Writing


Health Matters (2011)
This was a totally different direction for my writing. It is the result of a study of about 60 books on health, and on the subversion of health by political and industrial powers. It aims at a niche in the market - a meta self-help book in effect.

It took me through the process of building chapter summaries from extensive notes. The organisation of material was a long, involved process. But the advantage of what was in effect a set of bullet points for each chapter was profound. I was able to write at about 1,000 words an hour on many days.

I handled references in a unique manner (and I feel it important to break out in new ways, not least for the excitement of innovating). Each referenced book had a precis of its content in the appendix, with a star rating representing my judgement of its quality. Rather than a meaningless numerical reference for each book, I used a two letter mnemonic. For example, 'The Diet Delusion' was given the mnemonic 'DD'. This allowed me to reuse each reference book in many places, and allow the reader to recognise books that might be valuable for further reading.

The PagePlus index generation facility is somewhat basic, but ultimately effective. Do not understimate the effort required to tag words within the book narrative for entry into the index, regardless of the software you use. For example, how can you keep track of the words you will use in the index? Until you reread your book, you will unlikely be able to list them in advance. As you proceed, can you remember all the words you are tagging? The best solution I found was to rebuild the index at the end of each chapter and refer to it when unsure whether to include a word or not.

Do not understimate the importance of a good index; many otherwise good books are compromised by poor indexing, making the rediscovery of information previously read a hit and miss process.

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Double Digit Kyu Games (2011)
This was a new venture for Neil, working with Anders Kierulf, the programmer behind SmartGo Pro on the iPhone and truly brilliant SmartGo Kifu on the iPad. (It is worth buying an iPad just for this app alone - it makes the iPad feel custom designed for Go game play and study. My thoughts, under no coercion from Anders!).

In SmartGo Books for iPhone and iPad, Anders was forging new ground. By creating an app for Go books that animated board diagrams, the need to carry a Go board to play out book sequences was removed.

My contribution was the first Go book specifically written for this Go eBook format. It is a collection of six reviews of double digit kyu games from 18k to 10k.

The reviews illustrate shortcomings in the reactionary and localised, small-scale thinking that characterizes play at this level. Every move is evaluated, with variations showing the effect of better moves. By commenting this way, the reader is made to think about each move - the repetition reinforcing better thinking, much as repeated Go problem solving sharpens your reading.

These game commentaries should help players tidy up their play, make them more efficient, and start to see new ways of appraising positions, moving them towards single digit kyu level.

The SmartGo Books app is free to download. It lets you read the first few dozen pages of each book.

 
Go by example (2010)
A study of Go game positions, exploring shortcomings in the typical play of intermediate Go players.

Also published via CreateSpace.

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Learn Go (2010)
'Go' is an ancient board game of Chinese origin. Although it is played worldwide, its status in Japan, China and Korea is far above that of chess in the West. This book teaches the game to beginners, adopting a unique principle of illustrating play with only one move per diagram.

This is a technical book, with a multiple column layout, images and diagrams of game boards. The splendid Serif PagePlus desktop publishing software was used to create the page layout and assemble the book chapters, and ultimately the contents pdf (portable document format) file. Of particular note was the gallery feature that allowed the hundreds of board diagrams to be assembled piecemeal as the book was written. I plan an article on desktop publishing in due course, and will cover the gallery feature within it.

Self-published using CreateSpace, an Amazon print on demand company .

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Games of Go (2009)
Another Go book, aimed this time at helping intermediate players understand commonly made mistakes. Detailed commentary is given for a dozen games of Go, with an explanation of every move - another feature unique to these Go books.

Published using Lulu self-publishing/print on demand.

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Balancing Act (2008)
A short novel with a moralistic spin that should make the reader question some mass assumptions about the World. It was written in an intentionally simple, highly accessible prose to maximise the audience and to make the message clear in the finale.

Also self-published via CreateSpace.

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