Tag Archives: happiness

I can’t tell you that…

I’m going against my natural instincts. They are never to share. Blogging is so freaking alien. I was born in 1960, missed being Gen X, made it into the Baby Boomer generation by literally 8 weeks, but sometimes think i am a sekrit 1930’s gel who’s been trained to keep the real shit to myself.

When i told a friend i’d been offline (this was a few years ago) because i was depressed and didn’t feel like inflicting my real life downer on my virtual community. He was SHOCKED. He’s decades younger than me, and told me straight up, i should have said something online. I loved him for his concern but tell everyone i was depressed? Pht. Or perhaps ffft. Not sure of the spelling there, but take it as an expression of disbelief.

Every time i see that “ruok” anti-suicide campaign, where you say to someone who might be depressed, “are you ok?” and they are so grateful they don’t open their veins/OD/jump off the nearest cliff, but instead say “well actually i’m totes depressed and ready to like, pinterest my suicide plans but yr concern means i am now ready to live again!” i feel like laughing. I was relieved to see a few other pplz also saying, gawd, anyone realise really depressed pplz lie??” Yes, you can tell by my overuse of Z that i’ve been back on Twitter.

However, i can understand that for other people, opening your veins in a figurative sense on social media is a way to ease that feeling of aloneness. I wish that worked for me when i’m depressed. So if you’re like me, and people offering sympathy/feelingz makes you want to run away, smiling brightly all the time, not because you don’t appreciate their concern, but because nothing stops the fucking pain… perhaps see a psychologist (because that DID work for me). Continue reading

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It’s a Brand New Day

The next line of that song is something like ‘packing my bags and getting away’ – which i’m actually not, not yet. Moving has been derailed, or perhaps deranged.

I have some health issues which need addressing before i can move, and fortunately am able to take a little time. Life’s actually just getting to the sweet stage again, which it hasn’t been for a while – yes, that is my depression you can see lifting! As Blue Mink put it later in the same song, “a bee bow bow buppa bow bow bow“. Which to me, just means a warbling noise to signify unexpected happiness. Continue reading


Interesting times

Well, here i am, November, and i should have a working computer in a week or so. I’ve got a computer that works but has a dodgy mouse plate (every so often it goes rogue and hits links or marks text) which can’t be trusted online, so i’ve been using that to edit the trilogy. It’s also got a coffee-soaked hard disk, so i’m saving to memory sticks, clouds, and everywhere else i can cadge some disk space.

The editing is nearly done – i’m on Book 3, and the other two are done. I can’t believe it’s taking so long. I’m at the point of giving up writing and taking up something like illuminating manuscripts by hand, you know, something quick and totes 21st C.

Meanwhile, despite liver getting steadily better, i’ve had non-stop health probs, including so many cancer scares i’m almost blase over blood tests, MRI’s, and CAT scans. Almost. MRI’s are an exercise in Zen and the Art of Keeping On Breathing, and I still find waiting for results is terrifying. So far, so benign.

Tip for MRI machines – put in good earplugs and then their headphones over the top. Doesn’t kill the noise, but brings the constant disco thump down to ‘there’s a nightclub next door’ instead of ‘i’m lying with my head in a speaker at a Boney M concert’.

Latest was ‘you may have some kind of sinus cancer’ and a CAT scan that showed up what they thought was a brain tumour. It was, but it’s apparently not the dangerous kind. Turns out all those years abusing my body are really starting to pay off.

Anyway, weird thing about being away from Twitter this long? I’m cured. I don’t even think about it much. Which is a worry, as i am going to need to go back soon, at least to let people know my books are out.

What if i’m like a bornagain non-smoker, and can’t stop myself from criticising other people’s obsessions with baby hippos, politics, or i-Things? It’s a worry. Still, I gave up smoking and didn’t become a bornagain, so I’ll try to have faith.

One day at a time.

copyright 2015 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


Something Freaky Going On

At last, Smashwords has removed the people faking reviews. I wrote about that before. So i’m pleased the charts now reflect a bit of reality – and flabbergasted that after releasing the book back in 2011 i’m still top 10 on the Highest Rated charts. (Which means I have more 5/5 star reviews than most people.)

Yeah, The Birthday Dragon is Number 2 on the Highest Rated Sci Fi and Number 3 on the Fantasy chart. Woo. In fact, it’s Number 6 on the Smashwords Highest Rated Books! That’s right, not just in my genre, but sitewide, fiction or non-fiction. Bit weird, seeing it’s been out since 2011. (That’s highest rated books under $2.99 and over 100k.)

Statistics, you see, can be twisted, for fun and hopefully attention. If i take off the “under $2.99 and over 100k” filters it drops down a bit, but still top 10 in Sci Fi and Fantasy which is pretty cool – 6 on the Highest Rated Sci Fi and 9 on the Highest Rated Fantasy chart. *looks happy* On the sitewide ratings… it’s on page 4… which i think is Number 30-something. Still, not bad for a book that’s been out for 3 years.

Of course, more sales would be welcome, *looks poor* then i can be on the Best Sellers list too. At the moment, no matter how many filters i put on the results, i can’t even get on the first 9 pages.

Meanwhile, work on Books 2 and 3 was going well, then i realised i have to move (again) in the next month, so everything’s on hold. However i did get a new version of Book 1 and the new cover done along with covers for the other 2, and am just doing last edits on those. But with moving house in the next few weeks, i can’t hazard a guess on when i’ll be able to finish.

I’ve just released the new (updated and edited) version of The Birthday Dragon with the new cover – if you have the old one, you can download it free, if you’d like to read it, it’s only $2.99. As always, the story hasn’t changed and there is 20% free to read to see if you like it.

Here’s the current cover for Book 2, which is going to be out as soon as i can manage it. I did it myself (from a photo i messed with a lot), and i’m quite pleased with the result.

Image

 See, i really am nearly ready to publish Books 2 and 3. And The Thing will at last be complete. At least until i start another trilogy.

copyright 2014 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


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 will never do that…

I was never going to learn to type – no kidding, this was when i was growing up last century (horses and carts weren’t even invented yet, because they only came after electricity, but we had manual typewriters and iceskates, even in Western Australia).

You see, if i learned to type, i’d never escape the steno pool – in 1975, a woman with ambition did not learn to type. Being typists was something women did in droves before men learned to use computers (email happened) and made the steno pool obsolete.

Steno is short for stenographer – someone who took shorthand (a form of hieroglyphs men couldn’t read), and operated the Gestetner machine and made it spit blurry purple copies. Men didn’t know how it or typewriters worked. All that stuff was women’s work. (No, am not joking at all.)

To my disgust, when they wouldn’t let me do woodwork at school i had to learn typing instead. To my surprise, it came in very handy, as though i’d discarded my idea of being a poet, turned out being a writer was something i wasn’t going to grow out of, and of course, computers were about to change the world completely.

I also learned to sew, much against my will, forced once more to do it while the boys did woodwork or metalwork. It too turned out to be stunningly handy, and i really think everyone should learn at least to sew a button back on. Meanwhile, as electricity was introduced, along with hair-dryers, (in my early 20’s, back before there was internets), I discovered computers.

I did not want to learn computers. At all. However, there was this game. Like many people before me, i was hooked. I don’t remember the name of it, but it came on a cassette tape. Yeah, it was the Dark Ages of Computing.

By the mid-80’s things were moving much faster – and the lights no longer dimmed when the rich woman down the road started up her electric toothbrush. Though i do wonder, in these days of moar RAM than a girl can swallow comfortably, how in the name of God did i write my first book on a machine with only 20 megabytes of disk space and a RAM so low it was in triple-kilobytes? (360k i think.)

The only way to accommodate the hugeness of my average-size 125,000 word scifi fantasy – basically a small text file by today’s standards – was to split it into small enough chunks. I kept splitting it until it was loading in seconds, not minutes. Yeah, that 125,000 ended up cut down to twenty chapters that each were separate documents, so the machine didn’t choke.

I fought against learning to cook. Oh teh stupid! Cooking is a joy, a pleasure, an expression of art, sustaining and tasty all at the same time. Being able to feed oneself something fabulous (as simple as good bread), is cool. Fortunately i absorbed quite a bit from being around women cooking and then being forced to attend cooking classes at school.

I was never going to …. well, pick almost anything i said NEVER to. It seemed the Great Siamese Cat in the Sky liked to mess with my head, and if i said NEVER, it was a guarantee the thing would happen.

I was never going to self-publish. Oh har-de-freaking-har.

copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


Come in Number 12, Your Time Is Up

The voices-outside-my-head, the ones i’m prepared to listen to, say it’s time we did another blog post. We’d like to say nah, and go back to writing, but apparently the voices bought a real cattle-prod on eBay, so we’re being very good.

I am still hyperventilating every time the book is downloaded, or the sample is. The book’s reached the unbelievable status of number 12 on the Smashwords charts and stayed there for most of the week (for Highest Rated Science Fiction Fantasy books).  Dropped to number 15 today, aw.

If this is at all representative of the fantasy genre, then I’ve obviously
been a fool to myself for ignoring it.
” (Smashwords review of The Birthday Dragon)

Mr Whatsit had to put up with me going round saying “Number 12!” a lot. And then reading my reviews to him, repeating the best bits over and over. He’s hiding downstairs, so you’re my next captive audience.

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Review of The Birthday Dragon
by:
David Willanski on June 30, 2011 : star star star star star
If JRR Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Jane Austen and Phillip K Dick were to collaborate on a book, they might write something like this.

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I’m being compared to more heavyweights (Pratchett, Willis) and am cautiously hopeful. I know the book is good, but i’m a realist – this is an ebook. A small market, but a growing one. I’m not represented, i have no publisher, i have no marketing budget. I do have reasonable distribution, through Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc, thanks to Smashwords’ reach.

To not get an agent or a publisher was a deliberate choice.
How terrifically avant-garde of me.

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Why do you think this book’s appealing to people who aren’t that into scifi or fantasy?

People like a good story. As readers have said (Smashwords reviews),

This is a great adventure story with lots of twists, humour, wonder and, best of all, suicidal sheep.”

Most importantly – a sci fi styled book that has a lead character who is full of attitude and humour; not taking himself or the folk around him too seriously.”

Setting is secondary, science is secondary, (though it must be thought out, planned, and researched) but it’s the story of the people that’s primary. So you don’t need to be into science fiction, or fantasy, or whatever. Like to read? Like an adventure with some smiles? You’ll probably like this. (and you can read a big chunk for free to see.)

Yes there are castles, but they’re weird floaty things that I could quite clearly see were spectacular. Yes there are royals aplenty but they’re basically a bunch of drug taking sex addicts. Hardly the Windsors. More like Carry On Blackadder meets The Graduate – with added stimulants.” (Smashwords review)

I’ve been heavily influenced by science fiction writers like Jack Vance, who would put you on a world with mer-people , then take you on a detective story. I like my fiction developed, not just a few cipher characters to hang the science- or dogma-heavy plot on.

I love it when the writer takes me away.

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I’m not a huge fan of a lot of fantasy, and completely understand people getting turned off it- i’d never have bothered again either, if the only kind I read was full of archaic language and one-dimensional characters, with the plot copied from a template.

And of course, everyone writes dragon books the same. Someone’s not allowed to have their own dragon, yawn, they’re misunderstood, yeah yeah.

This isn’t really a dragon book (a marketing department wouldn’t have let me call it The Birthday Dragon), it’s based on the premise of what if the people were the dragons?

They got that way with genetic engineering, not with waving a wand – but as the ghost-who-says-he’s-not-one tells Polo, when Man created Dragon, he accidentally created real magic.

As a reader, I’ve always tried to learn as a writer from what irritated me, what left me feeling cheated, and what left me thinking yes, i loved that book.

In my DM’s on Twitter, someone said “i love it” when talking about my book.

What can i say? My life is perfect.

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You can read other reviews and get a free look at the book
about 25,000 words, 20%, a decent chunk to sink into.

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


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/