Don’t support authors who plagiarize.

The best thing about living in the future is that you can find out about these things very easily and spread the word that much faster.

The story starts like this:

My mother (Mim) was on Amazon looking for something to read. She found a recently (self)published book that had several great reviews and one negative one. Mom likes to read self-published books. Sometimes there are real gems and the price is usually great. But poor editing is a big turnoff for her, so she read the lone negative review.
http://www.amazon.com/review/R24T3E294BVWY3/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1499354894

Curious, I got the free sample of both books. The evidence is pretty conclusive.

page one

page two

He’s published the second book in the series. It’s… more of the same.

book two page one

As a reader and as a writer I can’t put up with this. I did find out that the original author is on Goodreads and I’ve sent her a message. That’s not enough for me, though. I’ve had my short stories pirated. That hurt a little because it meant I wasn’t getting paid, but at least no one was making money off my work. This guy’s a thief. He’s stealing someone else’s work and earning money and reputation. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Rats to You

I live in the city. There are rats. I’ve posted about this before but I can’t remember if I have since The Great Website Reboot.

Anyhow, it’s a city and there are rats. We watch them playing in the neighbors’ trash on trash day. We see them scurry down alleys and disappear into storm drains. No big deal. It happens.

But the problem is the rats are in our yard, digging holes in our dirt, and getting into our basement.

I have a dog and four cats. The dog pees in the yard. There are stray cats in the neighborhood. The cats pee in our yard. You’d think the smell of predators would drive the rats away.

Nope.

“Plant mint” say the experts. “Rats can’t stand the smell, so plant peppermint, spearmint, or citronella!”

The rats in my yard have set up their main entrance right in the middle of the spearmint plant.

I’ve tried pine and cedar oils. Combinations of mint oils. Vinegar. Predator urine. Steel wool and insulating foam. Cruelty-free traps. Sonic repellers. Filling in their holes with rocks, sand, and steel wool. Copper mesh. And poison. As a last resort we’ve even used poison (in pet-proof feeders). One time, Kittiboi startled a rat that was hiding in the poison feeder, so we know they could get into them. They just weren’t taking the bait.

I’m really against the idea of poisoning them. I don’t want them to crawl off and die in my basement or somewhere my dog or the cats could get to them after they’ve died. I absolutely refuse to use a trap that kills them. (I’m OK with the cats killing them because that’s how it’s supposed to work. Beheading a rat “myself” is not something I’m OK with).

I am at the end of my rope. I’m out of ideas. At this point I don’t even care if they’re in my yard. I just want them out of my basement.

10 Print “Hello, World!”

20 Go To 10

I’m currently in the middle of knitting a baby blanket. It’s for a co-worker who was due in August, but who had the baby early, over the Fourth of July holiday. Mom and baby are both doing fine. I just have to knit faster. It’s no longer a baby shower present. It’s a “welcome home” present.

My cousins also completed the adoption of their two little girls. I have ONE of the little sweaters done, and only about a third of the second. Well. At least it won’t be sweater weather for a few more months? I just hope they haven’t already outgrown them by the time they get them. I suppose in that case they could be handed off to my other cousin’s kid, who’s a few years younger.

Kitti is just about done with community college. One more semester to go and he’ll have his Associates degree. Then it’s on to a four-year school. Money permitting, of course. We’re still trying to figure out financial aid and how to get it when you don’t have proof you entered the country too old to register for the draft. We’re waiting on a copy of his I-94. His original stuff was in his original passport, which the Canadian government kept when he renewed it. Probably so his visa couldn’t be repurposed, since his second passport was returned.

The kittens are growing. Well. Owen is. At one point today Luke, Owen, and Charlotte were in more-or-less of a row in the kitchen. I said “Our cats come in small, medium, and large.” Charlotte will probably always be small, but that’s fine with me. She’s doing better. Not perfect — not by a longshot — but she’s improved so much over the past few months that it’s looking good for her. She might be in heat. She’s 10 months old now, so it’s possible, but because of her size/weight/health, she might not be. She could just be really snuggly (my cat Gizmo would get really affectionate and snuggly and chirp and coo when she went into heat. She had a heart condition that kept me from getting her spayed until the vet was sure she was able to handle anesthesia, and I swear she went into heat once a month).

I’m in love with my new phone. It’s the HTC One M8 and it’s beautiful and almost perfect. I hate not having an actual keyboard, but I’m getting better at poking the screen to get letters to appear.

We replaced the water heater a few weeks ago. That was fun. The old one was only about 6 years old. They really don’t build things to last anymore, do they?

And … last of all… I’m taking a college course online over the next six weeks. The basics of Grant Writing. If it goes well for me (taking a course online) I may try a few other things. Mystery writing. Photography. Who knows?

NOS4A2 — Cannonball Read

A few weeks ago I made a post on Facebook asking for recommendations for really scary books. I wanted to be scared. I wanted that uncomfortable, creeped-out feeling. I wanted to have trouble sleeping because my mind wouldn’t let go of something I read.

Several people recommended NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I checked out the book. I noticed it had a lot of high star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. I figured I’d give it a shot.

I seldom regret spending money on books, but I regret that I didn’t check to see if this was available as a Prime Loan. It takes half the book (literally the first 50% of the book, according to Kindle) for anything to happen. At the start it feels more like a collection of short stories that are (seemingly) unconnected; we always seem to find the character doing something like staring out the window or riding a bike, waiting for something to happen and remembering things. There’s a lot of scenes like “It had been unbearably hot and thundery the day the nail gun went off (that was how he thought of it — not as the day he shot his father but as the day the gun went off).” That feels an awful lot like “telling” instead of “showing” and it seems to happen a lot.

The sly references to Stephen King’s works was cute at first, but got annoying as they went on. It’s “The Shining” and “Christine” and “Firestarter” and “The Talisman” and “It” and a few others mixed in. As a result, it’s predictable. There’s a few really, genuinely likable characters. Don’t get attached to them. There’s a dog. Bye-bye doggie. It’s really hard to be scared by a book when you can see everything coming from miles away. “Hey, we’re going to tell you about thirty times that this stuff is explosive, right. Oh, and by the way, HERE’S A SCENE THAT REVOLVES AROUND A LIGHTER. REMEMBER THIS LIGHTER AND THE EXPLOSIVE STUFF, OK?”

Call me crazy, but I like my foreshadowing to be a little more subtle. I want to feel rewarded for guessing right.

Lastly, and this is really stupid, I couldn’t stop picturing Monty Burns as Charlie Manx, which completely eliminated anything scary or creepy that might have remained.

burns
“In spite of his large skull, his features were weasel-like and crowded close together in the center of his face. He had a sunken chin and an overbite, which gave him a very dim, almost feeble look.” (p159)

Phoneless

My cellphone died earlier this week. The port in the phone has been going for about a month. Stunts had to be performed to get the phone to charge. Positioning it just so. Angling it just so. Weighting or bending it in just the right position. Eventually nothing worked. I’ve not had a phone this whole weekend and it’s been weird. I didn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on it until I didn’t have it.

It’s my source of music and news and the time. It has a slide-out keyboard. It’s my little buddy and my best friend. I even named it Jeeves because it always had the answers and advice I needed (and would sometimes get rid of the yellow tweed jacket before I even asked). And now it’s gone.

The replacement comes Tuesday or Wednesday. I don’t know if I can last that long.

I do have to commend Verizon Wireless for their customer service. I went into the store, they took my name and description of the problem right away. I waited a little bit until someone was available. He looked at my account history, added the warranty coverage to my account so I would be able to exchange the phone, and then put in the request for the replacement. So easy. I was worried they would try to upsell me even though I’ve got a year before I can replace my phone (I’ll probably switch to the “upgrade anytime” plan when my contract is up. That didn’t exist when I got my phone). I was expecting things like “Well if you upgrade early, we can knock a few percent off the cost so it won’t be full price” but instead I got “add the warranty for $3.00 a month and get your phone replaced free.”

Deal. Solid.

I Swear

I don’t curse a lot. That probably surprises some people, but it’s true. I do enjoy the word “shit” and I’m always going to admit that “bastard” is my favorite curse word. I don’t even consider “damn” to be much of a swear but I still don’t use it much. No reason. I just have other ways to express myself. And even though I’m 42 and I’m pretty sure my mom knows my vocabulary skills, I still have trouble swearing in front of my mom.

I’ll write ‘em, though. I’ll write all the words. And when I write them I write them out in all their four-letter glory, because damn it (see what I did there?) if I’m going to use it, I’m going to own it.

I really don’t understand. If someone might be offended by the word “shit” how is “sh!t” any better? Replacing one letter with a symbol doesn’t change the meaning. It doesn’t nullify it for the people who don’t like swearing — not really. It’s a false sense of security. It’s silly. It’s the written equivalent of saying something potentially offensive in a whisper. You know what I’m talking about. I think everyone has that not-quite-racist relative or coworker who is genuinely nice but can’t stop saying things like “I met the new neighbor. He’s black!”

My point is (and I do have one) that it irritates me when people censor words online. “What sort of sh*t is this?” If you don’t want the word spelled out on your website find another word. It’s not like people can’t guess what “f*ck” is supposed to mean in a sentence like “it is cold as f*ck today”. If it’s cold as fuck, say so. If it’s a goddamned shitstorm of snow out there, go with it. But if you can’t, then don’t. “It’s incredibly cold” and “there’s a huge amount of snow falling and blowing around out there” works. Still gets the point across and people won’t notice that you didn’t go with the cussing.

Own your language or find another way. Seriously, one of the many things my mom taught me is that people won’t notice if you don’t curse. And Stephen Fry taught me that there’s nothing wrong with swearing.

I think we can all agree there are some words that are offensive and slurs and really don’t need to be written or said, and reducing them to things like “the n-word” don’t really make it any better. You still know what’s being said. Dancing around it doesn’t change the meaning or the intention.

If you’re someone who’d rather not see swearing online, there are ways to censor things. Like add-ons for Firefox and Chrome. That’s probably your best option, because not everyone is going to be offended by the same words and it’s still shit, no matter which letter you replace with a little smiley face.

More About Them Kittens

Charlotte is doing a lot better. She’s not perfect yet, but her symptoms have been reduced. She’s getting braver and stronger and a tiny bit bigger. She’s still about half the size of Owen, but she’s starting to look more catlike than kittenish. She loves to snuggle and she’s not one to put up with anyone’s nonsense.

Charlotte was the first one to come downstairs. She likes to slip between the banister bars onto the back of the sofa. Owen still doesn’t like to be downstairs, but he’s gotten to be very close to Luke, and we’re hoping that Luke will encourage him.

Owen has been a bonus. I hadn’t been planning to keep him, but decided it would be good for Charlotte. It has been. They’re still the best of friends, sleeping together, grooming each other, and sharing the same food bowl (getting them to eat from different bowls has not been successful so far).

They’re growing up great. I totally lucked out with these two.

If you’re interested in following the adventures of former Savage Cat John, he’s at
.

My Mother: My Enabler

So I’ve wanted a digital SLR for a while. A good one. I like taking pictures. I always have. I’m not particularly good at it, but I like doing it, and my theory was that I could get a good camera and learn. And then my mom went out and bought me a fantastic camera. Guess it’s time to learn.

The thing is, this camera makes it easy. Seriously, out of the box I’m taking pictures that are so much better than anything I’ve been doing before.

You can see them all on Flickr or if you want to see just the ones I like best, they’re on Tumblr