I did a Giveaway promotion last weekend for my first Historical Fiction. The Quarry Bank Runaways was then listed as #1 USA and #2 UK on Amazon European Historical Fiction downloads! 😁 So I hope may see a positive response in future sales? Click on the screenshot for links to book page.
ANTS IN SPACE
OK, so it took a long while to come back with news about my kids sci-fi book! But a lot of "life" got in the way in between then and now. After a few changes and edits etc the finished product is FABULOUS!
The link to Amazon is above where there is a paperback and an ebook, aimed at children 8 to 10 who want an adventure in space - on another planet and with some very funny moments along the way. Oh, yes, and they have to be as small as ants and speak an alien language in a squeaky little voice! (So do the adults who want to read it with them!)
See you on ANTANESTA!
G J Griffiths
False News Flash! (A Blast from the Past)
This is a re-arrangement of an amusing false news flash that circulated around various school teacher common rooms about 20 years ago:
A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square and a calculator.
At a morning press conference the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement.
He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of Maths instruction. “Al-gebra is a problem for us,” said the Attorney General. “They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like ‘x’ and ‘y’ and refer to themselves as ‘unknowns’. But we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with co-ordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, ‘There are three sides to every triangle.’”
When asked to comment on the arrest, President Crump said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of Maths instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.”
White House aides told the gathered reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President.
WOW Blog – Primary and Secondary Sources of History
We were looking at the gable end of one of the rows of cottages when I asked the group of children visiting from a primary school, “Can anyone see something different about the end of that building?”
I was leading the group on an educational tour around Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire and we had reached the small village on the estate which had once supplied workers for the cotton mill. The group were in Year 6, averaging about 10 or 11 years of age, and had been quite excited when going around the mill itself earlier, nervously watching the various noisy spinning and weaving machines in action. Now we were outside on a dull and overcast day and I was attempting to extend their experience of things around the village before their visit to the Apprentice House after lunch.
“It’s very old,” ventured a dark-haired girl dressed in character, wearing a white apron and a white mop cap like most of the other girls. The boys wore flat caps and waistcoats, much as you’d imagine finding Oliver Twist would appear if he’d accompanied them.
“That’s because it’s been there nearly two hundred years and it was once a farm building back then. Now that’s a big clue,” I replied.
Blank faces all around. I glanced at their teacher who smiled back at me, raised her eyebrows then said, “Remember what we were saying earlier, Year 6, about primary and secondary sources of information in History?”
Some of the children looked more intently at the brickwork while others had lost interest and were either staring up at a very large old oak tree or kicking at the grit and pebbles on the path.
“The bricks go up in a curved shape around the edges of the wall,” said another girl.
“It’s like an arch,” added a boy.
“Good, well done,” I said. “So what sort of building do you think it could have been before people lived in it as a cottage?”
More blank faces, so I added, “If it was on a farm before it was converted to be a row of cottages?”
“Was it a barn?” asked the first girl, the one with long dark hair.
“That’s right and the arched shape was the entrance, where the barn door had been. It was bricked up when Mr Greg the owner needed to offer houses to the workers in the cotton mill.”
There were murmurs of “Oh, yeah” from the children and I asked them, “So, what do you think? Is this a primary or a secondary source?”
Later on, when were on our way back to the room in the mill where they would sit and have lunch, I chatted to their teacher. She had said that the children in her class did not have to know such detail as primary and secondary sources but she thought that it prepared them a bit more for History taught in high school the following year. I found that interesting since I could not recall being taught about sources in my own History lessons when at school several decades ago. In fact the way we were taught was extremely boring and seemed to be mainly about learning the dates of battles and treaties. We did that from a book or more often by listening to the teacher sat at his desk droning on and on. To me it felt like a punishment. There was no hint of personal discovery or research about sources of information, through play acting of characters or group discussion.
“Why do you think it’s so important at this younger age?” I asked the primary teacher.
“Firstly, because History was my main subject at college before I became a teacher,” she admitted a little sheepishly. “And secondly, because it can often be so interesting – even fascinating - to find out some of the information and facts behind characters and events from History and so on.”
I had to agree and when I think about when I started taking children and adults around Quarry Bank Mill a few years ago, admittedly, somewhat apprehensively as a retired science teacher I remember it was discovering lots of details, facts and figures about the Greg family, their mill and their cotton workers that inspired me to discover more. To begin with of course I needed to get some details clear in my head so that I could pass on the correct information to the visitors. But very soon I was reading up about the Industrial Revolution and trying relate that to the various novels I’d read and enjoyed by authors like Dickens, Gaskell and Eliot. Learning more and more about workhouse children, “indentured” as cotton apprentices during those times, sometimes from the age of five, inspired me to write novels about them. Researching primary and secondary sources became essential and, like that primary teacher had said, fascinating for me, even though at times some details were quite upsetting.
Some of the videos I discovered, often quite by accident, were very helpful and a few like those below, mentioned and presented by teachers like Ms Stacy Stout; https://www.youtube.com/missstoutsHistoryclass could maybe be useful to others – students, teachers, and writers, of or about the Industrial Revolution.
Video Title: The Children of the Revolution – Children Who Built Victorian Britain;
Video Title: A Factory Worker in the Industrial Revolution;
Video Title: Industrial Revolution – A Boon to Industry – A Bane to Childhood;
These videos illustrate vividly the kind of thing that I wanted to draw a reader's attention towards in my historical fiction novels.
It may be of interest or helpful to others to include a Summary of what I have found about Primary and Secondary sources:
A distinction between primary and secondary shows the degree to which the author of a piece is removed from the actual event being described. So then the reader of it knows whether the author is either reporting their impressions first hand or is the first to record them after an event i.e. primary. If conveying the experiences and opinions of others is second hand then it is secondary. A primary source provides direct or first-hand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects.
Primary sources are contemporary accounts of an event, written by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question. These original documents are often diaries, letters, memoirs, journals, speeches, manuscripts, interviews and other such unpublished works. They may also include published pieces such as newspaper or magazine articles (as long as they are written soon after the fact and not as historical accounts), photographs, audio or video recordings, research reports in the natural or social sciences, or original literary or theatrical works.
Secondary sources interpret primary sources, and so can be described as at least one step removed from the event or phenomenon under review. Secondary source materials, then, interpret, assign value to, conjecture upon, and draw conclusions about the events reported in primary sources. These are usually in the form of published works such as journal articles or books, but may include radio or television documentaries, or conference proceedings.
We might ask questions such as:
· How does the author know these details (names, dates, times)? Was the author present at the event or soon on the scene?
· Where does this information come from - personal experience, eyewitness accounts, or reports written by others?
· Are the author's conclusions based on a single piece of evidence, or have many sources been taken into account (e.g., diary entries, along with third-party eyewitness accounts, impressions of contemporaries, newspaper accounts)?
Ultimately, all source material of whatever type has to be assessed critically and even the most scrupulous and thorough work is viewed through the eyes of the writer/interpreter. If we are to get at the truth of an event then this must be taken into account because primary and secondary sources form the cornerstones of historical research. A modern-day work of History is essentially a description and interpretation of primary sources, along with commentary of secondary sources. A book from 1877 England would be a primary source about Victorian History. An agricultural building like an 18th century barn converted into cottages or a Methodist church would be a primary source about Georgian History.
Secondary sources are interpretations of History. Think of them as History books such as Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. This is a secondary source because it interprets facts of the past and it is not from the period in question. The book was written in the late eighteenth century, putting it well outside the end of the Roman Empire and making it a secondary source.
I volunteer for a UK heritage trust and for the last two years I was asked to be Father Christmas at the local Museum. The children were mainly 6 months to 3 years old and most parents wanted to photograph their little one with Santa, preferably on his knee. Here are a few things I found humorous - hope you agree?
Question: And what would you like Father Christmas to bring you? Answer: A beard!
Question: ditto – Answer: Blue! – Follow up Question from Santa: Anything blue in particular, like a fire engine, ambulance, teddy bear, train, astroturf? Answer: Yes!
Question from Mummy to very little girl: Have you got a question for Father Christmas? Answer: Does he move? So I stood up to prove I could and – the child burst into tears!
A baby about 6 months old would not sit on Santa’s lap as requested by Mummy and Daddy, so I said, ‘Maybe if Mummy holds the little one and...’ before I was able to finish saying ... ‘and I’ll stand by you while Daddy takes the photo’, Mummy said ‘Good idea!’ and sat on my knee holding the still struggling baby! Daddy took several photos muttering, ‘That’s great! Now smile!’
Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Michio Kaku’s brilliant book is one of those few that make the reader feel sad at the end. This is not because it has a denouement that pulls out the tears for the events that overtake any of the participants but because of the author’s skill of inspirational explanation about such an incredible subject. You just feel as though you want more of this kind of elegant and entertaining exposition. What could be considered to be very dry and difficult areas of physics to make explicable to those with little interest in or knowledge of science are made as compelling and as intriguing as any crime thriller. The main subjects Kaku tackles are cosmology and quantum theory, as well as a fair dose of string theory which is his specialism. But his weaving of philosophy, science history and the many anecdotes surrounding famous names, for example Newton, Einstein, Darwin, Hawking, as well as some less well-known physicists to layperson readers, has produced an extremely comprehensive book about parallel universes that is accessible and fascinating – without as I recall any sign of an equation throughout it!
The “events” of which I spoke earlier are all those, physical, chemical, or biological that have occurred since the so-called Big Bang and Inflation; and those that are still yet to descend upon all planets, galaxies, universes; and include all forms of life and consciousness as the “participants”. When the author moves towards the end of the book on to the subject of the purpose and meanings of life and the universe it is with great sensitivity, even optimism, and his undoubted enthusiasm and awe for the wonders and mysteries of “everything” in this universe also comes through. Many of the subjects are handled with a hint of fun and amusement from Michio Kaku and this often helped to balance my own large lumps of scepticism in some of his discussions. Another great bonus for this particular reader was a better grasp of string theory, which I once despaired of ever achieving. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the destiny of humanity in this or any other world – one that may be just a few millimetres away.
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My poem reached number 2 in the author'sden list of Popular Poems in the Thanksgiving list. CHUFFED!
Remember, remember... Fireworks stunt disaster in third So What! series book! - So What Do I Do? #5 in Amazon top 100 thriller list downloads!
A criminal stunt using fireworks on Guy Fawkes night goes badly wrong, causing painful trauma and heartache for the local community and many of those connected with Birch Green High School!
This is how the third stand-alone book in the So What! series begins. To find out more download So What Do I Do? while it is reduced to $0.99 in US or £0.99 in UK.
This is a thriller of the “How&Why’d they do it?” category and the book stands alone with its intriguing trail of catch-up between the police and the criminals. It's in the "Columbo style" of a mystery where you see the crime committed then watch all of the recriminations unfold around it while detective Shantra pieces clues together and tracks down the felons.
It's a crime that produces a trail of chaos. It’s a winding trail that the reader must try to follow and which two ex-pupils from the school, one a detective and the other his violent quarry, take around Britain only to end at its shocking conclusion.
What can be the connection between the strange faces on the back of the two heads? A Guy Fawkes mask and a sinister threatening tattoo. And how does a black spider monkey figure in the capture of a dangerous criminal? You must read this intriguing novel to find out!
Download today for only 99cUSA or 99pUK!
Short term gain versus long term pain.
In this incredibly important book Naomi Klein encapsulates the real problems that “ordinary people”, OP, have when it comes to correcting the Earth’s run-away climate change through adjusting the way that we choose to live our lives. The politicians and high level governmental administrators are too easily blackmailed and/or persuaded by the threat of decisions made in the boardrooms of giant corporate businesses. When many, if not most, of these companies have economic power much greater than the smaller sovereign countries then arguments about “keeping the lights on” tomorrow in the so-called developed countries are going to carry a lot of weight. So using fossil fuels, from whatever source (oil, coal or gas), is the quicker and simpler solution to making chemical and electrical energy for the numerous gadgets and vehicles that make life easier for the “ordinary folks”; and for chemical and oil industries provides a cheaper, more profitable quick-fix. When arguments about fracking, tar sands, and shale oil are put to governments by those major companies, then the balance between losing at the ballot box with expensive energy (through the development of alternative energy technology) compared to the cheaper quick-fix available (through finding more fossil fuels) is easily tipped towards carbon rich sources. The practical problems about providing energy on the large scale needed seem to be well out of the realm of OP so they have to rely on “them that know about it”. After all OP mainly just want the lights to stay on, the washer to wash, the TV to work and convenient transport. The discussions in Naomi Klein’s book illustrate this well but she is at pains to provide ideas about economic and political pressures that can and have been applied by OP and groups of OP in different parts of the world in order to change things.
Readers discover through the book that many oil companies have “looked into” the development of alternative energy technologies, even invested large amounts of finance and resources into its R and D, but decided to come back to it later – probably much later, when there is no more carbon-rich fossil fuel to be found. It is confirmed over and again in Naomi Klein’s book that the company’s bottom line is still the most important criterion behind a giant corporation’s decisions. If an awkward decision can be shelved for someone else in the distant future to make then of course that is what will happen. It cannot be denied that many of the people running these large organisations are intelligent, well-educated and well informed and will know the risks and the gamble they are taking about the future world that will be left to our (and their!) children and grandchildren. Either they are gambling that a solution to global warming will be found at some time in the future or they don’t believe it exists as threat to life on Earth. It still seems like they are putting their company’s short term gains before the probable “pain”, such as floods, forest fires, hurricanes, drought and disease, that future generations of OP and the more privileged are likely to suffer!
I have seen arguments put by climate change deniers that the Earth’s atmosphere had very much more CO2 in it following the Ordovician period, something of the order of 15 times our present levels. And so, the reasoning goes, “life” has obviously survived for the past 450 million years because here we are – living it and complaining about it! However, it wasn’t until the end of this period of geological time that the first simple land plants, moss-like bryophytes, began to creep from the oceans and rivers onto the land. It was well into the later Silurian then Devonian periods before more upright plants and eventually tree-sized flora began to spread. Only then did the oxygen level, about 15%, in the atmosphere begin to approach the more “normal” level of around 20% we have in modern times. Not until the Carboniferous period around 350 million years ago did extensive forests of trees appear and the number of land animals was still restricted to primitive arthropods, some four limbed fish and later salamander-like amphibians. The plentiful CO2 in the atmosphere was therefore being converted by the rapidly spreading plants to the oxygen needed by the evolving land animals. All of that atmospheric carbon was, and has been since, safely locked away in the plant life. When it eventually became fossilised as coal, oil and “natural gas” it was also safely stored and buried for many millions of years. Oxygen levels were at an all-time high at the end of the Carboniferous period (290 million years ago) and CO2 was still dropping to around 3 times more recent levels. Eventually, many millions of years later a flexible balance between oxygen and CO2 has existed, allowing Earth’s flora and fauna to jog along in reasonable harmony together.
Why then, is it so difficult for some people to understand that, when the Industrial Revolution was born, around 1760, the human species also forged the key to unlocking all of those millions of tons of locked away carbon dioxide (and a few other greenhouse gases, such as methane in the tundra). We have continued for over 250 years to release more and more greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. The result of this, as many teachers of the simplest science show their pupils, and all gardeners and horticulturists know, is that the environment covered by the greenhouse “barrier” gets warmer. We are told that an increase of 2 degrees Celsius is a limit that must not be exceeded in the next decade or so, but it looks very much as though the powers-that-be are still prepared to gamble that a future generation will be able to “put things right”. So they have to answer the question is it worth the risk? The risk to the health and well-being of our future generations, leaving aside the effects on wildlife and the environment. There was similar procrastination about CFCs (fridges) and the ozone layer; and then with sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide (petrol exhaust) and acid rain, but over time there was international agreement to legislate and do something about each threat to the atmosphere, as it would affect humans. There is a risk that our children and grandchildren may not have the resources required at some time in the future to make a suitable skeleton key that will unlock the impending catastrophic padlock which will soon imprison our wonderful planet. It seems to me that gambling on correcting things later for the sake of immediate profit is too big a chance to take.
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Writer of Wrongs - an aspiration!