How not to get fat

Merita King:

I read this article by Duncan Swallow, which reflects the way I’ve thought for years. Everyone is so quick to blame everything other than their own lack of will power. It’s time to take off the rose tinted glasses and see the truth, however ugly and scary it may be.

Originally posted on nobodysreadingme:

An interesting piece of information from the University of Edinburgh. Dr John Menzies from the university’s Centre for Integrative Physiology announced this week that the whole idea of fats and sugars being addictive is nonsense. He said, and I quote, ‘It’s easy to blame food. Certain individuals do have an addiction-like relationship with particular foods. But…(we could make more progress) if we think of this as a behavioural addiction rather than as a substance-based addiction.’ In other words, it’s not foods that are addictive, but the very act of eating. The only foodstuff that is truly addictive is caffeine. Sugars, fats? No. Absolutely not. Nobody exhibits withdrawal symptoms if deprived of sugar or fat. They may get grumpy because they like them, but they are not truly addictive.

This is not good news for those seeking an excuse, is it? Suddenly, the old ‘I’m addicted to food’ get-out-of-jail-free card has…

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Negotiating the maze that is the stock photo site

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If, like me, you’re not blessed with an A-list income, then you will be familiar with the anguish that comes with the search for cover art stock photos.

These sites are huge, but their search criteria are nonsensical, and the results you get often bear no resemblance to the words you type into the input box.  You type in ‘spooky corridor’ and you get pictures of grinning kids playing on a beach, and you think, “what the fuck has this to do with a spooky corridor?”  Much sighing and scratchings of the head later, you give up in disgust or settle for something you know is not what you wanted.

The problem is caused by those who upload the photos.  When they upload their photos, the site asks for keywords.  These keywords are the words you and I use as search criteria and should reflect the subject of the photo to make sure we get what we search for.   They want you to pay to download their photo above anyone else’s.  To try to make sure this happens, they will type in keywords that bear no resemblance to the subject of the photo, so that as many searches as possible will bring their photo up on our screens.  It’s a bit like authors putting their horror novel into the ‘historical romance’ or ‘chick lit’ categories to make sure more people see it when they search Amazon.  It’s bad practice and it should be illegal.  The stock photo sites should punish these people buy banning them from using the site.

There are many stock photo sites out there, and a lot of the same photos will appear in them all.  Finding the right stock shots can be a lengthy procedure, so don’t leave it until the last minute.  Make a list of every single word and phrase you can think of that describes the image you want, even vague abstract terms such as ‘spooky, gloomy, sad, otherworldly’ etc.  As soon as you find something that is near what you’re after, click on the shot to get to its download page.  Lower down that same page, there will be a ‘see similar images’ option.  Click this and you will get a new search of images similar to that one.  By this method of searching similar images, you can often find your way eventually to the shot you want.  Download comp images before paying for the final shot, and play around with your photo manipulation software.  Only when you are happy that the images give you the final result you’re happy with, pay to download the full size version.

I am going to be self publishing a horror novel in time for Halloween this year, and the search for stock images for the cover was causing me much despair.  I searched and re-searched both stock sites I usually use, to no avail, and in the end I searched a site I usually avoid due to its high costs.  Within minutes I found the perfect shots and was so relieved I actually did dance around my living room with glee.  Never rule out a site because it’s too expensive, keep it for last resort searches.  It’s better to pay a little more for the right shot, than less for one that doesn’t really fit.  A few hours with Gimp and I have a cover I’m happy with, and one that is near to what I originally imagined for the book.

Stock photo sites are a nightmare to negotiate, but with time, planning, and strategy, you will find what you need.

The Book Ad Scam

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Ever tried to buy an ad at one of those book advertising websites?  You pay the fee and they advertise your book on their website/facebook/twitter for a day. Some are cheap-ish whereas others are hugely expensive and trade on nothing more than their name. The hook is simple – you pay them to put your book ad in front of thousands of potential readers/buyers via their website or email list. Seems great doesn’t it? The only problem is that all of them that I’ve come across so far – and that is a lot – demand you have a certain number of reviews at a certain level before they will then CONSIDER – yes, just consider – taking your book for an ad. Most often they still turn you down even if you can qualify.

I’ve seen a huge number of authors who, like me, moan constantly at how impossible it is to find genuine reviews. Yes, you can do the sock puppet thing by writing your own under fake names. You can buy them, and you can ‘trade’ reviews with another author (the unspoken rule here is that it has to be 5*). Getting genuine ones is impossible, completely and totally impossible. Not only do readers want you to give them your hard work for free, but they then won’t even bother to write a short 1 sentence review by way of recompense. I am quickly getting to hate so called readers.

This whole book ad thing is a total scam. The most well known of these advertising sites charges hundreds of dollars for a book ad, which you then have to ‘qualify’ for by having dozens of 5* reviews. Listen assholes, if I had that many 5* reviews I wouldn’t need your poxy website would I.

My advice to anyone and everyone is simple – don’t use these sites. They just want to take your hard earned money and even if you buy enough reviews to qualify, they then invent some other reason to turn you down – your book isn’t their genre, the cover isn’t professional enough, there is a single typo on page 427, or whatever.

I am sick of all the scams being peddled out there aimed at hard working authors like me. I am also sick of ‘readers’ who actually don’t read and certainly never review. This ridiculously out of control self publishing thing has to blow up soon, it has to. Then maybe, hopefully, all the peddlers of the dross will realise that they really should go back to doing manual labour, and those with real creativity can get their quality work out there. Then it will just be a case of educating the brainless masses on how to actually read quality work.

 

by Krista Wayment

The legends are true, dragons speak.

Renick, the fifth son of a dragon breeder, crashes into an unexpected adventure that challenges everything he thought he knew about dragons, history, and himself. Stranded in the massive Helath forest, Renick meets two other passengers: Thane, a noble training to be a dragon knight, and Lainey, the orphaned niece of a healer. Together they survive an attack by vicious wolves, rescue a baby dragon with a broken wing, and escape from a band of dragon hunters as they make a perilous climb into the mountains. What they discover there will change everything.

Check out Krista Wayment’s books here.

Escaping Safety

Escaping Safety, by Bonnie Gwyn

Safety is just another word for captivity.

Christina has grown up literally ‘sheltered’ in a sanctuary run by mysterious Officials who offer safety in exchange for captivity. She’s already suspicious of the Officials when she meets Tyler Andrus, commander of the T-Squad: a group of rebels on a quest to destroy the sanctuaries and bring light back into the world. Having yearned for freedom all her life, she joins them in a journey of hope, terror, and self-discovery.

Check out Escaping Safety here.

 

The Shaman’s Curse

The Shaman’s Curse by Meredith Mansfield

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed.

Now he has an implacable enemy in the vengeful shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. In his isolation, Vatar finds some comfort in daydreams. He knows the strange girl he sometimes imagines is just that–a dream. She’d better be.

Because, if she’s real things could get even worse for Vatar. The accepted magic of Vatar’s plains tribe wouldn’t enable him to see or communicate with a girl he doesn’t even know–or know where to find. That would be more like the magic passed down in certain, closely-guarded bloodlines among the ruling class of the coastal cities. And that’s bad. Very bad.

Unlike their own, Vatar’s people think the city magic is evil. If the shaman ever found out, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar. And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy.

The two kinds of magic have always been separate–until now.

Check out The Shaman’s Curse here.

The Princess & The Prom Queen

by Jaclyn Weist

Jenny’s had it with her life.

Six siblings in an overstuffed house are enough to drive anyone crazy, and sometimes she dreams of escaping to some fantasy world. When she suddenly wakes up to find herself being kissed by a strange—but very handsome—prince, Jenny knows her life just got a lot more exciting. Now stuck in a medieval land of castles and royalty, when Jenny learns that the queen has agreed to marry her off to the prince, it’s time to take matters into her own hands. She goes on a quest to find out who dragged her to this time while trying to keep from falling in love with either of the boys vying for her attention.

Princess Genevieve has only known life under her mother’s rule. She wants to do more than go to battle or deal with suitors. She wakes to find herself in a new world filled with gadgets, electricity, and moving carriages. She finally has the freedom to be who she wants to be with a family who cares deeply for her and a boy worth any sacrifice. It’s more than everything she always wanted.

As Jenny and Genevieve settle into their new lives, they face an unknown evil which threatens everything they care about and makes them face tough questions—like who they are and what they really want their lives to become.

Check out Jaclyn’s book here.

 

Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu

A tale of atomic love from Mercedes Yardley

 

***PROUD WINNER OF THE 2013 REDDIT FANTASY AWARD FOR “BEST SHORT FICTION”***

Her mama always said she was special. His daddy called him a demon. But even monsters can fall in love.

Montessa Tovar is walking home alone when she is abducted by Lu, a serial killer with unusual talents and a grudge against the world. But in time, the victim becomes the executioner as ‘Apocalyptic’ Montessa and her doomed lover, ‘Nuclear’ Lulu, crisscross the country in a bloody, paranormal firestorm of revenge.

REVIEWERS ARE SAYING…

“There is so much of Mercedes in this novella–so much of her essence that at times it can be overwhelming to the reader to share this kind of intimacy with the author, but it’s well worth it and makes “Apocalyptic Montessa” a fantastically memorable read. It’s my hope that this book will silence and satisfy those fantasy and horror readers who lament that no one is doing anything original anymore.” —Darkeva, Hellnotes.com

“…enthralling and fascinating, and it was the engaging writing style that made it so. I enjoyed the descriptions (they were all very fiery and destructive, but in a beautiful kind of way), and of course the dialogue. While I would like to warn potential readers that the novel is very violent and bloody in parts, that only made it even more interesting for me. After all, it’s not every day that you identify with two serial killers.” —Molly, A Daily Dose of R & R

“Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu is a take on the origins of a duo of super-villains. An issue of Marvel Team-Up inverted and subverted. Take Andersen Prunty’s Sociopaths in Love and J.G. Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition then set it to a Helios Creed soundtrack, and you’ll enjoy the great story Yardley has written.” —M.C. O’Neill, Royal Manaball

Check it out here.