This was Halloween

plague doctorsWe’d set our alarms for 6:15 but they betrayed us in the worst possible way. Lynx woke at 7 after a stress dream about missing our train. Way to taunt her, brain, rather than doing something useful and actually waking her. Can’t get the staff these days. We had an hour to get ready and get to Waverley Bridge. We got there with a few minutes to spare but the person in front of us at the ticket machine took ages and the machine to a while to figure out so we missed the 8 a.m. train we wanted. There was another one at 8:15. We got to the platform at 8:05 after Lynx’s suitcase got jammed in the barrier and had to be rescued. plague doctor costumesWe’ve never attempted to master public transport by ourselves (social anxiety makes things like that impossible) but we didn’t have a choice. We had to get to Falkirk. Once again, we rued leaving our glasses behind as we couldn’t read any signs. Luckily, we’d researched it online before we came to Edinburgh, so we knew which Falkirk station we wanted and headed for that platform. A train pulled up not longer after we arrived, ruining our opportunity to take a photo as plague doctors by the tracks. We didn’t get on it because ours wasn’t due for 10 minutes and we didn’t want to get on the wrong train. Everyone else got on it, like they knew it was their train. How do people know these things? We swear that everyone else has been given a manual on how do things – like using public transport, social interaction and how to behave like normal human beings – yet someone forgot to give us the manual so we have to work it out by ourselves. Lynx asked the conductor – it was the right train. The suitcase had to have a seat space to itself, so Lynx sat with it while Cat had a table and four seats for her, the briefcase trolley and rucksack. We donned our masks and hats and took photos of us as plague doctors on the train. The conductor walked past and said “I forgot it was Halloween.” Strangely, we had half the carriage to ourselves. Can’t think why.

C L Raven Callendar Square Halloween fair

our stall

When we arrived at the station, we spotted Julie across the platform. Actually, she spotted us and waved, so we knew it was her (refer to yesterday’s post about people being faceless blurs). We just had to get across the tracks. We eyed the steps leading to the bridge then eyed the suitcase full of books which weighs half our body weight and is half our height. Why must we be the size of pixies? Where are our hunky man slaves? Oh right. Helping the beautiful, Barbie members of the female populace. Sighing defeatedly, we teamed up and lugged it up the many, many steps. It bounced happily down the other side. Sarah, if it’s more battered that when you lent it to us, we’re sorry. But…steps. And books. And no hunky man slaves.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

l-r Lynx, Megan, Imogen, Cat

Julie drove us to Callandar Square shopping centre. We set up our stall then waited for people to arrive. We met Dee who owns Trinity Moon and her daughter, Ellie and a couple of the other stall holders. A woman looked at our stall and said her daughter had one of our books and wanted us to sign it. We then met her daughter, Imogen and her friend Megan. They were lovely and ended up hanging out with us until 2 p.m, which made the day even more fun.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

us with Facebook friend, Amanda

One of the stallholders, Tracey, gave us two glasses with dripping blood as a gift. We bought handmade photo frame and dragon’s eye notebook from a stall holder called Heather. She bought a book. We sold 36 books! 16 The Malignant Dead, 6 Soul Asylum & Disenchanted 5 Romance Is Dead, 4 Deadly Reflections! Can’t believe it! Don’t think we’ve ever sold that many books in a month. At the moment, a good month is selling two ebooks. Yeah, our sales suck.  We suck. Judging by our usual monthly sales, we must be the worst writers in the history of writers. Maybe we should write something involving terrible dialogue, bondage and spanking and earn millions. Think that’s already been done though.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

us with Julie

We also met our Facebook friend, Lauren. Apparently, we’re her favourite authors after Margaret Atwood, which is one hell of a compliment we’re not worthy of. It surprises us that people actually bother to read our books, let alone enjoy them, rather than just buying them out of obligation because we’re friends/family/they feel sorry for us. Lauren was joining us on the overnight ghost hunt, so after the fair, we went back to Julie’s to dump our stuff and meet her dogs, Penny and Roxy. If we’re honest, we were just as excited to meet the dogs as we were for going ghost hunting. After a quick stop for food and dog cwtching, we all headed to Culross Palace.Culross

The village of Culross is a fantastic place! It’s a historic village with cobbled streets. We wandered up to the abbey before everyone else got there. There were 13 people in total. We did a group walk around with Lee, the medium, doing his spiel. Then we had a break then split into 2 groups. Us, Julie, Lauren and 3 other women were with Lee in the north block. We went into a room by ourselves. but didn’t get anything. We then went downstairs by ourselves. And heard dragging on the ceiling. We shouted up to see if anyone was moving.

Culross

vigil in the north block

Nobody was. We heard it again a few more times, along with fast tapping. We shouted up – nobody was moving. No idea what caused it. There are bats there so maybe they had something to do with it – tapping morse code and dragging the corpse of a tourist who refused to pay. Hopefully the cameras picked it up. Cat also got really itchy in that room on her side, back and round her right boob. Lee said one of the ghosts had a skin condition, like eczema. The itching stopped once she left the room.

Culross Palace

in the laird’s room by the curtain that moved

We had another break then went up to the family room to do glasswork. We never participate in glass work or ouija boards with people we don’t know or trust implicitly. It’s too easy to fake it, whether consciously or unconsciously. So when we do public ghost hunts, we never volunteer to take part. The glass was extremely active. We would’ve like time to use it by ourselves. We then all separated. We went into the laird’s room and sat by the bed. Schofield and Linus (Lynx’s back and Cat’s bad knee) weren’t happy so we had to keep sitting down.

Culross Palace

upstairs in the north block

Lynx was attaching her bracket to her camera, as it had come undone when Cat asked for the curtain to be moved. It moved. Cat “that was Lynx moving the curtain.” Lynx “no it wasn’t.” She hadn’t touched it, or at least wasn’t aware she’d touched it. Her arm couldn’t reach so it may have been the bracket or it could’ve been shadow play creating the illusion of movement, as Cat’s torch was pointing at Lynx at the time. Hopefully the camera can tell us what happened, as it was on a chair, filming us and the curtain. We then went into the adjoining strongroom, but didn’t get anything.

Culross Palace

downstairs where we heard dragging & tapping

We regrouped, had another break then everyone went to the family room to use the glass with a ouija board. Again, we didn’t join in. So we napped through it instead. Bear in mind, we’d only had about 6 hours sleep the night before, from being down the vaults. We’re great at napping sitting upright. We went back to the north block and did an EVP session in the upstairs room. A woman, Morag, did the calling out. They played it back and Morag and Lee claimed to hear responses, but we couldn’t hear anything other than the static. Her voice was quite muffled on it. Another of the team, Helen, played it back on her DVR.

Culross

Culross village

Her recorder was much clearer, the voices were louder and sharper during the calling out, but it picked up nothing. Morag played hers again and again claimed to hear responses. Lee commented on how the expensive Panasonic ones, which she had, seemed good at capturing EVPs. But we believe a muffled DVR can sound like responses in the static when it is really just static. If there were responses, why hadn’t Helen’s DVR picked anything up, when it was obviously better quality?

We finished the night in the townhouse. We didn’t do anything in there, but it was cool to see it, as it’s where the old tollbooth was and where a witch tried to commit suicide. We left at 3:15 and dropped Lauren off. Julie made up the couches for us to sleep on. We had a surprisingly good night’s sleep, even if it was only 4 hours.

Culross

with Lauren and Julie

Protection Racket

We are probably about to commit career suicide but seeing as it’s not exactly a successful glittering career, there won’t be many people at the funeral. We can always change our name. But for those who know us well, you’ll know that we would be prepared to sacrifice everything we’ve worked hard for for the sake of our principals and what is right. And we’re aiming big. We’re going after the giant that is Amazon. We know we’re never going to slay this giant and will probably lose our lives on the battlefield but we’re drawing our swords anyway and running in with battlecries. It’s how we roll.

Yesterday we released Bad Romance, the follow up to Gunning Down Romance. Or, at least, we tried. We uploaded the file to Amazon at midnight. At 6am they emailed us saying they wouldn’t publish it until we’d filled out the contributors section – we’d already put our author name in and it doesn’t say the contributors section is mandatory – so we did this and saved the file, thinking as they’d already processed it, it would be a matter of quickly amending the file and publishing it. How wrong we were. NINETEEN hours it took them to release the bloody book. So once again, we had a book launch without a book. Thank you Amazon for fucking up yet another launch. Last time they put Soul Asylum up on their site at 9am but wouldn’t let anyone buy it until 2pm. If they think ruining our launches will make us fall in line and become obedient, they clearly don’t know us. That behaviour will cause us to rebel even more.

We knew something was wrong when Ryan texted at 8:15am to tell us to stay calm if the book didn’t go live for a couple of hours. He’d experienced the rage from Soul Asylum’s first hand and doesn’t cope well with our rants. After 19 hours, even we can’t maintain our calm. But did we rant, swear and brutalise Amazon like we did at Soul Asylum’s launch? No. After 4 terrible book launches, where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, we’ve now become resigned to the failure. So we spent the day incredibly despondent instead. It’s a good job we are seasoned in the art of depression! The Darkshines opened their painful, numbing arms to us and welcomed us back.

So we’d like to say this – Amazon, fuck you.

We are sick of Amazon treating Indie authors like shit and we are not going to sit back in silence. Most of you have probably read our ranty post about their tax system. While they now pay international authors electronically, did they let authors know about this change so they could change their settings and avoid a cheque charge? No. They put a tiny announcement in the Help section. Who visits the Help section once you’re set up? We only found out about it through a contact of someone on Twitter. See Amazon doesn’t seem to like authors very much and they appear to hate international authors even more. Smashwords on the other hand, pay by PayPal, like every other website. But Amazon don’t own PayPal so won’t use it. It’s not beneficial to them.

So after the 19 hour upload to Amazon, how long does it take to put the same file on Smashwords? Five minutes. We’re not kidding. In that time they convert it for sale across ALL e-readers. Five. Minutes. They also pay authors higher royalties on the cheap books. If you want to change your pricing, go right ahead, it’s your book. Hell, download your own book for free, after all, you own it. Amazon will not change your pricing. You also have to pay to download your own book. If you want to make your book free on Amazon and you’re NOT in KDP Select, forget it. If you’re not in the club, you’re not getting any benefits. Even if you tell Amazon the book is cheaper elsewhere. Even if you get all your friends to tell them it’s cheaper elsewhere, they won’t do it. They will not be dictated to by some nobody. But if THEY want to make your book cheaper, they will. Without telling you. Without ASKING you. It’s your book, why should you be involved in this decision?

Which brings us on to KDP Select. This is Amazon’s lending library. People can borrow your book for free. Except it’s not really borrowing because they never give it back. Basically they’re downloading it for free. And do you get paid each time this happens? LOL. Of course not. Amazon have a pot of money which they distribute between the authors in KDP Select after a period. Except when more authors join, does the pot increase? This is Amazon remember. They have increased it ONCE in the year we’ve been self publishing. Think how many authors have joined since then. We refused to sign up to KDP Select for one reason – Amazon demands once you’re in, you make your book exclusive to them for THREE MONTHS. If your book is already on another site, you have to take it down or they won’t let you in. We hate being forced into things so if anyone tries, they have  a fight on their hands. Getting us to do something we don’t agree with is the equivalent of stealing food from an angry badger. Can you imagine if libraries allowed you to stock your book with them providing you only sold through Waterstones? There would be outcry. But Amazon can get away with it. Why? Because they’re the online equivalent of a Mafia protection racket. And if Amazon want to sue us for libel on that statement, we have this to say – prove us wrong. What happens in protection rackets? You pay them money and they don’t trash your shop and destroy your livelihood. What happens with Amazon? Play by their rules and they won’t take your book off their site. We’re not joking. Why do authors put up with this? Because it’s Amazon. It’s the biggest bookseller. Everyone goes there. Smashwords is so much better for authors but hardly anyone knows of its existence. But sorry Amazon, we have swords, we can protect our own damn shop.

But what is pissing off most Indies is the reviews. Indie authors’ sales depend on reviews. If Amazon suspect that you are an author or in any way connected to a book, they will pull your review off other authors’ books. We’ve had reviews pulled off our books. Our writer friends have had their reviews taken down. Writers are readers. The two are conjoined. If you COMPLAIN that they’ve taken your review down, they tell you they suspect you have a financial connection to the book and they warn you that if continue to complain, they will remove the book from their site. Bear in mind, this isn’t your book, it’s someone else’s. They are basically saying ‘shut up or we’ll punish this innocent person.’ Protection. Racket. We read other peoples’ books, we know a lot of writers and read their books and if we want to leave a review, they will take it down. Because of ONE traditionally published author. RJ Ellory. He wrote glowing reviews on his own books and  terrible reviews on other writers’ books under a fake name. So now Amazon is punishing EVERY writer.

If Amazon read this, they will probably remove our books and ban us for life. But we’re not going to hide. In fact, we’ll tag Amazon in this post so they can find it. We’ll fight them alone if we have to. Most people will probably say ‘then leave Amazon, if you don’t like their terms.’ But this is where the protection racket side kicks in. It’s so hard to make a living as a writer. Without your books being on Amazon, you can kiss goodbye to your career. Which we’re probably doing now. Unsuccessful career, we’ve enjoyed you. So we’ll give you a kiss to remember and hope there isn’t a bounty on our heads.

Amazon, this is for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO9Lj0T93Xk

Gunning Down Romance

Gunning Down Romance is out today! Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8BYiu3PRTE then buy the book here if you’re from the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gunning-Down-Romance-ebook/dp/B0078KYG3W/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329228772&sr=1-2 or here if you’re from America, Canada or Australia http://www.amazon.com/Gunning-Down-Romance-ebook/dp/B0078KYG3W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329232210&sr=8-1

The run up to launch day has not gone smoothly. Last week, we uploaded it to Smashwords for a trial run, to see if the formatting was correct. While we were busy with our veggie dinner, it completed the upload, went live & 2 people downloaded the free sample. We were sorely tempted to send golems after them to get it back, but in the end, we quickly unpublished it. Then there was that ugly incident at the bank. Yesterday, we decided to upload the book to Amazon. According to Amazon, it can take between 24 & 48 hours to be available for sale. So we uploaded it at 10a.m. Four hours later, it was on sale. A DAY EARLY! We desperately looked for an unpublish or hide button, but it would take 24 hours to unpublish, which would be launch day. Cursing Amazon and trying to resist the urge to crumple into sobbing balls, we kept quiet. It was the equivalent of a major dock party to wave off the Titanic only for all the guests to gather on the jetty to find the ship has already set sail and hit the iceberg.

On to launch day. We uploaded a book launch video to YouTube, ready for our big launch event on Facebook at 10a.m. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=687ChQmUP0I Except it took an hour to upload and we were late to our own launch. (The video itself took three hours to shoot because we had to keep changing the zoom and in one of the shoots all you could hear was one of our cats, Ebony, arguing with next door’s cat. It was -1C and our mum forbade us to wear our hoodies in our summerhouse outside because they ruined the effect of our outfits. So we spent the entire shoot trying not to shiver.) Back to today – after cleaning out the animals (the lives of writers are very glamorous) we headed to the pub with our mum, sister and niece, with the intention of uploading to Smashwords. Except Smashwords is DOWN! It has crashed on our big launch day. Is this the most disastrous launch in history? What else could possibly go wrong? At least a meteor hasn’t hit the Earth & wiped us out on launch day. *Peering up at the sky* no that is NOT an invitation.