Feeling Nostalgic


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Here is a poem I wrote waaaaaay back in high for a creative writing class. DO NOT ask me what year that was unless you like hot pokers.  I believe the assignment was to pick a character or scene from As I Lay Dying  and write an interpretive poem about the character or scene.

Addie’s Feathers

We sat in the grass and watched
People file in
One by one
And one more.
Not many people could be bothered
Not even us.
We Bundrens sat there already over it.
Dewey Dell resting against
The tall, swooping, weeping, willow,
Jewel and Cash inside safegaurding the coffin,
Myself resting in the grass at Darl’s feet.
“if it is was, it can’t be is, Can it?”
no it can’t
the women all wore large  colorful hats
with feathers and netted lace,
clearly over it.
If ever under it.
Pa wasn’t under it.
He was completely carefree
Poised to float away
Like the purple feather
That was released from
Mrs. Bundren;s hat.
If she was than she is not
Everyone seemed to know it
And have a bright comprehension
And sureness.

My mother is a feather.

Real advice for those who’ve attempted suicide, and want to step back into life

Some good advice, but ultimately it must work for you and your resources. We can’t all just “not worry about a bounced check…”

TED Blog

JD-Schramm-QuoteBy JD Schramm*

In my TED Talk, I acknowledged for the first time that, in 2003, I tried to end my life. I wanted to share this in a public setting because 19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide will fail — and those that make the difficult decision to come back to life need openness from their loved ones and a lot of resources. Perhaps that’s what you are in need of right now.

[ted_talkteaser id=1167]My journey cannot be your journey. And while there are probably great gaps in our specific experiences, there is likely some overlap too. In the process of thinking about my experience, a few themes have emerged which I think have a more universal application. If you have others, by all means add them to the list; if some of these do not work for you, then simply attempt the ones which do.

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What Were They Thinking Under the Dome Edition

Welcome to the first Episode of What Were They Thinking. Today we will be dissecting the people of Chester’s Mill aka Crazytown Canada (sorry Canada).  I have to assume it can’t actually be an American town because these people are the worst survivalist in the world. And the US is nothing if not full of crazy dooms day preppers.  Of course I know it’s not CA but shhhh.
First a few naggings from last week’s masterpiece that was EP10.
Let’s morn DJ >Sherriff>Goony>Jailbird Phil.
Lets talk about Barbie’s father desperately trying to find where he came out of the dome. IN THE MIDDLE OF A PLAYGROUND. Which not only had a security camera but also had plenty of people around it and not one of them seemed to notice three separate men appearing out of nowhere battered and bloody?  No parents found if strange enough to call the police?

Back to this week’s EP

In the seconds after the Quake Rebecca knows the clinic is gone and already has a Red Cross center started up.  In a hallway.
Cut to outside the school and Joe and Norrie are walking in a winter wonderland.
But don’t worry Rebecca Science knows what’s up. 
Joe says something silly, that the Dome may have been moving for a while and they didn’t notice it.  Though it was making a noise as it slid in the ground and moved things along the wall. 
Barbie and Julia are driving round in an ambulance that was moved to the school at some point? They hit a patch of ice and skid. But when you skid in the dome u skid hard.  Naturally his attempt to correct and stop on a straight road leaves the bus on its side, naturally.
While everyone else is wrapped up triple time and getting frostbite Pauline is sitting beside egg girl, chest exposed, not phased.
Remember in season 1 when there were a couple of nurses and docs left? -Now there’s just Sam, who is a cold-blooded killer.
When they run out of fuel in the generators Rebecca Science moves everyone and yells body heat.  But why weren’t they set up in the other room to begin with? Then they would have whatever heat remnant from the generators in that room as the huddle like penguins. Instead of heating a long hallway right in front of a door.
Joe goes through hunter backpack.  Find the texts and notebook with messages about the egg.  Because when you are up to something you don’t get rid of the evidence.
Then Barbie decides the best way to help their situation is let Julia get hypothermia so he can pull the rod out without her bleeding to death. Yep.
Lyle pops up in the lake that is freezing over.  Announces to Sherriff/Councilman/Car Salesman Jim that the end is coming, he saw it so it must be true.
Then just like that the dome decided ‘what the heck let’s warm ya’ll back up.’
Just in time for things to get interesting. The dome starts contracting on their crazy butts!

Amazon Asks Authors to Spam Hachette CEO


Email from amazon KDP asking authors to take their side and email Hachette. Email gave out Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch email, and even included points that we should address in the email. How thoughtful of them….

Now there is nothing in the email footer or header that says it’s confidential but I probably won’t repost the entire email because I’m sure there’s some catch and I do not want to be sued.  BUT here are a few selections from it anyway

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive….

another snippet

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles… The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger. 

More longwinded TLDR

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling

We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.
Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: M*********@hbgusa.com
Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com
Please consider including these points:
– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.– Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.
Thanks for your support.

I have to say, I did not expect to get this sort of email from Amazon.  While I like spending less out of my pocket, I’d hate to see the effects this will all have in a few years.  Amazon may become be all end all for books.

Amazon Turning Authors Against Hachette

The very public Amazon vs. Hachette dispute is like hopping in a time machine and being dropped off in high school during class elections.  The companies are the two popular kids trying to convince everyone to vote for them because their opponent is mean greedy bully who just wants to take your lunch money. 
Everyone grabbed their popcorn and watched as the fight has left the school hallways and spilled into the streets.  But after several months of back and forth and input from authors and the Authors Guild the situation has become like two third graders arguing “no you! No, you!” repeatedly waiting for the other to give up.

But the big question that is probably on everyone’s mind? Should I care? Well, yes! Duh.  What are they arguing over? What everyone argues over, money, specifically eBook money.  Negotiations started in January of 2014 as their contract was nearing an end.  Emma Cueto sums things up nicely over at Bustle, “The assumption in the industry is that Amazon wants the power to discount Hachette eBooks whenever they want — essentially setting the price for these books at whatever number it wants — which Hachette doesn’t want for obvious reasons. Amazon probably also wants Hachette to pay more for “co-op,” which is like advertising money that publishers pay to retailers so that the retailers will spotlight a book on their website or in their store. Hachette, naturally, doesn’t want to pay more.”
In a strange move according to Publishers Weekly, VP of Kindle content David Naggar reportedly sent a letter to literary agents, president of the Authors Guild, and Hachette authors proposing that Amazon and Hachette “forgo all revenue on e-books sold through Amazon and, instead, give them directly to the authors.”  It sounds good on the surface but it’s a passive-aggressive move to turn authors against the publisher and ultimately destroy Hachette leaving Amazon to pick up the remains like a hyena.  Of course Hachette responded in snarky schoolgirl fashion.  Amazon returned with “nanny nanny boo boo,” and claims that Hachette can afford the proposal, as it is a part of a huge conglomerate.
Is Hachette a huge publisher? Yes.  Is it part of a larger corporation? Yes. But one business in a corporation cannot simply take money from another to supplement a bad deal.  Hachette is a publishing company and Amazon is a retailer.  Hachette makes money from print and eBook Amazon makes its money from books, MP3s, DVDs, clothing, jewelry etc. Amazon controls 50% of U.S. book sales and still has existing deals with other publishing houses. They can certainly afford Naggar’s proposed offer, though he knew it would not be acceptable and would never have to follow through, Hachette cannot long term. 
Print books are becoming far too rare and eBooks continue to grow.  If Hachette were to give up profits from Amazon sales they would be extremely limited in the ways they can makeup for that income.  It would just be a matter of time before Amazon’s deal left them broke.  But that’s what they really want isn’t it?

It’s no wonder HarperCollins decided to add print books and audio books to its website for direct sales. If it works out perhaps they won’t renew contracts with Amazon.

Think You Are Ready to Distribute? Try These On For Size

Since the topic of my class this month is on printing and distribution, I’ve decided to expand on a topic brought up in class discussion that is very useful and important to aspiring writers.  What is this headline topic?  Print on Demand services (P.O.D/POD because nostalgia)!  For those who do not know a print on demand service provider will print books once an order is received allowing for single copies or small or large batches to be printed at one time.
Blurb is one print on demand service that authors could consider.  Blurb offers print, ebook, and photography formats.  It offers a storefront for artist to sell through directly and an Amazon distribution program.  The direct selling method promotes that you keep 100% of the profit.  Blurb offers design and layout options listing a few age dimensions on the subpages.  It wants you to download their booking making software BookWright.  Using their software appears to convert to iBook format.  Blurb also does not have a minimum that must be ordered for print editions.  They will print one or thousands and offer bulk discounts.  You can also get an ISBN from Blurb or provide your own.  I feel their website lacks accessible information.  I had to search to find information about ISBNs, ownership, and copyright.
In the terms and conditions Blurb has a section that I would not want to agree to, though will likely find in the other websites’ T&Cs, “10.  Other Content.  Notwithstanding Section 8.4.2 above, You hereby grant to Blurb an irrevocable, perpetual, nonexclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free license (with right to sublicense) to use, create derivative works, reproduce, distribute and publicly display any Content, but not your Book Content, that you upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available on the Website or App (“Other Content”).
Lulu is another on POD provider popular with writers and photographers offering print, ebook, design, and professional aid.  It offers different print quality levels to fit different budgets.  The site details and shows the different binding, paper size, color, and document type options.  Lulu makes ebooks available in several formats for popular readers including Nook, Kobo, Kindle, and iPad.  Lulu offers a print and ebook package called Amplifier that makes the process simpler for newcomers.  Lulu provides a free ISBN or you can provide your own.  There is a book cover wizard for those who wish to make use.  Book will be available to purchase on Lulu.com.  As the site states, “priority distribution to the iBook store and the Barnes & Noble Nook Store,” and creators keep 90% of the revenue from ebook sales.  Creators retain ownership of source files and the copyright.  Lulu also offers promotional, editing, book to screen, and review services for artists who may need help/support in this area.  The promotional services include posters, bookmarks, website hosting.  One of the best options that sets Lulu apart are the retail channels made available for print and ebooks works.  The website is very easy to navigate and informative.  There are free tools and services and payments are made monthly.
Create Space is probably one of the most well known POD services because of its affiliation with Amazon.  It is an Amazon company and a quick glance over the website would give the impression that it is specifically for Amazon and Kindle editions.  It can appear a bit cluttered and overwhelming to navigate for beginners.  There are professionals available for those who choose to reach out in the support and help section.  The standard distribution is through Amazon and Amazon Europe but there is also an option for “expanded distribution.”  This would make your book available through Barnes and Noble and Ingram, libraries, institutions, and Create Space Direct.  It also offers a 60-day satisfaction guarantee though a refund is the last option, “we will work with you to reach a reasonable and satisfactory resolution. If we’re unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, we will refund the full amount you paid to us for that service” (Create Space Guarantee).  The website does not come straight out and say it but the fixed fees and percentages are a bit higher than the others.  You may have to search around the site to find this page, Royalties Overview, like I did that lists fixed fees and sales channel percentages, the homepage links you to a video explaining royalties and has a calculator.  Like Lulu there are paid services as well as free resources.
Between the three mentioned I would choose and recommend Create Space or Lulu.  Blurb offers limited ebook formatting and distribution where Lulu is diverse.  Important information about source ownership and copyrights, payments, and fees are easy to find on Lulu.  There is even an application for estimating revenue on print and ebooks showing all fees allowing artists to determine the best price for their product(s).  The additional services offered may also be very useful for a self-publishing artist.  Create Space has great options for design, editing, and distribution.  There is a large community to turn to for support and questions.  Plus there is power behind the brand, but you pay for that.
Another worth mentioning is indie ebook distributor Smashwords.  So check them out if you aren’t interested in print editions at this time.

This is just my quick overview of three notable PODs.  Please leave any comments suggestions, corrections, or additional information in the comments.  If you’ve had personal experience with any POD I would love to hear about it.

Let’s Get Legal

Exciting news in copyright world!  Anyone who has ever wanted to use Sherlock Holms for their own pleasure can legally do so and share it with the world.  Thanks be to Leslie Klinger who stood up to the Doyle estate when they demanded a license fee.  Klinger said ‘nu-uh honey’ and took those greedy jerks to court.
Back in February 2013 Klinger was co-editing In The Company of Sherlock Holmes (Pegasus Books) with Laurie R. King when the Conan Doyle Estate contacted their publisher and according to Publishers Weekly(PW), “ implied that if the Estate wasn’t paid a license fee, they’d convince the major distributors not to sell the book.”  Of course the publisher was a little concerned and decided the book could not go forward until the matter was resolved.
So, fast-forward to December 2013 and Illinois federal judge Ruben Castillo’s ruling on the case.  Castillo found that Sherlock Holmes, other characters, and elements of the series published before 1923 are in the public domain.  “Castillo held that for all but a few remaining stories, the “public may use the pre-1923 story elements without seeking a license.”’
Sir Author Conan Doyle died on July 7, 1930, which would make this summer 84 years since his death.  As you may or may not know the standard “Copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the author plus 70 years after the author’s death.”  (Trout 63)  So the whole ordeal was unnecessary.  The estate was presumably basing their request on the dates of Doyle’s later works, ten of which Judge Castillo found to still be protected by copyright law.  However about 50 other stories are now up for grabs! -So to speak.
In other news more recent news in the Apple price fixing case Judge Denise Cote made two rulings that hurt Apple.  The judge rejected Apple’s two expert witnesses and granted class action status.  This is unfortunate for Apple in that they may not be able to avoid a large damage award.
Who else is getting their arses handed to them? Barnes & Noble.  Publishers Weekly reported in January that several law firms have filed class action lawsuits against Barnes & Noble claiming that the company misled investors from February 2013 to December 2013.  According to PW The law firm Ryan & Maniskas listed eight causes: “ (1) Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; (2) the Company would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; (3) the carrying value of the Nook assets were impaired by millions of dollars; (4) the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; (5) the Company was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits; (6) Barnes & Noble had over-accrued certain accounts receivables; (7) Barnes & Noble was unable to provide timely audited financial results for fiscal 2013; and (8) the Company might be forced to restate its previously reported financial results.”

Trout, Brett J. Cyber Law: A Legal Arsenal for Online Business. MBS Direct, 2007. VitalBook file.

Let’s Talk About Negotiating

We can’t discuss writing and publishing without exploring negotiating techniques.  Believe it or not there is a science and art to negotiating.  For instance if you think that pretending to walk out until your demands are met means you are the winner, you would be wrong.  Playing hardball is more of a dirty trick and should not be used.  That behavior can ruin a relationship and destroy negotiations.  It can lead to positional bargaining which just ends in bruised egos. 

Positional bargaining neglects the real issues and desires at hand.  If you become stuck on positions you may neglect your interests.  Your interests are the underlying issues making your position. 
 For example you want out of your rental home contract early but your landlord does not want the place to be vacant early.  Your position is to move out, the landlord’s is to have the income.  You interests are moving out, finding a better or cheaper place to live, which may take time.  The landlord wants a steady income and does not want a vacant property sitting while he tries to market and lease it. 

One way to address the interests of both parties is for you, the tenant, to rent for a specified time while you find a new place and the landlord can begin marketing and showing the home while you are there.  For the inconvenience you make negotiate a prorated rate for the time.
Or course if you ever find yourself negotiating a publishing deal it won’t be that easy.  Don’t fret dearies.  I’m hear to help and guide you, and by guide you I mean link you to some awesome videos and podcasts from learned professionals like Margaret Neale who can help you “Get What You Want.”  Mrs. Neale brings up some very valid points about women and negotiations.  There is a double standard for men and women when it comes to negotiations.  Women are seen as being unkind and pushy whereas a man is seen as ambitious.  Our society also conditions women to be uncomfortable with confrontation or asking for what they deserve.  That of course can lead into unequal pay for men and women but that’s another hurdle for another time.  Neale says there is no one formula for a great negotiation but there are certain tactics that can help as well as research and preparedness. 
William Ury did a Ted Talk a few years ago titled “The Walk from No to Yes” that summarizes some of the information in his book, “Getting To Yes.”  He also speaks about the rut that positional arguing can lead to.  While we usually see arguments in two sides there is usually a forgotten third side or outlook.  It’s the third side that reminds the other two what is really at stake.  This third view uses objective criteria to weigh the possibilities for each party.
If you have the time and attention span there is a video from Stanford Graduate School of Business featuring Joel Peterson on “Conducting Effective Negotiations” that you should check out.  There is some repeated information from Ury’s talk but more in depth.  Where Ury uses world politics for examples Peterson uses everyday examples, and a few political.  He also touches on the how arbitrators can play a key role in negotiations.

If you only watch one lecture I highly recommend Margaret Neale’s talk.  She addresses so of the specific difficulties that face women negotiating in professional and everyday settings.   

Wanna Peep On Bill Gates’ Bookshelf? No I Didn’t Think So

Bill Gates’ bookshelf looks exactly as you would expect it too.  Bill, Mr. Gates if you’re nasty, has a list of books he has, is, and will read on his blog.  So what does a billionaire spend his time reading?  Not Twilight!  The covers on display range in themes from Class Warfare to Liberating Learning.  We are talking BROAD social topics.  I believe my IQ went up a few points just reading the titles.  While many of the titles are from well-off white guys discussing the plight of the poor and our dismal future some may actually be interesting and insightful reads.  Others may give incite on the type of person Bill really is or strives to be.

If you are interested in nonfiction, as many apparently are not counting college student forced to read certain works, have a wander over to The Gates Notes and peruse the shelves.  There you will find some of Bill’s current and past reads and even a few reviews from the man himself.  According to GalleyCatyou can comment on the books and Bill’s reviews.  You may even be lucky enough to spark a little conversation from Bill.