Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Word: Junk

junk 1 |jə ng k|nouninformal old or discarded articles that are considereduseless or of little value.• worthless writing, talk, or ideas I can't write this kind of junk.• Finance junk bonds.informal heroin.the lump of oily fibrous tissue in a sperm whale's head, containing spermaceti.verb [ trans. informaldiscard or abandon unceremoniously sort out what couldbe sold off and junk the rest.ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting an old orinferior rope): of unknown originSense 1 dates fromthe mid 19th cent.junk 2nouna flat-bottomed sailing vessel typical in China and the East Indies, with a prominent stem, a high stern, and lugsails.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from obsolete French juncque orPortuguese junco, from Malayjong, reinforced by Dutch jonk
One little word, so many meanings. And the dictionary doesn't even mention the slang use of this word--you know, like men's junk. One of the protagonists of Junk has a lot junk. Not in the trunk. In his house. He's a hoarder. Although, honestly, can you really have too many books. I guess you can if they are threatening to crush you to death. Someone get the man an ereader, stat!

What I love about Jo's stories is that they are so terribly British. Well, the fact that they are always wonderful, character-driven romances, certainly helps.

There's is this belief circulating in the m/m world that for a book to be successful it has to be set in the US because US readers are too close-minded to read anything set outside of their own world. I find this idea not only insulting to readers, but also plain wrong. The whole point of reading is to step outside of your own world and visit others. Am I right?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vintage Monday: The Book

I have a few of these types of photos in my collection—man and women, dressed formally, sitting in the garden with a book, looking serious. People in those days tended to present a solemn expression for the camera and all pictures were deliberate and posed, yet these still have a certain candid quality that make them more attractive to me than studio shots.

On a book related note, I spent the whole weekend formatting Dead in the Desert for ebook and print, and the process left me tired and irritable. Despite all my previous experience I made several mistakes that I had to go back and correct.

Formatting for print was the biggest headache. Fortunately, Createspace now accepts .doc and .docx documents for uploads, not just PDF. On Macs when you save a word doc with section breaks into PDF it creates separated files for each section. Bloody annoying. You have to find some software to stitch the parts back together. Alternately, you can replace the section breaks with page breaks, but that messes with the headers and footers—the main benefit of section that you can have different header and footer in each. So you can have page numbers start on page one of chapter one, instead of the title.

Not having to make PDF, simplifies things a little, but Word, being the Spawn of Satan, is still a pain in the ass to work with. For example, your layout will be flipped. Print books start on a right page but a Word document always start on the left. So when setting document margins inside is the outside and vice versa. The same principle applies if you're doing something fancy like putting page numbers, your name, and title at the edge instead of the middle of the page. You most likely to want them to align with the outer edges, and that means that in your word doc they need to look like they are inside.

Anyway, I uploaded the whole damn thing to CreateSpace and they wrote back that my cover is less than 200 dpi resolution, and might look blurry in print. No, it's frakking not. It is 300 dpi. But of course, they said the same damn thing about Dead in L.A.'s cover and it look fine.

Minding your p's and q's has a whole new meaning when it comes to digital publishing.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Update

I haven't done any writing the past week, spent it all with editing, housekeeping, promo preparations and getting ready for GRNW. It's still weeks away, but I started packing. I'm the paranoid type of traveler wants to be ready for every eventuality, over packs, and ends up accidentally leaving behind something essential, like a toothbrush.

I bought me a new backpack from IKEA. It's big, but small enough to be a carry-on. I also got colorful plastic bottles for shampoo and stuff.

That should do it, right? On second thought, what'll the weather likely to be in Seattle in early September? Should I pack an umbrella? A raincoat? Wait, I don't own a raincoat.

On other notes, I've received Dead in the Desert Back from proof read and copy edit, and will spend the weekend formatting it. It'll be ready to sent out for reviews on Monday.

I went to the movies yesterday to see The End of the World. The fire alarm went off, a minute after I stepped inside. Having once worked for a company big on fire drills, I just turned around and walked out. Not so much the other patrons, but eventually they were all herded out.

People don't like unexpected stuff, even the threat of fiery death to mess with their routines and expectations. I vaguely recall an article about a London subway fire where people ignored barricades and walked straight into their deaths. The fire chief got into trouble saying that they died because of their own stupidity.

I obey the fire alarm, because whether there's a fire or not the big red trucks will show up and you'll be kicked off the premises anyway. Am I right?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Word: Purlieu

purlieu |ˈpərl(y)oō|noun ( pl. -lieus or -lieux |-l(y)oō(z)|)the area near or surrounding a place the photogenicpurlieus of the Princeton.• figurative a person's usual haunts.• Brit., historical a tract on the border of a forest, esp. one earlier included in it and still partly subject to forest laws.ORIGIN late 15th cent. (denoting a tract on the borderof a forest): probably an alteration (suggested byFrench lieu ‘place’ ) of Anglo-Norman French puralee ‘a going around to settle the boundaries.’

Just think of purlieu as an alternative to 'hood. It's not hard to use in a conversation either. A gang of green parrots moved into my purlieu, making a squawking racket in the trees.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Vintage Monday: Hello Sailor!

I have a whole collection of these square color photos, and did a research once to find out the brand of camera they came from. Unfortunately, I've forgotten my findings. I should've written it down.

Anyway, this photos seem to have been common in the sixties and then disappeared in the early seventies. They are a good example of color photographs--especially from that time period--being far less archival than black and white. The edge of this picture should be white. However, I have a great fondness for them, despite and because of the color shifts and fuzzy focus. There's something vaguely dreamy about them.

This particular photo is especially attractive thanks to the composition and the colors. The girl in red, flanked by the sailors in white stand out nicely against the blue-gray of the submarine.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday Word: Squirrelly

squirrelly |ˈskwər(ə)lē|adjectiverelating to or resembling a squirrel the chipmunks were little squirrelly things.informal restless, nervous, or unpredictable.• eccentric or insane.

Isn't it funny that to "squirrel something away" means to save it for a rainy day, yet squirrelly is synonymous with being nutty?

On a totally related note, Pink Squirrel Press presents:

In this collection you'll find five summery tales from both sides of the Atlantic.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vintage Monday: Alternate Form of Transportation

Check out the workmanship that went into that carriage. This goat cart was not a spur of the moment lark. My favorite part is how patiently the goat stands--he's a fine animal.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vehicular Weirdness Day

Sometimes out of nowhere life turns into a low budget movie, with Tarantinoesque inspirations.

Earlier today some of my facebook friends linked a news article about a car crashing into and destroying a (minor) local landmark. Later I went to see a Shakespeare play in Griffith Park and while we waited for it to start an older gentleman sitting nearby read an article from the local newspaper to his wife--the article was about the same accident. Turns out he knew the driver of the car. He told about it to his wife. Interesting coincidence.

I left the play during intermission because I was getting cold. As I was driving down a mostly empty street in my usual leisurely manner a car passed me and cut in front of me so close I had to step on the break to avoid hitting it. It was an old, beat up piece of shit. At first I assumed it was a case of bad driving. I caught up with the car at the next stoplight and then we got going again. And that's when I started to get suspicious. I kept an eye on the car in the rearview mirror and saw it change from the right lane to the left and get behind me. I changed to the right lane, and next thing I knew it was coming up fast on my right. I instinctively slowed down and drifted left. There was a sound and then the other car sped off, taking the nearest right turn. It dawned on me that I just narrowly escaped an insurance scam.

The first move was the "swoop and squat," the second the "sideswipe." Apparently it's a popular scam, but I have no idea why they picked me--my car is neither new, nor expensive. During the second attempt they managed to hit the right front tire of my car. I guess they weren't brazen enough for a third try. I'm sorta pissed now, but I'm also filing the experience away for possible use in a story.

Friday, August 2, 2013

NovelRank is Useless

Yeah, I know, not exactly a revelation. We all know it's numbers tend to be off, but at one point I thought maybe they were consistently off, and could be used to predict actual numbers. Out of curiosity I tracked one of my books for eight months and made a chart. The blue are is NovelRank's numbers, the pink is the actual sales.

The two are unevenly off. The issue seems to be that NovelRank can capture only one sale an hour, regardless if there were one or a hundred. The only time NovelRank's numbers come close to accurate if the book's sales are low.