Friday, 23 November 2012

Edison Blue

Yesterday I mentioned the glacial progress of Elsie Smith Vampyre Hunter.
Well, the book I wrote after Elsie Smith, titled Edison Blue, is out. Or nearly out. It’s certainly in the pipeline. You will be able to get it on Amazon, both as a real, solid book made out of bits of paper stuck together, or on your Kindle. (Link.)
The print version is thanks to CreateSpace, who offer one of the cheapest ways to make a “real” book available. This is because they charge you nothing until you buy a proof copy. You can purchase a bunch of services from them, but you don’t have to if you’re willing to persevere with formatting your MS and getting a cover from somewhere.

How Edison Blue came about:
About three years ago, my children and I brainstormed ideas for a book, my intention being to use every single darn thing we came up with. We brainstormed: a kid who turns blue, time travel, robots, magic, a smartphone, a dragon, musketeers, aliens, goblins, paladins, mind control, Armageddon, and school.
(Incidentally, I failed to fit everything on the list into the book. The dragon got written out of the final version of the ending. He was there in a draft, but he just didn’t fit, so he had to go. Maybe in the sequel…)

Here is the blurb:
It’s the End of the World as we know it.
Edison Hawthorne is about to be vaporised in a hail of reality-fracturing missiles launched by a mysterious alien known only as The Entity.
Edison’s one chance of survival lies in a large, hi-tech egg built by his mother, an inventor.
The egg does its job. Edison survives the destruction of his city. But when he wakes up, the world has gone insane.
Humanity has been bombed back to the Stone Age.
People are unaware of the concept of chocolate.
Edison is as blue as a peacock.
And his phone thinks it is as human as he is, and no longer wants to be his slave…

Kindle version cover (for which thanks for assistance go to Adrian):

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Publishing on the Kindle – 2

Astute as you are, Dear Reader, you will have noted a considerable hiatus between my entry “Publishing on Kindle – first steps” and any other Kindle-related activity.
The Grand Hiatus was actually composed of a series of Lesser Hiatuses.
First, no sooner had I congratulated myself on formatting Elsie Smith for the Kindle, but I realised that I was lacking a vital ingredient of even a Kindle book: a front cover. Yes, unlike a physical book, when you’re reading a kindle version, you can’t see the cover. But you still need a cover to go on the Kindle Store.
Art is not my forte. At photography I am mediocre. Photography it was then! But what to photograph? At length I settled on a dead hand, displaying a ring which features in the storyline. Having so decided, I needed to find and buy a ring resembling the ring in the story – which took some time.
Then it was time for the photograph. Several sessions followed (I’m grateful to my daughter for supplying the hand), but a “perfect” hand shot never emerged. Either the hand didn’t look dead, or it looked dead but the ring was not displayed to good effect. (On one occasion neither I nor my model had noticed that the ring was UPSIDE DOWN.)
Eventually I settled on making a cover from scratch, but that’s another story.
Hiatus number 2 was the title. Elsie Smith Vampyre Hunter had been Elsie Smith Vampyre Hunter since I first conceived of it and started making notes (2008). However, over the last year several external factors have been trying their best to push me away from that title.
The first of these was the film “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.” I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw the trailer for this at the cinema. By all accounts it is rather different in tone to Elsie Smith. (I haven’t seen it.) The second of these was the book “Anita Blake Vampire Hunter,” which my wife spotted in our local department store. Luckily this too (a series apparently) is also quite different in tone to Elsie Smith. (I haven’t read any of them.)
Well, Vampire Hunter appeared to be taken – so what else might I call the book? Several brainstorming sessions followed, which led to my daughter and I compiling a longlist of more than 30 possible titles or title fragments. Some of these revolved around times of day or the near extermination of humanity, or vampyres themselves and their characters.
Times of Day That are Dark are certainly well used on the Kindle Store. Here are the results of a search I did one morning:
Time of Day
Hits in Kindle Store (16.x.2012)
After Dark
Till Dawn
The Gloaming

Even “The Gloaming” has 6 hits! Times of day were clearly out.
I eventually decided to stick with Elsie Smith Vampyre Hunter for now. However, maybe I should change “Vampyre” to the standard form “Vampire”? If you search the Kindle store for “Vampire” you get 12,182 hits (as at 16.x.2012), but search for “Vampyre” and you only get 122 hits. Maybe people don’t search for “Vampyre”? Maybe I should change to “Vampire”, albeit to appear as item 12,183 in the Kindle Store? In the event I have decided to stick with “Vampyre.” We’ll see how it goes. My ham-fisted attempt at a cover:

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Buzz Words of Doom

WUWT has a graph showing the use of "correlation" and "causation" in Google Books from 1800 on. I did a similar search in Google Scholar back in February (don't remember exactly why...). I searched for "global warming" and "anthropogenic climate change", adding "acid rain" afterwards. Here's how often those phrases were used from the 1980s on.

Looks like "global warming" is not as popular a phrase as it used to be. Now, if you do something similar in Google Books, you get this:

(The quality of these snips is not great, but you get the drift. Note also that I've added "ozone layer" to the second graph. The Google Books graph ends in 2008, whereas that for Scholar ends in 2011.)
Acid rain hasn't really gone away, despite peaking in Google Scholar in the early 80s. But if you look at the articles that get thrown up, you see that their geographical coverage is different - they are now focused in places like China, for example.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Why you can't upgrade if you're vegetarian

As told to me by a pal who recently flew out of Heathrow with a famous national carrier... arrived nice and early to make sure upgrades were available... here's what happened (paraphrased by YT):

"Would you be interested in upgrading to business class?"

"Yeah, why not...?"

"Brilliant. Give me a moment while I just sort that out for you..."


" says here that you've booked a vegetarian meal..."

"Naturally, being a vegetarian means one generally does book a vegetarian meal."

"I'm sorry, but you won't be able to upgrade."


"I'm sorry. There is a space for you..."

"Then what's the problem?"

"It's just that if we upgrade you to business class, someone in standard class will be forced to have the vegetarian meal you pre-booked. Sorry about that. Enjoy your flight. Next!"

"What about if I just have the standard class meal?"

"Can't be done, Sir. The meals in business and standard are served by different staff from different galleys. Have a nice day."

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Monday, 23 April 2012

Does cold kill in the 21st century?

The reason I ask is that when I was clearing out old bills, I found this in the corner of a bill dated November 2000:

The thought occurred to me that global warming might save lives.

We know that heat waves kill. We might guess that cold weather kills also – but how do the two factors balance out? If under global warming we have milder winters, would the lives saved balance out the extra deaths due to hotter summers?
This graph is rather cool. I didn’t draw it myself. Can’t find the data, or I would.
Figure 2 from Brown et al, Exploratory analysis of seasonal mortality in England and Wales, 1998 to 2007, Health Statistics Quarterly 48, Winter 2010. (Available here)
At first sight, it appears that cold kills more than hot. There is evidence of a slight increase in mortality above about 25°C, and a larger increase below about 13°C. There is a lot of scatter for the highest values (above 2000 deaths/day) – more people dying in generally cold times, but apparently independently of the temperature within that range. We might surmise that this is more to do with general winter ailments like flu rather than people freezing to death.

Data here

There has been a general decline in excess winter mortality (definition: numbers dying in December to March in excess of numbers dying in April-July and August-November). In the same period there has been a smidgeon of an increase in average central England temperatures in the four winter months (actually c.1.3°C over the 61 years). The point is, there’s a lot more going on than temperature in the winter. There’s home insulation, and social and health care, all of which may contribute saving lives to different degrees.
If you plot excess deaths against the winter temperature, you get a fairly diffuse relationship (the slope is significant, just barely, but we must be careful not to assign causality too readily - the rise in winter temperatures over the last 60 years might have a small part to play in this compared to health and social care, insulation and clean air).