Why That Title? – Breaking Faith.

Stuart Aken

Titles for works of fiction often cause authors a lot of soul-searching. Ideally, we want to give potential readers clues about content, theme, style, and storyline. Not easy in anything from one to, say, a dozen words. Of course, the best titles are revealed as obvious choices once a book’s been read, so this series is largely for those who’ve yet to read the books featured here.

I struggled with the title for my first published novel. The major theme of the story is the effect of corruption on innocence. But I also wanted to explore how good and evil react with each other, how easy it is for outside observers to completely misjudge the character and actions of an individual. And I wanted to dive into the vexed questions of how religion is perceived as a guide to goodness and how faith can have such a devastating hold on…

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4 Reasons To Use Internal Thoughts In Your Writing

This was *NOT* written by me. The author is K.M. Allen.

K.M. Allan

While there are just as many writing tricks as there are ways to tell a story, there are some specific ones that can help make your book something special, and one of those is internal thoughts.

If you’ve never heard of the concept, it’s where you let the reader inside a character’s head by writing what they’re thinking but not saying out loud.

Why is this such a good trick to use? Because it gives the reader something extra, like letting them in on a secret. That and the following other reasons are just some perks that internal thoughts can bring to your manuscript.

4 Reasons To Use Internal Thoughts In Your Writing

Internal Thoughts Ensure Motives Don’t Come Out Of Nowhere

As the writer penning the story, we know it inside and out. We’ve plotted, planned, and rewritten countless drafts so any motives are seared into our brains…

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Why You Can’t Catch a Rocket to Mars, by Prof Lyndon Neal Smith PhD: #BookReview.

Stuart Aken

275 pages
Science & Scientists Humour/Automatic Control/Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

Subtitled: Some Personal Reflections on Science and Society.

Whether a reader can empathise with the writer of a book essentially driven by personal ambition, hopes, or dreams, depends on how that reader feels about those aims. I confess I’m definitely with the author here. Given the chance of a return flight to Mars, I’d jump at it! After all, having written a sci-fi trilogy set there, I’d love to experience the world in person.
Prof. Smith, an engineer by profession, has a deep understanding of the science and mechanics involved in getting transport off Earth and across millions of miles of hostile space to another planet. He also understands the need for such an enterprise (forgive the pun, but he’s also an avid fan of Star Trek!)
The book is divided into four parts, each subdivided into sections, and starts by…

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#Words and #PictureOfTheDay: 18/May/22

Stuart Aken

Tractor wheels track through

A cereal crop growing

Green undulations


These posts were scheduled to maintain the series while I’m offline. I can’t respond to comments, likes, follows, or questions. But please interact. I’ll try to catch up on my return. In future, I’ll post a picture once a week instead. Books and writing have taken a back seat for too long. I started when Covid confined people to their homes, unable to enjoy nature. It’s time to return to my writing. If you’d like to spread joy, respect and responsibility for our wonderful planet, please share these posts on social media (‘share’ buttons below help), comment with your thoughts, and help sustain our environment for the future. Thank you. Earth’s our only home.

More pictures appear in the Gallery.
And you can view over 2000 images for book covers, calendars…

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Do you use a Google Chromebook?

Recently, my Windows 10 laptop almost died. I’ve been a loyal Microsoft customer since the days of Windows 3.3, and before that with DOS (Disk Operating System) 3.3. It’s been my experience that the more bells and whistles Microsoft adds make it just a little easier to screw things up. If the corporation was as smart as it says it is it would have made features such as Cortana optional. Cortana is the voice that natters at you whenever it feels like it. It’s like a parrot on speed. The damn thing can be silent for months, then announce it’s cold as hell outside. Only, it’s hot as hell.

When I first got Windows 10 it was on an Acer laptop. It self-destructed after less than a year. I took it back to where I bought it. There was some fault with the motherboard which caused it to die. It was replaced with another Acer Aspire E 15. After the first Acer laptop was replaced and I replaced the software that was fouled up in the disaster, all was right with the world. I was in such a good mood I bought myself a copy of Windows 10 For Dummies. I looked through it, added the lock screen feature, and gave my new laptop a password thinking I’d be a little bit more secure. Guess what, I wasn’t. I kept getting notifications (lordy, they’re annoying) that some nefarious computer system was trying to hack into my bank account, documents, photos, and credit card information. There’s just one problem: I don’t bank using my laptop, I don’t have any documents or photos worth stealing, and my credit card info was never put into computer memory. All credit card transactions are done in person. Still, Microsoft seems to think notifications about my parrots health are absolutely necessary. There’s just one humongous flaw with that so-called logic. I don’t have a stupid parrot!.

Google Chromebook User Interface

So, I’m investigating the Google Chromebooks. I know its operating system is cloud-based, and it’s open-source. I just don’t want the same hassle I had with Microsoft. I don’t want to pay for crud I don’t need or want (Hey, Cortana…I’m talking about you). Can anyone provide me with an in-depth first-person review of their experience with a Chromebook? If you can provide any assistance kindly leave it in the comments section or email it to me at thaustin56@gmail.com. Click on the email link or cut and paste it into your email. Thanks.

A Wave of Emotion

On May 9, 2012, JADD Publishers gave us the very first edition of The Emotion Thesaurus. For the very first time, writers could write about emotional baggage, without having to experience the emotion itself. The Thesaurus was the brainchild of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and gave writers the actual definition of an emotion. In addition, they gave us physical signals and behaviors to watch out for. Not stopping there they told us about the internal sensations a character might experience, the mental responses, acute or long-term feelings a character might have, what to watch out for, indications that an emotion is being suppressed, and what the emotion could happen if left unchecked.

Then in 2019, the second edition came out. The first edition covered only 75 emotions. The second edition was expanded to cover 130 emotions! And it’s even better! I got my copy only a few years ago and it’s my go-to resource for information about emotion.

Becca and Angela have something very special planned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Emotion Thesaurus. I don’t know what it is, but it’s bound to be spectacular! Anything from this pair always is. Maybe it’s a complete hardbound library of the entire Thesaurus collection. I know some people like the Kindle version, but I like feeling the pages in my fingers. But that’s just me. Who knows what those two are cooking up. Just make sure to circle May 9th on your calendars and visit Writers Helping Writers.com.

The Concert For Bangladesh – George and Friends


On August 1, 1971 an event took place, not once but twice. Long before Live Aid, Farm Aid, No Nukes, and We Are The World, The Concert For Bangladesh took place. It was the very first and second concert to benefit a worthwhile cause. It was also the first concert where musicians from different bands and groups worked together towards a common cause, and didn’t compete against each other. Sitar master Ravi Shankar proposed that he should do a concert to benefit his homeland to George Harrison. Shankar was of the opinion that if he was lucky he might be able to contribute twenty-five thousand dollars. Harrison knew a great deal more would be needed if they to help a country.


                                                               Ravi Shankar

Phone Calls and Fights

Harrison said he spent all of June and half of July of 1971 on the phone organizing the event. First, he contacted his former bandmates, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. Ringo was eager to come, postponing the completion of the film Blindman. John’s invitation was conditional. He was asked not to bring Yoko Ono. When John first received the invitation he was eager to take part. Then he and Yoko had a fight about her not being invited. The upshot of this domestic brouhaha was that John telephoned George saying that he would not be attending. Paul was still dealing with his own demons, primarily excess drinking and anger, and the business dealings of the Beatles. He was worried that if he went it might be thought of as a “Beatles Reunion”. He was trying to rid himself of the Beatles in court, and the thought going under those conditions was “daft”.

Badfinger Joins Roster and Eric Gets Lost

With one half of the Beatles still sulking and fighting, he asked a Apple band called Badfinger (formerly known as The Ivey’s from 1961 to 1969) to attend. They just had a hit record (Come And Get It) penned and produced by Paul McCartney. This would be fantastic exposure for the band. Plus it would be their first exposure to a North American audience. George asked Eric Clapton to attend because he wanted another “really” good guitarist there. Eric said he would be there, but George became concerned when he didn’t show up by mid-July.  After Eric failed to arrive, George was unsure if he would attend, even though he had given George his word. With the concerts now just days away and Eric still missing in action, George asked Taj Mahal guitarist Jesse Ed Davis to fill in for Eric. For one entire week prior to the concerts a seat was booked for Eric on every flight from London to New York. He finally appeared with four days to spare. In 2005 Eric admitted he “was in rough shape” due to his drug addiction. He also admitted he was in “semi-retirement”. However, he does maintain he would have played much better if he had brought the right kind of guitar with him. On most of the songs he played a large semi-acoustic guitar. On the second disc of this fantastic two disc set he openly admits that he should have been playing a solid body guitar. The guitar he plays during most of both concerts was made for silky sounding jazz music. A solid body guitar is designed for rock music.

By the last week of July, Harrison and friends were in New York practicing with Starr, Clapton, Leon Russell, Billy Preston and a small posse of sidemen and backup singers. Harrison’s portion of the set consisted of four songs from his hit album All Things Must Pass, and three of his Beatles classics, including “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something,” none of which he had ever played for an audience. But Preston says rehearsals “went really well. I played on a lot of the original records, so I knew the songs. But the guys in the horn section wrote out charts, and we all pitched in to pull the music together.”

The Man Behind The Camera


The director, Saul Swimmer, was no stranger to film, rock music, or any of The Beatles. He had worked with Ringo on the film Blindman, and with Beatles when he co-produced Let It Be. He began directing in his mid-twenties, quickly gaining attention for his half-hour short The Boy Who Owned a Melephant in 1959. This short was produced with Peter Gayle and Tony Anthony, who soon became frequent contributors.

With the musical onslaught of the British Invasion in full bloom, came a flurry of  films that copied, or tried to copy, the style of A Hard Day’s Night. Herman’s Hermits had a hit with the song Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, and it soon became a film with Saul Swimmer at the helm. He found a formula that worked for him. The Rockumentary was born.

I couldn’t find any source, not even the American Film Institute (AFI), that could definitively tell me how many 16mm cameras were used to film the concerts. In doing research for this blog, numbers between two and sixteen cameras were used. However, the source for the numbers were never given. According to Saul Swimmer Harrison initially wanted to do the show at New York’s intimate Town Hall: “He didn’t think he could sell out the Garden. He was very insecure.”

Harrison was extremely nervous about his solo concert debut that he had doubts about even filming the Bangladesh shows. “That’s why we shot in 16 mm — so nobody was bothered by the cameras,” Swimmer says. “We didn’t even have a set list. At one point, Leon Russell’s voice suddenly comes out of the dark [for his “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”/”Youngblood” medley], because we didn’t know Leon was going to sing. We were searching for where this voice was coming from. George even went so far as to say that if the concert was a disaster he would purchase the film and tapes.”

After the concert Swimmer described the editing of the film as a “nightmare. None of the cameras were synced. Luckily, we had two concerts from which to choose footage from. George would choose the best performance of a song. When I think about the cameras we were lucky anything was filmed. They only held about fifteen minutes of film. George wanted the film blown up to seventy millimetre so he could put a six track stereo track on the film. We went to Hollywood to get this done. There wasn’t a way to do it except to increase it frame-by-frame. It was a real headache, but I’m still very proud of the film. The  film you see on the DVD is very close to the actual concert”.

It was just one high level of experience from beginning to end    –  Leon Russell

The Clash Between a Titan of Vinyl and the little guy

Most people understood the purpose behind the concerts, the film, and the records. However, for some people the word “Charity” simply didn’t exist in their personal lexicons. Most record labels were glad to have their artists associated with a concert/film/record deal, glad to let them get exposure they couldn’t afford to give, so they didn’t demand payment. Leon Russell and Billy Preston saw their careers blossom because of the exposure. However, not all record labels were content to do something for nothing, nor were they to lend their artists out, or work for free, and they wanted their money – a lot of it.

Bhaskar Menon - Capitol records


Clive Davis, Head of Columbia Records

The original plan was to have the concerts recorded, filmed, and when the records were ready they would be distributed by Capitol Records. For free. Bhaskar Menon, head of Capitol Records in 1971, requested approximately half a million dollars to recover costs. And Davis wanted a significant amount of money for his client, Mr. Bob Dylan. George Harrison was not a business man and should have expected this.  He didn’t. Both labels were simply trying to protect their interests. They had stockholders to answer to, and George didn’t. George simply did not have all the facts. Infuriated with Capitol Records, convinced they were behind the plot to hold off making the records, George went on the Dick Cavett Show and publicly shamed Bhaskar Menon. He made him look very bad, and with the Christmas buying season going full steam there was a very real possibility of a boycott of all Capitol records. After the broadcast George was informed of information he should have known before going on the show. The following day George phoned Menon and apologized for his tirade. In the end a deal was reached that all sides could live with. Neither side, Harrison, Menon of Capitol Records, or Davis of Columbia Records were thrilled by it, but they could live with it.

A villain in the works

MV5BYzY5ZDg1YWUtNmNlMS00YzMzLTg5MTUtNWJiN2M1MDg3YWI3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUxMjc1OTM@._V1_Allen Klein, was the manager for John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. And he didn’t mind lying, bluffing, or misrepresenting the truth to any client. He is billed as the co-producer of the concert for Bangladesh. But he also the only individual to have profited from the sale of Concert For Bangladesh record albums.

In November 1971 an article appeared in New York magazine. The article entitled “Some Sour Note From the Bangladesh Concert” by Peter McCabe, alleged that Allen Klein was making a profit from the sale of every three-disc set. Reporter Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone Magazine wrote an article on the fallout from the McCabe article. The Fong-Torres article entitled “Did Allen Klein Take Bangla Desh Money?” was followed by a sub heading that asked the question “A $1.14 is coming up unaccounted for per every Bangla Desh album and New York Magazine is pointing the finger at Allen Klein”. The McCabe article started very simply. It started with a collection of prose and a simple mathematical formula.

album cover

At the press conference which announced the concerts Klein took every possible opportunity to say that every penny raised from the concerts and records would go towards Bangladesh. Yet, when you total up the money paid, and where it went, it’s painfully obvious that some money ended up in somebodies pocket when it shouldn’t. While there is no definitive proof that would stand up in a court of law, you can’t help but be reminded of the sub-heading of Peter McCabe’s article – “…All proceeds, we were told, were to go to Bangladesh. If so, about $1.14 per album sold seems to be unaccounted for…”.


#Words and #PictureOfTheDay: 14/Mar/22

Now that’s a photo. Spring is coming back…yay!

Stuart Aken

How blue that winter sky
how still the surface of the lake
how bare the branches of the trees
how full my heart with love
of the world of nature
that sustains us all

A few of my pictures appear in the Gallery.
And you’ll find over 2000 here for use in book covers, calendars, greetings cards, jigsaws, advertising, or anything else you fancy in print or online, or as art quality prints to decorate your home or office.

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