Tag Archives: book

Welcome to 2015!

Welcome to 2015 – happy new year! I’m quite keen to get on with 2015.

I have a book that is about to be launched imminently. I have a second edition of my Brazil book almost ready to launch, so that will probably also come out in January, and I have a sketched out plan for another book that I want to be ready by around Easter.

I also have some plans to get back into my daily running routine again and to improve my Portuguese – possibly with some intensive immersion lessons. These are not really like resolutions – I’m not going to drop these plans next week.

I need to improve my Portuguese to integrate further in Brazil. I need to stay healthy and fit and I was always running before, but over the past few months the combination of a lot of travel and the holiday season meant I just let it slide for a while.

I’m fortunate that I like my work and I’m always excited about creating something new. I see many people on my FourSquare app checking into their workplace and counting down the days to Friday – literally wishing their life away and happy to tell the world how bored they are with their life. But I love where I am right now and I have a lot of exciting plans for 2015, so let’s go 🙂

Nascer do sol #serranegra #nascerdosol #sol #sunrise #saopaulo

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Help me name my new book about blogging!

Can you help me please? I need help naming my new book!

I’ve been working on a new book about blogging for a while now and I expect to finish it off next week – the main draft at least. The focus is on content marketing and how more CEOs than ever are blogging and appreciating that blogs and social media are a very important way of reaching out to their customers *and* the people who influence their customers.

I need to think of a title for the book so does anyone have any ideas? I was thinking of ideas like ‘Your boss – the blogger’ but I need something catchy and creative… all comments appreciated and if I do actually borrow an idea then I’ll make sure you get a credit in the book!

You can comment here on the blog or if you follow this link to my Facebook then feel free to comment there – thanks in advance!

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Only an Englishman would write about pubs in a book about Brazil

Anyone who does anything creative is always interested in seeing what others think about their work. Not just the supportive comments from friends and family, but the online reviews and comments from those in the media – and just regular readers. I’ve got musician friends and I know that they are just as interested in how people react to songs as I am when I publish a new book.

Reality Check: Life in Brazil through the eyes of a foreigner [Kindle Edition]

I have been really delighted with the reaction to the Reality Check book. There has been some good press coverage, many journalists are looking at the book now because they have expressed an interest, and all the reviews on Amazon itself are 5 or 4 star. It all looks good. And knowing that it has been spending some time in the number one slot has also helped. To see that it’s the best-selling book in English on the subject of Brazil is quite something.

But one review on the Amazon UK site really stood out for me. It’s by someone named Socrates – I don’t know who Socrates is and what country he is from, but he has clearly read quite a few books about Brazil as he references them in the review. He wrote an interesting comment on the book and how it has a certain ‘charm’ though:

“Any faults with the book are part of its charm. It’s does feel like a sketch for a longer book, but at the same time this is a great example of how self-e-publishing means a book like this can get on virtual shelves without an advance from a publishing house. It is also very fresh. Many of the issues discussed, like the June 2013 protests, are still news. Also Mark’s guide to bars and drinks is something maybe only an Englishman would dedicate a chapter to in such a brief guide, however as someone that also lived in London for much of my adult life I found this very useful and charming.”

I like this comment. The reviewer has noticed that maybe there are some quirks in the book. It’s more focused on the reality of my own induction into Brazil rather than some laborious run through the last 1,000 years of history, or a detailed analysis of the work visa application process.

I think there is plenty of useful information in the book and it really does include stuff on visas and going to the pub – because as a Brit moving to Brazil, these were both topics that fascinated me.

The idea of it as a sketch for a bigger book is interesting though. I have published big fat books with regular publishers and I deliberately wanted to avoid that experience in this case. As the review mentions, I really did manage to keep some of the comment right up to date – making some final edits just before the publication button was pushed. But it is a full-length book that feels short – it can be read pretty fast because it is punchy and direct, but it would be almost 200 pages if it were a regular paperback so there is some meat on the bones.

I felt that the personal nature of this book and my desire to release it globally as soon as I possibly could meant that it had to be released using Amazon. But it is doing well. There will be a lot on attention to Brazil in the next couple of years so if a big publishing house came to me now and suggested I add some additional content so they can release it as an airport paperback then I wouldn’t refuse – how could I?

But for the moment, I’m already working on a new book anyway. All my writing projects stretched into the future are exploring how work is changing – with the Brazil one fitting into that agenda just by exploring the difficulties of moving across the world and trying to slot in.

It was never meant to just be a sketch, but maybe it could be a stepping stone to a much more detailed analysis of Brazil? Maybe that’s an idea for 2014…

Reality Check

My book ‘Reality Check’ is at number one on Amazon!

When I got up this morning I had a quick look at Amazon to see how my Reality Check book is doing. It was only published a few weeks ago on September the 1st, but has been steadily getting more attention.

It has been in the Amazon top 20 books about Brazil since publication so I knew that people were noticing the book, but this is what I saw this morning…

Reality Check: Life in Brazil through the eyes of a foreigner [Kindle Edition]

It is now the number one book about Brazil and number two book about South America. That was a great start to this week 🙂 Excuse me while I enjoy some Champagne…!

And all of this for a book that has only been released on the Kindle. I’m planning to also release a paper version of the book, but it will not be until the second edition – planned to come out just before the World Cup football competition in June next year. For now it is electronic-only, but doing spectacularly well.

If you are interested in the book, or my next book project, or any of my old books, then please do come and join my Facebook here:

www.facebook.com/markhillarybooks

Champagne na praia #praia #beach #camburi #cambury #saopaulo #newyearseve #reveillon #champagne

Enter the eBook

I used to have thousands of books, my house had a bedroom that was effectively a library. Then I moved from the UK to Brazil and I had to give away hundreds and hundreds of them just because they were too expensive to ship.

I still kept a fair number though, and I enjoy visiting book stores and purchasing and reading real books.

But I just bought a Kindle and started downloading some books to it. Why?

There is a very practical problem living overseas. The bookstores in São Paulo carry very few books in English, and the ones that are sold are from the best-seller list – not exactly what I might purchase. I have gone to Amazon and eBay and purchased books and paid for them to be posted, but when I recently bought a new hardback, which was about £25 for the book and postage, I thought seriously about how much easier this would all be with a Kindle.

I can get a book in seconds, I can pick any book I want, and even recently published books are available for just a few pounds. Many classics are available entirely free.

So the first authors I downloaded were John Wyndham, Julian Barnes, and Oscar Wilde… I’m sure that I will keep on buying regular books now and then, when I really want the physical artefact, but the experience of wanting a book then having it in seconds does change the process of acquiring books.

I’d never wait until I got to a record store to buy an album any more, so why wait to buy a book?

Kindling

Lunatics and bigots

A long time ago, when I wrote my first book, someone came up to me at a party and suggested that they could have written a better book. It may have been just a light-hearted joke, but I could see that he was serious and quite affronted that I had written a book that he felt he was better qualified to write.

I just said to him that he should do it – plenty of people believe they could have written a better book, or made a better film, or written a better piece of music, but how many of them actually go out and do it? If all the great books, symphonies, and films have already been created then why do people keep on creating new ones anyway? Nobody has a monopoly on the truth.

Because of these experiences I learned long ago to ignore those who are critical without offering alternatives or improvements, rather like an old boss of mine who always wanted his team to come to him with suggestions on how to fix a problem, rather than bleating about the problem itself.

But recently, I’ve been receiving critical comments from an individual on LinkedIn and Twitter. He has now called my magazine IT Decisions ‘bigoted’. Fortunately for him, he did not address his abuse to me personally because as most people know, making menacing threats or libel via electronic means is quite a serious offence in most jurisdictions.

I’m not personally all that bothered. Anyone who publishes an opinion of any form has to expect some ridiculous responses now and then. However, back in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester could lock his wife away in the attic. Now the lunatics have Twitter and other social networks to publish their world view.

So what did IT Decisions publish that’s so terrible?

Here is a report, commenting on research from Nasscom lamenting how few Indian graduates are ready for employment. It’s not me making these claims directly, it’s the Indian trade association Nasscom. Got that? It’s an Indian trade association bemoaning their own education system – not me.

In my view, the Indian hi-tech industry has enough good graduates due to the sheer numbers coming through college, but if the universities were more attuned to what industry needs then things could be a lot better. And the point of the article was anyway to contrast the value of full-time and part-time education, with the view that a part-time education may be more valuable than most have given it credit for.

Then, this report on the views of the Brasscom president, Antonio Gil. That’s the Brazilian hi-tech trade asssociation – similar to Nasscom in India. Gil made some flippant remarks about Brazilian IT teams being more inquisitive than Chinese or Indians. I reported his remarks, within the context of them not being politically correct, though having more than a grain of truth because of the way IT companies work in these different locations.

IT Decisions reports on what is important to technology decision makers in Brazil, but my magazine doesn’t have a hidden agenda. It’s not there to bash India and China, or only ever blow a trumpet for Brazil. When the magazine extensively covered the recent IT worker strikes in São Paulo we were accused by some in Brazil of being too negative and not promoting the industry enough.

My response to those people in Brazil was that we are not here as flag-wavers for the local industry, we are reporting facts that are relevant for those buying IT systems.

And that’s the reality. You can’t please all the people all the time if you want to try reporting the truth. Reporting always has some favour, or slant, or agenda, but in general we are trying to provide good information and analysis, without adverts, without press releases, without vendor-sponsored content, and without spin.

For those reasons alone, IT Decisions is already a lot more honest than most newspapers who need to keep a proprietor happy, or advertisers on board, or to appeal to the prejudice of regular readers.

I have plenty of good friends in India who know exactly how much I have written positively about that country and how far their IT industry has come in the past couple of decades. I don’t need to defend myself here when I have personal notes of thanks from people in India, all the way up to Manmohan Singh himself. I wonder if Dr Singh would have taken the time to write a note of thanks to me if he considered me and my magazine to be bigoted India-bashers?

Jane Eyre

Eating Animals

During my flight to India I read a book called ‘Eating Animals’ by the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s an analysis of eating meat, the customs and traditions around meat, and the methods of modern meat production – mainly focusing on the USA.

Though it sounds like a vegetarian manifesto, and the author is indeed vegetarian, he makes an effort to interview ranchers and people from the meat production industry. He even extends admiration to many of them, those who have tried to remember that the meat they are selling comes from animals who deserve some sort of life before death – rather than being considered nothing more than production units.

It made me sit and think a lot about my own vegetarianism.

I haven’t eaten meat for over twenty years now – including fish. And though I started off on that journey through distaste for meat, I matured into having stronger views on the welfare of animals that are bred for food. In particular, the fast food industry has bothered me for a long time because the concept that a McNugget was once a sentient animal is still quite remote.

Like Safran Foer, I’m not a dogmatic vegetarian. I accept that most people eat meat and probably won’t stop just because of people like me. I used to buy meat for my dog, it was the only meat I would ever have in the house. But I would need to be overly strict to enforce vegetarianism on my dog – and I made sure that it was ethically sourced meat direct from a farm producer. My wife eats meat and we have an easy arrangement where we don’t eat meat at home, but she is free to order it whenever we are eating out – it works pretty well for us both, as she doesn’t insist on meat with every meal anyway.

But reading this book made me wonder if it is enough to just refrain from eating meat.

People want cheap food and the food production industry has responded by continuously reducing the cost of food, especially meat. This process has gone so far that animals are no longer treated as living beings anymore. There is no farmer driving cattle to market or tending the flock, caring for their health before taking them to market. Food production has become an intensive industry where animals are born, raised, and killed in a factory environment – usually restrained, with artificial light, and with death coming before adolescence is complete.

Meat production has become entirely removed from any natural idea of farming. As Safran Foer points out, anyone who knows how his or her food is produced would want to change behaviour. They might not want to be a vegetarian because they either like meat too much, or they consider it culturally too much of a change to their life, or they might not be able to afford to choose more ethically sourced meat.

But anyone who sees images of how their meat is produced would almost certainly want to change something about the industry.

There are some small changes we can all make that would humanise the industry – introducing measures that at least allow the animals bred for food to enjoy some kind of life before they end up as burgers or chops. How about the major retailers insisting on an end to battery-farmed eggs? Or huge consumers of low cost meat – such as KFC or McDonald’s – taking over much of the production and slaughter process to ensure industry standards are raised?

Pressure groups like PETA are never going to get the world to go vegan, and this aim is only viable in wealthy developed countries anyway, but if the general population gets more educated about how their food is produced then some small changes could make a big difference. Not only to the lives of the animals, but also improving the food quality and reducing risk to those who eat meat.

Has anyone yet to consider the long-term effect of animals being pre-emptively medicated against disease? In the old days of farms, a sick animal would be treated. Now, all animals are fed antibiotic drugs on a daily basis so they get the drugs before becoming ill. If they do get ill then they are usually discarded. Over a period of decades, these drugs are becoming less and less effective at fighting disease because they are now in the human food chain.

Issues such as this go far beyond the cries of the animal rights activists. There is a crisis in food production waiting to happen. As more people have demanded the right to access good food, prices have dropped and production has increased, but at what point will the general meat-eating public start listening to the vegetarian movement, because their concerns start becoming aligned?

Even if their eating habits are never aligned, I’m guessing their concerns about food provenance will be fairly soon. Safran Foer’s book is a good start because it doesn’t advocate that you need to be vegetarian or concerned about animal rights to want something to change. If the public knew what was happening then surely they would all want it to change… maybe?

Meat is Murder - Lisbon