Trying to Write (sic) some wrongs

I was pointed at something this week that concerned me. I thought long and hard about whether to give it further coverage here, and will probably, no undoubtedly, regret doing so, but I found it so wide of the mark that I felt I should.

It probably won’t make any difference, but this post is just an attempt to explain and correct some obvious misconceptions that are out there, held hopefully by just a small number of people.

I have been a member of an excellent Disney forum for ten years. Yes, ten years. I owe much of my knowledge of WDW to it, (outside of dozens of visits of course), I have had better holidays because of it and I have made some lovely friends on there, several of which I have met in real life. Indeed one of those is even a moderator there.

I hope to continue to be a part of that community, and visit most days as I do now to keep up to date on things and contribute where I can add value to the conversation. Unless this post gets me banned of course! I hope not. The forum cannot be responsible for the opinions of those using it, and I have no problem with the site itself, or those who put a lot of work into keeping it going. Indeed I promote it here and in real life regularly.

The only relevance of telling you about said forum is that these misconceptions were expressed there, and that is all.

So this kerfuffle was a discussion thread about the release of my latest book. (No link included so that nobody thinks I am promoting it again).

Some kind supportive user posted that it was out and a few more contributed to say they had got a copy. Some people however expressed views that concerned me and I’ll be honest, hurt me a little. Having an opinion that differs from mine or hurts me is fine, but not if the reasons behind it are wrong. So I need to explain some stuff.

I have to do it here as that thread has now been closed to prevent further debate. That is appreciated and probably wise. It is the first thread I have ever been involved in that got closed, and I didn’t even post in it!

Over that ten years of forum membership I have offered my advice where I felt it would help someone, and of course I have posted a decade’s worth of trip reports for people to read and hopefully in some cases enjoy.

As you will probably know, I put those reports into a book earlier this year, (again, no link to it, why would I want anyone to find it?) as an anthology. My reasons for doing so were as follows –

  1. I like writing, and if time ever allows I may try to write a book. I wanted to understand how this self publishing thing worked so I tried it out.
  2. I wanted my trip reports to be stored somewhere other than a forum on the internet. Who knows when the folks who run that site may lose interest, close the site or have it explode in a cloud of reclining seats and taking kids out of school debates.
  3. People had left feedback on my trip reports each and every year telling me that I should put my trip reports into a book. So I did.

I am immeasurably grateful and astounded that some people bought that book, left me lovely reviews on Amazon and enjoyed reading it. It was a huge learning curve for me and I’m glad I did it.

You will notice that in my list of reasons for doing the book above, money is not mentioned. If anyone thinks that a self published book makes anything like an amount of money to justify the work and effort involved then they have never self published a book. Try it, let me know how you get on. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?

I earn a good living doing my real job. I don’t enjoy it half as much as my hobby, but who does? However, it pays the bills, and for stupidly expensive holidays most years. I don’t need an extra income, not that I would turn one down should it be offered of course. Who would?

I wouldn’t be so vulgar as to tell you what I earn from my real job, just as I won’t tell you how many pennies I have “made” from selling books. There is nothing to be gained from that, and frankly it is nobody’s business but mine.

Surely nobody else makes money from a hobby, like hand made cards or calendars or other such things. Why people should have to pay for those is silly right?

Let me make it really clear. The act of publishing these books is not about the money, it is about the writing, the publishing process and the exposure.

Just out of interest though, even if I were to make a fortune from writing stuff and selling it to folks willing to pay for it, why would that be an issue? Again, for clarity, this is NOT about the money and I am not making fortunes from it.

For a good few years I have been writing a (free) blog pretty much every week, full of nonsense, pithy comments and rants about life in general. It started small of course and was really intended as a diary for my own benefit. Much like learning about self publishing, I started a blog as, at the time, it was relatively new, and relevant to my job. I felt by doing one for a while I would learn some things that would help me in my job. I did and it has.

The readership of that blog has grown to a number I could never have imagined, and I’m guessing that is because people like reading it. Why would anyone subscribe to a blog they don’t like? That would be like following someone on Twitter or Liking a Facebook page that you didn’t really want to see updates from wouldn’t it?

So with that growing readership I thought, hey maybe I can use this to have a go at writing something these kind folks have never read before, and put that in a book. The first book was all content that was (and still is) freely available on the internet. Having worked hard to grow that blog readership over many years through regular posts with (hopefully) decent content, backed up by other social media activity, I had a potential audience to read the thing.

So when we booked our next holiday for August 2013, I wrestled long and hard with the idea of not posting it immediately on a forum, and instead putting it out as a book.

I felt conflicted, as my relationship with the Disney forum had given me the audience and readership I had developed. That is where most of my blog and book readers come from, I’m not stupid enough to think any different. However, I have never posted on that forum to promote anything I do or write which is for sold for money. That would be wrong, as they have a very good sponsor programme where advertiser’s can promote their wares. I respect that and I don’t have the budget or need for such a thing.

The forum is huge with thousands of users, and my not putting this trip report on there immediately would not even register any impact.

Indeed, I’m not naive enough to think that the trip reports I have posted (for free) in the past are to everyone’s taste or that everyone actually gives a toss whether they exist or not. I don’t like or rate some that I read, but I move on, and acknowledge the fact that somebody else probably will.

So I decided to take a risk, try something different, do the book first, and perhaps then post the trip report on the forum later. The format in which it needs to be for an eBook and a forum could not be more different. It would take time to reformat it all, but to post it was my intention. But hey, wouldn’t that upset all the folks who had parted with their £2 to buy the book? Probably, so this was a little bit of a rock and a hard place.

With that in mind whatever I did, I knew it would probably upset some people. Even before it was published, and probably even after releasing the last book, people who had previously been engaging, supportive and friendly via social media were now not so much. I felt a change in some of those relationships. That’s life. I don’t like everything other people do either and I react accordingly. We are all grown ups.

It does seem though that there is an incorrect perception that I am in some way just trying to make money out of these books (God forbid). Along with that comes a strong objection to me doing so, and this seems to have drawn out some strange comments. I came across some comments that this was a good way to fund my next trip. Wow.

I won’t bore anyone with the details of how this self publishing thing works. If you care about it that much then do the research I had to. Let me summarise by saying that after paying Amazon to deliver a 7MB file, pay Amazon their cut and then pay VAT, the surplus is in the pennies per copy.

Anyway, to fund my next trip with book sales I would need to sell, on rough calculations, a book to most of the UK, not a few blog readers, some of which are kind enough to fork out a couple of quid.

Either I am overpaying massively for my holidays or some folks are vastly over estimating how many of these I’m selling and the resultant profit margin.

I also noticed someone asking “Why should we pay to read something that was once free?”

Well, don’t. Honestly, if in some way you feel uncomfortable in doing so I insist you don’t. It won’t make an impact on my life and I truly hope it doesn’t on yours.

By the way, this particular content wasn’t once free. It is new. That is kind of the whole point of the exercise.

What I am trying to do, in my half-arsed way is to perhaps gain some sort of reputation and/or exposure as someone who could maybe do some proper writing for someone or something. Maybe by having a couple of books on Amazon, on a subject I know something about, somebody somewhere may take an interest.

This may be a ridiculous ambition and one way beyond my capability, but if you never try, you never know!

I have in the past written (for free) for other Disney sites just to get some exposure. It is all part of that half-arsed plan, but that has yet to come in for criticism, which is odd.

I don’t have a voracious sense of ambition in life, but to begrudge me that half-arsed plan seems petty to be honest. Especially from some of the folks who encouraged me to do just that for a decade.

If my updates about the book here and on other social media are not to your liking, I apologise. My experience from the last book taught me that one post won’t do it. People are busy, and their lives do not revolve around making sure they read every word I spout into a computer. So I send a few posts and tweets, at different times, on different days so that anyone who may be interested should see one.

There is an absolute direct relationship between me posting something about what I write and people reading it. Whether that is a blog post or book. It is not rocket science. You tell people it is there and they go and read it. My blog stats are crystal clear on that. What writer (of any standard or standing, even amateur old me) would want to write something that nobody then reads?

I try to warn folks when I’m going on a promo spree. If you don’t want to see these posts, tweets and updates please Unlike, Unfollow, hide, delete, whatever you need to do.

I appreciate every person who connects with me on-line, and I try to keep my posts, tweets and updates light, aspirationally humorous, and non invasive. Saying that you are tired of seeing content in these forms is like following me down the street in the real world and then complaining about my aftershave. You have the control, not me.

For the minority of those folks complaining about my decisions and choices, I respect their right to hold those opinions. I do object to them holding those opinions for all the wrong reasons, but there is little I can do about that aside from try to explain them here.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that is life, and that it is most certainly the internet. All I hope is that opinions are formed on truth and not some invented sense of resentment or misunderstanding.

I’m trying something new, something that nobody else has tried from this particular community of Disney fans, and most people from that community have been absolutely lovely, supportive and generous. The length of this explanation is probably more than the minority who have not been deserve, but I do take massive exception to some of the suggestions around my motives and actions. If the lunch hour spent writing this clarifies anything then it was worth it.

For everyone else who has continued to support me when I honestly can see little reason to do so, thank you. I am my own worst critic, and your continued lovely comments, positive vibes and yes, your collection of £2’s mean a lot to me. Indeed I have brought forward my retirement plans purely on the book sales over the last week, and I move to my own private island shortly!! Sigh….

I’ll still be blogging each week whether the audience for it is just me or what I have now. As much as it can be a bind sometimes, I enjoy it.

The fact that I have dared to do something different seems to have ruffled some feathers, and I am sorry to see that. I don’t apologise but all of this is an attempt to at least explain why.

Those who think I am somehow cashing in will probably continue to do so, but at least I have had a chance to put forward the facts.

Hoping there is one….

Till the next time……

The Going Limp in Orlando Tour 2013

Clearly a blog post from me on a Saturday can only mean one thing.

I have a book out!!

(If you go back through my post history and find one on a  Saturday when I didn’t have a book out, then I reserve the right to be wrong and to declare you sad).

This (probably) replaces your normal Sunday dose of blog.

Finally, after the most tedious teaser marketing campaign in the history of teasing, I am pleased to announce that the latest trip report is ready.

The Going Limp in Orlando Tour 2013 is available to download from Amazon right now!

Book Cover

The Going Limp in Orlando Tour 2013

If you do not own such technical frippery as a Kindle, then fear not. There is probably an app for that. If you own a smartphone, laptop, tablet or even PC, you can get a FREE Kindle app from your relevant App Store, and use that to download and read this thing.

As ever, I need to thank Louise, Emily and Rebecca for allowing me to flaunt their holiday all over the place and I especially need to apologise to Louise for the chocolate hostage situation. All will become clear in the book.

I also need to thank my volunteer proof reader, Janine (@disneynine on Twitter) for taking the time to flag up seemingly endless spelling mistakes and other errors.

No matter how often I read my own stuff, I still miss glaring stupidness, so having someone check this before release should make your reading a less frustrating experience. Proof reading has little effect on the actual quality or originality so that will be all my own fault.

I am also thankful that anyone gives enough of a toss to want to read this thing. I’d love to get your feedback if you do read it, either here as Comments, via Twitter (what do you mean you don’t follow me???) or the Facebook page.

If you feel inclined, any (nice) reviews will be very welcome on Amazon itself too! Any nasty reviews can be sent to me at donotwanttoknow@mkingdon.com.

If you aren’t sure what all this is about, and you want to try a bit before you download, then you can sample Day One here, to get a feel for the tone.

It has been very different writing this trip report in this way. Normally there is a mad rush to get each day posted as quickly as possible which of course led to the enormous number of typos in the other book which I then had to go through and correct after it “went live”. I only spotted them when I read it on my own Kindle, having been blind to them in Word or on the internet. I don’t do detail very well, and I suspect I didn’t correct them all.

Being able to write it all in one go has hopefully meant a more consistent standard (consistently poor) and a cleaner read (I don’t mean less smut). Of course, on that topic, not being subject to forum moderation (yet), I have not had to worry about rude words and close to the knuckle innuendo as much. Whether that is a good or bad thing I don’t know.

I hope those of you kind enough to download it enjoy “Going Limp” as much as we did. First to finish gets a prize. The glow of self satisfaction.

Till the next time…..

Being Brief About a Book

I am so grateful for and somewhat humbled by every single person that comes to read this stuff each week.

Sometimes, some weeks other stuff gets in the way of throwing these posts together and this is one of them.

1) I don’t have a great deal to say

2) We’ve been out at a Christening

Hence the lateness of this post. So I shall keep it brief.

On a similar note to the thanks above this week I passed two social media milestones this week, in that I passed 900 twitter followers and 600 likers (not lickers) on my Facebook page.

I know caring about these things makes me a shallow social media whore, but I embrace that and thank you all nonetheless.

The only other news to share is that the trip report is done. I typed the last word yesterday, and have despatched it to a fool silly enough to volunteer to proof read it. Three days have been proof read and I’ve had enough typo corrections back that there may be more words incorrect than correct. It was expected.

Hopefully this process won’t take long and I can get the thing out, but I can’t say exactly when as I can’t demand my proof reader gives up their other stuff, like having a life and family, just to point out my literary misgivings.

It won’t surprise you to know that you will hear about it when it is ready and I’ll be ramming it down your throats at regular intervals. Now I know the size of the eBook I can confirm that I’ll have to charge something for it. Amazon’s delivery charges really kick in for books over a certain size, and with all the pictures I am being kicked big time.

The minimum charge set is about $3 so it will be whatever the equivalent charge is in pounds, rounded to the nearest sensible amount. For those not wanting to pay (and I fully understand that) I will try to post it online at some point in the future.

Oh, and I did the cover yesterday, and it will look like this.

Going Limp in Orlando

Going Limp in Orlando

So with that I shall leave you in peace, recognising the fact that I shall be beyond annoying very shortly about the new eBook etc. I apologise in advance.

Till the next time…..

 

Tom Hanks 1 Simon Cowell 0

We are nearing the end folks. I committed to getting two days done this weekend and I did. Eleven and twelve are in the can (barring grammar corrections and tidying), and I only have one more full theme park day to do in Epcot. The last day of travelling is always a brief blur of angst, anger and airline food so it shouldn’t take long.

With a following wind, of which I have an endless supply we could be ready to roll in a week or two.  So I am hoping not to drag out this tedious teaser campaign much longer and that is something we shall all be grateful for.

Day Eleven was a long one, as it covered probably the most memorable day of the trip as we did the Keys to the Kingdom tour and Be Our Guest. Day Twelve gave some balance as it was a rest day and so was quite brief. It ended as most of our rest days do, arriving home from a theme park at almost midnight!

Writing up these last few days is bitter-sweet. Going back there, on paper at least, is glorious, but the last few days of any trip are always a series of goodbyes as we visit parks for the final time, never knowing when we might return.

Saying Goodbye to MK

Saying Goodbye to MK

Yes, I know I always say we are not going next year. It is a tradition. All I can say is that I always believe that when I say it, and this year more than most I cannot see a way in which we will be booking again.

Work just gets busier, which in one way is good, but in another bad, as it interrupts my trippie time.  The good element is that it shows that what I’m up to is going OK, and folks want more of it. Did I tell you I was a gigolo these days?

It must be how I am wired, but even when things are going well, the praise is flowing, and I’m being asked to do more, I still have this unshakable feeling that I am about to be found out at any moment. I shall retire with that feeling intact I am sure.

Louise is finishing her latest placement in A&E in style with a series of twelve-hour night shifts. This is undoubtedly hard work. Pretty much all she is doing is going to work of an evening, completing multiple hours of gruesome tasks and then coming home and snatching a few hours kip.

We will both be very glad when she finishes on Monday morning and returns to Uni until January. The student life of this being a nurse business is much easier than actually doing the nursing bit. By Monday evening, her hair will be in dreadlocks and she’ll be listening to The Smiths in a baggy jumper. Bloody students.

At least when Louise is working nights and sleeping during the day it puts an immediate end to any DIY that I may have to do. Anyone making any sound in our house at times such as these shall be subject to one of Louise’s nasty stares.

With Louise out at work last night and Rebecca at her boyfriend’s for a party, Emily got her way with the remote and we watched the X Factor. It is interesting, like rubber necking at a crash on the motorway, to see this thing wriggle and squirm as it dies a long painful death.

The contestants this year seem to be competing in a forgettability contest that makes me yearn for Jedward. The desperate tweaks to the format, and the final desperate attempts to make the final few million from it are so obvious it is an embarrassment.

Samsung devices everywhere, you know because all these singers just happened to be carrying the latest devices all from the same manufacturer, and the entire show now being constructed as a device to support the adverts that come up every six minutes. An 80’s night? Really. Based on what rationale?

Well I spotted a few, and that was all the 80s compilation albums being pushed in the breaks. The whole thing stinks of the tail wagging the dog, and I find it insulting.

As a form of antidote, straight after this shambles Jonathan Ross interviewed Tom Hanks. He is the absolute definition of class, talent, star quality and being a down right nice bloke.  Long may he continue, and if Emily gets any more excited about watching Saving Mr Banks, she might not make it until its release.

Of course Mr Hanks has a head start for us, having voiced Woody, and been a huge part of the girls childhoods, and now about to play Walt Disney, he would have to do something really bad to make us not like him. Like be Simon Cowell.

A ruddy nice bloke

Damn it, just one live X Factor show and it has drawn a rant from me already. Never mind, I feel better for it even if you don’t.

Till the next time….

 

 

 

D I Why?

What do you mean  I have to write a blog? I have season five of Breaking Bad throbbing away on my Netflix account.

How inconvenient. This has pretty much been the story of my week. I have had more hair than free time, and I can think of no more extreme metaphor for my time poorness.

Work has been manic, and unexciting at the same time, and at home I have been a whirling dervish of DIY. Fed up at the crapness of the state of our house we made a list of stuff we should have done months ago, and resolved to do it.

These tasks involved more sweat and effort on my part than monetary investment, but should make the place look like it is owned by somebody who hasn’t squandered every last penny on ridiculous holidays.

I undertook one of those tasks that you try to put off until either you can afford to pay someone else to do it or death. I painted the hall, stairs and landing walls. The horror you are imagining is not sufficient to reflect the reality. We live in an old house, and in those days it seems the higher the walls the better.

As well as having to actually cover vast acres of wall with a roller I had to assume positions not seen since nine and a half weeks to get to those hard to reach spots.

I haven’t sweated as much since I last thought I might have to buy a round. With that complete, I did a bit of painting in Rebecca’s room, glossed our bedroom window sills (we inconveniently have two) and then took on my least favourite task of all….wallpapering.

We were to have a “feature wall” behind the headboard. Louise poo pooed my idea of diamante encrusted mirrors and a smoke machine, and instead chose some wallpaper which was both duck egg, and patterned. The latter fact was more important as it meant I had to swear to a much greater extent whilst up the ladder trying to match the bloody thing.

This here feature wall also had more light fittings and plugs on than a control desk at Cape Canaveral. The intricate snipping, cutting and manipulating of patterned bloody wallpaper led to more sweating, a load of swearing and the usual search for one of the cats to give it a good kick up the arse.

I couldn’t find it, but there’s a cat shaped air bubble under one piece of wallpaper.

Having taken Friday off to attack these tasks, they have stretched into the weekend, with some bathroom painting today hopefully finishing things off.

Next week we have a joiner and an electrician coming to resolve long-standing stuff in the house, so soon we may have somewhere you could class as habitable.

Speaking of the reason for the need of all this making good, our holidays, I have made very poor progress this week with the trip report. By the time I have returned from work each evening I have been crushed into a depressed husk by the commute home or football has been on. I got a solitary day done! Day Ten, consisting of the Animal Kingdom and Donut Burgers was done today.

It took some writing, but I actually enjoyed remembering the day. That’s the whole point I suppose.

A Preview Piccy from Day Ten

A Preview Piccy from Day Ten

The work commute has been spectacularly shite this week thanks to the Tories being gracious enough to visit the frozen North for their annual piss up. With most of the centre closed to stop folks murdering them for crimes against side partings, my route home took the brunt of the diversion and it took forever.

The Tories arrive in The North

So here we are again butting up against Monday and it feels like I haven’t had time to draw breath.

This means that the plan tonight is to close this laptop very shortly, fire up Netflix, eat some crap, and watch as many Breaking Bads as possible before needing to sleep. Yo, bitches, let’s cook!

Till the next time….