#3 – Close encounters of the dashboard kind.

This fella had an occupy Galway look and a navy car for sale. We were outside Supermacs when he pulled up in the newly washed wagon. He had wiry hair and a red face with busted blood vessels, a shabby beard, and the confidence of a bad Russian gambler. Rasputin job, selling cars on Donedeal. He didn’t even say hello, just went: ‘I think I’m selling too cheap.’

         We let that settle, cars went by in irritated combustion. I looked down, noticed a broken light, asked: ‘What’s that?’

         ‘It’s nothing. Something simple. No problem to fix.’

         ‘Can we take it for a drive?’


         On the road, there was a myriad of symbols on the dash. Airbag, warning lights, something else. There was a noise in the engine too, bit like it was grumpy or ready to explode. And the tracking was off. There was a kind of a lazy sense of swaying back and over on the road, like you’re on a boat in choppy water. The gears were stiff and it was a hard work trying to accelerate, like the car didn’t want to, like it was saying: Stop! Leave me alone.

         The oul fella was with me, full of sage advice and comments, like: ‘This could be another ball of shite.’

         ‘Do you rekcon?’

         ‘Well the dashboard is like a Christmas tree with all the lights so that’s a bad start….’

         ‘Needs an airbag too.’

         ‘And a few other things by the sound of it….’

         ‘Great to have a dashboard at least, not like the other yoke.’

         ‘Yeah, I suppose they should be in every car really when you think about it….’

         We thought about that, took in more noise and mechanical anxiety, then decided to turn around. Pulled in at a layby. Checked the glovebox and found the car manual. Looked up some of the faults. There was talk of stop engine immediately. Bring vehicle to your nearest dealer. Red lights are critical issues. I looked up.

         They were all red.

         Time to head back.

         Himself was waiting, against the wall, vagrant hitchhiker look now, or like a man waiting for a bus to go working on a fruit farm full of convicts. He walked over. Saw the manual on the dash. Didn’t like that, asked: ‘What is story?’

         ‘Tryin to figure out those lights.’

         ‘Simple fix, simple. Some cleaners triggered the sensors under the seat and caused the airbag fault. Fix no problem.’

         ‘We’ll pull up over there.’

         And we did. He said: ‘I have this car a long time. No issues. Drives like a dream.’

         ‘Can you open the boot?’

         His face went vague, unsure and he said: ‘Ok, I think I know how.’

         Took him some effort, but he found the lever, popped the boot. We all looked at it like we knew something about engines, then I went for proactive and pulled the dipstick for oil. Wiped it with a tissue and then dipped. Pulled it back up and there was barely a drop on it. Maybe a slight sliver at the bottom of the tiny ball but far from enough. Your man was in right away with: ‘Easy fix, some oil, no problem. This is not an issue. Drives like a dream. Yours for fifteen hundred….’

         ‘Fifteen hundred what? Half price Roubles?’

         ‘Euros. Yes or no? You want? I have big demand…’



From Plagiarism to the Post Office. #6 –

Around this time, a story broke of a woman buying best selling e-books and plagiarising them. She’d buy, say, the top ten most popular. Piece together a plot and then copy and paste some of the best writing from the other writers into her own book. She’d have full paragraphs, chunks of dialogue, storylines and outright chapters all lumped in to her own novel. After that, she’d join numerous Facebook and Kindle groups on the Internet and befriend as many fellow authors as she could. Soon, when she felt well known, she’d announce her “New Novel.” She’d build up some anticipation and then launch it in a Social Media blitz. She did this a few times before she was caught and was said to have made up to €2,000 per launch alone. Fake name, identity, all that. Eventually some keen readers began to see the similarities with other work and, worse, some writers began to recognise their own fiction in hers.

So, not desperate to be plagiarised, I withdrew my books from Kindle. There was a part of me wondering if it wasn’t wise just to have them there anyway, as opposed to sitting in my hard drive,  but then I got a 77 cent Royalty and said to hell with that. There was also a lot of emphasis on giving the book away for free for a certain amount of days, or signing up to lending and countdown deals. The lending deals meant that readers could share their books (free) with other Kindle readers for a certain amount of time. And the countdown deals were all about offering your work for a discounted rate to create a “Don’t miss out”  feeling among potential buyers. “…If you don’t buy it this month, it goes up again next month etc…”.I thought this screamed low quality, like the leftover food you get in Tesco before it goes out of date tomorrow. Again, if people aren’t paying for your work, they won’t respect it. If you’re giving it away to strangers on the internet, you haven’t a hope.

This issue now was how to sell online – myself. Just as I’d managed to cut out the physical publishers, I now needed to remove the third parties on the internet. First, I created this website. I’d built up an extensive e-mail list from my theatre company and knew there had to be a more practical way to contact everybody. Once people are subscribed here they get an e-mail notification of what’s happening, where it’s at and how to buy tickets. And now books.

Next I set up a Paypal account. This was a relatively simple thing to do and meant that people could make payments direct online if they wished to do so. After that I created a page specifically for the books. All I had to do was take pictures of each novel, attach the blurb and then insert the Paypal link where people could buy.  When they did, I got a notification from Paypal. It gave me the person’s address and the amount of copies. I’d then buy a padded envelope, sign the book(s), and post it.

This worked great for a while but soon became onerous as the orders increased. Coming up to busy periods like Christmas was also difficult. The delivery times were unreliable and you couldn’t guarantee novels wouldn’t get lost. The cost of posting was also on the rise as well as buying all the envelopes. And if I sold the last copy and then another purchase came in I’d have to send an order to Pamela’s factory for another load. Usually I’d buy 300 at time. So then I’d be anxious to get the next 299 off loaded. Time was a factor too. The theatre script I’d sold was being developed for film in London and I was spending a lot of time there.

I needed an alternative that took half the time but didn’t cost twice as much. Eventually I discovered POD – Print on Demand – through a company called CreateSpace.