Friday, January 29, 2010

Google Shmoogle

The lit blogs and forums are buzzing as deadlines loom (and pass) for Google's plan to digitise every book published in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
(The original plan covered the whole world!)

Agents are giving conflicting advice to their authors.
The Society of Authors says 'opt in'. My agent says 'opt out'.

'In' gives you greater control, theoretically - and you can always ask for your books to be removed later. You will also be eligible for any money that may or may not come your way.

'Out' means your books will be removed from Google's site but doesn't guarantee they won't scan them in future.

Few authors have the staying power and attention span to wade through the reams of complex information and work out how it applies to them.
Those who do, come to different conclusions.

They've divided us, and now they'll rule us.

Most authors, I suspect, have their heads under the duvet and are hoping it will all just go away.

And there's the rub.
If you do nothing, by default you've opted in.
(It was this factor that has caused the greatest controversy and is still being contested in the courts.)

But if you continue to do nothing, you don't lay claim to your books.
Which means you have given your 'permission' for your books to be digitised and sold but won't get any money.

In other words, doing nothing is the worst possible course of (in)action.

Yet I suspect that 'nothing' is exactly what most authors are going to do.

Now excuse me for being cynical, but if I'm right about the low take-up, that must add up to a humongous pot of unclaimed money.
Google say this will be held in a fund for future claims, but meanwhile it's presumably not going to just sit there doing nothing ...

So what exactly is Google's objective?
Why the controversial 'opt in by default' angle?
And the off-putting labyrinth of information?

What am I going to do?
I'd just made the decision to opt out ...
... and found the deadline was yesterday!
So I'm presumably in - and should now get in there and claim my books ...

Meanwhile, I may be new on Facebook, but I've just started a We Hate the Google Book Settlement group.
Because that's one thing I think we can all agree on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Debi's deafisms

Part 1 in an occasional series giving an insight into my muffled world.

Little Guy: Everyone I know says Avatar is amazing!
Me: What's so special about apple tart?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's in the Bag!

I've been teetering on the edge of finishing Book 6 for some time.
I love that final stretch where the words spill out, tripping over each other in their haste to reach the finish line.

Last night, while the boys watched the footie, I unplugged Desdemona and wrote the epilogue, lying on the settee.

Then - I danced round the room ...
poured a large slug of Malibu into my camomile tea ...
ate some chocolate ...
a packet of crisps ...
two satsumas ...

Yeah, I really know how to party.

I'm looking forward to the 2nd draft refinements, which will be my first opportunity to see how it all hangs together, pruning the bits where the pace drops off and fleshing out the scenes I've skated over.

Then on to the the 3rd and final draft where I make sure I've always chosen the best word/phrase/image, before I enter the nail-biting phase where I send it off and wait for my agent's feedback.

Meanwhile, I have another 2 MSes to edit, so I'm izzy wizzy. Add that to continuing email problems and it means I might not get here much for a while.

But I'm close ... very close ...
What a ride!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eek mail woes

Damn and damn again.
It seems that once more I have annoyed the lords of the cyberverse, and they've decided to punish me by blocking my emails.

If you have recently emailed me at my debialper dot co address, I won't have received it.

Please try this one instead, replacing the words 'at' and 'dot' with the appropriate symbols:
debialper at talktalk dot net

Right, I'm off to sacrifice a goat or something to try to appease them.
Do you reckon a wood louse would do the trick?
Bit short on goats in our neck of the woods ...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Now hear this!

I saw the audiologist yesterday and he souped up my left hearing aid.
(Can't use the right one yet as that ear's still v inflamed.)

Anyway, I now have the Lamborghini of listening devices ...
The Harry Potter of hearing instruments ...
The Diamond Standard of deaf aids ...

He's not only bounced up the volume, he's also cut out most of the extraneous noise so that I no longer have the distraction when someone opens a crisp packet in Sterling or turns the page of a book in Aberdeen.

Yippee! Hello, world!

So while I'm feeling cheerful, here's my list of things that are good about being deaf.
(Cos there have to be some, right?)

1) A large percentage of what many people say is not worth hearing

2) You spend a lot of time inside your own head, which is great for writing fiction.

3) Ditto cos there are fewer distractions.

4) Family arguments in which you're not directly involved float over your head.

5) The internet is a great leveler.

6) A deaf aid can always be removed or turned down if you want some peace and quiet.

7) You can bond with your aids - grateful for the difference they make to your life - instead of resenting them. Have I introduced you to Desdemona and Hortense?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

At Deaf's Door

My dad finds my deafness hysterically funny.
(NB: He's the only person allowed to laugh!)
I think he gets a kick out of someone much younger being in a worse state than he is.

Yesterday's conversations went a bit like this:

Dad: Mumble, mumble.
Me: What?
Dad: (cheeky grin) Oh, nothing. Just talking to myself.

Dad: Mumble, mumble.
Me: What?
Dad: Mumble, mumble.
Me: Nope, still can't hear you.
Dad: Mumble, mumble.
Me: Eh? Hang on. Let me lean close to you. Now, what did you say?
Dad: Incomprehensible mumble.
Me: Come again, one more time.
Dad: Louder mumble.
Me: Hang on - that's not English. What is that?
Dad: (cheeky grin) It's Russian!
Me: I didn't even know you could speak bloody Russian!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Snow joke

So there was I this morning, preparing to cross London,

... bundled up like a Polar explorer
... anticipating digging myself out from snow drifts
... leaping from ice floe to ice floe
... wrestling with bears,
and those funny floppity things with tusks ...

'I'm going out. I may be some time.
If anything happens, remember how much I love you all ...'

Eh? Hang on ... Where's the snow gone?

Anyone else notice the past few days seem to have assumed a certain dreamlike quality ...?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Life and deaf

I'm standing in a queue at the bank.
Only one till is open and I'm 14th in line.
More people are piling up behind me.

The woman in front has a small child with a scooter.
She has grazed knuckles on her right hand and looks well 'ard.
The boy scoots over my foot.
I say nothing.

I think there must be an argument or something at the back.
Probably about the queue.
Everyone's turning round and staring.

The woman behind me is speaking to me.
I can see her lips moving.
I smile and say, 'Sorry, I'm deaf. I can't hear you.'
But I must say it too softly and she can't hear me either because she carries on talking.
I broaden the smile and hope it's not an inappropriate response.

I'm at the till at last.
The cashier is telling me something.
I fix on the all-purpose smile.
'Sorry,' I say. 'I'm deaf. I can't hear you.'
She starts mouthing at me and waving a form.
I have no idea what she's saying, but conscious of the queue behind me, I nod and hope she's not imparting crucial info.

Back on the street.
I avoid eye contact, pulling my hood over my eyes, hoping no one will recognise me.

I pass an old friend without seeing her.
She calls me and I don't respond.
Luckily, she taps me on the shoulder and I explain I wasn't deliberately ignoring her.
'Sorry,' I say. 'I'm deaf. I can't hear you.'
I wonder how many other people might be thinking uncharitable thoughts about how rude I am.

I stop every time I cross the road, looking in every direction several times before stepping out and continuing to glance every which way until I'm safely across.
I'm aware that to the casual observer I must look like an over cautious neurotic.
But I know it's all too easy to step in front of a car you didn't hear approach.

Back home.
After just one day back, the boys are off school because of the snow.
They know better than to try to communicate with me unless it's for something urgent.
I give thanks for the internet.

Apologies for the whiny post. Smiley happy Debi will be back in the next post.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tail Tale Tit

Breaking news!

Hoovering the Roof, the East Dulwich Writers' Group anthology, has gone stellar!

Well, OK, maybe not quite stellar, but we are going to have to reprint mere weeks after our launch and even allowing for the recent gift-giving season, that's got to be pretty good going, eh?

And My Man in Spain, Steve Redwood, has said some very kind words that he's agreed to let us use as a cover quote.

So far, so good.
But things are rarely that straightforward in the world of wordsmiths.

I sent Steve's quote to the anthology contributors, and they were suitably flattered.
Just one small problem.
In his review, Steve had used the words twist in the tail.
'Surely that should be tale,' said one contributor.
'No, I reckon it's definitely tail,' said a second.
'Bloody writers,' grumbled a third. (That was me). 'Look, I've Googled both versions and there's contradictory advice. I reckon it could be either. But these are Steve's words, so I reckon the decision should be his.'

So I emailed Senor Redwood.
A nice polite email asking if he wanted to go with a twist in the literal tale or the metaphorical tail.

What a fool I am! You'd really think I'd know better.
Next time I opened up my Inbox I was greeted by a veritable flurry of emails from My Man in Spain.
Each was brief and to the point - and increasingly infuriating.
(I'm not going to give him the satisfaction of knowing I nearly wet myself reading them.)

The time has to come to be decisive.

I'm staking my claim for tail and offer the following as justification:
If you say the tale of the tail, you mean a story about a tail.
If you say the tail of the tale, you mean the ending of the story, which may have been about anything, including but not exclusively nether quarter apendages.
A twist in the tail, implies an unexpected ending and that's what I reckon Senor Redwood meant, even if he refuses to settle the argument and is having far too much fun watching us squirm.

Voting is now open.
Which is to be?
Support your local tail.

Friday, January 01, 2010

I am a weak and weedy woman

I nearly held out for the full decade.
Until late last night ...

Guess what I was doing in the dying embers of the year.
Yes, holding my hands over both ears and saying, 'Ow', but I don't mean that.

Yes, friends, it's confession time.
In a moment of supreme weakness I went to the place where I had always sworn I would never go.
Yes, dear friends, I allowed my kids to set me up on Facebook.

And today, oh joy of joys (smell the irony), my Inbox is filled with messages.
Just what I needed ...

I'm not even sure what I'm going to be using it for, apart from yet another online distraction to stop me doing more important stuff.

But I'll tell you what I won't be using it for.

I won't be using it for creating some sort of idiotic virtual farm for people who have dust from the keyboard under their fingernails instead of earth.

I won't be using it to join random cyber groups designed to beat meaningless records for numbers of people signed up to random cyber groups.

I won't be using it to poke people, whatever the hell that is. Nor do I wish to be virtually poked by others, thank you very much.

I won't be using it to send messages into the world that are so shallow they wouldn't even moisturise the soles of your feet.

Any messages I do send will not now, nor ever, contain the letters LOL.

Nor will I be learning complex codes in order to insert banal emoticons into said messages, whatever they consist of.

So, having stated all that, if you'd like to meet up with me at the forbidden planet, you can connect with me here.
Just don't poke me.

Oh ... and Happy New Year.