Katherine Hayton | BLOG
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I think that there must be a strange creature that lives in my voicebox which crawls out when it sees a recording device. It briefly distorts my hearing so that everything I say sounds the way it usually does, right up until the moment when the recording is played back, then its weirdly pitched, oddly intonated voice comes out of the speakers.

It’s the only explanation.

My latest grand venture into the world of self-publishing is an audiobook. In the worldview of Amazon I live out the arse-back of beyond, and so I can’t go through the normal channels that other self-publishers go. My country name doesn’t begin with the word United and therefore doesn’t count.

Therefore, instead of being able to hook up with a narrator who would work with me to produce an audiobook and split commissions 50/50 I either have the option of paying (coughs to disguise the enormous sum of money) for an unknown narrator, or I can produce the book myself.

I’m not cheating the listening public by going it alone. According to a training review the only good thing I possessed as a trainer was a lovely speaking voice. Thanks to the mistaken belief of my mother that speech class would somehow cure shyness, I have also had the art of speaking aloud drilled into my head.

Not to mention the year of pursuing a career as an actress. An ambition that was alive and well in First Form and had died a sad death by Second Form, leaving me with nothing except the ability to recite the lines for the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz verbatim.

When I recorded the first chapter I did have to go back and record a few other takes however, because as an introvert I firmly believe that expression is something best left to those crazy people who like to interact with human beings. Having spent the best part of three weeks at home by myself talking to no one, I’d forgotten how to work that into sound.

One of the rules of recording your own narration, apart from having a decent dual-diaphragm condenser microphone and a microphone preamp able to supply phantom power, is to get used to the sound of your own voice.

Yes, I’ve had to come to terms with the sound that the strange creature living in my voicebox produces when I think I’m speaking.

In only nine more chapters, and a lot of mixing and producing, you’ll be able to hear it too.

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01 Oct / Spies like us

There I was, walking innocently through Bishopdale Park, minding my own business, when a group of youths opened fire on me.

At least, I think it was the youths. It could have been the Mum with the stroller, carefully hiding a mobile phone on top of her baby, or the old couple sitting on the bench looking like butter wouldn’t melt.

It’s hard to be sure these days. I’ve chosen the minority team on Ingress, so the enemy spies are all about me. Opening fire just because I’m trying to hack their portal. Opening fire just because I opened fire on them first.

The only one I think I’m sure of is the young man who was walking toward me as I gave up and walked away. At least, I think I’m sure. He had a mobile phone in his hand and a blank expression on his face so it seems most likely. On second thoughts that could describe half of the teenagers hanging around the mall on their school holidays so that could be a bit harsh.

OMG. If I described half of the teenagers hanging around Bishopdale Mall maybe they’re all at it. Maybe I escaped only through sheer good luck and a canny ability to not notice people on account of pets, plants, and rocks are far more interesting.

This was my first time playing Ingress. I didn’t do very well. All of my hacks were unsuccessful, and although I picked up a lot of objects my inventory description assures me that they’re all very common.

Still, at least it got me out of the house.

Not that I’m making that mistake again. Out of the house is how they get you. I’m staying indoors, and maybe applying for a portal on my clothes line out back so I can play happily by myself as all the best children adults do.

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28 Sep / Spam

After waiting this afternoon for three hours for an email confirmation to turn up in my inbox to no avail, I remembered that I have a spam folder on gmail which I rarely visit.

I quickly located my lost email, and the second one that had been sent when I clicked on the ‘If an email hasn’t turned up press this button to send it again,’ button, and the third and fourth which had been sent similarly before I became distracted by a ‘dogs getting themselves into situations they immediately regret’ montage.

It having been a while, I had quite a good nosy around my spam folder. I must say, at the end of my investigation I think I like it rather better than my inbox.

My inbox regularly receives invoices and bills to be paid. My spam folder, on the other hand, seems to cultivate a class of sender who is determined to send me money. There was an offer from a lovely man who works at a bank in China, and another from a Russian who I presume wants the same but I can’t translate well enough to be entirely sure.

My inbox regularly receives notifications that the opportunities I’ve applied for have been graciously turned down. Even the ones when I offer to pay large sums of money.

To the contrary, in my spam folder the opportunities are flooding in. All that’s required is for me to confirm that my email address is still valid and the opportunities will be tremendous and nett me a sweet profit for no effort at all.

Someone called me a dear friend, and wanted to know if I wanted to become fashion. Another person told me I’d won a Euro lottery which I hadn’t even entered simply by virtue of owning an email address.

Somebody was even soliciting for a representative for their lumber company based in Vinh Niem and thought I might like the job. I don’t even work with lumber. It’s too sweet really.

My life would be so different if my spam folder was everything I received in the way of email. I’d grow close to random Nigerian princes as I fleeced their government of billions of dollars. I would rule the lumber industry, and I would win so many lotteries that I wouldn’t even bother to claim them if they were worth less than 10 million.

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27 Sep / Sunday Sadness

A few weeks into my experiment with career breaking, and I’ve started to notice a strange thing.

On Sunday evening, previously, I would start to feel a little bit sad. The working week meant I had to get up early in the morning which I don’t enjoy, and although I enjoyed my job, working is just a hard thing to do.

So there’d be the sadness that it was coming along again, and there’d also be the sadness that I hadn’t done enough with my weekend, or I’d done too much so hadn’t really relaxed the way I wanted to.

But then last Sunday I noticed, nothing.

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the working week, but I wasn’t sad about it either. I didn’t find it took another hour to fall asleep, and I didn’t add a new worry onto my thought list a moment before I was about to drop off.

So another week has passed. I have continued to force myself to work during work hours, and take advantage of the ‘no commute required’ to surf the internet before I do so.

I have safely managed to accomplish things that I needed to, wanted to, and even things I thought I wouldn’t get around to for a while yet.

Then I had a weekend off, doing barely anything, because how else would I delineate my week if not for that?

Tonight is Sunday night again. Once again I’m pleased to announce that I don’t have that Sunday feeling.

I also have maintained that I enjoyed my job out in the real world, but I’m starting to wonder if that enjoyment was perhaps a smokescreen for not really enjoying it but having to do it anyway.

If seeing no mood changes on a Sunday night is a true predictor of enjoying a job, then I think I’ve finally managed it.

Now, if only there was some way I could make this one pay…

Check out Breathe and Release only $3.99 for a ‘roller coaster ride; up and down, up and down and just when you think you are coming to the end, nice and slow and smooth, there is a sharp right turn and back up we go!’ – Gayle Boyce It’s a Mystery blog

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I think it’s fair to say that our society is not one that encourages weight gain, or handles the appearance of the larger section of the community well.

I understand that some people may be aghast at the fact that I’ve gained a fair bit of weight over the last year. I could explain in great detail how the drugs that I take so that my brain can feel emotions again, happen to act on receptors that are located in my stomach thereby initiating a powerful hunger and act in a dual way by making my body move slower thereby ensuring that I take in more calories and burn off less calories, and altogether this results in weight gain.

Or, I could just say it’s not my fault. It’s the drugs.

I weighed (huh, weighed – get it?) up the situation before I went back on my SSRI drugs again, and decided that yes I would like to not commit suicide more than I want to stay a size twelve.

It’s a hard choice, and one that you have to make for yourself.

Notice, I said FOR YOURSELF.

I don’t know what you were thinking, Pizza Hut, when you decided that the monthly treat that my darling and I allow ourselves should be amended.

Yeah, okay, I’m overweight. I still paid $3.50 for my cookies and cream mousse, and I expected it to be in the bag when it arrived home.

I see that you’ve teamed up with Domino’s Pizza in ensuring that I never receive a full dessert order with my pizza ever again. Well, guess what?

Nothing.

I can’t boycott you. You’re the only pizza left that I like.

But I’m very upset. Take that.

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24 Sep / Giant Pandas

Okay, hands up who has spent more time in the past month watching the Giant Panda cub at the Smithsonian, than pondering the plight of Syrian refugees.

Yeah, I thought it couldn’t just be me. Little cub is so cute.

And not too little anymore as it clocked in at 2.95 lbs at the last weigh-in.

This has been especially interesting as debate is renewed by Wellington Zoo seeking a couple of Giant Pandas for its fabulous zoo. It’s even considering swapping a couple of Kiwis to sweeten the deal. The birds that is, not some random New Zealanders who don’t know what they’re getting into.

Who would’ve thought that a vegetarian single-food-source animal from a foreign land (unless you’re Chinese) would have proved to be so popular worldwide?

Apparently, the expected cost for such an addition would run to about $100 million. And then they have to pay for the bamboo on top of that!

Still, having a look at the Giant Panda cam does make it seem worth it. I’m sure a lot more people would want Pandas than a new flag.

Just an idea, but maybe if they had Syrian Refugee cam, and trained it on the littlest and cutest, we’d pay more attention.

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Up until today, I thought when I filled out my voting form for the New Zealand flag change, I was going to strike through the whole paper and write ‘Red Peak’ out to the side.

Like many New Zealanders, I was quite upset when the four finalists were selected and the laser kiwi didn’t top the list. What sort of flag referenda can you possibly run without a kiwi shooting green lasers from its eyes?

The laser eye trope has a long history, if you’re into comic books and scifi television. Surely, there’s no better way to demonstrate the sometimes churlish kiwi attitude but to represent it with burning lasers.

Alas, it was not to be.

Then, out of the disgruntled wilderness, there was a rallying cry ‘What about Red Peak?’

I didn’t know what about Red Peak as it didn’t contain lasers therefore had escaped my attention during the whole process. I looked at Red Peak, and it seemed nice enough.

It was simple, it had a peak, and some colours. It looked very similar to a company’s trademark so it had obvious commercial appeal.

Now, however, it looks like it may make it through to the ballot paper and I’ve gone off it again.

It’s one thing to strike through the options on a voting paper and writing down a choice clearly not allowed. That’s civil disobedience and should be encouraged even though it’s been a long time since I was a teenager.

It’s another to select a popular option from a presented choice. Yuck. Not really the point, people.

So, I now have the option of striking through the five new presented options and writing ‘Laser Kiwi’ next to it (thus invalidating my vote and making a mockery of Kate Shepherd’s fight and being part of a civil disobedience unit of one) or just voting to retain the flag we’ve already got.

Just in case you wanted to fully understand my conundrum I have sourced the flag options available:

The first four choices:

The latest addition:

Our current flag:

And the flag of my dreams:

In other exciting news my latest short story, ‘The Breaking Wave’, has gone live for pre-order on Amazon. You can find it right HERE – BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY

And, of course, you can still access any other of my books on Amazon HERE – BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY

Phew, marketing obligations for the day met.

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21 Sep / Lost pages

My first novel, ‘Found, Near Water’ was last updated through Kindle Direct Publishing in October last year. Due to an upcoming sale, I decided it was time I gave it a revamp to update it with my later works and also formulate the ebook a bit better with the things I’ve learned in the last eleven months.

So far, so good. The updated file looked amazing compared to the original. The pages linked up properly (instead of having half the dedication on the copyright page, etc, etc) and I had a nice shiny new end-piece to show I wasn’t a one-hit wonder.

I uploaded the lovely new file into Amazon, and waited for the bookshelf to update.

Less than twelve hours later I was told my book had been published, and the shiny new version was now available for download to any new purchasers.

Excellent news.

Except today I went into my Bookshelf and discovered that forty-five pages of my book have disappeared.

Not for the readers, they still get the whole thing, but for my KENPC or Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count.

Where, previously, they’d clocked in at 366 pages, they’d now dropped down to 321.

Where did they go?

With a horrible feeling of doom, I checked that the entire book had actually made it across to the publishing platform. Uploading a copy into Calibre, I made sure that each and every page was exactly where it should be. It was.

So what had changed? Should better formatting result in a lower royalty?

The answer is IDK and NO!

At least, looking about on the Kindle boards, it appears that other people have encountered this problem. Some people changed a few words and reloaded to find a hundred pages gone, and others did the same to gain an extra forty.

I’d never worried about the secret formula that Amazon used to calculate the KENPC. For my books, until today, the results had been in line with the word count, and then the rest was just unknowable made-up stuff. Like all your best business partners should have.

Looking through the vast array of commentary, it appears that the worse your formatting, the higher the page count.

If I load up a file already in .mobi format, then my page count would be expected to tumble. If I loaded up a file in .docx then I could expect a wee boon from the page fairies.

The problem being, that if I’ve created a mobi file, it’s going to look a hell of a lot better than if I chuck a word document in there and let the programming elves convert it.

Somebody pointed out that if I took an ePub file and converted it to a mobi file then I might gain my extra pages back. I don’t know whether I would or not; I couldn’t in good conscience upload the result because the conversion decided that what the reading public is hankering for are extra Tables of Content.

The one at the front was mine, and looked okay, but I’m not sure about the ones that got affixed to the back. Kind of irrelevant by the time you make it that far.

But what does this goobledegook all mean at the end of the day?

I think I’ll be about 22c worse off every time somebody reads by first novel through the Kindle Unlimited program. Amazon, I think the least you owe me is a cup of coffee.

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Ah, the humble typo. Proof indeed that the proofing I’ve invested so much money in, hasn’t worked again.

One of the reasons that I wait with baited breath for the first reviews to come in on my novels, is not to find out how the world is going to react to them (although, you know, that too) but to find out if this time around I’ve invested my editing money wisely in a competent proofreader.

My standards aren’t that high. Just find every single mistake so that I don’t have to. Or, even worse, my readers don’t have to. This is why I outlay the princely sum of [insert current spend here $50.00, $350.00, $599.00 but with a $50.00 return customer voucher] before I go to publish my latest work of ridiculously excellent prose.

Sometimes, I can easily find out early enough that the outlay wasn’t worth it. I’ve had manuscripts back accompanied by emails in which the proofreader mangles the English language, and then find on the first page the words circled for correction are fine, but there are three other obvious mistakes that have made it through.

Other times, it all looks okay to me. I read through the paperback proof copy labouriously, not finding anything that needs correction. Then, within a week of publishing, have feedback saying I may want to check that again.

It would be nice if proofreaders came with some sort of money back guarantee. For every typo spotted by a reader, I get a refund of $5.00 off the proofreading fee, for instance. If anyone finds this deal out there, feel free to drop me a comment with a link.

I expect it will be as widely available as a doctor who you only pay when you’re cured.

Some may think that this is the scourge of the self-publishing industry, but it’s not so. I notice errors in every book I read, and take great delight and comfort from them. If they’re self-published I even do the courtesy of letting them know.

My all-time favourite isn’t really a typo. In Stephen King’s Apt Pupil there’s a line near the beginning which explains how Todd’s parents met:
His mom was a housewife and a secretarial school graduate (she had met Todd’s father one day when he needed a secretary from the pool)

And then later:
He looked at her for a moment, frowning, then shook his head a little. Je ne comprends pas, cherie.’ His limping French was a joke between them; he had met her in college when he was flunking his language requirement.

I look that up every time I need a reminder that these things happen to the best of us. Apt Pupil was turned into a movie and it still hasn’t been corrected.

Apparently typos are also due to my brain’s function. Well, not just mine, yours too. When my brain is on higher minded things like conveying meaning through the use of language, it just doesn’t have time to get bogged down by the lower mind functions of things such as spelling and word choice. No. It’s operating on higher level functions, baby.

Unfortunately, when extracting said meaning from those words as a reader, spelling and word choice becomes far more important. Damn.

Maybe readers would be less annoyed if I offered a reward. Find five typos and send them in to me, and I’ll reward you with the money that I used to foolishly pay to proofreaders!

Would probably go very well, except for the day when five hundred readers find the same five typos at the same time.

Further suggestions welcome.

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