Robocalls: Biggest Election scandal in Canadian History

Once again I have that surreal feeling of being in the midst of history in the making. The short version, for those who have not been following Canadian politics: In the last election, the one where the Conservatives (for the Americans reading, that’s basically our version of the Republicans) won their majority government (again, for the non-Canadians, that’s when one party has more than half of the seats in parliament, which means more than half the votes on any bill they want to pass so that they can do whatever they want, and oh have they been doing their darnest to hang themselves), calls were made from a call centre of some sort telling voters their polling station had changed, and directing them to an incorrect polling location.

The number of ridings this occured in has so far been quoted as thiry-four. That’s thirty-four ridings where the voting may have been affected by this, and many of those ridings were won by under 100 votes. A lot of those were won by the Conservatives. The Conservatives won their majority by 10 seats. Enough ridings were affected to call into question the legitimacy of their majority, and even the legitimacy of their win, especially since they did not get a majority of votes, only a majority of seats, but due to our first past the post voting system, their representation in parliament is disproportionate to the number of votes they got.

The NDP member of parliament, Pat Martin said “The most fundamental freedom that we enjoy as citizens in a democracy is the right to vote in a federal election, free and fair and without interference.” And he’d right. The definition of democracy is the government is voted in fairly, with all citizens given equal right to vote. This kind of tampering with the electoral system is supposed to be something that happens in third world countries, not in Canada. The UN is talking about Canada losing it’s status as a country who can provide independent elections observers, because of our own corrupt, illegitimate government. Canada could go onto watch lists of countries with corrupt and illegitimate governments.

And the Conservative’s response? They would love to be able to just push it under the rug, and they’re trying. The company that apparently was hired to make the calls is threatening to sue Pat Martin for implying they did anything wrong, and trying to force him to state publicly that there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by them or the person (who they refuse to name) who hired them to make these calls.

This all blows me away. I feel again like I’m living in a world of science fiction, some futuristic world where everything has gone to shit. This is supposed to be things I write about, not what’s going on around me. It’s humbling to be witness to all this as I revise a novel about a country trying to overthrow a Monarchy and install a Democracy. My riding was one of the initial group reported to have been part of this electoral fraud. It’s also inspiration – fodder for a sequel as my Avalines set out to conduct an election and people who want to take power do everything they can to take advantage of their budding Democracy.

On that note, I shall go back to my revisions and hope the governor general exercises his right to call an election.

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First Lines Contest at Blog: Between the Sheets

More than one critiquer has commented on liking the first line of The Eyelet Dove, so when someone tweeted about a first lines contest, I figured what the hell, and entered my opening line.

And what do you know, I got a runner up prize. Pretty cool, huh? I’ve had a number of critiques on the OWW on this particular opening chapter, and it’s gone over pretty well, overall. I’m quite proud of it, and I think that it’s within a few line edits of being ready to send to an agent or editor.

I like this idea, overall, for a contest. I think I might try to do something like this myself. Thing is, one line makes it not such a heavy commitment for the person putting it on, and yet, you get feedback on one of the most crucial parts of your story. I like that idea.

And she says she’s thinking of doing a pitch contest in the future, so stay tuned, if you’ve got a novel to pitch:

NEXT CONTEST COMING IN APRIL:

Create your best pitch and win a FREE WRITER’S WEBSITE (a $450 value!) or BLOG from professional web designer and developer, Brian Mowell. Details coming soon. YES, this is a FREEsetup of your author website or blog! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G PRIZE! Already have a site? No problem. Have your existing site revamped for FREE!

I really don’t understand how some people can be so stupid

I heard this on a couple of blogs today, and am still shocked to hear what horrible people people can be over something so stupid.

Short version of what happened – publication date for the next novel in the series is march 6th, but Amazon, for whatever reason, by accident, I hope, decided to put it on sale and start shipping it a week early, so then, of course, Barnes and Noble goes, oh crap, we’re gonna lose sales to Amazon, and they put it on sale early. this screws the author over because the success of her book is judged on the first week of sales, which starts March 6th, so she and the publisher are frantically trying to fix that.

But here’s the really sick part: the author (author, who has no control over the situation, not Amazon or Barnes and Noble, not even the publisher) receives emails from angry customers calling her horrible names.

Why?

Because the paper copy is for sale, they think they should be able to get the e-book.

These people are what’s wrong with the world. This is on the same level as the people who yell at me over the phone at work (cable tv tech support) asking me what they’re supposed to do with their kids while their tv isn’t working.

Dear God and Goddess, I hope if I get published, these guys aren’t my fans, ’cause holy hell, I don’t need their money.

Product Review: Sony E-reader

I got a sony e-reader for christmas. It’s awesome.

As I’ve said before, this isn’t something I could afford for myself, so I’m still on the fence about e-books taking over the market, but I think the market is still developing, and the prices for the readers will come down, and more second-hand ones will be available.

That said, I do really like it. It’s red. All the other readers out there are shades of grey or black, and red to be different is awesome.

I wasn’t so concerned about the reading experience being book like, as long as it didn’t give me a headache. Scrolling through something on a computer is annoying, and it’s hard to find your place, and you can’t leave a bookmark – so I hate trying to read on the computer. But once I started using the e-reader, it was even a bit eerie how much like a book the screen looks. It’s not bright, not hard to read or anything, and the print is very sharp, even when it’s super small, it’s legible, though, of course, the print size is adjustable. There’s apparently a performance sacrifice to changing the print size, but I didn’t notice.

It’s the lightest one on the market so far, and that part is really nice too. I’m not that interested in a touch pad, because that would be too big to stuff in a small shoulderbag, the way one stuffs a paperback in a purse, but this is just the right size to fit anywhere a paperback will go.

The page turns are mostly quick, though, while it does support .txt files, and .pdf files, it slows down quite badly, especially with long ones, to the point that it froze up. A little googling told me the most popular e-pub management software seems to be calibre, so I downloaded that, and anything I want to put on my reader, I just convert it quick to e-pub format and it’s fine.

I found Calibre really easy to use – fairly intuitive for someone who knows computers, and would probably not be difficult to learn for someone who wasn’t.

One of the major things I wanted it for was to make notes on it, and I’ve been a little disappointed in that functionality, to be honest. The actual creation of notes, that was fine, the screen is sensitive and the stylus is a nice size. The problem was when I synchronized it with my computer, it duplicated the notes, about 50 times each, until I couldn’t add any new notes without cleaning it up because the number of notes had hit max. Now, this could have something to do with the fact that I used a website to created that particular e-pub file, instead of Calibre – I hadn’t discovered Calibre yet, or it could be something to do with the original file – no idea. It just happened. I’ll see if it happens with other files, and decide if the function’s pooched then.

That said, I really like it; it’s quickly become one of now three pieces of electronics I carry with me everywhere (the other two being my phone and my mp3 player.) It’s nice to have all my electronic books available anytime I want, and not have to decide whether I’m going to take the book I’m reading for enjoyment to work with me today or the one I’m critiquing. Last time I critiqued a novel, I had it printed out in a three ring binder – the e-reader made that oh so much more convenient to carry around. It’ll be nice when I go to revise my own novels later, especially if I can get the note-taking working properly.

Why I Have Never Bought a Self Published Book

I’ve been busy with the revision, but a discussion on a forum I watch has brought up some thoughts.

I have never been able to bring myself to buy a self published book. It’s not because I don’t think that there are good books out there – I’m sure there are. I’m sure there are authors out there who are just too adventurous or unorthodox for traditional publishers to take a chance on them, or some other reason they’ve chosen to self publish rather than go the traditional route.

Self publishing doesn’t mean someone’s a bad writer, but it does mean that there’s been no quality control involved in the publication of the book aside from what is under the author’s control. There’s been no one read over it and decide that yes, this is good enough that it won’t ruin our reputation if we publish it, aside from the author. The reader has no guarantee that the author can string two sentences together. Or for that matter, that it’s not a recipe for chili copied and pasted three hundred times.

Again, a self-pubbed book might be a great book, and I think the odds have been getting a little better, that it will be decent, in light of the fact that more authors are getting frustrated with the traditional publishing world, and self-pubbing rather that waste their time with trying to sell to the traditional publishers. The bigger publishers have become less and less willing to take a chance on something (which is why they ended up going wtf when small press book “The Windup Girl” won the Hugo and the Nebula a few years ago.) But it’s that lack of some minimal quality assurance that is the reason I have yet to purchase a self published book.

Apparently there seems to be some people who think that books that are only available in e-book format, are the same thing as self published books. E-pubbed books may be self published, but not necessarily – there’s lots of small presses out there that are taking advantage of the e-book to get books out there. As far as I’m aware, self-pubbed books are not eligible to even be nominated for the hugo awards, but e-pubbed books are. In my mind, that’s a huge jump, but the main thing is that there’s been an editor who’s agreed to put their reputation on the line by putting their brand on that book.

This is the value of brand, in my opinion. Not just the money put into formatting the book and finding an artist to do cover art, and whatever else goes into a book. It’s the same as I tell my customers at work at the day job (internet tech support) – buy Toshiba or Asus if possible, if you’re looking for a good machine that will last, but whatever you do, dear lord, don’t buy a Dell, you’ll be sending it back for repairs before the warranty is out. What a publisher, even a small press offers me, as a reader, is that guarantee of quality, and if I read one book by them and like it, then there’s the promise of similar quality in other books by the same press. That’s valuable, and as a reader, I’m willing to pay more for that, or, for that matter, willing to pay at all.

See, as a reader, that editor is doing me a service aside from the formatting and commissioning a cover artist, and whatever else is involved in putting out an e-book, and that’s possibly more valuable to me than any of the rest. That editor is going through hundreds of manuscripts and picking out the ones that he or she thinks are worth anyone’s time. My time is valuable to me; with the writing I do, most of the time I spend reading is time I could be spending writing, so I’m loathe to waste it on a book that’s not worth reading. And I don’t want to spend hours and hours reading to find out that the ending sucks. I don’t care if it’s free, if I’ve wasted my time not enjoying a book, I’m pissed. It’s not even about the money, it’s about my time. I’ll do that for another writer, if I’m critiquing their work, but the point of that is to get it ready for publication, I’m not reading for enjoyment then. And sure, I’m willing to pay more for that service – for an editor to read sluch for me so I don’t have to sift through hundreds of self published books and go over reviews hoping that the reviews aren’t just posts from the author’s friends and family patting them on the head.

So that’s my reservations as a reader. Next week I’ll do up a post on my reservations as a writer.