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CoverYou can also download 55% of the ebook for free as a sample, or buy the whole thing for $4.99.

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New books (3) The Untime

I am far from being bored by producing Sherlock Holmes stories, but like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I sometimes feel that it is time for a change. Sir Arthur produced several different genres, including science fiction (the Professor Challenger series). Well, not to be outdone, I am also moving into that realm.

But instead of producing a science fiction story set in the future, I’ve chosen to set it in the past, where I am happiest. I seem to be at home in the 19th century, and so The Untime is set in Paris in the 1890s.

Here’s the description of the book:

The Untime; a mysterious and dangerous state, beyond our powers of conception.

In the Paris of the 1890s, Jules Gauthier, a young journalist, enters the Untime with its discoverer, Professor Lamartine. What they find there could be the end of our Universe as we know it.

When Lamartine disappears mysteriously, Gauthier, together with Lamartine’s daughter, Jeanette, and Lamartine’s rival, Professor Schneider, must brave the terrors of the Untime, journeying through time and space.”

For more about the Untime, including a preview of the introduction and the first chapter, click here, or click the book cover. There is also a form where you can join a mailing list which will inform you when The Untime is about to hit the shelves (either at the end of 2014 or early in 2015) and put you on the list allowing you to pre-order a copy.

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New books (2) – The Last Notes (Sherlock Holmes)

LastNotesCoverThree more adventures of Sherlock Holmes:

  • The Russian Bear deals with “old Abrahams” and involves Holmes with the Okhrana operating in London, and how Holmes develops an interest in the ballet
  • If you remember, Holmes lost his left canine in the waiting-room at Charing-cross. The Hand of Glory explains how this came about.
  • And a short story – The Disappearing Spoon (non-Canonical, but actually based on a true story).

Now available for pre-order from Inknbeans Press.

So this is the end… but only of this box of notes. There will almost certainly be other boxes to be discovered. Watson mentioned them, and we have no reason to believe that he was not telling us the truth. However, the next box may contain stories of a rather different nature.

New books (1) – Sherlock Ferret compilation volume

AdventuresFront.jpgAndy Boerger and I have now produced a hardcover edition of the Sherlock Ferret adventures. The World’s Cutest Detective appears in:

  • The Missing Necklace
  • The Multiplying Masterpieces
  • The Poisoned Pond

all in one volume, with a bonus story of Vinnie the Visitor added. All with Andy Boerger’s wonderful pictures.

Hardcover, so really suitable for schools, libraries, or to fill a stocking with.

Pre-order the book now from Inknbeans. $25 including shipping anywhere in the world.

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I am a prophet (and I don’t know it)

InknBeansATSE_SWcover.jpgI scare myself sometimes. I am currently reading Dark Pools about Algos (trading algorithms). At the time I was writing At the Sharpe End, including my fictional account of an algorithm to predict currency movements, based on pattern recognition, and aided by a DSP (digital signal processing) array, these things were actually being deployed. However, my fictional Algo was one step (or rather three minutes) ahead of the competition, in that it didn’t just react to events – it predicted them. Couple that with the original ending involving an earthquake and a nuclear accident, and my book starts to look very prophetic indeed.

Couple these with the under-the-hood look at life in Japan for a foreign resident, some fun characters, and a pretty good plot (though I say it myself) and I think this thing should be a best-seller. Why isn’t it, I ask myself? Check out the book (the paperback is well worth it) at B&N or Amazon.

August 16 – a date for your diaries

Event: Sherlock Holmes – Talk and discussion

Date: Saturday, August 16

Time: 2pm – 4pm

Place: Society Club, Soho, London (site and map, etc. here)

Admission: free

Thanks to my friend Ashwin Rattan, chief editor and most other things at Searching Finance, with whom I have worked for a number of years, I have been invited to talk at the Society Club, a place that advertises itself as “The best of all possible things”:

The Society Club is a bookshop and members club for the literary inclined

The blurb for this is:

Hugh Ashton is a British-born writer who has lived in Japan for over a quarter of a century. He has been described as ‘the reincarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’ for his bestselling Sherlock Holmes adventures, approved by the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. and published by Inknbeans Press of California.

He will be talking about the pains and pleasures of recreating 19th century London from a distance of 120 years and several thousand miles, and what it means to be a writer whose readers typically live on the other side of the world. The floor will then be open for questions and discussion.

Space is limited to 25-30 people at most. First come, first served.

This is something I am looking forward to sharing with other Sherlockians and writers, and with luck, we can all learn from each other about these things.

So… if you’re in London and you have nothing better to do, come along and join in a discussion on re-creating Sherlock Holmes – and I would appreciate it if you would let me know, either by signing up on the Facebook page or send a message to me.

Look forward to seeing you there.

It’s bubble time?

Warning: cynicism alert!!!file1601303090808.png

So, Amazon has missed its target (surprise, surprise) and its stock price has gone down by 10%, as investors realise that the Emperor really may not have any clothes. In other words, Jeff Bezos really doesn’t know what he is doing on a macro scale. Oh, sure, he may have some good ideas, but he also has some real clunkers. Want numbers? Here’s numbers:

The world’s largest online retailer yesterday reported a second-quarter loss of $126 million, more than double what was predicted, even as sales climbed 23 percent to $19.3 billion. Expenses jumped 24 percent to $19.4 billion.

And you know what the crazy part about investing in Amazon is? Want more numbers? You can’t have them. No-one knows what’s going on in there, because they never tell us.

Key portions of its business are absent from its financial reports, including Kindle sales, membership figures for the $99-a-year Prime program, and the profit it collects from its main online store.

(all this comes from Bloomberg)

Is this really a value investment when we have no idea what’s going on inside the company? In fact, even though the shares are falling, maybe this would be a good time to short Amazon:

…there’s little sign sizable profits are coming and Amazon issued a forecast yesterday for a wider loss in the third quarter.

Oh, goody. And you can’t blame it on market conditions. A major competitor of Amazon’s is turning a profit. Yes, Jeff, that’s one of those funny situations where you actually take in more money than you spend:

Amazon’s lack of profits stands in stark contrast to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has better margins and is planning an initial public offering soon. The Chinese Web retailer disclosed in a prospectus in May that its profit totaled $2.8 billion for the nine months ended Dec. 31 on revenue of $6.5 billion. Amazon earned $274 million for all of 2013 on sales of $74.5 billion.

The difference between “visionary” and “fucking lunatic” is sometimes hard to see. But after this amount of time, it should now be possible to see that Amazon is not really “visionary”. Mind you, it’s not just Amazon where “investors” (the fancy name for gamblers with other people’s money) seem to have a blind spot:

Forty-seven percent of financial professionals view the equity market as close to unsustainable levels, while 14 percent already see a bubble, according to a quarterly poll of 562 investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers.

And if that depresses you, take comfort from the fact that at least a few people are getting rich out of selling… nothing, really:

Bloomberg’s Adam Johnson reports that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saw his wealth increase by $1.6 billion on the company’s surging stock price.

The free market in action.

Entitlement – the 21st century sin?

This is something that has been gnawing at me for some time – the prevalent idea that the world, society, God, whatever, owes you whatever you think you are owed. It seems to be creeping in more and more to all kinds of areas, but I see it in writing, because that’s where I am right now.

A couple of examples.

The writer of the books on which the Game of Thrones series, George RR Martin, has been pestered by fans who want him to finish his series. And they’ve done it in a way that shows they feel entitled to his books, rudely asking him if he was going to do it before he dies.

His reply, as reported, was even more offensive, involving the word “fuck” and a middle finger waved in the face of the interviewer.

“I find that question pretty offensive, frankly, when people start speculating about my death and my health, so fuck you to those people.”

Whatever his private thoughts on the matter, surely as a public figure with a public that is responsible for your livelihood, you are not entitled to go around insulting your customers in public (because that ultimately, is who your readers are). Even his his spin doctor realised that this was a mistake and somehow tried to make it sound as though “those people” referred only to the interviewer. You are not entitled in this case to go around saying what you may think in private. At least his PR person understands this, even if there are several people defending his “entitlement” to arrogance and rudeness.

My second example comes from self-publishing (something which I have done in the past, and an area which I know can lead to self-delusion) and was triggered by a rather pathetic Facebook post from someone who writes for self-therapy, but can’t stand the negative reviews that her writing receives. I have two answers for her: don’t put your work out in public; and learn to write better. But no, she seemed to think that everyone should love her work (”my babies”), because she writes for herself and it is doing her good. And she was supported by her friends – “do what you do”, “screw the haters”, etc. I feel sorry for her – stuck in her world where she feels she is owed sympathy, and praise, and recognition, regardless of how much or how little talent she actually possesses.

She’s not the only one. I see this all over the place. Kickstarter, though it definitely has its uses, has far too many campaigns that seem to say “I’m wonderful, and I deserve money and fame and fortune (though I am not really willing to do the work that an Elon Musk would do to make an idea succeed)”.

Or am I too harsh? I just seem to see far too much of this kind of thing around me (and I really want to avoid the same fault in my own life).