Category Archives: advice

Scam alert–are you getting flooded with spam email?

Are you getting a sudden deluge of spammy emails? Like you’ve been signed up for every mailing list and catalog in the universe?

The first impulse is to bulk delete and curse the clown who did this to you.


Curse away, yes, but comb through those emails with a gimlet eye to what actually may be important. Someone has done something underhanded and is relying on the flood of spam to bury an important notification.

Something where you really want to know: a Paypal transaction you didn’t authorize. A credit card transaction for something you didn’t buy and will never see. A notice that someone has applied for Covid-19 benefits in your name.

That last happened up in Canada to an acquaintance, who fortunately spotted the email in the heap of trash and is now recovering the account and unwinding the changes in their CRA account.

That so easily could have gone undetected.

Constant vigilance.

Alas, All Romance eBooks, we loved you well

All Romance eBooks was the site of my very first ebook purchase back in 2008, and I’m sad that the book I bought four days ago will be the last I’ll get there. Diversity in the selling environment is good: diversity in formats offered is also good.  We’re losing an important force in diverse venue and formats.

The announcement has just gone out that ARe is shutting their doors at the end of the month, which is only a few days away. Please, if you have books there, purchased but not downloaded, go download them while the archive still exists.

I’m even sadder the author of my latest purchase is not likely to be paid, or only paid a pittance.  ARe has already contacted authors and publishers that they’re unable to pay proper fourth quarter royalties. Indies have been offered ten cents on the dollar. Publishers such as Dreamspinner will duke it out for different terms, an advantage of having enough sales to warrant a lawyer to discuss the matter.  ARe hopes out loud to avoid bankruptcy and begs our indulgence in forfeiting 90% of the moneys owed to help them avoid this fate.*

Which sounds laudable, like we’re all friends helping friends, right? Except, this was a business partner, that was my money (and money belonging to other authors) they just suggested keeping, and their management issues are beyond any of our control. I’ve maintained my part of the business relationship with them: I buy bought books there expecting the authors to be paid their share, and sold books there, expecting to be paid mine.

Sales have dropped substantially there in the last few months, something I attributed to not having a new release via Rocky Ridge Books there in a while. This changed recently–with a Dreamspinner title, Diving Deep.  It pains me to ask someone not to buy a book, rather, please go through Dreamspinner directly, or Amazon, Apple, B&N, or Kobo: they’re reliable business partners.

It pains me even more deeply to take books down from sale, but given this announcement, I don’t have a lot of choice. Any of my books purchased through ARe since the beginning of October will probably never benefit me. I don’t know what will happen if I don’t accept their offer. The sum is small enough to make the experiment.

bnd-v4-200x300I am leaving The Boy Next Door up for the duration. This one is free, and my gift to readers.

I’m just sorry the duration will be so short.  December 31.

*Distilled (and tone sweetened) from a letter containing a stern injunction not to quote accurately.


Bikes, crashes and planning ahead

bikesThe records from the 1997 Pan-Arab Games don’t have any results for the 50km cycling race.

The officials forgot to close the road through Beirut.

Traffic was so heavy that only four cyclists finished, and one of them had been hit by a car. The officials got so snarled up behind the racers that no one could actually vouch that the pitiful number of finishers had actually stayed on course the entire time.

Kind of hard  on the riders who didn’t finish the race through no fault of their strength or training, and even harder on the die-hards who finished this clusterfuck. The Games officials dropped the race from the record books.

Prior planning prevents piss poor performance.

Knights of the Round Table and time management

Knights_of_the_Round_Table._Graal_(15th_century)The details are a little fuzzy after the passage of 500 years, but Sir Thomas Malory underwent a rather abrupt career change. Most of what’s known about him as author comes from the back of the Caxton printing of Le Morte d’Arthur, in that he was a “knight prisoner”.  We know something more of the prisoner thought to be him. The man in Newgate Prison was allegedly quite the rapscallion.

This fellow, Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, was accused of multiple crimes: theft, rape (the term at the time included consensual sex with a woman whose husband hadn’t agreed), and various banditries committed in 1450-51. Since this was at a turbulent time during the Wars of the Roses and the crimes were all against the Lancastrian side, Malory (or Malleore, or Mallere) may have thought he was waging war.

As may be, he was too slick to hold (he swam the moat at Maxfield Castle to get away –ick!), escaping numerous times to raid again. He did spend close to ten years in Newgate, not far from the Greyfriars monatery, whose library he was allowed to use. While there, he translated, compiled, and edited many of the French and Middle English Arthurian stories. The Gareth story contains a lot of his original work.

William Caxton published this work in 1485 as Le Morte d’Arthur. It went through several printings before the English Civil War. Two copies of the original issue exist in major libraries, and perhaps there is a treasure lurking on the shelves of some bibliophile or in an attic in a box.

Malory never saw the book in print during his lifetime. “In print” wasn’t even a thought–he’d been dead five years when Caxton brought the first moveable type printing press to England.

He’d probably be amused that the world still reads the book he compiled during his imprisonment. He’s probably be really amused at the changes in technology we use to read it, and by the endless adaptations of his work. He was amusing himself while sitting on his butt in prison.

I’d say he used the time wisely.


Dylan Thomas and the backup

dylan-thomas-mono-print-2Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, had the only draft of his radio play Under Milk Wood with him when he went on a pub crawl. He didn’t have it with him when he returned, and given the extraordinary amount of alcohol he put away, he didn’t recall where he might have left it.

A BBC producer had to search pub after pub after pub, desperate to find the script before closing time, lest it be put out in the trash. He got lucky, very lucky, and recovered the play.

Back up your work and back it up again. Don’t depend solely on the cloud (I hear Dropbox is having issues lately) and go for offsite storage too.

This isn’t just for authors. We all know someone who’s suffered a data loss. Go back up your system.