Friday, October 16, 2015

Custom-made pet urns

As most of my readers know, my wife is a ceramic artist (a potter) who does wheel thrown pottery. One of the items that she makes are pet cremation urns. She can make ceramic pet urns with paw prints for dogs, cats, and ferrets. She does have a size limitation (basically she can't make an urn for a godzilla sized dog). The most common customization request is for the pet's name to be on the urn.

If you are interested, you can check out her Etsy shop.

Handmade pet urn.
Ceramic pet urn.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Four years in the self-published marketplace

Today, I realized that I have been in the self-publishing marketplace for four years (well, almost four years). My first ebook, Pizza Boxes on the Floor, went live on Smashwords on October 15, 2011. And my first dubious erotica self-published offering, CBM1LA (yes, that is code because I do not share my erotica pen-names with the public), went live on Smashwords on October 30, 2011.

Now, I had been thinking about self-publishing for a long time before I went the self-published route.

I started writing for profit in 1984 when I realized at a truck stop that someone had to be getting paid for writing dubious erotica. (I had written some extremely bad science fiction and fantasy stories in high school--based on The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy and The Hobbit.) And my first check for dubious erotica was cashed in 1985, a whooping twenty-five dollars.

The first time that I considered going the self-published route was when a traditional occult publisher rejected one of my ideas, stating that my potential market for the idea was only a hundred people. At that point, self-publishing meant shelling out money to have a print shop (or vanity publisher) run off a hundred or more physical copies of your book---books that you then sold and shipped out of your basement. Working in food service, I never could scrape together the bank roll to make the initial investment.

The self-publishing market changed drastically on November 19, 2007 when Amazon released its first Kindle. While there were ebooks before this point (pdfs are ebooks), it was the creation of ereaders that made the current self-publishing environment viable. Smashwords, which went live on May 6, 2008, is a success because of ereaders. Without ereaders, the current self-publishing market would not exist.

Now, I will admit that I was a late adopter of the ebook market (late as in I missed the initial gold rush). When I became unemployed in October 2004, I tried to make a go at it as a full-time professional writer....but that was a complete failure.

There were (and are still) problems with the print market. For instance, the pay rate for short dubious erotic stories was twenty-five dollars in 2004---the same amount that was being paid in 1985. And acceptance and rejection letters were a long time coming. I once got paid two and a half years later for one story that got accepted---the first indication that the story had actually been accepted. Most of the time, one had (and probably still has) no clue if something was rejected or not (maybe a tenth of the erotic magazines send out rejection letters).

When the new ebook market started, I was in community college, and pretty much missed the news. It was only when I started to get ready to graduate that thoughts of getting back officially into writing occurred. Not that I ever really left writing, at that point I was writing for pay-by-the-view sites (most of which are now dead). Reading various blogs and websites, I became aware of the new marketplace.

Now, my decision to enter the new ebook market happened in December 2009. It just took me awhile to actually enter once I had made the decision. The article collection Pizza Boxes on the Floor, was from the onset of me deciding to write a monthly column for Hearthstone Community Church, meant for republishing in the ebook market. I didn't actually put the ebook of the 2010 HCC newsletter articles together until October 2011.

Of course, I also decided to put up one of my dubious erotic short stories up. It was a test. In the first quarter, I made a whooping ten dollars from that single story. And since then, I have collected some loot every quarter from that story.

Please note that the erotic ebook market has suffered several setbacks since then. Apple has removed almost all of my dubious stock, as has Kobo and several others. And let's not talk about the antics of Amazon.

But the decision to go self-published, despite the potholes that have developed in the market, still looks like a good decision. Even in a non-working quarter (I had mental health and personal issues), I make as much as I would have in a hard-working quarter in the print market.

Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year
My latest unsuitable for the traditional print market ebook is the Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is a ritual that I created and performed at the June 2013 Hearthstone Community Church Open Full Moon ritual. It is available on Amazon. (As well as Smashwords, and (probably--I haven't checked yet) Kobo, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Oyster, and a couple other outlets which names escape my memory at the moment.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

What is my occupation?

A couple of weeks ago, someone on Facebook asked me what my occupation was. And I have been kicking the question since then.

If you go by the idea of making a decent wage, I don't have a profession. Then again, even when I was working for someone else, I was not making a decent wage. And there is that whole, when was the last time I answered to a boss (which would actually be yesterday, if you consider a client to be a boss).

For those who care, my job history goes as follows: Apprentice to my father's business---construction at one point, produce sales and delivery at another point; burger flipping jobs (twenty years worth--ten as a restaurant manager); went to college and earned bachelor degrees in history and literature (some master level classes taken and passed); couple of years as a newspaper writer; astrology columnist; freelance Tarot reader; and though all my adult life (from the time I was 19), off and on, I have been a dubious erotica writer.

Currently, it is really hard to pin down a profession. I am basically doing odd jobs with several small income streams. So at the moment, I am a sorcerer, part-time accountant, pagan minister, esoteric teacher, blogger, occult writer, humor writer, astrologer, artist, erotica writer (hey, the income counts), science fiction and fantasy writer, and photographer. By themselves, none of these are currently a full time profession---I am bouncing from project to project as whim and client needs dictate. But each one of these categories is bringing in a little bit of money, so if you go by the rule of "if you are making money at it, you are a professional", then I am all of these things. If you go by the idea that an occupation is a forty hour workweek doing something, then I am none of these things.

So what the hell is my occupation? Be damned if I know. Creative odd-jobber? Freelance bum? Unemployed lunatic? I have no clue.

If you have any creative ways to describe my current profession, feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

All of my anti Book Pirate videos

Here is a list of all my anti-book-pirate videos.

This first one is short and sweet, and provides the same answer as the other videos without me rattling on for a painful amount of time.

This video is me talking about how to determine if it is actually the True Will of a writer to have their work pirated. For those who would prefer not to watch the video: If a writer (or other creative) puts a price tag on it in our "it is easy to make something free" world, then the writer's True Will is to actually make some money from it, which means that no, the writer's True Will is not to be pirated.

In this video, Mad Uncle Morgan foams at the mouth when someone argues that it is the True Will of occult writers to give away their works freely.

In this video, Mad Uncle Morgan rants about the lamest excuse that he has ever heard to justify stealing without permission the works of creative people. In the end, the logic is that if other professions make you pay for their services and products, then writers and artists also deserve to be paid for their services and products.

This post will be updated when I put up more anti Book Pirate videos.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jared Fogle is creepy than I thought

Subway pitch man pleads guilty to sex crimes. 
I have always found Jared Fogle a little creepy. And over the fifteen years of him being the Subway spokeman, nothing ever changed my mind about that. Seriously, who finds Subway that tasty?

Of course, the fact that it was a Subway employee who decided to kill the security guard at the last food court I worked at probably colors my opinion about how creepy Subway workers are in general.

(Sorry, I know that it shouldn't, but it does affect my opinion. And Subway has always been a "must eat something--damn, is that the only fast food restaurant around here?!" for me---probably due to the fact that as a tween I had been introduced to really good sub-sandwiches, thanks to my father selling produce to a restaurant in Longmont.)

And hearing about what Jared Fogle plead guilty to--possession of child pornography (as young as six years of age) and having sex with minors (as young as sixteen)--just makes me go Yeech!

That might surprise people who know that I write erotica, and a rather dubious type at that.

(My first introduction to erotica came in the form of a dubious letter magazine at a truck stop in Nebraska--or was it Kansas--on my way back from South Carolina and my eight whole weeks in the US Army. [My father got killed in a truck accident, and I was issued a hardship discharge.] Despite the claim of the magazine that the letters and stories were written by real people engaged in such dubious behavior, even I an inexperienced writer knew better--the stories were just too well written to be done by amateur writers. As a result of me realizing that someone was making money writing such dubious material [the first time I ever realized that someone was writing for money], it was natural that the first market I ever submitted to was a rather dubious one.)

I have been writing and selling dubious erotica since I was nineteen. And my characters are ALWAYS eighteen or older. I have never ever written an erotica story that had a character who engaged in sex before the age of eighteen.

(Yes, I know that out there are people who lost their virginity before they were eighteen....but the rule for the print market has always been "All characters are eighteen years or older." And besides, I find the thought of sex before eighteen a little creepy. Hell, I did not lose my virginity until I was eighteen.)

So how bad is the grossness of Fogle's crimes when a writer of dubious erotica goes "That is fucking gross!"? I am thinking that it must be really bad.

So here is to Jared Fogle, who is going to be eating prison food for the next ten to thirteen years, and good riddance to him.

Monday, March 30, 2015

When does a work become public domain?

Question: I have a question about international copyright law. In my country, after a writer dies, it is 70 years before their works become public domain. It used to be 50 years, but that law was changed (non-retroactive). If a work is in public domain in one country, is it the same in all countries? And if the descendents of the copyright holder take care to maintain the copyright, with timely copyright renewals, does the work automatically become public domain when the time period is reached? What about companies that hold copyrights, do they lose their rights when this limit is reached?


Each country is different---which makes copyright law so...interesting. The longest copyright period worldwise (that I am aware of is) lifetime plus seventy-five years. So something that is public domain in one country may not be public domain in another country if they observe a longer copyright period.

That is actually complicated by works that were written before the current version of copyright law was enacted. The public domain mark is determined by what version of copyright law was in effect at the time that the work was created.

The public domain happens automatically once the limit is hit.

As an example, lets say that the country of Buymoira (*smile if you get the reference*) had a copyright law that said lifetime plus fifty before 1965, but changed it to lifetime in 1966 to lifetime plus seventy. So lets say that Ray Heinlein was a writer who wrote books both in 1965 and 1966---the works from 1965 would be life plus fifty, and the works from 1966 would be lifetime plus seventy.

 Where it gets complicated when researching public domain status is that some countries used to have a copyright period that was X number of years from date of reregistration, with an additional Y number of years if (and only if) the copyright was renewed. And you had to file in each separate country.

An example of a work being public domain in a country while still being under copyright in another country was Dracula. It was properly registered in England, therefore no one could use the work without a license. But it was never copyrighted in the United States which resulted in lots of films being made using the character and without the widow of Bram getting a single dime.

There are a score of pulp fiction stories written in the United States during the register and renewal period that may or may not be under copyright depending upon if the copyright was renewed or not. (Often if a work had quit selling well, it was not renewed.) Basically, for works written in that time period, you have to trace down the status of each work individually.

(An interesting side-effect of the rule that copyrights had to be registered in each individual country is that all the big name publishers in the United States were located on the East Coast. The publishers would literally grab newly published books from Europe and rush them into print in the United States before the authors could register them in the USA. This is why there are some copies of The Hobbit with an note thanking readers for buying the official edition---Tolkien only received income from the official edition, and none from the "pirated" edition.)

 An additional complication is that some works were "written for hire"---aka the writer was paid a check for writing the work, and someone else (typically a company) owns the copyright. The copyright period for such works are typically "date of completion plus Z years." This means that you are not interested in the date of the author's death (often you have no clue who wrote the piece--they could be faceless advertising copywriters), but rather than the date of completion of the work in question. The longest period that I know of for work-of-hire copyright is date of completion plus one hundred years.

Two of the most important changes in modern copyright law typically (not true in all countries) is automatic copyright (no registration needed to have copyright protection), and recognition of copyrights from other countries (no need to separately file for copyright in every country in the world). These two changes happened before the internet, but are proving to be very important in the modern internet age.

There is still one reason to consider official registration. For instance, in the United States, official registration allows you to sue for monetary damages if someone copies your work. Furthermore, if you write fiction, a movie company will only option your work if you are officially registered.