Friday, October 07, 2011

The late great, Steve Jobs left many a thoughtful observation, but perhaps his most universal piece of invaluable advice to each of us is this:
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
-- Steve Jobs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"KRUGER'S GOLD: A novel of the Anglo-Boer War"

'Pleased to anounce that the first of my books is now available via the Kindle platform.
It can be accessed here:
By publishing on the Kindle platform, it now enables readers to get a copy of KRUGER'S GOLD at a greatly reduced price, compared to that of the printed paper version.
Particularly welcome to would-be buyers who live in South Africa and Britain, where reader interest is likely highest. Previously, costs of snail-mail postage and monetary exchange rates drove up the cost of buying a copy of my book. Now via Kindle, it is available for one sixth the original price -- and delivered instantaneously online.
Already, the book has garnered another enthusiastic review:

Book Review  "Kruger's Gold: A novel of the Anglo-Boer War" by Sidney Allinson.

"Quite simply a wonderful book"

Reviewer: R. Cox, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Sidney Allinson's books are surprises. They can start off unassumingly and build up to rip snorting sagas of ceaseless adventure. In his finest work yet, Allinson doesn't even start off slowly. "Kruger's Gold" grips the reader at once and the pace never slows. As I read this action tale of the struggle a century ago between South Africa's Boers, and England and her "colonials," I was repeatedly struck with the idea this would be and should be a wonderful movie. Allinson's experience as a television producer may have given him that hot-shot cameraman's "eye" or it could simply be that any good yarn so stirringly told lends itself to theatre in the best sense.

On these pages, a segment of history that was soon obscured by two ensuing, bloodier world wars leaps to life. It is really the twilight of an era, with Europeans jostling for power and position and, in this case in particular, South African gold Allinson fills in the historical perspective while following a Canadian soldier and his colonial troops who, late in the war, have been assigned to find the legendary government cache of gold that departing Prime Minister Paul Kruger was said to have stashed before leaving in 1900 for virtual exile in Europe.

Allinson writes sympathetically of the brilliant Boer commandos fighting to retain their homeland and their way of life. His story is not overly revisionist: the Boers have seized this land from the native tribes, after all, and even the most principled among them want to keep the blacks and "coloureds" in their place, lest their vast numbers overwhelm the white settlers. Even through a more politically correct prism, we must admire the self reliance of these men whose surprise tactics and talented marksmanship enabled them to strike at the enemy, melt away into the bush, and return to attack another day. Many if not most of the men have lost wives and children to the war; yet, while they can be ruthless, they treat surrendered prisoners with a decency and respect that arouses a sense of nostalgia in the reader. Their English counterparts do as well with their own prisoners, for the most part.

The story of the concentration camps where stranded Boer families and prisoners were placed to wait out the war is not as happy a one Allinson paints a grim picture of these horrors where women and children and some men languished in filthy conditions with poor diets and disease and death dogging every step. A few selfless medical workers do their best, but there are no facilities and their supplies are woefully inadequate. The camps were not England's finest legacy to the history texts.

The romances in the book provide a lusty and pleasing counterpoint. Even the horses get to play a heart-warming role. And throughout the book, Allinson has peppered the story with fascinating historical minutiae, such as the Boer heroine not being allowed to play ragtime music, then the rage, because it was produced by black performers.

Read this book at  It is a treat.        — R. Cox.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Finally, I have joined the Kindle world -- and I must say after just a couple of days, I am greatly impressed by the product! Downloads using Kindle's Whispernet over WiFi are both fast and easy to use. I especially enjoy and recommend personalizing the font size and type for easier viewing (depending on your eyesight).
I strongly advise all authors to utilize the Kindle platform to publish an electronic version of your books. Whatever your field of interest, Kindle is sure to enorkmously increase sales and readership for you.
Considering the overall lower prices of books in the Kindle format, lots of great books are worth purchasing, but there is a vast number of both free or inexpensive books acvailable to download. See here for more info on free classics for example:
One other useful benefit is the custom e-mail feature. You'll get a personalized e-mail address which you can use to send PDFs, Word documents, and even JPEGs or GIFs direct to your Kindle.
I also signed up for free 14-day trials for a number of big newspapers, such as the New York Times or the National Post. Every morning when you turn on your Kindle's WiFi, Amazon's Whispernet will immediately update your Kindle with new newspaper subscriptions. It is so nice to have the world's newspapers at your fingertips every morning.
Finally, my first purchase and download was my own latest book "Kruger's Gold". I am enjoying it all over again in its Kindle format. See here for more info about it in its new -- and less expensive --electronic verson:

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Meaning Of Night
by Michael Cox, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 2006,600 pages.

This is one of the best historical crime novels ever published in many a year. It uses a near-Dickensian style to present a remarkably well-plotted mystery tale of thwarted inheritance, obsessive love, and implacable revenge.
Focused mainly on a family feud between a poet-criminal and a book-loving murderer, The Meaning Of Night has a huge supporting cast of sundry beauties, double-crossers, stout friends, lawyers, thugs, and other colourful characters. All luridly set in London of the 1850s, complete with menacing fog-shrouded streets, dank slums, brothels, opium dens, posh clubs, a titled country estate, and sundry other accurate, contemporary details.
British author Michael Cox planned the saga fitfully for 30 years, and only settled down to write it while undergoing treatment for cancer that threatened to take his eyesight. Happily, his vision was saved, but Cox credits the side-effects of medication with providing such manic energy that he was able to dash off the, manuscript straight through within a few months.

The result is an enjoyably old-fashioned tale focussed on purloined documents. Add casual murders, laced with arcane literary allusions and historical footnotes. Its labyrinthine story is told in elegant Victorian language and time shifts. that demand readers to pay close attention. Small wonder The Meaning of Night brought Cox a million-dollar advance, and is now on sale in 24 countries world-wide. Simply a thumping good read.

-- Review by Sidney Allinson.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

by Nicholas Carr

The Atlantic, July/August 2008

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfort­able sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, re-rnapping the neural cir­cuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going - so far as 1 can tell - but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think.

I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the nar­rative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentra­tion often starts to drift after two or three pages. .I get fidgety; lose the thread, begin looking for some­thing else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

 I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the internet. The web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and  I’ve got the tell-tale fact or pithy quote I was after.
Even when I’m not working, as likely as not to be foraging in the web’s Info-thickets, reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike foot­notes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.) For me, as for others, the internet is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Write your headlines to speak directly and only to your prospective buyers.

The purpose of a headline is to pick out people you want to interest. Whether they are bedwetters, home-owners, car buyers, or whatever. You care only for those people, so make your headline say so.
People refuse to be bored in print. In print, they can choose their own companions, their own subjects.
There may be products which interest them more than anything else in a magazine. But they will never know it unless the headline or the picture tells them.
The vast difference in headlines is shown by keyed returns and measurable sales responses. The identical ad run with various headlines differs tremendously in its returns. A carefully targetted change to a headline can multiply responses from five to ten times over.
Don’t think that those millions of readers will study your ads to find out if your product interests them. They will decide by a quick glance -- mainly by your headline or your pictures. Address your sales message directly, clearly, to the people you seek, and them only.

An advertisement with 100 words should make the reader think 5000 words – which is the most valuable secret of ad copy. It is not just what you say that counts; what’s more important is the chain of thought that your ad creates in the prospect’s mind.