Friday, 14 February 2014

'IF' by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Having Faith... in Faith Itself




Christians can sometimes find faith difficult to sustain. It's easy enough to celebrate your faith when things go well, but what about when they don't? What about when you don't feel you're getting through to God?

As a Christian with a very strong faith, I believe that if things go wrong it's my fault, and if things go right, God has a hand. Some would say that is naive - certainly non-believers would. As a Christian you should know that God is only walking beside you when you are on the right path. But what about when it is difficult to know which path to take?

Just consider this for a moment. Put yourself in the place of a loving father (or mother, if you prefer). Your child has grown to an age where they understand right from wrong and need to make it a bit in the world on their own. You have given them guidance through their formative years, and they are venturing out in the big wide world. Do you believe that giving them advice on what to do at every step is the right way forward? Or do you think it might be better to encourage them to make their own decisions?

Now if God was visible next to you, telling you what to do all the time, would you be leading a life of your own? If he spoke to you so clearly you had 100% certainty he was telling you precisely what to do all the time? At first you might think that would be cool, but would it? How would you develop as a person - as a soul - if you did not have to work out anything for yourself? As a parent you want to see your child making decisions and celebrate when they are right, and your teaching has paid off, or perhaps give them a hint at your displeasure if you see them straying from the right path. That is what God is doing with his children: with all believers. He gives us guidance through the Bible. As believers, his ways are in our hearts.

In Old Testament times God was more proactive. People like Moses knew precisely what he wanted. Today God has stepped back. That does not mean he is aloof. It means he wants to see what you're made of. (Doubting) Thomas didn't believe what he heard from his close friends, the other disciples, about Jesus having appeared to them. He wanted to see for himself before he would believe. When he later saw Jesus, lo-and-behold, he did believe. He only believed when he saw the wounds in the resurrected body of Jesus.  So Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me you believe; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:26-30). John 20 ends by saying that 'by believing you may have life in his name.'

By retaining your faith you signal your belief to God. And when you retain it through difficult times you all the more strongly show it and get God's blessing as a result. God will be there to advise you when your faith is strong, your questions right and not just self-serving, and when you are wanting to walk along his path - although you might have to wait for him to be your guide if he does not think conditions are quite right for the journey. If he is not responding to you, ask yourself whether he is waiting for you to show a bit of initiative - while retaining your faith.

If there was 100% certainty in God there would be no such thing as faith. Everyone would believe in a visible God and do as he directed - mostly out of fear of repercussions if they did not - and you, a believer, would no longer be unique to him. If you are able, think back to the pride you have when your children do well,  make good decisions and set great examples - especially to their own children.

Now that God requires faith as evidence of believe, he knows his sheep: the ones who follow, in faith.     So do believe in Faith itself.

_________________________________

My novel Flying a Kite is entertaining fiction that is aimed at providing insight into faith for Christians who may sometimes wonder how belief in God can be upheld against the findings of modern science. It is also an easy-access read for non-believers, gently leading them to a position where they consider the concept of God and make their own decision as to whether the case presented by its protagonist makes logical sense in the modern world. Please read it. If, as a result, you think it would help others to develop their faith, then please write an Amazon review to attract more readers whom it may also help - and tell your friends. 

Please click the image below for more information, including a video trailer. Thank you!



Sorry I rarely post. But I do frequently tweet as @authorkingsley

I'm so sorry that I rarely post. But, this is to inform you, I do tweet several times nearly every day. Which forces me to get to the point in 140 characters!
However, I will try to post on this blog a little more. Starting today!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Downside of Celebrity Book Endorsements

Here's a little story for you. My forthcoming novel, 'Flying a Kite', is due out in July. I had the following great cover endorsement from a high profile celebrity already sitting on what was to be the final draft of the cover:

'It is wonderful that a well written and entertaining novel can also demonstrate the reality of an afterlife and that science and a creator are complementary. It will no doubt open the minds of many that there is so much more to life than can be witnessed by the six senses.'
How fantastic was that? People all over the world knew this person. A two month unexpected delay then occurred as a result of a publisher issue which was beyond my control. During this delay, my celebrity was suddenly the subject of very negative publicity and was eventually charged with a criminal offence. (I'm not about to tell you who it was, or the offence. In the fullness of time, the person may, of course, be proved innocent.) Both my publisher and myself realised this endorsement was therefore no longer an asset. Far from it. The person in question was kind, polite, generally regarded as a really nice person. Then this. As a result I must now forgo that wonderful endorsement. Thankfully I still have a number of fantastic endorsements from a number of authors to go on the cover, and I am so grateful to these persons.

It is too late to find a high profile celebrity to add his or her stamp to the cover - but not on the website or publicity material. So if anyone out there is willing to step into the breach, please contact me via my website, iankingsley.com/contact and I will be pleased to send you a copy for review.

Anyone who wants to know more about 'Flying a Kite' should navigate to information via the 'Books' menu option on my author website at iankingsley.com. I am adding much more material all the while and a lot more information will be appear on my website over the coming month.

The object of this post is to warn authors there are upsides and downsides to celebrity endorsement. Choose with care. It's a great upside to have a celebrity endorsement, but the downside is that because they are so much in the public eye, if something goes wrong, you might regret it. I am so glad that a hand greater much greater than mine introduced the delay in my publication process which enabled me to publish without featuring this particular downside!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Defined: prologue, epilogue, foreword, preface, introduction, afterword, postscript, footnotes, end notes

There is great confusion between the names of material used to sandwich the main portion of a book. Here are some brief guidelines to distinguish between them. It is based upon my own research. Apologies for any errors!

A prologue or epilogue is only used in fiction. All the rest are names for different types of material used in either fiction or non-fiction. 

All these things are optional. None of them presume the need for any other.

Prologue. Only use a prologue in fiction. It comes BEFORE the actual beginning of the story to introduce characters or to explain past events or history that might need to be explained, or to generally intrigue the reader. It's a great place to provide information relevant to your story without have to go through flashbacks or torturous dialogue in your first few chapters. Keep it short. Bear in mind many people skip it!

Epilogue. Only use an epilogue in fiction. It comes AFTER the story in order to provide some conclusion when the story leaves something hanging. Don't include plot spoilers in case someone reads it before the story!

Foreword. A foreword (NB NOT 'forward'), are words BEFORE the main text which are NOT written by the author. Someone else tell readers WHY they should read the book. This is the place for a guest celebrity or author to praise and introduce the book. It should make an emotional connection with the reader. A foreword should always be 'signed off' by someone other than the author.

Preface. A preface explains HOW the book came about. It is similar to a foreword, but it is written BY the book's author.

Introduction. An introduction does what it implies: it introduces WHAT follows as a concise overview for the reader.

Afterword. An afterword is similar to a foreword except that it comes AFTER the main work instead of before it. Another purpose is to respond to critical remarks made about a previous edition.

Postscript. Seldom used today, a postscript provides further information about the preceding work, perhaps containing brief information about a sequel or related material.

Footnotes. These are used at the foot of a page to amplify topics raised on the SAME page.  They are linked to by reference numbers within the main text. Ensure they are on the correct page in the final printed work! If you need more than a couple on any given page, perhaps you should consider using End Notes instead. Too many footnotes become tiresome!

End Notes. These are used at the end of a book to amplify topics raised within the main body. They are normally linked to by reference numbers within the main text. They are less intrusive than footnotes, but are less likely to be read.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please visit my website, iankingsley.com to see what else I write!


Monday, 17 December 2012

Authors: Create a Simple Twitter Header to Look More Professional

Twitter now offers you the chance of upgrading the background image behind the header picture and profile description. Doing it makes your Twitter account look more professional. Check-out mine at @authorkingsley to see what I am talking about.

Just open your Twitter profile to Edit and you will see the 'Change Header' dropdown button offering 'Choose existing image'. OK, so you need to generate an image first. Here's how.

I suggest you go for the maximum size they allow which is 1252 pixels wide by 626 pixels high. Use whatever graphics program you are familiar with to set up an image, remembering that: a) the default white text of your profile needs a dark area for the bottom half of the image to be readable; b) your photo will be superimposed centre-top, and you need to allow for that. Be aware that Twitter automatically darkens the bottom of any image you upload so as to aid a satisfactory contrast between the superimposed profile lettering and your image.

Some people have managed to merge a head-and-shoulders into the profile full-face picture but the chances of you getting that to align well and look good are very small. So why try?

What I did on my page was to plant a book cover image on either side of the profile picture, each at around 300-350 pixels high. You could use a straight black background on which to mount them. I used a stars background to add a little more interest. Putting cover images is a great way of signalling what you are and what you have produced. You get a preview during the initial phase of uploading so, if things don't look quite right, adjust the source image. Be prepared to slide the book cover images around to look their best.

You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words - and Twitter will never let you have those!

That's it! Just upload that image and there you go. If necessary afterwards, change the background image to better match the header, via Settings > Design and then the 'Change background' tab. (You can also upload your own image here, but beware of getting too clever and presenting a busy-busy appearance which can be off-putting. I believe simple background images work best.)

Oh, and if you found this article helpful, please follow me on Twitter. And, as a fellow author, it would be fantastic if you re-tweeted the odd tweet about my books now and then. Thanks a lot!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Coincidence: a Great Pitfall for Novelists

I speak here mainly as a reader - but to writers. 'Coincidence' should be avoided like the plague.

So what inspires me to write on this subject? What has riled me enough to warrant a new posting when all my attention is usually directed to my own writing or those few 140 characters required for tweets? It is my hatred of unbelievable coincidence as a prime mover in a novel. Coincidence is an error to avoid for would-be authors and a great pitfall for established authors. Let me give you an example from the book I am reading right now.

Firstly, I am not going to tell you the (well established) author or the book title. Why? I do not like to put another author down. I wish them all well. I seek only to make a point about style to help other writers avoid this pitfall. Here is what has happened in this book as an example of what I am talking about.

A married woman accidentally meets a recently separated guy she fancies in a supermarket, has a brief conversation with him, learns his name, and then they part. After that she longs to see him again. Fast forward. She accompanies her doctor husband for the first time ever when he makes a middle-of-the-night call to a patient and, from that incident, learns that hubby made his first ever house call to this same house, and also learns something about him she doesn't like very much. As a result she walks out of his house after a row, that night, still in night clothes, walks and walks, then, despite deserted dark streets, collides with her hunk putting his dog out for a wee. Yeah, right!

Get the picture? Coincidence 1: The first time she does a house call with her hubby it is to the house he made his first house call to (and that is significant, in itself). Coincidence 2: As a result she learns of his unfortunate previous disclosure - immediately in brief conversation. Coincidence 3: Having longed to meet her hunk again, she collides with him in the dark. Three coincidence in the middle of one night! How real is that?

Okay, coincidences happen, but in fiction, you cannot rely on that sort of thing - and fiction needs to be more real than real. In this case coincidence is responsible for inciting incidents upon which the story outcome hinges. As a reader, a coincidence as large as the last one - bumping into hunk on deserted streets in the middle of the night - is a warning. The author is lucky if I read on and, any more like this and I shall stop reading. My 'suspension of disbelief' has been broken.

The author might claim it was essential the heroine meets her hunk. But how long does it take to come up with a more believable solution? In two minutes I thought of two alternatives. Knowing his name (as she does), what if she just found him in the phone book and went round there desperate to talk because she thought he would be sympathetic? Or, given the guy seemed to fancy her, what if he had given her his card with an invitation to call him? You see, it is not too difficult to find more plausible ways of bringing boy and girl together. It is lazy not to look for the best - and most believable - way to do it. Professionalism demands it.

So I read on, with trepidation, awaiting the next coincidence - and it is unlikely I shall read another book by the same author. Authors have a responsibility to deal with their readers well, given they invest their time - and money - in the author's product.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Blurb for my forthcoming novel: 'Flying a Kite'

Dear Readers,

This post includes the rear cover blurb for my forthcoming novel: 'Flying a Kite'. (There is a draft cover image at the bottom of this post.)

If you are an avid reader interested in reading this novel prior to publication and then posting an Amazon (and optionally a Goodreads) review when it comes out, please contact me via my website iankingsley.com/contact. I can send you a pdf copy. Please let me know the genres that most interest you when you do so. This book is 123,000 words (around 300 pages). I love to get early feedback. Please tell me your Twitter handle (if appropriate) and indicate to which Amazon site you would be able to post (eg Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, etc). My Twitter followers are especially welcome!


Many thanks for the time you give undertaking this reader review. It is really appreciated. The way it will work is you email me your review after reading the book. Ideally I would like to get your feedback within 2-3 weeks. I will later advise you when the book is available on Amazon. After that I would appreciate it if you could post your review there within a week.   Looking forward to hearing from you if you can fit in with this request.  

Kind regards,
Ian Kingsley


REAR COVER BLURB OF 'FLYING A KITE':

Money had always solved everything for multi-millionaire Aldo Galliano. So when faced with his trickiest decision ever - whether to counter imminent death by cryonics or faith - he offers a one-million pound prize for the most convincing argument either ‘for’ or ‘against’ the existence of God. Enter Bruce Kramer, a dropout theology graduate, who takes on mankind’s ultimate challenge. But dangerous rivals will stop at nothing to prevent his success.

Set in Bath, Rome, Lake Garda, Tenerife, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, this novel sweeps the reader along in the wake of its numerous eccentric characters - all driven by their own hidden agendas. These include resolute yet romantically-challenged Bruce, canny but clown-like Bertie, geeky and gobsmacked Martin, flirty flame-from-the-past Carla, possessive and put- upon girlfriend Julia, stunningly sexy model Sofia and her pragmatic photographer boyfriend Luigi, prim and prickly mother Ada, smart and sassy PA Emma, psychotic psychologist Max, nutty ex-NASA engineer Victor... and maybe even God. (Or was that just in Bruce’s mind?)

Combining the wit of Marina Lewycka, the spiritual insight of C. S. Lewis, and all the twists and turns of a great mystery thriller, this unforgettable novel is both entertaining and thought-provoking. But beware. Like one of Galliano’s favourite lattes, while it might appear frothy on the surface, a high caffeine brew lurks deep below that may keep you awake at night... thinking. In fact, you may never think the same way again.

‘Very fluid, smooth and flows along at a lovely pace. Really engaging from the start. Like The Shack, there is a niche for this kind of book.' -Gillian McDade, author of Standing Man.

‘Very good, and addresses a universal question in a much better way than Dan Brown in Angels & Demons where the God vs science debate is just another sub-plot in another ciphering book. In Flying a Kite it's the main plot thread, convincingly dealt with, and riveting.’ -Richard Pierce author of Dead Men.

‘Characters are direct and effective. I enjoyed the pace which allows the reader to think about the important concepts by himself.' -Heikki Hietala, author of Tulagi Hotel.



Friday, 3 August 2012

Guaranteed book promotion in return for a peer author review

I am looking for a peer author review - or more particularly, a cover endorsement - for my upcoming book with the working title 'Flying a Kite' - to be published shortly. The bottom of this post contains the blurb. Any published authors of fictional works interested in undertaking this will be amply rewarded in return by way of a year's free promotion of any of their published books in the 'Departure Lounge Bookshop' of my popular travel website. This is the online equivalent of the departure lounge bookshop in an airport. People planning vacations on the travel site see four books on a bookshelf on each travel article page. Titles are chosen randomly to appear on any given page, so your title will appear on every bookself page in due course, covering hundreds of great travel articles. Every bookshelf display contains a bestselling title, so your title always appears with a bestseller. Purchases are spontaneous, with vacation reading in mind.

The bookshelf display shows a good side cover image, a sell paragraph, and up to four buttons leading to sales, reviews or author website pages. The well-ranked travel website, www.synergise.com, gets over 8,000 unique visitors every week, and, unlike Amazon, the competition for your title to be seen is small. Typically we only cover around 50 titles at a time. For more information go to: www.synergise.com/books/.

The blurb for the book I wish to be reviewed is as follows. It is a supernatural thriller...
Money has always solved everything for dying multi-millionaire Aldo Galliano, so when faced with his trickiest decision ever – whether to parry the sting of death through cryonics or faith – he offers a one-million pound prize for the best argument ‘for’ or against ‘God’. Bruce Kramer, a wavering theology graduate, decides to take on mankind’s ultimate challenge. With just 6 months in hand, his team battles to succeed against enemies who will stop at nothing to prevent him winning the prize and ratifying modern science with the Bible – a task only surpassed by the difficulty of sorting out his own tangled love-life! This thought-provoking and memorable novel will entertain and amuse with its array of eccentric but wise characters. It is an inspiration for the soul in a doubting and troubled age.
 If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible using the contact information on the following page of my author website: www.iankingsley.com/contact/.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Looking for God in the Modern World


Has science given us adequate grounds for assuming there is no God? Can there be no God because there is nowhere for him to reside? Can there be no Heaven because there is nowhere within the universe which would match up to what religion leads us to believe? Can we talk of God as ‘Him’ when there seems no place in the universe to contain him? And if God is a ‘He’, where IS He? Where could he be, since he could hardly be part of his own creation?

Richard Dawkins argues it is illogical to assume there could be a God. But would Dawkins exist without there being a God? He thinks our world happened by chance. Yet, although he allows chance to come up with all the extraordinary coincidences that allowed for life, he does not feel there is any chance that he could believe there was a creating force behind it all. Yet even Dawkins creates worlds when he is dreaming - ‘dream worlds’ - yet they would not exist without the mind of Dawkins. Now ask yourself this. Where is the mind of Dawkins which creates those dreams? Where is your own mind?

Perhaps you think your ‘mind’ and ‘brain’ are the same things, but they are not. In my book Reality Check: Science Meets Religion, I provide ample evidence they cannot be the same thing. For example, there is ample evidence of telepathy, and if that is true, how could thoughts pass between physical brains? Consider, instead, that ‘brain’ is merely the physical representation of - or interface with - ‘mind’. Imagine it to be a bit like a radio tuner. The electrical signals within the tuner reflect what is going on in the brain, but I am suggesting the thoughts giving rise to that activity comes from a separate mind - like the transmitter which transmits radio signals. Imagine mind is something quite distinct from space and time and that your mind is just an autonomous part of a bigger conscious entity. Telepathy is then explained as transference of data between different areas of that consciousness, just like data transfer from one part of a computer’s memory to another.

As I relate in my book, I had a shared dream with my wife, confirmed when we awoke in the middle of the night and discussed the tremendous identical detail we shared. Again, I can assure you our brains never touched! Shared - or ‘reciprocal’ - dreams are further evidence of a consciousness that is separate to brain. And just like your own consciousness can create dream worlds in which everything seems real to us, so a higher mind - the Mind of God - can create the apparent reality of our universe.

Imagine this to be correct for a moment. The universe - in fact the entire space-time world - then becomes a product of that mind since the original idea came into God’s mind: at the ‘Big Bang’. Science merely seeks to understand that creation but, growing ‘understanding’ and ‘discovery’ does not exclude the forces which created it. The creating force then lies beyond space-time, which is a more logical assumption than there being a physical God within our physical world, who created our physical world. A creator cannot be part of his own creation. The Bible tells us ‘man’ was created in the ‘image of God’. If the essence of us is our minds then we are in the ‘mental’ - not ‘physical’ - image of God. That makes more sense, doesn’t it?
The more science learns about our world, the more it discovers it has yet to learn. Yet the ‘models’ science creates are no more than that: ‘models’. We might have originally imagined substance to be lumps of matter (molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles). We may now imagine ‘wave theory’ better explains it today. Or that the latest advances in thinking about multi-dimensional worlds may be nearer the truth. But, in essence, our ‘reality’ is no more than an image within our non-physical minds. That is why this ‘apparent’ world and your dream worlds seem equally real at the time you experience them.

Wonder if there is a Heaven? In theoretical physics, ‘M-theory’ is an extension of string theory which assumes there are multiple dimensions; that ‘strings’ form the visible world - and invisible worlds. So Heaven could also be an invisible world which can interpenetrate our own world. Radio waves do that, we do not see them, but our radios and TVs prove they exist. When Jesus was asked by some Pharisees when the Kingdom of Godwould come, he replied, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21.) Please note that Jesus used the present tense, so it already existed, and the ‘within you’ could have been a ‘tongue in cheek’ remark to also mean it interpenetrated our world - unseen. Jesus loved word-play. Heaven need not have physical limits in another realm - so plenty of room for everyone.

Our world - and potentially other worlds - are fantastically complicated, and the fact they co-exist in such stability does suggest they all stem from a single force. Indeed, the ultimate aim of science is to come up with a single ‘Theory of Everything’; so scientists even think that way. And if everything follows a single theory, it comes from a single source. And what do some people call that single force? Why, GOD, of course!
If this line of thought interests you, please visit my author website and read about my book ‘Reality Check: Science Meets Religion’. It provides both the evidence to support the theory that mind is separate to brain, and that science is merely the study of God’s creation. With this new viewpoint, science and the Bible are seen to be complimentary, not contradictory. And if you can ratify science and God in your mind, you are in a favourable position to truly believe in God and thereby find your entire life changed, if you were not a believer. And if you were a believer who found it necessary to ‘be in two minds’ in order to ratify your faith and your belief in science, this evidence could be a great relief. I believe in God AND science. I hope this short argument makes you want to discover why you can too. And if this article interested you, please tell your friends to read it too.