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11 Jul / The work week

Not getting enough of work during the week, I spent a half day today back in the office letting work eat up my weekend.

Granted, I would otherwise have simply been sitting on the couch and watching television, but…

I WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN ON THE COUCH WATCHING TELEVISION.

That is how I choose to spend my leisure time. That’s all the clue you need as to what I’d rather be doing.

On the other hand, it was pretty sweet being in there almost alone, and not remembering to keep jumping up every half hour to keep the air conditioning going. Luckily the lights don’t require quite that much work or I would have been seriously snitty by the end of it.

It’s odd how during the week working a half day seems like a treat, and by the weekend seems like a burden.

Still, it’s over now. I should stop complaining.

However, I often don’t do what I should, so I may just continue for the rest of the evening.

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09 Jul / I object

End of financial year has been and gone. Back when I was a humble (yeah, right) processor, EOFY was the busiest and most stressful time. Everything needed to be done. Everything needed to be loaded. Everything needed to be paid and married.

The joyful part was knowing that once I got past that I could relax. EOFY comes but once a year, and unlike Christmas it doesn’t even leave me out of pocket.

I’m here to tell you that’s where the good times are. In the rank and file of the office. In the nameless hordes that run the country while the upper echelons make noise. Workers unite.

But, oh no, I wanted a pay rise. Oh no, I wanted to have more influence in the workplace. Oh no, I didn’t heed the suitcase-sized bags under the current team leaders’ eyes and thought ‘how hard could it be?’

It could be MUCH hard. MUCH hard, indeed.

EOFY is a picnic now. Get it on, get it all on. How simple and perfect is that ambition? How easy it would be to just do that and then get back to your normal pace of life.

But no. There is no normal pace of life. EOFY, tick.

Next comes Performance Reviews. Not even begun, tick.

What happens when that’s all locked in? Do I get to relax? Oh, no. Relaxing is for plebs.

I get to set objectives. I hate them so much sometimes I want to cry, tick.

Due to the weirdness of my glorious team, I get to create four different sets of objectives. Three for them, and one for me.

The remainder of the office have standard staff objectives which I seem to have endlessly contributed to this week in what feels like some enormous groundhog day prank, and standard team leaders objectives which, ditto.

They don’t apply to my staff. They don’t even apply to me. Why doesn’t everyone go away and leave me alone? Where has my sense of humour gone?

My only joy is that someday, far away at the end of August while I’m sunning myself beside the pool in the most perfect holiday spot in the world, I’ll look back on this time and I’ll
laugh
cry
shriek hysterically
wish drugs were legal.

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It’s back to editing this week. Whenever I can tear myself away from my phone pursuits, I have been carefully, and not so carefully, trolling through every single word I’ve written down and seeing which ones make it through.

Depending on the time of day, this can vary. At the moment I’m about to go to bed, so the chances of all words making it through intact is very high, by tomorrow morning it will be lower.

However, just to keep things exciting, this evening I went all gung-ho and removed an entire chapter.

I’m still hurting. That cut went deep. I remember when I lovingly crafted all those lovely words and stacked them up in lines on the laptop screen dotting them with punctuation, and painting them with white space as deemed appropriate.

The fact I could remove the entire chapter without needing to change any other word kind of pointed out that it wasn’t needed. I’ve heard of stand-alone books being hugely successful, but stand-alone chapters? Not so much.

Now my book looks so much smaller. It wasn’t as though it was a short chapter, it was a halfway decent length. There were thousands of words. Gone forever.

Well, not really. They’re actually in another word document waiting to see if I change my mind tomorrow and put them all back in.

It’s not that likely. I don’t like making decisions the first time. I’m even less in favour of going back and making them again.

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On the day before I went on leave last week, a certain staff member who shall remain nameless introduced me to the joys of a game called BlockJam.

I missed out on the Tetris craze, but it seems now that wasn’t through strength of will but more through lack of money for the large machines that Tetris was played on when I was a girl.

For I am hooked.

I’m currently editing my latest book, so I happily reward myself for a page or two of editing with a game of BlockJam. This was fine in the beginning when I was useless, but the better I got at making anticipatory decisions about where the blocks should go, the longer each game took.

When I started clocking up around twenty-thousand it started to come in at around twenty minutes. That’s a long microbreak in anyone’s workplace. Even the slack ones.

After playing for a few days I’d catch myself humming the accompanying music at odd points throughout the night. It annoyed me.

I turned the music off on the app, but I still hum it occasionally because the happy tune is stuck in my head. Just like Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday, is stuck in there. It’s not pretty in that place. Don’t poke it with a stick.

When I close my eyes at night waiting for sleep that’s late in coming, I place pink squares on blue squares on orange lines on yellow lines, and smile.

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When my darling and I fall in love with a television show we immediately face a conundrum.

When you truly, truly love something you want it never to end but you also want it all the time.

When the love you have is for a limited supply, that can cause a few issues.

Just this last week, we began watching a show for which we had access to the entire first season at once. God loves cable. We watched the first episode and thought it was good. We watched the second and thought it was great. We watched the third, the fourth, and the fifth and thought it was a top rating show. Within our household anyway.

Since then we haven’t watched any episodes. There are only five left. We’re halfway through, and this is a great show. How did we squander so much so soon when we have so little?

So, although we love the show and have access to new episodes we can’t look at them.

It’s not as bad as it is with QI. We save those episodes as they screen, and then parcel them out less than one per month so we never run out. We don’t understand how people can safely live their lives without having constant access to new episodes of QI. It needs to be there when we need it.

Recently, we misjudged a series. We had two full seasons, and because the next season is due to start in August, we watched them with abandon.

We have none left.

DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT IS UNTIL AUGUST?

I do occasionally miss the sweet old-fashioned days of television when to watch a show you had to be on the right channel at the time it was broadcast, or hope like hell that it would be repeated in a few years at a better time.

There are so many choices now. So many decisions to be made and every episode watched could spell future disaster. It’s a tough life.

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Since mid-June when Amazon first released news that its KDP Select program would be moving from a ‘books borrowed’ method of payment to a ‘pages read’ method of payment, I’ve been wondering what on earth that’s going to mean for my monthly income.

Well, rather than having to wait until mid-August to find out, Amazon have helpfully released some figures this morning that may allow me to calculate out the proposed payouts.

This morning they confirmed again that the size of the KDP Select fund will be at least $11m for July, and they’ve also released figures to say that the total pages read (using KENPs – more on that later) was nearly 1.9 billion.

Yah. Finally some figures that aren’t ‘to make this easy to understand’ figures pulled out of nowhere and good for nothing.

So, first things first, where do you work out how many pages your book is?

This information was released overnight (if you live in my time zone that is, God knows when YOU found out) into the KDP Select Bookshelf ‘Promote and Advertise’ button field. Exactly where Amazon said they would put it.

If you’re used to calculating the number of pages based on a physical book, then you’re probably in for a surprise.

My first novel ‘Found, near water’ clocked in at 366 KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count). This is opposed to the physical page count I used previously which came in at 215 pages. My second novel ‘Skeletal’ clocked in at a massive 448 KENPC from a previous physical page count of 268 pages.

To turn that into word count figures it would be approximately 5.3 KENPC per thousand words. Unless you’re using exclusively large words whereupon it’s anybody’s guess.

Now for the fun bit. How much am I going to get paid?

Making the assumption that the 1.9 billion pages read during June was based on the US billion, of one thousand million, and not the UK billion, of one million million, – in which case we’re all screwed and are going to die starving in a gutter somewhere – then the formula seems to work out thusly:

$11,000,000 KDP Select Global Fund divided by 1,900,000,000 KENPC read equals 0.005789474

Multiply that figure by your individual KENPC to arrive at a payout figure for each book if read in full.

Therefore ‘Found, near water’ would nett me $2.11 in royalties, and ‘Skeletal’ would nett me $2.59.

That’s a vast improvement on the $1.33-$1.35 ish I’ve been receiving lately.

Who’d have thought? GO AMAZON!

The 1.9 billion pages read has an element of pause for thought, though. Either there are far more titles out there with low page counts than I’d assumed, or the readers just aren’t getting into the books on offer.

Either way, at this stage it looks like it might be an improvement for any writer who hasn’t been trying to game the system by putting exceptionally low page count books on offer.

My main concern would be for children’s books being taken out through KU or KOLL as their page counts will always be lower than young adult or adult offerings.

My current page read count (part way through day one of the new system) is currently showing at 272 KENPC read. Or $1.57 in cold, hard cash.

I just have to hope now that readers haven’t been only getting through 11% of my novels before abandoning them, and I’m on a winning ticket.

If any other indie authors have feedback or figures on how this new system may work out for them, drop a line in the comments field below and cumulatively we can all try to work out where we stand in this brave, new world.

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01 Jul / Birthday Gifts

As previously mentioned, my darling and I have eschewed gifts this year in favour of retaining money.

So my big day arrived and I thought I would end the day in much the same capitalistic state as I’d begun. No gifts more, no gifts less.

Instead, I’ve discovered that there is a wealth of gift giving communities out in the world that I usually don’t give a second through to. And no, I’m not talking about some sort of hippy-dippy lovey-dovey health and happiness routine, although there were a few of those besides.

EB Games sent me an email telling me I was awesome, and you’re never too old for gaming.

Ezibuy sent me a $10.00 off voucher and told me I was a VIP customer.

Bitgold sent me an email wishing me a happy birthday, and gifting me 0.042GAU of gold. That’s REAL GOLD. Gold you could hold in your hands, if it wasn’t such a small amount and in a virtual account online somewhere.

Vodafone wished me a happy birthday, and gave me 1GB of data to help me celebrate. That would cost me twenty bucks if I wanted to buy it.

An insurance company that I used to be the accounts contact for eight years ago sent me a birthday card. Through the mail. Using a stamp.

There were also birthday shout-outs from people I actually know and are friends and family with. They were more expected though.

I’m thinking of registering different birth dates when I sign up for stuff so I can keep receiving the goodies all year long. Is that wrong?

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28 Jun / Imaginary gifts

It’s my birthday on Wednesday. Why shucks, thank you, you shouldn’t have.

I’m taking the day off work to celebrate, and then the two days after that because I have a few days leave up my sleeve and I want to. My darling is taking the whole week off, in an example of shockingly uncoordinated forward planning.

My darling and I decided this year to forgo gifts to each other. Instead, we would buy ourselves something if we felt like it, or save some money if that was our preference.

I decided to go for the first route, and now have in my possession a hand-crafted pair of cognac Atheist Boots in pull-up leather that go with anything because they are all shades of tan and brown at once.

Well, they go with things that go with tan and brown and that’s a lot.

Last year my darling and I weren’t so stingy. I bought him a leather jacket, with an actual delivery date of February this year rather than May last year because neither of us could find one that suited him to a tee, and he bought me a ring clock.

What is a ring clock you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. At the moment it’s nothing because it doesn’t exist. It’s a dream of something that will fit on my finger like a ring, and tell the time like a clock, and will come in silver with blue LED lighting.

It’s been the perfect gift so far as, due to its lack of arrival, it has never broken down once and it always looks as good as it did on its original web page on Indiegogo.

Yes I know. Will I ever learn my lesson about crowdfunding? The answer is quite obviously a resounding no, and I stand resolute.

There was a tiny shred of hope that the ring clock which didn’t quite manage to make an appearance in time for my last birthday would make it for this one. Their last announcement removed most of that hope, and the next two days will definitely get rid of it altogether.

Never mind. One day, unless the company goes under which is also another possibility, I will be the proud owner of a ring clock.

It may even fit. My hips, bust and bum aren’t the only things that have experienced a growth spurt over the past year. My ring-finger rings now only fit on my little finger, and my large mid-finger rings now fit on my ring fingers. And some rings just hang on my necklace until my fingers remember what size they’re meant to be.

Being imaginary, my ring clock fits perfectly on the finger it’s meant to. For the time being.

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27 Jun / Bathroom envy

Last night, I was staying at a hotel in the suburbs.

It was nothing special, I can’t even remember the name. Something like a Travelodge, without actually being one.

My room was so basic that it was just a bedroom. To access the bathroom facilities I had to leave my room, locking the door tightly behind me because it was that sort of place, then made my way down the concrete path to the bathroom.

It was the sort of place that spiders look to congregate in, then abandon, leaving behind only their webs as evidence they were ever there. Proving that spiders have higher standards than I do.

There were wads of sodden paper towelettes across the floor. In fact, there was more paper on the floor than there was in the paper holders. One was completely empty, and the other was down to the last couple of sheets.

Inside the toilet cubicle it was an even worse mess. Flushing is a fine addition to the toilets of our modern day. This miraculous advance was something previous users of the toilet cubicle were unimpressed by, to the point they had neglected to use it altogether.

I was staring at the resultant mess in distaste when I suddenly realised that the reason this bathroom was in such a state was because it was the men’s bathroom.

I experienced a mild flood of relief, followed by a mild flood of dismay. This was both better and worse than not feeling anything at all.

The dismay was caused by me looking down at myself and remembering that I now had a penis. I remembered this when I looked down because it was looking back up at me.

I couldn’t remember why I’d ever wanted a penis, or if I was transitioning into or out of manhood, but I knew that its presence meant I wasn’t getting out of that bathroom.

The really odd thing was that even though I’d just remembered something so disturbing to my natural view of myself, I didn’t even wake up. Nor did I go to the toilet.

That last one I’m grateful for. Imagine the mess otherwise.

Instead, I went back to my hotel room without a bathroom and waited for an appointment that didn’t happen because a car crashed into the side of the hotel and I had to run back home before the police arrived and found out that I’d been waiting there.

I’m still not clear on the hows and the whys. Especially the why I was naked.

When I eventually did wake up I checked and found that I definitely don’t have a penis. I kind of miss it though. I didn’t even get the chance to waggle it about or insert it into anything.

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