And this one.

That’s my life…

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Worth reposting: Windmills of the Mind

From an ooooold movie…

 

 

Dusty Springfield – The Windmills Of Your Mind Lyrics

Artist: Dusty Springfield

Album: Dusty In Memphis

 

Round like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel

Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turnin’
Running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweepin’
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone

Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweepin’
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that you said?

Lovers walk along a shore
And leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?

Pictures hangin’ in a hallway
And the fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong?

When you knew that it was over
You were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the color of his hair

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/dusty-springfield/the-windmills-of-your-mind-lyrics/#WjVAc9DRtKyF6gSm.99

The Return of Immy

So I’m sitting in Cobh, the weather has finally turned “Irish” again (cool and cloudy).  I have been assured by people who have lived here all their lives, that the last summer Ireland had such fine weather, such a long uninterrupted dry and sunny streak, was in 1976.

But we love this weather.  Cool is energizing; if it starts drizzling, that puts us into a creative mood.  I’ve always loved writing when it is rainy, even as a teenager.

The bottomless sadness still strikes, at random, and often.  I do realize it will keep doing that, and I will stop blogging about it except on very rare occasions.  I will continue including Iain in the conversation, because he is here with us.

Remember Immy?

She was unavailable for the longest time on our site.

Originally a delightful series of stories by Leslie Hyla Winton Noble, illustrated by Amanda Fieldgate, and released in a very special multimedia pack – which frankly I thought was unabridged genius.

It came as 1) a CD with booklet insert; 2) the CD contained a Power-Point presentation where one could opt to have the booklet read to the child on audio only (with sound-effects and Peter-And-The-Wolf-style theme tunes, composed by the brilliant Les Noble); alternatively one could watch the entire 5-booklet series on Power-Point, soundtrack and all.

You begin to understand how special the Immy series is when you consider:

  1. Story.  A charming, child-focused set of stories about a feisty little girl who makes courageous decisions whenever she is face-to-face with bone-chilling danger.  Wow.
  2. Illustrations.  These are artworks by Amanda Fieldgate, on canvas.
  3. Music!  A whole, composed-through soundtrack of theme tunes interacting with each other.  If Les could have a tame orchestra at his fingertips, he would gladly have done the full symphonic orchestral performance.
  4. Power-point.  The concept of having an audiobook for young children, with page-through option or power-point option, is so complete!
  5. Lightweight, exquisite presentation – highly professional, as a glossy booklet insert into a CD.

Here is great news:

The Immy series will be available in an A5 print, standard children’s book; as a box set as well as a collective in a single volume.

The improvement of having hard-cover versions available, is simply an added delight.  The Immy series explores multimedia books on every level.  There are only one or two unexplored options left…

Am I looking forward to these hard-covers!

 

What else is new in P’kaboo:

  • We’ve placed Carmen Capuano’s “Split Decision” on Smashwords.
  • I’m gradually updating our website; however I haven’t yet started tackling the problem of making it compatible with smartphones.  It needs an entire redesign for the little hand-held machines.
  • In Durban, beautiful print runs are happening.  I’m watching this with high excitement.  Well done to Les!
  • We are putting the foundations in place for setting up shop here in Ireland. Hopefully, before the year is out, we will be trading.
  • There are some brand new books reaching completion; one brand new author to be launched.  Details will be released later.
  • We are step-wise catching up on our backlog from the coma of the past 18 months.  Without our team we would not have managed.

So, Go Team!!

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Smashing developments with Split Decision

Split Decision goes on Smashwords

As part of our program towards convenience and ease of access, we now have a version of Split Decision available on Smashwords

Easy to download; beautifully clean ebook available in just about every imaginable format; and at only $4.95. For those of you who are really curious to peek into this fast-moving, emotion-packed book, there is a preview available.

Here is the link:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/879434

The Smashwords edition precedes a very exciting development – the launch of the first South African print of the book.
Go read and enjoy.

Deep discounts on books in Smashwords Summer-Winter Sale

Smashwords has periodic site-wide promotions.  One of these is running right now, until the 31st of July:  The Smashwords Summer/Winter sale.

The way these work:

Select the book you wish to buy.  In the “Checkout” window, look for the “Apply Coupon” field.  Enter the following coupon codes:

SSW50 for every Solar Wind sequel:

  1. The Mystery of the Solar Wind
  2. The Assassin
  3. Freedom Fighter
  4. Raider!
  5. The Morrigan
  6. Nix Romipen
  7. The Glossary for Solar Wind & Shooting Star

SSW25 for all other books / short-stories:

  1. Fanta Claus
  2. How To Become A Professional Ghostwriter
  3. Suzie
  4. A Friday Fairytale
  5. The Family Pool
  6. The Racing Finn
  7. Arcana

Some of these discounts will cause some of the books and short-stories to come in completely FREE.  Have fun checking it out.

Ebooks Vs Paperbooks

Of course all books on Smashwords are ebooks.  I have discovered that Millennials enjoy reading ebooks off their hand-held tablets or smart phones.  I have also discovered that Millennials will order anything online, and spend fortunes on it – and these books consistently cost less than a cup of coffee now, in exchange for gripping and heart-warming stories.  It is an interesting milieu here in Millennial-land.

For those of you who still prefer paper books (I know I do), go to www.pkaboo.net to browse all our books. Our subset on Smashwords does not yet contain any of our authors except Lyz Russo and gipsika.  All our other books are also available on Amazon, but the fastest way to find them is via www.pkaboo.net/bookshop.html.

Go gettem, and enjoy your summer reads!

 

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Gandhi and the Resting Bitch Face

The following story is told of Gandhi, but it could have happened to any luminary of his kind of elevation.

A mother brought her little boy to Gandhi and begged him to tell the child to stop eating sugar.  She explained that her child would respect him more.  Gandhi looked at the boy and told the mother to come back in a month.

A month later, the mother was at his door again with the same request.  Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “You must stop eating sugar.  It’s bad for you.”  The little boy nodded, impressed.

The mother challenged Gandhi:  “That was easy!  Why did I have to wait for a month?”

“Ah,” replied Gandhi with a smile.  “A month ago, I was still eating sugar myself.”

*

… and the one thing we are usually not aware of when nobody points it out, is our “resting bitch face”.

Quick, take a selfie.  But with your face relaxed, without making any effort to make it a “profile pic”.  Then take a good look.

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That is what you look like most of the time!  (Scary, right?)

When I was writing the Solar Wind series, at one point my 8-year-old son came to me and asked, “Mommy, why are you so angry?”  I looked up in surprise.  Angry?  I wasn’t angry at all!  I had only been concentrating.  Turns out I have a terrible resting bitch face.  I’m sorry for all the people who thought I’m angry, or a superbitch, or basically just a scary, nasty woman.  Maybe one ought to exercise one’s face.  Because after a year and a half of dreadful mourning, my face looks even worse than before… older, more lined, more intimidating.  With a face like this, I could become the most hated world dictator.

Actually, what an opportunity!

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But I suppose, the best antidote to this is to smile instantly whenever someone enters the room.  Do this consciously until it becomes a subconscious habit.  Maybe I can recover my friendly face before I die.

 

How NOT to write a submissions letter

It always amazes me how much wind is made around formalities.  (And that, dear friends, is why I’m a rebel!)

Let’s look at this:

A contract is an agreement between two parties.  Everything else (necessity for witnessing, authentication of signatures, etc etc etc) is really just a series of measures to ensure that both parties will stick to the agreement.  But anything (within legal boundaries) can be agreed on, as long as both parties agree.

A writer is a storyteller on paper, or a teacher on paper (depending if it’s a fiction or non-fiction book).  An author is the originator of something authentic.

An agent is a person or company that takes your cat and sells it to your neighbour, and as a reward takes on average 15% off your profit for their effort.  Really good agents could probably afford to charge a lot more, because their high success rate still makes it a good deal.

And a publisher is a person or company who takes your authentic work and puts it into a format and into places in which it can be publicly accessed and bought.   He/she brings your authentic work into the public marketplace.

All these people want you to sign a contract with them, so that they can be sure they will be rewarded for doing this for the author.  On the other hand the contract is really good for the author too as you can expect certain things from your agent / publisher:  To pay you your royalties and not short-change you; and NOT to run off with your cat and sell it as their own.

So writing a submissions / agent query letter should really be very simple.

Imagine you were writing your subs / query letter to your best friend.

“Heya Jim!  I know I’ve been quiet for a while, that’s because I’ve been working on a novel, and guess what, tonight I wrote “THE END” under it!  Now I know that you’ve been (Jim thinks: ‘Uh-oh, here it comes’) agenting some people’s novels, and I was wondering if you could do the same for mine?”

What do you think Jim will ask next?  Right:  “What’s your book about?”

So you answer.  Don’t rewrite your whole book to him in your answer.  It’s well worth learning how to write a “pitch” for your book…  c’mon, fellas, it is not that difficult.  I know we’re writers, not salesmen, but your book already prods buttock, all you need to do is make it wear the pointy boots!  You need to put the plot into one single, peppery paragraph.  Use salient words.  Engage the senses.  You know how to make a reader taste a lemon.  Make them taste lemons!  But do it – shorter.

#queryfail

You know, there was a twitter campaign out there in 2009 – doubt it’s still going, because haha – it was self-defeating, and I’m so glad I never found it back then because I would definitely have shot my mouth off – called #queryfail.  It was a campaign where agents vented about the query letters they got from authors.

Seriously?  You can immediately see what’s wrong with the picture.  And one agent worded it beautifully in his blog, saying something to the effect of “you will never see me do that”.

It doesn’t matter how stupidly expressed a query letter may be, how pompous an author may word his request – a fellow author reads the ridicule on #queryfail and thinks, “well, I won’t risk querying that agent!  What if I get it wrong and get my letter ridiculed here?”

2007-9 was a weird era

When I started submitting to publishers in 2007/8, I was all at sea how to write those letters.  I must have read dozens of blogs and ebooks on how to write a synopsis, how to write a query…  and here’s the thing:  They all contradicted each other!  One thing they all agreed on though:  Your subs letter should reflect your “writing voice”.

What?  Really?

“Dear John Sullivan*,

Perdita stared at the twenty-first century relic of a word processor that had been placed before her.  She gave a little snort of derision, then flexed her dainty hands that were so adept at handling a gun, and drummed out a paragraph on the old-fashioned keyboard, outlining her demand to be published.  In Spanish.  She could have written it in Danaan too.  ‘Carajo!’ she muttered under her breath as she hit the ‘send’ button.

And now began the nail-biting two weeks of waiting for a response.  Perdita started mulling over whom she could assassinate.

Best regards

gipsika.”

(*I made that publisher up.  No resemblance to actual people.  And so on.)

Other sources gave examples of “most successful query letter EVER”, showing off a man who flashed his entire military history, medals included, before justfying that this was the reason he was the best person to write… the novel he had written, which was authentically based in one of the wars he’d fought in.

We respect our veterans, but why does that particularly make him a good author?  Without knowing more, it might just be another blood-and-guts style memoir.

Grovel (“oh mighty publisher, I know I’m only a humble author, would you please please…”) or brag?  (“As a home-schooling mother of twenty-seven children, I should know best on this topic because I know best on everything!”)  Write the sub in your writing voice??

No, and no!

And here’s the third No:

One of the lines of ridicule on #queryfail discussed how an author had the audacity to approach an agent 1) anonymously and 2) didn’t think it was important to have a huge social media following.

Hold on a minute?  The job of the agent is to take the cat – the book – and put it over the fence to the publisher; the job of the publisher is to make it publicly accessible; the job of the author is to provide authentic content!  Not, to have the entire marketing platform in place!  That is the battle of the publisher.  Not even of the agent. And to demand (after GDPR we understand this so much better, don’t we) of an author to strip himself of anonymity (anonymosity?) and do a publicity circus act (and possibly, as some authors are somewhat shy, run the huge risk of being ridiculed, which for some souls is so serious it may end in suicide – no kidding, statistics link public shame to suicide)  – peeps, is that in any way still reasonable?

No!  We don’t need to grovel, brag, do cart-wheels and circus tricks, “demonstrate our writing voice” in our synopsis (our novel is not a synopsis, this is why readers enjoy the actual book), flash our qualifications, demonstrate marketing skills and a huge social media following, or anything of the sort!

We only need to be authentic.

There you have it:  Authentic.  Honest, sincere.  And writing under a pen name is not “dishonest”, it is millennia-old custom among authors.

For that reason, and that reason alone, I have once again put patronizing “subs guidelines” on our website – in case an author feels lost how to go about it.

(Aside:  You could also approach our associate agent instead, Bookseeker Agency.)

The guidelines outline what genres we accept; they give an address where you can email your submission; and they disambiguate what you need to (and don’t need to) write in a query letter.  We’re uncomplicated.  Doesn’t matter if you are pompous or grovelly in your approach, if you are a decorated star in your field or someone too shy to give her real name.  If you have 7000 followers on Twitter or none at all, on any antisocial media.  If you’ve done a whole lot of marketing for us or nothing.  It’s not about that.  We want to know about your manuscript.

Should we decide that (for whatever reason, and it will not be your query letter or synopsis) your work doesn’t fit in with our concepts, we’ll let you know – respectfully, because for all we know we may be making a mistake and the next publisher will make a lot of money from your book.

About mass submissions

And here’s another thing.  If you address us with “Dear Sir/Madam” and know nothing about our company, and have copied 23 other publishers into the same round-mail…

… let’s be realistic.  Writers write.  Agents do the market research of who’s who in the publishing world.  Writers write.

I feel it is unrealistic to expect of any author (who would much rather be writing a new novel or the sequel) to sit and in-depth study 900 publishers and agents, for their company history, eating habits and dental records.

Because, 900.  Hold onto that figure.

That is the amount of submissions (give or take) it took JK Rowling to get her “Harry Potter” published.

900.

Do you honestly think she had the time (between writing 6 massive sequels) to research 900 publishers and agents, submit to them one-by-one, and wait 2 weeks for an answer from each before addressing the next?

The year has 52 weeks. Half of that is 26.  900/26 = 34.62.  It would have taken her 34 and a half years.

And every publisher wants to publish the next JK.  Every agent wants to agent her.  Do you really think you’ll get her if authors can only drip-submit?  It works the other way as well!  If you are agent 20 on that author’s list, you will have to wait 40 weeks for your next quality submission that you could have had right now!

We all need to remember one thing.  The whole book industry wouldn’t even exist without writers writing.  So now the question is:  Would you (as publisher, agent or author) rather keep feeling important or would you rather make a lot of money?

There are no wrong answers here.  It’s all good.  (Dr Phil: “And how is that working out for you?”)  Recognition.  Much has been said about it.

Writers:

The tricky part is learning to tell whether you’re actually approaching a publisher who wants to talk business, or whether you’re just feeding someone’s ego.  And I guess a real short-cut is the mass-submissions letter.  You will be guaranteed to weed out those who want to be worshiped, and only get responses from those who are interested in your manuscript.  But it goes both ways.  If you don’t get a reply from any of them, don’t take that as an offense to your ego.

A passing thought on synopses and blurbs:

It helps immensely to have another author who has beta-read and enjoyed your work, write it for you.  You can trade favours that way.  Because (my 2 pence) the author is too close to her own work to write a really pack-a-punch book blurb or a good synopsis.

Hope this helps, and hope you none of you will ever join a career-suicide campaign like #queryfail (or similarly risky “#agentfail”).  I know I would have been dumb enough.

Inferno Award

https://www.independentlegions.com/news/open-submissions-inferno-award-2018

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This dropped into my mailbox today.  I want to weep!  But for me, too much is happening in the next 15 days to quickly thrash out another 45K word horror novelette.  I know of only one author I could challenge to this…

C’mon, M, grab it and run with it!!

For only a $600 advance cheque for the winning entry, I don’t know if it’s a deal a self-respecting poet and novelist would even blink at, but the challenge itself sounds too delicious to miss!  Besides, if it is horror, it should be from your pen…

In case you bloggies forgot the unforgettable, here is the result of the previous challenge:

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“A great adventure book that will keep you reading and wanting to know more.” (Nikki Mason, BestChickLit)

 

Google Cookies, the GDPR and – the 8th Amendment

Dear Readers:  WordPress wishes to alert you that they use cookies on their websites and dashboards (i.e. if you’re reading this or any other WP blog, you’ve been infested with tracking cookies).   To find out more, click this link:

https://automattic.com/cookies/

I am impressed.

Whenever there was some big monkey theatre going on, Hubbs would always say:  “What are they trying to distract us from?”

So all of Ireland was in the throes of voting yay or nay to the abortion issue, on Friday.  With all of Europe watching in suspense.  Why on Friday?  Because, coincidence (?), Friday was also the day the much more boring GDPR came into force.

Yay or Nay

Sentiments were running pretty high.  As my daughter and I walked home from an awards night we’d been attending, a lady grabbed her sleeve and stopped us.

“Are you voting tomorrow?”

We’ve had abortion forever.  Women in the middle-ages would consult a herbalist (back then known as a “witch”) if they wanted to lose an unwanted baby.  Also, in stone-age Germania, there were clearly social rules…  they found bog-mummies of young women and their babies. These young girls and their babies had been drowned by the community to “get rid of it”;  “it” being the problem of the unwed mother.  Significantly, it was the mother and child who caught the community’s wrath, not the boy who caused the situation.

What am I saying?  It’s not a cut-and-dried issue.

… and the Internet changes while we aren’t looking

Abortion legislation is monkey theatre.  BIG monkey theatre.  Everyone is up in arms, emotionally het up…

…little realizing that the way their personal (private, public and professional) data that websites guzzle from them…  via tracking cookies and other methods… this affects ALL of us…

Interruption: Data is or Data are?

Datablog at The Guardian writes:

“For what it’s worth, I can confidently say that this will probably be the only time I ever write the word “datum” in a Datablog post. Data as a plural term may be the proper usage but language evolves and we want to write in terms that everyone understands – and that don’t seem ridiculous.

So, over to Guardian style guru David Marsh, who makes the rules in these parts about language use. He says:

It’s like agenda, a Latin plural that is now almost universally used as a singular. Technically the singular is datum/agendum, but we feel it sounds increasingly hyper-correct, old-fashioned and pompous to say “the data are”.

And the Guardian style guide expresses it like this:

Data takes a singular verb (like agenda), though strictly a plural; no one ever uses “agendum” or “datum”.

… that your personal data is now being processed “differently”.

How, differently?

Well, brilliant news:

You have more rights now!

(So why on Earth would someone want to distract you from this?)

And websites have more obligations, and more limitations on what information they can ask of you, what it is used for and how long it can be kept.  And where it can be kept.  And who can access it.

Because:

In a nutshell, Facebook and a partner of theirs were caught with egg on their faces when the data collected from Facebook users in fun, online “personality tests” was mined to predict people’s political opinions and therefore the users were being targeted with political ads.

Blogpals, why was nobody surprised?  The surprise was that it made big news!  We all knew Facebook is a huge data-minefield data goldmine.

The upshot:

Websites across the interwebs now have to ask your permission to mine your data, and they have to (if you ask) disclose what they are using it for.  (Wow!)

And most importantly:

You have a right to be forgotten!

You can ask (and they have to comply) for the deletion of all data a website, business or in fact anyone holds on you.

This is what the thousands of updated privacy policies in your inbox are about.  And the fact that you can’t turn left or right on the internet without cookie notices being pushed into your face (I’m getting really hungry here).

What it means for P’kaboo:

(who are primarily concerned with protecting our authors’ copyright) :

Dear P’kabooleans, we have always been compliant!

  • We don’t use cookies.  (Sorry.  Got to bake your own.  Recipe above.)
  • We know about client confidentiality.  What data we have on you, is safe.

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What we haven’t yet done, which has been rectified now, is to have a comprehensive privacy policy document on our site.

Click this link to find our privacy policy.

Our privacy policy complied to the laws and best practices at the time:  We very simply promised our users and visitors that 1) we wouldn’t mine data from them that they themselves didn’t give us, and 2) we would never abuse their data to either spam them with advertisements or – horrors!! – sell it to a third party for whatever reason under the sun.

In fact, our users’ data was treated by us with the confidentiality of a doctor’s office.  (That’s something to do with my background.  I worked in medical diagnostics for quite a number of years.)

I don’t like duplicity.

Be aware that no matter how stringent privacy laws are, there’s a caveat that people are very seldom informed of.

A court of law can override any data protection law.  Even your most trusted doctor has to hand over your confidential data file if ordered to by a court of law.

So these laws are literally there to keep untrustworthy businesses in check from doing a rip-roaring B2B trade with your personal data.

Oh, and have you noticed?

Places that ask you to agree to their use of cookies, now have TWO options you can click.  You can choose to reject the use of tracking cookies.

Sorry, Edit:  Some places have two options.  Clearly WordPress and Google don’t.  Thanks for the heads-up, Chris. 🙂

I’ve done it already 5 times today.

Does it mean you cannot then enter that website?  Here’s the surprise:  No!  The website opens for you just the same, they still want your business…  only that they don’t have a way of bullying you into accepting cookies any longer.  (Remember how those dreadful pop-ups would never close until you clicked “OK”?  Well….)

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Hurrayyy!!!

Time rolling by

 

When I was 10 I read a book.  (Okay, I read a number of books.  But you know what I mean.)  This book talked about the brothers “Lion Heart”.  The older brother saves the younger brother during a fire, but dies himself as a result.  He promises his little brother as he dies, “don’t cry, little brother:  We’ll see each other again in Nangyala.”

Some time later the younger brother dies from a disease.  He transitions to Nangyala, where his big brother is waiting for him, and they have many adventures together.  Eventually the younger one dies while saving the older brother, but he puts him at ease:  “Don’t cry, big brother – we’ll see each other again in Nangilima.”  And Nangilima appears to be a place full of light.

Feels to me as though Iain transitioned straight to Nangilima, while the children and I moved to Nangyala.  The rules in Ireland are so vastly different from South Africa, it might as well be a parallel universe.  When we arrived here, it felt as though the plane travelled through a time portal, or some interdimensional portal (yes, I know, it all just looked like pretty clouds and circular rainbows…).  Even colours are different here, and the temperatures – they are a completely different story.  25 degrees used to be comfortable, spring temperature.  Here, it’s a heat wave.  A heat wave in South Africa is upwards of 38°C.

Children are more versatile than authors and they have found their balance by now.   I haven’t yet – studying the systems like crazy, and apparently running in small circles.  But – put on my grinning face and meet every new plot twist as though it were my Big Break – because for all I can tell, it might just be.  Nangyala is weird that way.

Tomorrow my son graduates from 4th year.  That’s the “transition year” between junior and leaving cert.  We’ve been here a whole academic year.  It doesn’t feel like it.  I’m amazed.  Time moves differently too – but I think that has more to do with my head and the task at hand than with anything here.  Some days I wonder if I’ll ever normalize.

I’ll keep you posted.  (Sirens in the background… could it be the people with the white jackets…)