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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - December 2010Holly
Welcome to Hackwriters and Seasons Greetings to all our readers
23rd December 2010

Heathrow UK finally returning to normal after a bit of snow. Hundreds of thousands of people cursing Heathrow Airport that didn't keep it's runways clear of snow or have enough de-icer for the planes. Cursing the lack of salt on grit on the roads, the 25% of trains that no longer run to (improve the timetable) and the impending strikes on the rails to put final nail in coffin.
Seeing the mile long very patient queue to get onto the Eurostar Trains to escape London is just plain remarkable. The Salvation Army saved a lot of lives I should think serving hot drinks to them in -3C temps or colder. Eurostar queue

And we haven't even got to the best part when families come together to shout and scream at each other and vow never to spend another Christmas together. Little chance of that.

I have bought a very fat book to read. The First part of Mark Twain's Autobiography so I can hide away until it's all over.

If you are heading anywhere - good luck. If staying home congrats and stay warm. Fight with gloves on.

For those in the southern hemisphere enjoying the sun and Christmas at the beach- we're not jealous at all - much. Happy days. You have the sales to look forward to, of course.
*And since Swine Flu is back and quickly gahering pace, you might want to order my novel Another Place to Die at 10% off. You'll never ignore a cold again.

16 Dec 2010 Ebooks growing in demand worldwide says Hachette:
For Hachette UK, ebooks are the biggest source of their digital revenue.  With 5,000 ebooks currently available; by 2012 they expect to have 15,000 titles available, accounting over 10% of relevant sales.   Hachette is already achieving over 22% of all ebook sales outperforming their market leading 15.5% share in print books.

Authors (and that includes me) will have to up their game. Books will no long be a mere matter of words on the page but like DVDs readers will demand research notes, pictures, background, author info and even YouTube linked interviews. The ebook, instead of becoming the 'cheap' option will instead become the 'added value' option and Hachette are training their staff to cope but now they need to get on with training their writers in both non-fiction and fiction so the e- revolution continues with them in control rather than following.

As I have said before the advent of the iPad and other platforms will kill print much faster than anyone thinks and we need to be ready for that.
Already thanks to Flipboard you can assemble the magazine you want with the content you need and or generate and this eventually signals the end of print magazines. You can believe its end of the world as you know it, or someone will find a way to monatise it. In the end though it's all about convenience and where food went, so will the word...

Now if you are looking for an alternative to Turkey this Christmas - check out
Modern Thai Food. I am about to eat one of Oi's curries right now.
It's December.  Europe is already in the grip of a freezing cold winter and there’s the worry of southern European nations going under financially. Will the heating gas hold out? WIll Spain go under owing something like 250 billion Euros? And who will they drag down with them?   Everyone in Europe is thinking, even if they don’t articulate it, that the Euro is doomed and could last just three more years.  No one wants to think about what might replace it and how each nation will return to their own currencies or repay the huge debts they will face if and when that happens. Meanwhile as James Campion points out in our Lifestyle and Comment section the USA is planning to extend Tax Cuts. The exact opposite of what is happening in Europe. Wonder who will be right come 2012? If I remember correctly the world is due to end then anyway. Lucky us.

Recently they passed the vote in the UK parliament re raising students fees from £3200 a year to a maximum of £9000. Around 50,000 students protested and you will have seen on the news some breakaway anarchists attacked Prince Charles on his way to the theatre.
(Actually they should be protesting in Scotland where students go for free and they charge the English taxpayers for the privilege). I've written elsewhere on this in Hacks but it was passed by a majority of 21 and a lot of bright students currently in high school will be urgently looking at campus' in Holland, Canada, USA, Australia and South Africa. It will end up cheaper, they'll gain an international perspective and a better education. The whole Higher Education monolith has over-expanded in the UK and it is time it was reshaped around quality of teaching rather than the quite often highly dubious research that goes on in many sub-standard education establishments.

We have just survived freezing temperatures, extreme snow and ice to face and remarkably, after the terrible time the UK had last winter with the snow, once again we are caught out with blocked roads, abandoned vehicles, hypothermia, salt in the wrong places, trains not running.  Every year we are totally surprised by winter and every year we say we’ll never let it happen again and yet…

Written during the earlier snowfall:
It’s the little things that affect us most.   For instance.  Is there something about modern shoes that prevent one from walking on icy pavements?  I have a pair of Clark’s leather shoes that won’t grip at all.  Even my Caterpillar boots slip and slide on the ice.  I distinctly remember being more surefooted in footwear when I was younger.  Is it the synthetic soles that can’t cope with ice and snow?   I’ll have to buy something that will keep me upright as soon as I can get to the shops, damnit. I used to drive my old rust bucket cars in deep snow all over the place with no trouble (Goodyear S800 tyres) but my current Japanese tyres can’t get me around the block in winter weather. Must be the wrong kind of snow. Last night the back of my house gutters froze, the water couldn't drain and then the snow began to melt extremely quickly, the weight of which ripped the heavy duty plastic gutters from the walls. The noise was so great I thought the house was under attack! Funny how the old metal gutters on the front from 1901 when this house was built are absolutely fine. We shall have to live without gutters until normal service resumes. Need a small time machine to go find the original builders and bring them back with all their skills. (Hell even minimum wage would seem like a fortune to them.)

Snow But first I have to dig my car out of the two foot of snow covering it that fell the other night. Then dig out the space behind it to even get it onto the road that as ever hasn't been bulldozed or salted. I made an effort to go to shops on foot at 8.15am to get some bread and milk and everything was already sold out. Funny how the English are so sluggish at most things but one flake of snow and they clear out the shops instantly.

Triumphant red nosed old ladies with laden shopping bags walking knee deep in snow pass me going the other way. I came home with some forlorn looking crumpets that will go out of date tomorrow. My friend Kit almost ended up sleeping under her desk on Friday as there were virtually no trains home from work. Cape Town seems a good place to be right now. (28c)

Hackwriters is coming the end of its eleventh year.  This month we have articles about South Korea, Casablanca, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Latvia, South America, Brooklyn, the list goes on.  What this tells me is that everyone wants to get away and no one wants to write about the here and now.  We all know here sucks, (wherever you happen to be actually) so we want to travel to get away from it.  Whether that involves teaching English abroad or just wanderlust, it doesn’t matter.  Now it the time to go.  When we do write about Europe, we anticipate the dismantling of countries.  James Skinner writes about Spain on the verge of monumental change.   I have friends in Belgium who think it too must separate next year and will be at the IMF begging bowl before then.  There are few places that are happy and content.  I note too a survey by the Georgia Straight a newspaper in Vancouver that says only 20% of the population there think their city is run well.  I have news for the people of Vancouver.  You live in a paradise of well-run perfection compared to London or Paris or Madrid.  You should all get out more. Get a grip.

We all think where we are could be better run.  We all wish economies would revive in Europe or the USA so we can get back to being loyal consumers and polluters, but secretly fear it may not.  Meanwhile we can plot exotic visits to far-flung places that seem so much better than where we live.  It never is by the by.  It’s human nature to complain – the one universal thing we are all pretty good at.

Find a warm spot – stay there.  My advice for December.

© Sam North December 23rd 2010

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Editor –

Many thanks to all those who have contributed to this December edition from all over the world. Many thanks too to those who have bought my books recently (Discounts now available via Lulu). Another Place to Die has passed the 2900 figure now and that cheers me up. I will be discontinuing this title in January as I am in the process of selling a new version of it to a mainstream publisher. Now if I could get Mean Tide or Diamonds to sell as well, I'd be really happy. It really does help keep Hackswriters going. Take care out there.  Get writing.

You probably need cheering up now but the Swine Flu Threat is not over. As of 18th Ocober 2010 there has been an outbreak in Indonesia. Of 170 cases confirmed 141 have been fatal. (WHO figures) Worldwide more than 214 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 18,398 deaths (WHO figures) since it began with recent outbreaks in Eygpt. WHO have said the threat is now extremly low, but it remains to be seen what changes will occur and how long it will remain at this level. Download my book Another Place to Die if you want to be ready for when the next flu pandemic really does take off in the future. *Many thanks to those who have ordered my book recently. Thanks too to those who spread the word on it. I really appreciate that.) Often being a writer, especially for one whose books are only mostly available on-line it is very isolating, but now I know it is selling every month it really feels as though the two years writing it were worth it.
Mean Tide by Sam North *Buy now and get 25% off
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic awakening'

Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'

His father has disappeared, his mother is sick. Oliver, recovering from chemo, is sent to live with his psychic Grandma by the river in Greenwich. Oliver quickly discovers he is living with a world of strange people. When he finds a dog with its throat cut on the riverside, everything changes. Oliver wants to find the people who did this terrible thing. (Young Adult Mystery)

The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North
*Buy now and get 25% off
ISBN: 13: 978-1-4116-3748-1
302 pages - Lulu Press USA
'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday Express
Buy from your favourite on-line retailer

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Barnes and Noble
& Waterstones
Book also available from The Nineveh Gallery, 11 The Pallant Havant, PO9 1BE. UK  and to order from Blackwells in Portsmouth

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