A Photo/Video Update

A long overdue photo/video roundup from the last few months or so.


My Boo’s 1st birthday party.  Well, party insofar as we all sat around eating food, drinking things and eating cake before the Booster unwrapped his Granbo Gift.


“Holy Toys of Awesome Batman!  This time the toy is actually BETTER than the box!  For now…”


“Toldjoo.  AWESOME.  Sanks Granbo!”


Putting him back in his chair, after some mild eatingtons, even for a birthday cake, wasn’t particularly appreciated.  This… is your 1-year old turning one.  A smile would frickin’ kill him, I’m sure.  ONE smile son?

Ah well.  Jadey is apparently trying to make up for the lack of smile by putting 3 into hers.  George throws in her usual modelesque 1000-watt smile and my biggest boy is his usual, calm-cool-collected and handsome self.


WHOA, there we go!  Happy First Bithday my beautiful Baby Boy Boo.


My girls helping me with dinner.  For as much work as she is trying to get her to bathe properly, not disrobe and throw clothes everywhere, and sweep up properly when spilling Cheerios everywhere, Georgia is developing some real skills in the kitchen.  We’re not talking Masterchef Junior or anything, but by the time she’s a teenager I reckon she’ll be quite proficient with food.  And then I retire.  Heh.


I’m pretty sure Jade’s just in it for the hat, but I suppose she’s also developing a real culinary skillset.  She can already list all the ingredients in pancakes which, at 5, is pretty impressive.


Coquettish.  Stylish.  Glamour hidden just beneath the surface.


And there it is.  You can’t keep that much awesome inside for too long.


My boy being random around the house.  This is a daily, nay hourly, occurrence.  I forget exactly what he was telling me, but clearly it began with him getting an idea.  I love that he’s so genuinely entertaining every single day.


School Assemblies are usually quite the affair.  The oldest’s class did this one and he got to do the major speaking parts because he’s an excellent, excellent public speaker.  Already.  At 11.  Friggin’ awesome.  Same assembly and his littlest sister got an Honour Certficate, which brought about more Camera Awesome for her, but I was too far away to get anything good of her brother with my phone.


Dorky, half-saying-something-to-dad, smile. One of my favourites. I’m fond of telling people that I’ve been caught mid-sentence enough times that, for the longest time, I thought I really didn’t photograph well. And by “didn’t photograph well” I mean, “I look like a retarded gorilla in mid-orgasm”. Thankfully, by the grace of all that’s holy, my child is still incredibly cute.


Sort of. She’s also mildly creepy, but I find her incredibly adorable still.


There we go, her listening face. Clearly the teacher can elicit some semblance of normalcy. Ah well, damn proud of her for being good at whatever they’re handing out certificates for this week. Their school doesn’t particularly take Honour Certs very seriously, particularly since my oldest got one because he hadn’t gotten one all term and he rock-paper-scissored for it, but she feels special and I reckon that’s the point.


I’m slowing rebuilding my G.I. Joe collection from childhood while also building upon my grown-up collection as well by winning cheap auctions in the US (cos the shit’s too spendy here) and getting them shipping to Granbo’s house. She then boxes it all up like a champion and sends it over in one hit. Granbo Boxes are similar to Christmas except that there’s far less stress and stupidly huge amounts of awesome involved. Me and Damon LOVE when we get a Granbo box in. His collection is still mostly my castoffs, but he helps me test out all of my new toys to break ’em in. Such a good lad.


This is the Boo at the shops. He simply cannot stop dancing. Ever. He’s the dancingest child I’ve ever been around. If there’s a beat, and frequently if there’s not, he’s dancing. It’s good, good fun. Here’s the link in case you can’t see the above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdUiVHTfiLo


And here’s another video I made right here on this ASUS Transformer Awesometastic Tablet of Awesome. It’s a tablet, or slate, or iPad if you don’t care about branding, and it’s friggin’ awesome. Why is it so awesome? Because it comes with a docking platform that gives you a million hours of battery more and a KICKASS LITTLE KEYBOARD.

The only thing stopping me from loving on tablets and iPads and such was that I love keyboards. Well this one has that sorted! My birthday pressie, that I got early because of Father’s Day and because my wife is so fkn awesome that they should name ships and aircraft after her, and I love it more than any piece of tech I’ve ever owned or seen or played with that was somebody else’s. It’s transformed my life.*

*See what I did there? ASUS Transformer… SHOOSH, I’m funny.

That’s it for now, yay pictures and video! Now send me yours, I want to see what’s happening visually in your life.

My baby’s grandparents.

I’m posting this picture of him to set the tone.  You see, this is more than just my baby.  He’s… I don’t know how else to say it, but he’s magical.

He’s wonderful and one of the best things that could ever happen to anybody.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s interactive and sweet.  He barely, if ever, cries.  No shit.  I’ve heard him cry about once that I can remember.  It’s not that things don’t bother him, they do, but he yells at them or about them and then me or mummy sort them out.  Why cry?  There’s simply no need.

He’s 6 months old now.  Well, nearly, and he’s got two little teeth in the front.  He’s eating solid foods every day now and its better at it every meal.

But you see, his grandparents know nothing of this.

There could be lots of reasons for that.  I’ll get there, don’t worry.

His grandparents live 12 blocks away.  In the same suburb.

They’re not invalids.  They’re not immobile.  They’re not being kept away from him.  They’ve got their own transportation and means.  Neither of them have highly communicable diseases, nor do they hate children.  You see, they’ve had my older 3 children over many times.

In fact, they’ve requested to have the older kids over this weekend.


Almost a year ago, my wife and her mother had a “falling out”.  The details are too detailed, so I won’t detail them here.  Suffice to say that there comes a point in a person’s life that they have just had a gutful and they’re not going to take any more, so they don’t.

They haven’t spoken since.

My father-in-law, who is really my wife’s step-father, has approached me at my kids’ school.  We both teach kids how to play chess, and he’s done his hapless farmboy dance before, telling me he doesn’t know what’s up with them crazy womenfolk but he sure misses his grandchildren.

And I do, actually, consider them his grandchildren.  He loves them and they love him, that’s been enough for me.

So, he approached me.  I said, “Well fucking DO something.  Make it clear that the children are a priority.”  So he did.  He asked if they could have them over, made it clear that they missed them.  That was enough.  I sent the older 3 children and they had a great time.

Then my youngest was born.  Things got… weird again.  Briefly.  The older kids’ visits to Nanny & Poppy’s got more frequent and we settled into a comfortable zone.  Wife put aside a lot of the bullshit that gets in the way and offered up an olive branch.  Through me, she asked them if they’d like to have the baby for a few hours.

Nothing heavy, nothing too difficult.  Just a few hours on a weekday so they could experience that beautiful boy.  So they could hear him laugh.  Smell his hair.  Watch the way he watches people’s faces and the way he shapes his mouth when he says, “booooo…”

I rang and said, “Awesome, let’s do it!  One stipulation, keep Teddy away from him.”

Teddy is their Labradoodle (and I can’t believe I’m even writing that word, it’s too goddam funny) and he comes from a difficult background.  To say he is uncouth is too kind.  He’s obnoxious as hell.  He’s a fairly big dog (think proper poodle-sized and Labrador) and he’s ill-mannered.  He jumps on people.  His claws scratch.  He’s hard to control.

I can’t even dream up an alternate universe where a request to keep the ill-mannered dog away from a (then) 4-month old baby while he visits for a few hours.  I didn’t ask for the dog to be tied up.  I didn’t ask for him to be locked away in a closet.  I just asked that they keep him away from my baby, my helpless baby.

And the message I got back was, “Well, I think we’ll leave it for now.”

They didn’t want him.

If it meant that they had to alter their dog-heavy lifestyle, then they weren’t interested.

Well, needless to say, shit blew up.  Wife got mad and texted her stepdad.  I sent emails that went unanswered.  We heard from other family folk that I was perceived as “aggressive”.

So, I wrote a succinct email.  Nothing aggressive, but still pointed.  I told them that they chose a dog… a F*CKING DOG (I didn’t say that part that way) over their beautiful baby grandson.

No reply.

A month passed.  Then a bit.

No reply.

Yesterday, a text asking to have the kids over.  The “older” kids, I assume.

I am drafting an email explaining the fuckery of all of this, but I’m having a hard time with where to go with all of this.  I have no desire to keep the older kids from enjoying their grandparents.  I never want to stand in the way of their relationship, but how do I reconcile people who have such obviously fucked-up values wanting to spend time around some of my kids, but not my baby?

I tell you what.  I look at that picture above, and I can’t think of a thing on this planet that I wouldn’t do to spend time with him if he was my grandchild.

Maybe that’s just me.

Figleaf Shit

Hitler Lollies

It’s 9:09 AM, I have Cheetos cheeseballs next to me right now, and I have the strongest urge to eat them with a toothpick and start counting cards.

Wifeage left a very sweet note for me to find this morning, the kind that signs off with something epic like, “I love you to the moon and back… and back… and back…” and trails off into tiny lettering that you squint to read and finishes with “forever infinity!”  Piehead might be coughy, give both kids some Figleaf Shit.

“Figleaf Shit” is a codename I devised for the 100% Pure and Unblended Olive Leaf Extract that Wifeage swears by.  The need for a codename came about because the children aren’t ready for me to bandy about names like, “Freshly-Squeezed Assjuice from Satan” or “Oh Holy Fuck Why Woman Why Do You Hate Me?”

In comparison, not that bad.

I give them Figleaf Shit, mixed in with their juice because I’m not a horrible and cruel man.  I offered up a lolly chaser, but oldest boy declined.  Then I did a shot, and Boy Howdy did I need a lolly.  I pulled out Pie’s Halloween candy and ate something waxy that may or may not have been some sort of aphrodisiac.  The Chinese on the side was prolific and there was an entertaining picture of a white rabbit.

While I was patiently waiting for my hallucinations, and making the kids’ lunches, Buddy comes asks for some more juice.

“Figleaf is bad joojoo isn’t it?” I say.

“Dad,” he pauses for effect, then screws up his face, sticks out his tongue and says, “It’s like Hitler ordered up a lolly… then sent it back, because it was so bad.”

This classic moment led into a discussion about one of the little kids’ cartoons, Caillou.  Buddy reckons I should go easier on the bald little bugger and stop saying “Caillou is Hitler!” because he clearly has cancer and had to steal his look from Charlie Brown.

Sydney Shimmy Shake

Boo is waiting patiently in his high chair for his breakfast with The Wiggles Youtube Channel to keep him occupied.  Piehead wanders in, watches blankly for a moment and asks, “What country are The Wiggles in?”

Having a partially-autistic child has its downsides, like everything.  I try not to be mean-spirited or tease, but sometimes I really just want her to use her fucking brain and sarcasm is my natural tone.

“You saw the beginning of ‘Shimmy Shimmy Shake’ right?” I say.

“Yeah, with the guy on TV?” she says.  She is 9 now, and everything is a question.

“Yep, where did he say they were from?” I’m trying my best to be gentle.

“Um… I don’t remember?” she says.  There wasn’t enough time for her to think about whether or not she remembered, she just didn’t want to invest any brain energy towards the matter.

“Did he say ‘direct from Sydney’?” I’m still gentle, but a pinch of jackass is edging into my voice.

She brightens.  “Yeah, yeah he did!” she says happily.

“And,” I lead her a bit, knowing this is a Slam Dunk, “What country is Sydney in honey?”

She scrunches up her face and cocks her head.  “America?” she asks.

I don’t fault her too heavily, for between my native accent and The Simpsons, the lines between the Aussie and American cultures are easily blurred.  But still.

I shake my head and go back to Boo’s breakfast.

Undaunted and still happy, Pie asks, “Can I have a lolly?”  It’s well after the Juice From Satan’s Ass could still be bothering her.

Only here in this writing, and sometimes under the secret covers with Wifeage, can I admit that if she’d known what country Sydney was in, I probably would’ve said she could instead of grumbling, “No.”

She threw on her backpack, jounced towards the door, paused, then turned around and bounced into the toilet for the next 18 minutes.  Getting ready for, and then going to, school, is apparently an activity that takes up so much mental energy that she was unaware of the need for a healthy poo until she was almost out the door.

Lovely Ammo Queen

The olders are gone to school, and I am sitting down to feed the patient and hooting Boo.  Bug walks up.  Born for the stage, you can tell when she’s theatric by the way she holds her chin up, half-closes her eyes and steps very lightly into your presence.

She’s wearing $5 ballerina shoes with blown-out toes on the right foot, a bright yellow velour flower dress that’s 2 years too small, and the plastic ammo belt from Buddy’s assault rifle is clipped in a circle and resting daintily on her head.

She walks in announcing, “I’m the Lovely Queen of Everyfeen!  And I am here to get some Lovely Princess Yogurt, but only the Lovely Princess Yogurt without the Lovely Princess Strawberries or Lovely Weetbix or any cereal or anything lumpy or yucky or stuff I don’t like… Cleem Yogurt!  Lovely Princess Yogurt that’s Cleem!”

“Yeah babe, “ I gesture at her baby brother, “I’ll hook you up when I’m done feeding Boo, alright?”

A regal nod.  Her chin goes higher in the air, her eyes half close again and she turns to leave before stopping herself.

“Can I play with Scarlet and Snake Eyes and Baroness and Storm Shadow?” she asks, pointing to each of the posed-for-action G.I. Joes on my shelf before adding, “And Wolfie?”

My hesitance is visible, but only because she insists on calling Snake Eye’s wolf “Wolfie” when his name is, in fact, “Timber”.  I’ve told her this.  Lovely Queen of Everyfeen chooses not to listen to such nonsense.

So she sits and plays and I spoon fruit and cereal mash into her baby brother’s reluctant but happy mouth.  Her games amuse him endlessly and it both helps and hinders feeding him, but we find a way despite his best efforts to grab/dodge the spoon.

DAMN I’ve missed feeding a baby.  Didn’t really realise that until just now.

Reading and Writing.

The best thing about reading something really good is that it inspires you to write something equally good.

Well, maybe not “you” but the figurative “you”.

Just like when I was a kid and I’d watch The Lone Ranger or Zorro and feel absolutely compelled to go out and try that jump onto the horse’s back my very own self, I’ve always felt a strong pull whenever I’ve really been able to lose myself in someone else’s creative exploits.

Art, music, writing, action… it’s never really mattered.  It’s as if the artist has somehow put so much of their soul into it that my own innards resonate with a kindred spirit.


Okay, YOU find a better explanation for why I jumped off the deck knowing full well that saddle was going to crush my nuts.

So, reading good things makes me want to write good things.  Reading though, is fairly easy.  I can lay in bed, falling asleep, and read.  I can feed the baby, and read.  I can sit on the toilet, the only completely alone spot in the house, and get a chapter out, it’s fantastic.

Writing though… uffda.  Finding the time isn’t a nightmare, I can take time just about any time.  Finding the quiet though, the ability to use both my hands, the ability to string 2, sometimes 3, coherent thoughts together in the form of anything resembling a story…

Well, that’s a different kettle of worms altogether.

What’s that?

Yes.  Yes, I am completely aware that I just spent precious writing time writing about not being able to write.  This kind of thing isn’t difficult though, even though there’s a wiggly somebody on my lap insisting that her shoving her thumb in my eye is tickling.

“It’s ticklish, Daddy, now hold still!”

Oh dear.

Why I’ll make it as a writer… someday.

I was a Junior in High School the first time somebody ever called me a writer. The reason that memory has always stood out for me is not because it was momentous at being called a “writer”, because I still figured they were tweed-wearing hermits who didn’t do it for the money.

Nup, the reason I remember it was because it was the first writing assignment that I ever said, “Aw, what the hell” towards, and wrote from my heart.

I was fairly used to “A”s because I toed the line (on my writing assignments, not when I duct-taped Mrs. Stabnow’s thermos lid from the inside) but the grade on this paper didn’t matter a bit to me.

When I saw the “A” I felt more relief than anything, but when I read the next words my spirit actually soared.

“Well done Judd.  You are a great writer!”

But writing a novel is hard.

Years and years later and I’m finding it interminably difficult to sit down and work on my novel.  I’ve got the goddam thing all written, all laid out as far as structure and style goes, my continuity is fine and I’m even writing fresh stories to fill in gaps and add needed humour and character development.

But something is still missing.

I’ve got 4 kids and a wife and I work from home.  Finding “writing time” is never easy.  I have to get into the right frame of mind, I have to find the right mood and I have to get everyone to shut the fuck up for at least an hour.  None of this ever seems to coincide.

Yet, somehow, I’m able to sit at my computer for 2-3 hours at a time and bang out emails to friends, write blog entries on various sites and sometimes even churn out a short story or so for something on Page Buoy.

Why is it then, that I’m struggling so much with my novel?  Because it’s so BIG and IMPORTANT?  Because I’ve put so many goddamed hours into it?  Because I’m at that stage where I’m trying desperately to make it as perfect as possible?

Maybe it’s more simple than that.

Les Edgerton to the rescue… AGAIN.

I’d ordered the book so long ago off Amazon (who has to ship from the US and can take weeks) that I’d all but forgotten about it.  I’d been up one sleepless night trolling for books and remembered one of my absolute favourites, “Hooked” by Les Edgerton.

I Googled him, found another book or two on writing, got all excited and ordered one.  Then I found his blog and then I emailed him.

He wrote back about an hour later.  I still feel pretty effin’ coooool about that.

Then he joined Page Buoy, and that got me pretty fired up too.  So I got all caught up in the excitement of trading emails with one of my Writing Heroes and the novel was, once again, an afterthought.

The book showed up yesterday, and it’s called “Finding Your Voice.”

Which is funny, because I’ve had a couple of people, one of them heavily-codenamed but still one of my e-favourite writerfriends, all tell me I had a very unique and funny “voice”.  I can’t say as I’d ever heard it called that, but I knew what they meant.  I suppose in literary terms, your “voice” is a pretty unique way of describing something that would be called “style” in other languages.

I started thinking about the voice I was using in my novel.  And I started to get worried.

Finding my voice.

Then some of the gals in my other Writery Email Group Thingo were all commenting that I was good at cracking them up, and how they couldn’t wait to read my novel because it must be OMG Pee My Pants Funny.

“Shit,” I thought, “it’s really not.”

I wasn’t so worried about that though, it’s not really a humour piece and I’m not always out for laughs.

But it’s still missing something.

Wifeage and I got to talking about things last night, about how I relate stories from my experiences and how I used to blog about this and blog about that, and I got to thinking about my “voice”.  I use my “voice” in just about everything I do, from Facebook to Small Business Forums to emails to my mother.

It’s easy, it just flows, and I almost never have to think about it.

How to get it into my novel though?  Rewrite the whole bloody thing?

Writing is like sex.  If it feels like “work”, you’re doing it wrong.

“Well shit,” I thought again, “I’ve got some serious work ahead of me.”

Then I emailed my new email friend, Blue Skies Les, and told him that he’d written yet another book that had completely rocked my writery world, and I was only 35 pages in!

See, the problem, thus far, is that my novel IS a lot of work.  I’m working my ass off to find time, to find motivation, to find the right words, the right style, the right flow.

Writing, good writing, my good writing, shouldn’t be this much work.

And I don’t reckon it will be.

For the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, I’m really looking forward to starting in on this novel again.

Because, if it ain’t fun, then why in the hell am I doing it?

A Slightly Different Crowd

Hanging out with writers on the forums and the email lists and the newsletters and all that, has taught me a few interesting things about the types of personalities that I’m drawn to.

There is a certain level of disappointment that falls over me whenever I see the reaction when I’m saying something mildly inflammatory on Facebook.  Sometimes I spout off about how gay people should be able to get married and it shouldn’t be a thing at all, or that I don’t mind if others believe that Jeebus went zombie and then took flight but don’t try to treat it as undeniable fact, and I will inevitably get an earful from the small-minded (usually folks from back home in Montana) that are quick to inform me that there is, in fact, only one way to look at things.  Seems to be theirs.

At the risk of sounding incredibly wanky and elitist, I’m really enjoying discussions that don’t devolve (too quickly) and the articles and blog posts that talk about industry changes and the way the world is changing in regards to writers and publishing.

It’s incredibly refreshing to be able to take all this information in and NOT feel like my hackles are hackling.  Not that I tend to get hackly, but still, I like feeling calm and zen at the end of a week where I’ve accomplished f*ck-all with my books, websites or house.

Maybe I’m hanging with a better class of people?  Heh.  Well, I’m certainly doing what I can to drag that down.

From: David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—The Future of Publishing

Through my good friend Abel Keogh, author of “The Third” which I am currently enjoying very much, I found David Farland‘s Daily Kick in the Pants, and even though I had a hard time relating to a guy who’s mega-successful as an author and teaches other mega-awesometastic authors like Stephanie Seymour, I am positively loving him now.

Like few others, he’s happy to talk about traditional publishing and e-publishing in the same breath, comparing the two in an unbiased way (or at least calling out his bias openly) and speaking candidly about his thoughts on it all.

This is the latest “Daily Kick” that I got, and I tell you what, this guy is fkn Spot On.

Last week I had my agent look over a movie contract, and in one clause that dealt with retained rights, my agent said, “We can’t sign this contract. It doesn’t allow us to sell enhanced books, and that is the entire future of publishing.”

I’d been talking to a prospective business partner about starting a company that will make enhanced books (books that may combine elements like film clips, music, video games, author interviews, and audio files, which are then sold electronically to be read on your iPad, phone, computer, and so on), so I thought that my agent’s comment was timely. But are “enhanced books” the future of publishing?

There is good reason to think so. But I don’t think that it’s the “entire future.”

Let me explain, and even prophesy, if I may. Now, I’ve been making my living as a writer for more than twenty years, and I watch the markets pretty closely. As most of you know, we’re going through some dramatic changes in the publishing world, with the new e-book revolution.

Here is what is happening. Right now, the e-book market is growing at over 10% per year. Meanwhile, the sale of paperbacks and hardcovers is dropping disproportionately. In fact, sales last month on hardcover books were down more than 40% from just the month before!

Now, there are reasons for this. Part of the problem has to do with the collapse of the Borders bookstore chain here in America. That might account for a drop of 25%. Another drop of 10% might be claimed because of the rise in sales of e-readers that people got for Christmas. But that means that there is still a substantial drop that doesn’t make sense—another 8%, more or less. What’s going on? I think that there may be people who are delaying hardback purchases in anticipation of buying e-readers. After all, why pay $25 for a hardcover when I plan to buy a Kindle and then get the electronic copy for $15 on Mother’s Day?

Whatever the problem, you have to realize that the entire publishing world is in trouble. As people switch to e-readers, then they quit buying at bookstores. As bookstore sales drop, their profit margins plunge into the red, and thus they can’t pay the distributors who sold them the books. As the distributors lose revenue (as happened with Anderson Distribution and others last year), they go out of business. When they don’t pay the publishers, what happens?

Well, publishers can do some things to save money. They can quit printing as many books. They can stop advertising. They can hold off on buying new manuscripts. They can use cheaper paper and binding. But there is a limit to how much they can cut their costs. Can they make up for the 50% losses that they’ve taken this year? No. There is only one thing that they can do, really. They have to get money from the authors.

Now, since authors don’t actually pay the publishers, there is only way to acquire money—from the author’s accounts. Money that is owed for past books sales just disappears. Or the publisher seeks to renegotiate the old contracts with worse terms, ones that let the publisher keep more money.

That kind of thing is happening a lot right now, if what I’m hearing is true. Publishers are publishing out-of-print books, or claiming that they hold the rights to OP books so that they can turn them into electronic books, and they’re basically stealing the author’s money. Or they are vastly under-reporting electronic sales, and perhaps even paper sales.

I’m sure that the publishers in most cases are hoping that they’ll figure a way out of this mess and pay the authors later. For example, most publishers are now demanding more and more from the authors in the way of electronic rights, movie rights, and income from foreign sales.

The publishers won’t make it. This change to electronic media is likely to take place over several years, and the publishers are in a downward spiral.

What I suspect will happen is this: most publishers will take money from the authors and be forced into court by writer’s groups. The judges will look at what is going on, there will be RICO investigations and allegations of mail fraud, and the publishers that are acting inappropriately will be reprimanded. They won’t go to prison. We never send white-collar criminals to prison. Instead, the authors will win their lawsuits, and will be awarded treble damages. This process will take several years to complete. When it is done, the publishers will declare bankruptcy, and the authors will never get anything in their settlement. In short, we’ll lose our shirts, if we keep on publishing with the big corporations.

Ten years from now, there will still be a business for paper books, but it won’t be an industry that makes $17 billion in US sales. It will be a much smaller business, maybe $4 billion in sales.

So if you’re a publisher, you need to look at scaling back now. You’ll need to move out of your fancy New York address, cut back on your print runs to something logical, and try to figure out how to ride out the storm. Latching onto author’s money is one way to do it. It has worked for decades.

As an author, I can’t afford to play this game. But there is an option: the e-book. With the rise in sales of e-books, an author can now go out and sell his own books. The market is expanding. Some authors are genuinely making millions in this new market.

By putting out a novel in e-book, I reach a much smaller market, but I might also cut out my publisher and my agent, with their high overhead, so that I make a much higher profit on a per-book basis. Sounds like a great idea, right?

But with the new market, there is going to come a lot of “white noise.” New authors, terrible writers, will be publishing, too, and readers are going to have to figure out how to decide what to read. Getting a reader’s attention will be terribly hard to do.

Well, how do you do that? One way may be to have critics giving reviews of books—not the author’s friends, but genuine impartial reviewers working for independent agencies. Another may be to have awards for each category of electronic book, so that we have something like the “Farland Award for best SF and fantasy novel next year.” Hell, consider this an announcement. I’ll set it up.

A third way to rise above the white noise may be to rely upon trusted “electronic publishers” to select books.

That’s where I’ve decided to step in. By creating an “enhanced book,” we’ll be investing a lot of money in a book’s future. We’ll take it from being an electronic Word file then and add background art, music, video, sound, and so on. We’ll have an author interview with the book, and it will become part book, part movie.

By investing that kind of money, we’ll not only enhance the reading experience for the audience, but we’ll also be putting our stamp of approval on a book. We’ll be saying, “We expect great things from this author. This one is really worth looking at.”

In short, I expect “enhanced books” to become the dominant art form for novels in the next few years, replacing and outselling simple e-books on the bestseller lists, and even outselling hardbacks and paperbacks within a couple of years.

As a person with a long history in publishing, videogames and film, this is sort of a natural step for me. My partner, Miles Romney, and I have agreed to start our company, in part because I believe in this new medium. So, look for us in the future as East India Press!

I’ll be announcing our first project in the next couple of weeks.

Now, I have no background in traditional publishing. I have no background in self-publishing either. I have yet to publish my first e-book and I can’t even effing finish the books that I’ve started.

BUT… this is the way this is heading peeps, and if I were more inclined, it’s the kind of thing I’d blog about just so that in a year from now I could go back and point out how awesome and smart I am.

Ahhhh… but I’m going to do that anyway now aren’t I?

Regardless. E-books aren’t paper, they’re stand-alone documents right? Well the mode that helps them stand alone is going to be more and more standarised the more popular they become (which is growing almost exponentially). Once a more standard format is in place, e-books are definitely going to be “enhanced books”…

…and the world will, once again, change completely.

Which is why I’m still completely shat off that the most popular e-book authors of today have f*ckall for a web presence. The American Capitalist Pig part of me wants to start a business based solely around exploiting this, but the No Worries Aussie Laid-back Surfer Dude in me wants me to just sit back and write and be awesome.

And finish Page Buoy, of course, which I will do in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

E-Book Authors:The Internet Beckons

It seems like it should go together doesn’t it?  Self-publishing (“Indie Publishing” I reckon isn’t quite the same) on Teh Interwebs is eezie squeezie, and getting your book up and on Amazon or B&N is something that many a soccermom turned romance novelist is doing.

But that seems to be where many end up e-stopping, when in fact they should be hitting the e-gas.  I’m getting more and more active on the Kindle Boards, where I read almost exclusively the “Writer’s Cafe” forum, and about the average of what I’m seeing is folks having a blogspot.com account.

Which is fine, really, if you have no idea what you’re e-doing and are afraid of getting screwed by unscrupulous web people (of which there are a few).

And while I tend to use these two as my benchmarks, they are, so it bothers me that Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking are both using theirname.blogspot.com accounts to blog and promote their books when there is SO MUCH opportunity out there for either of them.

Let’s take one of them as an example…

Amanda Hocking’s main site is her blogspot blog, with what I assume is a semi-standard template and a lot of widgety-goodness buzzing around on the edges.  I don’t know her personally, but I would reckon it does little to convey either the feel of the author or her work through its design.

Amandahocking.com however, just has this:

YUCK.  Yuckety-yuck. Poweryuck, with yuck-burning boosters.

Girlfriend, you’ve quickly ascended to celebrity status among self-publishing authors and have almost single-handedly lit the fire under the asses of tens of thousands.  You’ve finally got a big book deal and you’ve optioned the rights to a bloody movie for the sake of Pete.


If somebody else owns it, pay what they want.  The earlier you do that, the cheaper it’ll be.  If they won’t sell, then take ’em to court and prove your own copyright now that you are undoubtedly a corporate entity, but get a site up there, because that’s craptastic crapburgers with poosauce on ’em.

Your books should have their own websites too.

Amanda has a slew of books and also a trilogy aptly named “Trylle Trilogy”, with books priced $0.99, $2.99 and $2.99 respectively.  She’s got these books available on her website with a neat moving banner thingo that I think Amazon provides, but that’s about the only place she’s plugging these books.  A quick Google Search for “trylle” shows only sites that are talking about her movie deal in the Top 10 and any website that’s actually about those books nowhere near the Top 30.

I actually emailed her about 3 months ago when I got started down this whole Self-Publishing E-book route, and at that time I informed her that www.trylletrilogy.com was available (which it was) and she should go and get it.  I’ve just checked and it’s since been registered by “charlies sheen” under a private account.  Hmmm.  There’s no active website up for that domain either.

Missing out.

So right there, you’ve got two prime opportunities for self-promotion.  You’re an author, you need a website that’s YOURS with your domain name.  Heck, my new mate has www.justinscro.com that he just got through WordPress, and he knows sweet f*ck all about websites and such.  Amanda Hocking should have a website that has all the trappings for linking to her fan pages on Facebook, Twitter, sending her an email, and info about her books.  She can turn the homepage into a listing of her latest blog posts and then link to the blog separately too.

Hell, if done right, she can even export all of her old blog posts and import them onto a new site with little hassle.

She should have registered www.mybloodapproves.com (which fukkinell is AVAILABLE, oh my goodness, I should make that one an example) as well as www.trylletrilogy.com and put info up about both books (not just “Buy!  Buy!  Buy!” but other stuff) as well as set up a couple of forums for people to get on there and debate their favourite characters, discuss their favourite books from the series, what’s happening with a movie deal, etc.

Hell, all she’d have to do is blog that she’s looking for some forum moderators to help look after these websites, and she’d have 30 pasty-white and doughy hands in the air faster than you can say “secretly thinks they’re a vampire”.

ALL of this can be done with little hassle, you just need to know what you’re doing.

The best part about all of this too, most of it is free.  FREE.

Get a decent web host, like my mate Pete at www.ihswebsolutions.com and you can have a website with all the trappings for about $3.95 a month.  That’s peanuts, trust me.

A domain name will run you about $9/year through Pete as well, and once you’ve got all this set up, you can log into the CPanel (control panel software through the backend) and set up WordPress on your website, a PHPBB forum and an email address or five, for NOTHING EXTRA.

Go to templatemonster.com or another similar site, grab a template for $70 and install it on your website.  Get a webnerd to spend an hour swapping out the huge alligator from the top banner and the stock photos of that blonde girl with the headset on (that’s on EVERY site, I swear) and you’ve got a semi-customised, fairly unique, website all your own.

That’s $9 for the domain name, $47.40 for hosting, $70 for a template (or FREE off of WordPress.com’s website), and a signed copy of your book for the dungeonmaster comicbookguy that’s never kissed a girl but can tell you the birthdate of every female that’s ever been one of The Avengers.

$126.40 isn’t much when you consider the potential book sales, not to mention the overall publicity that your name and your books will garner.

Seems a damn shame that it’s that simple and more aren’t doing it.  I mean really people, if you’re not out there cornering the market on YOU, someone else will eventually.

Or worse, no one will at all.

Self-Publishing is a Marathon, not a Sprint

The Passive Voice usually has some great stuff, and it almost always tends to inspire me, but this morning I’ve got a cuppa, ALL of the older kids are off to school and it’s exactly one week until our baby is here.

This may actually be my last chance for peace like this… so I shall write.

Passive Guy wrote about how self-publishing and traditional publishing are both really just on a bell curve.  The Amanda Hockings and the Joe Konraths of the Yay Self-Publishing World are on that high bit of the curve.  There’s a few others up there, sure, but for the most part, the rest of us are towards the lower ends.

The market is changing, and changing quickly.  The entire publishing world is going through an enormous shift, and the World has never quite looked like this for writers.  It’s pretty exciting.

So, the little guys see their shot, they read the blogs and the media articles and the hooplah about the chubby girl from southern Minnesota that’s making millions doing this and they think, “HEY!  I can do that TOO!

I know, because I am one of them.

The action is on, big things are happening, and as is our human nature, we want to get in on the action and do the big things too.

But we don’t look before we leap.  We just hop in and start running, forgetting one thing:

This race is a marathon, not a sprint.

Konrath and Hocking haven’t just been writing 9 hours a day for the past few months, they’ve been doing it for years.  And they haven’t just been writing book after book in an effort to push their product out to the masses.  They’ve written what they know and love…

And then polished the ever-loving shit out of it.

Editing folks.  Fix up.  Fix up and get it as close to perfect as you can before you put it out there.  More than one downloaded sample has been blasted from my Kindle (app) into oblivion because of typos and infodumps.

The typos can usually be forgiven, to a point (I’m not the Grammar Nazi that Wifeage is) but I can usually apply the Cockroach Theory: For every one you can see, there’s ten in the wall.

If the author couldn’t be f*cked to fix a very obvious typo within the first few pages, then they probably couldn’t be bothered writing a very good book either.  They probably just wanted to write a book, tell that story that’s been burning inside of their little writerheads, and then sit back and cash in.

And they’ve probably sold some books, especially if they’re good (or lucky) at self-promotion.  But if it ain’t a very good book, that won’t last very long.

Infodumps are a trickier one, because they’re probably more along the lines of personal preference more than the black/white of typos, but they’re still a No Fly Zone for me.

Frequently billed as “backstory”, infodumps are the authors way of catching you up on every little thing that’s happened so that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.  The Passive Voice also linked to a brilliant article on
How To Include Backstory Without Killing Your Novel, which essentially says “Pay close attention to your first bits, they’re really important”.

Of course, I’ll never get tired of telling folks how Les Edgerton’s “Hooked” changed my entire life.  Or rather, gave me the right tools to get right into writing, and writing something well.

So, in our haste to simply start cashing in on the excitement, we crank out the novel that’s been brewing on the backburners of our li’l creative consciousness and we forget to make it very good.

We just wanted it out there.

The window isn’t closing, and for the good writers, it probably never will.  Mark Coker said it best with Point Number One in his post: The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success

Write a great book.

And if you needed Tyler Durden to make it clear for you, Coker’s Point Number Two is:

Write another great book.

You getting this yet?  Awesome.

Take your time.  Pace yourself.  I have no doubt that you’ve got one helluva story in there, and that you’re pretty good with words, but if you really want to make this work…

Get it right the first time.

Good luck!

Ripping off the Band-Aid

About 4 years ago, the gears of the Corporate Machine finally ground me down.  I’d had enough, and I said “f*ck this,  and f*ck you too” to not just my boss, but an entire way of life.

It just wasn’t for me.

I was terrified though.  I had 3 kids, a brand-new baby girl, and a lovely wife at home (in a bloody rental) and I just couldn’t run around quitting cushy office jobs like that.

I’ll never forget what she told me though.

I was as close to showing signs of anxiety as I ever get, flustered and floundering about, when she held my chin in her hands, focused her intense green eyes into mine, and said, “Hey.  No matter what happens… we’re not gonna starve.”

That moment forever changed me and how I approach my business.  Because it was at that moment, that my business was officially born.

I loved Web Analytics.  I love the idea that you can have numbers that show you what people are doing on your website.  I love that you can find out how many people from New Zealand went straight to your “Contact” page from your home page during the month of March.  I love that shit.

But nobody wants it.

Or rather, nobody knows enough about what it is to know how much they need it.

People know that they need SEO though.

Well, they’ve been told that they do, by an industry of used snake-oil salesmen.

People know enough to Google “SEO” and see what comes up, so that’s what I did.  It was what people were looking for and it was something I was good at.  I figured, “Meh, it’ll pay the bills.”

And it did.  Poorly, but still.  I also had other time to build some cool Keyword and Competition tools, ROI trackers and Link Analysers, Rank Checkers and AdWords Reporters.  I also went to the park with kids a LOT.  And played guitar a LOT.

Now, there’s just too much bullshit.  I’m tired of it, and I never really liked it in the first place.

SO… I’m shutting it down.  My company is going on a hiatus, a holiday, a Paid Parental Leave, so that I can focus primarily on my soon-to-be-here beautiful baby boy… and how to revamp my company.

I’ve also got some other projects I’m going to be spending some time on.  I’m going to:

  • Finish building Page Buoy, a website for writers to connect with other writers and be able to polish their works-in-progress while they’re still in progress.
  • Build Have a Good Website, a website that’s just that, all about helping you to have a good website.  Tips and Tricks, advice from pros, everything from where to put your logo to how many characters you should have in your meta titles.
  • Revamp this website.  I’m going to move pictures and family cuteness to another, very similar, website, and I’m going to focus on my novels and writeryauthorness here.
  • Revamp my business website. As well as finish building all of my neat Web Analytics Reports so that you can log in, sign up, and have them sent right to you every week (mostly for FREE).  I’m building this in PHP/MySQL, with the Google Analtyics API, using a Windows-based program to take thumbnail screenshots, that then generates a PDF, which gets emailed to you on a scheduled CRON job.  Uffda!  That even makes my head hurt.
  • Revamp my offshoot, Jex Solutions website. This one was a FAIL as I tried to get people to sign up and use all of the neat SEO Tools that I’d built.  People did, but they’re not me, and didn’t know how to use them.  That’s alright though, because I learned more from that colossal failure than I would’ve by some partial success.
  • Help my good friend Patrick Dub-T with DollarDonation, a website that lets you donate a dollar to all kinds of charitable organisations.  We’re all kinds of stoked over this one.
  • Revise and publish my first novel.  It’s ready, it’s just been resting.
  • Finish my second novel. I’m just about halfway through it now.  Wait… okay, now.
  • Oh, and clean up and organise my house while helping gorgeous lovely Wifeage look after Little Boy Blue and our 3 other yardapes.

So there’s a fair bit on my plate.  I think I’ll play lots of guitar in there too.

And watch some footy.

And drink some beer.

Wish me luck.