Friday, 28 December 2012

What would Idries Shah think of social media?

Someone across at Idries Shah's Facebook page recently asked what the late writer and thinker would have made of social media like Facebook.

I'm sure Shah would have had many things to say about on-line social networking: some rather positive about the way the internet can bring people together from far-flung places and help disseminate information (as well as misinformation and disinformation), and doubtless he'd also make some rather astute and less complimentary observations.

I wouldn't like to second guess the man, however, but there are some things in our own fields of expertise that we are perfectly capable of working out for ourselves. We don't need to be advanced Sufi mystics to ask ourselves why, for example, over 900,000 people at Facebook would fall for a scam like the R.I.P. Morgan Freeman Facebook page and not bother to check reliable sources elsewhere to find that the actor is in reality still very much alive; or – better still – why we might have fallen for such a patent falsehood. Or why, in their wisdom, Facebook has still not deleted the page, in spite of thousands of Facebook users reporting it as a distasteful scam. Perhaps because the inalienable constitutional right to free speech outweighs harm done or outweighs the simple common sense that we were once born with?

Anyhow, shortly after that question was posted, someone followed me across at Twitter, and rather than simply click to follow them back, I had a look at their public profile.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Etienne de L'Amour: An interview with myself

Q: What prompted you to write the books in the Shadowlands series?

Etienne: The roots of the idea go back a long way ... indeed such things perhaps go back further than we might imagine?

One early influence, which prompted the idea of the mystics and their mountain retreat at babs chu, was the 1937 film, Lost Horizon, which I watched as a child, much of which was set at a mythical place called Shangri-la in the valley of the Blue Moon. Another was reading the explorer Alexandra David-Neel's With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet. Much later, as a young adult, I studied the original 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton, as part of a creative writing course. By that time I'd also found an interest in esoteric traditions and spiritual ways such as Buddhism and Zen; and I was intrigued by the possibility that there might be more to the world than met the untutored eye. Something far more subtle, hidden and largely forgotten.

Another major influence was a nervous breakdown I experienced in the mid-1980s, which I'd describe as “blowing my mind on God”. It was a rememberance or awakening of sorts that went awry, and one for which I was at that time utterly ill-prepared.

Monday, 17 December 2012

In the age of information ...

“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
~ Donny Miller.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Excerpt from Thank You, I Understand: First chapter

Thank You, I Understand
1. The morning after the night before

It was quite late in the morning by the time Rocky Rhodes finally made it into town, little knowing that he had a first appointment with destiny that day, and as yet still blissfully ignorant of the fact that his every move was being watched, recorded and later scrutinized, as it had been for quite some time.

Mother had insisted that he get some food in his churning stomach before he left and, bless her cotton socks, she had put on her pinny and busied herself in the kitchen to make him a bulging bacon and egg sandwich. He probably looked as bad as he felt, and she was no fool.

Looking up from the sports page of his daily snoozepaper, his father had quickly taken in and summed up the situation with a stereotypically grumpy “You look like warmed up bowel movements,” by way of greeting when Rocky had finally clambered out of the pit and made his way downstairs. Well, his words were a little more choice than that, but you get the picture.

“They're playing your song on the radio, I see ...” Rather too appropriate and timely for comfort, it was a twelve bar blues number about some drunken low-life ending up flat out on the tiles again. That kind of thing happened a lot in Rocky's life. He'd read somewhere, in one of the underground student magazines that it was called synchronicity.

Or wishful thinking, a wise voice inside his head corrected him, both denying and confirming his beliefs at one and the same time. That also happened a lot in his life.

“And a very good morning to you, too, Dad,” he'd lilted in return.

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,” his father had retorted. And he, of all people, should know that.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Quotes from Thank You, I Understand by Etienne de L'Amour

“You know, we worry about the Bomb, yet there are millions of people out there with their thumb on the self-destruct button.”

“He had been diagnosed as suffering from atypical schizophrenia. Lord, how he hated that awful-sounding label. It conjured up visions of some deranged maniac escaped from a secure mental hospital.”

“It suddenly hit Rocky what an utter shambles his life had become. Well, not become so much as been since he could first remember. He was a walking disaster area. Some people couldn't put a foot wrong and here he was with two left feet, pointing in opposite directions. One wave short of a bloody shipwreck.”

“God, how he loved that synchronicity, ever-patiently and non-judgementally restoring his wavering faith in destiny and the divine. And straight after that came another soulful favourite of his: Van Morrison singing Warm Love. That was Donna's favourite track of all time. He couldn't listen to that song now without making the connection and tears welling up in his eyes.”

If these quotes have whetted your appetite, you may enjoy Thank You, I Understand, a cautionary tale of sex, drugs, psychosis, love and redemption, by Etienne de L'Amour.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Friday, 5 October 2012

Tips for writers #5: Getting citations

Getting noticed as an author

Like many authors, you may collect snippets from reviews in the media which heap praise on your books, and then post these on your web site. A typical snippet might read "... absolutely brilliant!" ~ The Times.

Give full publication details

This is fine for your own purposes and to woo your own readership, but if you would like to later have these reviews and interviews cited and used in a Wikipedia article about you or your book, then it would be beneficial to provide more information, including the name of the author, the publication, the article or column title, the date, the page range and, if the material is on-line, the web address. Avoid simply giving a web address, as on-line resources may well be moved or taken down at a later date, leaving a broken link, a process known as "link rot". This will make it far easier for editors and readers at Wikipedia to locate and verify the source and for editors to decide for themselves how to represent the review or interview in the Wikipedia article.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Thank You, I Understand: Etienne de L'Amour

Etienne de L'Amour has just released a new, standalone novel, Thank You, I Understand.

This factional work takes the reader on an evolutionary journey of self-rediscovery from near Neanderthal to sentient human being in a thousand and one fraught lessons.

A psychological drama, it explores the murky depths of the unregenerate psyche, trials and redemption; passionate romance; the wise voice of inner-tuition, and the heightened awareness of eventual spiritual reawakening. An awakening into a strange world pregnant with deep meaning in which we see revealed an awe-inspiring hidden design at work amidst the everyday life which we mistakenly take to be the real world.

Rocky Rhodes is one wave short of a shipwreck as the story begins, going through a period of teenage rebellion, amidst a subculture of sex, drugs and rock and roll, and later he experiences psychosis and schizophrenia. But his life begins to take on new direction when he is introduced to the way of the Sufi mystics.

Thank You, I Understand is a standalone novel of around 80,000 words.

The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon US, Amazon UK and other Amazon web sites: ASIN: B009KCNLHS. It is free of DRM (digital rights management) to make it easier to read and share.

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

A free preview (in Kindle/.mobi or .epub format) is available 24/7 from our Dropbox site. The preview is also available in pdf format at our mirror web site (on-line 10:00 to 22:30 hours, UK time, most days).

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Is this the end for peer review at Amazon?

I see that the Amazon UK reviews for J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy have already been utterly hijacked, within hours of publication. Most of the 1-star reviews are complaining about pricing, making no attempt to actually review the contents, and the book is also being tagged with terms like "kindle swindle".

Across at the Amazon page for John Locke's How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!, one of the critical 1-star reviews entitled The Secret He Left Out, about how he paid for 300 fake reviews, has been ticked as helpful by no fewer than 531 of 563 people, after the review was repeatedly tweeted and retweeted at the social networking site, Twitter.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Authors tempted to fake reviews and pimp their bios

There's been quite a hoo-hah recently about authors faking reviews at Amazon and on-line forums. Little has been said as yet, at least publicly, but I predict that the talk will sooner or later turn to the same kind of fakery and pimping going on at the on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

In an article entitled The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy in the New York Times, the author John Locke admitted that he'd bought 300 fake reviews, even getting the reviewers to purchase the books directly from Amazon so that their reviews would show up as verified purchases. Elsewhere, it's noted that such reviewers received only half of their fee from the agency involved if they felt that they could not deliver a five star review. Ironically, this unethical and debatably fraudulent big secret is something that John Locke left out of his book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!

The Telegraph and other newspapers also ran the story of author R.J. Ellory who was caught out using sock puppets (pseudonymous on-line personas) to create fake reviews lauding his own work and criticizing rivals. Some commentators suggest that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah: Book review

☆☆☆☆☆ If you like a story about the oppressed, the downtrodden or the outsider coming through in spite of harrowing events, grave injustices and enormous odds stacked against them; characters you love to hate; and a good old-fashioned love story, then you may well find wonderful resonances and enjoyment in Tahir Shah's epic novel, Timbuctoo. There are some anti-establishment sentiments in the mix and, given some of the characters' proclivities and activities -- such as the Prince Regent's whimsical excesses and the making of fortunes from trade in unfortunate African slaves -- rightly so, I feel. These themes are timeless.

There's a wise, old saying that you only possess that which would survive a shipwreck. In Robert Adams' case, this was faith, hope, gritty determination and above all the passionate love which fuelled and drove these qualities in him, and to which he clung on for dear life. We're all shipwrecked when we're brought into this world, become enslaved in one way or another and, separated from our "beloved", we yearn to be reunited. There's something about this process that touches on the mystical. In a sense, then, like the old woodcutter in the traditional story of Mushkil Gusha (Remover of All Difficulties), Robert Adams is telling us our own archetypal story and also showing us a way through all this to freedom. The details are very different for each individual, but the underlying pattern is the same.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Fragmentation of attention in the internet age

In general terms, I’m tempted to think that in this second phase of the internet age, we’re now being overwhelmed with both choice and volume in information.

When I first ran a web site around 1999, many folk would browse the whole of the web site at a leisurely pace and even download all of the free pdf documents before moving on. More recently, I’ve seen that most visit for a specific purpose and often leave having read or flipped through one or two pages, sometimes within just a few mere seconds.

Over time I’ve also seen the old usenet newsgroups die a death, then yahoo! forums, with lengthy discussion threads giving way to one-liners or simple “likes” and more and more fragmentation of venues, of information, and of the participators' or audience's attention. Having said that, certain niche communities, such as pagans and conspiracy theorists, continue to buck such trends.

The indie author's quest for reviews

As an indie author, I've just spent the best part of a week googling and listening in on twitter streams like “science fiction”, in search of possible reviewers. I've managed to locate four lovely bloggers who are first of all willing to review indie authors and who, furthermore, are willing to read soft science fiction.

The gatekeepers and the slush pile 

What I've found time and time again, however, is that a great many reviewers (most of whom are themselves self-published) will not look at the work of the indie author or the self-published. One such reviewer, Gav Reads, has written a blog post entitled “Thoughts – Reasons Why We Reviewers Won’t Read Your Self-Published Book” which will give you a taste of what indie authors are up against, not only when looking for mainstream reviewers but also book review bloggers, and what reviewers are themselves up against.
With paragraph headings like “We [reviewers] know it’s going to be rubbish”, as you can imagine, this led to a lively debate and raised a few hackles – not least my own. I think that the mistake I made was to be mildly offended by the double standards operating between Gav's use of the term “We Reviewers”, which includes the self-published and suggests a superior class of sentient being, and the notion of “Real Writers”, which excludes self-published proles like me.

Quotes from The Dissidents by H.M. Forester

“When it came to dealing with feral dissidents, there was only one unwritten law that superseded all others: "An' it secure a conviction, do what thou wilt.”

“The worst of all was to be faced with the interrogation technique of Thirty Seconds. The interrogator would say something and you had to respond quickly, without once repeating yourself or using the personal pronoun. Very few dissidents could last the full thirty seconds, and a refusal to comply was taken as equal proof of dissidence.”

“I? This is the very root of all evil, Potter,” the Special Investigator shuddered, reaching for her spray, as if to rid herself of some malodorous aftertaste. “How we detest that vile word. It makes us feel quite nauseous.”

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ray Bradbury's "great blizzard of rejection slips"

In Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz (son of Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon series), a number of authors and celebrities were invited to write a five hundred word essay on how a favourite cartoon strip from Peanuts related to some aspect of their writing life.

This is what the sci-fi author Ray Bradbury had to say, on the subject of the rejection of his work by publishers:

“The amazing Blackstone came to town when I was seven, and I saw how he came alive onstage and thought, God, I want to grow up to be like that! And I ran up to help him vanish an elephant. To this day I don't know where the elephant went. One moment it was there, the next -- abracadabra -- with a wave of the wand it was gone!

“In 1929 Buck Rogers came into the world, and on that day in October a single panel of Buck Rogers comic strip hurled me into the future. I never came back.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Excerpt from Escape From the Shadowlands: First chapter

0. The extraordinary general meeting

All weekend long the delegates of the Caretaker Council had been arriving, close relatives of the family being put up in the specially reopened west wing of the oak-timbered and limestone manor house whilst others found rooms at the village inn and at Mrs Murphy's guest house, much to the bemusement of the largely elderly residents of High Langton. Not since the outbreak of the First War had the sleepy hamlet seen such a level of organized activity, and given the secrecy surrounding the meeting, wild rumours were rife, further fuelled by the deliberate release of disinformation by Miss Crawford, the council's honorary secretary.

In her early to mid forties, Mary Crawford was a slight figure, standing no taller than five feet six inches in her sensible heels and tweed two piece suit. Her unfashionable, mousy, permed appearance and eagerness to please fooled many a stranger, but not those who'd come to know and ultimately admire her. The councillors and co-opted dignitaries might have been masters of waffle and debate and have the final say when it came to a vote, but it was the unassuming, organized and efficient Mary Crawford whose hard work brought them all together in the first place and made the event possible. The woman had the worthy gift of being able to attend to fine detail without falling into unnecessary pedantry.

Excerpt from The Dissidents: First chapter

1. The dawn raid

Enforcement Officer Kingsley checked the remaining charge on his disrupter and eased off the safety catch. After wiping the beads of perspiration from his furrowed brow, he lowered the protective visor of his helmet and snapped it into place. Not knowing what opposition they might face on the other side of the door, this was a tense moment.

Sometimes the dissidents would meekly surrender like gentle lambs, and other times they'd try to fight their way out like cornered rats, with tooth and claw and all guns blazing.

Kingsley was tough, with a muscular physique patiently and diligently honed over the years through daily workouts in the gym, and he had a rugged jaw line. A few years back, a dissident had landed him an almighty punch on the jaw and Kingsley had just stood there, shrugged off the blow and laughed in his assailant's face. The guy had run off screaming, having just broken three knuckles in his hand. In part, that's how Kingsley had earned his nickname in the Force: “The Rock”. The others joked about how his jaw was so strong, it might have been chiselled out of a slab of granite. But that was only part of the story. What had really toughened up Kingsley – not physically but mentally and emotionally – were the years and years that he'd spent dealing with the dissidents and crims and other pond life, out on the back streets and the stinking, garbage-strewn alleyways and in the pitiful, neglected slums.

In spite of this, however, Kingsley knew full well that out on the streets his reputation was of little use beyond that of a mild deterrent; that there was no room for sitting on your laurels – if you valued your life, that was – and that an Enforcer was only as good as he was on the day, in the here and now. Kingsley never once forgot that he was as mortal as any other, and that all it would take to dispatch him from this world was a single, unlucky or well aimed blade or bullet.

That's how his own father had died, in the line of duty, on the very eve of his honourable retirement, years ago in a botched raid on a militant cell; and that was the primary reason that Kingsley had abandoned college and joined the ranks himself. He'd arrested countless dissidents in his career, yet still he felt no closer to settling that old score and finally finding closure. Perhaps he never would find closure this way, for they weren't fighting a conventional enemy, and the force never secured a defining victory. All they were ever doing was nibbling at the edges of this irrepressible cancerous growth.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Idries Shah's successor

“A year before my father died, he sat me down in a quiet corner of his garden. We shared a pot of Darjeeling tea and listened to the sound of a pair of wood pigeons in a nearby tree. I poured a second cup of tea. As I was putting the strainer back on its holder, my father said: 'Some time soon I will not be here any more. My illness has reached another phase. I can feel it.'

“I sat there, touched with sadness. I didn't say anything because I could not think of anything appropriate to say.

“'When I am not here,' my father continued, 'some people we have always trusted will betray us. Beware of this. Others will stand forward as true friends, people who were in the shadows before. Many more will ask who I left as my successor. They will hound you, asking for a name. It is important that you tell them that my successor is my printed work. My books form a complete course, a Path, and they succeed when I cannot be there.'”

~ Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights, New York: Bantam Dell. pp. 215-6. See:

There is now an official page for Idries Shah at Facebook, maintained by the Estate of Idries Shah, and you can follow @IdriesShah at Twitter. A new official web site, The Idries Shah Foundation, has now gone live, and there's a new article about The Idries Shah Foundation at Wikipedia.

See also:

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Sher Point Publications, UK: The story so far

I've been on-line for over twelve years now and for several years I hosted and ran my own web site, latterly Sher Point Publications, UK. Now, however, it's time to make changes in order to reclaim my life.

Where it all began

It all began after the death of the thinker, writer and Sufi teacher Idries Shah on 23 November 1996. At that time, many of the folk who'd been reading his books (in effect, unofficial students) were left wondering what to do next -- all the more so since no successor to Shah was forthcoming. This was long before Idries Shah's son, Tahir Shah wrote in his book In Arabian Nights that Shah had said that his books were to be his successor.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Documents by and about the Sufi Idries Shah

A number of old, rare short PDF documents by and about the writer, thinker and Sufi teacher, Idries Shah are available from our web site.

The documents are:
  • Account of the Sarmoun Brotherhood by Major Desmond R. Martin.
  • Declaration of the People of the Tradition and Twenty-two Principles by Idries Shah.
  • First Year Studies: notes in response to 'Learning How to Learn.'
  • A Gnat's Weight: From 'The Diffusion of Sufi Ideas in the West.'
  • Grand Sheikh of the Sufis: Human Behavior article.
  • Idries Shah Addresses New alpha”: Notes on an address to class leaders.
  • Notes on a Meeting with Idries Shah: Notes on a letter reporting a meeting with Idries Shah in the early days.
  • One Pair of Eyes: Dreamwalkers: Transcript of the BBC documentary by Idries Shah.*
  • The Philosophy of Developmental Change: A 1976 introduction to the Philosophy of Developmental Change (PDC), by DWG.
  • Sufi Texts: Awakening by Idries Shah.
  • The Sufi Tradition: Psychology Today article (originally entitled The Shah of Sufis).
  • The Teaching Story: Observations on the Folklore of Our 'Modern' Thought by Idries Shah.
  • The Wisdom of Sufic Humor: Human Nature article by Idries Shah.
Click here to go to the web site page.

* The video of the BBC documentary One Pair of Eyes: Dreamwalkers is available on Idries Shah's Youtube channel. There's also a convenient playlist for the ten parts of the documentary.

Idries Shah is one of Etienne de L'Amour's main influences for the Shadowlands series of novels.

See also:


• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Saturday, 26 May 2012

George Orwell's last message

Here's a dramatization of George Orwell's last message before his death. Orwell famously wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party:

If you like Orwell, you may like The Dissidents by H.M. Forester.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Reference your books with a wiki notepad

If you need to keep a track of facts in your books, such as the storyline, characters, places and events -- especially throughout a series -- it's well worth looking at desktop applications that are a cross between a wiki and a notepad, such as WikidPad and ZuluPad. You can easily get hold of free versions of both of these programs to run on a PC and have your very own off-line "Wikipedia" for your books.

I've actually written my own, "Wiki Notepad" in VB.NET with an embedded Firebird/Interbase SQL database, as I wanted to expand the features and make the pages more readily accessible and fully searchable.

It's a neck of a lot easier than wading through the pages of half a dozen previous books to find out, for example, the term of endearment a character usually uses for their spouse, and far more reliable than memory.

Sorry, Wiki Notepad is not publically available, however, as it's still in development. As I enter more data, I keep discovering new features I'd like to add or existing features that need tweaking, so it's going through new versions daily.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Monday, 7 May 2012

Grey hat gaming of the book marketing system

I'm all for authors helping one-another out and fostering community spirit, but I am concerned about certain robotic, quasi-automated schemes that are being used to artificially "game the system", akin to "black hat" search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, such as reciprocal web site link exchanges, that fortunately incur penalties from the likes of google.

I call these schemes "grey hat", since I see this as a grey and at times murky area in which those who game the system gain an unfair advantage over those who choose to abstain; and the last thing we need as writers is to start thinking of our craft as a competitive sport and not as something wonderful in which we all peacefully and healthily cooperate.

The schemes often operate this way: you join an ebook service web site or adopt a twitter hashtag to get other members or hashtag users to tag your book at Amazon (with labels like "dystopia" or "science fiction") so that it appears in more search categories and is more visible to customers; and in return, you reciprocate by tagging other people's books. It's one thing doing this for a friend where you have a genuine interest in their works, but it's a grey area when it comes to tagging others whose works you don't actually know, just so they'll reciprocate. In some cases, the author will comment on a web site discussion thread suggesting tags which they would prefer others to use, and they tag others -- any others -- who've made earlier comments.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Once upon a time, before we ran on clockwork

ONCE UPON A TIME, not so long ago nor a thousand miles away, life was a lot simpler and far less regulated and we didn't rush around like clockwork soldiers or rats on steroids.

If you go back fifty or sixty years, to the 1950s and 1960s, we were quite content if our parents bought us some packs of Lego building bricks, an Action Man doll or Thunderbirds pyjamas for our birthday or for Christmas. We weren't all fired up by the media to demand all the latest, must-have gadgets; we didn't spend our time glued to television screens, computer monitors or mobile phones; and these machines didn't use us, we used them. Instead, we'd go off on wholesome family outings and play outside with our friends, with far less fear of being molested or abducted by some pervert. In those days, there was far more neighbourly and community spirit.

Back then, our play and our everyday lives weren't hampered by the over-zealous implementation of often-ridiculous health and safety regulations. If you fell over and hurt yourself (perhaps because a good neighbour had thoughtfully cleared the snow from the path outside their door), you wouldn't call in a solicitor and take the matter to court to obtain compensation, you'd simply clean the wound and stick an elastic plaster on it, or seek medical attention. Period. And we weren't as obsessed with cleanliness and beauty products in those days as we are now. A bit of muck probably did us good, because it allowed us to build up our own immune system, rather than becoming reliant on medicines.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

English language: Personal pronouns

When personal pronouns "I" and "me" are used along with other pronouns, it can be easy to use the wrong form. For example, should it be "Jack is going to the fair with Karen and I" or "Jack is going to the fair with Karen and me"?

There are rigorous rules that can be applied; however these can sometimes be confusing. The simplest and easiest way to intuitively check is to simply remove the other pronoun and then see whether the phrase makes sense and sounds right.

From the above, it's clear that "Jack is going to the fair with I" is incorrect.

As another example, should it be "Has John seen Andy and I?" or "Has John seen Andy and me"? Again we take out the other pronoun. Clearly "Has John seen I?" is incorrect.

And finally, is it "Henry and I are well" or "Henry and me are well"? Again we take out the other pronoun and in this case we change the plural "are" to "am". Clearly "Me am well" is incorrect. It should be "I am well".

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

English language: The indefinite article

I recently received an email complaining about my use of the indefinite articles, "a" and "an"; reminding me that "If a word starts with a vowel, use 'an'. If it starts with a consonant, use 'a'"; and going on to point out that I should also have written "an hotel".

The rule I use is this: "If a word starts with a vowel sound, use "an". If it starts with a consonant sound, use "a". Therefore I would write "a hotel" and "an honest man", and also "a unicorn" and "an umbrella".

However, some other writers and especially older and historical writers do prefer to use "an" with a sounded "h" if the first syllable is unstressed, as in "hilarious"; or for words like "hotel" that have been relatively recently co-opted from the French language and where in the French the "h" was silent.

Of course, when our fictional characters speak, it may be that they do not use "correct grammar".

I'd say go with what feels right to you -- bearing in mind that your editor or publisher may hold contrary views. Be sure to read the house guidelines.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Friday, 20 April 2012

The indie author's marketing blues

There's only one thing that disturbs me more than the initial stages of a book, when the ideas are there wriggling and squirming inside me, wanting to be let out, but the book as yet has no form; and that is the period after writing a book and having just been through a first wave of marketing. Coming in a close third would be when faced with a fallow period between two books, though experience may teach us that this is quite natural and nothing to be unduly concerned about.

It's gone midday here in England and I still don't feel like I've quite woken up today. I figure it's maybe withdrawal symptoms after the adrenaline rush of the last two days' free Kindle promotion, and yet it's more than that. Much more. It feels a bit like the morning after the night before, when yet again you didn't get to meet the woman of your dreams and are also left worrying in case you became a little too drunk and made an ass of yourself.

I actually find the marketing process mentally and emotionally challenging, which is great at the time; but also eventually quite draining.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Trailer for The Dissidents by H.M. Forester

Here's a very quick trailer we knocked up for The Dissidents: A novella, by H.M. Forester:

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Dissidents: A novella, H.M. Forester

Enforcement Officer Kingsley is pretty sure of himself and the Greater Good that the Hive stands for, and he shows no compunction when rooting out the dissidents and having them banged to rights.

But all that changes when he meets Holly Potter, a dissident informant, and he is assigned to work undercover with her, in order to penetrate to the very heart of the dissident movement. What they experience and learn comes at a terrible personal price.

The Dissidents is a dystopian, soft sci-fi novella of approximately 46,000 words, written by H.M. Forester. There are no bug-eyed monsters, and the story more about people than technology, so you don't need a degree in quantum physics to read it.

If you like George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four or the NSA's Prism surveillance story grabs you, you might like The Dissidents. Ever fearful of being discovered or "outed" for dissident tendencies, these people work secretly to preserve simple human pleasures and traditions in a dystopian world.

☆☆☆☆☆ "Excellent work describing a truly frightening dystopia."


Dystopia revealed, 23 January 2013
By Zenizen

"The Dissidents by H.M. Forester is an excellent work describing a truly frightening dystopia. The details that fill the harrowing story are of immense value to every person who is a free thinker. Indeed, knowing some of these details could save your life if ever you find yourself in a similar situation. Now that is something to think about."

The Dissidents is now available for free download as an epub or mobi ebook from our web site.

The Dissidents is now here at Goodreads. If you've read the book, please add it to your bookshelf and rate it.

If you want to try before you buy, you can read chapter 1 of The Dissidents here. Alternatively, you can download a preview in mobi/kindle format here. The preview contains the first 10% of the book.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Friday, 6 April 2012

A day in the life: Nicotine and lucid dreams

Forgot to take off my twenty four hour nicotine patch the other night and, as you may well know, they can give you weird and vivid or even lucid dreams.

I suddenly realized that I should be working in a certain college department that I'd left several years ago, instead of whatever it was I was doing, most likely fiddling around with one of my own projects, so I dashed across campus to that department to get back to work before my absence was noted.

Then one of the computing lecturers asked if I'd help them out. A piece of equipment was badly in need of repair. My task completed, the guy kindly offered to take me to the pub for lunch in appreciation. At this point I found myself in the back seat of a car with him in the passenger seat and his wife at the wheel. I squeezed in the back seat, beside another charming lady. The man's wife appeared to be an expert driver, but I was slightly unnerved to find her hurtling down a long, steep, twisting hill in reverse! Heck, she was looking over her shoulder to see where she was going; and at one and the same time, I was both enjoying the exhilaration of the ride, yet also mentally bracing myself for an almighty rear end shunt. Fortunately we survived the journey with our bodies and our sanity intact.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Wikipedia author biographies and books

A great way to help new authors is to write a Wikipedia article about them or their individual books. However, this is not a trivial task, so be sure to check out the five pillars of Wikipedia first. There's a steep initial learning curve, though in the end you'll find the climb well worth the effort.

First of all, search Wikipedia directly and via google to make sure that the article you want to write doesn't already exist. Duplicated content is likely to be merged or deleted.

The subject of a biography or a book must be notable and you need to provide proof of this. That means that they must have received significant coverage in reliable, independent, third party sources. A book may be notable and yet the author may not, and vice versa, so you may have to just add a minor "About the author" section to an article about a notable book.

Any significant facts in the Wikipedia article, such as those that may be disputed or critical acclaim, must be verifiable by other editors and readers. That is, the source of the facts must be cited in in-line footnotes or global references; and again those sources must be reliable.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Some quotes on the human condition

“Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine. He is a machine which, in right circumstances, and with right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and having fully realized this, he may find the ways to cease to be a machine.

“First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable “I” or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without end.” ~ P.D. Ouspensky.

“A considerable percentage of the people we meet on the street are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead. It is fortunate for us that we do not see and do not know it. If we knew what a number of people are actually dead and what a number of these dead people govern our lives, we should go mad with horror.” ~ G.I. Gurdjieff.

“No matter how fast you run, your shadow keeps up. Sometimes it's in front!” ~ Rumi.

“Our biological evolution is, for all practical purposes, at its end. There will be no further biological evolution without human 'conscious evolution.' And this may not happen without first an understanding of what our consciousness is, what it was originally designed to do, and where the points of possible change may be.” ~ Robert Ornstein.

“The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.” ~ George Santayana.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Tips for writers #4: Backups

+ If you use a PC to store your writing, you don't need to learn the hard way, like me. Always keep backups of your work.

+ Don't rely solely on a backup to the same PC. I've had two PCs and a hard drive die on me.

+ If you have an old PC, don't backup solely to floppy disk. These are notoriously unreliable and may not open at all on a different floppy disk drive.

+ I used to backup to USB flash memory sticks. However, these do sometimes become corrupt, especially if you accidentally nudge or pull out the stick without first clicking on "safely remove hardware". Windows 98 was the worst offender. I've also had sticks corrupt after deleting many files. Remember, too, that flash memory sticks only last about 10 years. So don't use these flash memory sticks as your sole backup. Trust me: I had six sticks and now I'm down to three.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Insiders: The Teachers of Gurdjieff revisited, 2012

Before the second world war, there was an influential Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher by the name of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. He taught that most of humankind was in a hypnotic, robotic state of sleep, and that it was possible to awake from this sleep and achieve a higher state of consciousness through what he termed "the Work". His methods differed from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, and so he called his methodology "the Fourth Way". Many Fourth Way groups and organizations are still operating to this day, in such far flung places as the United Kingdom and the United States.

Little was known about the origins of Gurdjieff's teachings, until a partly fictionalized book, The Teachers of Gurdjieff by Rafael Lefort was published nearly fifty years ago in 1966, and at the time this caused a considerable stir, not least amongst those students still following or involved in the Fourth Way. At the time, in the swinging sixties, many people were setting off for places like India, Japan, Turkey and Tibet in search of spiritual and mystical masters, and the exotic; and Gurdjieff's own sources, such as the legendary and elusive Sarmoung Brotherhood, appeared to have been lost.

Rafael Lefort is a nom de plume, of course, and is said to be an approximate anagram of "Real Effort" (which is quite permissible in traditional circles). It is not known for certain who wrote the book, but it is likely that this came out of the camp of the Sufi mystical teachers Idries Shah and Omar Ali Shah who were at that time working together in the West, before they agreed to disagree and went their separate ways. The book may have been written by Omar Ali Shah, or perhaps by a number of students in the Paris group.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The divided brain

Here's an RSA Animate video taken from a lecture on the divided brain by Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary:

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

IMAGINE: How creativity works

A wonderful animation by Flash Rosenberg, expressing the ideas of the author Jonah Lehrer in his book IMAGINE:

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Tools for writers: Organizing your ideas

Here are a couple of free tools that I use to organize my ideas when I'm writing:


With FreeMind, you express an idea by creating a node; and you build up a "mind map" by creating nodes and child nodes, and joining these nodes together. You can expand and collapse these nodes for easy viewing.

One drawback of this mind map is that you can only create a new node by connecting it to an existing node or idea. So with a simple tool like FreeMind, you can't create a lot of random, orphan ideas and connect them up later.

ZuluPad or WikidPad

ZuluPad and WikidPad are a cross between a notepad and a wiki. They allow you to write text in a notepad-like interface and create wiki-like hyperlinks to other documents. When you click on a wiki link, that document is automatically created and displayed and you can view or edit it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Tips for writers #3: Social networking

+ Twitter will help you keep in touch with established, loyal readers and may help you gain some more. However, chances are that a tweet will give you no more than a few seconds of fame before it is swamped by a deluge of competing posts, unless it leads to worthwhile content that other kind folk are willing to read and to retweet.

+ Don't go overboard with pure marketing on twitter, facebook or blogs, unless you can offer "added value" through previews of your work, special offers or decent freebies, so that your readers don't go away empty handed or feel short changed. Consider using a second twitter account to handle most of your marketing, using hashtags, to free your main account for more real and genuine interaction.

+ Tweetfests -- sending one tweet after another -- may annoy your readers and they may decide that enough is enough and unfollow or block you.

+ Running your own blog with worthwhile content is a great way of connecting with, sharing with and building readers. You can, of course, link to your blog from twitter and facebook. Intersperse your marketing with worthwhile content that you feel your readers will enjoy, appreciate and benefit from. Don't take yourself too seriously, and let your readers see that you are a sentient human being just like them.

+ Allow blog comments and pay attention to feedback you receive from readers. Express your gratitude. You may have to moderate comments and allow only registered users to comment, in order to keep out the inevitable spam and occasional hate.

+ Having your own blog will also get you into the search engine indexes so that others can find you.

+ Share the care and help other authors, especially new and independent authors who are struggling to establish themselves.

+ However, be wary of using "black hat" or "grey hat" marketing tactics to game the system in order to artificially get more links to your site, more followers, more likes or more friends, and to give a false impression of popularity. For example, reciprocal link exchanges may help you build up your readers, but search engines may impose a penalty on your page rank for what they consider to be "black hat search engine optimization (SEO)".

+ Above all, enjoy writing and interacting with like-minded folk. Good luck in your own endeavours!

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Sunday, 25 March 2012

A helping hand: A Shadowlands excerpt

As [Jeanine] turned the next page, she found that Tenzing had quite abruptly and with little warning switched from a more didactic description of the study to illustrating what he wanted to say through the use of stories. One tale in particular found an inner resonance with her. It told of a young girl who'd been orphaned as a child and taken in by a poor family who scraped a life together fishing. She found work as a lowly servant at the king's palace, but due to the intrigues of another in the household, who had taken a dislike to her, the girl found herself accused of a crime and wrongly imprisoned in the cold dungeons of the castle by the king.

To cut a long story sort, word had soon reached her foster parents of her imprisonment and when every other means of obtaining her release had been tried, to no avail, and they were exhausted, they happened to mention their daughter's plight to an old wandering holy man, asking him to pray for the girl's release.

This master of the Way, being a holy man, was granted access to the girl to cater for her religious needs after presenting himself to the king and successfully arguing his case.

He visited her many times over the coming months until the guards became quite used to his comings and goings. At first they used to question the man, but as he always gave such an incoherent reply, the ramblings of a deranged holy man, and as he stank to high heaven, after a time the guards simply waved him through.

Then one day, the holy man failed to turn up as expected and come the evening when it was time to take the girl her bread and water, they found her lying in a corner of the cell covered by a thin blanket. When she did not respond, one of the guards pulled back the blanket. To his astonishment he discovered that it was the old holy man, naked as a jay bird, and that the girl had escaped.

And when they questioned the old man about the escape, he told them that the girl had dressed herself in his coarse woollen robes, with her hair tied back and her hood up to hide her features, and had simply walked out of the prison. The guards had become so used to his comings and goings, and his incoherent grunting, that they'd let her pass without question.

“Well,” declared the king when word of what had happened reached him. “The old man needn't think that any advantage has been gained from the escape. Lock him up in the girl's place and let him serve out her sentence. No, double the sentence.”

“In fact, throw away the ruddy key.”

But the very next day, when the guards came to check on the old man, they found that he had quietly passed away in his sleep, knowing beforehand that his time had almost come. So what had he really lost in order that the girl should gain her freedom?

Excerpted from Escape From the Shadowlands.
Painting: Porträt des Titus in Mönchkleider by Rembrandt.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

The writer and the creative daemon

In The Lucian Uprising, the author Winifred Rawlings talks of her writing process, and this is not unlike my own. She doesn't mention the involvement of a creative daemon or guiding spirit or other unseen muse in the process, nor does she offer a psychological explanation, but I think that she would be kindly disposed to such an idea. The benevolent, mythological daemon is not to be confused with the malignant demon of Judeo-Christian belief systems. Anyhow, here's what Mrs. Rawlings has to say on the matter:

“The final thing that I'd like to mention before we move on and before I forget, is that when I write, I don't plan it out as do many who write to patent formulae. Though I've tried, that approach just doesn't seem to work for me. Very often, indeed most often, I'm not at all sure where the words come from; or for that matter, even a good share of the subsequent copy editing. Certainly not from the conscious mind. The words just seem to appear in my mind and write themselves of their own accord.”

“The writer never seems to sleep. I've lost count of the ideas and storylines that have come to me in the middle of the night, ideas that I always think I'll remember when I wake up in the morning and, over and over again, have been singularly unable to recall. I take a pen and paper to bed, and go to bed determined to stir myself and write the ideas down, but once asleep that resolve seems to evaporate, and I wake up frustrated by my weakness and incompetence.”

“You could say, in a way, that I'm not actually a writer, though perhaps I might be called a recorder? And when I come to edit the work afterwards, it's not so much the writing which I correct as the faults in this recording. Or perhaps I'm merely an actor reciting her lines? Some have asked whether I'm a medium, but that's not a term I care to use: it has so many unfitting and bizarre metaphysical connotations. So I call myself a recorder. I just happen to be one of those holding the pen, that's all.”

Painting: The Muse of Poesie by Konstantin Makovsky (1839–1915).

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Tips for writers #2: Inspiration

+ Inspiration can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be quite fickle. If you want to be able to call on inspiration reliably then you need to work on it with regularity. You won't become a good cook by reading recipes alone; nor will you build muscles by merely reading the training manual. You have to actually perform the exercises.

Someone once said that if you only go out with a bucket to collect water when it's raining, sometimes you'll get water. But if you go out with your bucket every day, even when it's not raining, sometimes you'll catch unexpected rain. And also, a strange thing may happen: that the very act of going out with your bucket may actually provoke such rain.

So make a point of writing something -- about anything at all, even if you're not interested in the subject, and perhaps all the more so because of this -- each and every day.

Photo: Thomas Edison with an incandescent light bulb.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Every dystopian cloud has a silver lining

It's no coincidence that Sher Point, the metropolis of the Freelands, is an anagram of 'the prison', nor is the name 'the Freelands' itself free from a certain irony. The Sirians, who had originally helped instigate the Eden Project, had a hand in this and they were not without a sense of humour, albeit slightly twisted.

Nor is it coincidental that the words contain within them 'psion', which is associated with faculties such as telepathy. Such faculties did indeed play a part in the original project when people, though some stages removed from Unity or Reality, were nevertheless still able to benefit from it. However with the catastrophic loss of the Link to the Source, though vestiges of such abilities remained as a kind of by-product of spiritual development (incorrectly prized by some), they were largely lost to the masses.

Decay slowly but surely spread through the Eden Project, to the point that the experiment was largely abandoned and the realm ultimately came to be known more fittingly as the Shadowlands.

Sin and the Shadowlands have become, quite incorrectly, synonymous, and several globally organized religious institutions have emerged in the Shadowlands which hold amongst their basic premises the dogma that all people born in the Shadowlands are hapless sinners in need of their particular trademarked brand of grace and salvation. But the truth of the matter is rather more complex. What is seen as black and white by the religionists and the authoritarians might better be likened to a thousand and one shades of grey; or even glorious technicolour.

You see, the degeneration, bad as it was, was further exacerbated by what is now seen in retrospect as a foolhardy policy of biblical proportions: the decision to use the Shadowlands as a kind of pan-galactic therapy centre and later penitentiary, a dumping ground for the dross and lame ducks that other, extraterrestrial communities wished to off-load. It had been somewhat optimistically believed that the penitents would be favourably affected by contact with and immersion in the native community, and this was indeed the case before the Link began to falter. But the sheer number and escalating levels of depravity of the reprobates transported to the Shadowlands ensured that the very converse occurred and they helped to drag the culture down still further.

Alas, movements which once possessed a live dynamic so often succumb themselves and become sometimes grotesquely twisted, fossilised relics and institutions. But fortunately there have always been some who have been able to Remember and to keep the spark or eternal flame alive through the centuries. Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen, a representative of the perennial tradition, is one of those people, and fortunately he is not alone. Truth be told, and rest assured, we are never alone and help is always at hand.

Though preceded by two prequels, the best place to start reading the Shadowlands series is book 3, Escape From the Shadowlands.

Painting: Mountain Peak with Drifting Clouds, oil on canvas painting by Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1835, Kimbell Art Museum.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

Friday, 23 March 2012

The tail is wagging the dog

There is something very precious deep down in each of us, and this has been likened to a jewel buried in a mountain (of conditioning), which we need to dig out, by applying real effort, to retrieve.

The age-old problem is that this essential part of our being goes largely unnoticed or disregarded. It is usually deeply hidden and held a virtual prisoner by other parts of us who have us in their sway, and is as a consequence largely lost to us. The chief culprit in this affair is what Sufi mystics call the Commanding Self: the mixture of primitive and conditioned responses, common to everyone, that inhibits and distorts human progress and understanding. We are greatly hindered by unbridled ego, the allegedly sovereign intellect, by inappropriate or over- emotion, and by a number of unfortunate traits such as ignorance, impatience, lack of trust, vanity, pride, greed, hypocrisy, delusion and spurious imagination (not to be confused with the more felicitous creative imagination).

Tips for writers #1: Miscellaneous

+ The writer never sleeps and inspiration can strike anywhere and at any time. Always carry a notepad and pen with you, wherever you go, and especially when you go to bed. Don't kid yourself that you'll remember when you wake up in the morning.

+ If you're not sure of alternative words you might use, check in a thesaurus. If you're not sure of the spelling or meaning of a word, make a point of looking it up in a dictionary. There will come a time when you no longer have to do this.

+ Read, read, read other people's work.

+ Don't give in to the writers' demon Aitse ("Abandon it, try something else").

+ When you reach the top, look back, return the favour and help those further down the ladder of success. And remember, you never know who you might meet on the way back down.

Painting: The Inspiration of the Poet (detail women left) by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665).

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(8) The Host and the Guests (Shadowlands)

The Host and The Guests tells the story of a mysterious illness which takes hold in Ingmar and of the struggle of one of the sufferers to free herself from its clutches, with a little help from her friends in the Network, a clandestine organization run by the writer and mystic, Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen.

"Don't just stand there and nod. The mind observes and cogitates, the heart engages, and I would encourage you to engage with the process," the healer, Mair Freida smiled, turning to the students.

The Host and the Guests is a short novel, circa 45,000 words. It is book 8 in the Shadowlands series. Contains violent and gruesome themes. Not for the faint-hearted or those of a nervous disposition. The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007JY6SPG. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

A bouquet or a bucket of cold water?

Over thirty years ago, as a young adult, I remember sending off ream after ream of typescripts to publishers and agents. In the early days, these were laboriously tapped out on a manual typewriter, until I invested in a BBC microcomputer and dot matrix printer; later a dedicated word processor with a very limited seven line LCD screen; and eventually my first PC.

I could have papered the walls of my house with rejection slips and letters and I found this a painful and disheartening experience. Looking back, I can see just how raw my writing was, and now it makes me cringe, so I can quite understand why I had so little success. I'm not one of those who would complain about publishers' readers: these are busy and professional folk who thoroughly know their business and who often go out of their way to offer advice and encouragement.

In the end, however, I became so disheartened that I stopped sending out typesecripts altogether; and then around 2008, having launched my own web site, I decided that I might as well have a go at writing again, and this time I simply converted the OpenOffice documents to PDFs, uploaded them to my web server and gave the things away free.

Then earlier this year, having heard about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), I thought that I might rewrite the novels and novellas, convert them for the Kindle and upload them to Amazon.

So, that's where I am right now: nervously biting my fingernails, not knowing at this early stage whether I'll receive a bouquet for my efforts of a bucket of cold water.

One thing that I've discovered already is that getting oneself established as an indie author, without the traditional mainstream reviews and publisher's marketing infrastructure to lend support, is not an easy thing. And I'm not alone in this: I know an established, respected -- and brave -- travel writer who has self-published his latest work; and he, too, is struggling to get those first, important Amazon star customer reviews. Self-publishing requires a lot of effort on the part of the author to engage in social media and market themselves, though fortunately I'm more than used to good hard work.

If you're in the same boat, I sincerely wish you luck and hope that your efforts meet with good fortune.

Painting: The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins, 1882.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(2) Life on the Flipside (Shadowlands prequel)

Life on the Flipside or In Two Minds: Bradley Foster is convicted of a crime that he did not commit and is 'sent down' for life to the degenerative realm of the Shadowlands, where he leads an impoverished and troubled life. Fortunately, he finds love and also the help of The Network, a clandestine organization run by a mystic from the mountainous realm of Narayana.

Life on the Flipside is a prequel, book 2 in the Shadowlands series. You can begin reading the series at (3) Escape From the Shadowlands, if you wish. The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007960W1U. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(1) The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor (Shadowlands prequel)

The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor: Set in the Shadowlands, a degenerative realm, young David Seymour goes in search of the Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor, and finds a still greater prize.

The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor is a historical prequel, book 1 in the Shadowlands series. You can begin reading the series at (3) Escape From the Shadowlands, if you wish.


A wonderful read in the field of mystical faction --no, no spelling mistake, 12 February 2012
By Un lector (Madrid)

"As the author explains, mystical faction is an extrapolation or merging of fact with fiction.

Deeply influenced by the teaching of the late Sufi exemplar Idries Shah (''The Sufis'', ''Tales of the Dervishes'' and the extraordinary ''Nasrudin corpus'', to name a few) De L'Amour is certainly well-qualified to embed Sufi wisdom in ''The Lost Treasure of Roth Nagor'', a fascinating story that will reveal as many layers of meaning as the reader is ready to pay for --in terms of an ''active reading'', akin to ''active imagination'' in more ways than one.

Read it by all means --you might wind up like the young protagonist, David Seymour, finding an unexpected, still greater prize than the lost treasure of Roth Nagor he originally sets out to find..."

A fantastic read! Highly recommended, 6 November 2012
By Holly (UK)

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is the first book I read by this author, and I'm looking forward to reading more in his Shadowlands series. I was drawn to read the book after "meeting" the author online, as I'm not sure if I would have been drawn to the book by title and/or description alone. I'm very happy that I gave it a try, as it was a very enjoyable read: a fantastic story on many levels that immediately drew me in. The author's influences as a writer (primarily Idries Shah) are very apparent in his writing, and that made it all the more enjoyable to read. I highly recommend this book, and as I mentioned, I look forward to reading more books in the series."

A Good Yarn from a good storyteller, 4 January 2013
By Omar

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a journey involved, the development of the central character and a fair sprinkling of humour and wisdom for the reader. I am starting to enjoy these tales that take place in the Shadowlands!"

The book is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B0077DYP8G. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(10) The Insiders (Shadowlands)

The Insiders: Exploring the higher realms of possibility: John Little is intrigued by a friend's illicit involvement in the old ways, which date back to a time long before the rise of the New Faith. Sent on a journey to find the Teacher of the Age, he learns from a number of diverse Masters along the way.

The Insiders is a response to The Teachers of Gurdjieff by Rafael Lefort.

"In answer to your many as yet unasked questions, know-what is ten a penny and often not worth the paper it's printed on. I'm here to teach you know-how and that is an altogether different kettle of fish." ~ The Master Malik Joujai.

The Insiders is a short novel, circa 38,000 words. It is book 10 in the Shadowlands series; however it is a standalone book and you do not have to read the other works first.

The Insiders is now available for free download as an epub or mobi ebook from our web site.

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(9) Whisperings of Love (Shadowlands)

Whisperings of Love: The wise healer Mair Freida is ill and her friends must embark on a long journey to bring back a cure.

The old lady at length hears the whisperings of love, calling to her. It is time to move on from the hidden mountain sanctuary of babs chu to join the Elder Abbots on the next stage in her continuing evolution in the still more distant mystical realm of Shu'la beland.

But is Mair Freida strong enough to make that journey? And with a deranged killer on the loose, will he thwart the Network's plans and gain access to Shu'la beland?

Whisperings of Love is book 9 in the Shadowlands series. It is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007DIMNF2. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

(7) The Gift (Shadowlands)

The Gift kindle ebook
The Gift tells the moving story of Emily Hart and Bradley Frogmorton as they awaken to the Gift and answer the summons of the Doyen Mugwash ... and what comes after. If you have 'the Gift', whatever you do, keep the secret to yourself.

“You're beginning a whole new life -- and for your own good and for the good of your future employers, it is better that you leave your old attachments behind. The more completely you make this transition, the better. 'To serve and gladly' is our motto, and the very essence of our activity. This should be your only concern from now on. It is a great honour to be called to enter the ranks of the Ancient and Noble Order of the Mugwash, and vitally important that you understand, appreciate and above all wholeheartedly embrace this ethos; and develop and nourish the precious Gift that makes all this possible. Don't let us down.” ~ The Noble and Most Reverend Mater Mugwash.

The Gift is a short novel, circa 42,000 words. It is book 7 in the Shadowlands series, but may be read on its own.

OCTOBER 2017 UPDATE: You can download copies of ALL the books from here on our web site. Although marked as "review copies", there are no strings attached.


Five read, Five more to go, 21 January 2013
By Paul Berglund

"The Gift, by Etienne de L'Amour, is Book 7 in the Shadowlands Series, from Sher Point Publications, UK. I have read 5 of the 10 thus far, and these five all take place in a world very much like our own, yet different and mysterious, as though somehow from a parallel dimension, seeming like out of the past yet in present time.

Within this world of the Shadowlands are places such as Narayana, Godweir (the Outlands) and the Shangri-La-like Abshar. As I read, I always think it must figuratively be somewhere in Central Asia or near India, but it really could be many places.

Adventures with journeys happen here, something of the nature of Harry Potter-like journeys, but with their own uniqueness and character. There are, layered throughout, or brought forth here and there in each of the books, thought-provoking philosophical statements and 'life-sayings', if you will, of a quality you don't find often. The intriguing adventures seem to have at least this dual purpose, one to entertain, and the other to help, to assist the 'traveler' (the reader) on his or her own journey.

In this 7th book, The Gift, there is a most interesting idea as the basis for the story. The central feature of the tale is the seemingly very unjust and backwards state-of-things where when people who are 'gifted' with sensitivity (telepathy and related abilities) are 'found out' they then have to spend their lives in servitude to other seemingly unworthy and disagreeable people. From this starting point proceeds the adventure. As with the other books in the series I have read, I have found The Gift thoroughly enjoyable, and as a bonus there is within it the happy tear-in-the-eye in the concluding pages, which some of us readers do enjoy now and then. For this reader, the only question now is which one of the remaining books in the series to pick up next."

Another great read in the Shadowlands series!, 9 March 2013
By Omar

"This book, like others in the Shadowlands series rocks along with a solid story line sprinkled with humor and wisdom. The central motif, that an ability like telepathy might be the cause of the subjection of those possessing it by others is an intriguing and unusual perspective on how a society might deal with such abilities.

Is the 'Gift' a blessing or a bane to its possessor? And how far can it be developed? All this and more in a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Certainly this book demands a sequel and I hope there is one on the way."

The Gift is available for the Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon US and European web sites. ASIN: B007D35KI4. If you don't have a Kindle, simply google "free kindle reading apps".

You can also find the book at Goodreads.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+