MY FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

Please note that I have deleted my two Facebook accounts. One, under the name GLENDA LARKE was my public author account, the other, under my real name was private, open — I thought — only to friends invited to ‘friend’ me.


For a number of years, this worked. 


Then all of a sudden I noticed that the name on my private account had been changed to GLENDA LARKE without my permission. Worse still, they had changed the privacy rating from ‘friends only’ to public. Also without permission. My private life was now open to all the world. Not that I actually I posted much up there that was private, but still. 

I changed the privacy settings back again, changed the name back… And lo and behold, they reverted to what they thought it should be: Glenda Larke, public. This happened 3 times. I complained. Nobody bothered to answer. I attempted to delete my public page and leave the private one, but no, they have deleted them both.


So I am not longer on Facebook. (At least, I think so — I can’t look in order to check!)


I shall in time put up another author page, but I doubt that I will ever again post anything remotely private. This as far as I am concerned this was a betrayal of trust.

 

THE ISLES OF GLORY E-BOOKS

I regret to say that “The Isles of Glory” trilogy (The Aware, Gilfeather and The Tainted)
 is at the moment not available as eBooks. 
Havenstar is no longer available on Amazon as an eBook, but can be bought through many other eBook outlets.
I am working at the moment to find another eBook publisher for them all, on a more permanent basis.
Why don’t I do it myself?
Basically because I am a writer, not a publisher, and I no longer have the inclination or the time to mess around with the production issues, financial issues, etc.

MY OPEN LETTER TO PAULINE HANSON

For overseas readers who may not know, Ms Hanson leads an Australian political party called One Nation and she now sits in the Australian Senate. It’s a bit of a cheeky name for her party for, as far as I can see, it serves to divide rather than unite the country. 


In her inaugural speech to the senate here are a few of the sillier things she said:
“We are in danger of being swamped by Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.” 
(My comment: With your own, perhaps, but most of us aren‘t nearly as rigid in our thinking.)

“indiscriminate immigration and aggressive multiculturalism” have “caused crime to escalate and social cohesion to decline”  
(My comment: Really? I’ve never seen any figures to back that up. And who says immigration has been ‘indiscriminate’ and multiculturalism has been ‘aggressive’?)

“Australia had a national identity before Federation, and it had nothing
to do with diversity and everything to do with belonging. ” (My comment: I think you need to talk to Aboriginals about the latter part of that statement.)

“Muslims want to see sharia law introduced in Australia”
(My comment: see below.)

And here is what I have to say: 

Dear Ms Hanson,

I am a 71 year-old-Australian, born and bred, but who lived most of my adult life in two Muslim countries. In fact I married a Muslim and we are about to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary here where we now live, in Western Australia. Yeah, my husband is one of those dreaded Muslim immigrants. And you know what? I don’t wear a burqa. Or a niqab. Or a hijab. Or a chador. Or even a head scarf. (Oh, although sometimes in the cold weather I do wear a furry hat and a woollen wrap that resembles an abaya... )


The trouble with your inaugural speech is that so much of it is inaccurate or downright rubbish. 

Let me take this blithe, all-encompassing statement as just one example of your complete inanity: “Muslims want to see sharia law introduced to Australia.”


When I read that, I turned to my Muslim husband and asked: “Do you personally know anyone at all, here or abroad, who wants sharia law?” He thought for a while, then said, “No, I don’t think I do.” 

But according to you, Ms Hanson, this is what Muslims want? Really? Wow. I personally don’t know anyone who wants sharia law either. And yet my husband and I have lived for 40 years along Muslims in Asia and North Africa. Where on earth have you been that you can say that Muslims want to have sharia law imposed anywhere, let alone in Australia?? These Muslims can’t possibly be very numerous if other Muslims never meet them!


My husband Professor Emeritus, Ph.D., scientist, recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Western Australia and their Distinguished Alumni Award (and another two honorary degrees from universities in other countries), once a Deputy-Director General of a U.N. agency working for the peaceful uses of scientific knowledge, known for his work to raise the standard of education in developing nations This fine Muslim moved to Australia with me a few years back. (Oh, and sorry to disappoint you, but he’s only ever had one wife — and I think his two daughters are fairly liberated females with their advanced degrees from universities like Oxford, Glasgow and Cornell.)

So, much of what you said in your speech were lies, or distortions, designed to strike fear into people. Unfortunately, this kind of manipulation worked and some 5% of voters, prior to the election, listened. (95% knew better and realised that taking anecdotes and turning them into “facts” is the mark of the uninformed.)


My personal opinion? My Muslim husband is a finer resident of this country than you are a citizen of it.

 

SUPANOVA WEEKEND!!

When it comes to the Supanova Pop Expo and Comicon, I am an unabashed fan.


Sci Fi and Fantasy, costumes, gaming and geeks — who can resist. And it’s great to see the creators, the actors, the filmmakers, the writers, the directors all celebrated by the public.


And I will be there, this weekend, seated behind a table with a lot of other writers… I’ll be giving out vouchers for free eBook.


Come chat! Bring your books for signing! Show us your cosplay outfit if you have one!


See you there….

RAINBOW DAY

As a country grapples with the idiocy that enables the mentally ill and/or the terrorist easy access to weapons designed for killing as many people as possible in war-time, and that country contemplates — yet again — the horror of civilian deaths at home as a consequence, this time in an Orlando gay nightclub, I’m putting up this post. 
It won’t help the dead or the grieving, but I’m going to do it nonetheless, for all my LBGTI friends. Rainbows are beautiful.

 We were travelling south along the country highway between Busseltown and Pemberton last month and and a soft spring shower was misting down. As a consequence, we had 200 kilometres of incredible rainbows, nonstop. There were even rainbows in the air along the road verges where cars had sprayed up water. Everywhere we looked, rainbows…

And this one is a rainbow seen from our loungeroom window.

Vale


ARE FANS TOO ENTITLED??

When I first started writing there was no such thing as the internet. It was difficult to get feedback on my writing through snailmail, and it was tough (and expensive) having to send off a physical manuscript to the other side of the world (I was in Asia at the time), and exasperating to wait for comment. 

Even at the time I was first published, the internet was still in its infancy, and a fan writing a letter or email to a writer, or putting up an internet review, was relatively rare. 

So nowadays, I just love what I get — GoodReads, Amazon reviews, emails, discussion boards — bring ’em all on! And yep, I read them. Sure, I’d block someone who’s abusive at the drop of a hat, but I’ve been lucky. I’ve blocked a mountain of spammers, but only one single person who was (rather mildly) abusive. (I don’t think harsh criticism or one star reviews of my work are abusive, even if the issues raised are factually incorrect).

Why do I love the feedback enough to read both the good and the bad? 
Because it makes me a better writer. I learn from it.  
Because I know that there is no way a creator will ever please everyone.  
Because I’m old enough to take the bad without it leaving me in a heap of crying insecurity with the blankets pulled over my head. (One of the few advantages of ageing — you learn to distinguish what really matters from other stuff, especially nasty stuff, that doesn’t*). 

Anyway, let’s consider the idea that fans can be too entitled. Or not. There’s a blog post here at Huffington Post that has a good coverage of pros and cons. 


I tend agree with this:

Not having dialogue, ignoring fan response, and stubbornly sticking to
“a vision” isn’t necessarily the only true way to create great and pure
art, though. Art doesn’t have to be conceived of as such an asymmetrical
concept, a gift passed from all-knowing creators to receptive and
docile audiences. It can be the product of collaboration, symbiosis
between different parts of a community, and a healthy dialogue. 
 

 However,  I also think that fans “demanding” creators write something the way they want it is a little naive and a bit rude. 

A book, a film, a TV show, an art work — it’s the creators’ baby, and how they dress their child is ultimately their decision. Fans are welcome to say what they’d like in the future, they’re welcome to criticise what they’ve already been given, and ultimately they can vote with their wallets. 

I will listen, and I hope I’m always open to learning, but in the end — and this is all important! — I can’t make a good job of creating my work if I’m not following my own vision.
——————————————————–
*Of course, I do live in a country where screwballs sending death threats tend not to wander around with guns looking for ways to go out in a blaze of glory.

STABBED IN THE BACK?

HOW LONG SHOULD COPYRIGHT LAST?
At the moment in Australia, it lasts for 70 years after an author dies, which I will agree seems a tad excessive.

There is apparently something called “the Productivity Commission” in Australia, which is looking into the intellectual property rights system for the Commonwealth Government. Unfortunately, it appears to be leaning towards a recommendation that creators really don’t need rights to their own work after 15 years (or possibly 25 years)*. It also quotes the finding that “the commercial life of most works is less than 5 years”, which might be true for some, but which I would absolutely dispute as far as I am concerned. 


LET’S GET PERSONAL
Let’s put that in perspective as far as one writer is concerned, namely: me.


 For my first published book, HAVENSTAR, I signed a contract in 1997 for the princely advance of  about $AU 7,000. Sounds nice, doesn’t it, but you know what? I was paid that amount over the two years after signing the contract in 1997. That particular publisher never paid anything more. Not much to live on, is it?

Fortunately, in 1999, I sold the same book to a German publisher for 3,500 Euros. And then a Russian publisher bought it for $US1,000. 

Many years later, an Australian publisher paid a small advance to re-publish HAVENSTAR, is still selling it and is now paying me royalties. And I’ve brought it out as an eBook as well, so that novel is earning me money that way too. Not much, but every little helps.

WHAT WOULD 15 YEARS COPYRIGHT DURATION MEAN TO ME?
HAVENSTAR was first published 17 years ago. The Productivity Commission appears to indicate that anything more than 15 yrs copyright is excessive, that after 15 years a book should be up there for grabs by anyone who wants to sell it in whatever form they like without me getting a cent or having any say in anything about its production. Nice.

What does it matter, you may ask. After all, it’s only earning me a few hundred dollars a year.


But that’s the whole point. Very, very few writers actually make a living from one book. When we finish one, we start another. And another after that. Finally we might earn enough to live on, obtained in dribs and drabs from all our books combined. A book of mine published in 2009 is earning more for me this year than the book published just over a year ago. So much for the idea that books are economically defunct after 5 years.

After twelve years of being a published writer, I actually started to earn enough from my writing to support myself in 2010. Not enough for an average family of four, mind, but enough for me.

Another couple of years after that, I could have supported my husband too by my writing, if necessary. I was able to get by without my day job, which was just as well as I was ageing and the work was physically too taxing. I even earned enough to actually pay a little tax. Success!

And the reason I was earning that much? Because I had published a number of books. And each of those books (now up to 13 of them) is STILL giving me an income. 

The Commission hints that if it had its way, then I’d have already lost automatic copyright to Havenstar. In 2018 I’d lose those rights to my second book. In 2019, another book would fall into public domain. And so on, every year, one book less to earn me money unless I publish it myself — in competition with anyone who wanted to do the same without paying me a cent.

Okay, so you might say: go write some more books. 
I am. 
But I am also now 71 years old. I have physical issues that make sitting at a computer pounding the keys for hour after hour difficult. My concentration is not what it was either. 
I’m slowing down.
I don’t even know if I can publish my next book in the traditional way. I don’t have a contract. And since my agent died, there is no one working to sell it, either.


CONCLUSION
I can tell you what will happen to my commercial productivity if the Productivity Commission gets its way on a 15 year copyright: I’ll be on the Old Age Pension instead of supporting myself. Perhaps the Commissioners can comfort themselves with the thought that their personal taxes will help pay for my pension. 

Thanks, guys.


—————————————-

*Draft Finding 4.2 
(on p29 of draft report):
“While hard to pinpoint an optimal copyright term, a more reasonable estimate would be closer to 15 to 25 years after creation, considerably less than 70 years after death.”  

Draft Recommendation 5.2
(onpage 30 of draft report):
“The Australian Government should repeal parallel import restrictions for books in order for the reform to take effect no later than the end of 2017.”

If you want to find out more about this, here are some links:

What Jackie French has to say:  

https://twitter.com/AusPublish?lang=en

THE FALL OF THE DAGGER IS OUT!!

A review from a book review site:

Taken as a whole, the Forsaken Lands
trilogy is very good. Easily the most fun and engaging series I’ve read
in a handful of years. Larke delivers the goods on all fronts, and
has written a series that deserves a widespread readership. There’s
something here for fantasy fans of every ilk, while feeling fresh and
new.


Highly recommended.
–From Ryan Frye at Civilian Reader

You can read the whole review at the link above.

Times Sq/Theatre District NYC

I’ve been in Times Square before. Several times. The first time would have been back in the 1980s. What surprised me this time was how much more digital screen advertising there is compared to just a few years ago on my last visit — they have SWAMPED the place. 

Screens loom down on you in garish colours from every building. The result? Over-saturation. Quite frankly, I would be happy never to go there again, at least not to see the actual environs…

To see a show, though — that’s another matter!
We went to see “An American in Paris” 
(a matter of what tickets we could grab at short notice. There were a great many better things to see if we’d been able to plan ahead.)

Wait, wait, there’s also…
Family.

Chinatown … is Chinatown

I have left NY, but am still catching up on photos.

One of the distinctive things about Manhattan is the way it is divided up. Every big city has its CBD — but Manhattan has a financial district district from the commercial district, an then its neighbourhoods: African-American, Hispanic, a Little Italy, a Chinatown, a theatre district,  then areas that seem to specialise in atmosphere — funky, or upmarket, or jazz, or arty.

It doesn’t seem to matter where it is, Chinatown looks pretty much the same. Except for the thickness of the clothing, and the external fire escapes, this could be in Kuala Lumpur…