Category Archives: not ranting

Competition time oh yes

I should probably write something here.

SOMETHING.

There, now go away, i’m busy. No really, BUSY. Wait, what do you mean, nearly February?

*sounds of screaming*

So, to recoup. I am writing Book 2 of The Polo Shawcross Journals. Book 1 – The Birthday Dragon – is selling the odd copy. (Not very often, i’ve been too busy to punt it about the place, seeing i’m trying to get the next one done. Yes, you see the trap i fell into?)

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A word to the wise: never buy an ebook without reading a sample. You wouldn’t buy a novel without opening it up and looking at the first few pages.  If you like the sample, go ahead, but NEVER rely on reviews. I’ve had a good look at my e-published competition on the web, and frankly a lot of it’s a joke. On you, if you buy it without reading some of it first.

People fake reviews (and reviewers).  The same writers are faking reviews all over the net – Goodreads act very promptly if you can prove the reviews are fake, but nobody bothers banning the writer from their sites.

Smashwords  sometimes take action if you complain at least twice. They did remove one guy’s over 200 fake reviews and his 20 fake reviewers, but he just came back with more fake reviewers and reissued his old books as new ones, so Smashwords gave up.

I did too, because jeez, there’s a man with time on his hands. Me, i’m not getting paid to find these tossers, and if you buy his book from Smashwords or Amazon (yes, there too, plus his own author web page) on the strength of all those fake reviews, they get a cut, so why should they worry?

Of course, people get suckered by this, and you’ll see occasional reviews by those who’ve made the mistake of not reading samples, saying the other reviewers are lying, but it’s up to you to spot that one.

You see, the moment the ‘author’ sees a negative (real) review, they’ll add a bunch of fake reviews, 5 star ones, to bump that nasty review down – or just republish their book as a slightly different name. I’ve seen the same book under three different names.

However, it’s easy not to get suckered – read the sample, and only buy if if grabs you.

If there’s no sample, shut the page. Either the writer is a newbie who will learn to let people open their bo0k, or they’re trying to rip you off.

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My book has a sample – and there’s a competition! [edit: competition over, see below]

So if you like the sample, you can enter to win it free.

To WIN
Just leave a comment here, @ me on Twitter, or Direct Message me on Twitter – say you’d like to win a copy.

Competition closes in about 18 hours – midnight Monday night Eastern Australian Time – that’s 7:00 am Monday morning (approximately) in the mid-US or 1pm in UK.

Winners will be notified by DM or Email, and i will also announce their names on Twitter.

WINNERS OF ECOPY OF THE BIRTHDAY DRAGON

@jolantru @FaineBlackadder @cravenheart @Nyx2701

copyright 2012 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


Bikkies of Doom

It’s time i posted something, and recipes just don’t fit Twitter…

My Bikkies of Doom (US people read Cookies for Bikkies) are legendary. They’re also illegal. But here is the base recipe. This is for @auntie_abc who asked.

Choc Chip Bikkies (Sweet Biscuits or Cookies)

Note: Australian cup measurements

  • 1 egg
  • 125 g butter
  • 160g (1 AU cup) brown sugar
  • 218g (3C) plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder (or just use 218g SR flour, no baking powder)
  • pinch salt
  • your choice white/dark/milk choc bits  – total 75g  – i use mix of dark and white chips.
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Before you start ‘cooking’ – some prep

  • Put baking paper on a baking sheet.
  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Melt butter.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, salt.  Mix with fork again just before adding, get some air in there.
  1. Beat sugar and egg until frothy. Add vanilla, stir.
  2. Add melted butter to egg mix. Will possibly go into clotted horrible mess. Don’t panic. Keep stirring.
  3. When smooth, add flour mix and chocolate.  Again, the clotted mess thing. Don’t panic. Keep stirring.
  4. Take two spoons and use to drop walnut sized balls onto baking tray. Allow spread-space. I can fit a dozen on my cookie slide.
  5. 10-12 minutes or so in my  (crap) oven. If yours is fan-forced, be careful.
  6. Take out when just cracking on top, leave on tray to cool (will still be soft in middle) for five minutes. (Will be just darkening at edges, don’t brown all over, too dry.)
  7. Cool on wire rack. Or just eat them raw.
  8. They crisp up if you’re not in Sydney humidity. Will keep for up to a week in a airtight container, better in first 4 days.

Very forgiving recipe – i have on occasion completely mixed it up and added butter after flour – it still works if you just keep mixing.

For rich chocolatey variant, add tablespoon of cocoa to flour.

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Consider this the obligatory New Year Post because otherwise you’re not getting one.

Chinese New Year is later in the month, and i’ll be paying attention again, with some giveaways of Book 1 to mark the beginning of the Year of the Dragon.

Polo Shawcross wishes for a new life, but the Birthday Dragon brings a ghost who says he’s not one, a best friend who thinks he’s gay, and a very bad reputation. Polo’s crazy extended family keep trying to kill him, and he becomes an unwilling party to treason. Adventure with more than one twist, set in a vivid new world where Men might be Dragons. (Free sample to read)

Book Two is coming along, nearly ready for beta reading – hoorah!

copyright 2012 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


I’m only wafer thin

Had a seriously eek moment. I’ve simply run out of time. Thanks to a series of natural  and unnatural disasters that took up large chunks of time for the last 5 months until now, my usual couple of thousand words a day is down to a few hundred.

We had floods, wonky internet phonelines, and death, then the unnatural ones were members of my family throwing tantrums. You can’t get much more unnatural than that.

I endured minor glitches like Mr Whatsit being crook which landed me with all the cooking and cleaning, then the book being invisible for the first 10 weeks of publication so i had to spend much more time trying to promote it than I actually had. Still somehow optimistic – possibly demented – when asked, i said sure, I’ll get Book 2 done by Christmas.

Now i’ve realised (because i put the equation into a spreadsheet) that i’m not going to finish book 2 before Christmas 2012 unless i disengage from social media. Not completely, i’m not doing a Stephen Fry – just need to use it much less.

The problem with being a sole trader, if you’re busy, there’s nobody to mind the shop. Which is why my book’s on Smashwords, so at least there’s a shop there.

I’ll check emails and DM’s of course, (most things let me know if someone says hi, Facebook even lays guilt trips on me) and will have to trust word of mouth continues with the first book.

So far, despite being invisible for 10 weeks (and only visible since 14th August – yes, 12 days!), The Birthday Dragon is in the Smashwords Top 10 for both Best Selling AND Highest Rated Science Fiction Fantasy Novels.

No doubt i’ll surface in a short while, scream about freaking writing a bit, then disappear again. See you in November? It will be earlier, as if i know i’m not going to finish Book 2 on time, i’ll have to let people know. I really don’t want to put out something rushed (again).  I only have a small number of disciples audience, it’s not like i can afford to screw up with a shoddy sequel.

Then it will be same with Book 3. And then, i swear, i’m going to take a breath. This will probably be sometime after June 2012. And yeah, i have to move interstate in that time too, at least that’s the plan.

Free sample of Book 1 of the Polo Shawcross Journals here – The Birthday Dragon – not a children’s book. A funny, touching, story about growing up, which happens to be set in the future. As my one reviewer said (you can read it and more reviews on the link just above) “If JRR Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Jane Austen and Phillip K Dick were to collaborate on a book, they might write something like this.”

We have to mention ‘not a children’s book’ because there is a kids Euro TV show of the same name. I swear it didn’t turn up when i googled my title.

See you when i’ve put down a few thousand words instead of a few hundred.

copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com/


Competition Time!

Win a copy of The Birthday Dragon – just say on Twitter you’d like to enter the competition, or leave a note here – or you can email stinginthetale at hotmail dot com.

That’s all. First Competition closes in about seven hours. (Midnight Friday in Australia.) Entries must be in by then, in case i’m still awake and do the draw. Winners will be notified, and noted here and on Twitter. Oh, and on Facebook if i remember.

Again on Saturday, same drill.

And on Sunday (Australian East Coast time so Saturday US)

This is to celebrate the damned thing – aka #TheThing reaching 10 weeks of publication, the heights of the top 5 Best Rated Scifi Fantasy Books on Smashwords – and somehow managing that despite being completely invisible unless you switched the Adult filter off.

It’s not invisible any more. So you can win a copy. Enter.  It’s a damn fine book. Funny, character-driven adventure. Don’t just take my word for it, read my reviews. 😀

First Competition WON (see comments below – gave away 2 books) but all entries that didn’t win will go into next draw – will be drawn 20th August midnight my time.


Second Competition also WON – gave away 3 books – when i catch my breath, i may do another one. Stay tuned. 

Third Competition won by @_tractorgirl_ @_PDT @dhympna – congrats to all.

copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com/


Some light reading…

Short Excerpt from

The Birthday Dragon

Book One of the Polo Shawcross Journals

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Smashwords Edition

ISBN 978-1-4580-8526-9

Copyright Polo Shawcross 2011-12

Cover Design and Artwork By Derek Armsden Design

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Chapter 1 – Somewhere, Somewhen

It was a while before I realised that I wasn’t like the commoners. They were human. Father was human. Grandmama, Mother, and I were only descended from humans. I was also descended from Mother, something that even before I went to school was a worry. Continue reading


In celebration of our incredible good fortune…

I’d been waiting for them to come and arrest me or something after i published my book, The Birthday Dragon (The Journals of Polo Shawcross). Instead, @Tweet_Fail must be on drugs too, because she liked it.

Yes, someone’s finished it. And twelve other people bought it. I’m shocked. @Tweet_Fail liked it a lot. More beautiful words were said in private that left me fluffy for ages, and still make me glow when i think about them. People keep doing this – liking my writing – it’s lovely, but shocking.

The hero of my book, Polo Shawcross, (also my pen-name) would tell you that one must never be shocked. You can be surprised, but to be shocked marks you as an ingenue.

He learned this from an older woman during a long coach ride. Which you can read about for free, as it’s part of the 20%  free to sample  (about 25,000 words, enough for a decent commute) on Smashwords. If you want to read further, the whole book is $4.99.

But wait, there’s more…ahem… *waits until you look up from your phone* Yes, a competition. The voices-outside-my-head think it’s a good idea.

In similar fashion, they signed me up to something else i think is rather excellent, which i don’t have full details about yet, but it’s to give free ebooks to soldiers from all allied forces serving overseas, which i think is a nice gesture.  I’ll post more details when i have them.

Meanwhile, the competition.  Easy peasy.

Leave a comment answering these questions…

  1. What’s the name of the hero of my book? Hint: Also my pen-name.
  2. What’s the book called?

I’ll figure a way of randomly selecting two lucky winners.

Competition closes on Saturday midnight my time – which means as we’re in the future here in Oz, it will close Friday USA time. Or as the most excellent  timeanddate.com tells me…

The World Clock Meeting Planner – Details

These are the corresponding times for your meeting:

Location Local time Time zone UTC offset
Sydney (Australia – New South Wales) Sunday, 12 June 2011 at 00:00:00 EST UTC+10 hours
London (U.K. – England) Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 15:00:00 BST UTC+1 hour
New York (U.S.A. – New York) Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 10:00:00 EDT UTC-4 hours
Auckland (New Zealand) Sunday, 12 June 2011 at 02:00:00 NZST UTC+12 hours
Corresponding UTC (GMT) Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 14:00:00

The winners will be drawn at random to win a ebook copy of the book – downloadable from Smashwords.

It has to be approved (still a couple of weeks away) before it goes into the Apple Store, or onto Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc, but you can download in any format from Smashwords now. Or have a look at the free sample.

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And then @Tweet_Fail (Barbara Bailey) did her review.  I am officially blown away.

Review by: Barbara Bailey on Jun. 09, 2011 : star star star star star
My favorite writers: Terry Pratchett, Connie Willis, and now, Polo Shawcross. This first book in what I anticipate will be an exciting thrill-ride of a series left me hungry for more.

Trouble seems to follow Polo, hide in the shadows, and catch him by surprise, often because of his inability to keep his mouth, and trousers, zipped.

The story is as believable as it is fantastic. The writer deftly spins humor in the most unlikely of places, shocked, horrified, and thrilled me regularly throughout. No matter what trouble awaits Polo, how spoiled or self-centered he seems, or how often I wanted to reach through the pages to smack some sense into him, he’s a genuinely good kid, and a very likeable one.

The mark of a good writer is the gamut of emotions they are able to evoke in the reader. I loved some characters, genuinely hated others, laughed out loud, got teary-eyed, and gasped in surprise; so engrossed in the book that I couldn’t put it down.

A posh life of luxury and power awaits Polo. I can’t wait to read the next book, and the entire series, to see if he can stay out of trouble (and alive!) long enough to reap his rewards.”

I’m just blissed…

You did see the stars, eh? 😀  star star star star star

And two more people went and bought the book.

Baby I’m amazed, as the Beatles might say.

Copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


The Birthday Dragon

Hold onto your pink bits, Beloved Visitors. The Birthday Dragon is published!

The Birthday Dragon  – out now, on Smashwords

In Sendren, Men might be Dragons, after long ago gene-tweaking created a new race, Dragon. Their descendant Polo contends with suicidal sheep, crazy parents, and checking every woman in the village off his ‘to be bedded’ list. Suddenly, life becomes about staying alive long enough to find out what it means to have a Dragon in the family.

The Birthday Dragon
(Opens in a new window)

You can read 20% of it for free.  (Also known as #TheThing if you follow me on Twitter.)  E-book only at this point. If you don’t have an ebook reader, you can read it in Word or in Acrobat, (or print from there) and snazzy free software readers are available.

http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/

http://www.amazon.com/
(you need to register an Amazon account – need an email address) then
download their free Kindle app’s.

And yes, you can read 20% – about 25,000 of my words. It’s quite up to you if you buy or not. As always, i’m a benevolent despot. I won’t track you down and get Biblical on you for not buying.

I won’t hang around your doorstep crying, rending my sackcloth, shedding ashes, and asking why why why i have such fickle blog readers and twitter followers.

Do  you like how i’m experimenting with the easy emotions first? We’ll try guilt to start with, move on to the kewl things like lust.

Or you could part with five bucks. ($4.99 US cos it’s on a US site.)

UPDATE –  18 months later, after many adventures now reduced to $2.99 – Book 2 & 3 due out together *crosses fingers* about mid 2013


If you can’t get the links to work, just go to
http://www.smashwords.com/
and enter book ID 63 286

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Copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com/


Drumroll, please…

I am about to publish The Thing. It’s not called The Thing, but that’s shorter to tweet, and anyway, it’s changed name a few times.

I did try to do my own artwork – my graphics pen exploded stopped working after over a decade’s trusty service – the results were dire.

After i whined about that on Twitter, Derek (who happened to have read the book and has his own design company) said he had an idea. I told him i had no money, and he said he still had an idea. I loved it.

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Cover of my book "The Birthday Dragon"

Briefly…

People are crazy, or they can be, Blood or peasant. Polo’s eyes say he belongs in his mother’s world, but he’s not sure. He gets the chance to find out when he’s sent to the Court of the Fourth Theodore.

The Birthday Dragon is the first book of The Polo Shawcross Journals, and is set on the isolated planet of Galaia in the Sigma Quadrant, where Men might be Dragons, in the aftermath of gene-tweaking thousands of years in their past.

Released on Smashwords in June.

(when released, there will be a decent free chunk to sample
and i will post links here)

Cover design/artwork by Derek Armsden Design

dadesign.net.au

The Birthday Dragon” Copyright 2011  Polo Shawcross

Copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


Are We There Yet?

So, where were we? Ah yes, The Thing – well, it’s coming along – about to be published in June. Note the non-specific nature of “June”. That’s deliberate. Gives me time to stuff the launch up several times.

I had one of those moments, when we realise we can go the traditional way, or not, and decided ‘or not’ was my way. No change there. So i’m starting with an E-book version on Smashwords.

You see, The Thing has turned out rather well. And it occurred to me that if it was a piece of music, i wouldn’t be handing it over to someone else. Not unless they’re offering megabucks.

I read a lot of the experiences of writers as they wrestled with agents, publishers, and finding either one – and having worked in publishing, i already had some inkling of what lay ahead. It occurred to me that circumventing that entire loop would please me greatly.

So that’s the plan. The Thing is having its cover done. I am about to try (for the fifth time, i think) to read over the Smashwords FAQ’s and How-To’s, and see if i have the idea.

I have no idea if i’m doing this right, but i’m doing it.

© 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com/


Ich haz bin ein songschreiber..

SQUEE. To the max.

Yep, even better than a baby hippo pic.

Though not quite as good, as, “Hey, peasants, guess what, i has agent with William Morris Agency,*sounds of triumphant squees*  and The Thing is represented round the world by people who will foment a publishers’ bidding war for meh.”

Instead of the William Morris Agency and publishers fighting in jelly, but quite good, all by itself, I haz announcement….

Since about 2007, when the super-cool 70’s/80’s US world famous pop duo (or one of them) happened to be in a farmhouse in Wales with a world famous member of a UK 60’s supergroup, who happened to be playing some songs of mine he’d recorded because he knows the guy who’s one of my co-writers *pauses for breath* well, since then, there’s been no interest in my music.

I hadn’t been pushing it, the people playing it at gigs weren’t gigging much, and I wasn’t expecting anything. But then i got the phonecall.

Someone wants to record one of them. Ooh? Ooh! OMG! Squee! And other things that signify excitement. So now i have to join PRS. Wait, all my musical education is non Aussie, and about 2 decades out of date (when i left the business side of the music industry).

It’s not even called Performing Rights Society here, but praise be to Baby Jebus and His Holy ButtPlug! There’s an Aussie version, which is completely free to join. ARPA… wait, no APRA-AMCOS! And it’s free – did i mention that? (And thanks again to the delicious and delightful @Gabfran, who helped!) Now we hope the person records it, and doesn’t just blow their brains out on coke.

See, i’ve seen it happen heaps. Too often to get excited. Not only did i see the business side, i was in bands, had friends in bands.  One friend ended up with no money left, half an album, and a producer flying on keys of Bolivian marching powder. A change of hierarchy at the record company left him without a contract. He was one of the lucky ones, they didn’t come after him for the advance.

The other thing? I wrote that song back in the 1990’s. So long ago i’d have to look it up in the archives to find out when exactly. Probably about ’96.  So long ago i’d stopped bothering to punt it about. And here we are, fourteen years later, and someone’s sniffing around.

This is the music biz. *sigh*

We iz nearly faymoose. Again.

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The post title? oh – songschreiber = songwriter. “I am a songwriter.” With a bit of Lolspeak chucked in. It’s like when Kennedy said, I can haz Hamburger! Wait. He said Ich Bin Laden ein Berliner. Something like that. It was bad German, allegedly, just like my title.

© https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com