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msknight

Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Currently reading

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter
Greg Toppo

Request for audio book help...

In a few weeks, I'll have some days off. That's when I'm going to target the audio book for Check Mate. I've been in touch with my publisher to scope out the regs for doing audio books, I might have to publish it myself. In the mean time, if anyone has any knowledge on audio books, like whether to include background music, sound effects, or anything that I need to know... I'd be very grateful, as I'm going in to this blind.

Family time

I've been quiet for a while. Things have been emotional here. Many transsexuals end up being ostracised by their families, never to speak or see them again until their passing. I am fortunate. I was invited back, "home," for a family wedding.

 

Long story short, it went well. It was positive. Still a fair distance between us, so progress will be slow and I was a terrible kid. Although we now know why I did some of the things I did... it doesn't excuse them. I hurt a lot of people, and that kind of crap isn't just wiped off the board.

 

So... next weekend I have to help a friend move home. After that, I've got to try and get some time off to start recording the audio book of Check Mate. Will have to do some wheeling and dealing to get some time off. And I promise you a video of the set up, some of the decisions I've made, and the first few paragraphs, if not the first chapter.

 

...just give me a few weeks.

The Things Libraries Are Lending Now...

I came across this article and thought I'd share it...

 

"When the writer Deborah Fallows toured smaller and midsize communities in the United States in 2016, she made sure to make the same stop in every city and town: the local public library. Libraries were never just plain old book-lenders, she learned, and they certainly aren’t now."

 

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/library-weird-collection-art-cake-pan-fishing-pole-umbrella

 

A little downer

Seeing the quarterly book earnings come in and barely reach double figures, is depressing.

 

Intellectually, I know how things are right now in the real world. I have made various decisions, including not to sell my soul in order to gain the lifeblood of publicity. I came to the conclusion that I'm never going to be a famous author, winning awards and making a living at this. Writing has been relegated to a hobby which enables me to express myself and make contact with people.

 

While that is a worthwhile goal... being an occasional creator rather than a constant consumer... it is a bit of a blow to see figures that bad !!! But I know I'll get over it in a few days... it's just one of the downs in the ever rising and falling fluctuation of fate.

 

That and lack of feedback, however, does mean that writing falls further down the list of priorities. Setting time scales and deadlines now become worthless. Things will now happen... when they happen. And that's just how life rocks !

Stories we might never have heard...

I think it is another sign that the publishing industry needs to change. The role of publishers and reviewers as the gatekeepers can, fortunately, be overcome by social media.

 

After trying to tell the stories in a book ("It was rejected by over 50 publishers", he laughs), Chris began to film interviews with his students and post them on social media.

Now he has more than one million followers and travels the world interviewing people of all ages inviting them to tell the world what is special about them.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39380539

 

Turning my mind to the re-write

It isn't easy. It feels like turning an oil tanker in the sea, where you turn the rudder and gently, the ship starts to respond and takes its own sweet time in responding to the controls.

 

I'm starting to put my mind in the mood now. The re-write is not driven by the same enthusiasm as pumping out the fresh work of the new story telling. It's a much heavier, harder task... and I know it.

 

There has to be another energy behind the work of the translator... the ghost writer... the other myriad people who work on books without the fire that comes from the initial authoring; and very likely much less public recognition to boot. That... is the kind of strength that I need to find for the re-writes.

 

Once the car has got its MOT for another year, then I can start to settle down and focus my mind. In twenty minutes I leave for the testing station, because if the car fails, it will throw everything in to a state of panic to fix whatever fault is found, and yet another weekend will go to hell.

 

Here's hoping.

This photo says it all...

This picture from Healing Touch Program on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/53938443012/photos/a.191700928012.156351.53938443012/10154462673388013/?type=3 ... says it all about being an author these days...

 

Review - Last Orders - 3.5 out of 5 stars

Last Orders - Mel Croucher

I tossed and turned about my final rating. 3 or 3.5. I ended up with three point five.

 

The book is a brave volume to write. In today's society few of us think of what will happen to our on-line yammer and chatter after we've snuffed it. This book is a brave step in to that world.

 

The majority of the book, however, still covers the more usual and mundane elements of death. It doesn't really enter the philosophical discussion and in some places it is already out of date.

 

Facebook, for example, will automatically memorialise the account if they get the heads up. Also, the "executor" will get one chance at a final post before it is locked for good. The only thing that the family can do then, is get the account deleted. Even friends can't terminate their relationship with the deceased. An interesting question is what would happen if the friend later deleted their own facebook account. I bet there is shed loads that Facebook itself hasn't thought of yet.

 

From Facebook's own page at the time of writing...

If Facebook is made aware that a person has passed away, it's our policy to memorialize the account.
Please keep in mind that it's always against the Facebook Terms to log into another person's account. We'll only be able to give you access to an account if we can verify that it’s your own account.
If you believe we've mistakenly memorialized your account, please let us know.

So even if you leave instruction in your will, there's very little in the way of effective orders you can actually leave; and you're going to have to keep your eye on it because you can bet your arse it'll change as further challenges are made in court, because I believe that society in general hasn't really sat down and thought this through.

 

I was also expecting more from the book in terms of humour. Croucher's a man of the world and has a wit to match. The business of tidying up your affairs is a very important one and a large number of us don't bother at all; opting to leave it up to those that follow.

 

It is a very dry subject and I was counting on that old Croucher magic to make the subject more palatable. Sadly, I was disappointed in this regard. There was the occasional bit of spice, but it was still very dry reading.  It also can't cover everything. One example is that if you happen to have authored works, for example books or photography that are generating income/revenue, then that needs careful handling as copyright exists for decades after the death of the author. (and even this is under relatively frequent review thanks to Disney who are loathe to let Mickey Mouse pass in to the public domain.)

 

In my opinion a physical vault is a damn sight more secure than a digital vault. I have people who come to me having put everything in the cloud and deleted their local copies of things, only to find that the cloud service has gone west. It's happened to me a few times as well; companies have gone bust and I haven't been allowed on to the server instances to get at my files. Also, some file formats go stale as codecs come and go over the decades.

 

It is a worthwhile book if you want to engage in the task of writing your will but don't know where to start. There are plenty of services out there who are willing to wheedle every last penny out of you. Corporates won't suddenly stop wanting to get hold of your money after you've croaked it... when you're not on this mortal coil you can't fight back. Mind... you're probably  not in a position to care either. Such is life... and death.

 

I would still recommend getting solid advice. If you're in a union, for example, sometimes they have resources for members that include free legal services. It's worth checking out.

Audio book this year

I have the technology, I have a reasonable voice, and I have a book that I want to make in to an audio book. The only thing I'm missing, is time to myself. That should happen later this year. So, fingers crossed, I'm going to have a try at recording Check Mate as an audio book, and we'll see how things go.

Hidden paintings in old books

Wow. Something else I never new existed. Apparently there are images hidden in the edges of some old books. Search for it on YouTube, apparently there are a few out there... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KD42h0k99k

 

 Apparently Fore-Edge painting was a thing in the 17th Cent and there's a collection of them here - http://twistedsifter.com/2013/09/hidden-artworks-on-the-edges-of-books/

 

My Website News Update

I don't often update my writing web page with news, because things are so slow. In fact, I was due to update it in January but... yeah... like that happened :-)

 

But this is the update that I decided to put up this morning, if it's worth anything to anyone...

 

OK, so the updates turned in to something more than the usual joke, because it's March before I get around to updating the news. Which probably tells you all you need to know about the news around here... there isn't any !!!

 

The next book is in the pipeline. I've started on chapter 1 and had good feedback, but I've immediately put it on hold. I'm waiting for feedback from someone before starting on re-writing Companion and Leader. The Submissive Heart series is what I personally regard as my legacy, the message I want to give the world, so I want to get it right. In reality, I should have written several other books before starting on that series, but it was only ever intending to be book-and-done; I never envisaged writing going this far, so... yeah... that's how things rock sometimes.

 

The next story is going to be more science fiction, set in the present day, and not too far unbelievable. Basically, it's Blue Thunder and Airwolf, brought slightly up to date and given a little twist. Looking back at them (I own the DVD's of all, except the re-boot of Airwolf) they push all the right buttons except their believability. They feel shallow. That's one of the things I want to tackle. Yes... while also trying to convey the feeling of flying an attack helicopter to the reader... when I've never even been in a standard helicopter. So... no pressure then!

 

My research is already under way. I have links to a few aircraft people and the research in to supersonic helicopter flight has been going on for decades, so there is a good foundation there. I've sent some e-mails to helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky, and as it happens, the current US presidential dust up with the intelligence community, is fertile ground for plot. So... the scene is set... as long as the current pres doesn't get impeached sometime in the next four years... but that's another story.

Planning....

Yes, I have books lines up to be written. I grew up in the age of Knight Rider and Airwolf. I actually have the re-recorded sound track to the latter. I might have actually reviewed it on this channel before. If you're as insane as I am, then you can find it here - http://airwolfthemes.com/

 

Anyway... after I've re-written Companion and Leader, I know what my next book will be, and I have the threads lain out. However, I need to do research. I need to know the effect of flying attack helicopters and jets have on the human body... how it feels to pull G's. I need to know how effective radar is at low heights, and I'm going to have to start researching missile systems.

 

When I did the weapons research for Check Mate, I was fortunate that the police didn't come knocking at the door. Somehow I fear that looking up ground to air launchers might attract entirely the wrong sort of attention.

 

But I know where I'm going after the re-writes.  And now... I'm going to bed to let my unconscious brain work on the plot... and the challenge of writing air battles in a way that brings the reader along.

 

Why the hell do I do this to myself?

So funny....

I just thought this quote was so funny, I sat here for a while debating whether or not I, of all people, should be posting it...

 

It's snowing out the window, and raining in my heart.

I've just received an e-mail from my publisher. I won't go in to detail about what it contains, but it makes sense and I can't argue with it. There are commercial forces at work in a hell of a rough market.

 

The long story short, is that if you, as readers, like a book then please tell the world about it. Print on demand is expensive and there must be a clear market for a book now, before it will make it in to print. Amazon are killing CreateSpace in favour of Kindle, and along with it come a barrow load of changes behind the scenes.

 

Authors have been caught doing all sorts to game the system. Whether their motivation is pure greed, or just trying to find a way to battle against the one book that is published every minute in the US and UK alone (actually, more than one a minute if the stats I've read are anything to go by) ... whatever the motivation, it's still seen as a dishonest way to go.

 

But whatever way you slice the pie, that leaves authors at the mercy of our readers.

 

I've already said that no-one owes me a review. Even as a result of giveaways, if someone leaves a review, then it's a bonus... but it isn't something I expect, much less demand. However, that doesn't do away with the bottom line... if you like an author (even if it isn't me *cough*) then they need your support to grow and continue.

Future Publishing stored passwords in plain text...

...and got hacked. More details here... https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/09/filesilo_lost_plaintext_passwords/

 

Apparently, they stored customer passwords in plain text. You'd have thought that they'd have done a better job of it than this.

 

So if you're one of their customers, and you were using the same password in other places... time to change more than just your Future, "File Silo," password. Fast.

So... what's been happening?

Today was Post Office day. Everything has been dispatched and people now have their tracking numbers. Fortunately, I got in to town quickly and there wasn't much of a queue. Had five things on my list and four got done. The ironmongers didn't have a clothes rail for inside my wardrobe, so I'll have to e-bay that one.

I'm in dead time. A period where I'm getting my feet under the table at work and getting to grips with my new duties, which seem to be getting larger by the day. I'm also using the personal time to catch up on other things that have fallen down, and tidying up loose ends. That way, when I do return to writing, I can do so cleanly.

It is amazing the number of things that can just jump out of the woodwork. As you'll know about me from my early books, I'm in the BDSM scene and spent some time in a certain location, in the company of like minded people. Enjoyed the conversations thoroughly, and set some more creative plans for the future.

A bit of extra news that people might like to be aware of, is that credit card processing firms ganged together and forced web site, FetLife, to take legal material down from its web site, or they would stop processing their transactions.

Now, the particular things that were the subject of this censorship didn't affect me... but I'm damn sure that when payment houses club together and start using their weight to force legal things off the Internet... that affects me badly. If they succeed, then they will get the green light to work their way up, from the thin end of the wedge. So if you're the type that values freedom from corporate censorship, you might want to keep your ears open.

I hope, by the end of March, to report that I've started the re-write of Companion. We'll see. If all goes to plan, then I should be launching a give away for five copies of GENIE, at the start of March. Stay tuned.