Free Kindle Promotion for the Novel October 29th to November 2nd!

Pursuing a more humanistic, popular approach to my promotional adverts.
Pursuing a more humanistic, popular approach to my promotional adverts.

Links:

US Amazon Kindle

UK Amazon Kindle

International (automatically redirects to correct Amazon for your country)


When my thoughts have recently blown drearily onto the act of book promotion, they’ve swirled and coalesced about the dates of November 27th (Black Friday), through Cyber Monday, to December 1st, for the obvious reason, having to do with capitalizing on the large volume of online traffic during such period.  Yet when I went to set the promotion on KDP Select, I noticed that I had not expended my ‘free promo’ days for this particular fiscal quarter, ending on November 6th, if memory at all serves presently.  And thusly, I arbitrarily chalked in an October 29th through November 2nd schedule to burn off the days, and have thrown a few advertising dollars out to some of the higher Alexa ranking sites that don’t charge arms, legs, nor otherwise the like.

This go ’round, I’ve changed my advert copy to something less literary or intellectual in impression, but instead, in an almost contradistinguishing fashion, to a more humanistic and popular entertainment quality.  In such, I’ve slightly reinvented my protagonist from a thoughtful man of applied scientific accomplishment, who tangentially is thrown upon the belches and quakes of love, to a lady’s man, devoted to winning a woman by means of extraordinary accomplishment, which of course is only enacted as a function of amorous pursuit.  I’m not the most quick minded in the realm of base social interaction, but I believe that is what popular mythology – aka, products generated from the entertainment industry to attract young consumers – promulgates in order for such to maximize profit:  Some quintessential version of old world Chivalry, that can be summarized by the Bryan Adam’s song, ‘Everything I Do, I Do it for You’, constructed for the film, Robin Hood; certainly not the realized version of such, where if one defeats a woman’s husband in some battle sport, they are thus, um, privy to his armor, &c., and her – his wife.

At any rate, let us examine the ways in which I’ve perjured myself in the quest for a continuance of lunch money, of which this novel does provide, by means of Amazon Kindle sales.  Here is the newly minted synopsis donned on the Amazon page:

In 1820, in the binary country towns of Woodbridge and Hedgely, Gloucestershire, England, Thomas Winter, bachelor of independent means, had a problem. He was in love with a young woman from a prominent family in the area, thoroughly attached to her countryside, but he having always kept a rather itinerant life, working as an engineer about the country, had to prove to her kin that he could be a reliable and productive member of their society before a marriage proposal would be deemed proper. The industrious Mr. Winter therefore endeavored to increase the agricultural yields of the land surrounding these towns by applying the latest science and engineering of the day, yet to his surprise, he soon discovered a large faction of his neighbors, comprised of several of the towns’ farmers, didn’t believe in science! He found himself the target of a propaganda war, alongside his ally, parson Jonathan Moore, who had begun a lecture series focused on natural history, their antagonists motivated by religious ideology and, for the part of a handsome but dull landowner, romantic adversity. This is the story of how manufactured science denial can tear apart two neighborly towns, pitting brother against brother, and how just, right and scientific men do prevail over such.

As I said, a more human element is the focus of this summary; no inorganic chemistry, dimensional analysis, olden geological or evolutionary theories, hints of political satire, or anything else the like:  science denial is not the literary nucleus, but rather just a nebulous barrier that gets between a man and the woman he is pursuing.  But let us take this in parts, that the true story may be discovered:

In 1820, in the binary country towns of Woodbridge and Hedgely, Gloucestershire, England, Thomas Winter, bachelor of independent means, had a problem. He was in love with a young woman from a prominent family in the area, thoroughly attached to her countryside, but he having always kept a rather itinerant life, working as an engineer about the country, had to prove to her kin that he could be a reliable and productive member of their society before a marriage proposal would be deemed proper.

Sure, it’s true Mr. Winter is in love with a particular young lady whose identity is not revealed until the middle chapters, and it’s further correct that in his mind, he is obliged to accomplish his wholly self-defined endeavorments before he believes this woman’s family will heartily accept him showing up unannounced at their front door, in order to convince her father that their attachment is beyond any simple, worldly explosion.   But more than likely, even if Mr. Winter had failed in his scientific pursuits, he would still have been accepted by this woman and her family, by function of his income and inheritable assets alone, and perhaps further, on the notion that he intended to quit the industrial scene and set up shop in Hedgely for as long as his father – an industrial master of mankind – was alive.

Mr. Winter therefore endeavored to increase the agricultural yields of the land surrounding these towns by applying the latest science and engineering of the day, yet to his surprise, he soon discovered a large faction of his neighbors, comprised of several of the towns’ farmers, didn’t believe in science!

Here again is the implication that everything Mr. Winter does, he does it for her, yet again I will emphasize he is not so one dimensional: He tosses and turns on whether or not he should even pursue her, and once a rival presents to their society, he puts it in mind to give her up altogether, and concentrate on his work at hand.  Were it not that his love secretly reciprocated his sentiments, and was able to travel outside the bounds of social construct and admit as much, his cowardice would have paid him but tragedy in the end.

With regard to the man being surprised at the farmers’ indifference toward his prerogative to apply scientific knowledge for the purpose of augmenting crops yields, there are a few points to make: Firstly, Mr. Winter is an impartial observer of everything around him; he takes in information without assigning any rash prejudices or acute tempers to such, and later quietly contemplates the mechanics involved in their presentation. In other words, he’s rarely surprised by any event, proximally or not. Unfortunately, in the writing of advert copy, dramatic emotional swings hold greater weight than thoughtful stoicism: The average entertainment consumer is attracted to over-the-top action, with the category ‘action and adventure’ polling high in what novel readers are interested in.

Secondly, as we’re dealing with a credible amount of realism here – where character motivations aren’t derived from some inherent ‘good’ or ‘evil’ standing, arbitrarily defined for the sake of instilling the plot with necessary conflict, but conversely, come organically, through the convergence of a suite of situational forcings – it’s unnecessary for Mr. Winter to be even the least surprised at anything the farmers offer (they are, after all, acting rationally, given their particular positions); much less exude the melodrama implied in the synopsis. In fact, he – again, the astute observer – knows perfectly what they’re about:

Here is a relatively young upstart with no agricultural experience, no practice under his belt, trying to convince old veterans of the field that he can make their businesses more profitable – a profit none of them are particularly missing, nor have any desire in achieving, so late in life and uninterested in innovation they are: When one becomes old and accomplished, it is a credible level of constancy that is held in high regard, not sweeping change that may knock certain unlucky fellows off their feet.  Indeed, it is illuminated in the later chapters, that they realize any increase in profit only stimulates their local master of mankind – the squire and extensive landowner, whom several of their mates rent their farms from – to increase their let, leaving them with the obligation of increased productivity year after year and no net benefit from their original enthusiasm.

Further these men have been indoctrinated by a staunch religious component intricately woven inside their culture which 1) has a certain penchant for orthodoxy and tradition; and 2) offers a world view that is uncommonly comforting in its simplicity, so much so that anything which is perceived as disruptive to such must either be ignored or dissolved with a confident might; its wielder never questioning the morality of such, so convinced they are of their righteousness. This too lends a given level of resistance by the farmers against anyone who is, or is perceived to be representing The Enlightenment, which of course holds rationalism and empiricism in higher regard than the set of bronze age fables that comprise the Bible; surely the gravest of sins. They are also not unique among the indoctrinated in that they are apt to find a rational for whatever they are pleased to do by way of a particular passage or principle in the Bible: They have no desire to increase yields – certainly not by instruction from an outsider – and therefore are not gluttons, coveting their neighbor’s profit or the like.

He found himself the target of a propaganda war, alongside his ally, parson Jonathan Moore, who had begun a lecture series focused on natural history, their antagonists motivated by religious ideology and, for the part of a handsome but dull landowner, romantic adversity. This is the story of how manufactured science denial can tear apart two neighborly towns, pitting brother against brother, and how just, right and scientific men do prevail over such.

Here I have little to add other than some of the antagonists and propagandists do become somewhat reformed in the end, so it is not as though the scientific men have crushed their enemies, but rather the antagonism is culled for the sake of the towns’ fellowship.   One point I do make in the novel in the ending chapters is that even though there is a cessation of the propaganda at that point, the effects of such still linger in the communities.  I’ve designed this, like many passages in the novel, as a comment on climate change denial propaganda:  Exxon no longer funds the radical right-wing think tanks that in turn distribute money to science denial bloggers and media regulars, but we still have half of the inhabitants of states like West Virgina unwilling to accept the basic scientific findings related to climate change.


More advert copy focused on the base social and emotive aspects of the novel.
More advert copy focused on the base social and emotive aspects of the novel.

Welp, wish me luck on the promotion folks.  Last time around I was able to achieve the top ten list for Historical Literary Fiction and Romance Literary Fiction without spending one penny on advertising.  This time I’ve designed to try a very modest advertisement budget.  Results from last April:

4th place in Historical Literary Fiction for the UK market.
4th place in Historical Literary Fiction for the UK market.

 

Second Place in Romantic Literary Fiction for the UK market.
Second Place in Romantic Literary Fiction for the UK market.

 

Here I am in 5th place in the US market.
Here I am in 5th place in the US market.

The Privateersman: A Book Review

Here I am posting something a bit variant than what has become the spirit of this blog – to showcase the historical research behind, and literary merit of Of Woodbridge and Hedgely.  It is indeed a quick, late-night review I posted on Goodreads yesterday, of something I read on Kindle this summer – The Privateersman, by Andrew Wareham.  Certainly I would not bother readers with my poor thoughts on a murder-mystery novel; certainly I would not read one in the first place, nor have anything to say about it in the second.  However The Privateersman proved to be something after my own heart:  A credible survey of the history of the Industrial Revolution – or at least a sliver of such pertaining to the goings-on of the protagonist, as he makes his way to the top of the food chain in America and England, bustling with the details of mid to late 18th century business, and the social constructs revolving around such.  Here we are folks:

The Privateersman (A Poor Man at the Gates #1)The Privateersman by Andrew Wareham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having achieved an extensive campaign with Patrick O’Brien’s twenty one book, Aubrey/Maturin canon, rereading several in the set over the years in lieu of starting anything else, so as I may not suffer that which, in comparison to this literary master, can only be described – as politely as possible, of course – as the dilute offerings of other men, I decided to jump ship and attempt another nautical themed book – this The Privateersman. Here I will incidentally note that though my pen name is Thomas Smyth, in the flesh I am Andrew Thomas, whilst the novel’s protagonist is Thomas Andrews. Perhaps something of a connection was stirred, if but through this coincidence alone; I am nothing the like to Wareham’s character.

It turns out this is not another nautical themed book. There is some swift naval action in the opening chapters, and the author is certainly well researched – much more so than the average wordsmith; however, as O’Brien could fill an entire chapter with an extensive action between two frigates, Mr. Wareham’s approach is as I’ve stated – swift; and not just with naval action: The novel’s prerogative is apparently to accomplish Mr. Andrew’s growth from boy to man. He starts off a lad of sixteen in chapter one, and by the last he is, I believe, in his mid-thirties and has experienced five major settings, existing in both America and England. The book is certainly fast paced; though I must say, not in a detrimental way: Mr. Wareham has the chops to pull it off, which I attribute, again, to his extensive historical knowledge of the period. My finest compliments to him.

Indeed, I was quite partial to the middle chapters of the book which dealt with Mr. Andrews negotiating the Industrial Revolution: coal, cotton, iron manufacturing, the volatility of booms and busts, &c., and the social history nebulous to such. Wareham has us shaking our heads at laissez-faire scenes, like that of whole families – men, women an children – being lowered a hundred feet into a coal mine, by way of a bucket tied to a rope, owning a diameter not much more than that of a human thumb; the place presumably being pumped somewhat dry by a Watt’s steam engine. The notion that such rope occasionally broke with the expected result, though this method of transport was far cheaper than the construction of a set of ladders down a separate shaft for the safety of the desperate folks expected to do the work, and thus was the one that prevailed, was not lost on I, nor probably any other modern reader that has benefited from the previous endeavorings of historical workers’ rights organizations.

At any rate, having spent many a night, week, and year excavating historical details concerning the state of agricultural science, glass and iron manufacturing, boiler and pipe heating of buildings, coal gasification, the mechanics of tithes, natural history, natural philosophy, social customs, &c., that I too would have something credible for my own historical novel, Of Woodbridge and Hedgely, set in 1820, I felt a bit of a kinship with Mr. Wareham, during my reading of his work, though we are decades apart in our respective periods of interest, regarding our two novels. I say read his novel for the comprehensive historical survey he has assembled through the eyes of Mr. Andrews, as he hops about the world of the 18th century. Sure, another reviewer could prattle on about the characters, the examination of race relations during this moment in time, how staunch religious views impacted both business and family relations, and so on, and be perfectly in the right in focusing on these, but I believe I will leave it for another reviewer to indeed accomplish such, and make this my closing thought: 4.5 stars – huzzah, huzzah!

-TS

View all my reviews  (or lack thereof)

On the Application of Lime to Early 19th Century Farmland (Parts 3 and 4)

Countryside_near_Monewden_Hall_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1424272

In my last post, I partly published Sir John Sinclair’s missives on liming farmland in his General Report of the Agricultural State, Volume II. from 1814.  The man had divided his instructions into four parts and my design is to keep this format intact for both the readers of Of Woodbridge and Hedgely, who would enjoy further information on the agrarian chemistry mentioned in the novel, and also for those with a historical curiosity on the state of farming in the early 19th century.  Let’s get started:

3. How Land is Managed After Lime is Applied

Increased yields as a function of liming magnitude
Increased yields as a function of liming magnitude

Many farmers have found, to their cost, that land which has received a complete liming should be rested from cropping or laid down for pasture as early as can be accomplished. But this being often inconvenient, a gentle and easy mode of cropping is generally adopted, such as may be sufficient to counteract the effects that lime would otherwise produce. Alternate white and green crops are peculiarly calculated for obtaining so desirable an end, and if these are properly cultivated the soil will not soon be exhausted.

4. What Are the Effects of Lime?

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In bringing in newer maiden soils the use of lime is found to be so essential that little good could be done without it. Its first application in particular gives a degree of permanent fertility to the soil which can be imparted by no other manure. Its effects indeed are hardly to be credited, but the correctness of the following facts cannot be disputed. Maiden soils in Lammermuir of a tolerable quality will, with the force of sheep’s dung or other animal manures, produce a middling crop of oats or rye, but the richest animal dung does not enable them to bring any other grain to maturity. Peas, barley, or wheat will at first assume the most promising appearance, but when the peas are in bloom and the other grains are putting forth the ear, they proceed no farther and dwindle away in fruitless abortion. The same soils after getting even a slight dressing of lime will produce every species of grain, and in good seasons, bring them to maturity, always supposing the ground to be under proper culture, and the climate adapted to the crop. Lime is also peculiarly beneficial in improving moorish soils by making them produce good herbage, where nothing but heath and unpalatable grasses grew formerly.

On the Application of Lime to Early 19th Century Farmland

Countryside_at_Greaves,_Draycott_in_the_Clay_-_geograph.org.uk_-_402962

This is Part Two of a series I originally entitled ‘Excerpts on Mineral Manuring, Before the Advent of Commercial Fertilizer,’ and in such, I will be covering the application of lime shells (sea shells found in calcareous strata) to farmland for the purposes of regulating an acidic soil’s pH, improvement of its general texture (especially if it is a light, sandy soil) and thusly its ability to retain nutrients from plant and animal manures later applied, and perhaps adding calcium supplementation.  The full post will be in four parts, according to my reference’s author, Sir John Sinclair, who has divided it so in his General Report of the Agricultural State, Volume II. from 1814.  Such was profitable when devising my character, Mr. Winter’s suggested improvements to the land around Woodbridge and Hedgely; though if I recall correctly, I (rather, he) cut down the prescribed doses in a few situations to accommodate the large volumes of marl that too would eventually see the fields.  But before we get to my reproduction of his instructions on liming, I will add a few vocabulary terms:


Calcination (as it applies to limestone and lime shells) – this is the process of heating the substance to a high enough temperature, that an endothermic reaction occurs, in which the calcium carbonate degases carbon dioxide, leaving behind the more reactive calcium oxide (quicklime).

CaCO3 + heat —> CaO + CO2

Slacking (or slaking) – this is the process of adding water to quicklime, causing it to degrade to a powdery slurry of particulates (for the purpose of integrating such into the soil).  The result is also called ‘limewater’.

CaO + H2O —> Ca(OH)2


Lime Shells

Burned Lime Shells, Ready for Slaking

Limestone, after undergoing the process of calcination, has long been applied, by Scotch husbandmen, as a manure of stimulus to  the soil; and, in consequence of such, an application luxuriant  crops have been produced, even upon soils apparently of inferior quality, and which would have yielded crops of only trifling value had this auxiliary been withheld.  In fact the majority of soils,  unless naturally possessed of calcareous matter, cannot be  cultivated with advantage till they are dressed with lime, and  hence it is justly considered to be the basis of good husbandry.  

In treating of lime, it is proper to explain, 1. How it is prepared for use, 2. How it is applied to the soil, 3. How the land is managed  after the lime is applied, 4. What are its effects upon the soil, and  5. What are the rules for its application.

I. How Lime is Prepared for Use

liming-650x250
picture from http://www.agrivi.com/importance-of-liming-for-high-soil-fertility/

The preparation of lime for laying on the soil consists in the  operations of 1. Calcining or burning, and 2. Of slacking it:

The burning of limestone is conducted generally by the  proprietors of land whose estates contain limestone rock, or by  persons who rent lime quarries from them.  They erect kilns,  either standing or drawing ones, according to the expected  demand, and sell it in shells or calcined limestone at certain rates per measure, varying according to circumstances.

The operation of slacking is extremely simple: It is only throwing  water upon the shells until they crack and swell, and finally  dissolve into a fine powder.  But instead of watering it in great  heaps, the practice which at present most commonly prevails is to lay it down in the state of shells upon land under summer fallow,  in portions of one firlot, barley measure (1 bushel and 1/2) upon a  fall of ground, or thirty six square yards.  These heaps will be six  yards asunder from centre to centre, upon an eighteen feet ridge and the quantity applied will, under these circumstances, be forty  bolls (240 Winchester bushels) per Scotch acre.  But if sixty bolls,  or 360 bushels per acre, are required, the heaps of the above size must occupy only twenty four square yards, and be at the distance of four yards four inches from each other, and so on, when other quantities of lime are applied.  Some farmers however prefer  laying up slaked lime in heaps of a size to serve two or three  English acres each, instead of those of smaller dimensions, though in this way an additional expense is incurred.

When lime can with any tolerable degree of convenience be watered, that operation ought never to be neglected.  When watered  soon the whole shells easily dissolve and leave not a particle  unpowdered if properly burnt, which is a great acquisition.  But  when the shells are not completely reduced before they are  ploughed in, they afterwards turn into clotted half reduced lumps which lie in the soil for years, and till broken or dissolved by  water, are of no use whatever.

In place of watering, which is often inconvenient, sometimes  impracticable, the heaps are covered with earth thrown up  around the circumference of the base of each heap, in which way  the shells are gradually brought into a powdered state.  This is an excellent device; and in spreading out the lime thus slightly  compounded, it is in a state fit to be divided with the utmost  regularity.  After spreading lime on fallow, it is of great advantage to harrow the fallow and wait till it gets a shower before  ploughing.  In this way the first shower becomes a shower of lime water which unites with a large proportion of the soil.  

Mr Mitchell, late surgeon in Ayr, strongly recommends a new  mode of slacking lime by means of sea water converted into brine. He calculates that 3000 gallons of sea water boiled down to about 600 gallons will slack 64 bushels of lime shells – a quantity  sufficient to manure two acres, the expense of which he estimates at only 30s. per acre.  Slacking lime with urine, he also considers  as an excellent practice.

II. How to Apply Lime

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from http://www.noble.org/ag/soils/soilacidity/

So great is the variety of soils, and other circumstances, that no general rule can be devised for fixing the quantity of pure lime that is required for an acre of land.  Thirty two barley bolls, or 192 Winchester bushels of shells per Scotch, or 153 bushels per English acre have been applied with success to light, soft land: a beautiful verdure has been the consequence, and this verdure always indicates a certain degree of melioration, which will appear in future crops.  From wanting even this small powdering, some parts of the same field left unlimed had, in comparison, the appearance of barren land.  But from forty to sixty bolls, barley measure, (i.e. from 240 to 360 bushels), are generally esteemed proper for different degrees of clay.  Indeed from sixty to one hundred bolls have been applied successfully, for both corn and grass, on strong land.  The application is generally made when land is under the process of summer fallow, though it is not unusual to apply lime to grass land when the surface is tolerably level.

On the whole it seems agreed, that from 50 to 80 bolls of lime shells per Scotch acre (i.e. from 300 to 480 bushels per Scotch, or from 240 to 384 bushels per English acre), are quite sufficient for the greater part of the most fertile districts in Scotland, and that light soils, which require less in the first instance, are greatly benefited by a frequent repetition.

Lime operates powerfully with earth, particularly when mixed with half rotted vegetable substances requiring farther decomposition.  It makes an excellent compost also, with the scourings of ditches, sea ooze, or mud and moss, or wherever there is inert vegetable matter.  But it should be rendered mild to answer these purposes without waste, and the rubbish of old walls or old plaster is accordingly preferable.‡

‡ Note:  The chemist, Sir Humphry Davy, recommended lime not be applied to nutriment that was already decomposed, as it would render it less active with regard to plant adsorption, but instead would recommend caustic lime (quicklime) for use with inert organic matter (old roots, branches, &c. yet to have broken down) to encourage it into a state of putrefaction.

[Parts three and four, underway]