Apr 252014
 

Empire coverWell, I finally went and did it.

Empire… the fantasy novel written on a Psion Series 3 organiser that sat on my hard drive for nearly 15 years is finally out in the wild. You can now buy it as an e-book for Amazon’s range of Kindle reading devices and apps.

As some readers of this blog will know, Empire tracks the quest of half-elf Amber as she struggles to find out who she is and where she belongs — a quest that will ultimately change the mighty empire of Bantara forever.

You can download a free two chapter sample on my main website here, and when you’re ready you’ll find the full book available on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and other local Amazon sites (just search for Calvin Jones or Empire Bantara to find it).

But I don’t own a Kindle!

Don’t worry — you can still read Empire on one of Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps for smartphones, tablets and computers. Check out this page on Amazon.co.uk or this page on Amazon.com for details. I’ll make more reading formats, including a print copy, available in due course… but for now, please do check out the PDF sample, and give the Kindle version a try if you like what you read. And don’t forget to let me and other people know what you think by leaving a review on Amazon.

Finally… a huge thanks to my daughters, Ava, Nia and Lana, who nagged me to dust off Empire and publish it. Without them I suspect the procrastination demons would have won, and it would never have seen the light of day.

There’s a sequel in the works — and I for one can’t wait to find out what happens next.

 

Sep 252012
 

Like Irelands Wildlife on FacebookWoohoo! The Ireland’s Wildlife page I manage on Facebook sailed past the 4,000 “likes” mark some time last week, and continues to grow apace. It’s great to see the level of engagement on the page continue to grow, and is a good sign for the overall level of enthusiasm and engagement for wildlife and nature in Ireland.

The website is also growing steadily, and I’m trying to add content as regularly as I can to keep the momentum going. Part of what I’m hoping to achieve with the Ireland’s Wildlife website is to encourage more engagement with and empathy for nature and wildlife in Ireland. It also serves as a handy general interest hub of Irish wildlife content on the web, and offers a jumping off point to some of the great niche wildlife and nature resources out on the web.

I’m in the process of approaching potential advertisers to sponsor / advertise on the site — starting with leading optics manufacturers who have submitted products for review. My goal is to attract advertising that’s useful and relevant to Ireland’s Wildlife readers, connect advertisers with a highly targeted audience with an interest in wildlife and nature and get the site to start paying its way so that I can spend more time developing its content and features.

It’s early days yet… but I’m pretty hopeful that Ireland’s Wildlife has value, and that it will ultimately pay its own way, allowing me to develop it into the outstanding resource I know it can be.

For now though, it’s great to see the numbers continue to grow… and to look forward to a time when I can legitimately go out with a pair of binoculars and call it “work”!

If you don’t already “Like” Ireland’s Wildlife on Facebook, what are you waiting for? And don’t forget to check out the Ireland’s Wildlife website while you’re at it!

Feb 222011
 

No really, it isn’t… although in all fairness you could be forgiven for thinking it was morphing into one of late. That’s just a reflection of me rekindling an interest that’s been there since I was a wee nipper.

Inevitably life gets busy, and things fall by the wayside, but they’re always there, to be picked up again when time allows. That’s what’s happening now.

I’m enjoying re-acquainting myself with the common and not so common birds around me, brushing up very rusty fieldcraft and ID skills and generally re-calibrating the bird-radar.

It’s also seems to be rekindling my enthusiasm for this blog, which is no bad thing.

Where am I finding the time for this real life stuff? To be honest I’m mostly slotting it in around all the other stuff. It’s amazing what you can do with a spare ten minutes here, quarter of an hour there.

So… I hope you’re enjoying the wildlife and birding related posts, and I will get back to writing about other things soon.

Jan 192011
 
“A beginning is only the start of a journey to...

Image by katerha via Flickr

Right… time I started posting to this blog much more regularly and frequently again.

Over the last six months or so I’ve become pretty jaded with the whole online scene. The urge to share everything with the world through blogging and social media channels waned.

I’m not sure what it is really… I think I just reached saturation point, and needed to step back a bit. In the real world I’m a pretty private person, quite happy to spend long hours alone. I’ve always been that way.

I’m sociable, and enjoy spending time with friends, but I’m not good in crowds and tend to keep myself to myself. I’m just as happy on a remote headland somewhere, or in the middle of a forest, with only myself for company. I guess the whole “share-everything-with-everybody” culture of social media was always rubbing against the grain. It just took a while for me to realise it.

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Mar 012010
 

If things have gone a bit quiet here of late it’s because I’m busy working on a follow up book to Understanding Digital Marketing… another collaboration with my co-author Damian Ryan.

The new book… dubbed “The Best Digital Marketing Campaigns in the World – mastering the art of customer engagement”… is coming together nicely, but the deadline for delivery of the finished manuscript to our publishers Kogan Page is imminent.

So, it’s all hands on deck in a mad scramble to pull the everything together… and that means precious little time for anything else… including this blog, other websites, my various social media accounts and sundry other projects I have on the go. I will do my best to post the occasional update here over the coming month or so, but things are likely to be pretty frantic.

Feb 032010
 
Procrastination Meter

Image by Emilie Ogez via Flickr

As words go procrastination has to be one of the best. I like the way it rolls around on your tongue, taking, as you might expect, a little longer than necessary to get itself out. It’s a word that lingers, without really knowing why.

Putting things off is something most normal people do as a matter of course. Unless a task absolutely needs to be done now we’ll typically set it aside and do it later, focussing instead on what we feel is more immediately compelling. Psychologists, as is their wont, weave a complex tapestry of theoretical meaning around people’s very natural tendency to defer things until tomorrow. They call it procrastination, and describe it as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety of making a decision or starting any task.

But who in their right mind pays much attention to psychologists? They’re masters at taking perfectly natural human behaviour, sticking it in a box, adding a fancy label and attributing it to potentially serious underlying mental health issues. They’re so good at it because they spend an awful lot of time doing it… time they could easily allocate to more productive work, but choose not to. Sounds very like procrastination in action to me.

According to the psychologists then, procrastination stems from issues of anxiety, a low sense of self-worth, and a self-defeating mentality; too much of it, they maintain, can be a symptom of underlying mental health conditions like depression or ADHD. What a load of old cobblers!

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Feb 022010
 
centre

Image via Wikipedia

For the last seven years… give or take a month or two… I’ve been writing a weekly column for the cork based Evening Echo, one of Ireland’s leading regional newspapers.

Last week I got a call from John Dolan, the Echo’s features editor, to inform me that after a New Year review of their operations they’d decided to stop a number of long running columns from external contributors… mine included.

Given the plight of regional newspapers as they battle dwindling ad revenue and struggle to compete with ever more attractive and increasingly measurable online marketing options, this was hardly a surprise… but it was a bit sad.

If I’m honest it was something of a bitter-sweet moment for me. The column has been a part of my life for so long now that not having to write it every week will be strange… and of course there’s the fact that it leaves a hole in the monthly finances that I’ll have to plug, but I’d been feeling for some time that the column had run it’s course.

It was getting harder to sustain the momentum. When you’ve been writing on the same subject (a father’s perspective on parenting) for nearly seven years it can be difficult to break new ground… and while a good writer will always manage to keep things fresh for the reader, the process of writing becomes a bit stale. You stop enjoying it as much, it requires more effort and becomes less rewarding.

So, onwards and upwards to bigger and brighter things, I guess.

Now… anyone out there fancy paying me to write a weekly online marketing / social media column, or perhaps something on Ireland’s Wildlife.

Go on… make me an offer :-).

My very last column will run in the WOW! supplement of tomorrow’s Evening Echo (Wed 03/02/2010)… and will be posted here shortly thereafter.

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Nov 272009
 

Flood waters submerge a West Cork road during November's floods

Best wishes and condolences to everyone in West Cork, Cork City and further afield whose homes and businesses were affected by the recent flooding….

In Ireland we don’t do climatic extremes very well.

Maybe it’s the inevitable consequence of a climate that consistently under delivers. We don’t get long, baking hot droughts, we don’t get bone-chillingly cold winters with lots of snow and ice, we don’t get anything extreme on the weather front, really… just a perpetually dreary middle ground.

As a result we’re rubbish when it comes to dealing with weather-related problems. In the summer we moan about the rain, but on the (very) rare occasions when the sun does shine for more than a few days the council starts running out of water. If it has the temerity to snow the entire country grinds to a shuddering halt until things thaw out again, and anything more than a stiff breeze has us running indoors to take refuge from falling trees.

But if there was one type of weather you’d expect the Irish to cope well with it would be rain. If Ireland had an official national weather, then rain would be it! And yet here, too, we fail miserably at the faintest whiff of extremity.

Last week it rained hard for a few days, and highlighted just how flimsy our drainage systems, flood defences and coping mechanisms really are. Huge swathes of West Cork and a substantial chunk of Cork City sank beneath the rising flood waters, thousands of homes were damaged, hundreds of vehicles stranded and countless commuters failed to make it home to their families.

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Nov 102009
 
Carbon dioxide

Image via Wikipedia

Global warming… or climate change as I prefer to call it (given that there’s been scant evidence of any actual "warming" going on in Ireland over the last few summers), is a serious issue for sure. But am I the only one worried by a recent spate of publicity that’s painting carbon dioxide (CO2) as a noxious chemical we need to eradicate?

One TV ad that targets children and parents is particularly disturbing, not because it deals with the sobering subject of climate change… but because it’s built around misinformation and blatant scaremongering. The ad I’m talking about shows a father reading a bedtime story to a little girl… a dreadful story about how the nasty CO2 monster, growing ever larger, is wreaking havoc with the climate and killing the planet. If you haven’t seen it you’ll find it below.

 

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Nov 102009
 
“If you put a silk dress on a goat .... well, ...

Image by turtlemom4bacon via Flickr

Halloween is supposed to be scary. Goblins, ghouls and horrible little monsters looking for trick-or-treat goodies come with the territory. Goats… not so much.

But let’s rewind a little.

We’d been out to tackle the "spooky" Halloween Trail at Lisselan Estate just outside Clonakilty. The girls had a great time tearing around the gardens solving solving the riddles on their age-tailored clue-sheets. It was a fiver each for the children to take part in the Halloween Trail, which included a lucky-dip prize and a trick-or-treat goody bag each on completion. For once things were as they should be… refreshingly, Lisselan had opted not to charge anything for the accompanying adults.

Why is it that so many places insist on charging top whack for parents to get in to what are patently child orientated attractions? The attractions usually have zero appeal for adults, and if all you’re there for is to keep an eye on the kids, who have paid for their tickets, then I don’t really see why you should have to pay for the privilege.

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