April promo for #FlightIntoDarkness – Alan Kealey’s Indie Author News

March 31, 2014

This month I am trying Alan Kealey’s Indie Author News (http://www.indieauthornews.com/)  This is worth having a look at and seems to be a well presented website for ebook promotion.  He offers a number of ways of promoting your book, including front page articles, author interviews, banners, adverts, etc.  The costs are reasonable but you have to register before getting the full menu.  Suffice to say that I am going for ‘Book Feature’, ‘Author Interview’ and Book Display ‘gold’ which displays for a week, even when the front page changes.  In addition, he promotes on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  I have booked the promo for the week starting 14 April and the cost has been 110€.  I cannot combine this with a KDP countdown deal because I have to wait 90 days for that and, in any case, my price ($2.99, £1.99) is low enough, I think.

I am on a Goodreads forum that is discussing these promotion websites and the views seem to swing from ‘useful, essential’ to ‘con trick’.  The later is based on the fact that there are so many writers using these services that it is akin to shouting from a New York street corner and the increased sales do not cover the cost.  However, it’s not expensive and I want to see how it works out in terms of results.  You’ll be the first to know!

Here is the kind of information that Alan Kealey needs:

Book Author: Roger Hardy
Book Title: Flight Into Darkness
Genre the Book is listed on Amazon:
Political thriller
Link to your Book on Amazon:
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008YFC9HK
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flight-Into-Darkness-ebook/dp/B008YFC9HK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1345178103&sr=8-2
General booklinker: http://getBook.at/FlihtIntoDarkness
– your book (pages, words, general topic)
Flight Into Darkness is in the political thriller genre and has 262 pages in hard copy; around 82000 words.
when has it been released?
First published on Lulu as paperback 2010. First Kindle edition, 2012.
– self- published via ….?
Lulu and Amazon for the Kindle.
– Book Description (no spoilers)
A shiny new personal jet is lost at night over the vast Saudi desert and air accident investigator James Hayward is assigned to find out why; it was touted as the world’s safest light aircraft and safe aircraft don’t just disappear from radar screens, do they? He and his ex-fighter pilot boss, Katja, are faced with a wall of obstruction, almost denial. However, what they subsequently discover leads them into a web of intrigue and political corruption. They find themselves alone, pitted against a new brand of terrorist; one that is ruthless, resourceful and organized with friends in high places. This is a novel for our time.
yourself as author (to be written in 3rd person)
Roger Hardy is an aviation man, pilot, aircraft designer and safety regulator. He was born into a service family just before his noble Monarch ascended the throne and has worked in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany before finally settling in Portugal. Although British by birth, he is European by instinct and inclination and currently runs his guesthouse business in the holiday village of Carvoeiro in the Algarve (www.casaluiz.com). He has two grown-up children and, having completed five novels (see http://rogerhardynovels.info/), has now set sail into eBook waters. Outside of reading and writing, he can get a trifle boring on the subject of the operas of Richard Strauss, given half a chance.
– how can readers contact you? (Website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – two ways you prefer for readers to contact you)
My website: http://rogerhardynovels.info
My blog: https://rogerjhardy.wordpress.com/
Booklinker author link: http://viewAuthor.at/RogerHardy

– what makes your book special?
First, it provides a completely new take on the possible political future for the Middle East; is it a given that the Arabs and Israelis will forever be enemies or can former foes work towards a common cause? It happened in Europe. In addition, I write from the perspective of a former aviation safety regulator, so technically everything is correct and plausible; in fact, the entire premise was based on an aircraft certification that I was involved in. Finally, it is the first novel I know of that deals with the foreign policy initiatives of the European Union – not so dry as it may sound! As I said, it is a novel for our time.


1. The swallows are here! 2. Indie author self-promo review for March

March 29, 2014

First things first….the clocks go forward tonight and the swallows have finally arrived in the skies over Carvoeiro.  Actually, they are house martins (I just checked; these ones don’t have really forked tails, swallows do).  So, after the arrival of the swifts a week ago, summer’s here!  Funy thing about these little supersonic insect harvesters; you hear them before you see them….a symphony of high-pitched squeaks from a cloudless heaven (although today, perversely, it’s raining and cloudy).

Second, a quick review of my book promorion activities in March.  In February, I did the KDP Countdown deal and supported it with a review group activity on Goodreads plus lots of blogging and plenty of tweets.  I also appeared in two local newspapers.  The result was around 80 downloads (most of which were discounted to $0.99 or £0.99) and  a few more reviews although these obviously take time.  Surprisingly, I got downloads of my other 4 novels that I wasn’t actively promoting.

In March, I limited the activity to blogging and twitter with no KDP promotion just to see the effects of the Countdown Promotion.  The result was only 4 downloads, so the message is simple:  Amazon KDP promotions really work.  Regarding reviews, I have 6 on Amazon.co.uk, 4 on Amazon.com and on Goodreads, 4 reviews and 7 ratings.  So, it’s happening.  Slowly.  However, it is still true that I need at least 10 reviews on each website before readers who do not know me will be tempted to download the book.

Go on, have a look!  http://getBook.at/FlightIntoDarkness.

For April, I’m hoping to try Alan Kealey’s Indieauthor News (http://www.indieauthornews.com/) which involves a small cost but has a good reputation.  I’ll let y’all know.

Some pictures of the Algarve this morning – where God comes for his holidays!

March 25, 2014

OK, a slight change from book promotion and Malaysian MH370; a few pictures that I took today of Carvoeiro (where I live) and a couple of local beaches, Marinha and Albandeira:

Dsc01587s Dsc01615s Dsc01618s Dsc01621s Dsc01640s Dsc01642s

#MH370 Have the Malaysians finally stopped trashing the pilots?

March 25, 2014

This is from the daily Beast this morning and adds a note of reason to the various conspiracy theories that are surfacing.  personally, I think this is the likely scenario:

After 16 days of trying to give their own spin to the few facts available about the pilots of Flight MH370, the authorities in Kuala Lumpur have changed the narrative in a significant way.

First came the statement by officials Sunday that the Boeing 777’s change of course was programmed into its computers after, and not before, the last voice message from the cockpit was received. Now a later development, first reported by CNN, indicates that after the course change the airplane descended to 12,000 feet.

The sourcing of these statements remains obscure, but the fact that they were made public suggests an acknowledgement that the timeline no longer supports the implied complicity of the pilots in some kind of criminal act. On the contrary, a picture is emerging of the pilots not only struggling to save the 777 but going through precisely the steps they should in an emergency….

First, change to a heading that would take them to the nearest available runway in Vietnam and Malaysia able to handle the airplane;

Second, precipitate fall in altitude from the cruise height of 36,000 feet that would be consistent with the pilots responding to the effects of either a loss of cabin pressure or the consequences of smoke or toxic fumes in the cabin—in those circumstances it would be essential to get down to below 10,000 feet. In the case of cabin pressure, it would be done to stabilize the cabin atmosphere and in the case of smoke, it would be urgent to get on the ground as fast as possible.

Let us recall the original picture carefully assembled by a series of statements by the Malaysian authorities:

It began with assertions that the two systems the airplane depended on to maintain its contact with the ground—the transponder that received and transmitted its position and the system called ACARS that sent bursts of data every 30 minutes about its vital functions—had been switched off.

Suggesting that there was something sinister about disabling the ACARS made no sense. It was not a surveillance device that could betray intrusion or malpractice on the flight deck. Disabling the transponder, on the other hand, would be consistent with deliberately wanting to render the 777 untraceable, but it would not have made it invisible to the radar coverage of the area, civilian and military.

Something more than semantics was involved in the way the Malaysians set up this picture—“switched off” unambiguously implies direct action, “disabled”—another term used—is more of a weasel word that can leave you wondering whether the action was accidental or by design.

Then came stories about the 777 taking a bizarre and erratic course—beginning with a sudden ascent to 45,000 feet and then a rapid descent—no matter that because the 777 was still heavy with fuel it would have struggled to reach even 38,000 feet and that at 45,000 feet, well outside its safe flight envelope, it would have been uncontrollable. All of this was part of planting the idea that such a bizarre trajectory was designed to evade radar—as if the 777 had suddenly gained the agility of a fighter rather than an airliner weighing 330 tons. Even a rapid descent has been painted, absurdly, as a “low and quiet” run under the radar.

Then there were the more personal inferences. The captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was an active supporter of the Malaysian political opposition. True. So you make a convincing political statement on behalf of more liberal causes by disappearing an airplane full of people? Sinister, right?

The captain had a home-built flight simulator. True. Home simulators vary from being basically a video game to replay great air battles of World War II to far more sophisticated equipment able to give a fairly realistic test of flying skills (the simulators used for airline pilot training and refresher courses are far more formidable and include motion and aural emergencies). Captain Shah, like other dedicated professionals, was known as a guy who liked to promote the skills of his craft.

The Malaysians staged very public raids on Captain Shah’s home and took away the simulator, sustaining their narrative that something damning had been hidden. Then it turned out that some items had been deleted from the hard drive and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been called in to investigate. Even fishier was the implication. Reaching a risible height of paranoia, one commentator actually suggested that, given the 777’s erratic course, Captain Shah—with more than 18,000 hours flying airliners—had been practicing left turns on his simulator.

What has come of all of this? Zilch.

Here’s another perspective—the story of what happened on the flight deck of Air France 447 before it disappeared into the ocean in 2009.

French air crash investigators were able to reconstruct the final minutes in the cockpit of the Airbus A330. There were three pilots on that flight: Captain Marc Dubois, First Officer David Robert, and a far less experienced pilot, Pierre-Cedric Bonin. Bonin was flying the airplane at the time when its flight control computers suddenly quit, requiring him to take over.

Captain Dubois was in the cabin, not on the flight deck, even though he knew that the A330 was flying through a band of severe thunder storms generating a great deal of turbulence. Nonetheless, first officer Robert had the most hours flying an A330, 4,479 (Captain Dubois had 1,700 hours) and Robert was sitting alongside the rookie Bonin who had only 807 hours on A330s.

By the time Dubois got back into the cockpit it was too late to save the airplane—neither Robert nor Bonin had taken the steps necessary to avoid a high-speed stall. They could have saved the airplane but they didn’t.

Imagine where the speculation could have taken this scenario—a captain not in the cockpit at the time of an emergency, French no less! Back in first class!  Champagne! Flight attendants!

Yet there is an important difference here—Malaysia Flight MH370 was less than an hour out of Kuala Lumpur and just beginning its cruise when whatever happened caused it to change course. Air France Flight 447 was already three hours out over the Atlantic and it was perfectly normal for a captain to have left the cockpit by that time, greet some VIP passengers and to trust his very experienced first officer to handle the airplane. (First officers do most of the flying anyway).

Captain Shah and his much younger and far less experienced first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, will never be able personally to answer for the fate of their airplane. Dead men cannot defend themselves. But right now none of the scant facts (frequently contradictory, sometimes withdrawn, often suspect) released justify the way they have been traduced.

#MH370 The conspiracy theories grow exponentially but this one takes the prize…

March 24, 2014

OK, if there weren’t enough conspiracy theories already regarding the sad loss of MH370, this one takes some beating.  My comments are at the end:

When the American were withdrawing from Afghanistan, one of their command and control systems (used for controlling the pilotless drones) was hijacked by the Talebans when the American transport convoy was moving down from one of the hill top bases. The Talebans ambushed the convoy and killed 2 American Seal personnel, seized the equipment/weapons, including the command and control system which weighed about 20 tons packed into 6 crates.
This happened about a month ago in Feb 2014.

What the Talebans want is money. They want to sell the system to the Russian or the Chinese. The Russian are busy in Ukraine. The Chinese are hungry for the system’s technology. Just imagine if the Chinese master the technology behind the command and control system, all the American drones will become useless. So the Chinese sent 8 top defense scientists to check the system and agreed to pay millions for it.

Sometime in early Mar 2014, the 8 scientists and the 6 crates made their way to Malaysia, thinking that it was the best covert way to avoid detection. The cargo was then kept in the Embassy under diplomatic protection. Meanwhile the American has engaged the assistance of Israeli intelligence, and together they are determined to intercept and recapture the cargo.

The Chinese calculated that it would be safe to transport it via civilian aircraft so as to avoid suspicion. After all the direct flight from KL to Beijing takes only 4 and half hours, and the American will not hijack or harm the civilian. So MH370 is the perfect carrier.

There might have been 5 American and Israeli agents onboard who are familiar with Boeing operation. The 2 “Iranians” with stolen passports could be among them.

When MH370 was about to leave the Malaysian air space and reporting to Vietnamese air control, one American AWAC jammed their signal, disabled the pilot control system and switched over to remote control mode. That was when the plane suddenly lost altitude momentarily.

How can the AWAC do this ?
Remember 911 incident ? After the 911 incident, all Boeing aircraft (and possibly all Airbus) were installed with remote control system to counter terrorist hijacking. Since then all the Boeing can be remotely controlled by ground control. The same remote control system used to control the pilotless spy aircraft and drones.

The 5 American/Israeli agents soon took over the plane, switched off the transponder and other communication system, changed course and flew westwards. They dare not fly east to Philippines or Guam because the whole South China Sea air space was covered by Chinese surveillance radar and satellite.

The Malaysian, Thai and Indian military radars actually detected the unidentified aircraft but did not react professionally.

The plane flew over North Sumatra, Anambas, South India and then landed at Maldives (some villagers saw the aircraft landing), refuelled and continued its flight to Garcia Deigo, the American Air Base in the middle of Indian Ocean. The cargo and the black box were removed. The passengers were silenced via natural means, lack of oxygen. They believe only dead person will not talk. The MH370 with dead passengers were air borne again via remote control and crashed into South Indian Ocean, make it to believe that the plane eventually ran out of fuel and crashed the blame would then be on the captain and copilot.

America. first diverted all the attention and search effort in the South China Sea while the plane made its way across the Indian Ocean. Then they came out with some conflicting statement and evidence to confuse the world. The Australian government is participating in this .

The amount of effort put up by China, in terms of the number of search aircraft, ships and satellites, searching first the South China Sea, then the Malacca Straits and the Indian Ocean is unprecedented. This showed that the China is very concerned, not so much because of the many Chinese civilian passengers, but mainly because of the strategic value of the cargo and its 8 top defense scientists.

My comments:

As far as I am aware, the US drones are controlled from US soil, not in the conflict zone, therefore the command & control system cannot have been captured.  UK drones are controlled in the UK, wherever they are operating.  However, if I’m wrong, the scenario of the theft is credible except that it would be too well defended…by other drones, operating from the US.

It would not be possible to remotely take control of another aircraft’s control system without a major design impact but it could be possible to trigger a Trojan Horse via ACARS as its data is two-way street.  However, the software designers must be involved in the scam and I cannot see anyone risking it being found out in a software audit.  The Trojan Horse idea is directly from my novel Flight Into Darkness, of course (http://getBook.at/FlightIntoDarkness).

We safety regulators (retired, in my case) hate the idea of a catastrophic failure in a transport category aircraft because we’ve worked our lives to make them a thing of the past.  Generally speaking, an aircraft crashes because three or four very unlikely things occurring at the same time, and one of those is that the human/machine interface (the pilot, in common parlance) does something unpredictable and…well…yes…stupid.  See AF447.

In any case, if this is even partially true, we could expect another  Mr Smowdon to reveal all sometime soon on Wikileaks.  The US/Israel could not risk that.

So, the jury’s still out but expect more crackpot theories on MH370.  I’ve also see one on extra-terrestrial involvement.  These people should get out more.

The first swifts have arrived – summer starts here!

March 22, 2014

The first families of swifts have arrived and are nesting in the cliff face at Carvoeiro, hoovering the air for insects, flashing about at supersonic speed with their flickering scythe-like wings like tiny ballerinas.  Yesterday was the equinox, the breeze is warm and sweet; summer is palpably here.  I’m still waiting for the swallows that come over from North Africa to share airspace with the seagulls which are now getting raucously broody; it’s difficult to sleep beyond 6am.  The swallows’ high pitched squeaks will offset the football hooligan shouts of the gulls.  They don’t bother each other but the gulls are giving any other intruder a hard time; there were a couple of ravens yesterday that got chased away and the kestrels were actively dive-bombed; hawks like eggs which are easier prey than the pigeons that nest in the cliff face.  Farther out at sea are the cormorants that fold their wings and dive vertically into the sea.  The clifftop walk is the scene of crime; a patch of feathers.  Pigeon feathers.  I suspect the kestrels.  We will bring them in for questioning.

The wild irises that started to pop up a couple of weeks ago are now everywhere and the clifftop is looking like an unkempt garden with great swathes of dog daises, tall blue things and low camomile.  Unseen finches twitter in the knotted shrubs. The work on the boardwalk proceeds rapidly; this stretches on the clifftop from the church near my guesthouse to Algar Seco and was funded by the EU to  give full access to all.  Some don’t like it as it will tame the only wild space left in the village but Carvoeiro is almost a tourist theme park anyway and there are plenty of other wild open spaces between us and Benagil and Ferragudo, east and west.

There are worse places to be than the Algarve in March.


#MH370 Floating debris found in South Indian Ocean – in aviation, never say ‘never’

March 20, 2014

Well, it’s starting to look as if the hopes that MH370 had been hijacked somewhere in Central Asia are dashed.  It’s still too early to say but this is the best lead so far and, if proven correct, it ends the hope for the passengers and crew.  My thoughts and best wishes are with their families.  Fikiran saya dan semoga bersama keluarga mereka.  我的思念和最美好的祝愿与家人团聚。

But let’s look at what we know about the unusual sequence of events:

1.  The last ATC message at 01:07 was that everything was OK.

2.  At more or less the same time, the transponder stopped transmitting.

3.  At the same time the aircraft diverted south (following Chris Goodfellows’ clever piece of detective work) possibly trying to divert to Pulau Langkawi: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/ ).

4.  No mayday call was made (suggesting that the radio and communications were disabled).

5.  The aircraft followed an erratic flightpath, climbing at times to 50,00ft and descending to 5000ft.

6.  The ACARS ceased active transmitting some time between 01:07 and 01:37 but still responded passively.

7.  The aircraft continued southwards on automatic pilot until its fuel was exhaused or the flight controls were disabled.

The conclusion must be that there was a catastrophic event that disabled the communications/electrics and the crew.  This was probably an electrical fire as the electrical systems were disabled first and very quickly.  Modern airliners are massively dependent on their electrical systems.  Remember that modern airlines, post-9/11, are fitted with armoured and locked cockpit doors that can only be opened by the flight crew so that even if the passengers or cabin staff knew that there was a problem in the office, they would not be able to do anything about it.  Horrific.

The aircraft may never be found.  When AF447 went down in the Atlantic, the location was known but it still took 2 years to find the wreckage.  This one may be deeper and still has not been located.

The most horrific thing is that the technical failure is a catastrophic one and we people in the aviation safety business thought that they were a thing of the past, at least for public transport aircraft.  We thought it could never happen.

You soon learn in aviation never to say ‘never’.