Blogbooking

Okay, I cracked.

Another link to a particular old post came up on Twitter so I have now made it an eBook. It’s free on everywhere except Kindle which won’t let me make it free unless I relinquish copyright. To which I can only reply ‘arsebiscuits with stale knobcheese on top’. The Kindle one is at their minimum price but you can get a .mobi Kindle file free on Smashwords.

I might ditch the Amazon version. Recent interactions with their robots have not encouraged me to bother arguing with them.

Anyway. If you don’t want to persuade people to hunt an obscure blog for an ancient post that was written by a drunk idiot, you can send then to the Smashwords link instead. That is at least free so they only waste a few minutes of time reading it.

In case anyone is still wondering, it’s this post from seven years ago

Seems to have been my peak of writing skills. Unfortunately.

I’m still open for the blogbook idea. This one is too small for print on its own. Anyone want to m nominate classics for something bigger?

Tales from under the Drinking Tree

Sorry guys, it’s in Dutch.

Feesten Onder de Drinkboom is shortly to appear on Amazon in print and Kindle editions, it’s now on Smashwords in multiple e-formats and will soon (if it gets through Smashwords’ vetting first time) appear on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony etc in ebook form.

It’s a slim book hence the lack of title on the spine but if you speak Dutch it promises to be a good read. Dirk has sent me one of the tales in English and you won’t believe the weird life he’s had!

The Drinking Tree is real. It produces an alcoholic sap called Tuak which you just collect and drink. I wish I could grow one in Scotland but sadly that’s unlikely to be possible. I’ll just have to stick with the grapevine and wait.

The book contains tales of Dirk’s life in Indonesia along with some background on Indonesian customs and traditions. I hope, one day, he’ll translate the whole lot into English. It would be an entertaining read and probably a very useful guide to tourists from English speaking countries.

Dirk, if you’re reading, correct me on any points because I speak no Dutch at all.

Books update

I didn’t get Dirk’s book, ‘Tales from under the Drinking Tree’ (in Dutch) completed by the end of July so I have to do two this month to keep the average up. This is not going to be easy because a friend from Wales wants to visit for a week.

I’ll do it anyway. I have a 100,000 word novel in the queue, working title ‘You’ll be Fine’, also another from Margo Jackson (she’s not sure whether to go ahead with that one), another on the way from Justin Sanebridge and some snippets of a very interesting (but as yet incomplete) science fiction story.

As for me, ‘Samuel’s Girl’ and ‘Jessica’s Trap’ are both out of contract with their original publisher yet they seem to appear and disappear at random on many book sites and as far as I am aware, they haven’t sold a single copy in two years. I plan to republish them cheaper under Leg Iron Books, with new cover art. The original artwork belongs to the cover artist so I’ll need new covers. I might get the drawing pencils out again for these. These two, the following one and other Romulus Crowe / Foras and Bifrons stories need matching covers.

I’ll try contacting them again – the publisher has changed hands since they accepted those books – but I’m just going ahead with it. They are out of contract, I’m not held by them any more. With cover images I can put out both this month, and cover images aren’t that hard any more.

I haven’t done much of my own writing this past month. There have been some car servicing and repair expenses, some family news (good news, but not yet ready for internet release), a battle with a grapevine that seems intent on producing several vats of wine while simultaneously destroying the greenhouse, and then there’s the eternal war with the grass. The grass is winning because we haven’t had a day without rain for weeks.

At the end of August I will be looking for Halloween stories for Treeskull Stories (Underdog Anthology 3). It doesn’t have to involve trees or skulls, doesn’t have to have demons or ghosts, just some link to Halloween. I really want that ready to go in early October and have an over-ambitious idea to put a linked illustration at the start of every story. It might or might not happen, depends if I can think up enough images and whether anything else interferes with working on it. The book, however, must go ahead. If an author wants to send an image (monochrome only) linked to their story, I’ll pay an extra £5 on top of the £10 for the story as long as it’s a usable image.

Image rules for interiors – monochrome because colour images make the book crazily expensive, at least 300 dpi and the page size is 6 inches wide by 9 inches high. I can monochrome-ise colour images if that’s all you have. Have a margin around the image. If it’s big I can shrink it but if it’s small and I stretch it it’ll drop below 300 dpi and the book will be rejected by the printer. Most important – you have to own the copyright on the image. Could be something you drew or photographed but it has to be yours.

Copyright on images, like the stories, remains with the author. I don’t buy copyright, I pay for one-time publishing rights. You can re-use it anywhere you like. It remains yours.

There should be a Christmas anthology this year too. I’ll start on that at the end of October.

Soon I have to set up a publisher account at Goodreads. I have enough of a catalogue now so I won’t look like I’m just messing with them. I hope that will boost sales.

Oh, and the end of August is the next quarterly accounting month for author payments. Still no Lamborghinis for anyone, but I think everyone has a few sales. I try not to check too often, sales aren’t fast enough yet. They are getting better though.

So if you want to help out one of the struggling authors on the list, take a look at ‘Leg Iron Books’ in the menu bar.

Something to read on those wet and miserable summer nights.

 

 

The Grimy Reaper

First of all, here’s a review of Margo Jackson’s ‘The Mark’ on the US Amazon site. It’s a good first review!

I think I have Dirk Vleugel’s next book ‘Tales from Under the Drinking Tree’ about ready to go. Just trying to catch every possible glitch before CreateSpace start playing the ‘no, do it again’ game.

Today though, today was gardening day. Gardening means getting grimy and if you don’t need a hose-down or at least a wash when you come back in, you’re not doing it right. Today was perfect – a day when it actually didn’t rain! The scythe arrived and after a bit of setting up and adjusting, I set about reaping many nettle souls and a lot of other weeds that the strimmer can’t deal with. The blade is almost glowing with all those souls now!

If you’re thinking of trying one, don’t just buy the scythe. You need a whetstone and water sheath (to keep it wet) and a peening kit to periodically bring the blade back to evil razor sharpness. The cutting edge is very fine and wears in use, so you have to give it a quick sharpen with the whetstone every five minutes or so – basically, when it starts bending things rather than cutting them. The scythe is the biggest expense so the accessories are not that much extra. Leaving them out is a real false economy because you’ll soon have a blunt scythe with no means to sharpen it.

I was surprised at how easy it is to use. I expected hard work but just a casual swing and the nettles fall. I have the ditch blade with the stone point – a nail-like end rather than sharp all the way to the end. That’s important for me because I’m cutting in the woods where I might encounter all kinds of hidden hazards. The pointy end hits the hazard first so the sharpened blade is protected.

I found two rusted frames for school desks in the undergrowth. I doubt they can be re-used so I’ll let the farmer add them to his scrap metal pile. They are, technically, his since they are on his property, but I suspect he doesn’t know they exist. They’ve been in there a very long time.

There is an extensive rabbit warren under the nettles. When they emerge they are going to survey the devastation around them and wonder if the local fox has deployed nukes.

The scythe isn’t the simple primitive tool it appears to be. You need to set the handles so the swing is easy and consistent, set the lay (blade angle on the ground) and the haft (angle between blade and shaft) and when you have all that just right, using it is so easy you’ll wonder why these things ever went out of fashion.

There is still a place for the strimmer. There are places the scythe can’t get into, especially near fences and around what I euphemistically call a ‘rockery’ although it’s actually just a pile of rocks. It can’t get between trees and fences and it doesn’t work well among densely planted flower beds. Well it would work there just fine as long as you don’t mind turning the flower bed into a monument to Tunguska.

One big win for the scythe is chopping the nettles around things like pampas grass. If a strimmer hits pampas grass it won’t cut it, it’ll wrap the leaf around itself until it’s tied up tighter than a tart in a bondage brothel. Pampas grass yields to the scythe.

I can’t mow lawns with it yet but then it has only been in my possession for less than twelve hours so far. Maybe I should get a second blade for lawns. You only need one snath (shaft), you can change blades easily.  I actually prefer the lawn cut I get with the hand-pushed cylinder mower that I got for £30 from Aldi. It cuts really close and has a roller so it leaves those attractive lines. Now the lawns are pretty much clear of pine cones it’s working well. A pine cone, and especially a fallen twig with ten cones on it, will stop that mower dead.

The petrol mower cleared the cones. It cares nothing for pine cones nor even fallen branches, it mashes them and throws them into the grass basket. As I don’t fancy picking cones off a razor sharp scythe blade I’ll still need that mower. Especially at the start of the year when the cones have been dropping all winter.

Also, a summer like this one with daily rain leaves the grass long and wet when you finally get a chance to cut it. The push mower can’t cope with that. Maybe the scythe can, we’ll see. It got so bad at one point that I had to use the petrol mower without the grass box because the grass was so long and wet it was choking the mower. This meant a lot of raking up afterwards which was a pain.

There’ll be raking up afterwards with the scythe too but when the grass is long and wet, raking will happen anyway.

It’s resting now, with the other tools. Munching on nettle souls and waiting for me to set up a proper wall mounting for it. Hanging it like that will mean resetting the blade because it’ll shift relative to the shaft.

I hope it’s a fine day tomorrow, There are many more nettle souls to reap.

 

I don’t scare people

Really, I don’t. People are already scared. It’s a normal biological reaction to living in a world full of lunacy and danger. So, when I write a scary story and people complain they were scared by it (uh, that was kind of the point but yes, some people have complained) it’s not me who’s scaring you.

You were already scared. All I did was point out the monster behind the sofa.

People are scared all the time but that fear is unfocused. Their bodies are telling them they’re scared but there’s nothing tangible or immediate to focus that fear on. We’re set up to be scared of tigers and such, things we can see, but in the modern world there is no fixed point of reference. We just know it’s wrong and we’re scared but there’s no tiger.

All you need do as a horror story teller (and general prank playing bastard) is to give them a focus. The fear is already there for you to play with. It just needs you to give it a direction.

When I worked at Local Shop, Obelix the storeman (a veritable giant who was scared of everything) once mentioned his worry about something emerging from the toilet while he was sat on it.

I helpfully explained plumbing – the water in the toilet is only in the U-bend and the pipe after that is only wet during a flush. So a rat could easily get up to the back of the toilet and, since rats can swim, would have no difficulty popping under that bend for a quick nip of the danglies.

No evil smile, no cruel looks, just plain, calm, quiet speaking. I don’t think Obelix has shit since that day.

It does happen. Rats have appeared in toilet bowls – but it is exceedingly rare and the chances of one popping in while your tasty meaty arse is poised for a snack is very, very small indeed.

Actually it might not be that rare. Maybe rats pop into toilets all the time but finding them unoccupied and foodless, just pop back down again. Schrodinger’s rat, or maybe quantum rats. Who knows?

Probably best not to dwell on it though, eh?  😉

How about an anaconda or, more likely in America than here, a flushed alligator? Nah, the alligator won’t fit back up once it’s grown. The anaconda could do it. So could a cobra or an Australian brown snake. Maybe a funnel-web spider has moved into the bowl of the outside dunny…

You’d need a very, very good friend to suck the poison out.

Horror tales don’t need to be filled with violence and gore. Often, it’s the quiet explanation of plausible nonsense that works best.

I have told hand-waving antismokers that all the grey dust they see is 400 years of cigarette ash. They believe it. Why? Because the antismokers have told them that the residues of smoking never degrade and are in the environment forever. It’s rubbish of course but add up 400 years of smoking plus ASH propaganda and there you go. A plausible fabrication. Very scary bogeyman. It doesn’t exist but hey, they’re already terrified of smoking and that’s not my fault. I just nudge the fear a little further. The difference is, I don’t do it for money. I do it because it’s funny.

The plausible fabrication is the main technique of the antismoker. I see no issue with using their own weapons against them. All’s fair in smoking and war – and this is war. Okay, they don’t have snipers picking us off outside pubs so far, but many of them would like to. They even made a video game of exactly that. One Twatter user even said he wanted us taken out and shot in front of our families. Maybe ASH should become ISIS (International Smoker Inquisition of Spite), there’s not that much difference now.

So far, the war is mostly words and I’m fine with that. Words are the only weapon I’m very good at. I’m pretty good with a takedown recurve bow as long as you’re willing to take a seat and have a cup of tea while I put it together but otherwise, I fight with words.

Oh I have some big words. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychyndrobwllllantisiliogogogoch. So there. That’s like Conan with a dictionary instead of a broadsword. Yes, I’ve been there and no, I didn’t look it up first.

The antismokers tried training children to snatch cigarettes from the mouths of smokers in the street. They really did. With no regard to how fast those children would subsequently cross the road among rush hour traffic. That went abruptly quiet. They tried having gullible idiots testing smokers for breath CO levels on busy streets (never on quiet streets). That went quiet too. Presumably the gullible idiots eventually tested themselves and found their CO levels were the same. Exhaust fumes *cough*.

It’s all been a lie. Right from the outset, it was all lies. So why not lie back? You will never beat these people with the truth, they have already denied the existence of truth. Atruthists. You cannot fight them with the weapon of truth, they do not believe in it.

So fight them with horror. Fight them with fiction, the same weapon they use on the rest of the drones. The drones are disturbingly easy to manipulate and honour and decency says we shouldn’t – but we are not fighting an honourable and decent enemy. We are up against ‘anything goes’ bastards. We can only fight on their terms, we won’t win on ours.

Push the drones to the absurdity horizon. Some will cross and carry on to the Stupidity Singularity, some will stop and say ‘Hang on a minute…’

They call us ‘witch’. Be one. They call us ‘demon’. Be one.

Use absurdity. Use horror. Use the calm explanation of the terrible imaginary lumpy death they must surely face now they have encountered your unholy existence. Use fiction. The other side does and they dismiss our statements of reality with more fiction. You cannot beat that with truth. Use their own weapons against them. Make use of the dopey drones they have created.

Yes it is cruel. Yes it is immoral. We will be lying to people. But the enemy has shown that this works and it’s down to this. Do you want to die a moral hero in a death camp?

Not me. I will torment the antis and their drones right up until that walk in the woods where I get an accidental deer hunter bullet ion the back of my head.

Until then I will scare the drones harder than ASH do. it’s the only weapon I can reliably use. The weapon of words.

My weapon of choice.

 

Computer says no

I have finally loaded Mark Ellot’s ‘Blackjack’ for publication. It’s on Smashwords and Kindle now. Here is the full cover for the print version, which will take a few days more –

Those two eBook versions were easy. A breeze. Right through with no problems. Even though I went for the complex approach with ‘back to contents’ links after every story and the addition of a back cover (at the start, since the back cover has the blurb for advertising the book so I wanted it visible on ‘click to look inside’). Even with that, both the eBook versions went right through. No issues. Easy.

The print version… There were ‘issues’ with the text, Overlapping the gutter (the bit in the middle when you open the book) so some text might be hard to read. What? I used their template, as always, so it must fit! “No,” says computer, “there are errors.”

Computer continues. “I’m not going to tell you where they are. I have marked them in the 220 pages of the book. Find them if you can, sucker!.”

I found them, or thought I had. It was where italic text very very slightly went over the line. It would have made no difference but computer says no.

I found all of them, I thought, moved the italicised text a tiny bit and resent.

The bastard found another one!

So, eventually, I got through sending the text. Next up, the cover. Completed as above and hit ‘submit’. Computer says no.

“You have not completed all tasks. Return to the edit-cover page and finish the cover.”

I returned to the cover page to be greeted with ‘All tasks completed’ at the top of the screen.

By this time I was looking for something really hard to bang my head on.

Resubmit and this time it went through. So the print version isn’t out yet. It has to go through technical checks and hopefully they won’t find any more to moan about. It should be available in a few days.

At least the eBook has a back cover now. I now know how to do it so I’ll go back and do that with the previous books too. It’ll take time but it’s likely to be worth it. All future anthologies will have a ‘back to contents’ link too so readers can flip around rather than read it all in order.

I’ve been a publisher for a little over a year, and published the first one seven months ago.

I think I might be getting the hang of it at last. If the damn computers will let me.

PLR

A somewhat cryptic title, I know. It means ‘Public Lending Rights‘ and it refers to royalties payable to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. I didn’t know it existed until a fine fellow by the name of Mhehed Zherting passed me the link on Twitter.

This particular site only refers to libraries in the UK and Ireland but there are likely to be similar things in most countries. Worth checking out. It might be necessary to register with them all, or maybe you can only get royalties from libraries in your own country. I don’t know yet.

They report annually, on the period July 1st to June 30th the following year. So to get anything for this year you have to register now. The author has to register, and allocate a share to the cover artist (most of the books that came through here, the author was also the cover artist). I’m not yet clear whether the cover artist has to register separately.

Anyhow, I doubt any of the Leg Iron Books have been out long enough to have landed in a library yet. My own books have been and I know the local library has copies of them because I donated copies there. At the time I had no idea there was any way to earn money by doing that but well, I think I might donate copies of all the books to at least the local libraries.

The authors will need to register themselves. I can’t do it unless I have Power of Attorney over you and really, that would just be silly.

The deadline for this year is June 30th but as it’s unlikely any libraries have copies yet, there’s no real hurry. Even if I order them all tonight I won’t get them here and then into a library by the 30th. Do get registered in time for next year though. It’s worth a try.

On the subject of cover art – if a Leg Iron Books author doesn’t have a cover they’ve made themselves, I will make one for them. I don’t charge for this and I don’t take any extra cut of royalties for doing it. It’s free. So, if you register and you want to put a few percent into the ‘cover artist’ pot, think of it as a tip. Absolutely no more than 5% though, the author should get the lion’s share for writing it. All I did was take some photos and meddle with them a bit.

Another potential income stream uncovered thanks to Mhehed Zherting. All these income streams are likely to be pennies each but if there are enough of them it’ll soon turn into pounds.

This time next year, Rodney, we’ll be millionaires.