No time for Internet today

Deadlines approach. Getting the guest room ready for my parents’ visit and getting the book out at the end of March. Ideally before next Wednesday, when they visit. Or at least, have it primed and ready to send by then. I can do the last few stages while they sleep, I’ve had plenty of practice now.

There is a very real danger that I will meet two deadlines in the same month. This is not something you should expect to see very often. Halley’s Comet is more frequent an event than this.

There is also gardening. There is a lot of garden and it’s all starting to grow. Since the weather is currently fine, and since the garden was neglected for at least a year or possibly more, I have to keep it under control.

If a small garden goes wild it can take a few days to put it right. If this one goes wild, well, might as well get used to living in a jungle because I’d have no chance!

The landlord took pity on me and sent in professional gardeners for two days of brutal slash-and-burn gardening to get me started. They did a grand job of weed clearance and hacking back trees, but they hacked back some a lot further than I would have.

They absolutely butchered an old holly tree. While out tidying up that part of the garden I noticed something they had uncovered. Embedded in the tree is a large deer antler – it’s been there so long the tree has grown around it and it’s not going to move now. On the antler is a skull.

Now I know nobody is going to believe me but I honestly didn’t do that. It was already here. One of the points of the large antler has been hacked off, I assume the gardeners thought they were pruning a branch because it’s coated with green algae. The horns of the skull have suffered similar chainsaw damage but it’s otherwise intact.

They left it in place. I plan to leave it alone too. Apart from taking a few photos. This is a ready-made anthology cover for a later one, and a garden ornament I would have put up anyway if it wasn’t already there.

It might go some way to explaining the mystery of the room that had gouges in the walls and three locks on the outside of the door but I would probably be best not to delve too deeply into that.

There are other, um, Interesting Things to be seen in the garden. More on those later.

I just hope the holly tree recovers. It was a particularly impressive one.

Anyway. I have to put out author contracts and ‘about the author’ pages (if you haven’t sent me one and you have something specific you want in it, let me know). There is still time for one more story, if you have an Easter idea, but the whole thing must be assembled and finalised by next Wednesday so don’t hang around! I’ll have to be sociable for a week, no matter the toll it takes.

I will soon be looking for an illustrator. I can’t pay much yet, but I think some illustrations would be a Good Thing To Have in some books. There’s no time to do it for this anthology but it would be fun, in a future one, to have the stories all set up in time for an illustrator to put a picture to each story.

Maybe Halloween. The Tree Skull Anthology could be a working title.

 

Lawnmower man

Today I mowed one of the gardens. Yeah, you read that right 😉

It took several hours for two reasons. One, it was covered with twigs and pine cones, including a lot of twigs with several pine cones attached. The best way to stop a cylinder mower dead in its tracks is to drop a pine cone in front of it. I took a wheelbarrow full of pine cones off that lawn and there were still traps lying in wait.

Two, all I have at the moment is a £30 push mower from Aldi. It’s a good mower, it cuts very well and it will be very useful in the more remote parts of the garden but still… I was exhausted by the time I finished.

I have to get an electric or petrol one for the bulk of the grass and use the push mower for the more remote areas. It avoids the problem of multiple extension cables, it’s light in use and easy to maintain. It’s just very hard to push through even medium-length grass. There is, I think, still an electric mower in the lab. It’s cheap but easy to use and is still in its box.

So I missed out on the Internet today. I heard about the Westminster attack, and read the articles. Nobody wants to admit who was responsible. Well, ISIS are happy to shout about who was responsible but even an attack on Parliament in the heart of London is silenced in the media by political correctness.

I bet the IRA wish we’d had this political correctness in the seventies. Airey Neave and Lord Mountbatten would have been killed by men without accents. They would have thrived, as do our current terrorists, knowing they can do what they like and nobody dares name them. If that doesn’t change, and very soon, we won’t have to worry about smoking related diseases at all. We’ll all be dead before they have a chance to get us. Even now, even with a direct attack on Parliament, the arseholes in government can’t see it.

Speaking of the IRA, it seems Martin McGuinness died a hero in the media’s eyes. He was a violent twat and the world is a better place without him. That’s my standard eulogy for any mass murderer. I see no need to say any more.

Like Lawnmower Man, I have moved from cutting grass to the Internet. I’ve started on the back cover for the Easter anthology.. Longrider’s recommendation was a good one, I’ll use the photo of the trees at the bottom of Garden 3 for the cover. It will look something like this –

I’ll use a text box for the back cover blurb. As I did with ‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’. It’s the easiest way to make text clear on a multicoloured background.

I just have to work out what to say…

 

The Hollow Bunnies

The second anthology has passed the first hurdle. It’s over 100 pages which is the minimum to make it worth putting out in print. Print On Demand means there’s no back stock to worry about but the unit price depends on the number of pages. That’s why Hugo Stone’s ‘Cultish’ is expensive in print. It’s quite a tome.

There’s a base price too, so go much below 100 pages and the price stops dropping. Basically it means if it’s below 100 pages of 6×9 inches (trade paperback) then it’s not going to be cost effective in print. It can still work as an eBook because, naturally, there are no print costs. Even Hugo’s massive tract of depravity can be reasonably priced as an eBook.

Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell has passed that hurdle and will be in print and eBook in time for Easter. The stories are edited and formatted (only one author prevents it from coming out right now and I have to hold my hand up to that one). The front cover is ready and looks like this –

Yes, Roobeedoo helped with the editing again. She’s on her way to being a permanent member of staff, even though we’ve never met.

There might be some adjustment to the cover lettering. Otherwise it’s done. The back cover is not done but photos of pastoral scenes are not hard to come by around here. I’ll take a camera out tomorrow if the weather permits. I do have a particularly creepy driveway…

There is still time to send in another Easter-themed story. I plan to finalise this around the 27-28th of March and I’m on target to make it. Easter is later than usual this year so I have a little leeway but for once, I intend to actually meet a deadline.

Author contracts and then payments will go out soon. If I don’t have an ‘About the Author’ bit from you I’ll be asking for one – and if you want to update yours, you can do that too.

As usual, if you want payment in books rather than cash I can do that. Postage is ‘free’ which means I pay it, not you, but it’s a legitimate business expense so it’s tax deductible. If I get to the point where I’m sending a ton of books every month I might ask for postage but it’s small stuff so far.

I won’t have a final unit price on the book until I have it completely assembled and ready for print but I expect it to be roughly the same as the last one. If so you can take £10 per story or two books per story or any combination of those. It might change so don’t hold me to this – I might yet get a novella sent in that makes it a real biggie!

Although I think a story that’s over 100 pages in itself would be a separate book, with a separate contract.

Anyway, I have been looking into the process of marketing using my management manuals featuring someone called Dilbert.. There seems to be a lot of drinking involved.

So far, so good.

Why do the gods love the insecure?

I’m in serious danger of meeting the deadline for this Easter anthology. I only missed the deadline for ‘Ransom’ by a few days, this one could be the one that makes it. Eight stories edited, six approved by the authors, it’s really only me who’s stopping it getting published today. I’m writing a Dume story with Romulus Crowe and those two are hard to control.

Anyway, some of the comments on the last post got me wondering. Why is it that those who profess to be God’s chosen ones – of any religion – seem to be so damn touchy about it? Come on, if you’re the chosen people of whichever God you follow, surely you don’t give as much as a fly-blown gerbil’s testicle what I or anyone else believe?

You can relax in the knowledge that I, and everyone who does not follow your religion, is going to Hell and you’ll be able to laugh at them while looking down from Heaven.

Okay, I know, some (very few) religions don’t like the idea of people going to Hell. I can’t remember who said it, but a wise man once pointed out that no true Christian would accept entry to Heaven as long as there was one soul suffering in Hell. If they are as compassionate as they say, they could not stand the idea of a fellow human enduring such torture.

That’s being a bit harsh, I suppose. A Christian could argue, quite fairly, that we heretics had a choice.

Still,we see religious groups claiming victim status all over the place. Not all of them, some are actually grown up, but most act like God’s spoiled children. Christians, for example, no longer play Kill the Unbeliever! Others do, and it’s not just the Muslims.

I don’t get it. I have never felt the need for a religion. Many people do and I have no problem with that. If your life feels better because you believe someone is watching everything you do, you have a good time. I prefer to work alone. I don’t need a supervisor.

But why do you care what I think? If you are in one of the currently militant religions, why does it matter if I’m alive right now? I’m not interested in de-converting you. I have no rival religion to suck away your followers. I genuinely don’t care.

You believe you will go to paradise and I will go to Hell. Looking around at the world, I think I’m already there to be honest. Still, why kill me now? Why not revel in the knowledge that I will enjoy a life of drink and debauchery and then suffer for all eternity?

Further, if you have the slightest trace of compassion for humanity and you know I face an eternity of having little red laughing demons poking hot pitchforks up my bum, shouldn’t you let me enjoy the brief time I have here? You can laugh at me later, while you share God’s basement with those 72 pasty white gamer guy virgins you’re so looking forward to.

Incidentally, if you’re a Muslim woman, what do you look forward to? I’m genuinely interested because we’ve never been told.

If you are God’s chosen ones then surely you have nothing to fear. No reason for the killing sprees. No reason for Hindus or Muslims or anyone else to wipe out the opposition. We’re not going to be taking your seat in Heaven’s coffee shop. We’ll be suffering the booze-fuelled smoking area downstairs.

I wonder if Satan makes us go outside the gates of Hell for smoke breaks? Somehow I doubt it. I bet there’s one of those stainless steel ashtrays outside the Pearly Gates though.

Look, religious people. You claim to be the superior ones. God’s chosen. The ones to get eternal pleasure while everyone not of your religion gets eternal pain.

So if you have this God-given superiority, why do so many of you act like total dicks?

It’s a question that really needs an answer. Is there one?

The Communist Tories

Many have said, for many years, that there is no longer any difference in Left or Right. No difference between Tory and Labour, no difference between Republican and Democrat, no difference in the type of dictatorships at all. They are now finally proved, without a shadow of doubt, entirely correct.

I admit to laughing, at first, at the Socialists in America insisting that their new ‘right-wing’ government is all pally with, of all places, Soviet Russia. Isn’t that what they’d want? A deeply socialist influence on the mop-haired madman they’ve just put in power? Well, apparently Russia is now ‘right wing’ which leads us to imagine that the future they want for America is far left of Russia.

That is scarier than any story I could ever write. Even Kim Jong Jingly-Jangly would balk at that idea.

Anyway, this one is about the UK. About the alleged Conservative government (we call them Tories, which is what the Irish used to call highway robbers and it seems they were somewhat prophetic).

Their new Chancer is about to kill new startup businesses even faster than the Brown Gorgon ever did.

The Brown Gorgon brought in the idea of ‘tax on account’ whereby you pay this year’s tax and next year’s tax too. It was phased in for businesses that already existed but start one now and you pay double tax in your first year. This is why I am not keen to make a profit in this first year. You have to build your business slowly. If you are an overnight success in your first year you are dead in the water in your second year.

The Tories have done nothing to change this. Not a goddamn thing. They won’t, they are Redder than their opponent’s rosettes these days. Corbyn is probably in awe of the shit they are coming up with.

Now they want to hit the self-employed (their natural voter base) with a massive hike in tax. Oh they call it ‘National Insurance’ and claim it’s not income tax but it all falls into the same black hole of profligate waste. It’s just extra income tax.

These are the champions of entrepreneurs? Really? Not only are they happy to continue taking double tax from every attempt at a new business and kill them after their first year, those that survive will have to survive on less. Which means most will end up on benefits. That is modern Conservatism. More benefit drones, no more new startup businesses. Suits their masters.

There has been much bleating from Lefties about ‘Tory cuts’. There have been no cuts. The NHS budget has never, ever gone down. Only up. The ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’ never happened. The ‘Great Repeal Bill’ never happened. ‘Austerity’ never happened. I no longer believe any of it ever will.

‘Brexit’ isn’t really going to happen either, is it? Does anyone out there believe a single word any current politician utters? If you do, I have bad news. 100 is not the top of the IQ scale. You are not near the top.

You can whine about Trump all you want but at least he is doing what he said he would do. No other politician can say that. Didn’t O’Blimey promise to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison on his first election? It’s still there.

If you are not voting for UKIP or Marine le Pen or any other so-called ‘far right’ candidate then you are voting to live in North Korea. Oh they are ‘far right’ for sure. The ones telling you that are so ‘far left’ even Chairman Mao would have widened his eyes. No mean feat…

When the current batch of lefties talk about ‘far right’, they mean ‘normal’. Middle of the road stuff, where the laws make sense and government isn’t trying to live in riches while everyone else scrabbles for the crumbs on their bird feeders. That is where ‘far right’ is now.

I am self-employed. I have no paid holidays. If I stop work for two weeks I stop earning for two weeks. I have no pension other than what I paid into while an employee. I cannot spare the money for a pension plan.

There is no ‘maternity leave’ nor ‘paternity leave’ in my work. Okay, I’m too old to be a father again but a 20-year-old setting up a business will find that part hurts.

I have just started up a business – Leg Iron Books – and if it made so much that I was in the 40% tax bracket in the first year, then at the end of the first year I would pay 80% tax on that year. Tories have done nothing – NOTHING AT ALL – to change that. Second year, I’d be bust and on benefits. How does that help the economy?

It doesn’t. Like vampires, they suck you dry and move on to the next mug who thinks he can challenge their big-business paymasters. Try to start a business under a Tory government and they will smack you down faster than the darkest of the Communist regimes. They are not Tories. Calling them ‘right wing’ means you must be so far to the ‘left’ that Stalin needs binoculars to see you.

If you plan to start a new business, for pity’s sake don’t do it in the UK. No matter what government we get here, they will do their damnedest to slap you down.

Finally, why is America so keen to slap down Trump?

He’s not a career politician. He hasn’t been indoctrinated in ‘the way to best control the tax cattle’. He’s making mistakes but the whole of the job is new to him. I think he might turn out to be the best thing to happen to America… if they let him.

That’s really why they don’t like him.

 

Just to clarify…

logobasicLeg Iron Books is not a ‘vanity publisher’.

I don’t have my own printing press, I can’t get onto the bookshelves at Tesco or Asda, I don’t have a marketing department and I can’t take out full page ads in magazines. The entire company is just me with a few helpers now and then when it all gets too much. I am not Random House.

Yet.

I only thought of becoming a publisher a year ago this month. So far there are four books in the catalogue, two more in active preparation and a backlog of submissions. I think I’m not doing too bad for a one man band. Hover over ‘Leg Iron Books’ in the menu bar and you should get a drop down list. It’s new, and developing, but it’s started.

I know there is an ongoing feud between one of my authors and another blogger. I’m not totally insular, I do read other blogs even though I don’t comment much these days. Starting a new business tends to take up a lot of time.

The feud is nothing to do with me so I won’t name either party. I really don’t have time to get involved in that.  However, I don’t appreciate hints that I might be a vanity publisher. That’s a good way to kill this fledgling business before it even learns to fly. It’s also a good way to get me to use up my limited resources on legal action and I really don’t want to pay lawyers. They could clean me out in no time.

So, to clarify.

There is ‘self publishing’. I’ve done that with the short story books because it’s tough to get a publisher interested in those kinds of books. That’s where the writer does all the work but cost, these days, can be zero. If anyone fancies having a go, I’m happy to show them how.

Downsides of self publishing are that you have to do all your own editing, proofreading and cover art. The editing and proofreading of your own work is really hard because you tend to see what you think you wrote, not what you did write, and reading your own work over and over is beyond tedious. But it can be done, and it can be done with no money at all.

There is ‘vanity publishing’ where you pay someone to publish your stuff. You pay for editing and cover art and they make you a book. They sell you that book, they do no promotion, nothing, just what you’re willing to pay for. That is not what Leg Iron Books does.

The author is the originator of the product. As a publisher, the authors are the suppliers of the raw material for my business. What business charges a supplier for delivering their raw materials? Only a business that is a pure con trick.

I never charge any author anything. You will never get a bill from me for anything at all. I can spend a lot of time editing your book and currently I do that before you sign anything. I take the risk that you might take the edited manuscript and self-publish it without signing a contract. No matter what, I will never charge for editing.

If I get caught out that way I might go for a contract signed before I do any work on the book but still, it won’t cost you anything. So far, I work on the trust that after editing you’ll agree to a contract. So far, it’s worked. If I use someone else to do the editing and they want payment, it’s my problem, not yours.

If you have your own cover art, great. If not, I will find some or make some for you. Copyright on cover art belongs to the artist – if I make it myself, it costs you nothing. If I get someone else to do it, I pay them, not you.

No reputable publisher ever charges an author for anything at all. Never. Not ever. I take your stories and put the effort into getting them in print and eBooks in the hope I’ll make a profit on the deal. The profit comes from sales, not authors. Authors do not pay. Authors earn. That’s how it works – except for vanity publishers. They make money from writers, not readers. I’m doing it the right way. It might leave me broke (again!) but I’ll do it the right way anyway.

Here’s how it works. If you contribute to a short story anthology, I make a one-off payment in cash or books. All the editing and formatting and cover art is my problem. You pay nothing. I make a one-off payment because there are going to be a lot of anthologies and splitting royalties between lots of authors is a pain – especially as I price those anthologies at the bare minimum. They are a promotional tool, not an income generator. The main point is, I pay you to be in them. You do not pay me.

Copyright on shorts remains with the author at all times. You can re-sell or re-publish that story anywhere you like. It does not become ‘mine’, I’m just paying for permission to use it once in one anthology.

If you send in a novel we will have a five year contract in which we split the profit 50/50. There will be profit on every sale. It might be pennies but it will never be zero. I neither want nor need to get into the higher rate tax bracket so one day, if there are enough books making enough money, I will reduce my percentage across the board. But for now, it’s 50/50.

At the end of the contract you can sign a new one or tell me to piss off and send your book to one of the big boys or publish it yourself. Five years, fixed. After that I have no hold on you. Copyright remains with the author throughout, the contract only gives me an exclusive until it ends.

Okay, we won’t be in the bestseller lists for a while. Leg Iron Books is one year old this month and publishes unknown authors. Nobody has heard of any of us. That will change.

I will never ask any author for money for any service. I will bust a gut to get a story edited and proofread and published and you will never pay me a penny. Every book sale will get you a share. No exceptions. Even the one I buy for my own library (and I’ll get a copy of every one of them) will get you a royalty payment.

So, you decide. Is this ‘vanity publishing’?

If you think it is, you are free to go elsewhere.

Just try not to slander me, okay?

Two days past the deadline. An improvement…

Better than last time. ‘Ransom’ by Mark Ellott will soon be available in print and Kindle versions on Amazon and soon it’ll spread to most of the major eBook sellers out there. It’s already available on Smashwords for those who can’t wait, in most formats.

Onwards! This month, another novel and the  Easter anthology. Easter is late this year, it doesn’t show up until April 14th but I need the anthology out in time for word to spread. I’ll set a date for publication at March 30th. There’s still time if you have an Easter story, although this one is getting big.

I’m considering another mixed anthology for the summer. It’s a long time between Easter and Halloween. Maybe something loosely based on summer – holidays, sunshine, even (in Scotland at least) snow. Some time around midsummer for that one. That leaves 4 months to get a Halloween one ready.

First though, I have a pile of stories already for the anthology. Time to get editing…