Katherine Hayton | 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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16 Sep / Outside world

It’s only been three days that I’ve been away from work (apart from my holiday which I didn’t count because I would’ve had that anyway) and already the strain is starting to show.

Previously, when I walked through the door at the end of a hard day at work, or even a lazy day at work, I didn’t particularly want to engage in conversation. A riled-up complaint sometimes, but really just what had already been repeating through my head for half the day.

Now, when my darling arrives home, I suddenly recover the art of conversation. I can talk about all the things that have happened all day long, and even though not a lot happens I can spin it out for a while. I can even follow him into the bedroom while he’s changing in order to continue my very-much-one-sided conversation.

For some reason, he hasn’t changed to be receptive.

The same expression that used to flitter across my features when he started to moan on about a bunch of people I’d met about as often as I could remember their names, now flitters across his.

When I was contemplating taking six months off from the real world to pursue my dreams, I occasionally joked that it was similar to other women taking maternity leave.

I didn’t realise then that I too would be craving adult company after a day dealing with babbling children.

(ps Babbling children being my new nickname for myself)

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15 Sep / Until Dawn

Having hit my word count for the day, and needing to keep my exercise promises to myself, I fired up the PS4 yesterday and jumped on the treadmill.

Well, not jumped really. Just cautiously put my feet down when it started off at 1km per hour and then acclimatised myself gradually.

You’ll be please to know that I no longer cling onto the arms of the treadmill while I’m using the machine. I have graduated to walking and balancing on my own two feet. Yes siree, I’m as accomplished as a toddler.

Unfortunately, I discovered an unpleasant feature of my newest game, Until Dawn, is a tendency to crash part-way through the game. I followed the instructions and deleted it off my hard-drive, and then redownloaded and reinstalled it – a mere three hour wait – but it wasn’t having any of it.

It’s very hard to find out online if this is a common feature as well. The premise of Until Dawn is a teen slasher thriller, and the game changes depending on the choices you make throughout in a butterfly effect fashion which is labouriously explained in a sequence that I found you can’t skip.

Due to this, when people are trying to pinpoint the common point of where the game crashes, it becomes a bit hard. Apparently there are a few folks who find it crashes when teen A, B & C meet in the mines. Sounds great. Unfortunately, in the sequence a few cut-scenes back, I chose to let teen B die, so he’s not there, and teen D who I miraculously saved hasn’t made it out of the lodge yet.

Not to mention that I think they may have missed a trick, because when teen E met her maker, she also took teen A with her in my version, so I would have only teen C wandering around in the mine, not finding any help whatsoever.

So at the point where my version crashes, I have teen F and teen D wandering around the lodge, and lord knows what happened to teen G who barely seems to be participating at this point ever since teen H was dispatched.

It gets very confusing writing this down, but I don’t want to have any spoilers in there in case people make exactly the same pattern of choices as me and end up in my version of the game.

Which is a pity, because if I did trail spoilers through here at least I would know if they crashed in the same place. Not that they’d be looking up Until Dawn Crashing in order to find this blog if they didn’t.

Anyhow, I have managed to start the game again successfully because it’s difficult to stay committed to the treadmill when all you have by way of entertainment is the blue screen of Playstation death, or the downloading symbol gradually advancing from 3% to 16%

I’m deliberately trying to change my decisions so that I don’t end up at the same point, and therefore won’t have to worry about it crashing in the same scene (and I accidentally killed the wrong teen at one point because I thought you pointed to the picture of the person you wanted to kill, not the person you wanted to save) but that’s probably about four hours of gameplay and treadmill from the start.

As a minor distraction I tried to play a few rounds of the Binding of Isaac, but every time I got to a boss fight to get to the next level I’d wander off the side of the treadmill, so I had to give that up.

And they wonder why it’s so hard to get people to exercise regularly.

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12 Sep / Craftless

The other day I was idly looking through a selection of photos wondering which of them was worth splashing out the princely sum of $1.00 for in order to put it on my next cover, when I made a decision which I will no doubt regret.

I was looking for a photo of old letters, maybe with a red seal on them, maybe typewritten but more probably handwritten. Lots of sepia tones and with the feel of a quill about them.

I knew exactly what I was after. And that was when the fatal idea appeared in my head.

Why don’t I just take the photo myself?

First of all, it would save me one dollar. Second of all, I could take it from a lot of different angles and end up with something that looks exactly like the picture inside my head rather than just the closest I could get.

Brilliant.

Of course it’s not brilliant. Now I have to do a whole lot of work that I didn’t scope out before committing to the project. And don’t think that I can just turn around and change my mind back. That would make me a failure.

So I gathered up a variety of materials that I thought would work. My partner has an old seal with a supply of red wax (no I don’t know why he just does, okay) and I found an envelope that was already sepia toned. A wonderful start.

Then I just needed to get some sepia toned paper and get my handwriting skills on.

Every young child reads at some stage about how to make paper look old-timey. You just get a nice selection of tea and you spill a few drops on the page, and then sweep it about a bit and dry.

I set to work. I already had some strong tea, leftovers from the morning, so I was one-up there. I also had paper, shiny-white and pulled from the gleaming brightness of a newly opened ream.

So white.

Never mind. That was all about to change. I dribbled a few drops of cold tea on the page and wah-lah! I had a bright white sheet with a few wrinkling tea coloured drops on it.

Okay, not to worry. I’d just wipe them about a bit with my hand, and then they’d start to look like old paper. Yip. Nothing to it. Or, since that wasn’t working, I’d just add a few grains, or a pinch, or a quarter-teaspoon, of instant coffee and that would give the right… okay. That just doesn’t really work at all.

Crafts though. You can’t fail. You just find yourself making things you weren’t anticipating. I’m sure they’ll look fine when they dry up.

Oh! Tea leaves. That’s my mistake. I’m meant to use tea leaves, not tea.

Except they kind of adhere to the paper, don’t they? Just a moment. No. Definitely tea. Not leaves. Just tea. And coffee.

Well, that’s all just put to the side anyway because I need to practice my good old handwriting. Just like I learned in intermediate school for one term because we had an old teacher who refused to let go.

First off, I obviously need a fountain pen. A sharpie just isn’t going to cut it.

Who would’ve thought it. I don’t actually have a fountain pen. But, really, do I need one? The photo isn’t going to be in all that close focus – certainly not now anyway, the tea leaves would be a bit too offputting – so I could probably get away with a ballpoint.

Well, not a ballpoint, so actually I will try that Sharpie.

And wah-lah!

Only a $1.00 for one of those pre-prepared photos you say? What a bargain.

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09 Sep / Banned Books

Back at the beginning of January I wrote a blog post on censorship.

I don’t like it. The thought that someone else gets to tell me what I can and can’t read, play, or watch, drives me absolutely crazy. It makes me feel like I’m a little kid again, and my parents are in total control.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise that I didn’t greet the ban of “Into the River” by Ted Dawe with a lot of gratitude this week. I also don’t thank anyone pointing out that it’s not a “ban” it’s subject to an interim restriction order pending a decision by the Film and Literature Board of Review is much help.

Can I buy it? No. Or, at least not in New Zealand, and if I order it from overseas Customs could seize it upon entry to our country.

Can I take it out of the library? No. Unless I go overseas and a library there has a copy.

Can I borrow it from a friend? No.

So, what’s the practical difference between an interim restriction order and a total ban?

Ummmmh.

Of course, the only reason I want to read the book is because I can’t. That’s probably going to be very good for Ted Dawe’s if the interim order is replaced by something showing insight and forethought, because I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more popular this week than it was last week.

Family First also have taken pains to point out that when they did their Christian Lobbying thing they were only trying to restrict the sale to young people, not ban it entirely.

Well that’s good to know.

So, what’s so appalling about the content of this book that a young man or woman wouldn’t be trusted with making up their own mind as to whether or not they wish to read it?

It has the C-word. Ohhhhh. It also has the S-word and the F-word. Ahhhhh. There’s also a bit of sexual activity and some of it isn’t in a consensual type way. Yuck. Sex. What teenager wants to read about that? What are the chances of a teenager encountering coercion as part of sexual activity?

No wonder the book got unrestricted, restricted, unrestricted, banned. What other type of book written for young adults contains that level of filth?

Funny you should ask that question. Mine does. Mine also comes with a warning label that I voluntarily put on the book suggesting that it wouldn’t necessarily be suitable under the age of 17. I was rather hoping that teenagers would read that and want to buy it more.

So, if anyone wants to read a book that’s just as horrifying but isn’t subject to an interim restriction order a ban you can click on this link and purchase away.

Unlike Into the River, it won’t come up with a polite sign saying “This title is not currently available for purchase.”

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