Sunday, 30 September 2012

Maps for readers of The eBoy

The ebook of The Boy with Two Heads has three maps in, as does the paper version, but the labelling on the maps of the e-version is not easy to read.

I have put these three maps on a separate page on this blog (The Boy with Two Heads - Maps) in the left-hand column. I hope they make it easier for ebook readers to follow. Please feel free to comment!

One small addendum to my post about the aftermath of the Olympics on Blackheath and in Greenwich Park: 
Most of the pavement posters about the history of the Heath, the number and variety of the flowers in the Olympic Park, and other subjects have been removed. But I noticed this one about three of the oldest sports clubs in the world, and couldn't resist taking a picture. It's such a typical 'London 2012' colour, and it may not be there much longer.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Olympic aftermath - Greenwich Park

Back to life without a deadline - at least for the moment - and I walked around Blackheath and Greenwich Park the other day to see how things have changed since the end of the Paralympics.

In The Boy with Two Heads I mentioned the end of the Olympic Games of 432 BC:

"There was still a lot of traffic on the road, but most of it was commercial. The tourists had left by land and sea the minute the Games were over. Tents had disappeared overnight, leaving the riverbanks bare and dusty, except for piles of rotting rubbish and lines of fetid latrines."

In London in 2012, the transformation is going much more slowly and carefully and, as far as I know, there are no fetid latrines to deal with. But there are complex plans for the Olympic Park, which will be called the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. And in Greenwich, the residents will be glad to get back to using their own Park as they used to, much as the excitement and glamour of the Games was appreciated at the time.

During the Games, Blackheath itself was a cross between a fun fair and a cinema.

Now it's just the familiar old Heath.

While the Games were on, there was a huge footbridge over the A2 main road. It was the route for pedestrians from Blackheath to Greenwich Park. In normal times getting from one to the other is merely a matter of crossing at the pedestrian lights and walking through the main gate of the Park.

But for the Games, the Bridge was the southern entrance to Greenwich Park and the way in for the Equestrian Arena. The gates at each end of the Bridge were closed unless there was an event. The view from the top was impressive, especially as it was from a place that is normally in mid-air.

Now the bridge has almost all been dismantled.

And in the Park itself, the Equestrian Arena is being taken apart, girder by girder.

It will probably be Christmas before that area gets back to something like it was.

There is still a long blue fence beside the flower garden and other fences preventing cars from using the main road through the Park.

But the Observatory is open again ...

... and there are various workers going about their business.

But, as in The Boy, most of the 2012 athletes and spectators left almost immediately the Games were over, if not before. In Ancient Greece, Olympia was basically a religious centre that was visited by a constant stream of tourists and suppliants. It seems that the local people wanted to get back to that business as soon as they could. And of course, they were well-practised in cleaning up after the Games. They had to do it every four years.

Friday, 7 September 2012

How not to sock puppet!

Further to their reporting of the infamous practice of some authors of reviewing their own books in glowing terms (and some even slamming their rivals), The Guardian has started a blog space where authors can in fact puff their own books. In two days it has 229 (and rising) books listed, some very strange and some very interesting. I put my own oar in last night - J M Newsome, The Boy with Two Heads, around number 220.

The link is here, and my publisher, Connie at Trifolium Books UK, has put it about on Facebook and Twitter.

I'm taking a break from blogging till the end of September now. Got to get that first draft sorted! 

Thank you for your following and hope you'll be back then.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

"Sock puppeting" a big issue

Yesterday I posted a short note about being asked to review my own book by the Amazon system that follows up when you buy something from them. 

When I opened The Guardian later in the day, I found this article about a practice known as "sock puppeting". It turns out that this means authors reviewing their own books on the internet using a pseudonym!

There's a quote near the end of the article by Northern Irish crime writer, Stuart Neville, who says "... companies such as Amazon should look at tightening up their own procedures and policies to minimise this kind of behaviour. Any system can be gamed if someone knows the right tricks to play, but it shouldn't be as easy as it seems at present."

It's a very good article and taught me a lot - and I don't know Alison Flood who wrote it!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Boy with Two Heads

Back to (un)reality?

Today I had an email from Amazon asking me to review my own book. (I'd downloaded a free copy for my kindle during the weekend it was on offer.) 

Dear Julia Newsome,
Thank you for your recent purchase from
We invite you to submit a review for the product you purchased or share an image that would benefit other customers. Your input will help customers choose the best products on
It's easy to submit a review--just click the Review this product button next to the product.
The Boy with Two Heads (Purchased on 4 Aug 2012)
by J M Newsome

So if there's anyone who has read The Boy (free or not) and would like to post a review, please do so on Amazon in my place!

Now that the summer holidays are over, Connie and I are contacting schools and libraries again and getting copies off to reviewers. 

Have a good winter, everyone!
(In Greece they say Kalo Heimona! - Have a good winter - when everyone returns to school.)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Olympic impressions, vol 4

'Golden Flower'

In May, the London 2012 Olympic Flame was lit in Ancient Olympia, at an altar in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera, the oldest surviving temple on the site.

A few weeks later, I visited the same place.

And, when I got home, I watched the flame that had been lit there, being carried through my local towns, usually in the rain!

Finally, on August 3rd, I saw it as the flaming petals of the cauldron in the shape of a chrysanthemum, in the Olympic Stadium, burning day ...                      ... and night.

There was no similar specific symbol at the Ancient Olympic Games. There were flames alight on dozens of altars and in the temples most of the year, so flames were all around all the time.

But it cheers me that the word 'chrysanthemum' in Greek means 'Golden Flower', and that that is the shape Thomas Heatherwick and colleagues chose for our 30th modern Olympiad's flaming cauldron.

(The first two pictures above appear on
with many others. Beautiful!)

Olympic impressions, vol 3

Many of my impressions seem to be similar to those recorded by visitors to the Ancient Olympic Games.

Happy faces!

London felt like a different city during the Olympic Games. (Perhaps it still does, as the Paralympics haven't finished yet.)

On the buses and trains you could tell who was off to the Games by their happy faces. The volunteers who directed us around the venues, helped us find loos and places to eat, and saw us on our way afterwards were usually smiling. And they teased, sang, danced and joked, so that we too always had a smile on our faces. Even the army was cheerful and chatty.


At the events I went to, the spectators cheered British and other athletes alike, and we waved, and chanted, and stood up to urge them on. 


I watched 
beach volleyball, trampolining and athletics live, and judo and gymnastics and diving and boxing and lots more on television. I was awestruck to see people so skilled, so practiced, so highly trained, and so dedicated to being perfect.


Greenwich Park: spot the camera!

And I learned a little about how the media get their amazing shots.

(in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts)
Taken by Yair Haklai in 2008, St Petersburg
No cameras in Ancient Greece, of course. In those days the media consisted of painters and stone and bronze sculptors. Most of the visual records of the Ancient Olympics that have survived are in stone or are painted on vases. Bronze statues, of which there were thousands, were made with the cutting-edge technologies of the time. Themis, the hero of The Boy with Two Heads, learns some of them during the story. Sadly the vast majority of large bronzes have been melted down - often recycled as weapons ...

(If you've been following my blog, you've seen this wrestlers picture before.)