Category Archives: General musings

General musings on life, the Universe and how stuff works

An issue with Lulu.com


If there were any logic in the world, my novella, ‘The Odd Machine‘ would already be on Amazon, iBookstore and Barnes & Noble.

At the current count, I’ve had a distribution message bounced back at me in three separate emails at eight day intervals for the following reasons;

“Given author(s), title or subtitle don’t match your files” – Yes they do. The fields exactly match the selected author profile.

“There’s a subtitle on your cover that needs to be added to your metadata.” – Sorry, but no, unless Lulu.com’s conversion process is incomplete, I’ve filled in all the fields available to me.

“Please add “A Novella” from your cover to your metadata.” – Why was this information not forthcoming in the first email?

My manuscript file conversion completes perfectly every time, and no error messages ever come back at that stage. It’s the 4-5 day lag that is getting overly frustrating. I am currently approaching the end of my EVA tether, and Lulu appear to have shut down all support apart from a pro forma guide and the discussion forums. Replying to their ‘error’ email address throws up a ‘message undeliverable’ report.

Currently not very impressed.

UPDATE: For those suffering the same issue, I think I have an answer. Check ‘file’ then ‘properties’ before uploading your text file, especially if using a Lulu.com document template. If the ‘collar and cuffs match’ all should be well. Am kicking myself for not cracking it sooner.

Distractions


Hardly any writing output for the past few days. Too many distractions. That, and a feeling of having been kicked in the side. I think I must have pulled a muscle shifting logs. All I know is that it hurts enough to interfere with my breathing. Being ill on Tuesday didn’t help, the feeling of being bunged up and hardly being able to see out of my left eye. Every time I coughed was like being punched in the ribs. Still a little creaky.

Began Thursday with long, rambling conversation with Angie about psychology and what I call ‘behavioural response loops’ which many substitute for real thought and awareness. The way a loss of conscious thought whole days (and for some, lives) can disappear into a kind of mental fog without significant action. Days plagued by unnecessary trivia caused by people who ‘forgot’. The feeling of being stalled because others haven’t done their bit. Nothing that can’t be fixed, of course, but nothing that shouldn’t have been broken in the first place. This has been the defining characteristic of the past week.

Daughter is currently going through one of her noisy phases, breaking into raucous song when I would rather have quiet to work. There are also passports to be renewed and a thousand other things getting in the way of sustained effort on the manuscript front. Especially on the run up to Christmas. I’ve never been much of a ‘festive’ person, and while I don’t mind doing grown up stuff, tend to baulk at being expected to get all happy clappy at the behest of others. It’s not something that sits well with me. Too artificial, too forced. Partying for the sake of it was something I left behind at seventeen.

To break the creative impasse, I’ve been doing readings to camera to put up on YouTube. Not bad, but I’d never noticed before that I have a slight stammer. Not much, just the odd stumble over some simple words and phrases, but despite my drama training my verbal glitch shows up whenever I try to read a little too quickly. Thinking about it, I’ve never been all that comfortable in my own skin, and tend to do much better when I read ‘In Character’. Perhaps I need to develop a ‘reader’ character and let him take over when I want to speak in public.

Friday night we took the evening off to go and see ‘Puss in Boots‘ at the movies. A good chuckle raised me out of my immediate fugue state, and as such I can thoroughly recommend the film. The cat specific and ‘fairytale’ gags are pretty good, the DreamWorks animation superb as always, and the 3D exceptional. Worth seeing twice. One for the DVD collection.

There’s also a music lesson to book. Perhaps a session of almost reducing some poor guitar teacher to tears at my lack of talent might help.

These past few days have taught me that some days you just to write off as too much trouble to get your head down properly.

Exile


I’ve been an admirer of Steve Knightleys songs for some time, but this one brought me up short. Listening to the lyrics touches me on so many levels. A sense of something lost beyond reach of time and space. A feeling of a life moved on and bereft of the feelings anchoring it. A hollow darkness where something, I’m not sure what, used to be.

Carried by the flow of Steve’s words I am transported to my South Warwickshire roots. Rain on my face, and chill air catching the back of my throat. Long, solitary walks on grey English country days. Coast path walking around Cornwall with rain driving through my clothing and the wild wicked surf a slipped footstep away. Bare feet on deliciously early morning dew wet turf. Slanted morning sunlight through trees, golden light in my eyes, and a sense of being touched in the very soul by something with no voice. A massive catalogue of memory accessed with the keys of pointless longing. The sad, hopeless knowledge that these moments are part of something that no longer exists.

A beautiful, evocative song for the exiled. Because I know there is no going home, for home is neither the place, and no longer where I left it.

Update: I’ve been thinking about this, and the thought has occurred that if I was very, incredibly lucky and some Producer person took a real liking to my work and wanted to make a movie of it; as in the case of ‘Steel’, Richard Matheson’s 1956 short story behind the hit movie ‘Real Steel‘. The people I’d insist on doing at least some of the music would be Steve Knightley and Show of Hands. ‘Exile’ hits a nerve with a particular sequence from ‘Sky Full of Stars‘ and oddly enough the tone of isolation felt by my lead character in ‘The Odd Machine‘.

Literary festival?


At a neighbours birthday party last night I got talking to a neighbour of mine (Kenn Joubert) who writes historical fiction (Even won an award for it), and we fell to discussing the issues surrounding self published works. Issues like the difficulties associated with getting your product to market. Most of them to do with distribution. Problems like Book shops being highly reluctant to stock non mainstream books except on terms that significantly reduce author royalties. Some who won’t even talk to self published authors, as though self publishing was some kind of communicable disease.

One of the ideas we bounced around was a regular series of Literary events for local self publish authors, purely on a co-operative basis. Nanaimo is a tourist stopover for Cruise ships, and the thought occurs that perhaps if we synchronised our events with cruise ship arrivals we might act firstly as a point of sale for member self publishers, secondly as an attraction for those cruise ship passengers who are looking for something to read where they can guarantee to talk to an author.

While the idea is all very nebulous at the moment, I can actually see it working; providing we get the mechanics of who does what agreed, and everyone sticks to their part of the ship. A downtown location would work best to make travel easier for visitors. A deal done with a local hotel, something that provides a focus for visitors. Like the Hay-on-Wye festival in the UK. Perhaps something coupled with a regular web presence. Rather than hiding our collective laurels under a bush, perhaps with a little goodwill such a concept can be made to work, and not cost us a fortune.

I have no mail


Google has arbitrarily suspended my primary e-mail account for ‘unusual activity’ and is demanding my cell phone number to re-activate. I do not wish to give them my cell phone number, or other personal details.

I find the best way to avoid ID theft on the Internet is not to make your personal details available in the first place. This includes Google. If asked, I’d be inclined to think that their own security is compromised, and they don’t know how to fix it.

In the meantime, all my e-mail is inaccessible. At present I’m inclined to describe Google in terms that are short, Anglo-saxon, and considered obscene in polite society.

Update: Still fuming, but have got my e-mail back online with a changed password. Now I need to reset my e-mail client. Which is annoying.