Oops. So this year so far that’s three blog posts. Well, three counting this one. Yes, as usual, there have been distractions. Nazis? Well, of course, they’ve all slid out from under their rocks, now Trump has made them out to be nice guys, mostly, with the fact that they are in favour of killing Jews, Muslims, women who have abortions, women who vote, People of any Colour, and anyone who says “whoa!” not enough to stop him promoting them from the Oval Office.
Then there were the distractions that distracted me from the distractions and then…. yes, more distractions. I ended up banning myself from Twitter most of the time. Thanks to LeechBlock (simple and free, stops you wasting time on sites like Facebook or Twitter except in allowed times/days) i only visit about 1-2 times a day, no more than 30 minutes in any 6 hour block. It’s freeing, I enjoy my time more, and i no longer ‘come to’ four hours after i logged onto Twitter ‘just to say hello’. Most of the time, i only pop in every few days.
So here we are. Nearly October. Which is Spring in the Southern hemisphere, for the climatically-challenged among you.
Another year in Queensland. I know, i wanted to come back here, anything to get away from New South Wales and 9 months a year of crucifying humidity.
Turns out Queensland and 6 months a year of crucifying humidity with a much higher average temperature is about as hard to deal with. When i first lived here nearly 20 years ago, i had a pool.
Now i have an un-insulated house in an area so prone to mosquitoes, sandflies and midgies, i can’t go outside without spraying myself every few hours with insecticide. Especially hard to deal with are overnight highs of 25-30 (80’s to 90’s F) with 100% humidity – not just once, but for months on end.
I’m thinking of the South Pole next. Penguins, no mosquitoes, and less humidity? I’m in.
Meanwhile, my books are selling. Not a lot, but just. I phone Centrelink, report my monthly income, they laugh, so at least someone’s getting a kick out of my sales.
I’m working on other books – mostly stuff i’ve already written that i’m taking the bones from, rewriting and once-filleted, hopefully ready for publication. I’m also working on a follow up to the first set of four (first 2 are free, here) because i’m fond of Polo and want to see what happens to him now. Guilt, i’m guessing.
I’ve also dug out all my writing from the early 80’s on, filed it and scanned a lot of it, and finally have all my poetry (most of it) on the computer. Yes, that’s how long i’ve been writing, i have lots of stuff that was TYPEWRITTEN!
Some was even *drumroll* hand-written. In script. Which these days, would be as safe as a spy’s code, because nobody under 50 can read it. Of course, nobody under fifty (and a fair number of those over it) can write script any more, so my communication options would be limited.
The depression i’ve been struggling with this year/last year/most of my life is still biting, but i’m fighting. The main trick with depression? Remember, it lies. You’re not really hopeless, useless, or better off dead. Even if your family don’t understand you, that’s not a reason for suicide. If it was, the entire world would be looking for a cliff to jump off.
Anthony Bourdain’s ungraceful exit saddened me. If someone like him, with all that money, can’t be happy, what hope do i have? And i was reminded. Happiness is. It is not external. It is not money. It’s inside, and achievable simply by relaxing and focusing our gaze inwards. Sometimes, sure, we don’t like what we see, but that’s normal.
We can change. That’s what humans do well. Change, mutate, adapt. It’s how we got here.
I for one, intend to keep going. Hope you do too. The calm centre is right there. Right now. I know it. Just because today i am filled with bitterness and tears, it doesn’t make it disappear, or be a fraud. Depression is the fraud. It twists life, even the most beautiful, into an unrecognisable vale of tears.
So i found out a really awful thing. My first book, Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon (Book 1 of the Dragon Quartet), has been out since 2011. Since then it’s sat happily on the top of the Top Rated Sci Fi and Fantasy lists in its categories. By end of January it was TOP of entire site. Yep, non-fiction/fiction, any length. Highest rated Free book.
One of the others got a 4 star review, which was disappointing, but i just got on with life.
But something happened to Book 1. Someone gave it a 4 star review in February. Oh well, i thought, has to happen sometimes. And some people don’t ever give 5 star reviews. I’m never going to please everyone. I was a bit upset, but managed to tell myself a few platitudes like those above and get over it.
I kept promoting my books on Twitter, and did notice my only sales and most of my downloads were when i did so. No Smashwords traffic to speak of.
That’s when i noticed something. Something horrible. Book 1 had disappeared from the Top Rated listings. Just gone. I looked and looked, and was about to contact Smashwords to ask what had happened, when i found it. On Page 22 of the Top Rated listings, where literally nobody would ever see it.
I also realised there were others like me. 14 or more 5 star reviews, but one 4 star – and suddenly we were rated lower than anyone with only ONE 1-star review. I contacted Smashwords, politely. Yes, they said, they were aware of the issue, but they had no plans to do anything about it, other than ‘We’re working on a way to make it more fair. However, unfortunately there’s no date on when it will be implemented.‘
Meanwhile, as i said to Smashwords, my entire marketing plan – based on my books being high rated and 1’s across the site, just got harpooned. Fortunately, the two most recently released were charting on the Bestseller lists but only on the front page if you narrowed the field (by selecting a length or division of the genre like Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Fantasy » General). Most people don’t get that far.
The first two (free so not on the “best seller” lists) were coming up the Most Downloads charts, but thanks to not showing on the Highest Rated charts, they were not getting the same exposure and dropped off the first two pages of those (again, unless you narrow the field to over 100k, Free).
I was miffed over the 4 star reviews, but then i thought about it. There are people there with many more 5 star reviews than me, and thanks to one 4-star review they’re also suddenly invisible. So i wrote again to Smashwords, and the CEO got back to me – yep, Mark Coker at Smashwords. He knows it’s a problem, along with the gaming of reviews (aka ‘fake reviews’).
Basically, it’s unfair that books with more than one 5-star review are behind books with only one. Sure, if i have fourteen 5 stars, you do too, we’re equal, until i get rated lower, that one 4-star? I get to be behind you in the listings, fair enough. But not if i have 20 5-star ones. Especially not if you only have one 5-star review and i have 20.
It’s also too easy to mess up a rival author’s ratings. During my investigations of some of the authors who should be on the front page (with 20+ 5-star reviews and 1 4-star one) it was one reviewer who’d knocked them off the front page. As reviewers are anonymous, it’s a system made to be corrupted. Especially when the one reviewer is possibly not a reviewer, but an author out to make themselves number 1.
There are signs of this on several of the books that are only being held off the top spots by one bad review. Or two of their books knocked down by the same ‘reviewer’.
I’ve written before about fake reviews on Smashwords, and how Smashwords (when alerted, and after their own investigations, which admittedly can take OVER a year) removed sometimes a hundred of them from authors who proved to be faking their glowing 5 star reviews.
I won’t be number 1 if they change this, by the way – there are several books ahead of mine (currently showing on page 33 of highest rated Sci fi) which will take over the 1 spot. Which i’ll be fine with, because it’s FAIR.
Anyway, currently waiting for action from Smashwords – which won’t be in 2018 but is on their list of Things We Want To Change. So if you think it should be changed, and SOON – vote in the poll, leave a comment, and i’ll make sure Mark Coker gets to hear about it. Smashwords, like all good companies, has excellent communication between the people on the front lines and the boss.
See what i did there? Yep, deliberately being nice, after a bunch of critique. Why? Because deep down, i love Smashwords, i love what they’re trying to do, i love that i get to play publisher without massive personal investment.
I don’t think the review system works – but the rest of the site is getting better all the time.
Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon is 34 on the Most Downloaded Free Epic General Sci Fi (not bad seeing it’s only been free for less than 6 months and there’s books that have been free for 8 or more years in the listings). #38 on the matching Fantasy list.
It would be top of the Highest Rated (aside from the others above me with more 5-star reviews) except for that one 4-star review. It makes it to 18 if i narrow the field to just free epic general sci fi – just a reminder, before that one 4 star review, it was top rated free book on the whole site, all genres.
Mind you, there’s a writer there with 34 reviews, 32 of them 5 star ones, then someone decided to harpoon them, and the last two reviews were 4 star, knocking them even lower down the listings than me. (The more 4 star reviews you get, no matter how many 5 star ones you have, the worse your score gets – yep, that’s REALLY unfair.)
The others are suffering from similar problems – without the good reviews giving them front page exposure, they’re simply invisible. So i have to keep pushing my books here and on Twitter.
Seriously, this is not how i thought being a writer would be.
So – *drumroll*
For your reading delectation – rollicking sexy adventures, laugh-out-loud funny right to the end, and more schemers than you’ve seen since the last ep of Game of Thrones…
Introducing Polo Shawcross, the wannabe Dragon and stoner, the man to whom omnisexual isn’t just a label. And what did he get up to in the vegetable garden with that diplomat’s wife? Polo just wants a quiet life, one with wild women, some men, good weed and food. Something interesting to read. His family however have other ideas, and keep trying to kill him. Genetic engineering was always going to be flawed when you started with humans.
After a drunken binge across a kingdom or two, Polo is in trouble. With a capital A that stands for Army. Weed will keep him sane, but staying alive is trickier. He can save himself, he just has to remember, he’s Dragon, deep down. Dragon were made for fighting. He’ll be fine. Won’t he?
Still alive! Free! Polo gets his perfect life back. Although there’s that king with the crush and the queen who’s off limits. Polo’s trying out diplomacy as a career path, failing to keep secrets or his trousers on, and his family are still trying to kill him. Finally finding the way to change shape is the key to survival.
Polo can escape, but he’ll lose his perfect life as one of the privileged few close to the King. Choices, choices. And despite finally figuring out the shape-changing, he can’t get the people part of life right. People are Dragon and human, and Dragon were made from humans, and that was always going to be a bad idea. Kill or be killed, the law of the jungle comes out of the warzone and to Court. Polo surrenders. Last book in this series, but gives the kick-off for the new Polo Shawcross books to come.
Oh – and the best joke of all? I’ve issued DCMA takedown notices to about 15 people in the last 2 months – yep, people pirating my work and selling it – or giving it away for ‘site dollars’ on various ‘let’s pretend we’re not pirating but we are’ sites. (I found them via Blasty – every writer should belong – and if you’ve made some money, you can invest in their premium version to do the DCMA Takedown notices for you.)
The joke is (and it’s on me), if the people too cheap to spend $2.99 on a book – or those too lazy to realise that the guy getting site dollars for providing my books ‘free’ was simply downloading already free books – had all gone to Smashwords (or Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, etc – everywhere except Amazon), i’d be top of all the sales and download charts. Some of my books are free, but they ARE NOT Creative Commons – nobody except Smashwords and affiliates are allowed to distribute them.
The pirates boasted of 100’s of downloads. Hundreds.I haven’t sold that many in 5 months. I did get that many downloads over the period, but the lost revenue and lost downloads in the first few months of publication can never be recovered. The guy getting site dollars literally put my books up for free download from his site within a week of publication.
However, it’s part of the internet. And even big authors with loads of DRM protection on their books are getting pirated. I know because i saw their books on the same sites that were pirating mine.
So of course, being a good net citizen and a fellow-writer, i made sure i contacted at least one or two major authors (or their publishers) whose work was being illegally sold/given away. I figured even if the pirates didn’t give a shit about me, someone like Simon & Schuster would make them sit up and pay attention. It worked. Those who didn’t immediately remove my books did so once i put the big guys on them.
Nearly end of January? Gawd. Ok, so finally have all the Quartet up and published, despite starting the process back in November – yeah, right on Thanksgiving, which meant they didn’t appear on the site for a week. The first two are free, so if you’re bored already, go enjoy some escapism.
I also have my Patreon page sorted for the moment. I told Mr Whatsit to unPatronise me, because for a while there i was ready to give up everything, disappear back into my garret, and screw trying to maintain several sites/pages/accounts AND somehow create. It was all too tiring. And i was sliding into depression with the constant demands of self-publicising stopping me from doing what i need to do, write the next book.
Maintaining my net presence is still too tiring, to be honest (I have Chronic Fatigue, so i’m not exaggerating – it’s actually exhausting). I’m better on Twitter. On Twitter, you can collapse and nobody notices, quite handy.
Then i discovered some new reviews of the just-released books (2,3, and 4) and read one (yeah, i know, never read reviews) that complained the series was ended. And only gave it 4 stars – though there was no reason given other than they were sad over it being over. They should have looked me up online, because i’ve tried to make it clear i’m working on the next book, which is like a prequel to Polo’s story.
Another review was very critical of my grammar (it’s not me, it’s Polo!) and gave examples, then said they weren’t actually examples from the text. Tricky to fix. He did suggest Word’s Grammar checker. Um. Yeah, i did use that, lol. Here’s a thought, write to me, help me fix errors and I’ll happily gift you a copy of the next book.
However, while we’re being honest, i can’t do this on my own. I need both affirmation and assistance. Humans are part of that. I’m not completely human. I was raised by Siamese cats, so don’t fit in well.
Fitting in, and being human, that’s something i explore in the books. People do seem to be liking them. Book 1 is the top rated free sci fi or fantasy book on Smashwords, out of thousands (it was top rated in its price range since it was published in 2011).
It’s only been free since the other 3 books made it to ‘published’ on Smashwords, which was only early December, and it’s moving up the ‘Most Downloads’ Chart too. (35, up three points, on the Most Downloaded General Epic Free Scifi.)
I haz it. As i look down from the smuggery after finally finishing and publishing the Dragon Quartet…. oh – heh – oops.
Forgot to tell you.
Nah, marketing STILL isn’t my strongest suit. Plus i joined Patreon, and immediately (literally in the last hour before i was going to launch) they changed the pricing structure.
So $1 wasn’t a good bottom tier for patrons. Cost too much cos fees. Yep, so i’m like, okay, change pricing, move all tiers up, change rewards, done, and lowest price Rewards? $2. In Australia it ended up over $3 so i figured that was a reasonable monthly sub.
So i launched, got a patron. Yes, it’s Mr Whatsit, but you can’t say i don’t listen to fans. I have to. He might be permanently plugged into Netflix at the moment, but he has to run out of Red Vs Blue episodes eventually and then he’s going to start making demands. I’ve already had to get him to cancel his first subscription.
Yeah, Patreon changed the fee system back. So now i have no idea what cut i get of monthly subs, and i had to change all my Reward levels around again. Then Mr had to resubscribe at $1. If they change it again, i reckon maybe a PayPal link would be less traumatic.
So, about my Patreon. Not as good as it sounds – or perhaps it is. It means i’m asking you to crowdfund me. Instead of a once-off, it’s monthly. Whoa. Before you rush off, let me wheedle you a little.
So, i write books. You read books. If you don’t i probably don’t have something you’re going to be into – on the other hand, maybe you should start? It’s easy.
The first two books are free – yes, the second pair are $2.99 each. However. Of course there’s a however.
However – if you join my patrons on my Patreon there’s a Reward. You get the two books that aren’t free, free. Well, for you promising $1 a month.
Promise more than $1, you get other Rewards, starting with asking me questions (i was thinking this would be ‘about writing’ questions, but now i’m worried. I did put in a clause about me having right of refusal). There are acknowledgements in future books, appearing in my books, and poetry. Yes, darn fine poetry. Though i do not guarantee rhyme.
So, not into being patronising? C’mon, you know you want to. You need enticing. Well, perhaps calming down? The poetry is higher level stuff, you’re not going to get it for a buck. You’re quite safe.
What’s it all about? I want people who enjoy my work to get more involved. You see, i have a problem.
I’m trying to remember to blog here, to go on Twitter, rant a little, create when i have a spare minute. (Currently involves looking through old work to see which version warrants re-writing, edit that writing, and give Jules her head. She’s fun. If you like Polo, i think you’ll like Jules.)
Important task – I have to self-publish the paper books, because to all the people who said ‘i’d buy it if it was paper, i prefer paper books” – then i can say good, here’s the link. (i don’t have a link yet, but if you sponsored me, i COULD HAVE.)
Any spare money goes first there. Which leaves me with a problem. I can’t afford advertising. And printing the books is going to take about $1,000 to set up. Yeah – it’s not good.
Without your help, i can’t make the first steps to get my work out to more readers. It’s that simple. I’m trying to get funding to first do some advertising, second get the books ready for print instead of just ebooks. Meanwhile, i’m working on the next book, because i know you’re fickle. More words required.
Plus, as you know (if you’ve read back a bit) i’m disabled. So i simply don’t have the strength to work at anything approaching full speed any more. I need to cut the time it takes both to get income faster to pay for advertising and format options that should get the books really selling, along with raising awareness of my work to raise sales.
Something to read, in the meantime? Yes, two full length books. Free.
No catch. It’s because it took so long, i ended up with 4 books. Book 2 starts with what was the end of Book 1 (which is still over 100k). Wouldn’t be fair to charge people for something they’d recognise as already having paid for. If they read The Birthday Dragon before, it was $5.99 – a fair price back in 2011. Ebook prices have dropped, especially unknown writers. Yeah, I’m unknown – i used to be notorious, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Free Download of Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon Polo Shawcrosswishes for a new life. The Birthday Dragon brings a ghost who says he’s not one, a best friend who thinks he’s gay, relations who want him dead, and a very bad reputation. Twisted adventure in a vivid new world where genesplicing accidentally creates real magic and Men (or Women) might be Dragon.
Free Download of Polo Shawcross: Dragon Soldier Polo is still getting into trouble, still in danger from his crazy family trying to kill him, or worse, be his parents again. The Crown Prince is still in love with him, and Polo’s reputation is shocking. There’s even a book out about his sexual adventures. One thing he knows, the army’s not for him. So becoming a soldier is a shock. Surviving the Army of the North won’t be easy, especially when he ends up in the stockade before basic training.
Polo Shawcross: Dragon Skin Polo Shawcross comes back from war both notorious and a hero, ready for bad women, good food, and a lot of sleep. His enemies have other plans, as do his friends. Soon he’s fighting for his life and for parts of his body someone wants as a souvenir.
Can Polo learn to shape-change in time?
Polo Shawcross: Dragon Outlaw The notorious Polo Shawcross is desperate for a quiet life, but his family are still out to kill him. Back at Court in Sendren, Polo isn’t the man you want to leave alone with the queen, but the king still loves him. On the bright side, he’s out of the army. Polo’s sure he won’t fight again, but the war’s coming to Sendren. Is changing shape enough?
Can Polo survive?
At last, i’m putting the quartet up on Smashwords. Can’t quite believe it. The covers are done, edits are done, i’m just doing blurbs and making sure they upload okay.
They came out pretty….
The Birthday Dragon‘s been out for years, that’s going to be free, once the new version is okayed. As the first quarter of Dragon Soldier used to be in the previous book, it’s free too.
Books 3 and 4 are not free. Like Books 1 and 2 they’re over 100,000 words. I’m thinking $2.99 each.
I’ve been putting final touches on my Smashwords pages, adding a interview. I came to do this blog and realised “i’ve forgotten everything i ever learned about HTML” which was a nice match for when i started doing the covers and realised i’d forgotten everything i ever knew about Photoshop.
So i uploaded the new version of Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon and waited for it to be okayed. Found a mistake in the stuff beyond the ending. Re-uploaded. Found something else, re-re-uploaded. And thankful it was finally okay, so i started work on the blurbs for the other books.
Every time i checked back, the book wasn’t okayed yet. Smashwords never takes long, so i began to wonder if i’d jammed something up, re-re-uploading. It was never a problem before. And i waited.
While i waited, I started a Patreon page. This is a rather nice notion that artists find patrons who sling them a few dollars a month, every month, and the artist (that’s me) in exchange gives them access to unpublished stuff or first drafts, perhaps completely never-to-be-published stories.
Anything that helps my income is worth a go. (It’s not quite up yet, i’m still getting it sorted out.)
I checked Smashwords. Something occurred to me. It was Thanksgiving in the USA when i did the first upload. Bugger. By the end of the week it was Black Friday. I’d literally picked one of the worst weeks in the US year to upload the books.
Double bugger. And then i realised. Now i’ve begun my Patreon page, i’ll have to change the books again to include the Patreon link.
I do believe the word i’m looking for is “AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH”.
So i thought Mr Whatsit’s recovery would be further along by now – so did he, for that matter – but thanks to rough treatment during the op (he couldn’t put his foot on the ground, despite the area operated on being his knee) then a bad reaction to a mock-morphine patch, he’s been a gibbering wreck, which has turned me into a gibbering wreck. The fine work of adding paper corrections into Word files has been beyond me.
I’ve been trying to ignore the world, but i can’t help going on Twitter for some human (ok, so technically it’s cybernetic or machine-based) contact and then i find out what that crazed orange loon’s done today.
He certainly knows how to keep the news-cycle’s attention. From refusing to badmouth his white supremacist power-base to claiming flower-power-ish antifa(scist) protesters were bashing the poor widdle nazis, (even to the point of putting up a fake pic of one beating up on a cop, which turned out to be a Greek protester back in 2009, in Greece), Trump’s madness has been riveting the world.
Of course, he keeps saying everything except Breitbart and InfoWars is fakenews (though as i write this, Breitbart may no longer be his friend, after the firing of that nazi Bannon), but frankly, the only people who still believe that are the truly lobotomised and his mates the Nazis, who always believed Trump and took his every action as confirmation their time in the sun (sans hoods) had come.
I can honestly say i never saw this coming – that the swastika would be worn openly by supposed fellow-humans again. The far right and other white supremacist organisations seemed irrelevant, a harbour for drunks lost in bitter misogyny and racism, something that would only ever be a tiny minority. Boy, was i wrong.
It began to be noticeable in the first decade of the new century. Suddenly quite young men were being openly sexist, ignoring me at the counter and talking only to the man i’d walked in with, despite me being the owner of the car that needed a battery and the one paying for it. I also knew which battery was needed. They looked at him as i answered, and it was as if i was invisible. I put it down to a pair of morons with no people skills, then began to notice it more and more.
Others were noticing too. Researchers had tried labelling job applications with obviously female names, and discovered those names didn’t get picked for interviews. Male (sounding) ones did. Male-sounding names got better marks on (the same) essays. Male authors got better sales, and in certain oeuvres it was better to pretend to be male if you wanted any sales at all. (Yes, i’m looking at you, sci fi and fantasy.)
The Gender Pay Gap was shown to be a crazy difference in wages just for the sake of a cock and balls, for the same job. As a woman, it didn’t matter how good you were. The old adage that you had to be twice as good as a man (ask any female cop) seemed to no longer hold true, instead there was NOTHING you could do. You were inferior and your pay reflected that.
Of course, if you were any colour except white, you copped the same snivelling bias. Snivelling because it hid behind cowardice that pretended to be anything but racist/sexist and instead tried to play the victim.
All those poor white men, they were the real victims. Forced to pay a pittance to their ex-wives for the children they fathered then neglected, forced to (occasionally) do gaol time for the women they bashed. Sometimes, they even had to have a black/brown/yellow/female boss, and omigod, didn’t they whine about it.
The only way that female or person of colour made it there was of course through bias against white men! (Not the gay ones. Gay men don’t count, except as objects of violence for white men. If a white man broke a nail bashing a gay man, that might count. Come to think of it, pretty much anyone is fair game for white men – bashingwise.)
Despite US universities and colleges being forbidden to apply that kind of bias, the current president has pressed for an inquiry into how poor white blokes are being stopped from having a higher education (unless, like the president or the president’s son-in-law, they have rich daddies who can pay their way into and through a degree).
Anyhoo, all this bullshit being sprayed around by the President’s fakenews flunkies is getting wearying. I have enough problems with morons trying to tell me Hitler was a socialist. I’ve got to the point where just posting all the citations that rebut the idiocy was taking most of the day. Because if he was a socialist, (their logic goes) then them being right wing loons means they’re the good guys.
Then a history professor got annoyed, and earned my undying gratitude. This article explains it, and the twitter thread starts here….
Ok, dickhead, I did this politely to someone else earlier, but now I’m going to rinse you. Prepare. https://t.co/HcgpKHY3Cq
I’ve done nothing on transcribing the edits for the last two weeks. Mr Whatsit went into hospital then (thankfully) came out again, but is on crutches, so i’ve been busy carrying everything for him. Coffee, pills, and icepacks being the main requirements. (Two big bags of supermarket own-brand frozen peas wrapped in a towel – recommended by the physio – working very well so far.)
Thanks to the pills Mr Whatsit’s been in a bad way, not quite hallucinating but only ‘not quite’, so sleep here at Casa Cripple’s been in short supply.
Before he went into hospital i was managing to keep up the edits despite the chaos involved when they changed his painkilling meds three times in as many weeks, resulting in over- and under-doses so severe it nearly killed him, and in 3 visits by paramedics and 2 trips to hospital for the day.
Since, a combo of exhaustion on my part and the need to sleep with one eye open in case he comes to grief staggering about the house in the middle of the night, has meant i’m not fit for much.
Though i’ve managed to go in and shout on Twitter enough to lose some steam, then i’ve pretty much zombied out in front of the tv, thankful i don’t have to watch terrestrial (free-to-air) tv because if that was all i had, i would have been staring at the walls.
I’ve had a few people (on Twitter) lately say they’re giving up Murdoch television by dumping their pay-tv or shouting that everyone should stop their pay TV because it’s funding the Antichrist.
The name may not mean much to you, but if you list their programs you soon realise, to avoid Murdoch, you need to stop watching TV. Free TV’s biggest shows are all theirs.
Shows like Home and Away, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser, Deal or No Deal, The Face, One Born Every Minute, The Office, Ugly Betty, and The Tudors. Like The Fall, Peaky Blinders, Hell on Wheels, Benidorm, Ripper Street, Black Mirror, Bad Education, My Mad Fat Diary, Hot in Cleveland, Kirstie, Leverage, Death Comes to Pemberley and The Crimson Field. Yes, there’s unmitigated crap there, but many of the dramas/comedies are ones i watched and thought were excellent.
Perhaps you watched the Masterchef, Gladiator, Wifeswap or Dancing with the Stars franchises, ‘Australian’ shows like Masterchef Australia, The Voice Australia, The Biggest Loser Australia, and yes, even that much-loved Australian hit, Kath and Kim – all Murdoch at the core. Even Little Britain USA! Some of the shows were originally not Murdoch – but then their company or parent company was sold, and they were.
In fact, without Murdoch-owned companies’ productions, we wouldn’t have much to watch on television at all. There’s a lot of good drama, along with the crappy (and sometimes fun) ‘game’ and ‘reality’ shows.
Now don’t get me wrong. I detest Rupert Murdoch with a passion. I don’t like that just by watching television i’m contributing to his global dominance of the media. However, maybe you can live without television. I don’t want to. I did for a few years about a decade ago, when i moved into a house with no outside tv aerial, with reception so bad i couldn’t get any channels well, and most not at all. I’d never had pay tv and didn’t even consider it. At first.
I got by with lots of library books, and online interests. Then after the landlord again refused to even half-pay for an aerial, I decided to treat myself to television with pay-tv. Being able to watch drama series in order was a revelation after years of terrestrial television stations showing them out of sequence or even taking them off for a month while they run some stupid sports event. And so few ads! Though this has got less wonderful – the ads are more and thicker, but still don’t come NEAR to ‘free’ Tv’s saturation.
Murdoch’s a prick, yep, no argument. But have you seen the twats running terrestrial tv? Pretty soon, Murdoch will own his own terrestrial Australian station. Thanks to the current government, who changed the law to help him out. Am looking forward to seeing what the “dump Foxtel” people do. For the record, I don’t watch Fox or Sky News. I do watch BBC World News, Al Jazeera, and various Asian channels which you don’t even get a hint of on terrrestrial tv. (I’m not including SBS or the ABC in this, though even they show Murdoch companies’ products at times.)
Funnily, i can find more non-Murdoch content to watch on Murdoch’s Foxtel than i can on free TV. And let’s remember, ads on Foxtel are fewer and more widely spaced than on free TV, and on some channels (movies and the ones that have Game of Thrones) there are no ads during programs or movies.
You also get the option to record, which works flawlessly as a rule, because series are shown at the same time every week AND IN SEQUENCE, something terrestrial television can’t manage. Terrestrial telly is usually running over 20 minutes behind just on a normal night.
I don’t watch sport, so the notion that people who want to are ‘forced’ to buy Foxtel doesn’t really bother me. And when it comes down to it – who sold Rupert the sports rights? The sports industry is a money-grubbing bunch. When the same sports are shown on terrestrial channels, they’re stuffed full of ads, and the commentators are busy promoting betting DURING their to-camera moments.
If you don’t want to watch TV, sure, ditch your Foxtel/pay TV. In fact, wtf were you doing with it? Running on autopilot?
If you, like me, actually enjoy good drama, interesting architecture/archaeology/reno shows, or (shamefully) stuff like Botched (plastic surgery) and even occasional storage auction binges, then you’re not well-served by terrestrial television. In fact, i can’t understand why anyone would settle for what makes up most of the pap served by terrestrial tv.
After spending a large part of my adult life in the UK, where general programming was pretty good thanks to the BBC and Channel Four (this was pre-2002), coming back to Australia and the awfulness of ‘free to air’ was sobering. I used to watch television maybe twice a week. For thirty/sixty minutes at a time.
Keeping myself in books was a problem at the best of times (i read too fast), and there’s times i don’t want to read. Or i want something non-intrusive while i read? Hmm, i’ve never listened to opera, maybe i’ll try some on the Foxtel Arts Channel? I get a lot of music channels as part of my package. Let’s see, how much arts programming does terrestrial television show? (Not counting SBS and ABC, remember?)
Finally – if you really want to avoid Murdoch? You can’t read anything by Harper-Collins – also Murdoch owned. Local papers are usually out.
Me, i look at it differently – it was suggested I stop shopping at supermarkets to show my contempt for them. I figured better to harass them as a customer, rather than someone who proudly says ‘i won’t buy from you’. (I also can’t afford to pay tiny company prices – i do shop at a local butcher, because that IS cheaper, along with the meat being better quality.)
Big companies don’t give a stuff about people who aren’t their customers (yeah, i know, debatable they give a stuff about anything, but it’s levels of influence).
I’ve looked at the other options (Netflix et al) and frankly, it’s fine if you don’t watch tv much, or only when you have something special you want to see, or only via your phone. Because i pay half the monthly sub in a shared house, it’s affordable, and i get a really amazing range of programs, movies, and series for no extra charge.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy ‘supporting’ Murdoch. But for now at least, i’m going to live with it.
I’m getting there – with there in this case being defined as ‘losing my mind’ or ‘ready for publication’ – Books 1-4 paper edits all done. The edits get transcribed (sounds like someone else is going to, but nah, it’s just me), then i print out paper copy for the Delta Reader (he’s ahead of the Beta Readers, and Alpha is ‘book as published’, so Delta he is) who gets to read it and give the nod.
The nod will lead to uploads and a divergence – as paper publication will have accents and squiggly bits – like in the words façade, fiancée and déjà vu. You can’t leave squiggles and accents in ebooks because ereaders have hysterics over them. Ampersands (&) likewise.
So i will be running versions for publication (paper) and on for ebook. Then i can publish, once they’re ready. I think. Have i forgotten something? Oh fk, the covers. And covers is the operative word. 4 different ebooks, and then 4 DIFFERENT covers for 4 paper books. Argh is the word i’m looking for.
I just keep telling myself, it’s going to be ok, i can do this. Though i’m not at all sure. Which reminds me, i haven’t figured out pricing yet (for either version). I said Argh in the last para, so let’s add an Aiee! Cos it’s all doing my head in.
The sound you can hear is just me gibbering. Does anyone have a spare strait-jacket?
Why doesn’t it look after itself? I’m frazzled, trying to edit #TheThing (up to end of Book 1, only 3 more to go), keep up on Twitter (dropping in a few days a week to shout at the world) and keep myself fed/exercised. No, that’s not a pony-ness allusion – the pony thing had to go by the wayside, because i found a loophole. Possibly a pony-hole?
Anyhoo, I talked to the Australian Tax Office – who as i’ve said before are nice people and you shouldn’t be afraid to call them and say um, i haven’t paid tax for some time. Because if you do turn yourself in, they’ll be nice back to you. A friend did pretty much that, and even got a refund for several years.
I found out the dude who told me not to give my Tax File Number (aka in US-tax-speak as TIN) to ANYONE was being a trifle over-protective. And also, i found a page on Smashwords (if you’re not logged in to Smashwords AND have an Author account there, that link won’t be much use) where the W8-BEN form is basically filled in, i just had to add my TFN. (And then i went back, found it was showing as incorrect. I filled it in again, this time adding on Line 10 that i was a non-US resident and a citizen of another country where i was resident, and it seems to have gone through. Here’s hoping.)
So, if like me you’d despaired of ever figuring out the horrifying web of overseas tax forms (and what to do about a 40% tax rate on 60% of a $2.99 book!) then despair no more. Or even despayah no moah! Sorry, felt the need to do a US accent for that, and like most people, my view of the USA is rather coloured by Southern reality TV shows.
I did visit the US once – across Wisconsin (the Oshkosh Fly In) and Minnesota, down the New Jersey Turnpike, and into the Bronx. And a little bit of Pennsylvania. If you’re reading this from Frenchman’s Creek or Phoenixville – omg, i’ve been there!
And then i burned the chickpeas! No, not during my visit to the US, many years ago, but right here in real life. *sigh* Was trying to save money by soaking overnight then cooking from scratch, and did something i haven’t done for literally years. Let the pot boil dry while distracted by the internet.
I forgot to mention in the last post, where i was distracted by something else (possibly also food-related), that the first two ebooks will be free, (to say thanks to the people who bought the original Book 1, The Birthday Dragon, as they’ll get more of the story they’ve been waiting 6 years for *blushes*).
The second two won’t be free. I need to get a little income so i can print some copies, for myself to proof and to give away in competitions.
A maybe is an omnibus edition (ebook only at this point) of the 4 books in one download. That will cost, but again, i’ll be doing competitions come the time.
Of course, i went back on Smashwords to see how my book was going (number 4 on Fantasy books over 100k, 9 on any length Fantasy, No 7 on Sci Fi Any length, No2 over 100k).
There was someone who seemed to be doing very well. Lots of laudatory reviews. And then i realised the same people were reviewing the author’s (and only the author’s) books. Yeah, another author giving in to fake review syndrome. Very organised, give them that. 140 or so different reviewers, carefully cycling through all the books and giving good reviews. I looked at samples of the books, and they were so bad I wondered how the writer could be so deluded. But then delusion is apparently what creative wannabe’s do very well. (No, we’re not going to talk about my ex’s. Though that could be a cue.)
Still waiting for Smashwords to do something (i did give them enough evidence to act) but the last time they literally took nearly 18 months, so i’m not holding my breath. Does show though – if you just rely on Smashwords, you don’t get any sales (and you may be driven to make a few of your own). Well, you may get some if you shout real loud on Twitter. That’s my plan.
Once again, a warning. Always read a bit of the book first, before purchase. Because good reviews might mean the Writer is quite good at juggling Fake Reviewers on a spreadsheet. Yeah i know, i have quite a few good reviews. Mine are all legit and the writers can be found on Twitter or elsewhere, having lives. None are even from family, because my family doesn’t support my writing at all. (And no, that’s not a cue for a piece on the perfidy of families. Though i admit, it sounds like one.)
However, i might be lying. So what will you do? Yep, when i release the books, you can look at the first 20% and decide whether to buy or download.
Meanwhile, i have a pot to scrub. And chickpeas to soak. And yeah, 3 books where i need to get on with the paper edits.
Oh don’t ask me – just don’t. I put stuff on my blog, and almost before i’ve had a chance to post it twice on Twitter, it gets superseded.
So i was posting about turning into a pony – that’s still on the cards. The superseded one is about possibly crowdfunding and stuff. I decided i don’t need to. Yep. Advances in printing technology mean printing one book at a time is almost as cheap as printing 100. Though true, once you get into thousands, traditional printing becomes cheaper.
Of course, it means i won’t have a budget for marketing. So consider yourself “the marketing department” because if the people who follow this blog and me on Twitter don’t help, there’s not going to be any promotion, bar what i shout about myself.
This is a very short blog, but during it i’ve baked bread, including waited for 2 rises, i prepped roast chook (chicken) and peeled veg. Now i’m about to be summoned by the kitchen timer. And i still have shouting to do on Twitter.