It's time to wheel out John Baptist's favourite turns of phrase again. (Seriously, if you are offended by profanity then stop here.)
A couple of winters ago I emailed a copy of The Baptist to
a friend's work as a pdf attachment. That email was intercepted and she received an automatically generated message from her
employer's Mail Sweeper programme.
This e-mail has been stopped in Profane Messages.
report was attached to the message with the MIMEsweeper Analysis
results. The report was studied by all and sundry tea-break and the
content engendered a lot of discussion. Irish tea-breaks are an occasion
for great craic. The consensus was The Baptist contained a lot
of action but not enough components to perform it. They discussed the
parts of speech.
The report results are below
and I have to say that, while I didn't intend to write a profane novel,
I can remember exactly each and every page where the offending
The phrase 'arse' was found at location 70126
and so on. I'll just share the count.
arse x 1
balls x 2
bang x 3
bastard x 12 (a dozen, one of them capitalised therefore a pronoun?)
bitch x 6 (half dozen, imperial measure)
bloody x 8 (quaint that bloody should be a profanity in this day and age, and might actually have described murder weapon)
blow job x 1 (shouldn't I have hyphenated the blow-job? That's what I've been doing wrong)
bollocks x 1 (shouldn't there be at least two of those fellas?)
crap x 2 (okay, in UK and Ireland it's an expletive)
x 3 (I do apologise, it's a very vulgar word but, in my defence, it was, or
rather they were, components of dialogue. Vulgar dialogue. Not uncommon in Ireland.)
fag x 5 (means cigarette in UK and Ireland and that was the intention)
fuck x 10 (no argument there and good to see it's gone decimal)
fucker x 4 (nice alliteration and I'm getting an idea for a Christmas song now)
fucking x 21 (more than a score - in fairness, there is a lot of that going on)
penis x 1 (poor little lad, all on his own, but just goes to show it takes only one)
prick x 3 (oh, right ... well)
queer x 1 (surely acceptable as an adjective?)
sex x 7 (the vanilla variety is profane?)
sexy x 2 (sexy too)
shirt-lifter x 1 (at least it's hyphenated, if homophobic, but anyhow it's dialogue)
shit x 11 (one short of the dozen)
shite x 1 (the Irish for above)
slut x 1 (so few?)
wanker x 1 (there's always one)
white trash x 2 (confused, is that profane?).
Right, Christmas is on the horizon. So, in the spirit of the season, I offer:
The Baptist Profane Twelve Days of Christmas
(I'll just go to straight to the last verse)
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve bastards bragging
Eleven shits a fan-hitting
Ten fucks a flying
Nine fucking expletives (cheated, there wasn't nine of anything)
Eight bloody bus stops
Seven sex in the opens
Six bitches barking
Five ... fags ... a ... puffing!
Four fighting fuckers
Three quiet cunts
Two dangly balls
And a slut arse-wanker penis blow-job bollocks.
(That leaves a spare queer sexy shirt-lifter shite white trash, sounds like one of my characters.)
I'm sure we'll be hearing that little ditty on the radio.
All in the name of literary art, my dears.
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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Ruby reviews Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff
Here's another case of the contrary reader. Mrs R's book club chose Once Were Warriors as their book of the month and, despite it being only 198 pages, Mrs R baulked at the serious-looking cover and hesitated to get stuck in. So, rising to the unspoken challenge, I grabbed the paperback and ran off to my kennel with it, growling whenever anyone came near.
This isn't a new release - it was first published in New Zealand in 1990 and was made into a film, apparently - but was a hit at the time. I didn't research the author's background, like I usually do. I just ran headlong into the story. Looking now at the acknowledgements in the front of the book, the author thanks his editor, Richard King, for agreeing to forgo the conventions. He sure did that.
The narrative style is like a stream of consciousness, from varying viewpoints and delivered third person. That editorial flexibility allows extensive use of slang, profanity and grammatical deviations. This is deep third person, a voice that puts the reader on the shoulder of the alternate narrators without having to live inside their heads. And that's a good thing because being on the shoulders of Jake, Beth, Grace and Nig Heke is something that can be difficult to bear at times. No criticism of the writing there, just a nod to the gravity of the story.
Over a quarter of a century has passed since Alan Duff first wrote Once Were Warriors but the curses of the human condition are as real today as they were then, perhaps more so. Duff describes a long-term unemployed, geographically isolated, poorly educated, disenfranchised, underprivileged and alcohol addicted underclass in New Zealand. A once proud warrior race whose sense of identity has faded to become characterized by such icons as rugby players and an opera singer. Unless you've lived a life of complete privilege (as do the Traumbert family in this book), you will recognize the elements of despair: low self-esteem from poor education and exploited minimum wage labour, frustrations taken out on friends, family and acquaintances; job insecurity perpetuated by alcohol-fueled absenteeism; escape offered by substance abuse; bread-line poverty that spirals down into inescapable debt; gang culture that respects mindless violence and destroys family life. Now you really want to read it!
This short novel is an irresistible train wreck of a story. The author speaks from personal experience, being half Maori and half Pakeha. There is a glimmer of hope. Read Once Were Warriors, recognise the frailties of the human race, thank your lucky stars for what you have and see the positive in everyone. I'm not going to describe the plot but all I will say is I don't think Jake did it. It was Dooly.
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Saturday, 26 October 2013
My guest post for this month on Authors Electric deals with Triberr - a great free and effective way to generate traffic for your blog, quality content for your twitter and generally boost your social media platform. Head on over and have a read, but while you're here why not sign up to Ruby's News and select one of my crime fiction / thrillers for free as a welcome gift!
Friday, 27 September 2013
There's now a regular slot for yours truly on the 26th of each month at Authors Electric. Hop on over and find out why this author will never get the Wise Monkey badge.
Saturday, 21 September 2013
I have a lot of ideas about a lot of things. Some good, some bad. When it comes to marketing my books I decided to go through as many channels as possible. Amazon is a no-brainer so all my titles went up there straight away. Then there was Smashwords, acting as a distribution hub for Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony et al. The problem with Smashwords was the reaction time to changes in content, blurb and price. Apple and Kobo opened their doors to independent authors so I was able to put my titles directly on those channels (thanks to neighbour Noel for letting me use his Mac to get the titles up on Apple - they can then be managed via the web platform). Barnes & Noble were open to a direct approach and refreshed their offering with NookPress but it remained closed to authors outside of the US and I'm in Ireland. So I replaced Smashwords with Draft2Digital as my route into B&N giving near real-time sales figures and price control.
But this wasn't enough complexity. I wanted to get my titles into other outlets. XinXii turned out to be a nice little route into german-speaking marketplaces. Then, as part of Marble City Publishing, my titles gained entry to the digital warehouse of UK distributor Gardners, resulting in listings on Hive, Kalahari, Dito, Bokkilden, Blackwell's, Foyle's, txtr and goodness knows where else.
So now my tendrils were out it was time to get into advertising. The Baptist had a nice little outing on Ereader News Today and achieved just under 400 sales at 99c sale price. I was fairly delighted and, after the two day promo period, adjusted back to $3.99 and started to rub my hands at the anticipated follow-on. Sales continued nicely but Amazon didn't re-adjust the price. I started to check my channels. Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Barnes & Noble, who was the culprit? I had entered the full price on all the platforms, everything seemed to be under control, but Amazon were sticking to that 99c. Then I found it. Kobo were taking days to adjust the sales price on their web store, even though the Kobo Writing Life platform looked like it had adjusted immediately. The result? After five days Kobo had adjusted and Amazon were quick to put The Baptist back to $3.99. More than $150 thrown down the toilet through price comparison to the tardy Kobo pricing. Live and learn.