But seriously, this is a call for all of you who've read our books to please, please, give us a review. Amazon, Goodreads, wherever--authors these days live and die by reviews, and hey--I don't want to die. Not without a review.
(I've heard Amazon is zapping reviews that aren't "verified"--in other words, from Amazon buyers. I guess that makes Goodreads a place to go for getting them counted.)
There are several websites I've checked out, with the idea of posting ads for our books on them; especially Radio Red, the newest, which has been getting little traction even though my publisher has it up on the Simon & Schuster website. (If you're not aware, they're a very big publishing house, which is distributing all my romantic comedies via e-books.)
The problem is, websites devoted to helping writers with publicity are being overwhelmed with requests right now. As a result, many of them won't take on your book unless it has a certain amount of--yep--reviews. In other areas *coughAmazoncough*, word is some websites use algorithms that keep your book from getting noticed until, well, it's noticed, and reviewed. Catch-22? Yep. I wonder how Catch-22 would have done in modern times?
I guess I could have just shortened this to: Please, send in some reviews of whichever of our books you've read, and make sure they're honest ones, no pulling punches. I have zero dollars in my bribery budget, so we might as well have the truth. If we get, say, ten new reviews overall, good or bad, I'll ... I'll ... hm ....
Oh, I know! I'll record a video of me reciting one of my own poems, and post it for all to see. Yep.
Guess I'd better go write a poem now, just in case.
Interesting times, indeed, although thankfully on a smaller scale than some.
Have some link stuff:
The Beeb mined this one for human interest too - oh, we wacky Kiwis, right? :-)
There is new Maiden Rose coming, still doujinshi, but I'm forever grateful that their creator still loves Klaus and Taki as much as I do.
And I even posted about TS. Who'd a thunk?
Albion Fire Auxiliary Holds Fundraiser
The Albion Fire Auxiliary is having a Sportsman Raffle Fundraiser, to support the Albion Volunteer Fire Department's efforts to purchase fire equipment not available through their limited budget. Only 500 tickets are being sold by firefighters at $10 per ticket, or 3 tickets for $20. A Remington Model 770 .270 caliber Hunting Rifle with Scope is first prize, a Parker Bushwhacker Crossbow Hunting Package is second prize, and a Case Hunting Knife is third prize, with the drawing date of November 11th.
The Albion Fire Auxiliary has recently become incorporated as a Nonprofit 501 c 3 organization, so any donations are fully tax deductible. It's the mission of the Albion Fire Auxiliary to support the Albion Volunteer Firefighters' efforts to better serve their community and its emergency needs.
For more information, contact Project Chairperson, Bryan Peterson at 260-564-1995.
For those of you who aren't into raffles or perhaps don't live close by, don't forget that all the proceeds from our book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department also go to the AFD's operational fund. Like the raffle tickets, a copy is only $10, or less as an e-book.
However, I didn't plan two ways out, or even one way in, so I had nothing for Fire Prevention Week this year. Instead this is from the "Best of Slightly Off the Mark", which is a little silly because no newspaper is running Slightly Off the Mark at the moment. What isn't silly is fire prevention, which, you might be surprised to learn, is what Fire Prevention Week is about.
Sure, it seems obvious. But it’s also obvious that if sprinkler systems aren’t installed they don’t put out fires, safety belts that don’t get used aren’t safe, and people who stay in Washington, D.C. turn into blithering idiots. And yet we defeat sprinkler laws, don’t belt up, and reelect blithering idiots, so sometimes the obvious needs saying.
This is why we have Fire Prevention Week, which is a week during which we try to stress preventing fires. Fire Prevention Week is always nearest October 9th. That’s the historical date of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which took place in 1871, was indeed in Chicago, but really wasn’t all that great.
“Great” is a term used for fires that get so out of control that they get weeks named after them. The NFPA has devoted itself to keeping fires from turning great, and the best way to do that is to keep them from getting out of control. It’s counterintuitive, but they would not then be called “good”.
More important is to keep people from getting killed in a fire, which is the job of smoke alarms, which are just like smoke detectors except with fewer syllables. A working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a fire in half. You don’t have to be Captain Obvious to see the value of that.
Here’s the fun part, though, and by “fun” I mean “tragic”: When talking smoke alarms, you always have to stick in the word “working”. In 23% of home fire deaths, there were smoke alarms—but they didn’t work. Why? Sometimes they were old or damaged, but usually the batteries were dead or missing.
“Honey, the batteries in the camera are dead.”
“I’ll just take some out of the smoke detector. Don’t worry, I’ll remember to put them back.”
Sure you will. Stop at the dollar store and get more for the camera, you schmuck.
But even if the batteries stay in, there’s no guarantee they’re working. Batteries go dead from time to time, and dead batteries lead to dead people.
Thus the idea of changing them twice a year, when Daylight Savings Time comes and goes. Whine all you want about springing forward and falling back (and you will … you will), but it’s a great reminder to put in a good set of working batteries. If the old ones are still good and you’re particularly cheap, put those in your digital camera. Sure, there’s a chance they’ll go dead and you’ll miss catching that UFO hovering over your house ... but the little green men are going to steal your camera and make all the photos blurry anyway, so why bother?
In between changes, you should test your smoke alarm batteries every month. This is about the same rate at which a major celebrity gets arrested. If you’re really paranoid you can check them every few days, at the rate a minor celebrity gets arrested.
If the smoke alarm is more than ten years old, replace it. If you can’t remember how old it is, replace it. If you can’t remember how old you are, have someone else replace it. And yes, if it doesn’t work when you test it, replace it. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
There was a time when experts recommended installing a smoke alarm on each level of the home and outside each sleeping area. They now say to install one inside each bedroom, in addition to the others. By my estimation that would mean five smoke alarms in my house. If you count every room my dog sleeps in, that would mean nine smoke alarms, or more if you count each spot as a separate bedroom.
That may seem like a lot, but I’ve long had a suspicion that my dog smokes when we’re asleep. Have you ever seen hairballs burn? Not pretty.
Can’t afford a smoke alarm? Yes you can. You, put down that beer. You, put down that cigarette. You, put down that game controller. And you, put down that—oh, man. Dude, close your curtains! I can’t unsee that.
Yes, you can scrape up the money to save your life. I did a quick internet search, and found smoke alarms for sale ranging from twenty to less than five dollars. I wouldn’t necessarily go for the cheapest ones, but you can cover your entire home for less than the cost of that 32 inch flat screen TV you want to mount in your bathroom.
On a related note, you do not need a flat screen TV in your bathroom. We’ll talk electrical safety in a future column.
Today is Columbus Day, when we celebrate the first European explorers to discover the Americas, which they weren’t, when Christopher Columbus landed on our continent, which he didn’t.
Still, Columbus thought October 12, 1492, was worth celebrating. After all, he’d badly miscalculated the size of the word, figuring he’d have to sail about 2,300 miles to reach the East Indies. It was actually 12,200 miles from the Canary Islands to Japan. I’m not sure anyone even consulted the Japanese on the idea, let along the Canaries.
Luckily for Columbus’ dwindling food supply, he bumped into a continent that nobody even knew was there. He spent his whole time there assuming he was in Asia after being the first to sight land—which he didn’t. A guy named Rodrigo de Triana was the first to actually see some little palm tree in the Bahamas.
After one of his ships ran aground he established the first Age of Discovery colony in the New World, but the men he left behind argued over gold and internet usage, and the town failed. Meanwhile Columbus headed back with some kidnapped locals, and introduced Europe to tobacco.
If you think about it, he was kind of a lousy explorer. If he'd made it to the Pacific, he'd have ended up stranded on Gilligan's Island.
I mean, Cuba looks nothing like China. Come on.
But at least that got Columbus the job of Governor of the Indies, where he gained the nickname “The Tyrant of the Caribbean”, soon to be a major motion picture from Disney.
All of this led to the Aztecs and Incas being wiped out, pandemics in both the Americas, yadayada, Pilgrims, American Revolution, treaties broken, Trail of Tears, casinos.
I’m summarizing a bit.
Now, my wife is not a fan of Christopher Columbus. I suspect she thinks Columbus’ direct descendent was Andrew Jackson—see above about the Trail of Tears. Emily’s a descendent of the Aniyvwiyaʔi, which is what we’d call the Cherokee Indians if we weren’t too lazy to spell it.
My Cherokee ancestors lived up in the Appalachian Mountains and got something of a pass, pardon the pun, from forced relocation. Emily’s ancestors walked hundreds of miles, and those who survived ended up in snowstorm earthquake territory, instead of the much more pleasant southeastern hurricane zone they’d enjoyed before.
All because of Christopher Columbus.
You can see why some areas now celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on this day, which is actually that day, because getting a Monday off is way more important than marking an actual date. Personally I’m in favor of renaming it Explorer’s Day, or Discoverer’s Day, or some such. Columbus did make important voyages, after all, even if he was a dick; and it would be a way to learn about all the explorers from all over. Remembering the past, instead of hiding it.
We are a race of explorers, after all, and as a people we tend to crave discovery. To the bottom of the ocean to the ends of space, we need to keep exploring.
For the sake of little green men, hopefully in the future we’ll be nicer about it.