Monthly Archives: December 2012

More guns? Get real, NRA!

DSCF0122Normal service is resumed. This blog, rudely interrupted by crazed folk shouting in panic that the end of the world was upon us, took to its silo but has now emerged, ashamed that it ran scared in the face of something as harmless as a mere apocalpyse.
And to what has it emerged? Something far scarier – the National Rifle Association, no less. A couple of years ago, in an earlier draft of The Girl with the Haunting Smile, I said there were only three things I didn’t like about America. One of them was the gun laws. I’ve forgotten the other two, which proves what a big fan of the US I am.

But even I didn’t believe this great country could produce such a nut as Wayne LaPierre, one of the NRA’s top dogs, whose response to the Sandy Hook massacre of young kids and teachers was that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. The only way? Really? How about stopping the bad guy from having a gun in the first place?

If LaPierre’s vomit-inducing statement is the “meaningful contribution” the NRA promised after Sandy Hook, God help us all. Yet we shouldn’t really be surprised. LaPierre is a lobbyist by trade and the NRA is known for its fearsome lobbying activities on Capitol Hill. The ready availability of guns will be curtailed over its dead body (a consummation devoutly to be wished).

What gives the NRA such influence is the antiquated Second Amendment to the Constitution, which states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. This reference to militia and free state make it clear what the lawmakers of the era had in mind. They were making provision for a citizens’ army, not issuing a license to kill to deranged individuals. But the Second Amendment still stands and is a formidable barrier to gun law reform. Until, miraculously, it is scrapped or reworked, the awful events of Sandy Hook will be repeated and LaPierre, who called for armed guards to be put in place at every US school, will be able to say sanctimoniously, “I warned you, didn’t I?”

We Brits also had a dreadful school massacre (Dunblane in 1996) but at least it was followed by a vigorous public debate and two Firearms Acts which made it illegal to possess handguns. If we’d had an NRA, we’d still be debating.


Reviews? How do I get them?

DSCF0122The launch of The Girl with the Haunting Smile has been and gone and family, friends and other generous folk got me off to a good start. I’ve promised myself I won’t check again on sales data till a month has passed and I’ll stick to that, however loopy it may seem.

In the days after the launch, I got a tad uptight (see my last blog) about my small number of retweets from folk I’ve enthusiastically supported in the last six months with mentions and retweets. This has partially sorted itself out but I remain a teeny-weeny bit upset that some of those with whom I’ve linked most closely have offered no support. Okay, it’s easy to miss a tweet but not all the ones I’ve sent!

My next priority is to get reviews (one so far). This matters because, when you have ten, Amazon slots your book into key lists like “also bought” and the chances of readers finding it are much greater. In addition, many book websites won’t promote a novel until it has 10, 20 or even 25 good reviews on Amazon, so I have a long way to go!

The problem is that many professional book reviewers are in such demand that they’ve closed their lists. Others deal only with genres that don’t apply to The Girl with the Haunting Smile e.g. crime, paranormal. My next step is to identify some available reviewers and send them cajoling letters. Wish me luck. Even better, if you have any ideas on how best to get reviews, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ve booked my first (modest) ad. It’s for the New Release Alert feature on Digital Book Today and it will appear at some point in January. Let the good times roll.