How to format your novel / book for Createaspace: The easy / lazy way.

 

So, after pressure from friends and family who still read on paper, I just formatted Dead Memories for Print On Demand on Createaspace.

Here’s the cover, cute eh? 1

But…why oh why? What did I do in a previous life to deserve that?

Maybe it’s just me, but even using their template, formatting a book for Createaspace drives me absolutely mental! The mirrored headers and footers and different sections just jump about all over the place and when you finally think you’ve got it, you hit save, close it, open it again and it’s changed.

I know I’m not alone because at least twice a month, someone asks me to help them format their book. So, this time, when I did it, I wrote the steps down. And here they are.

NB: 1 Before you start, if you’re working from the UK or anywhere else using the decimal system, go to PREFERENCES > GENERAL. At the bottom of this box, switch over your measurement preference to INCHES. The Brits hate to do this, but as you’ll be submitting to Createaspace and they do everything in inches too and as most book cover designs are in inches… well you get the idea.

Here we go…

PART ONE

  1. Open your finished manuscript (Which is already in the right fonts and sizes) and go to LAYOUT > PAGE SETUP > MARGINS > CUSTOM MARGINS. (This is the route in the Word Tool Bar. In full screen, this is the only tool bar you’ll see)
    1. Make the top margin 1″, the bottom 1″, the inside .9″, and the outside .6″.
    2. Tick Mirror Margins and OK
  2. In the same window, hit PAGE SETUP go to PAGE SIZE and scroll down to CUSTOM SIZE (There’s a SIZE under PAGE SETUP too, but no custom options here. So if you’re here, don’t panic. Back out and go the long way)
    1. Pick your size according to the print size options in Createaspace. e.g 5” x 8”, 5.5″ x 8.5″ etc. Click OK
  3. Go to FIND > REPLACE and type 2 spaces into FIND and one space into REPLACE. This will remove any accidental double spaces.
  4. SELECT ALL or APPLE + A and
    1. Change line spacing to 1.5.
    2. Justify your margins.
    3. Still in SELECT ALL go to LAYOUT > Hyphenation and click Automatic. Save                  images

Before we go any further, you have 2 format submission options in Createaspace and now is the time to consider these. If you chose to submit in WORD, Createaspase will convert your doc to a PDF and it may look a little different to your original. However if you submit a PDF you’ll need to make sure your program can also provide you with the size of page you have selected (5” x 8” etc).

PDF is the easier option! Also if you use a PDF you can skip the SECTION BREAK stuff and just make 3 PDFS (Front Matter, Story, Back Matter) and then combine.

It’s up to you.

But if your PDF maker doesn’t give you the right sizes, stay in word and submit in word watch out for SECTION BREAKS (ODD and EVEN) like this…

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PART TWO

  1. Your Front Matter should include
    1. A title page with the title and your name in a larger font in bold. A copyright page plus ISBN. Optional: a dedication page. Optional: “Praise for” page full of nice things people have said about your book. Optional: Table of Contents (for short story or poem collections only. No one looks up chapters in novels)
  2. If you click now on DOCUMENT ELEMENTS > HEADER you’ll see it says SECTION 1. This is your front matter section and it shouldn’t contain any headers or footers or page numbers.
  3. Go to the first page of you story Familiarise yourself with how it looks, bring your mouse up to the top of the screen and the standard tool bar will appear.
    1. In VIEW, select DRAFT. Your manuscript will now look like it’s just come off a 1980s printer but you can see the formatting more clearly.
    2. In Draft, on the page before your story beings, after the text on that page finishes, click in, and go up to the to main toolbar INSERT > BREAK > SECTION BREAK . Insert a SECTION BREAK (ODD PAGE).
    3. Come back to View and select PRINT LAYOUT. Now the view looks like it did as before. Click in a header and it should say SECTION 2. New rules apply to this section as to the last.
  4. Go to the first page of you story Click into a header area, the HEADER & FOOTER toolbar shows up.
    1. Click the box for ODD & EVEN PAGES.
    2. Click the box for DIFFERENT FIRST PAGE
    3. Make sure LINK TO PREVIOUS box is not selected.
    4. Choose your Header Style. (Blank or Basic). Save
  5. Now go to the second page of your story and click into the header.
    1. Do a visual check in the tool bar for HEADERS AND FOOTERS that LINK TO PREVIOUS IS STILL UNCHECKED.
    2. Type the author name in caps.
    3. Highlight and right align it. (Some people prefer their name and title in the middle, but if you get the right, left alignment mixed up, the final version will look off. And this is the easy / lazy version of the formatting)
  6. Next page (third page)
    1. Click the Header and type the book name in caps.
    2. Highlight, left align it.
  7. You’ll now have your name on the left and your title on the right on the mirrored pages. If you prefer them swapped, swap them.
  8. Go back to the first page of the story and make sure nothing showed up in the header. If it did, go back to the Header Footer toolbar and make sure, different first page is still selected.
  9. Check the header hasn’t shown up on the Front Matter.
    1. If it has, you need to select this header, delete it, unclick LINK TO PREVIOUS
  10. Go back to the second page of your story.
    1. Click in the footer
    2. Go to DOCUMENT ELEMENTS in the toolbar.
    3. Choose PAGE NUMBER. Choose Bottom of Page. Choose Outside. (Because you already selected different First Page, you shouldn’t see a number on the first page. If you do, check these boxes again. You can also check the “Don’t show on first page” option, but if you haven’t selected Different First Page, you’ll still need to do this to stop the header showing up on the first page)
    4. Go to the next page and repeat. As these are odd and even pages, word will know to run them consecutively. Save.

images

PART THREE

  1. Go to the end of your story and add another SECTION BREAK. This time SECTION BREAK – NEXT PAGE. You can check in VIEW – DRAFT that it’s there come back to VIEW and click in the header. It should say SECTION 3.
  2. Now start your Back Matter: your bio, contact and follow data, thanks and acknowledgements.
  3. This section should also be free from Headers and footers and page numbers. Save

Now check and submit. Convert to a PDF if you like.

TROUBLESHOOTING (aka burying your mistakes)

Troubleshooting-e-faktur

So, some common issues in Createaspace that might come up are blank pages and odd pages starting on even numbered sides. i.e , the first page of your story shows up on the left hand side.

Both of these issues can be corrected with some creative additions of Section Breaks and page breaks. If you have 2 blank pages between your front matter and story, go back to the DRAFT view and see if there are section breaks or page breaks which are invisible in Print Layout.

If you story starts on the wrong side. I.e the left, add a SECTION BREAK (EVEN PAGE) right after the SECTION BREAL (ODD PAGE) as you see it in the draft view.

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I don’t know why we writers seem so inept when it comes to formatting a book, but hey, we do. And I suppose if the templates on CS were easier to us, they would be able to sell any of their $199 formatting packages.

All the best.

 

Here is my interview with Lissa Pelzer

Thanks for the interview Fiona!

authorsinterviews

Name Lissa Pelzer

Age  A lady never tells

Where are you from

The UK originally, but I’ve lived in the US, France, Japan and Denmark. I’m currently living in Germany


Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I first thought seriously about a career in writing during university. I was mesmerized by Patricia Highsmith novels and idolized her work and her lifestyle.


Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I go in and out of phases of considering myself a writer. Once I had a job as a content writer, churning out 3000 words a day for a salary, then I felt like a writer!


Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Patricia Highsmith’s Talented Mr Ripley. I desperately wanted to create a character than aspirational.


Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I try for an economic, plot driven style, but know that…

View original post 324 more words

Top 5 Writing Tips from Patricia Highsmith

I luuuuuve me a little bit of Highsmith… The prose is so economic but oh so gripping. She creates truly hateful characters, in whom we recognise people we also may have held deep, 182782032dark dislikes for, people we may have fantasised about ‘doing away with.’ For some, reading Highsmith is a kind of therapy, but for others it’s a master class in how to create teeth grinding tension with a satisfying conclusion. I’ve learnt a lot about writing just from reading Highsmith, but my favourite 5 of these….

1.”The Germ”

Highsmith described the origin of her stories coming to her as a “germ of an idea”… that she would have some tiny small piece of inspiration and then have to grow it out until the story followed. This is an excellent way of seeing the beauty in a good book. All too often  popular books are created instead of written, and seemingly through an arrangement of ticked boxes. Hook – Push off – Tension – Relief. The self-help writing books also endorse this formulaic method, so it’s no wonder, so many books seem to be lacking the fundamental element of a burning idea.

UnknownLooking out down on to the beach at Positano at 6 am one morning, Highsmith saw a young man with a towel over his shoulder walking alone on the sand.

This was the germ for The Talented Mr Ripley. A single soul walking along a deserted beach at day break. Where had he been and what had he done?  Where was he going and to do what? My mind reels at the thought of the process that she would have gone through to ultimately arrive at Tom Ripley. Was he an American? He’d have to be – she was still a young writer and hadn’t started imaging foreign heroes. How did he get there? Was he wealthy – no that’s dull. How did he feel? How did she feel in this town of judging glances, where if you say you write you are compared instantly to Positano’s other onetime residents Hemingway and Steinbeck? She put her thoughts and feelings into this vessel and grew the oak tree that became TTMR.

I’m a big fan of this germ-theory 😉 When you get a twinkle in your head, you can turn it over and over for years before suddenly it becomes what it became.

2. Ignore the rest of the world…if in doubt throw you typewriter out of the window

When Howard Ingram goes toTunisiato write a script in the ‘Tremor of Forgery’, things start going down back in the USA. A friend commits suicide and his girlfriend is probably having an affair. But Howard doesn’t get on a plane to dive right into what could have been 2949a different plot. He stays put. He starts working on a novel and as he waits for a letter from the girlfriend to explain what’s going on, he sorts out his plot and accidentally, possibly kills a man with a typewriter. Luckily this gives him lots of opportunity to explore feelings of guilt. In this example, I see the power of not following the expected plot line but rather fighting against it, letting it build and build until your protagonist is ready to tackle it. Because if we all dealt with our issues right away, we wouldn’t have any.

3. Write about what you know and if you find something you want to write about and have never done it…Do it.

In the Suspension of Mercy, Sydney Bartleby actually makes the lady next door suspect him as murderer to harness the feeling of being a suspect. He buries an old carpet, he acts dodgy as hell. The old dear ends up keeling over out of terror and pretty soon the cops really do think he’s killed someone. This fake body burying thing always struck me as something Highsmith actually did. Because she doesn’t skimp on the details, just as anyone who’s ever carried a drunk friend out to a taxi or tried to move a wardrobe knows, they are heavier than they look and the pure strain and fear of having either one halfway up the stairs and wobbling is enough to lead to blind panic.

I like to imagine Highsmith is heavy boots and a thick jumper, pacing around Montmachoux, pulling on a rolled cigarette, looking into damp wooded lots and “setting her jaw” as she would say, trying to work out if you could stash a body in there. I wrote a passage a few years back about someone fighting and being killed as he slipped down a set of icy  concrete steps in Stuttgart, Germany. The scene is set in a real place, the steps rise up between pre-war apartment building and cross two roads as a short cut. I saw them everyday from the bus I took to work and I kept telling myself, I have to get off the bus and stand at the top of those steps next winter to see if it looks as scary as I think it is. I was so thrilled when I was invited to a Christmas party shortly after and realized as I followed the map that I was at the top of the steps. I almost turned around and went straight home.

4. “You don’t write a book with your little finger.” -You’ve got to commit.

This is a straight dig from Tom Ripley about Marge Sherwood’s writing schedule. When Tom asks Dickie where Marge is, he tells him she is having a good day with the book and suggests that she is on a roll with her work. In the same breath he remarks that she might come along to the beach after lunch. PathighWe all know this type of writer, faffy types (as my mother would say) who seem to spend more time at Nanowrimo socials than at home in front of the computer and we snigger with satisfaction when Tom makes this remark. However, we are all guilty of occasionally being this type of writer, so it cuts both ways. It says, I know what is needed of me to be satisfied with my writing efforts and I am still not doing it, not always. This is a very important lesson from Highsmith and one which I hear in my head whenever I switch off the computer to read an episode of The Killing (I haven’t quite mastered Danish yet

5. Move on.

In Plotting and Writing Suspense, Highsmith shares with the reader her failings and talks about the stories that never got published. While trying to put the idea out of my head that I should immediately rush off to the archives in Switzerland (kidnapped publisher in tow) and demand to see these silenced masterpieces, I am reminded that if Highsmith was able to shelve her failures definitely I should be able to do so too. I spent 7 years on and off trying to write one particular novel that contained my own alter-ego. He became so diluted by all the experiences I imagined for him that he was almost translucent at the end. I recently had some boxes sent over from the UK and found reams of pages of the same-same but different chapters. Literally years of work… for nothing. However, my first impulse was to write it again…. properly this time!

Highsmith would give herself 20 opportunities to publish a story and after the 20th rejection she would take “a few days” and then start fresh. With this in mind, I resealed the box and put it back in the wardrobe to try to forget about it. Of course I failed and spend 10 whole days over the Christmas break,  rewriting it, 14 hours a days, for no reason. After all – just because I’ve learnt the knowledge from the master, doesn’t mean I mastered it myself.

Interview: Saigon Dark Author, Elka Ray

 

saigon_darkAfter reading SAIGON DARK last month, I reached out to Elka Ray’s publishers at Crime Wave Press with some interview questions, and was amazed at some of the replies I received. As readers, we get used to authors reaching deep to bring our innermost fears to the pages of their books, but we don’t often expect them to come from real life experiences. However, Elka Ray’s Saigon Dark is anything from the usual…

LISSA: In Saigon Dark, a really unusual drama creates a platform for exploring, among other things, issues of trust. Did you decide on the plot first or draw the plot around the themes?

ELKA RAY: Ten years ago, my first daughter died as a baby. It was a total shock. I’d believed my child would outlive me. Instead, I was cremating her. How could this have happened? Why her? Why me? Was this a punishment for my failings and mistakes? I had all sorts of crazy thoughts. The trauma of her death shook my trust in the world. I felt unsafe – like a door I didn’t even know was there had opened and couldn’t be shut. If this unthinkable thing had occurred, more bad luck could follow.elka_ray

Without trust, we can’t function normally. We trust other drivers to stop at red lights. We trust the food we buy is not poisonous. We trust our friends have our best interests at heart. Most importantly, we trust ourselves to make reasonable choices.

When you doubt yourself, you’re lost. You can’t trust anyone or anything else. This was the starting point for Lily Vo, the main character in Saigon Dark. I wanted the novel to explore grief, trust and paranoia.

The plot centres around passing one child off as another. This idea came to be shortly after the birth of my son, whose first passport photo was taken when he was three days old. He was squinty and bald – indistinguishable from most newborns. That passport was valid for five years, which gave me the idea: it could be used for almost any kid.

LISSA: You chose to make the main character a Vietnamese woman who was born and raised in the US. Did this allow her to behave differently or be more identifiable to non-Vietnamese readers than a native, or is her background incidental to the story?

ELKA RAY: To make Saigon Dark work, I needed the main character, Lily, to be as isolated and stressed as possible. Her marriage to a local man has just broken down. She’s a single mom in a foreign country. Her youngest child is unwell. She has no real friends nearby. She’s leery of the police and feels judged by the locals.IMG_4873.JPG

This story wouldn’t work if Lily trusted the authorities. It wouldn’t work if she had family nearby. Someone with a strong support network would get help. They’d make less desperate choices.

When I first heard Lily in my head she was American Vietnamese – and that worked perfectly for the story.

My husband is Australian Vietnamese. Some of my closest friends are American Vietnamese. In Vietnam, Viet Kieu (Overseas Vietnamese) face special stresses compared to other foreigners. They often come here expecting to feel “at home” only to experience profound culture shock. Many local Vietnamese don’t understand that culture is learned – not passed down in your blood – and judge Viet Kieus for not speaking fluent Vietnamese and behaving like natives.

With suspense, your goal as an author is to keep adding pressure and building tension throughout the book. You’re stacking the deck against your poor protagonist to test how strong they can be.

LISSA: Your previous work include kids and more mainstream fiction. What tempted you over to the dark side? And most importantly, are you staying?

ELKA RAY: My first novel, Hanoi Jane, is a romantic mystery. It’s light and funny – a book about a young woman rebuilding her life after a bad break up – but there’s still a crime at its core. And my short story collection, What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia is packed with crimes and ill will. I’ve always been fascinated by why people behave like they do, especially when their actions seem unreasonable. Crime fiction is about motivation – and that’s crack for me.

Many thanks to Elka and Henry Roi at Crime Wave Press for the interview! 

Patrick Hamilton: Why Book Titles Matter

Yes, Patrick Hamilton, that guy you’ve never heard of, him again, the play-write and novelist. Not to be confused with Hamilton the play… Anyway…

He achieved success at a very young age and was only 25 when his hit play, Rope made him famous and rich (as plays did back then). The Midnight Bell (novel) followed and then Gaslight (from where the term gaslighting originates) and by then he was much better known than any of his still famous contemporaries… such as Graham Greene.

That’s right, at 27 he was more famous that Graham Greene – Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American etc –And yet, you’ve still never heard of him… so why on Earth is that? Some people like to think it’s because of his weird lifestyle and existence. (He came from wealth, fell in love with prostitutes, regularly and got hit by a car that took his nose with it). Even after that he carried on writing hits, war-time dramas, comparable to For Whom The Bells Toll (1940) but with more tension, more drama, more guts.
patrickHamilton_2541749k

Perhaps the reason we don’t treasure Hamilton in the present day is because he didn’t treasure himself. Take for example, Gaslight. He actually “borrowed” the idea of a flickering gaslight from a failed book of his brother Bruce’s, To Be Hanged (1938),

It was a massive success as we’ve already said. In New York, it had the longest run of a foreign play in Broadway history and by 1944 it had already been adapted for film, not just once but twice. However, Hamilton wrote it as a pastiche, and didn’t love it. gaslightAnd the name, Gaslight kind of suggests that.

“What should I call it? Blah! Gaslight. Done!”

It reminds me of a friend asking me (a longtime ago) What’s gaslighting? She knew the term but couldn’t guess the meaning. That’s lot like how you have no idea what his books are about from the titles.

Martin Amis wrote once that book titles shouldn’t be too clever. That a title such as Hangover Square (referring the famous Hanover Square in west London, which was (is) a drinking haunt) and excessive drinking, was a guaranteed way to make people put your book down before they had read it. And he may have a point, Rope? What happens, no idea? There’s a dead body in a box…okay? The Slaves of Solitude, well that sounds both impersonal and depressing, nothing like the funny, weird, knowing book of the same name.

With that in mind, I have some suggestions for the next time Penguin re-releases some Hamilton stuff… Maybe they should rename the books and Photoshop a smile on that face too.

I for one can’t wait to re-read:

“Maniac with a nine- iron” (Hangover Square), “The Talented Mr Gorsly” (Gorse) or “There’s a f**king body in the box, can’t you smell it?” (Rope).

So when we’re naming you books, looking for clever titles that will make the reader go ‘ahhhh’, maybe we should just not. Spell it out. People are busy.

 

This is what real crime tastes like

Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

In this ambitious imagining of the Lizzie Borden case of 1892, Sarah Schmidt fleshes out the conclusion, which was always assumed, but never proven. The case was a national obsession, when a 30 year old live-at-home daughter from a nice town in Massachusetts axed down her father and step-mother, because famously, the jury decided, a woman was not capable of such a crime.

UnknownLooking back at the story from a true crime angle, there was very little for Schmidt to build on. Facts like Lizzie owning pigeons, burning her dress, her considering purchasing Prussic Acid the day before etc. are oft repeated in the Lizzie Borden files but there’s only so much you can do with these bones without creating melodrama. So it was a pleasure to read Schmidt’s take on the emotional and mental state of the presumed killer.

In a Venn diagram of the Lizzie Borden of this book and the real Borden, the circles are probably a good mile apart. The Lizzie we find here is a bouncy woman-child, manipulative and psychopathic and doesn’t ‘look’ much like the black and white photos of the frizzy haired Borden. I always imagined Borden as a cold and calculating killer, someone at the end of her tether, who had just enough distance from herself to hope she wouldn’t be suspected. This is Borden re-loaded, licking droplets of blood off her hand like a cat, laughing hysterically within sight of her murdered step-mother and without much mention of the trial, getting away with it.

As a psychological thriller, it certainly delivers. Schmidt makes Lizzie easy to hate and despise while we root for her sister and the maid throughout. The story is really well built up to include possible motivations for murder from both the maid and a hit-man, but of course, the reader never entertains these as prospects unless we consider that Schmidt intends to derail the story. Of course, Schmidt doesn’t need to tell us, Lizzie did it, but she did need to land the story and she does this well and as stylishly as would be possible. However, because a few ‘red herring’ threads were started to build the story, it would have been nice to have seen these land satisfactorily too. I was a wee-bit miffed that Bridget didn’t get her tin back or than the story ended before the hit man gets into Lizzie’s new house.

One word of advice, don’t let the awkward first few pages distract you. I didn’t know if the maid was meant to be Italian, Caribbean or what when I first started reading and I assumed she was around 60 and that Lizzie was meant to be 14 (for some reason). I did nearly close the book but I’m so glad I didn’t. The maid is 26 and Irish. Lizzie is her real age of 30. JSYK.

This is well-written, meaty, authentic feeling, page-turner of a book and I lost a few hours to it when I should have been sleeping. I imagine, if you knew nothing about Lizzie Borden, then this book would be an even better read. But either way it is a good one.

 

Yes, your di*k is a diamond encrusted vacuum cleaner and here’s what you do with it

I recently overheard a woman on a London bus compare a guy-who-hit-on-hers d*ck to a diamond encrusted vacuum cleaner. Yes, it made me lean in to hear more but it got me thinking too. Hey, that’s not a bad analogy… and here’s why.

See, I’d just seen a youtube video about a guy, very politely asking a girl out to dinner and her saying no. (He was verbally polite, however, the girl was in a bikini while he was fully dressed and they were obviously meant to be strangers). Next, he reveals that he owns a tank. “Wow. Is that your tank?” She asks (I won’t go into how women wearing bikinis aren’t usually into tanks, but never mind). He responds, “Yes it is. Is that your car?” When she confirms. He then blows it up.

The Psychology Definition of Misogyny
Psychologically, misogyny is defined in very different terms than it is when thrown about online. Misogyny is usually the result of a male receiving psychotic (or teasing) love from a woman at a young age, either his mother, sisters, aunts etc. or a girl in the school yard who screams when he brings her a flower. (Why did the little girl scream? Because patriarchy expects her too. If she encouraged his advances, she would be labeled).
Likewise, we (society) expect men to have a thick skin regarding rejection. It is a requirement of masculinity. Basically, guys are designed to hit on everything with a pulse even if there is very little chance of success. It’s a numbers game, like cold calling doorstep sales of vacuum cleaners. You hit on 10 women, one of them replicates and you’re in. If you only pick one and she’s not interested in you, you get nothing

suffering-young-manBut when a negative response elicits angry or hurt feelings at an early age, men tend to develop a little more like women. They remember the response and learn from it. This affects their later expectations of a woman’s interest. They are more likely to assume a) women are generally not interested in them and will reject them, b) that they do this because it makes them more powerful. They are damaged by the experience and become abusers themselves. Abuse victims becoming abusers is a pretty common theme in psychology JSYK.

But seriously, what has this go to do with diamond encrusted vacuum cleaners?
So think back to the story of the guy and his tank. What he’s trying to say and what his viewers pick up on is the sentiment that… “I’m a nice guy and if you only gave me a chance, instead of being so shallow, you’d see what a nice guy I am. But now it’s too late. You’ve already hurt my feelings and I need to punish you to make myself feel better.”
As a crime writer, I am totally A-OK with this idea, but as a woman who has studied psychology, I see the disconnect.

Because the guy did not show the girl he was ‘a nice guy’ i.e (in guy talk, that he had a tank). He expected her to detect it. As she is not a mindreader, this would be impossible.

Now let’s say that tank was a diamond encrusted vacuum cleaner (DEVC) and you are the lucky man tasked with selling it door to door at a very reasonable price (Because honestly, only a 12 year old thinks women are impressed by tanks. See also: spiders down the back of dresses). This DEVC is going to sell itself, as they say. e4a332f1b24a75ecc01aab328da9cb90
You knock and say, “Hey Ma’am, I’ve got a diamond encrusted vacuum cleaner for sale. Do you want to buy it for a very reasonable price?”
What do you think the woman at the door says? She says, “No.”
Is she crazy? Maybe. But also, she doesn’t believe you. Why would she? Has she already seen the flyer with the picture of the vacuum cleaner on? Has she witnessed a demonstration at a friend’s house? Has she seen you on TV with celebrities fawning over your vacuum cleaner? No. As far as she is concerned, you are just like the last guy who knocked on her door and all she got then was slicer dicer that never made Julian fries, broke down after the first 2 minutes and a $50 invoice.

As of yet, you have failed to create a BUZZ about or demand for your DEVC. You’re selling it cold and it’s a product too valuable to schlep around the streets door to door. You keep it at home, nice and safe. So it is an invisible product that she knows nothing about. Just like the girl in the bikini being asked to dinner. She knows nothing about your product. Her automatic reaction is to say “no”. But you do have a friggin’ DEVC! If she only knew it, she would want it. You are a genuinely nice guy who is just asking a girl out and she’s screaming, “I have a boyfriend!” So fuck her, right?

Just like the DEVC salesman, you can walk away full of rejection and hate or you can plan your next sales call accordingly.

This time you need to market your product and create a buzz before you try to sell it. And just like him, you need to go to where your target market is and network. Ladies, like customers, and guys like to see that a product works and is desirable. None of us take the chance of buying something off the street from someone we don’t know.

First contact networking doesn’t happen in bars, shopping malls or at the beach. It happens at work, school, college, in community and church settings, at interest specific conferences and in sports clubs and this is where you need to begin marketing too. There are also plenty of marketing techniques you can use which are scientifically proven to make you and your DEVC more attractive to women.

Once you have an audience, you can introduce your product, your DEVC, aka your nice guy identity, or your dick. And once you have successfully marketed this product, if it truly is the dog’s bollocks, you will have buyers crawling over themselves to get to it.

Basically, if you market your product right, you will never need to cold call another customer ever again and never be rejected again. Your customers will come to you and you can laugh at other guys who still haven’t learnt how straight forward selling the DEVC really is.

Q: What’s white on top and black on the bottom?

A: Society.

Q: Why is it so hard to give bad news to the Japanese?

A: Because you have to drop the bomb twice.

Q: What did Kermit say at Jim Henderson’s Funeral?

A: Nothing

Did you find those jokes funny? Good Grief! What’s wrong with you?

Well, as it turns out, you’re not a horrible human being, you’re just intelligent, highly intelligent. Or at least that’s what a new study in Cognitive Processing has found. Intelligence plays a key role in humour and high intelligence is key in appreciating dark humour, black jokes, not suitable for people you don’t really know, kind of jokes.

So smart people are mean?

Not really. The funny thing about jokes (pun totally intended) is that the punch line creates a disconnect between what you thought was likely to be the outcome and the actual outcome. That’s why it’s so hard to guess the punch line – or should be. Jokes, that kind of make sense, or can be deduced are often considered corny. That is, the disconnect wasn’t so great. It’s not that funny.

A dark joke is not predictable, but more than that, it adds an element that should never be funny – death, abuse, doubts about our values etc. It takes a certain ability to organise, compartmentalize, and then to appreciate the disconnect in the jokes and to find it funny.

So smart people are grumpy and disillusioned? Maybe, but not necessarily.

The group with the highest ‘sick humour’ appreciation scored the highest in verbal and non-verbal IQ tests, they were also better educated, and scored lower for aggression and bad mood. The group with the lowest sick humour appreciation and comprehension scored the lowest in verbal and non-verbal IQ tests, were poorly educated, and scored higher for aggression and bad mood.

In short, if you’re easily offended by sick jokes, it’s probably because you’re aggressive by nature and not that smart.

I sincerely hope that didn’t offend you.

Are you being Gaslighted? Do you even know what it means?

If you read anything online these days, you’ll be familiar with the term ‘gaslighting’. It refers to the manipulation of one person by another, in a way that makes them doubt their sanity. It’s also been used to describe Trump’s campaign winning tactics, twisting and playing with our understanding of ‘facts’ until nothing seems quite concrete.

However, the term gaslighting comes from a play which you never read in school, and of which you probably never saw the movie either. It was the first play of a talented writer who failed to make it into our shared cultural history, and his name is Patrick Hamilton.

The play is set in 1880 in the upper middle class London home of Jack Manningham and his wife Bella. In the 1942 Broadway production Vincent Price played Manningham. You’ve heard of him, right? Manningham is a man who has purposely married Bella in order to be able to purchase a flat below the one where he murdered a rich heiress years before. He was searching for her rubies when the police arrived and fled and now, every evening he sneaks back in to resume his search. He refuses to tell Bella where he’s going (obvs) and promotes the notion that she’s mentally unstable so that, as she starts to get wind of the truth, she doubts herself. Bella begins to believe she is losing her grip on reality, because whenever he leaves, she thinks the gaslight is waning. The single truth is, the gaslight is waning, because Jack is upstairs with it on full blast as he searches for the jewels.

However, in this concept – the one single truth manages to support the untruth – that she is insane.

It takes Detective Rough’s intervention to work out the connection and uncover Jack’s actions.

So there you have it. It’s much more complicated than just Trump waving his hands around and saying the same few words over and over again. Gaslighting as a concept explains how truth can support fiction when we allow ourselves to doubt our perceptions or ignore physical reason.

A Woman of Integrity by J. David Simons

British film star, Laura Scott’s is the other side of fifty and the last film role she had was for the voice of an animated fish. She’s become financially embarrassed and doesn’t want to reduce herself further and head into a sitcom position like her friend. So when an American producer says he wants her for a play about one of her favourite stars of the silent screen, things look like they are turning around. However, she soon realises, there’s more to integrity than simply drawing a line between your heart and your art.

I never like to give plot lines away and I won’t here. It’s enough to say, this story is about two actresses, one of which intends to play the other in a play and we get to read the manuscript of the latter’s autobiography interspersed throughout the tale. It’s the manuscript she’ll get hold of later on after dealing with a little dishonesty, treachery and soul searching along the way.

I don’t think it needs pointing out that it’s a book about two women written by a man, but I do point it out because I think he did a surprisingly good job. If I’d guessed the author’s gender I would have said female because it is insightful and often explicit in a way you’d expect an Alice Munro story to be.

Laura Scott has integrity, so did Georgie Hepburn and both of them have to wrestle with maintaining it. The story is fluid and enjoyable and kept me reading. My only qualm with the story would be that I was expecting a big reveal, but I don’t feel like this was delivered. The way the two stories run parallel together gives you the impression that at some point a fusion will occur, but it doesn’t. Of course, it doesn’t, it’s a sensible British story not some piece of Hollywood Tomfoolery!

Ultimately, this story already has that tingly, BBC one, lottery funded, BAFTA winning actresses kind of feel to it. It’s very British, set in North London and you can hear Emma Thompson’s voice coming off the pages. I closed the book with a pleasant sigh. Well, that was rather nice…

Expected publication: March 16th 2017

Freight Books