Working, boss. Working here.

Underdog Anthology Three (Halloween 2017) is taking shape and now has a Morning Cloud story from Longrider to add to the list. I am working on a story based on the cover image – which looks like this at the moment. It could change, but probably not by much.

There will be a bit trimmed off around the edges for the print book. I already have an idea for the back which will give me a canvas for some text.

I still plan to have a monochrome illustration for each story. I’ll deal with those – unless any authors have a particular image they want to use. It has to be monochrome and you have to have copyright. No internet pictures, nothing that will get you sued.

The cover picture is of a little bit of decoration in my garden. It was there when I arrived and I’ve left it alone because, well, I like it. I took new photos today. It looks better now the tree has regrown a bit.

There might be a change in the Leg Iron Books pricing structure, especially for eBooks. Currently all prices are fixed to US dollars which means that they change in every other currency, depending on that currency’s status against the dollar. Smashwords don’t allow fixed pricing in each country but Amazon do allow it.

The trouble is, if the Smashwords (or any of their retailers) price drops below the Amazon price, Amazon will get all shirty and might pull the books from their site. So I couldn’t use fixed pricing on Amazon unless I could also do it on Smashwords.

However, Smashwords are working on allowing fixed pricing by currency. That will mean I can set prices (for eBooks at least) that don’t fluctuate with the currency exchange rate.

I’m going to have to be very careful with this. I don’t want to have a book go into ‘negative royalty’ territory which would mean I’d have to pay Amazon to sell it! I will investigate this new system and see if negative royalties is a possibility. If it looks safe, the book prices won’t wobble around as they do now.

I am determined that every book sold makes a profit, however miniscule, and every sale generates a royalty for the author. No creative accounting here, I’m not that good with money. I keep my accounts very simple indeed.

The Smashwords version of that cover will have to have all the author names on it. It will look a mess but they insist. I still haven’t got the Easter anthology through their tortuous system but this time, I am forewarned. Authors get paid anyhow, these anthologies pay a flat rate for one use of the story and breaking even on that is entirely my problem. One day…

I have three weeks to finalise this one so if you have a story still to go in, get writing. If you miss this one I’ll be doing a Christmas anthology, number four, and that won’t have to be scary stories. Just Christmas themed.

It already has four authors in it and I have plenty of old Christmas tales I can recycle – including a few that aren’t in my own anthologies.

Of course, mine aren’t all that cheerful.

 

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Getting metaphysical

Maybe going as far as paraphysical here. This is not theory, not even hypothesis. It’s just speculation. I know diddly squat about astrophysics, so don’t bamboozle me with your high-faluting equations and stuff like that. Keep it to street level if you want to explain why this is nonsense.

We’ll start with the caveat that it probably is nonsense.

It all began with a (public) Twitter exchange about time.

Which set me thinking in rather more than 140 characters. I did consider calling this post ‘Stop – Twittertime!’ However I need that construction for something else later 😉

Okay. Let’s start from the premise that the universe appeared in the big bang, We can argue about who lit the fuse another time, And yes, the big bang is theory, but that word has a different meaning in science. It means it is not proved but there is evidence to suggest it might be true. I accept that we could be the product of random cosmic forces, I also accept we could be but a spark from one of God’s fireworks. It’s all open to debate. That’s how science works.

This is not about religion vs. science. This is about the nature of time.

Incidentally, if I recall correctly, the Chinese ‘see’ time as coming out of the ground and going up, whereas we in the West ‘see’ it as going forward.

But then time isn’t moving. We are. We move through time so, as I said in that short discussion, what if time is what holds the universe together? What if that is the foundation stone?

Whether Creation or Big Bang, either way, time did not exist before the start because time is an integral part of the universe. We see three dimensions of space and we ‘see’ (rather, we experience) one of time. There could well be more dimensions, hiding all that ‘dark matter’ we know is out there.

If any God exists then he/she/it (obviously not human) must exist in more than our three physical dimensions. That would allow God to be everywhere, or at least see everything, at once. A four dimensional being would look at our three dimensional world in the same way we look at a two dimensional drawing. Five dimensions and our universe is a dot. A microfiche.

I believe science currently allows eleven physical dimensions. We barely exist at all at the top of that scenario. ‘Made from dust’ could well be a literal interpretation in that case.

But I digress. As usual.

If the universe uses time as its foundation then time travel is impossible. The universe is on the skin of a balloon expanding from its point of origin. There’s nothing outside and nothing left behind. It’s easier to picture if you think in four dimensions – we’re on the three dimensional skin of a four dimensional balloon. We don’t see inside or outside the balloon, we only see along the skin. Light seems to go in a straight line in our world but look at it in four dimensions and it’s zooming around through the skin of the balloon.

A balloon inflated by time.

Time is the dimension we cannot see. We can move in the three dimensions we are confined to but we cannot move in time, we are carried along by it. We experience it but cannot see it and cannot change direction.

There is no ‘past’ because the skin of the balloon has left that behind as it inflates. There is no fixed future because the skin of the balloon has not reached that point yet. Time recognises only ‘now’. Every point in time exists only now.

Sure, you can find relics of the past embedded in, and carried along with, the passage of time through space but you can’t go back there. It’s not there any more. Similarly, you cannot visit the future because it hasn’t happened yet.

You can still make a time machine of sorts. It can put you in stasis so you wake up in the future but going back to change the past? Forget it. The past is the void inside the balloon. If you go into the future and don’t like it, tough. There’s no way back.

I mean come on. If you had the chance, wouldn’t you want to go back and kill Hitler when he was still just a crappy painter? Or wipe out the Marquis de Sade or Torquemada or Stalin or Pol Pot any other mass murdering bastards of history? It’s never happened has it? They are all still there in history. Nothing gets fixed because nothing can be fixed. Once you’ve done it, it’s done.

As for the future, my own experience suggests that some people make accurate predictions but never very far ahead (one human lifetime is not even a tick of the clock at this scale of things) but that suggests no more than a tiny bit of variation in the process of time. Barely, probably not even, detectable on a cosmic scale. A minimal hysteresis in the mechanism that any engineer would be delighted to achieve.

Nostradamus? I read his ‘predictions’ So vague they could be interpreted any old way and even he has been ignored now.

There is nothing to suggest anyone from the future has visited the past and nothing to suggest the future can be predicted more than a trivial amount ahead. Travel in time is not possible for us.

However, a creature outside the limitations of our three physical dimensions might not be so constrained.

Maybe, this Halloween, we’ll meet one.

 

 

Constructions

I’m back to making little models. This has been an intermittent hobby recently but I have discovered inexpensive and difficult tiny metal models so I’m re-honing my skills on those. I have, to compensate for my ageing eyes, relented and ordered one of these. I can’t focus as close up as I used to, in fact when working with tiny things I have a very narrow focal range now.

With the Borg eyes I’ll be able to get back to that tiny submarine too. That’s taken an appalling amount of time to do!

More on the new models in a later post. I am currently engaged in constructing the Halloween anthology which already has seven stories, one of them based on trains. It’s a definite go, once again, and will be the third Underdog Anthology.

Today I received something I didn’t make although I played a part in its construction. I was tasked with the important job of ensuring there was no trace of whisky left in the bottle. I can assure you my diligence in this matter was absolute.

This lamp was constructed by JP’s Workshop and I am most impressed. Out here, where the power can go off with no warning, battery powered lamps and torches are a must. As are candles. Lots of candles. I should stick them in the top of whisky bottles.

The whisky this particular bottle once contained was ‘Old St. Andrew’s’ and I have only ever seen this one in Asda. There seems to be a lot of that about. Glen Garioch is hard to find outside the distillery – fortunately the distillery is local. There is one called Loch Lomond which I have only ever seen in Local Shop. It’s a very good one but it can’t possibly be unique to the tiny shop. They only ever have two or three bottles in stock.

There are those specific to certain retailers, of course. Lidl and Aldi have their own brands and I’d advise staying away from the very cheapest ones unless you need to clean a toilet or strip the varnish off something. Their top of the range ones are so far ahead of the cheapos that a few extra quid is well worth spending. Even the mid range ones are streets ahead of the cheapest.

But I digress. JP has produced a most impressive lamp out of this bottle. This is recycling as it should be done – take something that you’d throw away and make something else with it.

I have some glass-drilling drill bits but have not yet had the nerve to try. JP has the expertise already so it’s probably best I don’t bother for now.

Oh, and I sent JP a selection of bottles, all meticulously and thoroughly cleared of all traces of whisky, so if you fancy a similar lamp you might want to get in touch. His prices are most reasonable, you will find.

If you want an Old St. Andrew’s one like mine, you will need to visit Asda and pick up a bottle because I have the only one so far.

If you need help clearing it of whisky, send it to me first and I’ll pass it on to JP after a thorough cleansing.

No extra charge 😉

 

Death race 2018

Next year, cars built before 1978 won’t need an MOT test. I didn’t know cars built before 1960 were already exempt.

(for the non-UK: MOT test is an annual test to check the car is fit to use and there’s likely to be an equivalent in your country).

Okay, most of those cars are in museums or collections and are either off the road or so cared for that they’d be in good shape anyway. Some, however, are still in regular use by the UK version of hillbillies.

Off the road cars are covered by SORN (standard off-road notification) and I have a Fiesta in the garage in that state. I’m smartening it up but don’t need MOT, tax or insurance for it because it doesn’t go on any public roads. Museums and most collections will be in the same place.

There was a time when cars past a certain age didn’t need to pay road tax. It made sense because those cars’ owner(s) had paid enough tax already. Tiny Blur took it from a floating age-of-car to a fixed point in time because he was, is, and always will be, a money grabbing Socialist shit like all the rest of them. But I digress.

The roadworthiness test is a different matter. I just paid out ‘ouch’ money for new rear brake pads and disks and it’s not even MOT time yet. I like to have the ability to stop. Next I will have to get rear suspension bushes because, well, I got the brakes, might as well get all the other optional extras.

My car is about to turn 13 years old. A car registered in 1978, (40 years old when it comes into force) will not have to be checked to see if it’s safe but mine will. It’s not a question of ‘fair’, it’s a question of ‘how safe is that car driving towards me?’

Now hang on. I know of at least one old Hillman Imp in regular use around here. Other old stuff too. There is an annual old car rally nearby. The place is riddled with cars that do not need a roadworthiness test.

It’s true that by far, most of these old cars are very well looked after but there will always be a few shitty ones on the road.

I absolutely agree with stopping paying road tax on a car that’s already paid thousands.

But a car that isn’t safe to be on the road is a danger to more than its occupants.

***

My brother had a Capri, the flash bugger, and it was shit. I think it was one of the ones he totalled.

Jensen Interceptor though, that was a good one back when petrol was affordable. It was Mad Max’s choice. I once saw one in a scrapyard and I really wanted that engine.

Now,  I wish I had bought it.

Daily Mail demands a police state

The video of my chat with Frank Davis is online but I’ll wait until he posts the link before posting it here. It was his idea and his hard work that went into it and I’m not going to steal the glory. I do need to get a proper webcam though, doing that with a handheld tablet was no fun.

[Update: Frank has now posted Part One]

The anthology progresses. I have five stories so far, one of them from a new author you haven’t read before and who has also sent in an impressively big novel. There’s a steady stream coming in now, it looks so far as if this publishing idea is taking off.

Enough digression. Time to get to the horror of Parsons Green. A Lidl bag! In Parsons Green? How can this be? Yeah okay, time to get serious.

It appears that an 18 year old arse planted the bomb, at least that’s who has been arrested for it. He is apparently a real twat of a teenager, his foster parents have given up on him and yes, he is an immigrant. Is he Muslim? The Mail didn’t say and at this stage I don’t know.

ISIS have claimed the attack as one of theirs but those camel fuckers claim responsibility if you cut yourself shaving. An ISIS claim means nothing any more. So, Muslim extremist or just a nasty little bastard, the coin is still in the air on that one.

The police arrested this teen plonker two weeks earlier but then released him. The Mail is incensed! Why did they not lock him up there and then?

Well, because he hadn’t blown anything up then. Whatever he was arrested for, he was either not guilty or the police didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute. They certainly had no evidence he was planning to bomb a train or they would definitely have held on to him – and searched the house, found the bomb and stopped the attack before it happened.

The police have now raided the house he lived in. Why didn’t they raid it before? Well because they had no evidence on which to base a raid before. That’s how it works here. This is not Nazi Germany.

Do you really want the police to be able to raid homes without having to get a warrant, which requires at least some evidence? Seriously, do you really want a police force with that kind of power? That is going down a very, very dark road.

The Scottish Daily Mail, which doesn’t seem to be online, has a front page headline ‘Internet giants with blood on their hands’ and claims Tessie May will order (yes, order) websites like Google to clamp down on extremists. That is, they must not let anyone find instructions on how to make one of these bombs or any other form of weaponry online.

Leaving aside the small matter that most of the big Internet search engines are American and not under Tessie’s jurisdiction, ignoring the undernet that the Chinese use to get past their country’s strict controls, pretending that proxy servers don’t exist…

This is the authoritarian Internet censorship that Tessie Maybe has striven for for many years. She loves having a reason to take control of the Internet. Porn and paedos didn’t get her there so it’s no surprise she’s trying again using terrorism.

And once she has the tip of that wedge in, it’s sledgehammer time.

All these new security powers, all these controls, say that terrorism is winning. Terrorism works. We are caving in and giving up all our freedoms to a dictatorship and that is what terrorists want.

It’s also what the control freaks in government – of all rosettes – want and the terrorists are handing it to them.

They are not scaring the government. They know that as long as they don’t blow up anyone rich or important, the response of the authorities will be minimal. So they can go out and be murderous bastards and the government love them for it.

Terrorism gives government the excuse they crave for deeper and harder control over all of us. Police who can kick in your door at dawn with no evidence. An internet so muted that it becomes as much a propaganda machine as the BBC.

And the Daily Mail demands that this all happens.

They are either in on the game or they are unbelievably stupid.

 

 

 

Well, that was… interesting

Author payments are sent (novel authors I mean, I haven’t started on the short stories yet) except for Margo who elected to get hers as print copies and I should have those tomorrow.

I had to set up a new payment account for one author using online banking. I hate online banking and I hate it more now.

The computer is in the office but my mobile phone doesn’t work in there. It only works in the kitchen, right next to the window, or in certain areas outside. Thick granite walls were designed long before mobile phones.

So, I set up the payment and because it’s the first time, they send an automated phone call to check it’s really me. The house phone number on the account hadn’t been updated (it has now) so it had the old place’s number. No problem, I still have the same mobile number so I clicked that one.

The phone started ringing at once so it was a quick dash to the kitchen. The robot voice said ‘Key in or say the four digit number on your screen.’

Damn. The screen is in the office and the phone won’t work there. Quick run, memorise the number, run back and the phone is nagging me for the number again.

Well in the end it worked and then the phone beeped just as I got back to the office. It was the bank sending a text saying I had set up a new payment.

Then I changed the house phone number and the mobile beeped again. It was the bank telling me I’d changed the house phone number.

I know, in this age of internet fraud the banks have to be really careful and I appreciate that.

I think, really, the problem is granite. A fine and long lasting building material but you don’t need a tinfoil hat if you live in something made of it. Even the mobile phone can’t get through.

Al the same, I like granite. It just feels more solid than brick.

My head…

No, it’s not drink. That’s only in the mornings.

All authors should now, at last, have email telling them their royalties for the June to August quarter. It took a little longer this time, there are more books, more authors and sales in pounds, dollars, euros and one sale in Japanese yen. And Kindle in particular is not helpful when you are trying to work out who sold what.

If you have not heard from me, let me know. Royalties apply only to single author  books, remember. I pay a flat rate one off fee for the use of a short story in an anthology because a) it would kill me to work out how many pennies each author was to get and b) those anthologies have never yet paid back my investment in them. It’s not a big deal, they are part of my advertising for Leg Iron Books. They aren’t intended to make a lot of money. They are intended to get both authors and publisher known and to sell the other books.

So, if you have a short story in an anthology, include in your ‘about the author’ page any other books you have published. These are promo items which I why I price them as low as possible.

I have also tried to set up as a publisher on Goodreads.com which is apparently not possible. They like readers and authors but not publishers. A bit like, liking cars and heating and electricity but not the oil industry. Not an uncommon attitude these days. So you authors need to publicise yourselves on there. I can’t do it.

There are two previously published books I have, ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ that are out of contract with their original publisher. I see them pop up on bookseller sites but I have received no royalties at all for over two years and have informed them I’m not renewing the contract. Those will be republished under Leg Iron Books soon. And cheaper too. I just need cover art, I can’t use theirs and won’t anyway because I have to differentiate the new publication.

The Halloween anthology is a go. I have enough submissions already but will take more. suggested deadline is 30th September but if it’s a bit after and good, I’ll work it in. I really need this sorted and done by mid September to allow for the delays that buggered with the release of the Easter one.

There could be a Christmas one too, if I get enough stores in. I have enough of my own that could be re-used if necessary…