Looking behind the curtain

It's time to take a look behind the curtain.

image by maxime amoudruz | unsplash

If you’ve seen the Wizard of Oz you’ll know about the man behind the curtain.

It’s a great visual reminder that things are not always what they seem on the surface.

Looking behind the curtain is an essential skill for anyone investigating a crime, and creating curtains is a fun game for crime writers.

It’s also an essential life skill if you don’t want to be taken in by appearances.

How often have you judged a book by its cover and been disappointed? And, how often have you judged a book by its cover and missed out on a great read because you failed to look behind the curtain?

You need to look behind the curtain in all aspects of your life, not just when choosing a book to read. Think about all that advertising you’re bombarded with and all that political spin. Think about what you’re being fed as news.

If you never question or examine what you’re told you’ll end up like the citizens of Oz: believing in a fraud.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Why do you read?

Old Book

If you read for entertainment, check out the Inspector West series or The New Girlfriend.

If you read for information, check out the Living Alone series or Everyday Project Management.

If you read for inspiration, check out Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic.

 

Digital libraries

40 years is a long time to live in one house.

It’s definitely sufficient time to accumulate a lot of books.

We’re moving out and going overseas for a while.

Photo_kazuend_UnsplashImage by: kazuend | Unsplash

We stood together in the library and looked at the seven floor to ceiling bookcases holding somewhere in excess of two thousand books, and at the six yellow containers of children’s books piled up between two of the bookcases.

The question on our minds – what do we do with all these books?

Our initial reaction to the question was a decision to store the library. After all, how could we throw away a book?

Then we realised that was an emotional response.

We spent some time examining what was on those shelves and in those yellow containers. There were books from our university days, books from our teaching days, even some books from our school days, and books that our sons had loved to death. There were books we knew we would never read again. Some were so dated we knew no-one would ever want to read them again.

We decided on a cull.

Now there is a large stack of books waiting for their final trip to the recycling depot.

When we finally decide on a new house, we won’t be needing those seven bookcases.

The cassette tape collection, which had been collecting dust since the advent of the CD, was not as fortunate as the books. It was added to the pile of stuff waiting to go into oblivion.

The CDs did better than the cassettes and the books. They have been boxed for storage. Who’s got time to review all that music? Some of the DVDs survived to be viewed another day, others are going to new homes to entertain other folks.

I’m not sure how many of the books and CDs we have retained will survive our next move but I do know that the majority of additions to our reading and recording libraries into the future will be digital.

The thing about digital libraries is they are stored in the cloud and copied to your device. They take up no space in your house; they do not require bookcases or any special shelving. You do not need to store them when you are between houses. You can access your libraries from anywhere in the world, as long as you can connect to the internet, and you can read or listen to the copies you have downloaded to your device when you can’t.

I suspect that we’re part of the last generation that will accumulate physical books into home libraries. But, who knows? Maybe the allure of the physical book will survive.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Holy Death

Holy Death, book 3 in the Inspector West series is now available for your reading pleasure.

Holy_Death_Cover_for_KindleMurder. Arson. Revenge.

Detective Inspector West investigates the grisly deaths of two elderly priests: one in a suspicious fire; the other obviously murdered.

The inspector is not the only one hunting the priest killer.

If you like murder mixed with mystery and conflict, you’ll probably love the suspense and intrigue in Peter Mulraney’s Holy Death, the third book in his Inspector West series

 

Grab yourself a copy from  Amazon | GooglePlay | iBooks Kobo Smashwords.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Erasing your hard drive

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With the continual upgrading of operating systems, and all the other bits inside computers, there comes a time when the old machine has to go out with the recycling.

Unfortunately, simply deleting files before dropping off the old machine at the e-recyclers will not protect your privacy.

The delete function does not actually delete your files, and someone with the appropriate software can recover whatever you have deleted.

This might be great for forensic accountants and the like, but it’s not good news for the average citizen like you and me.

This week I needed to find a solution for this issue. There were several old computers with mechanical hard drives sitting around the house waiting to retire, and I wanted to act.

For my ancient iMac, which was operating on Maverick, I discovered that using the Command+R (restore) feature opened a list of options that includes access to the Disk Utility. This allows you to securely erase the hard drive. By securely erase, I mean delete and overwrite several times.

With the iMac done, I then had to find a solution for two laptops and a PC running on various versions of Windows from XP through to 7.

A Google search turned up a tutorial on how to erase your hard drive using DBAN. All I had to do was find a usb drive and follow the instructions.

It’s a three step process as you need to download the DBAN software, a program to burn that software to your usb drive, and then alter the boot order on each computer so that it boots from the usb drive instead of its hard drive. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. All the steps and supporting documents and links to the downloads are in the tutorial.

It takes up to 12 hours to securely erase a 500 GB hard drive, so patience is required.

I now have four clean drives ready to recycle.

I guess in a few years time I’ll be looking for a solution for solid state drives.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Crime novels

Crime novels are written for entertainment.

The stories are more about people than crime. They are a way of exploring human behaviour.

Crime stories allow us to look at why people commit acts, like murder, and at the impact of those acts on others, especially the people tasked with bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Crime novels might allow us to understand why someone committed a crime, but they also provide us with a reassurance that crimes can be solved.

Crime stories, especially murder mysteries, are also a bit of a game between authors and readers.

An author wants to keep the suspense and mystery going to draw readers into the story. Readers not only want to be drawn into a story, they also want to work out who did it before the author reveals the identity of the killer.

The author has the advantage at the start, but needs to be careful not to give the game away too early. Readers need to be wary of the difference between genuine clues and red herrings to avoid being led down the garden path.

The fun for both parties is in revealing the identity of the villain towards the end of the story. That way, the author gets to tell the story and readers get to find out if they’ve solved the crime along with the investigating detective.

Crime novels allow us to walk on the dark side of the street from the safety of our favourite reading spot.

Inspector Westv3

Inspector West is nearly ready to entertain you again in a story of murder, arson and revenge.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

A view from Australia

Leaves on pathAustralia is having an unusual double dissolution election, where every member of both houses of the Federal Parliament is up for re-election. Usually, only half the Senate is contested at a federal election. So, this one could be interesting.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived back in Australia from the USA on Monday, and watched the TV coverage in the lounge at Melbourne airport while waiting for my connection, was the difference in the tone of the campaign being waged here.

After listening to the candidates fighting it out in the presidential primaries in the US, it was refreshing to hear what, by comparison, seemed almost polite conversation, even when opposing politicians were bagging each other.

Hopefully, if we ever get around to becoming a republic, Australia will go with the Constitutional President model, similar to the Irish, and stay well clear of the Executive President model used in the USA.

I suspect the Australian Labor Party will come to regret Kevin Rudd’s parting gift: their leadership election process. From my perspective, the rules of their new leadership process look a lot like the rules of the process the Democrats use to select their presidential candidate. Facing the membership to gather delegates from a round of voting and then dealing with the super delegates – the elected members and the party machine. Bernie Sanders will tell you it’s rigged. Hilary Clinton will tell you it’s the way things are.

Whether it’s rigged or not, it’s ugly, it’s public, and it takes a long time.

In past leaderships spills in the Australian Labor Party all was resolved in the party room. It took a matter of days.

If Labor fails to get up in July we will, no doubt, be treated to the spectacle of another leadership election contest, as they sort out who gets to replace Bill Shorten.

I’ll be tuning out.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.

Project management secrets.

The secret to project management is working out what you have to do before you start doing it.

 

Everyday_Project_Man_Cover_for_KindleHow many times, when you were starting on a problem solving task, have you launched yourself into solution mode instead of analysing the problem, only to regret your haste later?

When you rush into a job, you often realise, after you’ve committed to one course of action, that there are other and better ways you could be doing it. Sometimes, you even discover that you’re working on a solution to the wrong problem.

Making sure you understand the problem, before you start thinking about possible solutions, is probably the most important part of project management.

Another critical step is developing a project plan – and writing it down.

Projects come unstuck when you either rush into them or fail to plan how you will go about doing the job.

It’s no good having the plan in your head either. Having a documented plan encourages accountability, and gives you a way to measure and report your progress – even when you’re working on a personal project.

If you’re new to project work or curious about how project management principles could help you get things done more efficiently, Everyday Project Management is an easy to read introduction to project management.

What does this crime writer know about project management?

Quite a bit, actually. I spent twenty years working on projects in banking and government before turning my attention to a life of crime, and I use those principles to manage my writing projects.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.

Fire trucks in New York.

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Image by Anthony Delanoix | Unsplash.com

The fire trucks go a lot slower in New York than they do in Adelaide.

For someone used to seeing fire trucks moving along city streets at speed, watching them thread their way through traffic on Eighth Avenue, with sirens wailing and horns blaring, is disconcerting – and hard on the ears. Maybe things burn a lot slower here than they do in Australia. Who knows?

But, it’s not just the fire trucks. The ambulances have a hard time getting through as well.

It’s not that the drivers here ignore emergency vehicles. New Yorkers are justifiably proud of their first responders, but drivers often have nowhere to go to get out of their way. New York’s grid of streets might make it easy for finding your way around, but it’s also packed with traffic lights to regulate the flow of traffic on the East – West streets that cross the busy avenues, and they seem to be very close together.

Eighth Avenue is one of the streets that carries traffic uptown. Interestingly, it has a lane that allows bike riders to slip past all that traffic which blocks in the emergency vehicles. Sometimes I see a fire department support vehicle or a NYPD squad car shoot up the bike lane, and I wonder if there is a lesson there for the City Council – like having a dedicated lane for emergency vehicles on Eighth Avenue.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.