much like that which was seen during a "Love Ulster" gathering in 2006.

No surprise that republicans plan a counter-demonstration, with all the threats for violence and mayhem that comes from a conflict that has been simmering for centuries. The peace accords only papered over the cracks, after all, without mending them.

Time is doing some of that mending. As Northern Ireland's economy continues to sink and its younger generation leaves for more opportunities, the Catholic population climbs and threatens to outpace the Protestants.

It's the plan the republicans have held for a long, long time.

The loyalists are rioting in Belfast, to protest the inevitable, but in the end, all the rioting in the world won't change the trend.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Software Changes

Our new website has gone live, so you'll want to click over.

Don't forget to come back.

It wasn't our intention to change the website so much that it had to be completely redone. Blame it on the software.

The original program that was used to create the site is no longer supported. That means there's no editing that can be done.

Well of course the website needed editing, what with our new book coming out and we want to trumpet the grand occasion.

There will be free books given away and opportunities for you to request one of those free copies, but that requires editing of the website to announce.

In time, or should I say, when I get a bit of time, I hope to create a better website from scratch, one that features our book covers in a more artistic way.

But for now, we have something up so you can find us and maybe send a little note asking if you could have a copy of THE KING OF THE IRISH before anyone else gets it.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Dealing With The Estate Of A Literary Agent

Famed literary agent Wendy Weil passed away recently, leaving behind a functioning agency with employees and clients who mourned her loss but also had to consider their future.

What becomes of an agency that is active, after the owner is gone?

Employees Emma Patterson and Emily Forland remained at their posts, to wind down agency business. As with any going concern, there were royalties to be collected and paid, along with the myriad other bills that come from normal operations.

More importantly were the clients who had lost a good friend and the person who represented their work to the publishers. No responsible agent would simply abandon the stable of writers, and it was up to the remaining agents to sort things out.

Once their work was done, Ms. Patterson and Ms. Forland sought a new home. They were not willing to take over the agency on their own, for any number of reasons. It is possible that they did not have the financial backing to purchase the firm outright, and they may not have the desire to run their own agency. Instead, they moved to Brandt & Hochman, planning to bring their clients with them.

The agency has now been sold to Paul Bresnick, but what exactly has he taken over from the Weil estate?

He is contacting Ms. Weil's clients, to introduce and sell himself, but there is no guarantee that the people who were comfortable with Ms. Weil will feel the same about Mr. Bresnick.

As the new man in the office, Mr. Bresnick is gambling on the loyalty of Ms. Weil's authors to her agency. He is taking a risk, one that may or may not pay off.

That's what owning a business is all about. You take your money, invest it, and if you're right, you succeed. If you're wrong, you're out the money.

If you do it right, you won't expand your way into alienating your old clients by not giving them enough attention as you look to charm the clients you acquired. If you do it wrong, you could lose everything that you've built up over the years.

Little wonder, then, that the ladies of the Wendy Weil agency chose not to take such risks. If you don't enough of a financial cushion to fall back on, the downside of such a deal could be devastating.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Free Speech And Free Scrap Metal

The economy is poor and so are the Irish people who do not have, and cannot find, work.

Social welfare only goes so far, and when a man is looking around for added income, his eye is likely to fall upon large metal objects.

Metal is increasingly being stolen and sold as scrap by thieves who are roaming the island in search of assets they can liquify. Not that the objects belong to them, but when you're about stealing, possession is an issue easily solved by taking.

Roofing material has gone missing, melted down by a dealer who is clearly not overly concerned with the source. How else would the lead sheeting covering the roof of the bandstand at the National Botanic Gardens go missing without a scrap metal dealer wondering where the lead came from? And calling around to see if anyone had lost a roof?

Now RTE is under attack, but the thieves who target RTE's masts and related infrastructure are also attacking free speech.

Without metal for wiring and towers to bounce signals off of, there go the radio signals that carry the words of RTE and anyone using a mobile phone that depends on the masts being operational.

Sadly, the metal used in the telecommunications industry is not the valuable type, unlike the copper and bronze you'd find in cemeteries or old roofs.

Thieves are breaking in and causing damage, thinking they've scored and their local pub owner will be the beneficiary of the added income, but all they've done is knock out a tower and infringed on the rights of the Irish people to chat on their mobile.

Gardai are investigating and the Minister of Justice has heard the complaints of RTE. The rights of the people to talk are under fire here.

A special metals theft unit will be formed to crack down on the illegal scrap metal business. A booming economy with plenty of jobs would do more to solve the problem, but that is not so easily accomplished by a special unit of An Garda Siochana.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Creative Writer, Creative Bomb Maker

Morgan Gliedman studied creative writing at the Art Institute of Chicago, an educational institution that doesn't admit just anyone.

She must have shown a flair with words.

Now she's shown a flair with terrorism.

Ms. Gliedman and her baby daddy were arrested after the New York City police raided her flat as part of a credit card theft investigation and came away with explosives and bomb-making materiel.

There's no telling where her vivid imagination would have taken her in creative mayhem if the police had not happened upon the cache of weapons and enough dangerous chemicals to warrant an evacuation of the premises.

She hails from well-to-do stock, as do so many revolutionaries who never had to scrape to get by, and therefore had plenty of time to contemplate Marxist philosophy and the great unfairness of life.

Friends say she's just another drug addict, hooked on heroin, with plenty of family money to fuel her habit...and keep her away so that she doesn't embarrass that family.

What has the police particularly interested in the case is the fact that the baby daddy, Aaron Greene, is a card-carrying member of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He may be the Timothy McVeigh of the ultra-far left, given the arsenal that was found.

Ms. Gliedman's attorney is blaming Mr. Greene for the whole thing, but his arguments have been put on hold.

Not only is Ms. Gliedman a creative writer and junkie, she also is a new mother. Shortly after her arrest, she went into labor and her court date has been pushed forward.

A stint behind bars may be of benefit, what with the lack of readily available heroin to maintain her addiction.

And whether or not it's all Mr. Greene's fault, there is still the little problem of her failure to report the dangerous weapons to the police in a timely manner. Aiding and abetting is a bit of a crime in itself, although chances are, she won't see hard time while the New York foster care system takes charge of her newborn infant.

Offspring of prominent New York City doctors and realtors are represented by high-powered attorneys who charge more than the oppressed masses can hope to afford. Carefully crafted argument will see Ms. Gliedman in an expensive rehab center somewhere, while her significant other does a stint in a private mental hospital for a round of rehabra-cadabra.

The rich are different than you and me, aren't they? They rail about the gross unfairness of the capitalist system, but when they get themselves into trouble, they don't cry about the unfairness of the penal system that is fueled by the ability to buy one's way out of it.