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Flappy Bird, (or how I’ve discovered that every app and add-in hates one-drive)

Are you familiar with the game, Flappy Bird? I don’t think you can get it anymore. I happened to download that piece of frustration before the creator decided that he was done with the whole thing and withdrew it from the app store.

Therefore, I still have it on my iPad.

The thing about Flappy Bird and me? That poor, hapless bird has never gotten past the third obstacle before he takes a nosedive and dies.

Right there in front of my face.

None of this “well, you gave it a good run,” crap. No racked-up points. No badges won. Nope. Just dies. I can’t keep him in the air and send him through those little gaps between pipes or other obstacles, which in turn would extend his poor little digital bird life.

Nope (emphasis on the “P”).

And, as a person who loves birds in real life (please note that you’ll see an inordinate number of chickens I’ve posted on Facebook, in addition to cats) it breaks my heart to kill even a digital bird.

Which brings me to my own, real life version of Flappy Bird.

It happened yesterday.

I transferred the manuscript for the latest book to my Mac Book Pro, so I could format it in the little piece of heaven others call Vellum.

Vellum is awesome and worth every cent. The only drawback is that it will only work on a mac. Therefore, I have to send the manuscript to my Mac Book.

Well.

There’s this thing (status, condition, whatever) where, if you download what the Mac perceives as a corrupt file, it shows up but is grayed out, whereas all the other files are in color and waving at you, saying “Hi, I’m available!”

Not this one.

I went fifty rounds with this thing. Downloaded it several times. Saved it as different things.

No bueno.

I freaked.

More. Than. Once.

I went back to the pc (where the original file was) after three hours of working with the Mac, to format it in a less pretty, barely utilitarian version of a book that should have been quite lovely and matching the first book released in the series.

Once it was uploaded, I turned back to working out the problem. Spent another hour on it.

Until.

I finally looked (really looked) at the way it was saved (and where) at the beginning.

O.M.G.

I re-saved the entire file as a word document. Yep, just plain old word. Then transferred it to the Mac.

Guess what?

No gray.

Loaded into Vellum like a dream. Was formatted in less than ten minutes, with all the pretty bells and whistles added in.

F@*%!

The less than pretty version was already grinding through Amazon’s gears, and you can’t get back in to do an update until that version is published and they turn on the options to make changes again.

Le sigh.

This morning, I got up, and the first thing I did upon finding the changes button active, was upload the nicer version. It’ll take time to get the update through the system, but eventually it should be available.

Le sigh.

So.

Sorry about that. I was in my own, personal, Flappy Bird Hell yesterday. Sorry that you may have downloaded a suckier version of the book than I wanted you to have.

I need a drink and a do-over.

Connie out.

P.S. It looks like Flappy Bird can still be had–download at your own peril 🙂

P.P.S. The nicer version is now available. Yay!

Upcoming Changes

About three years ago, I made the decision to publish exclusively with Amazon to make use of their new (at the time) Kindle Unlimited program. Part of the agreement with Amazon when enrolling books in the KU program is that they have exclusive access to the books while they are enrolled. That required that I remove my books from the Barnes and Noble publishing outlet, Nook. As I recall, some fans were disappointed with this decision.

Good news! I have decided to again make my books available in other formats from other outlets; B&N, iBooks, Kobo, etc. However, this will require removing them from the KU program.

While this may disappoint some KU readers, please take heart. I haven’t forgotten you. When new titles are released, they will be enrolled in the KU program for a period of ninety days—the minimum amount of time books must remain in the program. That will give those of you who use the KU program plenty of time to read the new books as they are released.

Once the KU enrollment period expires, new titles will be made available in other formats across other platforms.

Some of my books have already dropped out of KU, as of the end of 2016. Others will drop out over the next two-and-a-half months, depending on when their most recent ninety-day enrollment period is over.

For the older books that have and will drop out of KU, those titles going forward will also be offered for sale on other sites—bn.com, kobo, iBooks, etc., because the readers using those platforms haven’t been able to buy my e-books for roughly three years.

Something else I did, too, is lower the prices on many of the older titles, to make them more affordable.

I am excited to be able to offer my books through multiple platforms. I’ll announce their availability over the next several months as I proceed.

Connie out.

NO FILTER–AND A GUN

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get filters at Lowe’s or Home Depot?

Not filters for your air ducts or air purifiers or any number of household devices and such.

No—I’m looking for filters for hate.

You know—the hate that ferments inside some people, and because that hate isn’t filtered, it spews out of them like germs from a severe cough—or like bullets in a night club.

Either way, it infects or affects everyone around them.
We all saw what happened early yesterday. A not-so-reasonable person, infected with the cancer of hate, did a terrible, terrible thing in Florida.

Even his ex-wife and a former co-worker have said that the perpetrator was sick and filled with hate. He’d been investigated—twice—by the Authorities, because of his hate.

Today, friends and families of fifty people are in mourning. Others are struggling to survive and recover, their families and friends praying for that survival and recovery.

Because there was no filter.

No barrier between them and hatred with a gun.

 

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.”

–Ernest Hemingway

Excuse me, advertiser, but you can’t read my mind.

I get ads in my e-mail all the time. Today, I got one with this headline:

“What you’ve been waiting for!”

They have a hovercar! I grinned and did a happy sort of wiggle in my office chair as I opened the e-mail.

hovercar

Sadly, I was disappointed. Not only was there no hovercar, they wanted to sell me scented soaps, which, also sadly, I am allergic to. After eating half a bag of peanut M&Ms to soothe my disappointment, I went back to writing.

Except I still can’t get over the whole no hovercar thing, because I really, really want a hovercar before I die.

Before you get all gaspy and pull away from your computer in horror, no, I’m not expecting doom to arrive at my door at any moment, although with my luck, I’ll walk outside and have a flying cow land on me.

My obituary—killed by flying cow.

That unlikely event made me think of a conversation I had with a friend the other night at dinner. She’s a teacher and she reads my books because she loves fiction. Her college-age daughter reads non-fiction, and some of her recent favorites have been books on constitutional law and the firefighter’s test. She loves the realest of real things, and really, you can’t get any realer than that.

She reads constitutional law for pleasure.

I swear I am not making this up.

When my friend suggested my books to her daughter, her daughter said she couldn’t read them because, “Connie changes everything.”

Wow. That may be the best compliment I have ever, ever gotten. All my hopes and dreams summed up in three words—Connie changes everything. I need that written on a plaque to hang on my wall:

Connie changes everything.

As if I could, like in my dreams, reach out a hand and make everything the way it should be. That no child would be hungry, homeless or denied an education.

That for once, the entire planet might speak with a single voice to make sure all its citizens not only mattered, but deserved protection and equal rights.

Wow.

Connie changes everything.

I want that to be my super power, although I hear capes are passé.

Connie out.

 

Birdseed and Litterboxes

I have three cats. Anybody who’s read (okay, I had to stop for a moment, my husband is listening to bagpipe-kilt-rap-music on his iPad. All right—done, now.)

Anyway, as I was saying, anyone who’s read the author information in most of my books knows I have three cats. We’ve been cleaning litterboxes the traditional way for YEARS. I never bought an automatic, self-cleaning, blessing-from-heaven litter box because I was afraid that:

  1. The cats wouldn’t use it.
  2. The cats would dismantle it.
  3. It wouldn’t work.

A few days ago, however, I was talking to my sister on the phone. She said that she’d bought a multi-cat self-cleaning litterbox for a friend who also has three cats, and it works like a dream.

Well, how could I ignore such a ringing endorsement? I immediately went online and ordered one from Amazon.

It arrived. My husband and I put it together, put litter and batteries in it, plugged it in and—NOTHING.

We tried again, thinking we’d missed something.

We hadn’t.

Still NOTHING.

We went through the entire trouble shooting guide in the booklet.

NOTHING, CUBED.

By that time, I wanted to weep. I never wanted anything to work so badly in my life.

But wait, you say. The title says birdseed. What about that? Oh—and the ending to the litterbox story, too.

Okay.

When they shipped the litterbox to me, the pet supply company fulfilling the order also sent a big bag of birdseed (alliteration, much?) to someone else.

At least they thought they did.

Somehow, they placed a duplicate label on the birdseed box, with my name on it. Therefore, instead of going to some nice person in California, whose mission it is to feed birds with no waste birdseed, it came to me instead.

That was before the defective litterbox arrived.

I called the pet supply company, hoping I wouldn’t have to call a delivery service to pick up the birdseed and send it back to said company. They were very nice and said “Keep it or throw it away, and thanks for letting us know.”

Yeah, I thought it was over with that.

How wrong I was.

The litterbox arrives two days later, and as explained previously, it didn’t work, no matter how hard we tried (or begged it to).

I had to call the company again.

*Head-desk.*

That’s why I ended up having to cart the non-working litterbox to a physical store twenty-plus miles away and exchange it for another litter box, while paying nearly thirty dollars more for it because of the price difference between the online and store prices.

*Yay, me.*

Anyway, we got the new box home. We opened it. Inside was something I didn’t expect—the online order form for another person, who’d done what we did—returned their litter box to the store.

At that point, I was almost too afraid to unpack the thing and try it.

We did it anyway. After all, we were already familiar enough with the directions that we could recite them on demand.

I cannot tell you how happy we were when we plugged it in and on cue, the scooping mechanism went through its obligatory first pass, combing through the litter and disposing of an imaginary clump.

There were tears of joy and high-fives after that.

The point of this story?

There isn’t one, except to say this:

Ms. XX, we have your birdseed.

Mr. XY, we have your litterbox.

Thank you.

Now, should I buy a bird feeder?

Connie out.

It’s All My Fault

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00073]I want to start by saying just that–it’s my fault. The release date for Cloud Rebel is now officially May 16. Yes, there are reasons, but ultimately it all comes back to me.

No, I didn’t blow you off–I know you’re waiting patiently for the book, and I appreciate that more than I can ever say.

The truth is, the past two months have been tough ones. Some of you already know that in early March, my sister’s husband passed away unexpectedly, leaving all of us in shock. Shortly after that, my husband’s brother (the only family he has left) suffered a near-fatal heart attack.

Then I was infected with round one of the crud, complete with puking and—well, the other stuff, too.

TNEE in Vegas came next, which had been planned for a year in advance, and the recipe for deadline disruption was already in progress. (We had a follow-up scare during the signing in Vegas when hubby’s brother was taken to the hospital again).

Writing was going well when I got home again, until round two of the crud came along. I can point a finger with full confidence at hubby—he got it first and handed it straight to me. I’m still trying to get rid of the leftover cough and have seen the doctor twice this time.

Still, I feel guilty that I’m putting off the release for two-plus weeks, and I take complete responsibility for the delay. I hope you’re willing to stick with me; this one has been hard to write for many reasons.

 

On another note, Blood Wager will be offered as a free download on Amazon May 3rd-7th, and featured on Bookbub May 4th (May the fourth be with you). If you know anyone who hasn’t read it yet–hey, it’ll be free!

Anyway, here’s a Cloud Rebel snippet for you, while you wait:

 

James

We knew something was wrong. Katya was on edge all the time, which unsettled Sergei. Dr. Shaw did his best to calm both down, but he felt it, too.

Nathan said everything was under pressure—as if we were locked inside an airless space in which the breaths we drew felt like our last.

I couldn’t disagree with him—I wanted to talk in whispers, like someone was listening that shouldn’t be.

We hadn’t seen Cori or Val for more than two days. I didn’t know what to make of that, either, and wished for the trick she had of speaking mind-to-mind.

Bekzi—normally he and Gerrett were smiling or cheering up the rest of us. Both had succumbed to whatever this was. Neither could explain it, either. Whatever conversation they had, it was done mentally and the rest of us weren’t included.

 

Happy weekend, everybody.

Connie

On Valentine’s Day

Walter and I have been married forty-one years. Yeah, long enough to have a hyphen between words. Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries have been a dance through the years, and like anyone learning to dance, it was a little awkward at first.

Like the time early on, when he surprised me with a new weed-eater for my birthday.

Worst. Gift. Ever.

He’s so much better at these things, now.

What do you get for him? You ask.

I look for something useful, fun—something he wouldn’t rush out and buy for himself.

This year, I got him a new iPhone 6+. Don’t worry, he went with me to the Apple store yesterday and picked it out, so he already has it.

I paid.

Then we went to my favorite clothing store, and he bought a nice jacket for me that I picked out. I think that’s what I like best—that we go out together, and enjoy the look on each other’s faces when we get something we love.

We’ll have dinner twice this coming week—he’s buying Friday, I’m buying Saturday. We have reservations both days.

Back to Valentine’s Day, though, which is the subject of this post.

The other day, I went to the dentist. The hygienist (young and pretty) asked what I was doing for my husband for Valentine’s Day.

“I get him something useful,” popped right out of my mouth, with no other explanation.

“You mean like a weed-eater?” she asked, quite innocently.

I’m still laughing.

A Few Notes On Writing

When I started writing seriously in 2007, the computer I used was a dinosaur. We’ll call him compusaurus. He only had 4GB of memory.

I stuffed that memory full of books—until one day, compusaurus was full.

Compressed the data.

Wrote some more.

Compusaurus was full again.

I was forced to get another computer. (It was time—compusaurus was nearly 15 years old and this was 2011). So I bought a new computer with a terabyte of memory.

End of story, you think.

Boring.

You may be thinking, too, that I should have backed up all those books before—rather than risk losing them.

You’re right. I now have this back up thingy that holds everything I do (still don’t know how it works) but it’s there.

What about all those other things I wrote?

The geeky guys were able to transfer all my stuff to the new computer, so there wasn’t any problem. But—I did something else all along that ensured I’d still have my stuff.

Every time I make significant changes to a manuscript (including word count), I e-mail it to myself. Nowadays, I also e-mail it to Joe.

Back in the old days of typewriters (and even before that) the practice was to mail a manuscript to yourself so it would be postmarked and then, when you received this package you’d mailed to yourself, you left it unopened. That way, if you ever had to prove to anyone that you wrote what you did, you’d have the proof, dated by a bona fide government agency.

I’ll bet there are still authors out there who have a pile of manuscripts in boxes or envelopes, all unopened.

Just in case.

E-mail is so much easier, faster and cheaper to do exactly the same thing, nowadays.

I don’t know if anybody reading this post is interested in writing, but this is a tip I’m happy to pass along. It also brings me to my next topic:

PIRACY

At times, I actually speak in front of people. I’ve talked to college classes and junior-high classes. In one of those talks, the first thing I was asked was about piracy.

The person who asked had never written a book, because they were terrified somebody would steal it. They were afraid an agent would steal their idea. Or, if they were published, that people would pirate their work willy-nilly.

Here’s my take on that—in order to be pirated, you have to first write something that somebody wants to pirate.

Chances are if that happens, you’re selling well anyway.

Most of you know that I used to work for Borders.

Alas, poor Borders, I knew ye well.

Every year, we had to inventory the books and anything else for sale in the store. After inventory, we always got our shrink numbers.

For those of you who don’t know what shrink is—that’s what you’ve lost during the year due to theft, destruction (people actually ruin stuff you sell) or any other thing that removed an item from your inventory.

Every year, our store would shoot for less than 3%.

3% (or less) stolen, destroyed or otherwise just not there anymore.

Yes—shrink is built into any retail business’ plan. They know it will happen. In the company I worked for, the shrink numbers in your store played a very significant role in any yearly raises employees received. (FYI—When a thief takes something, they’re not just stealing from a big corporation. They’re actually stealing from every employee who works in that store, often for a low hourly wage.)

Yes, it was part of our job to keep shrink from happening.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to catch every thief or potential thief. (I have plenty of stories about how slick some thieves actually are.)

That brings me back to pirated e-books.

If you’ve written something that’s selling well, then somebody is gonna steal it. Sure, there are a few sites that have an actual policy for taking stuff down that somebody tossed onto their site as a free download. I’ve gotten my books removed from a handful of sites that way.

Then there are others. Some of them are likely waiting to hand you a nice computer virus with your free download.

Remember—caveat emptor.

Let the buyer beware.

In other words, you get what you pay for, most of the time. If it’s somebody’s intent to steal, well, they may end up getting stolen from.

What I’m trying to say is this: stop worrying about things like piracy, or somebody stealing your unpublished manuscript, or having to stand in court someday to prove you actually wrote the damn book in the first place.

Write the damn book.

Then e-mail it to yourself.

Happy writing—

Connie

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog site, an offshoot of subtledemon.com. From now on, all my new blog posts will be here, so I hope you will come back often to see what’s new. If you have any suggestions or requests, feel free to post them here. You’ll need to create a login and password to be able to post or comment.

Regards,

Connie