SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

Month: November, 2012

I’m Going To Die With The World’s Biggest TBR Pile

In two years, I’ve accumulated more than 7550 free Kindle ebooks.  That’s at least 3775 a year, or about 72.5 ebooks a week.  Assuming I can read a book a week (leaving at least 71 for that week alone as yet unread) , I’ll need to live until I’m 187 — another 145 years before I’ve read them all.

And that’s if I stop downloading these freebies.  If I keep going at the current rate, by the time I reach 187, I’ll have downloaded another 547,882 ebooks, which will take me another 10,536 years to read.  See my problem?  So, someone had better come up with a way of keeping me alive for the next 10,000 years or so, or I’m going to die with the world’s biggest TBR pile.


Kindle Freebie Giveaway!

Check this out guys!  Kindle Freebies is having an awesome giveaway (and I’m in it of course!)

My Alpha-reader

…or should I say my alpha-listener?  You see, I’m reading Armies of Nine to Miss6.  She gets one or two chapters at night as her bed-time story.  Now let me tell you, this is great for a few reasons.  I get to share a story with my daughter.  I get to spot problems and typos as I read every word aloud.  I get to gauge the quality of the story by just how well she reacts to it — and that’s the most important bit.

She’s loving it.  I mean jumping-up-and-down-on-the-bed loving it.

Sure I usually have to ask her to sit still while I read, but that’s for normal random 6 y/o wriggling.  This is Tigger & Roo – type bouncing.  That’s a pretty good inspiration for me.  I mean, kids are honest.  If they don’t like a story, it doesn’t matter who wrote it, they’re going to tune out.  I think I’m onto something…




Follow Up To ‘Nearly Getting Killed And What I’m Doing About It’

Following up to Nearly Getting Killed And What I’m Doing About It

Two trips to Fitzroy Cycles in Carnegie — yes, I’m finally naming them — and my bike still wasn’t right.  I can be stubborn sometimes.  That old saw: ‘If you want something done right; do it yourself’ was ringing in my ears as I got onto Youtube.

I found this video.

Now all is right with the world, despite me having wasted $110 by paying incompetents to mess up my bike and sell me parts I didn’t need.


The Top Ten Great Books I Can’t Stand

Now before I begin, let me just say these really are all great books.  They’ve been heralded as such by readers and critics across the globe — many for decades.  I just didn’t like them.  My opinion of them doesn’t mean they do not deserve good ratings.  They do deserve high marks.  If I was to give them a rating on Amazon right now, they’d all get 4 & 5 stars.  They’re brilliant, brilliant books.  I just didn’t like them.

So why am I doing this?  Why mention them at all?  Well it all started when I got a bad review for Golden Mane.  Now I’m a big boy.  I can cope.  Sure I was a little saddened at first, but pretty quickly I got to recognising the reviewer had every right to dislike my book as I have to dislike any other.  So, after a brief chat in a Facebook group I belong to, where I and a few fellow writers rant about whatever’s bruised our fragile egos, I decided to scribble down this list.  I’m certainly not the first to write such a list and no doubt I won’t be the last.  But this is my list of The Top Ten Great Books I Can’t Stand.

  1.  Moby Dick (I’ve never been able to finish that thing!)
  2.  Great Expectations (Jesus! Didn’t Dickens EVER know when to finish a sentence?)
  3. The Secret Garden (Yawn)
  4. The Life Of Pi ( I made it through about 30 pages.)
  5. Frankenstein ( I know, Mary Shelly should be my heroine and all, but bloody hell, she’s worse than Dickens)
  6. The entire The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Sooo depressing and even sloooooower)
  7. War And Peace (I tried. I really did, but shit it’s as hard to wade through as Moby Dick, only heavier)
  8. A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich (One day, huh? Should be told in about five pages, not five hundred)
  9. The Wind In The Willows. (No explanation for that one. Just didn’t like it)
  10. Watership Down. (Should be called How To Reduce A Happy Child To Tears in 300 Pages)

Okay that’s it.  Now remember, these opinions are not reviews.  They’re not ratings.  They shouldn’t discourage you from reading them.  If anything, you should feel encouraged, challenged even, to pick them up , read them and then obliged to vent at me for daring to not like these wonderful literary masterpieces.  Perhaps maybe you can come up with your own list of awful wonderful books.  If any of mine happen to be on it, I promise not to cry — too much 🙂

Update With (Name Withheld) Cycles

Well!  After a night to cool off, I duly took my bike back to the shop.  Phew!  You could have cut the air with a spoon.  The boss I complained to was gruff.  I was gruff.  The blokes in the service section were sullen and silent.  Ooh, it was a tense 20 minute wait for the head honcho to personally fix the bike, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the poor sod who did the initial service’s  shoes when I left.  The gear line from the handlbar wasn’t put back properly, the chain wasn’t fitted properly and the derailleurs (the gear-change/cog thingies) weren’t aligned right.

The bike’s fixed now (I hope!) and I should be back on the road tomorrow.  So that’s the result, but I also learned something.  I’ve got to learn how to do this kind of stuff myself.  I’d never bothered beyond a few basic things because my brother, who trained as a diesel mechanic, advised me that repairing bike gears etc is a black art and probably not something an un-mechanically minded fellow such as myself could learn easily.  Well, if I can learn how to format a document for Smashwords, I can learn how to fix derailleurs.  It’ll just be messier, but no matter; I’m washable.

Nearly Getting Killed And What I’m Doing About It

So last week I took my bike in to (Name Withheld Cycles) to be tuned.  The gears were changing as they should – kind of.  Occasionally I had to pump the lever a few times to get it to change from second to third.  Also, it was making a grinding noise on and a few other squeaks and rattles.

It needed a new chain, they said.  I could have it back on Monday, they said.

Monday came.  I rode my older spare bike in to work so that I could pick up my regular bike to  ride home, and drop off the old one for the same service.

I paid my $110 and made to ride off.  For the first 500 metres or so, I didn’t need to change gears.  I just had to go along the footpath to get to the road I was intending to take to get me home; the bike shop not being on my regular route.

Then I noticed it.  The chain slipping — shearing off the cogs.  Crap.  I changed through a few different gears to see if I could get better tension…  wait a minute!  I’m pumping the lever to change gears even more that I had to before I dropped it off to be serviced.  I’d go in the next day and see what they could do about it.  No point turning back now.  Got Miss6’s school music thing tonight.  Can’t miss that.  Onwards I go.

A little while later down the road, I get to an intersection.  I had to turn to go down a side-street to get to the bike path that would take me home, clear of any traffic.

The light turned from Green to Amber.  I got ready.  There!  The break in the traffic between Amber and Red when I could turn before the traffic starts coming my way.  I stand up on the pedal.  RIP!  Fuck – the fucking chain’s come off!

I do a mad hobble/haul of the bike to get out of the way of an oncoming truck and just manage to get to the side-street.  I back-pedal a bit and the chain slips back on.  Shit.  That was very fucking close.  Too fucking close.  Any closer and I’d have been hamburger.

I ride home at half speed in the only gear that won’t slip and immediately call (Name Withheld Cycles) and in typical SJB style, let ’em have it.  I’ll be going in tomorrow to not only make sure they fix what they should have done properly in the first place, and I’ll be retrieving the spare bike before they do anything to it.  I’ll get someone else to work on my bikes from now on.

I’ll let you all know how things went tomorrow.  If all goes well, (Name Withheld Cycles) will remain anonymous.  If not, well, you get the idea.

Amazon KDP VS Smashwords And What I’m Doing Now

Right.  I’ve used both platforms, and they each have their pros and cons.

Things I like about Smashwords:

  • They distribute to B&N, iTunes and others.
  • I can make the price anything from $0.00 (Free!) to anything I like.
  • They pay into my PayPal account.

Things I don’t like about Smashwords:

  • The ‘meatgrinder‘ *  ebook compiler is truly awful, making formatting for Smashwords a nightmare.  For example, I can’t get my text to look the way I want it to, with both indents and after spacing.
  • The dashboard is lumpy — accurate, but difficult to navigate and well, just lumpy. *
  • They insist I submit the work in .doc format or similar – not pre-formatted in epub or mobi.

* You’ll see what I mean about it being lumpy by checking out the above links.  Wading through the Smashwords Style Guide is like trying to swim in molasses.

Things I like about KDP (and KDP Select):

  • It’s the market leader in ebook sales.  I’ve made more money through Amazon through sales and borrowings than with all the other channels at Smashwords combined.
  • The 5-day free promo periods work — providing you shell out and do a promo tie-in with a dedicated Kindle promo site like Kindle Nation Daily.
  • The dashboard and the reports it provides are beautiful.
  • It’s EASY.  I can upload my work in mobi format, formatted perfectly with Scrivener, without having to put up with a second-rate compiler like Smashwords’ meatgrinder.

Things I don’t like about KDP:

  • Amazon won’t pay into my PayPal account.   That’s a biggie, that one.  If you’ve ever tried to open a foreign currency account in Australia, you’ll know what I mean.
  • I can’t set the price to $0.00.

So, what am I doing now?  Well, here’s the plan.  All my shorts, I’ll continue to release on Amazon KDP Select first.  Once I’ve used the initial 5-day free promo period, I’ll keep it on Amazon, but un-enroll the book from KDP Select, and put it out through Smashwords, ticking all the distribution boxes except Amazon.

Angela of Troy and The Department are both now available for FREE through Smashwords.  They’re still $0.99 on Amazon, but once Amazon gets around to price-matching — and they will, I’m sure — They’ll be free everywhere.  I’ll add Run Ronny Run! and Benjamin McConnell, Silver Shroud as their KDP Select periods expire.

Similar story for my full-length novels, only I’ll leave the prices at the same as they are on Amazon.

Angela Of Troy Now Free On Smashwords

Angela of Troy now FREE on Smashwords.

Authors This Is For You!

Authors This Is For You!

Nancy Medina, via Kindle Freebies, is hosting a competition and giveaway From November 25 to December 1, and you can list your free ebooks as well!

Drop her a line so she can add your link! Get in touch with her via :