What the deuce is taking so long? (UK trials & tribulations)

Not that I’ve heard anyone utter that phrase, but I figured “bloody hell” might not be appropriate in a blog title.

Culture shock is a thing. Oddly enough, I didn’t experience it much during my first few weeks, but perhaps that’s because I’m used to being a tourist. Now that I’ve been in a foreign country for the longest span in my adult life (that’ll be two full months on Thursday), I’m forced to deal with the minutia of a different country.

Nothing shocking about that — except the shock and awe!

Sure, it’s weird being told I have an accent. And the food and beer might be different. But those things can be charming (and delicious!).

What’s less fun is the snail’s pace at which capitalism operates here. I mean, this is an island nation that could fit inside Texas and it gets the same degree of cellphone coverage as west Texas.

t16
Shouldn’t this whole place be glowing green like some kind of radioactive wasteland?!

Feel free to make your arguments about which side of the road is technically the “right” side, or how many words the letter “u” needs to be present in, or whether or not cheese is a dessert or an appetizer — BUT — one thing is for certain. USA reigns supreme when it comes to taking your money.

Here’s what I mean:

We found a place to live. Great! How soon can we move in?
Well, let’s see, today is the 6th of December. It’ll take a few days to draw up the application, run the proper checks and whatnot. But no one really wants to clean carpets or touch up paint over Christmas, so…
We’re living in a hotel with our dog and cat. They can paint with us in there. Seriously, how soon?
Well, if you’re in a hurry we can really speed things up and get you in on the 7th of January!

A rental agency in the US would get you in your house in a week, tops. Or, how’s this one:

Hi, Toyota dealership! We saw a car on your website that we’d like to buy. Let’s make it happen!
Well, I’ll have to check if that’s on the lot. Let me ask you some questions about the kind of car you want to buy.
Umm, this one. Here, look on my phone.
Well, I told you, I’d need to see if that’s here.
Can you…go do that, then?
Well, yes, but only if I can finish my questionnaire first.
Okay…
(later) Brilliant! We have the car.
Great! We’ll take it. Here’s a loan approval letter from a UK bank.
How does next week sound?
For what?
For buying the car.
We don’t own a car yet, I was hoping for sooner.
Well, then, how does *early* next week sound?

Yeah. The US would have you drive the car off the lot and the salesman would be treated to a steak dinner that very night.

Hi, I’m currently on a month-to-month plan for mobile phone service and I’d like to set up a yearly contract.
Well, you’d need a UK billing address first.
Okay, I’ll set that up. How about now?
Well, you need a UK credit card.
I use my US card for the month-to-month…
Right. That doesn’t matter. You need a UK card for this.
Okay, can I get a UK credit card?
No. You have no credit history in the UK. In fact, you’ll need to sign for all your purchases every time you use a US credit card (but no one else has to do that so don’t expect anyone to have a pen or even know what’s happening!) and if you go to Costco, be prepared to bring a suitcase full of money.
Okay, I guess I’ll just keep paying month-to-month like a drug dealer. Thanks!

If you think a US phone company would let you out of their doors without a phone contract, internet, and cable TV, then you’ve never seen true capitalism at work.

The reason I’m writing (whining) about this is twofold. One, I just finally got internet!

Hi, I’d like to give you money. i can haz nternets, plz?
You’re in luck! We’ll get you set up in two weeks!
Lulz

And two, because all my stuff we shipped from the US on November 14th still isn’t here yet. Well, that’s not entirely true. My household goods are in this country, I’m told, but customs isn’t ready to release them to us yet. Instead I get to answer questions like, “Does the pancake mix listed on your inventory contain dried eggs or dairy?”

Here’s an email I received yesterday, verbatim:

Customs have come back to us and they have asked: All seeds- Are these for planting or eating?
Hello, The seeds are excess gardening (planting seeds). There are not very many and I’m not even sure we’d use them. But we’d be willing to eat, plant, or burn them if we can get our household goods faster! Thanks for your help.

And that was literally my response, which probably means I have another month before I’m neck-deep in cardboard.

Okay, that’s it. Rant over. And yes, I realize I’m complaining about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that parallel-universe me would kill this-universe me for.

But that’s what blogging’s for, right? Thanks for letting me vent. Now to end it on a positive. If there’s one area that the UK crushes the US on, it’s the prevalence of puns. They’re everywhere. This was on my neighborhood walk:


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Feel my pain? Or am I a spoiled American?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

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When an ebook is Superior to a Paperback

The pros and cons are oft debated; which is better? An ebook or a physical book? Usually the list looks something like this:

Paperback
-Infinite battery life
-Can take in bathtub
-Easier to lend/resell/buy used
-Can display as art
-Nostalgia for feel & smell

ebooks
-Cheaper
-More portable
-Saves trees

Well, now you can add another pro to the ebook list. With interactivity, ebooks blow paperbacks out of the water. With my “Click Your Poison” series, I’m often asked how an interactive ebook works on the Kindle. So I made this video. Enjoy!

Freebies, Fans, & Pirates: Part Duex

This is a followup to Part One.

First, I’d like to address the issue of piracy. If you’re not too concerned with reading Part One, here’s the context: Someone has ripped the ebook version of INFECTED.

Depp Pirate
No, not him.
The dread pirate neckbeard.
That’s more like it.

I know that movie studios have a hell of a time dealing with piracy, but this is for something self-published so I’m kind of on my own. Let me reiterate: No guild, lawyer, etc. I’m a small independent ship out on the seas. No guns with which to shoot pirates.

Here are my options (as I see them):
1) Look into sending a DMCA Takedown Notice and start the game of virtual whack-a-mole. They put something up, I tell them to take it down, repeat.
2) Post a comment on the page. “Glad you are interested in INFECTED! If you really like it, I ask that you support an indie author and tell ten friends to buy it, leave me an amazon review, and (if you can spare it), fork over the $3.99 to buy a legit copy.”
3) Shut up and be happy that people are noticing my book.

I realize that some high-profile self-publishers think piracy may actually help sales, but I can’t say I agree. Right now, there are 2-3 illegal downloads of my book per day on this piracy site. Compare that with the 1-2 legitimate sales I get each day (which I am eternally grateful for–thank you, readers!). As one friend put it, “Well, definitely not number three. Maybe if you were typing this in your mansion. That sucks.” So I think I can cross #3 off right away.

I will say, however, that it does feel like fighting back would be akin trying to punch a school of fish. And after looking into it, I see that the website is hosted out of Poland, so #1 is off the table. As I understand it, US law (DMCA) only applies in the US.

So, how about #2? I believe most people who pirate TV or movies seem to mainly be impatient. Take, for example, the fact that Game Of Thrones was the most pirated TV show last year and many say that if they could pay for HBO streaming without getting cable, they would. My book is already published and (was) widely available, so my particular crowd of pirates must just be cheap. Therefore the chance of lost sales is pretty low…

I tried to post in the site’s comment section, and that probably would’ve been the end of it. But (surprise, surprise) comments appear to be disabled. So I sent the host site a nice message, hoping they’d take it down (they haven’t yet, nor have they replied). I also flagged the URL to google, so hopefully that will kill its SEO rating.

I had to do something. In the end, I couldn’t justify the piracy in my head. If I wanted to give the book away for free, I would, but the choice should be mine.

In fact, now that INFECTED is only available as an ebook through Amazon (the paperback is still widely available), you can get it for FREE if you’re an Amazon Prime member. If not, it’s still cheaper than a Subway footlong.

Last thought: For the time being, if you don’t see this, it is most likely a pirated copy:

Go ahead, Click Me!
Go ahead, Click Me!

Now then. Let’s round off this post with a positive thought.

Yesterday I was approached by my first ever twitter fan account. I’m flattered, of course, but it was also a much needed reminder. A reminder of what? That when I put in the extra effort, my readers notice.

Other authors I’ve talked to seem to think the best idea is to split apart a traditional novel into bite-sized chunks: maybe three books at 30k words each. This way you can sell them each separately, and you’ll be noticed more since you have a series and not just one book.

I’ve been called crazy for making INFECTED three books in one. It’s somewhere around 115k words and easily could have been INFECTED: Part 1, 2, and 3. But I believe that readers will appreciate not being manipulated and that (eventually) a superior product will rise to the top.

If you liked INFECTED, this is the #1 fan site out there...
If you liked INFECTED, this is the #1 fan site out there…

It appears to be working. Now I need to get back to writing Click Your Poison #2 before all this fan love goes to my head.

Mind-blowing Fiction

Looking for something to blow your mind? Look no further.

Reading the new INFECTED paperback has been known to kill boredom.
Use at your own discretion.

Only 3.5 days left in the giveaway. In case you missed yesterday’s announcement: INFECTED will be out in paperback just in time for Thanksgiving, and to give “Thanks!” to all my readers, I’m hosting a giveaway. And in the Holiday spirit, share share share this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win at Rafflecopter or on Facebook.