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Date: Friday, 18 Apr 2014 08:35

We’re going to be going over mountains, so I take the special meds. I hate it with a burning passion, and you’ll understand why in a bit.

I take it because it increases oxygen concentration in the blood, which means less altitude sick. I get altitude sick in a ten story building. Only a slight exaggeration.

Four thousand feet is where I really start to feel it, though. Since I’m doing a lot of the driving, I take the damn meds.

I am not a morning person. I have not truly ever been a morning person (I quite literally lack the gene), but the last few years in particular I have especially not been a morning person. I was saying that to a friend who got run over by a car last year, and she said, “Because the pain meds have worn off!”

Exactly. That is why.

Every single day, it’s a challenge. Can I get part of my pain meds down before I make breakfast? Will I throw up my coffee? (Thankfully, that has not actually happened in a long time, but most mornings I’m nauseated from pain.)

I’d set the alarm for 10, wanted to leave by 11. Woke up at a quarter after 9 and packed. We pulled away at 11:11, which I consider close enough for government work.

Let me back up for a minute. When I was coming down the steps on our front porch—typically, doing this in the morning is my biggest physical challenge—in a race with a sloth, the sloth would have won. Honestly.

Fairfield: The Jelly Belly Factory

My mother, long a lover of jelly beans, has never been to the Jelly Belly factory. I’m not sure how that happened, but we decided that we had three places we could stop, and this was one we picked.

Why the able-bodied need to put photo op things and places where people should stand to take photos crossing the line from the handicap parking to the door, I’ll never know. I hear an irritated cluck. Look, it’s not my fucking fault that the big jelly bean is put in the wrong place, but I’m visibly having difficulty walking today. You think you could be more human and hold on a couple seconds without being irritated at something I have no control over?

Well, okay then. Well, not okay, but whatever. It’s on you.

We wander through the jelly beans. I think a grand total of two or three minutes has passed since I shambled (no exaggeration) through the front door and evaded the large group of people standing in line for the tour. Which, frankly, sounds like pure hell to me on a day like today.

My feet are on fire they say. I look down. There is no visible evidence of same.

I feel the weird electrical current that runs along my upper back. Left to right, then right to left.

It’s the altitude sickness meds. Diamox. Acetazolamide. There’s no good way to put this other than: it cockblocks pain meds. All pain meds, apparently. From personal experience, it blocks 75-100% of the effectiveness of everything I’ve tried.

Currently, with the myofasical pain, my leg muscles are so incredibly tight, I can barely walk, especially in the morning. Later in the day, I’m almost human, and sometimes my walk can pass for normal. Today is not one of those days.

I move as quickly as I can to the register (about 15 feet), plead with the lady there. Either I need to check out, or I’m dumping my item on the register counter and leaving. I’m not being mean; I desperately need to sit down. By this time, I’m white as a ghost and visibly shaking.

I’m paid up. Trying to leave. A kid darts in front of me. I’m like Gigantor with a bad hip algorithm, shambling with an odd gait I have no control over. When I’m like this, kids terrify me. I have nightmares that I trip over one and crush us both. I can’t stop or turn easily, nor can I stand easily. A slow walk is the only thing that keeps me from falling over. Kid’s mom pulls the kid back, and I sigh relief. He stares at me with huge brown eyes. I’m just as afraid of him as he is of me.

And—people do not understand. Sites aren’t laid out for people who are simply mobility impaired, especially where walking farther is a challenge. As an example, if there’s a good railing and four steps or fewer, I’ll usually take the steps rather than a handicap ramp simply because it’s shorter.

When I open the car door and plop in, I can’t do anything for about a minute. Finally, I start the car up.

We skip the second possible stop.

Corning: Olive Pit

Neither of us could remember exactly where the Olive Pit was. Collectively, we got the details right, though I did have a few mixed in from Granzella’s, where I’d never been.

I’d been there before, but I also remembered that the last time I’d bounced right back out. Given my experience earlier in the day, I wasn’t feeling very confident about it.

Still, it’s later in the day, my pain levels are a bit better, so I walk in. I manage to taste a couple of things, but I can’t even get to consider what I might want to buy before my feet are on fire again. Mom takes more time picking out her selections, but I head out to the car, once again white as a ghost and shaking. The store clerk brings out her jars of olives. Very nice of them.

By the time she’s back, I’ve recovered.

Dinner in Medford

We couldn’t find the place we’d eaten before, so we ate at a Shari’s just past most of Medford. I ordered a no-bun burger with their amazing stuffed hash browns, which are gooey and evil and you should only eat them if you like awesome things.

It was only a few more hours (argh) to Eugene, but that’s where we’re spending the night.

Tomorrow night, we’ll be on Vancouver Island.

Thankfully, I don’t have to take the evil altitude meds tomorrow, and their effects will have mostly worn off by morning.

Can’t. Wait.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Medical, Travel, fibromyalgia, medical, ..."
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O, Canada   New window
Date: Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 04:40

Mom and I are going to drive up to Canada.

I’ve driven to Seattle before, and I’ve driven from Seattle to Vancouver before. However, the next stage is the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, which I’ve never taken (I’ve always flown).

I’ve also never been to Victoria before, so I’m excited that we’re going there, too, probably on the return. We may have some time for a quick visit on the way up or back, but I’m guessing that our timing is going to pretty much miss anything of interest in Portland. Seattle’s more possible.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Family, Travel, family, travel"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 07:41

Please feel free to repost. Or, if you know of other, similar posts/threads, to link to them in comments.

If you’re an author doing direct digital sales from a web site you manage/control (meaning in addition to whatever you’re doing through Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Direct2Digital—or whatever)…

Questions for Authors Already Selling Directly

  1. What method are you using? Gumroad? Shopify? Easy Digital Downloads (plus WordPress)? WooCommerce? Sellfy? Some other?
  2. How’s that working out for you, and why did you make the choice you did?
  3. If you’re willing to share this information, what percentage of your total sales are direct sales?
  4. Has it been worth the hassle for you?

Questions for Authors Considering Selling Directly

  1. What programs have you looked into?
  2. Do you have any questions about the process?

For those who wonder why one would do such a thing, there are two primary reasons:

  1. If you have more than one thing to sell, you can offer custom discounts.
  2. You can offer them subscriptions to your email list; third-party vendors are completely transparent to you.
  3. Higher pay and faster payment.

For example, selling via EDD on my own site for a $3.99 book, I’d take home $3.52 today. If I sold the same book on Amazon, I’d receive $2.79 sixty days after the end of the sales month. For Nook, I’d receive $2.39 sixty days after the end of the sales month. For iTunes, $3.52 45 days after the end of the month. For Kobo, if the amount owing is > $150, then they pay monthly, otherwise every six months.

Obviously, $3.52 today sounds better, but it does require a savvy enough customer to sideload the book (drag to their reading application).

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Publishing, indie-publishing, self-publi..."
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 20:00

A friend of mine who’s a geek and I were talking about Heartbleed a couple of days ago. Said friend has never been a coder, and thus never really spent a significant time looking at memory dumps, unlike us old school programmers who have (especially back when we were, um, trying to argue with copy protection on games we owned back in the 80s when apps were traditionally copy protected).

So my friend said, “I don’t get why SSL certs have to be reissued.”

This friend doesn’t run SSL (nor do I). But I see exactly the gap that some technical people have.

Also, I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about the problem of non-obviously SSL security complications of the heartbleed attack, like password and cookie salts.

The short version of SSL is that there’s a public key, handed out to anyone who wants it, and a private key. This private key is not a file that the web server is supposed to be able to read. I’m not saying that this is never misconfigured, just standard practice is to only permit web servers to read files that web servers should send to other people.

The private key part of SSL is not one of those.

So, my friend was thinking, if it’s not something the web server can serve, how can that happen?

Because the private part of the SSL key needs to be in memory, at least temporarily, in order to decrypt an SSL request.

The heartbleed bug does spew random memory, which could include the server’s private key. Given that SSL servers decrypt often, it’s arguable that it’s more likely to be served than other contents of memory. Request frequently enough, and you’ll have the private key at some point. Piecing it together is another matter.

So here are a few other things you may not have thought of that you’ll need to change if you run a server that may have been compromised. By “may have been compromised,” I mean if it ran an affected version of SSL and served any SSL content, even if that content was just spacer.gif.

  1. Change salts for password hashes. This will force password changes (even for people who haven’t logged in recently). Yes, I’d hope that in this day and age, each user has a unique, contemporaneous to their account creation, password salt. However, I know this isn’t reality.
  2. If you run WordPress, you’ve got cookie salts in ~/wp-config.php Generate new ones. You can go here to get new random salts. If you don’t have random salts there, you should fix that.
  3. If you have cookie salts in other apps, change those. Yes, existing cookies will be invalidated….

For those who don’t know what salts are here’s the wikipedia page. Short version: they make cookies and password storage one-way encryptable. What this really means, though, is that if cookie/password salts are compromised, it’s far easier for them to pretend to be you.

Edited to add the following:

Researcher proves Heartbleed leaks SSL keys.
Cloudflare’s Heartbleed challenge—and winners.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Security, Software, computers, security,..."
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Date: Saturday, 12 Apr 2014 09:40

For some years, I’ve been struggling with mis-identified causes of pain. It was believed that I had arthritis and fibromyalgia. Period.

As I’d been arguing, that covers less than half—and probably less than a quarter—of my pain most days. I finally have an accurate diagnosis: most of it is myofascial pain.

Both have sore spots, but the myo ones are where nerve enters muscle, and irritating them usually refers pain to a specific area. Fibro points tend to be near joints; irritating them doesn’t refer pain—but can make the whole body hurt non-specifically.

Put them together: irritate a myo trigger point, myo radiates pain to a fibro point and then you feel crappy all over. Win.

The really interesting thing for me is that I’ve known for years that my pain was inflammatory, and fibro isn’t (and myo is). So that answers that question, too.

The good news that now I have a real treatment plan.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Medical, arthritis, fibromyalgia, medica..."
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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 23:21

Slowly becoming less of a fan of HipChat, it’s really no better than IRC with a proper client. –Matt Jarjoura

When I first looked at HipChat, I laughed. It looks, well, so 90s. Basically, it’s a revamp of IRC, where “revamp” means “we will charge you for it.”

The only reason you should pay money to them is one of the following:

  1. You don’t know how to set up an IRC server on some spare piece of office equipment and can’t be bothered to find anyone to help you.
  2. You need some obscure feature that’s not available on IRC or any of its addons.

Yep, that’s about it.

Essentially, HipChat and its ilk assume that you’ve never heard of IRC and are willing to pay to have private-ish conversations. They will never be as private as running your own IRC server.

If you don’t need that, you can get a dedicated channel on other servers, mark it private, invite people you want, and ban them if their status ever changes.

Why IRC Rocks

  1. The larger IRC networks are distributed, meaning everyone connects to a server closer to them. This does lead to netsplits, but it means that people can continue on even where one of the servers are down. In that sense, it’s designed like the Internet was intended: no single point of failure.
  2. IRC servers can be private. I’ve used them at several firms.
  3. You can do a seminar-style by making the channel moderated and requiring people to private message questions. Advantage of this format for the listeners is that they can private message each other, which many substitute chat types do not offer.
  4. You can make channels private.
  5. On most IRC networks, you can define a list of who’s an op (who has privilege to allow/disallow people on the channel), who can speak when the channel is moderated, and set those privileges so they persist without anyone on the channel. (And then there’s classic EFnet, which at least used to do none of these things.)
  6. IRC is extremely low bandwidth and fault tolerant. It assumes bad and slow connections. I have been in situations where no-image web pages wouldn’t load, email wouldn’t load, but IRC worked just fine. (Especially on ships using satellite internet.)
  7. Every operating system, even those without any graphical interfaces, still in use has at least one IRC client. Got an old Timex Sinclair?
  8. The biggest thing HipChat offers that IRC doesn’t typically out of the box is chat history, but there are even approaches for that using channel bots.

For Mac and iOS users, the best IRC software is Colloquy.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Software, Internet, software"
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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 15:11

Four months ago, I posted this commentary and critique of Box’s “Working at Box” page.

It got back to me that it created quite a stir, but I hadn’t checked back on the page recently. I have noticed incoming links to that blog post, so I wondered what was up.

Credit where due, Box has revised the underlying page.

Thank you! Nice improvement.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Sexism, Software Development, computers,..."
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Date: Sunday, 06 Apr 2014 05:44

Most of the time when people talk about their time in Scientology, they’ve been out for a few years. Until then, most people just are too shell-shocked trying to process their experiences and what they mean.

Recently, Jillian Schlesinger came out of the Sea Org. I missed this particular article and only watched her video, but the article’s interesting for me for the following part:

Jillian Schlesinger tells me she began taking Scientology courses at only about 12 years of age. Her parents, John and Paula, had both been Sea Org workers before she was born, but had left the Sea Org and were still “public” Scientologists — meaning they were still members in good standing, but they didn’t work for the church.

Jillian had been born in Los Angeles, but by the time she started classes she was living in Orange County and went to the “org” in Tustin. Even then, at 12, she began to feel the pressure of joining staff or making the ultimate commitment — joining the Sea Org. After helping out as a volunteer with youth groups, at 15, she decided to join the OC org staff.

She was assigned to work for the org’s “Department of Special Affairs.” The DSA was the local version of the Office of Special Affairs, Scientology’s notorious intelligence operation and spy wing.

I worked there in Tustin, and there was a Paula who was Sea Org; she was the Flag Rep. Which, frankly sounded like a horrible job.

If they hadn’t moved the office, then Jillian worked in the office next door to the one I used to work in. She came in through the same doorway to pick up her pay each week, probably getting it from my old boss.

That’s just incredibly strange to me.

Before I link to Jillian’s videos, I also want to say what an incredibly awesome job Karen de la Carriere is doing interviewing people who’ve left. Karen is the ex-wife of Heber Jentzsch, still nominally the President of the Church of Scientology even though he’s lived in The Hole for years and previously said, “I’ll never get out of here alive.”

Here are Jillian’s three videos with Karen:

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Scientology, scientology"
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Date: Sunday, 06 Apr 2014 03:30

I haven’t really ever talked about how much pain I’m in publicly. But I’m going to now, because I have just started in a pain management program. For the first time in many years, I think I’m making real progress.

When asked how long I’ve had chronic pain, it’s hard to answer. I remember not doing things because I hurt too much when I was a teenager. Some of that was when I was 13. I remember times when I was so sore I could barely move before tap dancing class.

I remember when I seriously took up ice skating when I was 20 that even putting the boots on my feet hurt incredibly. And it got worse, but I still did it. I remember fracturing my wrist in a fall because someone else was being an idiot on the ice. I put my hand out (sigh) to break the fall, and the friction from that was so intense that it burned the imprint of the knit pattern on the glove into my hand for two weeks. That wrist was sore for years, and the rest of me didn’t feel so hot for quite a while, either.

Then there was the time I fell down the staircase at my office. My partner and I were running a partnership then. I landed on my chin, did some horrible things to my jaw, and it was pretty awful. The chiropractor who put my jaw back into whack said, “You’re gonna scream.” Despite not wanting to, he was right. I did.

I also remember the fall on the ice when I lived in Vermont. The fall from which my knee has never quite been the same. Didn’t help that I severely re-injured it a couple of years ago falling outside a church in Norway.

What I can’t remember is not having debilitating chronic pain. I’ve had it since I was a teenager. I hid it the entire time I was in Scientology, because only degraded beings were in chronic pain. You were treated better if you pretended you weren’t chronically ill. (I also had other chronic illness things going on then, but that’s another story for another time.)

Putting a label on it and developing an effective treatment plan for it, though, that’s another problem entirely.

What’s been clear to me for years is that I have super-tight muscles. My ginormous calves have no real significant fat on them, just bone and tense muscle. When I was a teenager, I remember finding a painful lump in my thigh muscle, afraid it was cancer or something.

No, it was just a sign of what was to come.

Eighteen years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Painful when poked in the typical places? Check. Over the years, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the diagnosis because fibromyalgia doesn’t actually describe my day-to-day pain very well.

Ever tried to argue with a diagnosis that seemed set in stone? Going to a rheumatologist in 2011 got it firmly entrenched on my chart, which was even more frustrating.

It was like “You have fibro. We are done.” And, “I can’t prescribe (this medication that helps your pain) because that doesn’t work on fibro.”

Incredibly. Frustrating.

And yet, I do understand Occam’s razor, it’s just that Occam’s razor suggested it had to be something else because reasons.

That led to rounds of doctor shopping (and firing) until I happened to get the right one in December. The one who told me that Kaiser had a pain clinic and actually referred me to it. Which I went to a week and a half ago.

Joke’s on Me

So, guess what?

I do have fibro.

I was right, though, that’s not the major source of my pain. What is?

Myofascial pain. From the Wikipedia page:

In fibromyalgia, chronic pain and hyperirritability are pervasive. By contrast, while MPS [Myofascial pain syndrome] pain may affect many parts of the body, it is still limited to trigger points and hot spots of referred pain.

So, I have both pervasive chronic pain (from fibro) and irritable trigger points (from fibro and myo) and referred pain (from myo). I’ll tell you right now, that referred pain covers huge swaths of my body.

The myo explains so much. The muscle tension in my neck and head is so severe that it can change my vision (I have gotten diagnostic imaging for this, btw, it really isn’t visible on a scan). This led to uncomfortable conversations that basically boiled down to, “Oh, you’re fat. Therefore it must be diabetes and therefore macular degeneration.” Even though macular degeneration doesn’t describe the reported symptoms at all.

Some days I’ve had shooting pain, and I was wondering if I needed another cardiac look-see. That’s apparently not unusual. But you say, “If I stand too long on my feet on a hard surface, I get shooting pains up my body.” And a doctor sees you’re fat and therefore it must be diabetes (even when your sugar numbers are and have been normal) and the specific symptoms don’t describe diabetic neuropathy. Nor could you possibly have had diabetes long enough to get diabetic neuropathy, because if you’ve been paying attention, you don’t get that far that quickly.

In other words, everything was reduced to: 1) you are fat; 2) you have fibro; 3) you must have had diabetes for like a decade to get your nerves in this shape even though the blood tests don’t agree; 4) can’t see anything on the scans, so it must not be serious.

So I’ve had all this diagnostic imaging and ignored symptoms for years (including the imaging for both head and heart)—and yet no one picked up what it was. Until now.

What This Means in Practice

On a day-to-day basis, here’s the reality I face—and have for years. I wake up with enough pain to be nauseated. I have medication for that, but I can’t take it on an empty stomach because it makes it more likely that I’ll throw it up. Apart from the not-wanting-to-throw-up part, if you throw up partly digested medication, what’s the right dose to take to replace it?

So, I have to take pain meds with food. Coffee works pretty well as an anti-nauseant for me, actually, so long as I drink it with milk. So: coffee first, pain meds with coffee, cook the breakfast, then eat to stabilize the stomach against the meds. Then, and only then, can I do other morning things like taking a shower and getting dressed, because it hurts too much to stand in the shower before the medication starts to kick in. The shower helps reduce pain once I’m to the point where I can handle it.

Only after all of that can I walk like something even vaguely approaching a normal person, though the myofascial muscle tension is typically still a problem. It gives me a strange gait at times. We ruled out MS, but that was one of the things I’d been worried about, given that my capability to walk is so random, even within the same day. Sometimes, even within the same hour.

And Then There’s Yesterday

So I’ve been doing better after a medication change that the pain clinic doc put me on. The other day, I forgot pain meds for the first three hours I was awake.

Yesterday, I took a shower first, then walked (almost like a normal person) to make coffee. Only as I was standing there making coffee did I realize how remarkable that was.

Of course, by the time breakfast was ready, I was shaking. It’s still progress, though.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Medical, medical"
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Date: Saturday, 05 Apr 2014 13:27

Season 2 of the web series One Step Closer to Home is filming in Australia. So. I’ve. Been. Told.

It’s a show about a newlywed couple trying to figure out all the normal stuff in life, like where to find the art for the living room and how to fit sex into the schedule.

Oh, and if you liked Season 2 of Fairly Legal with Ryan Johnson as Ben Grogan, here he is with his more typical accent.

Here’s the web site.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Amusements, tv"
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Date: Saturday, 05 Apr 2014 12:48

Pretty good introduction to some of the big issues from a non-Scientologist’s perspective. Interesting that they cover Operation Snow White but don’t mention that Hubbard’s wife served time for that.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Scientology, scientology"
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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 05:08

Marriage Hats was a thin booklet written by L. Ron Hubbard’s last wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. It was published in 1974 by Scientology, a white volume with black uncial type on the cover. Later, they’d pull all Scientology-related books that weren’t written by LRH, and this would be one of items pulled.

This was published well after the concept of equal opportunity for women was embodied in law (though not in practice) in the United States.

So, let’s look at how enlightened Scientology was in 1974, shall we? Let’s look at five (of 23) directives for women are in marriage:

9. To support your husband in life by providing him with a clean, calm, happy home in which he can have the rest and peace necessary to fortify him in the battles of winning a living. [::facepalm::]

11. To keep an active interest in your husband’s work and to offer him encouragement and moral support. [Encouragement and support I agree with, but I'm not my husband, nor should I feel obligated to be interested in his work.]

12. To submit to the decision of your husband if agreement cannot be reached: he is the leader of the family. [No.]

14. To care for birth control and to be responsible.There can be nothing more upsetting to married life than an unwanted pregnancy or too many children. So don’t make mistakes; such surprises can be most disruptive. [So it's always the woman's fault.]

15. To keep yourself clean, attractive and womanly. A wife should always look the best she can for her husband – this doesn’t mean that you have to appear glamorous when you’re in the middle of scrubbing a dirty floor, but it does mean that a wife should care enough about her appearance not to come before her husband in the morning with cream on her face and rollers in her hair. It’s wise to do those beauty actions when your husband is not around, so you can be beautiful when he is present. [For L. Ron Hubbard. I don't even.]

And how well did that work for MSH, as she was known?

She was the primary defendant in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian infiltration into US Government systems in history. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

Meanwhile, L. Ron Hubbard remained on the run throughout the remainder of his life and never rose above the level of unindicted co-conspirator.

I guess she supported him, all right.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Scientology, faith, scientology"
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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 07:32

This is a really great report of a panel at a Supernatural con.

Sebastian Roché has the attention span of a fruit fly on meth[...].

And, about a prior con:

Misha comes on stage with a small pig, because why not?

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Amusements, conventions, humor, tv"
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Date: Saturday, 29 Mar 2014 10:51

Remember that awesome Air Tahiti Nui video? (If not, you really should watch it. Amazing stuff.)

The guy who did the techno soundtrack, Edmond Huszar aka OVERWERK, is a Canadian who’s up for a 10k music prize. He’s currently leading in voting, but others have been pulling in their fans. Voting closes in two days. Here’s the link if you’re so inclined.

Most of his work is at this link on Soundcloud. My favo(u)rites are: Daybreak (used in the Air Tahiti Nui video), Conquer, and his remixes of Werk Me and Space Junk.

Because of the video and his music, when Rick and I rented a car for the day in Tahiti, we spent the whole day listening to Overwerk.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Music, music"
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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 08:53

I haven’t updated the spreadsheet I pulled a few weeks ago, but here are the numbers from the last I pulled.

There are some data quality problems here. The low end of people who say they’re making a living writing? I don’t think $450 is a likely real response. Likewise, some of the higher numbers from people who say they’re not making a living writing would be perfectly respectable incomes for many. I’m not judging people’s responses here, just pointing out that there may have been some incorrect yes/no responses.

And, as always, this is self-reported data, so take it with a grain of salt.

Authors Saying they Make a Living Writing

Type # 25% 50% 75% 90% 95% 100%
Self 160 25,000 51,000 140,000 305,000 500,000 13,000,000
Hybrid 103 55,000 103,000 235,000 540,000 1,025,000 3,663,000
Trad 27 18,300 55,000 100,000 215,000 250,000 450,000

Authors Who Say They’re Not Make a Living Writing

Type # 25% 50% 75% 90% 95% 100%
Self 571 150 800 5000 15,000 24,000 113,000
Hybrid 78 2,300 10,200 20,000 40,008 50,000 89,150
Trad 54 500 4,000 17,500 35,000 50,000 60,000
Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Publishing, indie-publishing, publishing..."
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 21:37

Several people have said to me, “Yes, Deirdre, we all know romance sells well.”

I think, in trying to let the data speak, I gave too little context about what surprised me.

It doesn’t surprise me that some bestselling self-pub titles are romance. It does surprise me that so many of them are. There were, for example, zero science fiction titles.

So, just to point out the difference, here’s the NY Times list (I used a single week, but you’ll get what I mean):


Names, titles, and genres I used at the bottom.

By comparison, here’s the Smashwords chart from before, using the same color coding per genre:


See how many more titles there are in other genres on the NY Times list? Also, the NY Times list has quite a few more titles written by men. (Still mostly women, though.)

Current NY Times Fiction Bestsellers

NIGHT BROKEN, by Patricia Briggs. (Ace.) Fantasy
AFTERSHOCK, by Sylvia Day. (Harlequin.) Romance
POWER PLAY, by Danielle Steel. (Delacorte.) Fiction
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, by Jeffrey Archer. (St. Martin’s.) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
STONE COLD, by C. J. Box. (Putnam.) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt. (Little, Brown.) Fiction
THE INVENTION OF WINGS, by Sue Monk Kidd. (Viking.) Historical Fiction
THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, by Liane Moriarty. (Amy Einhorn/Putnam.) Fiction
ORPHAN TRAIN, by Christina Baker Kline. (Morrow/HarperCollins.) Historical Fiction
SYCAMORE ROW, by John Grisham. (Doubleday.) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
WORDS OF RADIANCE, by Brandon Sanderson. (Tor/Tom Doherty.) Fantasy
PRIVATE L.A., by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan. (Little, Brown.) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
THE ALCHEMIST, by Paulo Coelho. (HarperCollins.) Fiction
THE CHASE, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. (Bantam.) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
THE BOOTLEGGER, by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott. (Putnam.) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
AMERICAN GODS, by Neil Gaiman (Morrow) Fantasy
THE CHANCE, by Robyn Carr (Harlequin Mira) Romance
STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS, by Anna Quindlen (Random House) Fiction
FATED MATES, THE ALPHA SHIFTER BOXED SET, by Skye Eagleday (Excessica) Paranormal Romance
CONCEALED IN DEATH, by J. D. Robb (Putnam) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
KILLER, by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn (Crown) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
ME BEFORE YOU, by Jojo Moyes (Penguin) Romance
WILD HEAT, by Bella Andre (Dell) Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
FALLING FOR A STRANGER, by Barbara Freethy (Fog City) Romance

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Publishing, publishing"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 20:55

I’ve been kicking this post idea around in my head almost a year, ever since I sat in front of a computer working on a fan site wondering if I’d gone mental. Adding to the surreality was working at a glass desk over the shallows of the Indian ocean — hardly normal for me.

Backing up a bit, several of us were fans of a particular actor and role on a particular show that was, as is often the case, canceled. It was obvious the actor in question hadn’t found additional work in the US and would return home to Australia soon. One night, a Twitter direct message conversation spawned between myself and another fan, and I up and registered a fan site domain on the spur of the moment.

The Site That Almost Wasn’t

The following morning, I was scheduled to leave for Tokyo.

No worries, I thought, it’s a few bucks. If I still think it’s a good idea in when I arrive in Tokyo, I can do something about it.

Or, you know, not.

Honestly, I almost didn’t. It’s putting one’s self out there a lot and it’s a lot of work, not to mention an implied ongoing commitment. Making a fan site is adopting someone as “your people,” only they don’t really get a say the other way.

Plus, back when I was a teen, a friend of mine and I were singing at Disneyland in the annual Christmas Hallelujah Chorus thing, and Jimmy Stewart was the big actor there that night. My friend was a total fan. Just loved him. Unfortunately, he was a total jerk that night, and it broke her fannish little heart. Sometimes, we’d rather keep our fannish things to ourselves.

From the other end of things, I remember the first time I saw a positive review for one of my pieces. I was stoked. This person probably will never understand why I think they are so totally awesome—even if they never feel the same about anything else I ever do.

Back to the site…I got to Tokyo. Kinda freaked out. Emailed someone who ran a different fan site:

I’ve just bought a domain for a Ryan Johnson fan site, but it’s the morning after and I’m having cold feet, so please tell me that you’ve had some positive feedback from someone other than me. :)

This is where people you don’t know from Adam will leap to help you.

Most people in the limelight are happy with a fansite, as long as it goes easy on the gushing, treats them as human beings without objectifying them and respects their private lives.

Which is really good advice for dealing with anyone, and not different than I’d planned. I can’t handle the fan sites that are populated by stalkerazzi photos. I hope that fan site runner gets some happy feedback from their person eventually.

However, it was a couple more weeks before I told Rick about the fan site, though that was partly because I was in the Maldives and he was not….

Stuff I Learned

I’ve always thought of myself an audio person rather than a visual person. In high school, I was in band, marching band, orchestra, dance band, and choir at the same time. I studied sound recording (audio and film) in college. I’m generally more interested in how someone sounds than how they look.

I’ll often identify actors by voice long before I recognize their face (due to lighting, makeup, and the general chameleon-like nature of actors in their profession).

However, suddenly having (way) more than a thousand pictures of an actor’s career in front of me and having to pick and choose which made the cut and which didn’t — things started to click.

I’ve never really liked animated movies. Sure, I can enjoy them, but I never deeply bond with them. If you asked me why, I’d have said: the limited facial expressiveness doesn’t bridge my suspension of disbelief.

And that’s true, as far as that answer goes, but the real answer runs far more deeply than that, and I really had never put two and two together.

People’s facial expressiveness mattered to me far more than I realized. I tend to take people at face value, and I realized that I was getting far more of that “face value” from facial expression than I’d been aware of.

I started thinking about people I liked—the colleague you joke with, the person who sticks out at an event you attend—and realized that many of them had more expressive faces than average.

And, unfortunately, people whose faces are less expressive than average are generally people whose faces aren’t as memorable for me unless they say something that’s particularly memorable.

As I sorted through the pictures and tried to get good screen captures for the fan site I was building, I finally understood a whole lot more about why I hated YouTube so much, why I preferred Vimeo, why I liked BluRay and hated standard def, and why I generally loathed streaming media. The lossiness of video, particularly streaming formats, cuts a lot of the facial expression detail. I kept feeling like I was watching Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when his face was melting—not because of any issue with the acting or production, but because of the quality of the video I was viewing.

So while the fan site wasn’t a project I undertook to understand more about myself—it really was “Dude, I love your work”—it helped anyway.

I was nervous and strung out about announcing it, but he was very kind. It’s hard to pick a favorite out of all the pictures, but this one’s on my short list.

Author: "Deirdre" Tags: "Beauty, Important Things, movies, tv"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 05:30

Publishers Weekly has been publishing the top 25 bestselling self-published works on Smashwords each month. Here’s February’s list.

I’m not the least bit surprised that Romance is the top-selling category in terms of those top 25. What does surprise me, though, is the overwhelming percentage of those titles that are romance: 2/3 if you include the related genres of YA Romance and Paranormal Romance. I’m also surprised that Fantasy does as poorly as it has been.


Author: "Deirdre Saoirse Moen" Tags: "Publishing, indie-publishing, self-publi..."
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 05:05

In listening to a lot of people talk about the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370, I sometimes wonder if some of them truly have a sense of how remote some places in the world are, or how much it’d cost to monitor all that.

This article featuring a video with Mary Kirby talks about connectivity being the key. I don’t disagree.

However, a little over two months ago, I was on a ship sailing about 2,500 miles (4,000 km) almost due west from Valparaiso Chile to Easter Island. While it’s a remote place, it does have an international airport, cell service, most of that modern stuff.

What it doesn’t have? Satellite coverage in many bands for three of those five days of travel.

There’s something amazingly humbling (and somewhat terrifying) about being out of satellite range on what’s surely a cargo shipping route, especially when you’re sailing over water that is 13,000 feet (4,000 m) deep.

There are very few flights in the southern quarter of the world (by which I mean at least latitude 45° south). Here’s the entire list of settlements (where there’s at least 1000 people) south of 45°. That’s incredibly sparsely populated. Compare the latitudes with the northernmost settlements here.

So far as I know, there aren’t any southern polar air traffic routes the way there are so many northern polar routes. So probably the very last part of the earth that would get coverage is the kind of place where MH370 is believed to have been lost. I still think it’s too early to know that that’s the wreckage for certain, and I really feel for the people out there in the bad weather and rough seas doing that duty. Thank you.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do something more in the future to make these search and rescue (where “rescue” is more about confirmation of what happened and the opportunity to not do it again) efforts less costly. For me, the turned-off transponder is the single weirdest thing: that, combined with the believed wreckage position, doesn’t make sense absent the information we now lack.

Author: "Deirdre Saoirse Moen" Tags: "Travel, mh370, travel"
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 15:38

Most of you reading this will have no idea who Jackie Barbosa is. Nor who her son is.

Jackie’s a romance writer. Last week, her teenage son was driving to school and struck by an oncoming car. Dear Author mention is here, including link to a fundraiser.

I don’t know Jackie, but I do know what it’s like to have a husband suddenly die, and it really and truly sucks.

So, what I’m asking: here’s her booklist. If any of those are your cuppa, consider reading a sample and see if it’s something you want to buy and read the rest of. If you know other people who might like her work, consider telling them about her stuff.

She has a blog about publishing matters (she is a hybrid author, meaning both published traditionally and self-published). You might wish to read that. Like, for example, this post about metadata ownership concerns in publishing contracts. So, even if you don’t care about the romance genre, if you write, there may be something of interest to you in there. Maybe even if you don’t write.

From my own experience and that of others I’ve known in grief support groups since my first husband’s death, it’s going to take 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years to be fully productive again. I don’t know how many of you read the linked Esquire article in my recent MH 370 blog post, but part of what was disturbing about it for me was how the article really communicated how differently people grieve and how that can drive a wedge between family members when someone dies. And in the case of that article, between parents who’d lost a child.

I wish her (and her family) the best.

Update: Kensington has put one of her books on sale until 4/1. Link has details.

Author: "Deirdre Saoirse Moen" Tags: "In Memoriam, Writing, memoriam, other-wr..."
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