My Favourite Bits…The Godsend

If the first book of Innerscape is all about Miira, the second is all about the two men in her life – Kenneth Wu and Jaimie Watson. Jaimie is the eighteen year old son of Charge Sister Emily Watson, and the accident that almost took his life is the reason she moved heaven and earth to have him inducted into Innerscape. Kenneth Wu is a brilliant doctor whose research changed Innerscape forever, but he has demons, and now the life he constructed for himself is unravelling. Read on:

Home is Where the Heart is

Despite it being the end of spring, the day was overcast and sullen when the taxi bearing Kenneth Wu drew up in front of his house.

“We have arrived,” the onboard AI said politely. But Kenneth refused to take the hint. Instead, he stared up at the immaculate little Victorian cottage as if he had never seen it before.

When he was a kid, the house had been a waypoint, a place to rest before going on to some place else, and little in his adult life had changed that sense of transience. Now though, he would have to go inside and stay there, licking his wounds until something happened to kick-start his life again.

But what if nothing ever happened? What if that house swallowed him whole and never let him go?

“Dear Passenger,” the taxi’s AI said apologetically. “I must ask that you vacate the taxi as another Passenger has requested transportation.”

“Of course,” Kenneth said, a bitter smile twisting the corner of his mouth. Apparently not even the taxi company wanted him around. At least the house would never throw him out.

“Here,” he said as he jabbed his thumb at the meter.

The biometric device hummed happily as it read his thumbprint and charged the fare against his account.

“Have a nice day, Sir!”

Yeah, Kenneth thought as he slid out of the taxi and began walking up the artfully designed crazy paving that led to the front door. A box trundled three steps behind him, its wheels going clickety clack on the uneven flagstones.

The box contained the sum total of the last five years of his life: a mug, a couple of first edition text books, some clothes, the folded frame of his exercise bicycle, and a few letters of appreciation from the families of his patients. Everything else, all the important stuff, was proprietary, born of his mind, but not his to take.

At least he would not bring shame to the family by going to jail. That was something.

Find something good in every day,” the therapist had advised his teenaged self, and Kenneth had tried to take her advice. But if not going to jail was the only good thing to emerge from this awful day, then what on earth was he supposed to find for the next day, and the day after that?

Placing his palm on the keypad, Kenneth let himself into the house and quickly reached for the control panel next to the doorframe, but he was not quite quick enough.

“Welcome ho-” The voice of the house AI began before it was cut-off mid greeting.

No, Kenneth thought as he listened to the echoes repeat down the long, empty hallway. This is not my home.

Home was his laboratory in Innerscape, but he would never be allowed to go there again.

Why this scene? Because this is the scene in which you start to get a hint of the seriousness of Kenneth’s childhood problems.

I know that therapy is common in some countries, but here in Australia it isn’t, especially for children, so knowing that Kenneth received therapy as a teen conjures up all sorts of negative possibilities. The fact that the mantra ‘Find something good in every day‘ continues to have relevance in his present hints at the depth of trauma he [may] have suffered.

I’m a pantster, so I knew Kenneth’s trauma would be bad, and I had a feeling it would involve his mother in some way, but I had no idea how or why until I wrote this scene. For me, this is the moment it hit me. This is the moment I knew. I also knew that I could not tell Kenneth’s story yet, and it almost killed me! But you see, Innerscape is Miira’s story so by necessity, Kenneth and Jaimie, and eventually Marisa Bell, had to be secondary characters. Their stories had to wait.

And before anyone says “But…”. Yes, I know they all became 99% major characters, but that 1% I managed to claw back had consequences. So for what it’s worth, I love this scene because I hinted at a heck of a lot but managed to restrain myself. 😀

There are also a couple of little things that most readers wouldn’t have noticed, and both involve the semi smart box that Kenneth brought home with him. Modern tech meant that he could command the box to follow him, but the ‘…clickety clack on the uneven flagstones’ comes straight from my childhood! lol

When I was about eight or nine, I had a little wagon which was just a box on wheels that I could pull behind me via a long handle. The reason I loved that little wagon was the noise it made. It was such a cheerful sound. In my mind, that contrasts so acutely with the sadness of Kenneth’s homecoming.

And last but not least, I love the paragraph about the contents of Kenneth’s box – ‘….Everything else, all the important stuff, was proprietary, born of his mind, but not his to take.’ Like Kenneth, my Dad was an innovator, but because he worked for one of the largest corporates of his day, when he left, he couldn’t take any of his inventions with him. They belonged to the company, paid for by a salary that was no bigger than that given to all the other engineers who only worked 9 to 5. Emlékszem Apu. I remember how much that hurt him.

So there you have my first favourite bit from The Godsend. The ebook will be free on Amazon for 5 days from February 2 to February 6, 2021. It goes without saying that I would love a review or two, but I’ll be happy if the story finds a few more readers. 🙂

cheers
Meeks

p.s. oh and I put a graphic of the schedule of promotions up on the sidebar. Clicking on it will take you to the post in which the graphic occurs.

p.p.s. Just had a very strange experience. When I went to publish this post, WP displayed an error message to the effect that I was not allowed to use ‘the provided terms’. After some experimentation, it appears that the tag ‘My Favourites’ is what caused the error. Some weird kind of copyright/trademark infringement? I thought you couldn’t trademark common words and phrases?


What the hell, Amazon? Update

Firstly, thank you to everyone who checked their Amazon accounts to see if my paperbacks were available. Your feedback has helped me narrow down some possible answers – i.e. that the problem has something to do with my use of Ingram Spark for countries not covered by the Amazon marketplaces. I’ve sent an email off to KDP support outlining what the problem is and what we’ve ‘found’. I’ll keep you posted about the outcome.

And while I was messing around with my KDP dashboard, I came across a new, beta version of the Reports. I rarely used them in the past because they were so…useless. I’m thrilled to say that the new, beta version is MUCH better.

As I was tootling around the beta version, I discovered that I’ve earned roughly $15 AUD from sales in Australia! That really surprised me. It also made me dance with joy because it was so unexpected. I do have online friends from Australia, but I just didn’t think they’d be buying.

Okay, okay, I never think anyone is buying. That is more of my upbringing at work, and it’s not helped by the fact that Amazon US will only pay me when, or if, my total sales reach $100. So far I’ve only had one payment that passed that threshold so it’s not all my fault.

I’ve often wondered what happens to that residue if you unpublish with Amazon. Or die. Or never reach $100. Are they allowed to keep those funds, however small, forever? Hopefully one day, Amazon will change its payment system so we can be paid via Paypal or something. Ah well.

Anyway, thank you for all your help, and an extra thank you to the Aussies who’ve taken a chance on my stories. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


What the hell, Amazon?!?

My thanks to Gradmama for alerting me to the fact that for some reason, NONE of my paperbacks are currently available on Amazon. Not. One.

The ebooks are fine, but it seems that Amazon has reset each paperback version to the ‘Order author copies’ step:

I now have to go through each of the print versions and effectively click the last ‘Save and Publish’ to get them ‘available’ again. To all intents and purposes they were either unpublished by Amazon, or never published at all?!?

I don’t sell many paperbacks. I never expected to sell many paperbacks, but I did expect them to remain available after going through all the effort of putting them up on KDP. What infuriates me even more is that Amazon/KDP didn’t inform me of this rather big change. Perhaps they don’t even know. I miss Createspace. 😦

Not happy, Amazon/KDP, not happy at all.
Meeks


And now for some gastronomic relief…

As the Offspring and I are totally paranoid about decontaminating everything that comes to the house, fresh vegetables, especially the ones eaten raw, have been an issue. So, like a lot of our neighbours, we sowed some seeds and waited for our own produce to appear. And here it is!

Snow peas! You have no idea how much pleasure it gave us to harvest these beautiful, fresh peas. I think this was the moment that the Offspring really got the gardening bug. 🙂

But there was better to come. This is what the Offspring turned those lovely fresh peas into:

Homemade vegetable stir fry with singapore noodles

I have to tell you, the Offspring’s stir fry was delicious. It included the snow peas [of course], fresh red capsicum, fresh wombok cabbage, fresh spring onions, frozen broccoli and ‘shelf fresh’ singapore noodles.

The best things in life really do boil down to just a few simple things: good food, good music and good people. 🙂 To all the good people in the US – you did. You did it. Nothing can stop the march of progress now. 🙂

Much love,
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…in Miira [3]

First and foremost, Miira is now free on Amazon for five days from January 19 to January 23, 2021! You should be able to find Miira on your local Amazon. For those in the US, the link to Amazon.com is below:

https://www.amazon.com/Miira-book-1-Innerscape-acflory-ebook/dp/B076GYZBKQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3BP2AQJ9TQLLQ&dchild=1&keywords=miira&qid=1611045851&sprefix=Miira%2Caps%2C445&sr=8-2

And in case you’re still wondering whether you should add yet another book to your bulging TBR list, here is my last ‘favourite bit’ from Miira. This scene is shorter than the previous one, but not by that much, so apologies again!

Before you read the excerpt, you will need a little bit of context about the ‘suit’. It isn’t a jacket, vest and pants! Gaming in 2101 involves the use of full body ‘suits’ that contain sensors which help create a biofeedback system for the wearer. For example, if the Gamer stubs his toe, he/she will feel the bump.

The Teslasuit, shown on the left, is almost available already, but by the start of the next century, the best quality suits will have so many sensors embedded in the material that the Gamer is fooled into thinking he/she is experiencing the real thing. The top of the range ‘suit’ is the RT69 by Real Touch.

Read on:

—*—*—*—

The rat-tat-tat of someone knocking on the door woke Lennie from a nap, and he started awake, heart pounding. Wha’ th’ fuck?

Nobody ever visited him at home. He made sure of that by keeping the address of his flea bitten kennel a close secret.

Rolling off the mattress, he grabbed the small table next to his bed and hauled himself upright as he tried to shake off the alcoholic fog that still clouded his thoughts. The only person who knew where he lived was the local pizza guy, but he had not ordered pizza. At least, he could not remember ordering pizza…

Gotta lay off the sauce a bit, he thought as he shambled towards the door, one hand scratching his crotch, the other rubbing the stubble on his chin.

When was the last time he’d shaved?

Lennie could not remember, but was not overly concerned. Life had been a very pleasant blur since the money came through, and he was not about to look a gift horse in the arse-

Bang, bang, bang.

“Okay, okay!” he cried. “I’m coming!”

Alcoholic fog notwithstanding, Lennie retained enough sense to check the view port before unlocking the door.

A woman wearing the bright red uniform of a courier stood outside, one hand raised to knock again. She would have been quite attractive had the red of her hair not clashed so badly with the red of her uniform.

She should dye it, Lennie thought as his eye dropped down to the woman’s other hand. It was holding the handle of a bright yellow trolley. On the trolley was a very big package with Real Touch written on it in electric purple lettering.

My suit! Lennie thought in delight as he quickly unlocked the deadbolt and the two padlocks securing his door. It was a cheap neighbourhood. It paid to be cautious.

“Lennie Huffnagel?” the woman asked.
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Authentication please.”

As Lennie bent to press his thumb into the tablet held out to him, a whiff of his own body odour made him wince. He would have to have a shower before he tried out the suit. Bugger.

“Where do you want it?” the woman asked.

“Um, just sort of in the middle,” Lennie said, suddenly very conscious of the piles of dirty dishes, and even dirtier clothing, that covered almost every available surface. “Hang on, I’ll clear a space.”

“It’s okay,” the woman said with a quick grin. “My brother’s room is just the same.”

Matching action to words, she set the trolley down in the middle of the room and began feeding the dirty dishes into the recycler.

Lennie gave her a quizzical look but did his part by throwing the dirty clothes into a pile by the wall. Soon, an empty rectangle of floor beckoned to be filled.

Spinning the trolley around with a quick flick of her wrists, the woman deposited the box in the middle of the newly cleared space and stood back to admire her handiwork.

“Got a cutter?” she asked.

“It’s okay,” Lennie said, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I can manage.”

“Oh,” the woman said, her animated expression drooping into disappointment. “Sorry. It’s just…I’m a gamer too, ya know? I saw the label and I was kinda hoping I could get to see the RT69 for myself…”

“You play?” Lennie asked, unease forgotten. “Whadya play?”
“Mega Dome,” the woman said with a slight blush.
“Nice,” Lennie replied, working hard to keep a condescending smirk off his face.

Mega Dome was billed as a full contact martial arts game, but in reality it was just a fancy dating venue with a bit of slap slap thrown in to get people in the mood. He’d played it himself, before the agency picked him up and introduced him to real gaming. Still, the Ranga* knew enough to recognize a top of the range suit when she saw one.

Lennie gave the courier a quick but very professional appraisal as she stood in the middle of the room, clearly hoping to stay. She was not his type, far too fem with a small nose, small mouth and huge green eyes, but it would be fun to share the moment with someone who knew how awesome the suit really was.

“I’ll get the cutter,” he said.

The woman’s face lit up with pleasure, and Lennie suddenly felt quite warm towards her. If she played her cards right he might just give her a bit of slap slap himself.

My good deed for the day, he thought with a quiet chuckle as he ferreted around in the tiny food preparation area for the cutter.

When the woman finally left an hour later, Lennie lay on the mattress, his brand new suit fully connected and a look of terminal surprise on his face.

So why is this one of my favourite scenes? It’s because I’m fiercely protective of those I love, and I love Jaimie Watson, the only 18 year old Resident in Innerscape. Lennie Huffnagel betrayed Jaimie for money, so killing him off with his own ill gotten gains is poetic justice in my book. But I also love the colour red and characters with depth, so don’t expect the Woman in Red to be a simple anything. 🙂

A word of warning: I don’t write erotica or anything even approaching it, but I don’t pull any punches about ‘body functions’, so an earlier scene with Lennie may shock some people. Apologies in advance, but those scenes highlight the chasm that exists between the lives of the super rich, and those like Lennie who survive by exploiting them. Contrast is the key to everything.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing ‘Miira’ through my eyes. If you want to read the whole story, Miira, book 1 of Innerscape, is now free on Amazon until January 23, 2021.

-hugs-
Meeks


My Favourite bits…in Miira [2]

I was going to introduce you to the Innerscape assassin today, but I decided that post would work better tomorrow, when the book is actually free. For now, I’m going to show you my favourite bit of ‘tech’ in the book. It’s a bit gruesome but there is a happy ending. 🙂

So here, without further ado, is the final stage of Miira Tahn’s physical induction into the virtual world of Innerscape:

Exactly one week after entering Innerscape, Miira Tahn was ready for the most delicate and invasive part of the whole Induction process – the creation of the neural network that would link her to her new, digital home.

Before that could happen, however, her entire skull would have to be removed, including all the soft tissue of her face. Only then could her naked brain be encased in the bath of proprietary biofluids that would lead to full transition.

In keeping with the morbid humour that had named the containment modules the Catacombs, most of the medical staff referred to the biofluid as the ‘embalming fluid’, but that was a misnomer. In reality, the biofluid was seeded with self-replicating nanoparticles that would not only preserve the brain, they would invade it.

The centres for sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, gross and fine motor skills, and the finer senses like spatial awareness, all would be invaded. Some of the nanoparticles would even make their way to the amygdala because the ability to fear was an integral part of being human.

As the nanoparticles grew, they would self-organize into a network of artificial neural pathways which would interface between Miira’s organic brain and the electronic ‘brain’ of the Innerscape AIs.
Once that interface was complete, she would experience the most minute digital feedback as if it came from the real world, and in a very real sense, she would owe it all to Kenneth Wu.

Back when Innerscape first began, the neural interface had been little more than a net of microscopic sensors surgically implanted inside the skull of each Patient. The neural interface allowed them to enjoy a better quality of life than they would have done on the outside, but the experience had been less than perfect.

It had been Kenneth Wu’s idea to remove the skull completely, and it had been his ground-breaking work in nanotechnology that had been instrumental in the creation of the AI-neural interface Innerscape now used. No one alive knew more about Stage 3 of the process than he did, and even Charles McGragh deferred to him in this area.

“The team is ready to begin Stage 3, Dr. Wu,” Charles said evenly.
“My instruments are ready to begin as well,” the surgical AI added.

Kenneth Wu looked up at the image of Miira in his faceplate, but superimposed over that image was the memory of her frightened brown eyes staring up at him as the anaesthetic took effect. She had been scared, very scared, but her last look had held nothing but trust. She trusted him. He would not let her down.

“Begin.”
“Sealing external carotid arteries now,” the AI said as its tools cut through the skin with lightning speed. “External carotid arteries sealed. Initiating removal of skin.”

Even before the AI finished speaking, a fine mist began to form around Miira’s features. As the seconds ticked by it became progressively thicker until her whole head seemed to be encased in a swirling ball of white.

As Kenneth and the rest of the team watched, the mist gradually changed colour from white to a dirty pink.
When the mist was sucked away a few minutes later, all the soft tissue of Miira’s face was gone, leaving her head looking like a halloween mask. Her eye sockets gaped empty, her nose was gone, and her jaw sagged open, exposing the emptiness where her tongue had been.

“Phase 2 of Stage 3 complete,” the AI said. “Commencing removal of skull.”

Once again, a ball of liquid nanoparticles encased Miira’s head, but this time their function was to eat away at the bone protecting her brain. Bone was much denser than muscle and cartilage, and the process took a full 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the ball of liquid bore a rather disturbing resemblance to oatmeal porridge.

As the team watched, one of the tools hovering outside the ball released three drops of pale blue liquid onto the surface.
The outside of the ball quickly began to look more like dirty concrete than porridge. A few minutes later still, the concrete hardened and began to crack.

As the process accelerated, the cracks turned into shards, and the shards turned into even smaller fragments that lifted from the surface, and were drawn away like iron filings captured by a magnet. Once the hard crust was removed, the ball of liquid held in place by electromagnetic currents was perfectly clear once more. And nestled in the centre of it was Miira’s brain.

“Phase 3 of Stage 3 complete,” said the emotionless voice of the AI. “Commencing diagnostics.”

This was the moment at which Kenneth always held his breath. A great deal of computing power had gone into calculating the composition and number of nanoparticles to use, but there was always a slight element of uncertainty. If even a thin layer of unwanted cells remained around the patient’s brain, the embalming fluid would not work properly, and the team would have to take remedial action.

It could be done, but the results were not always optimal. The patients often suffered some small damage to the outer surface of the brain, or to one of the exposed blood vessels…

“Results are optimal,” the AI said.

Kenneth did not cheer like the rest of the team, but he did exhale on a very relieved sigh.

“Preparing to initiate Phase 4.”

This time, the AI inserted an array of needles into the ball of liquid cradling Miira’s brain. Each hollow needle was finer than a human hair, and dripped a measured dose of embalming fluid into the liquid. Over the next two days, the nanoparticles in the embalming fluid would grow to fill the entire ball.

Once that happened, the semi-solid surface of the ball would be sprayed with a different cocktail of nanoparticles which would grow into the interface connecting Miira’s mind to the digital world that awaited her.

“Phase 4 completed successfully.”

Now all we can do is wait, Kenneth thought with a familiar thrill of excitement mixed with trepidation. If he had done his job properly, the next time he saw Miira, it would be in Innerscape.


Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time will know that I love tech, and the life sciences, so I’m sure you’re not surprised by the technical detail that went into this part of the story. I do, however, apologise for the length of the excerpt. Miira’s induction into Innerscape is perhaps the most ‘scifi’ part of the entire story, and I wanted it to feel plausible. I believe that one day, this kind of technology, or something similar to it, will be commonplace. No more cutting through bone with a saw or making holes with a drill. Neurosurgeons will use very different tools to accomplish procedures that are currently impossible. I hope I’m around to see it.

Would I allow my body to become 100% dependent on an AI? Yes….with reservations. A digital world like Innerscape may one day provide terminal patients with a second chance at life, but wherever we ‘go’, we take our hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses with us. That means no world will ever become a paradise, but with a little lot of good will, it could turn into a home…maybe.

Thank you for staying with me. I’ve had fun and hope you have too. Miira will become free tomorrow [my time] so I’ll post the third and last favourite for this book once the Amazon clock has ticked over. You can find the complete schedule of books coming up for free, here.

cheers
Meeks

 


My Favourite bits…in Miira

Stephen King famously advised writers to murder their darlings, but thanks to Audrey Driscoll, another excellent writer, I’m about to do the exact opposite! I’m going to tell you which of my ‘darlings’ I like the most, and why. But I’m also opening these questions up to my writer friends. Which bits of your stories do you like the best? More importantly, why those bits instead of others?

I thought long and hard about those questions myself, and in the end, I kept coming back to two, very different scenes from Miira, book 1 of the Innerscape science fiction trilogy. The first one features the main character, Miira Tahn.

In the following short excerpt, Miira has just entered Innerscape [a virtual world for the old, sick and dying, or at least those wealthy enough to pay the price of admission]. As the final step in her ‘orientation’, Miira must attend a fashion show at which she will meet most of Innerscape’s current Residents. She’s been hurt by these kinds of people before, but she’s learned to beat them at their own game:

Thanks to Miira’s determination to find just the right ‘armour’, she and the girls were fashionably late by the time they finally arrived at the venue for the fashion show. All around them, beautiful people filled the spacious room, chatting over exquisite canapés and sipping the finest simulated champagne.

Yet even so, their arrival did not go unnoticed. Emily, and Jane wore lovely pastel frocks that enhanced their colouring, but both looked a little insipid next to Miira’s neon presence. She sailed through the crowd like a bright red exclamation mark, impossible to miss and even harder to ignore.

Smiling and nodding at the Residents she recognized, Miira led the way to their seats as if unaware of the ripples she was causing.

The front row seats they had been assigned would give them an unobstructed view of the gorgeous creations soon to grace the catwalk, but Miira knew the seats would also give the Residents an unobstructed view of her. She would be under the microscope, and heaven help her if they found any chinks in her armour.

She had always hated the scrutiny that was part and parcel of her role as the Lady, but over the years she had learned to give as good as she got. Now, as she waited for the show to begin, she welcomed the gorgeous people who approached with a half-smile and a knowing look.

The women did not like her, air-kisses notwithstanding, but each man looked her up and down with cool intent.

Miira returned their looks, her hooded eyes hinting at promises she had no intention of keeping.

Taken from Miira, book 1 of Innerscape

Miira is not me. But she may be the person I would like to have been during the six, miserable years I spent in an all-girl, Catholic convent school. I’d always gotten on better with boys than girls in primary school, so high school with only girls was… a shock. I learned that girls en masse are not always kind.

So the chip on Miira’s shoulder was probably inherited from me, but I like how she fought back. And I like the colour red.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about another one of my favourites, but this time the person wearing red will be the assassin. Make of that what you will. lol

Your turn!

Meeks

p.s. Don’t forget that Miira will be free on Amazon.com for five days starting on January 19, 2021!


Free book schedule

All my science fiction books have now been reduced to 99c, and they’re now on Kindle Unlimited as well. As promised, I’ve also set up the free book schedule on Amazon. Starting January 19, 2021, Miira will be free for five consecutive days. The other five books are scheduled to be free as per the following table:

As you can see, the last book ends its free run on April the 3rd. I had to mess around with the dates a bit to make sure it didn’t finish on April Fool’s Day! -cough-

The 99c price point is so no one who wants a book misses out. If possible, though, please grab the book[s] during the free promotion. And it goes without saying that I would love reviews, any kind of reviews, even critical ones.

And finally an apology. I’ll be talking about these books a lot in the weeks ahead. I’ll try not to bore you silly, but there’s only so many ways of saying ‘read my book’. Bear with me!

-hugs-
Meeks


January 2021…and beyond

I think we all know by now that 2021 is not going to become a good year any time soon. Despite the rollout of vaccines in most countries, it will take a long time before enough people are vaccinated to provide herd immunity* to those who aren’t. For most diseases, that means at least 70% of a population have to be vaccinated before herd immunity can kick in. With Covid-19, no one’s sure how much of the population has to be immune. There’s also a great big question mark around what the current vaccines will actually accomplish. Will they simply stop the disease? Or will they also stop infected people from passing it on?

So…. 2021 is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better. For the Offspring and I, that means we’ll be in self-isolation for a long time yet. Because of that, I thought there was no point setting any goals for the coming year. I was wrong. There are things I can do, both for myself and for others; it just took a while for me to see it.

One thing I’ve always been bad at is marketing, but marketing these days is mostly digital, so I’ve decided that my goal for 2021 is to get one more review for Miira and Vokhtah. Both are sitting on 19 reviews, and I’d love to see that number change to 20. Not a big goal, I know, but it’s an achievable goal if I pull my finger out and actually do some marketing!

“But I hate marketing!”

I’m probably the world’s worst salesperson, but I discovered a long time ago that when I believe in a product, my enthusiasm accomplishes what my lack of skill cannot – I can make others want to see what has me so excited.

“But I hate marketing my own stuff!”

Sadly, women of my vintage were brought up to believe that ‘showing off’ was the worst thing a woman could do short of flashing her boobs in public. I recognize the conditioning. I acknowledge that it’s incredibly unfair – why should men be able to blow their own trumpet while we have to be demure and self-effacing? But this fear of being seen as a show-off is so deeply ingrained that I cannot shift it.

But I can trick it into shutting up. 🙂 And this is where my light bulb moment kicked in. If I give my books away for free, I’ll be getting eyes on my work AND I’ll be providing some escapism for those who are still in limbo. And that is exactly what I plan to do.

The first step of this grand plan is to drop the price of all my books to 0.99 cents. Then, once every two weeks, I’ll put one of the books up for free on Amazon. The book will remain free for 5 consecutive days before returning to the 0.99 cent price point. When the last book has had its turn at free, I’ll put all the books back to their original price points.

This is what my books cost now:

Prices shown are for Amazon.com as at January 15, 2021

I’m not sure how long it will take for the price change to register on Amazon, but I’ll post an update when the new prices are available.

So that’s my grand plan. If I achieve the two extra reviews I’ll be happy. If I don’t, I can still hope that my stories ease the strain of this weird point in time, at least a little, and…I’ve got a plan for the next twelve weeks.

much love,
Meeks

…*… herd immunity works by surrounding infectious people with people who are already immune. To survive, the bacterium or virus needs new hosts to infect. With no new hosts available, the bacterium or virus runs its course and dies. Eventually, every infected person recovers and bingo, no more virus. To get to that point though, an awful lot of people have to be immunised at the same time, otherwise the virus just keeps ticking along.


‘Native Sponsored Posts’? – it’s time to leave WordPress

So…Wordpress is ramping up its long term plan of monetising our content. First it was those shitty ads taking up valuable real estate on everyone’s blog page, now we’ll be hosting full length infomercials in place of our own blog posts:

‘WordPress.com has begun testing Sponsored Posts on free WordPress.com sites. These sponsored posts promote WordPress.com content, other Automattic products, and brands for the purpose of driving traffic and sales for users and advertisers.
For now, you may see these Sponsored Posts running on your sites as we expand testing. To remove Sponsored Posts from your site, upgrade to any paid WordPress.com plan which comes with many more benefits including the ability to use your own custom domain!
In the longer term, we hope to offer Sponsored Posts to our users as a way to help drive traffic and promote content discovery.

https://wordpress.com/support/native-sponsored-posts/#example

How it will be done is hidden behind opaque words like ‘testing’. Will our blog posts be replaced once a day? Once a week? At random so we never know when to post important marketing posts of our own?

And what happens when we want to post something new?

Will our new posts replace the obnoxious shit placed there by Automatic? Or will we have to wait for the cuckoo to run its course before we can post again?

And what of the content? Once WordPress start offering this new ‘service’ to paying customers, we could find ourselves hosting absolutely anything on our blogs.

Remember when paid ads first started appearing on our sites? I found a delightful adv. for some kind of porn site on my blog. This is the pic that went with it:

https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/wordpress-do-you-know-what-your-blog-really-looks-like-to-visitors/

But at least that advert had no naked bits, and people knew it was a paid commercial. Once our actual posts are replaced by someone else’s paid content, I could wake up to find that Meeka’s Mind has hosted an infomercial for a porn site complete with full on visuals!

Automatic says I can complain and ‘ask’ for objectionable content to be taken off, but the damage will already have been done. Not only will that kind of awful content be on my blog, notifications about it will have been sent to all my followers, exactly as if I had posted a new article. Exactly as if I’d sponsored that content.

That scares me most of all. I’ve put nine years of my life into this blog. To have it, and my reputation, abused like that would be unbearable.

Yes, I could probably scrape together a monthly fee to be saved from this blatant ditigal blackmail, but as more and more of us pay to escape having our blogs hijacked, the price will go up. That’s how this marketplace works; corporations charge whatever the market will allow – i.e. whatever us poor saps are prepared to pay.

I simply can’t afford to pay that kind of protection money to Automatic out of my pension.

There’s also something else. WordPress would be nothing without our content. It’s like a digital shopping mall that offers us somewhere to create and display our ‘goods’. Take those goods away and you’re left with a great big empty building. Or maybe it won’t be empty. Maybe your blog will be surrounded by porn sites and 2 dollar shops. I’m moving mine before that happens and I waste more of my life on WordPress.

If I must pay to retain control of my blog, my brand and my content, then I’d rather pay a company with some integrity. And if that company abuses my trust, I’ll move on again. It’s called ‘churning’, and it’s the commercial equivalent of voting with your wallet. It is a lot of work, but it’s the only way we consumers have of forcing corporations to actually compete for our business. Given that these corporations are big enough to buy and sell small countries, I feel no guilt at punishing them when they abuse my trust.

I’ve been blogging with WordPress.com for nine years, but I won’t be here for the tenth. The price of free has become too high.

Meeks


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