1 July 2013 - CRAIG BRUMMER - Guest Author


- Guest Author -

G'day guys,

Welcome to the world of Craig Brummer. Craig has lived in many places, including Japan and Germany. Welcome, Craig ...


I was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in a time when we did not have all the entertainment options we do today, so you either played outside or read books. I did a lot of both and developed a love of the ocean and reading. I have lived all over the United States, as well as several years in both Japan and Germany. Today, I live in Atlanta with my wife and a house full of furry critters. Like most authors, both indie and with the big 6 publishers, I have both a business career and writing career. My day job is as a Vice President of Business Development for a large service provider company, which requires a lot of travelling and hectic work schedule. However, the time I have for writing is my way of relaxing. Some people play golf; instead, I create stories and characters in a new universe.


Like most writers, I grew up with a love of reading. My favourite authors as a young teenager where Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, and CJ Cherryh. I started writing about fifteen years ago and became active in a writers’ group, Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Workshop, when I lived in that area. Most writers are avid readers and most avid readers have thought of writing. That’s how I became a writer. Stories that inspired me instilled in me a desire to create my own universe and set of characters.  I’ve completed several novels, but A New Beginning is my first novel I felt worthy of publication.


I love creating the story, the characters, the world setting. To me, creating them is as enjoyable as watching a great movie. My characters become friends, the world setting a place that I would be interested in living. The process of writing a story is at times difficult, but always enjoyable and rewarding as you finish each chapter. Of course, completing a novel is always time for a little personal celebration.


Currently I am working on the second novel set in the Federation Universe. It is not a sequel to A New Beginning, but a standalone novel in the same setting. My intention is to write a number of novels set in the Federation Universe (not to be confused with the Star Trek universe). Some characters from one novel will reappear in other novels but each novel will be a separate story.


The potential of mankind. We live in a marvellous time with enormous capability that can be used negatively or positively. We all know of the problems on our lonely little planet and the struggles of everyday people. I write to show what might be a potential future for us. I’d like to think that one day we will colonize space and life as I write it will be an option for us.


I write Science Fiction in the sub-genre Space Opera. A New Beginning has some battle elements, but the story is not military oriented. In A New Beginning, the spacers are rebelling against Earth’s control of them and setting up their own government. But the main story is about a young earth girl, Kristin Hayes, who was an indentured corporate worker, a slave really. She is sold to the spacers, and the story is about how that changes her life and her pursuit of happiness.


My favourite author is C.J. Cherryh and has been for ages, so of course she is a major influence in my own writing. I think her novels Cyteen, Regenesis and Downbelow Station were master works. I have 38 of her novels, which I think is pretty much everything she’s written excluding short stories. I like her writing style and her superb talent at creating new and exciting worlds. Her characters are believable, as are the various worlds she creates.



Yes. I think that’s critical for any book. Errors cause the reader to “break” from the story. It disrupts their experience and enjoyment of the story. As a writer, you simply cannot edit your own book. You’ve read each paragraph many times and your mind knows what should be there, so you don’t see the errors. We’ve all seen some of the indie authors who have received poor reviews over the lack of editing in their books. As an avid reader myself, I have to mention that lately I’ve read a couple books from one of the big 6 publishers that were poorly edited, and now I’m avoiding that imprint.


No, not really. However, as a writer you do instil in characters certain of your viewpoints, or either opposing viewpoints. As I develop characters, they may have traits of people I’ve known or some mixing of traits and views of various people I’ve known. Of course, there are other characters that are created simply because they fit a certain role in the story. When I’m developing a story I start with the lead character, the protagonist, and then build the story around them. The other characters are all created to help or hinder the protagonist, and that often drives what traits they possess.


No, not at all. I had a lot of exposure to agents and publishers when I was in the DFW Writers Workshop. Also, my daughter was an agent with one of the New York literary firms for about eight years. So I am pretty familiar with the traditional publishing industry. What really excites me today is the potential that Amazon brought to the world by opening the door to indie authors. Previously, the big 6 firms controlled what was available to read; today, that is not the case. For instance, there was clearly a market for many more romance novels, especially in certain sub-genres, that the big 6 were not meeting. That gap has been filled by some very talented indie authors. I find the process of indie publishing to be very exciting and enjoyable. As an indie author, I decide on the artist for my cover and exactly what the cover will look like, who will edit and format the book, and of course create my own marketing plan to let readers know the book is available.


A book cover is important. It’s the thing that attracts a reader to the book to see if they might be interested in it. I think the cover should convey what’s inside; it should hint at the story line. For A New Beginning, I had a young German artist, Djamila Knopf, do the artwork. She did a great job of capturing what I envisioned as Kristin Hayes right after she has been sold to the spacers but before she really knows anything about them. She is sitting staring out a window at the vastness of space, wondering what the future holds for her which is the story. www.SGWdesign.com also did a fantastic job on the cover layout and book formatting.


Well, yes. I would like to add where you can get a copy of A New Beginning.

It’s available on Amazon in most countries viewBook.at/B00CG5X9FA and at Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/Ztr1hl and Smashwords http://bit.ly/15yujT2 

The ereader (Kindle & Nook) version were released April 20th, the print version will be released May 2nd.

I am also in discussions to have an audio version done, but that will not be out until late June, possible early July. If someone wants to track the release dates or additional information,my website is: http://www.CraigBrummer.com

I would also like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to your audience and let them know about my novel.

Clancy's comment: My pleasure. Agree with you about characters becoming friends. I guess that is because we spend so much time with them. Thanks for your time, Craig.  Best of luck.

I'm ...

30 June 2013 - ALFRED KOURIS - Australian Success Story


- Australian Success Story -

G'day guys,

Many of you may not know that Australia has been the recipient of many migrants since the day it was established as a penal colony in 1788. The gold rush of the 1850's brought countless people to this country. However, post-war, there was a massive influx of migrants who I think have made an extraordinary contribution to this nation. Example? About five years ago, every State Premier and Governor was a second generation Australian, including the Governor General.

I began my working life as an Immigration Officer and it became one of the biggest influences in my life. Having said that, I recall a senior officer making a comment at a training course - one I never forgot, 'To leave your homeland and begin a new life in another country is the biggest decision you'll ever make.' 

Today, I feature a man who did just that. He and his family came from Greece, made great sacrifices and worked hard to become an Australian success story in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

May I respectfully introduce Mr. Alfred Kouris.

 Alfred Kouris was born in July 1927 at Halepa, in the Chania district of Crete, Greece. His father, Paul Kouris, was born in the island of Kefalonia, Greece in 1900 and worked for the National Bank of Greece in Chania. His father was a High Court Judge. Paul in Chania met Antigone - the daughter of the local magistrate, George Polioudakis from Sphakia, fell in love and decided to get married in 1922. They stayed in Crete until 1932. Then Alfredos' Father was posted by the National Bank to Peloponisos, and finally in 1938 Paul and Antigone Kouris moved to Athens.

Mr and Mrs Kouris 

Alfred - (called Alfredos in Greek) - his sister Thalia, (a famous actress in the '40s in the Greek Drama Theatre, was also born in Chania in 1924 and youngest brother, George, was born also in Agios Nikolaos of Crete in 1932. Alfredos finished his Secondary Education in Athens and Political Sciences in "Panteio University", completed his two years national service in the Greek army and married on the 6th of January 1954 to Euthymia loannidou, who was born in Athens.

On the 14th of April 1955 their son Paul was born in a clinic in "Monastiraki" of Athens. Although Alfred was well educated, he could not get a job in the Navy and /or the Greek Foreign Office and decided to start a shirt manufacturing business with his wife under the name of "FAVORY SHIRTS". Needless to say, the competition was so hard that in February 1956, Alfred and Euthymia (Mitsi) decided to immigrate to Australia and departed on the vessel "KYREINIA". 

On the 16th of March 1956 they arrived in Melbourne and two days after they started work at the famous “Pelaco” factory in Richmond, cutting and making shirts. Within six months they bought their own brand new house in Glenroy - on terms, their own car, a little Morris Minor, and started their own business: "The Hellas Professional Training School for Clothing Machinists" on the corner of Elizabeth St. & Lonsdale St. in a three-storey old city building, where today is the Myer Emporium.

In 1958 they moved the Hellas School to 343 Elizabeth St. (corner of Latrobe St.), started another business under the name "Primo Clothing Pty Ltd" and did very well. In 1960 they brought their mother from overseas and in 1961, also his brother, George Kouris, with his wife Helen and one year old son, Paul - from Greece - and made him equal partner in "Primo Clothing", making jerkins, waist­coats and casual wear. The said business grew rapidly until 1964 when the economy started to go down the drain and manufacturing was no longer profitable.

Alfred and George decided at this stage to start a retailing business. They rented a shop at 246 Swanston St. Melbourne, next to Stanley Young (Giannopoulos) in 1964, giving their new venture the name 'ALFREDOS' MENSWEAR Pty Ltd’.

By 1967 the retailing business was doing very well and the Kouris Bros. decided to open a second shop in the golden corner of Foys Ltd, Swanston & Bourke St., at number 263, giving it the name 'ALFREDOS' of Bourke St. Pty Ltd".

In 1968, the Kouris Brothers opened, at 443 Bourke street, a third "Alfredos' Menswear shop " and a fourth " Alfredos' Dollies Boutique", and in 1969 a fifth "Alfredos' Menswear Shop" and a sixth "Alfredos' Dollies Boutique "in the City's newly opened Mid-City Arcade.

Alfredo Kouris, as founder and Director of "Alfredo's Mens & Ladies Wear", was by then well-known, and early in1969 he was visited on behalf of the "Victorian Retailers Association" by Mr Redfern, Managing Director of Buckley Ltd (now David Jones Ltd) and asked to join the governing board of the Association, which was run at that time by the owners and Directors of Melbourne's biggest Stores and Supermarkets.

That is how Alfredos started his colourful career across five decades, making an extraordinary contribution to the Victorian community, fully understand­ing what it is like to come from a distant land and make Australia home.

Soon he became a Greek Community Leader, well known businessman, politician, journalist and publisher. He not only lived the life of the migrant, but delved into its psyche, extolled its virtues, and worked diligently to generate acceptance. Along the way, he sparked reforms that have re-shaped the way Victorians go about their daily lives. Inspired by his Greek upbringing, Alfredo Kouris gave Melbourne "Late-Night Shopping" with his campaign in the 1969-1970, as founder and Chairman of "Make Melbourne Brighter Committee", revolutionising retail business, in the process of which, he was arrested and fined!

In the early 1980s, Mr Kouris pushed for the end of archaic drinking laws with his same "Make Melbourne Brighter Committee", which was re­organised by him with new young members, lawyers, journalists, shopkeepers and others with vision.

Alfredo Kouris, as a Publisher and Editor of "PYRSOS", the "New Torch Greek Newspaper" and the "Omoyeneia" Greek Magazine, from July, 1985 until April, 1993, worked hard to introduce Greek Migrants in particular, and all migrants in general, to stand in Local, State and Federal Government elections with the catchcry of a "FAIR GO" for migrants. To set an example, he stood himself as an independent candidate in Victoria in the Senate Elections in 1970, in the Melbourne City Council Elections in 1972,1973 and 1974, and in the State Elections in 1976 as the Endorsed Liberal Candidate in Brunswick.

Alfredo Kouris’ views on prejudice, regularly made headlines, and he was involved in many complex political, social and religious issues that the community at large faced, discussed and resolved. He was respected for his leadership, vision and determination to find a solution best for all, as President of the "Greek Orthodox Community of Mentone & District" from 1962-1989, as a foundation member of HACCI in 1984 and Vice-President in 1990-1992, and a Vice-President of the "Victorian Federation of Greek Communities" in 1987-1989, and Member of the "Festival Antipodes Executive Committee" in 1988-89. Also, as a regular member of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria from 1958 until now, and elected member of the Executive Committee of the said Community from 1991-1992.

His understanding of the migrant experience is encapsulated in the title of his book based on his life:

"MIGRANT-The Blessing & Misfortune of Loving Two Countries." It honours the millions who left their homeland and settled in not only Australia, but around the world. It highlights their challenges, joys and sorrows, but importantly, the remarkable contribution they've made to the growth and change of their adoptive countries. 

I have a signed copy of this book. It is a remarkable coverage of Greeks in Melbourne, Australia, especially the life and times of Mr. Alfred Kouris. No wonder Melbourne has been described as the third largest Greek city in the world - CT

The release of his memoirs brought world-wide recognition. He is listed in "Who's Who" in the 21st Century" published by "The Cambridge Biographical Centre in England, and his book is available in 250 American, European and Australian University Libraries, 500 Greek & Australian State Libraries and 200 Australian Schools with "Languages Other Than English - LOTE" programs.

 Mr. Kouris at the Grand Ball in honour of Malcolm Fraser's 
election as Liberal leader, July 1975. 
Malcolm Fraser went on to become Prime Minister.
His research inspired him to urge for a national "Migrants Day" as First Class Citizens of the World, and upgrade recognition of the significance of the pivotal World War 2 Battle of Crete, which saw Greeks and British, Australians & New-Zealanders fighting side-by side for Freedom, Justice and Democracy.

Alfredo Kouris has received numerous honours for his endeavours promoting community harmony, including the Gold Cross presented to him by Archibishop Lezekiel in recognition for services to the Orthodox Church, and Life Membership of La Trobe University's National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research, where he has also been allocated a room to display his very valuable archive materials. He was also elected Life Governor of "FRONTIDA CARE Inc."

"Neos Kosmos" in its English Edition on Monday, 15th of December published an article entitled:

"Prominent Greek Honoured", with the following comments: “ALFREDO KOURIS has never been one to let things slide. He has always believed that if you want something bad enough then you have to work hard to get it. And so he worked hard on fighting for migrant rights and the rights of all Melbournians. He was even jailed once in 1970, because he believed campaigning for late-night trading was a cause worth fighting for.

Mrs. Kouris and son, Paul, now a prominent Barrister,
teaching the soon-to-be Prime Minister
a Greek dance.

As the founder of Alfredo's Menswear, Mr. Kouris saw a niche for late night trading and launched a campaign to have opening hours extended to 9 pm. "I wanted to bring Melbourne alive and I knew late-night trading would help do that," he said. "I couldn't understand why the city should die every evening." By defying the State Government and opening his six menswear stores past 5.30 pm, he was arrested and fined $8,000. One week later, the law was changed and stores could now be open until 9pm.

He was honoured, by receiving an award at Victoria's Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs. "I always felt that I had to prove myself worthy of being considered a first -class citizen in Australia," said Mr. Kouris. "I started to say to migrants that we should prove ourselves by doing something good for our new country." 

In early 2004, Mr Kouris and wife, Mitsi, who have three children and five grandchildren, celebrated not only 50 years of marriage, but of being a fine example of a young couple coming to Australia with little more than a suitcase of dreams and making a wonderful success of the migrant experience.

Alfredos Kouris received an Order of Australia medal on the 12th of June 2006 from the Governor of Victoria, His Excellency John Landy, AC, MBE, at Government House … For service to the community through contributions to the business sector, raising public awareness of the issues facing migrants, and to the Greek community.”

Clancy’s comment: What courage and vision, eh? Mr. Kouris has achieved much in his new country. Besides business, he has been a great mover and shaker within the Greek community and Australian community in general, founding the Academy of Modern Greek and is the Chair of Modern Greek at Melbourne University.

Not only, the children of Mr. and Mrs. Kouris have also become prominent citizens, continuing the work of their parents. They are making a great contribution to Australia.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Kouris, for your extraordinary efforts. Australia is a better place because of you ... I’m glad you came. 


Love ya work!

I’m …


29 June 2013 - SOCIAL MEDIA - by Jeff Bullas



G'day guys,

Most people are involved in some form of social media, be it good or bad. I utilise all of them to promote myself as a writer and blogger, but I'm not so sure about Facebook. Can someone show me how to drive it? And, I'd rather be writing some scintillating novel than Facebooking or Twittering. 

LinkedIn has been fantastic for me. I joined the organisation after my rather disappointing experience with 12 Australian major book awards. Now I have a massive collection of connections, some of whom have become great mates, and many have been guests on this blog. Why not? They are interesting people with diverse views.

So, here is an interesting article, courtesy of Jeff Bullas.

"Social media networks were a novelty 5 years ago and today they are no longer debated around the dinner party table. 

The conversation has moved on.

Facebook is now part of most people’s web lives, Twitter is where a lot of people are reading the breaking news and if you want to be entertained then just dial into YouTube.

Despite it’s minimal mindshare, media profile and awareness Google+ has woven its way into our consciousness and is now the second largest social network.

As if these social networks aren’t enough to distract us then we also have Pinterest and Instagram to add to the online temptations.

The social web is the modern version of Alice in Wonderland, where we are following not one but many rabbits down innumerable rabbit holes.



What are 2 key factors driving the social web in 2013?

According to a Global Web Index study it is:

  • Mobile – with the number of people accessing the internet via a mobile phone increasing by 60.3% to 818.4 million in the last 2 years.
  • Older users adoption – On Twitter the 55-64 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic at with 79% growth since 2012. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook’s and Google+’s networks are the 45 to 54 year age bracket at 46% and 56% respectively.

These 2 key factors are keeping the social web bubbling along. So maybe the reason your grandparents aren’t turning up to that dinner party is that they have now discovered Facebook and Twitter!

So let’s look at some of the fact, figures and statistics for the major social networks.


Facebook continues to grow and work out how to make money from its ads and mobile users.

Here are the latest facts and figures from its earnings call for the first quarter of 2013

  • Daily active users have reached 665 million
  • Monthly active users have passed 1.1 billion for the first time
  • 751 million mobile users access Facebook every month
  • Mobile only active users total 189 million
  • Mobile now generates 30% of its ad revenue up from 23% at the end of 2012


Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the world by active users according to a Global Web Index Study.

So how does that translate to hard numbers?

  • 44% growth from  June 2012 to March 2013
  • 288 million monthly active users
  • That means that 21% of the world’s internet population are using Twitter every month
  • Over 500 million registered accounts
  • Twitter’s fastest growing age demographic is 55 to 64 year olds, registering an increase in active users of 79%


When you wanted to watch a video it used to be VCR, then it became a  DVD player, then we moved onto cable networks and now it is YouTube.

These numbers from YouTube’s own blog put some perspective on it penetration into our culture and time.

  • 1 billion unique monthly visitors
  • 6 billion hours of videos are watched every month
  • This means that 50% more hours of video are watched in March 2013 compared to last August when it was 4 billion hours a month and last May when it was 3 billion.
  • YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network


Google+ is making an impact on the social media universe and is now the second largest social network.

What are some of the numbers on Google’s social network built to protect it from Facebook’s growth and data capture to ensure it remains relevant?

It is Google’s social layer that enhances it’s other online assets.

  • 359 million monthly active users according to a Global Web Index study
  • Its active users base grew by 33% from June 2012 through to March 2013


The largest professional business network on the planet continues to grow but not at the pace of Twitter or Google+

Here are some numbers from Visual.ly.

  • Over 200 million users
  • 2 new users join it every second
  • 64% of users are outside the USA

So what numbers surprise you?

You have glanced over the numbers. What has surprised you or is it all a big yawn?

Was it the mobile stats, the increasing use of social networks by 55 year olds or was it YouTube’s relentless rise?"

Clancy's comment: Many thanks, Jeff. Mm ... where will it all end? Many blogs and sites I have viewed or joined as a writer have made me shake my head. I mean, what does this mean, 'You follow me and I will follow you.'? Sounds like a game ... like teens asking each other how many 'Friends' they have on Facebook. Surely, it's about marketing your wares and your brand - not numbers, or who 'Likes' you. Personally, I don't need people to like me but I'm quite happy for them to love my books. It's all about what works for you, but do your homework.

I'm ...