Monday, October 31, 2011

A Tale of Like 2 Towns Signifying Zip

The WSJ has a piece on ebook success/failure.  Some Hit It Big and others of us don't.  Woe betide us.
Here's the thing.  Some people are writing in categories which appeal to early adopters.  Some of us don't.
When there is an influx of more readers, as the price of devices comes down and people realize what a great experience ebooks are, they will look for non-vampire/whatever books.

Geez, just be a little patient.  I know it's hard.  I would have loved NLM to continue with its selling streak and bring readers to my other books but it didn't happen.  It never happened in legacy publishing so I'm not complaining and I'm not worried.

I got super-nice feedback on both Flash and NLM this morning.  Thank you, Callie!

Happy Halloween.  May I remind you that tomorrow is All Saint's Day so this, All Hallows Eve, is a Christian holiday.  I'll bet that would steam some people if they realized it.  Where's that guy Michael Nudnick or whatever who can't stop complaining about Christmas?  Can we tell him about this so he can be doubly upset?

Back to Flash 2.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are These Books Or Are They Reads

What's a book?

1.a written or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers.
2.a number of sheets of blank or ruled paper bound together for writing, recording business transactions, etc.
Usually on sheets of paper.  But now not so much.  Do we need a new word or a definition? 
I hate the term "read".  "Oh that was a good read."  No, I hate that.  But I'm not entirely comfortable calling an ebook a book either.  Novel is too many syllables.  It would never catch on.  Then I need a looser definition of book/novel to suggest that it is a digital reading entertainment.
Back to Flash2.  I think at some point I would consider putting the 2 of them together if they would sell at an increased price ie more than double what the 2 would normally be priced at.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kobo Vox

This sounds way cool and it comes in different colors.  Kobo released its Android tablet yesterday priced at $199.  "Vivid 7" FFS+ multimedia screen optimized for reading outdoors."  (Wow.  My Nook stinks outside.)  Kobo Vox

"Kobo is the only electronic bookseller to allow users to export their purchases to other platforms - unlike Amazon, Welch said. "What people don't realize is when you buy a Kindle you're marrying Jeff Bezos," Welch said, referring to Amazon's chief executive."

Too true.

Here's a review from PC Magazine Move Over Kindle Fire.

The proprietary readers are not a good thing and I think consumers realize that.  I'm happier with the Nook since I rooted it and can get to the Android OS--I'm not saying I use it more, but I like being able to.  It's a huge drain on the battery life.  Sure some people are annoyed by anything but a reading device--I can't explain their psychology.  Cranky bears or something.

Video review/comparison of the Nook and Kobo Vox.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Length Matters

(Cue the uproarious laughter and unwanted traffic.)

I'm reaching the logical end of Flash 2 and it's "short".  Which made me think about length so that's what we're going to talk about today.

There are a couple reasons for the length of books as far as legacy publishing is concerned.  How many books fit into a box.  Is the book the same approx physical size as everything else--will they fit on the shelf, will they get lost, too big, too heavy, too small, too insignificant in appearance.  Is the length appropriate for the physical needs of the printer.  Can you charge more for a longer book than a shorter one ie do customers think they're getting value for their money?

Quite a few years ago I wanted to do an illustrated history of the soda fountain.  I thought this would be a great coffee table book.  No one else did.  My agent sent it around and around.  Finally it got to Chronicle and the editors liked it.  It had become more of a recipe book than history but still it was close.  Then they sent it to the cost analysis team and it was decided that if the book was the size of a paperback and cost $11 maybe that would work for them.  I shrieked my disapproval to my agent.  It didn't matter, the bean counters quickly decided it was too expensive to produce for its size no matter how small they made it.  (You can see it to the right as The Soda Fountain Book and it does contain photos, images and recipes.)

Readers have been spoiled by this length thing as a leftover from legacy publishing.  They expect 60,000-100,000 words for everything and priced at 99 cents.

I go back to what my first editor told me "A book is as long as it takes to tell the story."  I would add the word well.  Because you can say it takes 100,000 words to tell a story but if you cut 250 pages, and no one would miss it, was the story told well?

I have hostility to this demand for artificial length.

Now I have to get back to Flash 2.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


As I said a couple months back, I'm not sure what the point is in giving writing advice anymore.  Who actually cares about the writing, just tell the story and hope readers find you. 

Writers used to have a style.  But not so much anymore.  Does style get in the way of getting the job done?  Yeah I think so.  If you think of style as crafting the piece with care and attention, that slows you down.  Does anyone think of an ebook as beautifully written?  Are the Harry Potter books beautifully written?  Twilight?  Any mystery series?

Sweeps got its first review this week.  Someone liked it 4 stars (thank you whoever you are) but said it looked weird on her Nook.  I have a Nook.  It doesn't look weird on mine.  What's "weird" mean?

This is actually a more helpful conversation to have than talking about constructing character even if she did think Dorsey Rees was flat.  I can't explain that any more than I can explain how the book looked weird on her Nook.  So maybe none of it is a helpful conversation except that unlike legacy publishing the author and the reader are potentially in more of a relationship.  Now readers can either leave reviews or email you.  Writing a letter in c/o the publisher was quite a bit of work and generally didn't happen.  All that is the old days.

If authors can be held accountable to readers, I would like to see readers held more accountable to authors.  If they have an issue or complaint, they should be specific (and polite!).  Hit and run attacks are the province of drunk trolls. 

Anyway, yesterday, altho you have to scroll down so the timeline is all messed up, I posted an image of a burdock thing taken with my new lens.  Here's the same image but I bumped the luminance way up in Lightroom.  That smooths everything out and removes detail.  Sometimes you wind up with a more interesting image which is what I think this is.

Yesterday I wrote a scene in Flash 2 I had been thinking about for a while and today I hope to get to another scene I've been going back and forth on for even longer.  As for style?  I write too much dialog some will say.
I'm not crazy about people thinking and I really hate description that has nothing to do with moving the story forward.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Glass

We can see what better glass can do for you.  This was really easy to do and there was very little post processing because it was in focus when it got into Lightroom.  This was shot with an 85 mm f1.8 Nikkor (Nikon) lens.

This day has gone too fast starting with being flagged down by someone I respect greatly who wanted help with getting a book traditionally published with me writing it.  Years ago I would have leaped at the chance but now, legacy publishing is a drawback.  It's more hassle/agitation/time/pain than it's worth.  When I did the timeline if everything worked out well I was looking at the book maybe being published in 5 years.  I'll quickie it for you.
1 year to find an agent
1 year to find a publisher
1 year to write the book
18-24 months to get it published.
That's about 5 years.
If I'm immortal, that's not an issue.  Unfortunately, I'm not immortal.
(No, I'm not writing the book before I have a contract.)

So what I suggested was that the book be broken down into "chapters" and published as Kindle shorts.  Then when there's something book length call it a book. 

All the futurists are saying that legacy publishing is going to be over for the most part in 2-5 years.  What bookstores will still exist?  Why would you waste your effort today on something that pretty much won't exist by the end of the process? 

If you need a physical book either go with a printer like Lightning Source who does hardcover if you insist on that, or use them for paperback, which they do superlatively well.  Or just use Createspace which is FREE.  FREEE as Lucy Ricardo spelled it at the Don Loper Salon.  Order as many books as you think you can sell by hand and you're done.  It'll take 2 weeks.

Legacy Publishing has made themselves obsolete. 

Here's an article for your perusal Amazon Takes the Self Out of Self Publishing.  We're going to say we're Amazon authors now.  Fine.

Just let me add/clarify something to this article.  IF you have any kind of image in your document you MUST MUST MUST convert the word file into html then make a zip file of it for Amazon.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Everyone seems more confused this week than I am so I think that's great.  I had a couple decisions to make and as a Libra Rising (my default excuse) it's always very difficult for me.  I made it.  I can back out, which is always excellent.

I watched on 1 list as about 6 people argued about readers.  Someone (foolishly) said she wanted one and that started the pile on.  At the end of the thread, I think she had given up and decided to accept a used Kindle someone was giving her.  Everyone had such a different opinion that there was no way to glean any usable information.

Someone else was struggling with something else.  I guess the best teacher is experience.

I had a very dear friend who has passed now.  She was very smart.  She was smarter than everybody.  No, really, her IQ was supposedly way up there.  That's very difficult to argue about.  She had written a book that was really unpublishable/for such a small audience that I think it will be 20 years from now before it would sell as an ebook.  She made a choice of going with a dicey (turned out to be a subsidy/criminal operation) publisher and I couldn't talk her out of it.  The result was a garage full of useless books, at least $5000 lost and goodbye friendship.  You don't want to be right when your friend is wrong, it doesn't always work out so well.

I expect in this new landscape of epubery a lot of mistakes have been made and will be made.  I don't know how to tell you to avoid the pitfalls because if some people think Joe Konrath is full of baloney, then I am certainly worth ignoring.  There are too many people saying too many conflicting things to make sense of it.  You just have to choose the middle way.  Don't do anything extreme.  Try to have a way to undo whatever you've done (System Restore).  Don't pay anyone a lot of money that you will miss if you never make it back.
Get a Kindle Fire.  You'll be happy with it.  (I'm guessing, I don't think anyone has seen one IRL yet).  Get a tablet if you think a dedicated reader is silly.  Make the decision.  If you hate it, sell it on ebay.

I bought a new lens for the Nikon D7K.  I just keep feeling that I need better glass than what I have.  So I got a Nikon 85mm, 30 day return guarantee.  If NLM was selling like it was in the spring, I would have just gotten a professional lens but they cost about $3000 which is more than the body cost. 

I was at a horse show with my Nikon F years ago.  I can't remember how it dropped, but the guy I was dating at the time probably had something to do with it.  It was broken.  Maybe it could have been fixed but later that day it was stolen.  I still have the Nikon I replaced it with, a lesser model, because that F was a genius piece of equipment.  Spoiled me.  They're remarkably inexpensive now since who wants to mess around with film.  I saw one online and thought, "Oh that's my camera!"  Nikon F.  So for $150 I can have the body, I have a zoom that will work on it, I have a 50mm, I have a macro lens.  And then I have to start screwing around with the film processing.  Once I realized how film would complicate my life, I knew the whole thing was a non-starter.  Then when I look at it and pick up the film Nikon I still have, I know how uncomfortable that is to hold while the D7K fits in the hand so smartly.  There was no such thing as ergonomics when the Nikon F was designed.  It was designed to be a great camera and that's what it was.  Who was thinking about comfort?

We'll see how this new lens measures up to the quality of the old lenses but till then it's still the 55-200mm

Monday, October 24, 2011

Amazon Continues To Ingest The World

Good God, can anyone stop them?!!!!!11!!!! (Eleventy!)

What's Eleventy?  Some forums/blogs are set up to have a limit on exclamation points, and when a troll gets overly heated that stops them from posts that end with !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But if you put a 1 in there, it breaks the prevention.  Eleventy has come to mean irrational hysteria.

Grrr.  I don't want to link to TNR (The New Republic) because it's usually so left-leaning it tips over but here's a relatively rational piece on Amazon written almost as if this information was a surprise.  AmazonTakes Over Everything

This Franklin woman wouldn't deign to self-publish.  I can think of 1 reason--she's a liberal elistist and so are 99% of the people in publishing so of course being a senior editor at TNR insures publication.  Screw the rest of us.

These things Fisk themselves.

What's Fisking?  From the Urban Dictionary: The word is derived from articles written by (ultra liberal elitist) Robert Fisk that were easily refuted, and refers to a point-by-point debunking of lies and/or idiocies

But to address the issue we're here for--ebooks.  Okay Amazon is the world now.  But there isn't a law yet that makes Amazon the only publisher of ebooks.  Or that Google isn't the only search engine.  Right?  We still have that going for us.

This is a loose analogy.  In Europe you go to certain grocery stores for their store-brand products because they're of excellent quality.  We don't do that in America where brand name products are supposedly better than store-brand.

What would be the problem if readers went to Amazon for their exclusive books and Upstart for their exclusives and Forward Thinkers for their books?

Right now no one is doing this but Amazon.  So good for Jeff Bezos.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


So I was trying to organize my thousands of images, and instead of 1 subfolder being deleted, the entire Pictures directory went.  For some reason I didn't keel over in a dead faint.  It was too big to go into the recycle bin so it was gone gone gone.  I called my pal who is a genius in all things computer and he told me to get a program called Recuva.

I did and it brought 99% of the things back.  Nothing actually goes anywhere, it's there until it's written over, but you need to take quick action and don't do anything else.  All these images are now on my spare drive.

That was Friday.  Yesterday I'm looking at these images and I say "I know what's missing.  Every single Photoshop file."  Recuva doesn't look for a psd extension, it looks for jpg or png or gif unless you tell it differently.  When I told it to look for the psd, it said "Buzz off."

I downloaded (remember, every time you write to the hard drive you're overwriting something) a program called Pandora Recovery and it brought me back about 90% of the Photoshop files.  I recommend these programs to you, they're free, small and they work.  Get them before you have a crisis.

You can, of course, upload your hard drive to a cloud service like Carbonite, Mozy, CrashPlan or whatever.  It really will take about 3 months to send the files.  I started to do that and stopped the procedure.  Instead I bought a Western Digital 500 GB enclosed portable harddrive for a laptop from Fry's.  Yes, it works for a desktop, too.  500 GB is 500 GB, it's a USB connector and smaller than an enclosure for a 3.5 drive.  My choice.  YMMV. 

I do send my work at the end of each session to a website so it's stored off-site.  You can easily use gmail for that.  Amazon also has a free Cloud service if you don't have a great amount to store, you'll pay $20 for a year with lots of space.  You want something you can access if your house burns down and you don't yank the computer out of the wall to bring it with you which is what I did when I had an electrical fire years ago.  You should have--regardless of the computer talk--a go bag in case of emergencies.  Keep a flash drive in there with stuff you don't want to lose.  You should also have cash, a credit card, spare glasses, contacts, your meds, some clothes, a bottle of water and something to eat that won't spoil.  You don't know what kind of crisis may make you leave your residence in 30 minutes or less.  Be at least somewhat prepared.

The Domino Project is a new way to think about publishing. Founded by Seth Godin and powered by Amazon, we're trying to change the way books are built, sold and spread.   Here's a thought from "futurist" Seth Godin-- Paying For First

"Here’s a bit of speculation:
Soon, there will be three kinds of books on the Kindle.
$1.99 ebooks. This is the clearing price for virtually all ebooks going forward.
$5 ebooks. This is the price for bestsellers, hot titles and books you have no choice but to buy because they were assigned in school.
$10 ebooks. This is the price you will pay to get the book first, to get it fast, to get it before everyone else. There might even be a subset of books for $20 in this category."

I don't know how many people will jump to buy a $20 ebook but the other points seem very reasonable.

I listened to the new Evanescence album which Spin was streaming for a while.  I'm not as excited by it as I am with her last but I know Amy Lee Hartzler is a super accomplished musician/songwriter, intelligent and also quite beautiful.  This is the song I liked the best.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Time Is $ Etc.

Someone just emailed me to say they got a quote on an ebook cover for $1500.  I'm sure, having seen the website, the artist is quite good.  Someone quoted me $1000 for the use of one of her drawings last year.  She was wonderful but

We all have to be reasonable at this point in time.  This is an ebook.  You're not dealing with a company or a publisher loaded with money.  Digital publishing is just starting up and maybe we should all try to succeed.  Do a little bit simpler design.  Do less work.  Make it affordable.  Make sure your name and website are prominently featured at the end of the book.  Use the cover as your own advertising "Look what I did and John Deaux sold 500 copies last week!  Let that be a lesson to anyone who doesn't believe a good cover helps sales".  Think of it as publicity for your business.

Or not.  Charge exactly what you would charge a bank for their advertising campaign.  Given this economy anyone who can turn down work must be doing great so good for them.

From  Mike Shatzkin

"The recent news that digital revenues have reached approximately 20% at some of the Big Six houses makes me believe that we are on the verge of a tectonic shift in the industry. It provoked me to think through the logical extension of well-established trends and comment recently that I see an 80% ebook world for straight narrative text coming in two to five years. (By “straight narrative text” I mean books of just words.)"

Anyone who is surprised by this is probably working in legacy publishing.

"What are you doing?  Can I help?"

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have my nose to the grindstone with Flash 2 but since I'm only half awake, it's a good time to write here.

The problem with television is that it moves very quickly and as a writer you don't have much time to think.  In daytime you need 1 show a day.  There's no holding up because of anything, 1 new show a day has to air.  I'm not saying anything anyone else who has been in daytime wouldn't say if they're honest.  You really run out of things to say.  That's why it's so crappy.

I see the difference between some of my older work and especially the digital ones.  I'm not investing the time.  There's no more reason to invest time in a digital book than there is in daytime television.  Do your best work and let it go.  It is like the California Gold Rush or the land rush.  The point is to get there, not how you get there right now.  Maybe that will change.  It all seems kind of pulpy at the moment.  I mean in the sense of pulp magazines from the early part of the last century.

Anyway, I got a nice note from Kiana Davenport yesterday who said I made her laugh.  That made me happy but not happy to know how this woman has been trampled upon by the publishing world.

There's some news about Curtis Brown placing/publishing/whatever about 520 of their represented books into digital format pretty much without consulting the writers but since most of them are dead, that would be hard.  How about their estates?

This is really all about product.  Not only do writers produce a product, we have become products and all that implies.  If you have any dignity, if you value yourself and your work at all, I find it difficult to understand why you would allow yourself to be sold off in this careless fashion.

None of this applies if you're Nora Roberts or some of the other zillion sellers.  You're awash in money and reader accolades.  What does anything mean anymore.

For the rest of us who are treated like dirt by publishers and agents, I don't see how you choose to stay with the old abuse system.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Velocity Cruz Tablet/Ereader $79.99

No, I don't get any kickbacks from  I don't know anything about it other than it's the lowest price I've seen.

Velocity Micro Cruz Reader R102 256MB 7-inch Touchscreen EBook Reader General Features: Black color 7-inch resistive touchscreen display 800 x 600 resolution Google Android 2.0 (Eclair) pre-installed 256 MB RAM 256 MB internal storage SD/SDHC memory card slot Mini-USB 2.0 interface Integrated IEEE 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Built-in speakers 3.5 mm headphone jack Automatic orientation sensing (accelerometer) Built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery Up to 6 hours battery life when watching video Supports add-ons from CruzMarket Lead-free components (RoHS compliant) Installed Apps: Alarm Clock ASTRO (file manager) Web Browser Calculator Calendar CruzMarket CruzSync Dr.eye dictionary eBuddy IM client Email Facebook Mobile Photo/Video Gallery Music OfficeSuite Twidroyd User Wallpapers Supported Formats: eBook: ePub, PDF, TXT, HTML Audio: MP3, AAC, WAV Video: MPEG4, H.263, H.264 Unit Dimensions: 7.56 x 5.62 x 0.58-inches (H x W x D) Regulatory Approvals: FCC RoHS compliant

Hello, Christmas!

X-Factor, Fame and Having Talent

Third time I'm posting this vid

and linking to this article  Damian Kulash

Wow.  Do I have a thing for this song or what?  No, I don't.  But it's the ultimate example of the shift.  The old paradigm is dead.  You find the new ways.

Last night on X Factor (let me just take a moment to say Simon made 2 mistakes, not just the 1 but let this post be advice for all who didn't go through) all the singers were interviewed and about 90% of them said something like "I've wanted to be famous all my life and this is my last chance."  That's a psychological issue and nothing to do with a talent show.  What you should want is to be the best singer/performer you can be.  I'm not sure I ever heard someone say this but if they did maybe the producers didn't consider that dramatic enough to air.

Three of the people who went through have been performing for years--Josh Krajcik and the Brewer brothers.
I've known quite a few actors and singers.  It spills out of them.  They'll do a couple dance steps for no reason, they'll start singing, crack you up with funny stories, they are essentially always on.  Whether they have a job or even fame isn't the issue--they're going to perform anyway.

You lose X-Factor?  You go sing in a bar.  You create a band.  You put songs on MySpace.  You make a video singing on moving treadmills.  You don't wait for permission or money.  You do it because you love it, because this is who you are.  You perform at the town carnival, at the school, at the senior citizen center, at the church.
Maybe you're poor for the rest of your life.  Maybe you're never famous.  But you give your ability to other people for its own sake, not for financial compensation.  You find a way.

So I find these wannabes boring, shallow and self-centered people who may have an adequate voice, they may hit the big notes but they sound like everyone else.  They don't know who they are and maybe they don't want to know.  It's better to be a Mariah Carey knock-off than a real person.

All this applies to writing as well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Welcome My Ukrainian Visitors

I don't often check the stats to see where people are coming from because I imagine most are now coming to see the image of the Neapolitan ice cream but apparently some have been showing up from my distant homeland.  Yes, the Morgenroths lived near Lvov.

The history of Ukraine is fascinating and unfortunately quite difficult to find written about in English but I did get one very good book on it and one book by James Bailey on Russian folktales.  What do Russian folktales have to do with Ukraine?  1000 years ago Ukraine was the leading force in the region and most of the so-called Russian tales were based in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, which may I add had paved streets before Paris.

If you read my book Flash, you know that Alex is in Ukraine shooting a movie called Paper Wings.  This is a tale about a warrior, a bogatyr, by the name of Alyosha Popovich who meets the monster, Tugarin, at a dinner held at Prince Vladimir's castle.  As monsters go, Tugarin is right up there and winds up throwing a knife at Alyosha so a fight is called for.  They go out into a field and Tugarin flies into the sky on his paper wings.  It all ended well for Alyosha and for Tugarin, not so much.

What, if anything does all this have to do with writing?  I research quite a lot before and during every project.  It adds color and texture and details.  Characters have lives, they have a past.  They have a present that may be happening off the page.  You can bring these elements into your work in order to have a more fully developed story.

Or not.  Does this kind of thinking impact sales of vampire books or slasher stories?  No.  Useless, actually.  Maybe there are several different sorts of books which address themselves to different results.  You have the entertainment books which are really read for plot.  It's like an action/adventure movie.  You just want to read it and get caught up in the action (could be a chicklit) and then have it all resolved in the appropriate way and then it's over.  Well done!  Or maybe there's the sort of book that's savored and enjoyed because the characters are people with lives and some kind of reality and it's not so much about where they get but how they get there.

As ereading expands and transforms people will come aboard with all sorts of expectations from their reading material and they'll be able to find it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazon, The Insatiable Monster, Consumes EVERYTHING!!!

Look out Cleveland!

The NYSlimes, I mean Times, has this piece in the business section today where it lets tradpub people bemoan their self-created fate.Amazon Signs Up Writers, Leaving Publishers As Wallflowers At The Dance

“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.
“It’s an old strategy: divide and conquer,” Mr. Curtis said.

Huh.  I thought Amazon was just trying to sell books, unlike publishers who God only knows what their plan has been for the last 30 years, now we learn Jeff Bezos is the reincarnation of Attila the Hun and is dividing and conquering and multiplying the income of numerous writers.  What a bad dude!

You know what we have yet to hear?  Some writer complaining how mean Amazon is to them (besides me with that whole objet/objects thing).

They do mention Riverhead suing Kiana Davenport.  Way to go, Riverhead, that will ingratiate your company into the hearts of lots of writers who are on the fence about epubbing themselves.  They're making themselves look like the idiots they actually are.  How embarrassing and how embarrassing that they don't realize how they're embarrassing themselves.

Felony embed alert

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I'm not of two-minds about this.  Almost anything written in the last 50 years is guaranteed to be insipid doggerel.  Why is that?  If you agree, you can tell us what you think.  I think people have become less thought-full over the last century.  English is a difficult language.  It looks easy and some forms of it are have been ridiculously dumbed down, but handling it was requires skill.  Skill which few possess.  I don't write poetry, I'm not that stupid or arrogant to think I could do it well although I certainly wrote it when I was young and dumb in college.

It's always somewhat cringe-inducing to hear someone say "I just wrote a book of poetry, how can I get it published?"  That was thankfully harder a few years ago but now it's frighteningly simple.  Just go to Smashwords and see how much poetry is there.  It should be used as a Halloween display it's so scary.

What's hard about poetry is that you should be concise.  Being concise means you have a very clear idea or what you're trying to communicate.  It's the shout it across the parking lot in 1 sentence and be understood situation.

Then in order to convey this idea and say it beautifully and precisely is another feat.  It requires a good vocabulary and an understand of words.  Then you have to understand structure and construction.  You also have to realize you're telling a very short story, so that by the end of the poem there's some kind of resolution.  The reader has gone from point A to point Z, not from point A to point A.  The writer should have been illuminated, instructed and informed along this journey.  There should be a moment of wonderment.

Otherwise it's just recreational therapy.  It's like fingerpainting.

In my travels this week I came across a poem by Rudyard Kipling who was so skillful with the language and so insightful.  I offer it to you as encouragement and for pleasure and for wisdom.

"A Servant When He Reigneth"-
Rudyard Kipling 

Three things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book --
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon.
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.

His feet are swift to tumult,
His hands are slow to toil,
His ears are deaf to reason,
His lips are loud in broil.
He knows no use for power
Except to show his might.
He gives no heed to judgment
Unless it prove him right.

Because he served a master
Before his Kingship came,
And hid in all disaster
Behind his master's name,
So, when his Folly opens
The unnecessary hells,
A Servant when He Reigneth
Throws the blame on some one else.

His vows are lightly spoken,
His faith is hard to bind,
His trust is easy broken,
He fears his fellow-kind.
The nearest mob will move him
To break the pledge he gave --
Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth
Is more than ever slave!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Didn't I Tell You?

It wouldn't be long before someone cancelled Halloween.  This time it's a nitwit school administrator in Massachusetts who feels it's incumbent on her to flagellate herself for existing.  While taking herself down, she has to make sure everyone else is as miserable as she is so she cancelled Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, too.  Can Christmas be far behind?  (But not Eid, I'd put money on it.)

I've been working hard on Flash 2 because I must finish that before starting on the follow up to Summer Horse, and that must be done by Christmas.   That's why I haven't been here quite a regularly as I am when I'm not working as diligently.

So continuing with the theme of the month, harvest and Halloween, I found a very cool poster and worked on it for you to enjoy.  What did I do exactly?  I opened it in Adobe Lightroom and made it look good.  It was terribly dark and discolored to the point where you could barely read the text.  The truth is both Lightroom and Photoshop are terrific at fixing images quickly so it only took a couple minutes to make the adjustments.  No criticisms of Adobe and their programs today, just praise. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rhymes and (algo)Rithms

Apparently, according to a post at  digital book world that's full of math and math-like ideas that lost me immediately, there's a way that Amazon figures out which books to push.  When they stop pushing "People who bought this book also bought" or whatever, then you drop off the face of the earth which is exactly what happened to Not Low Maintenance at the beginning of the summer.  Carolyn McCray assures us you can impact this by pricing changes.

Anything that starts to seem like work/a hassle is when I drop the idea.  Which is why you don't find me on MyFace or Twitter.  It was hard enough to learn Photoshop, that might have worn me out for the rest of my life.  Pricing doesn't seem to make any difference in my experience except that I stopped getting drunk trolls reviews on the Kate book when I raised the price of that.

I think the big picture is that some people are selling really really well because they managed to tap into a vital readership.  Other reading niches haven't arrived yet.  I'd rather spend my time writing and waiting for more readers to show up than what is probably banging my head against a wall trying to find readers who haven't arrived in large numbers yet.  Christmas will usher in a new set of readers so by January we'll have a good idea how much that rising tide raises our boats.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

William Goldman Quote

"No one knows anything"

Over the past week I've read a variety of opinions on where ebooks are going and how fast.  Are books in English going to be adopted rapidly throughout the world or are translations required?  What is the future of literary agents and publishers?  Who invented soft soap and why?

Do you know who William Goldman is?  He used to be famous.  Poor William that I say that.  He was a noted novelist and screenwriter only twenty years ago.  That's how fleeting fame and life is.  Maybe you've heard of The Princess Bride movie.  He wrote the book.  And it's good.

We're in a moment of disruption, of transition.  No one really knows anything.  We're all speculating.  But if we look at where Jeff Bezos is making his bets, I think we can learn quite a lot since he doesn't make many mistakes.  Ebooks are going global, the market is expanding rapidly.  Traditional publishing doesn't rule the day any longer.  Ignore reality at your financial and professional peril. 

I was watching The O.C. this morning and heard a song I liked so went about finding it.  I learned someone involved is very green.  For every CD sold, a tree will be planted in Mexico.  (Why Mexico, I have no idea, but these things don't have to make sense.)

Paper publishing.  Wonderful and enjoyable books can be produced.  How about if just those are produced and all the books we know will be pulped are just not.  Limited editions of books to be treasured and respected while all those cheap novels in the racks that have a life expectancy of 4 weeks move into digital versions only.

Why does a reader need Simon & Schuster to produce a digital novel?  Let them do what they do best.  Wait.  I don't know what that is.  Let's say a company like Harry Abrams or Schiffer who produce gorgeous coffee table books.  Those are never going to be good on a digital reader.  Sorry, I don't believe it.  The images will be too small to be effective.  The upcoming generation may feel differently but they'll be missing out.

It'll all happen.  It's happening faster than I expected.  Actually when I started this process I expected nothing because nothing all that much was happening.  And that changed in 18 months.

So finish that book you're working on and get it out for the Christmas season because I know it will be bigger than last year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is He Insane? (PG-18)

Eating Puppy Meat Is the Same as Eating Pork, British TV Chef Says

Updated: Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011, 7:38 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011, 7:38 AM EDT
(Sky News) - British TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall claimed that eating puppy meat is no more morally objectionable than consuming pork.
The celebrity chef previously shocked viewers by eating placenta pate, curried fruit bat, giraffe and calf testicles and now claims that he would not be against a "high-welfare organic puppy farm."

Read more:

Does anyone have to explain to this crackpot the difference between eating a farm animal  and eating a companion animal?  Dogs...well, are man's best friend.  They work beside us, they comfort us, they are our friends.

But see, you can't eat just any dog.  A puppy that's been eating Pedigree isn't "organic" enough.  It has to be eating, well, like my dogs.  It has to eat from the human food chain, thereby taking away food from hungry people, so that this nutjob can roast loin of puppy and serve it at his f'ing restautant.  With fava beans and a fine chianti.

So instead of training this puppy as a service animal, to help someone who is blind, or disabled, you're just going to eat it for the fun of eating it.

We have reached a level of depravity I wouldn't have dreamed possible.  Heck, I'll post this as well.  This video has content that is not safe for anyone under 18.  It's NSFW.  It's not safe for anyone who isn't already deranged.  This high-mindedness is from the Occupy Wall Street Protesters this past weekend.  (This is what our politicians are finding solidarity with.)

"You can have sex with animals or whatever".  That's what they're chanting.

You can, but why would you and why would you want to?  What kind of person are you that would rape an animal?

I don't get it.  I'm not on board with it.  It's not okay for me or with me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Being A Big Picture Person

Years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a very strong-minded woman.  She was from the south and didn't have the benefits lots of spare money would have afforded her, so I don't know if she even managed to go to college, not that I think much of that at this point.  She became a flight attendant.  This is a woman a terrorist does not want on his flight.  Susan is the kind of person who would cut a small hole in the fuselage and push him out like a rope of sausage.

Beyond all that was memorable, she always used to say "Be a big picture person."

I suppose it's hard to say look at all the great opportunities in publishing, when in your own little legacy publishing world, it's crumbling, collapsing and falling apart underneath your desk.  Good people are going to suffer.  Tina Brown and Ariana Huffington are not going to suffer.  Diane "It's Not Raunchy Enough" Reverand is not going to suffer.

Boo hoo.

What brought this on?  I read an article by some guy saying not only publishing is dying, books are dying, too.
How stupid is Jeff Bezos for bothering with the Kindle Fire when books are dying?  Books are dying because people want free content.  Well, I want free content too.  And maybe it can be free. 

If people won't pay for books some other way to pay authors will be created.  I don't object to advertising in my books.  I don't object to someone paying me to write. 

Big publishing?  What does that have to do with me?  In the big picture, the world is open to me.

(Photoshopped by me, of course)

By Zombie at yesterday's Occupy SF protest

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Amazon: The Monster That Devoured Everything

Do I care?


Next topic.

Going back for a moment, this rated 7 pages at Business Week.  (I think it's "plum" not "plumb" btw.)

My friend is appalled that I shop at WalMart.  I like WalMart.  They have almost everything I want and at the lowest price around.  If you need to return something, it's hassle-free.  What's not to like.

Amazon has just about everything and for the lowest prices around.  If you need to return something, it's hassle-free.  Unlike with traditional publishing, all my books are now for sale (without commentary from idiot editors), hassle-free and with a larger royalty.  What's not to like?

Jeff Bezos is too successful?  That's a bad thing?  I used to shop at a number of different sites.  Amazon made it easier.  What is it, immoral, to want your life to be simplified?  If Jeff Bezos is doing it so well, do it better.

I'm so tired of people complaining.  This isn't kiddie soccer where everyone gets a plastic trophy for participating.  If you want everything to be equal, go to North Korea where they're all eating bark off the trees.

I'm sorry (I am) that people who own bookstores are going out of business.  That's not because of Amazon (not entirely), it's because publishing has been in the toilet for over 20 years.  Those elitist nutcases in New York put you in this position, not one guy with a good business plan.  Books became unfriendly to readers.  Heck, they became writer unfriendly.  An arrogance permeated the whole industry.  When people had an alternative, they took it.  That's not Amazon's fault.

There's no next topic.  I have to get back to my book.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Writing Descriptions

I hate writing descriptions almost as much as I hate writing a synopsis for agents and editors.  Luckily I don't have to do that part anymore but I still have to do descriptions.

The publishing industry (bunch o' know nothings for the most part) thought I wasn't served well by writing for television.  I beg to differ.  I learned a whole lot.  One thing you learn as a headwriter (and I want to make it clear I never worked as a scriptwriter.  Sure, I wrote scripts, lots of them, but that was never my job title) is how to sell story to people who are starting at zero.  You don't get to talk to them, you don't have the opportunity to "perform" and shine for them, using your sparkling personality to put the thing across.  They're going to read it in their office when they're probably in a not very good mood.  Every few months you have to write a document called a bible and it tells everyone involved where the story is going (before they start tinkering with it and totally ruin it).  There's a certain tone to it, a style.  You pick that up fast.

That's how I look at descriptions.  I still hate it but it's more than necessary, it's crucial.  How do you approach this, how do you think about this?

Instead of thinking about plot, think about theme.  If plot is "The queen died, then the king died" let's think of theme as "The queen died and because the king loved her so much, his life drained away and he died."  What is going on in your book that drives the story forward?  What are the characters feeling?  Emotions make people behave in certain ways.  Characters react to situations.  What's happening and how are characters reacting?

This is what will make your potential reader pass on the book or buy it.  Does your description connect with the reader?  Maybe not.  Not everyone will like your book even if you write a great description.  But few will buy your book if you just give them a cursory snapshot of the book thinking that will be enough.

It's not enough.  Here is the only chance you have to sell the book.  Here is where you change visitors to buyers.
Your eye-catching cover brought them here.  It did its job.  Now you have to convince them in a few short paragraphs that there is something in this book for them.

If your book isn't selling, look at your description first.  Is it as good as you can make it?  Can you rethink it?  Does it reflect what's best about your book?

I was speaking recently with someone who wrote a book that should by all rights be up at the top of the charts.  It sells nothing a month.  What is so creative and inventive about this book isn't mentioned in the description.  Why not?  I think the description lacks drama and conviction.  I think the cover is fine.  I think readers like a good cover but I think the order of importance is 1) write the best book you can (you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear etc.) 2) write the best description you can (if you don't have a good book, how much can you fix that in a description without lying?) 3) get the best cover you can to bring the people to you.

People will find you.  They will also ignore you .  I think a lot of books are bought because they are just on a list and everyone is buying it so more people just buy it.  But I think there is a substantial number of people just doing a search to see what they can find.  How many times a week do you go to Amazon, type in a search term and see what pops up.  I spent an hour looking for a book on King John yesterday.  Typed in Henry II.  Typed in Richard the Lion-Hearted.  Typed in Kathryn Swynford.  Books turn up.  You look at them.  That's how people find you.

Does Facebook help?  I have no idea.  But what I do know is that where you have to shine is at Amazon.  Make everything right there.  Amazon is there to sell books and they do everything they can to sell more books.  Let their business plan help you by doing the best you can at your job.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Je Ne Parle Pas Francais, darnit!

Is that how you say it?

News du jour --

"French publisher Flammarion has signed an agreement to sell its electronic titles through Amazon and Apple’s iBookstore.
The publisher is the first in France to sign up with Amazon, just before the Kindle is expected to be launched on the French market. Several other publishers have pacts with Apple, including Hachette Livre, La Martinière and Albin Michel, but they have yet to follow for Amazon."

Flammarion published Impossible Charlie (now Dream Horse) years ago so I suppose I should try to get the French rights back and repub immediately.

My misunderstanding.  Amazon Kindle opened this morning and all my ebooks are live and ready to be sold.
Still they're not in French so I don't know how helpful that will really be but I got a real kick out of it!

I'm So Confused!

Not me but someone who read something I wrote and completely got it wrong.
I'm not exactly a beginner at this writing thing and while I will allow that in quick posts to forums and even this blog, things don't always come out as you intend.  I already know this and take care to be as clear as possible.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be possible to be as clear as required to allow everyone to speed read with earbuds in, playing Doom, and having 20 other things going on and still get what you're attempting to convey.

Try to be as clear as you can.  Try to use words people recognize--I know that's dismaying but it's good advice at this point, and especially since we seem to be hurtling to a world market where readers may be pretty good in English but not as sharp as a native American (can I say that???).

I don't think there's any solution for this and a lot of bad reviews are a result of bad reading.  Someone is just not paying attention and thinking.  I should make up a sign "Thinking Required".  But I didn't, I worked on this autumnal photo from 1906.

James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916
When the Frost is on the Punkin

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock, 
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock, 
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens, 
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence; 
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,        
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest, 
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock, 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

India's $60 Tab

"Move over, Kindle Fire - the world has a new cheapest tablet computer. India’s government has announced a new Android-powered tablet called Aakash priced at between $35 and $60 that could set a light under the booming country’s digital content market"
India's Fire

Yeah, maybe, it has a couple things in common with the Kindle Fire, both run Android, but I suspect the Aakash is a very stripped down device and the Fire isn't.  Aside from the fact there are cheaper tabs than the Fire already, like an Asus I saw recently.  (Did I read that sentence wrong?)

Still, this is what we're waiting for, and at some point maybe readers will be $10 subsidized by sales and adverts.

So Jeff Bezos will be there opening Amazon India just as the Aakash (does that have anything to do with the Akashic Records?) is released.

Did I mention that I got a quote on translating one of my books into German for Amazon DE and the price was about $3000?  This is going to be a very large stumbling block for most of us.  I know Scott Nicholson is doing it and achieving great sales but he has great sales here.  He's writing something very commercial that people really want.  If you are not seeing great sales and you're a little more niche-market, why would you invest that kind of money in a translation.  If you were going to invest money, the place I would start is with a professionally designed cover for the American market.

Just read where Joe Konrath is hanging up his blogger hat for a while.  That will be a hole in the publishing blogosphere.  He does have a dynamism others lack, he does have success most of us lack and with that success the accompanying experience so it will be hard to duplicate his efforts.  Maybe he'll be back.  He'll be fine either way.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The PCness of Halloween

There seems to be a concerted effort by some to erase religion (not of any kind, of certain kinds) in the country.
I thought it remarkable to watch the Amanda Knox acquittal and see a cross with Jesus hanging on the wall.  That just wouldn't be permitted here.  Or probably in England where there have been complaints about Christmas carols.

So I started wondering how long we will be permitted to enjoy Halloween without the anti-religious police haranguing us.  Because, after all, Halloween is All Hallow's Eve, preceding All Saints' Day. They may not have gotten the memo on that yet.

What is this new right, the Not To Be Offended Right?  Turn away, don't look.  I find pornography offensive, so I don't look at it.  Simple.

Doing my part to read this month, I ordered a book on donuts from Amazon and UPS will drop it by today.  Like a little Christmas.  Yikes!  Turn away if that word offends you.  I'm Jewish and it doesn't offend me so go figure.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

99 Cent Price Point

I'm not going to hammer on this again, I'm going to ask some questions pertinent to this price and see if we get anywhere.

Apparently readers are under the impression they can pay 99 cents and get a book so long it's probably unpublishable by legacy publishing standards.  Once you get into the 100,000 word range, that's long.  It's hard to ship because not as many fit in a box, they fall apart, whatever whatever.  Harry Potter tomes are an anomaly.  (Tell me you didn't skim, too.)

I've read self-published books that could have had 200 pages cut and it wouldn't have hurt, would only have helped.  I don't know what the appeal to bad writing at length is unless it's like a Director's Cut DVD which includes all the scenes that shouldn't be there and runs 3 tedious hours.

I'm going to release a novella in the next few weeks.  It will be novella length.  It will still be priced at 99 cents because Amazon doesn't give me a choice.  I noticed yesterday Konrath's new book is a novella.  I've seen more novellas coming out recently than ever before.  One reason might be that no one is going to legacy pub a novella.  You'd have to have 2 or 3 maybe with similar themes (Christmas) in order to warrant all the bother of publishing a book.

Konrath writes very fast as do some other writers.  They seem to have a lot of words in them.  But still do you want to write 1 70,000-100,000 word book for 99 cents or perhaps 2 or 3 "novellas" for 99 cents each, increasing your shelfspace presence, potential to be noticed, increase in sales ie the reader likes you so wants to buy all your books not just your 1.

Is this shortchanging the reader?  No.  They have come to expect too much.  Massive length books at 99 cents cheat the author.  It devalues their work and their worth.

When I started my writing career, my first editor (actually my best one) wisely said "A book is as long as it takes to tell the story."

I question whether 100,000 words is required to tell most stories.

I had a review that said something like "Good book but should be longer."  No, it shouldn't.  It told the story.  This is like a movie studio making a deal with McDonald's to include plastic toys in a Happy Meal that are linked to the lastest Hollywood release.  They say "this extends the experience of the movie."

I can understand that from both sides.  The movie company wants to increase awareness of the product and sell more tickets.  McDonald's wants to sell more burgers and they get free publicity every time the movie trailer runs.  The audience wants to live in the unreal world of the movie for longer than 90 minutes.  Seeing a plastic Mirror of Erised or a Spongebob gives them an alternate reality.  I won't discuss whether or not I think they should be spending so much time in alternate realities.

Readers sometimes say (so infrequently really) "I didn't want the book to end".  Okay.  I believe that.  What I don't believe is that all these long books are so marvelous the reader doesn't want them to end.  Call me a cynic but I think it's more like Dudley Dursley throwing a screaming fit when he receives less birthday presents than last year and Uncle Vernon says  "Ha ha.  The tike wants to get his money's worth."

All of which is a very extended experience of saying I think it's smarter to write short than long at this point if most readers think 99 cents is the perfect price.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Last of the Tomatoes

On a less attractive note, here's a question that came through on one of the publishing lists I'm on.
"as far as e-books go, what is the best, cheapest converter? And do I have to choose a company that manages my accounts? Can I do it myself and avoid paying someone to do this?"
Let take this one point at a time.  I'm confused.  Why do you need a "converter"?
You upload the document file to BN or Amazon or Smashwords and they convert it for you.  What more can anyone ask for or need?  What's the point in using Calibre (or Sigil which I can't make work and both are free) convert it to anything else?  Unless you're using InDesign which is overkill for this exercise.

What do you need a company for?  What kind of company?  I just spent most of last week researching epublishing and I have no idea what this person is talking about.  What?

Can you do it yourself?  I have no idea.  It would have taken a five minute Google search to answer these questions but that was apparently too difficult.  BN, Amazon and especially Smashwords (totally gone out of their way) provide FAQs detailing their requirements.  Smashwords is very specific on how to do the formatting, they have a free book on it.

Take control of your life, your career and your business and find out what's needed.  This is not rocket science.  It is annoying and time consuming, I admit that.  I admit that just turning the thing over to have someone format it for you and charges $100 looks appealing.  Will you ever make that $100 back?  Can you afford that $100 in this financial climate?  Or will going through the process of self publishing teach you skills you wouldn't have otherwise?

It's been one year since BN opened PubIt to self-publishers.  It's only one year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meme Me Me

Meme--Men are bad, women are great.

I was just an Amazon looking at my non-sales of late and saw a book called something like Taming the Bastard.
Romantic Comedy.  A man, is of course, the bastard.  I have all the hope in the world for the future of that relationship.  Let me spell it out for you.  If she respects him so little now and calls him a bastard 1) why does she want to marry him 2) what will change so that she doesn't continue to think of him as a bastard?

Yesterday I finished doing some research for someone, came to about 30 pages, so I was tired and got into bed early to watch an old movie.  Instead there was something on the Man Hating Channel, I mean Lifetime TV, I never heard of the movie and I like Harry Connick Jr well enough.  Then I saw the wife from Men in Black was in it and I like her, so okay I'll watch

What a horrible piece of derivative dreck.  I'll just address how unlikeable the main character is.  I have amnesia about her name.  She was mean, small and petty to everyone.  Then of course, you have the standard transition where she starts to melt and you are supposed to see she has a nicer side.  Then of course, there's an opportunity to make it all back to the townsfolk she treated so horribly and everything is fine.

I didn't watch that trailer.  Was there an interview with either the writer or director who said this is "a character driven story"?   I don't know what to say if they really believe that, or they're so clueless they don't know better.

The movie on USA Channel at the same time was the elegantly titled film "Knocked Up".

The only thing I can take comfort in this morning is a post by Konrath from a couple days ago when he said there will be a huge audience and at that point even a niche audience will be substantial.  I know I don't write the straight commercial work.  I don't write about men being bastards who need to be housebroken, tamed and crushed by ditzy shoe-shopping females.  No, that doesn't interest me.  And seriously good for all of you who can do that, and believe it and it comes from your heart.  We now have the opportunity and freedom to write what does move us and inspire us, whatever it is, and yes I believe at some point we will all be found by readers who are moved by those thoughts, too.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Overnight Success

I didn't watch the first season of American Idol, missing Kelly Clarkson, but I watched all the other years.  Especially with Carrie Underwood, who I loved, I wondered "How do you learn how to do this?"   What kind of background do you have to be able to walk out in front of all these people and sing sort of professionally.

Then I saw a bio of Carrie and saw she'd been singing and performing since she was a little girl.  Okay.  That explains a lot. 

This week on X Factor Josh Krajcik shows up.  He couldn't be more disheveled.  So here's the whole segment.  Pay special attention to Simon rolling his eyes.

"What are you going to sing?"
"At Last."
"Really?"  I cringed along with Simon.  Oh please not.
Then see what happens at the second word out of Josh's mouth.


How do you learn how to do this?  Oh I'm just a simple burrito slinger.
So I found this on youtube.  Now I understand what LA Reid was saying at the end.  It was a performance.
Josh was looking for max impact.  He was playing us.

Mom knew what she was talking about.

Overnight success takes that investment of 10,000 hours.