Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 10. Grand Canyon

We stayed at the Gran Canyon for two days, and walked the entire South Rim trail. There was still a bit of snow around, and quite a lot of people.

It was January. It was a weekday. I seriously don’t want to know what this place is like in summer!

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On the first day, we had some lunch at a picnic area. We got back to the car and were putting our things away, when all of a sudden there was a guy next to me with a ginormous camera pointing into the car, jabbering in Russian.

There was a squirrel in the car!

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Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 9. Page

Page is a funny town along the Colorado River.

It’s dry. It’s desolate. There is zero mobile reception. There is not a single tree or blade of grass to bee seen anywhere. There is a disgusting factory at the edge of town.

It’s full of motels, hotels and other forms of accomodation. It has a marina. Yup, we’re in the middle of the desert. The country is red and dry. It looks a bit like Australia, except with no trees, and zero kangaroos.

There are two reasons people come here: because of Lake Powell (a dam, and bloody big one, too) and because of Horseshoe Bend.

We saw a bit of the dam. Not that much, because the road on the north-western side is a toll road and I wasn’t going to pay $25 to go down there late in the afternoon. We went to the eastern side (ignoring the pay booths–seriously, what is it with charging for everything?). We’d also come past Antelope Gorge and passed on the $50-for-an-hour tour, because we’d done a tour at Monument Valley which was half a day for just a bit more, and we’d reached peak annoyance with tourist milking.

We walked across the dam at the road. We went to the lookout on the other side. We decamped to Denny’s, and we went to Walmart. The latter two were tick boxes on my daughter’s wish list. They even sell wine at supermarkets! Whoop-de-doo!

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The funny thing is that, having returned home, I realise that I see Lake Powell every day. At the gym, they have this ever-looping video that shows people doing funky things with tightropes over water and throwing frisbees at people in speed boats from tall cliffs that’s taken at Lake Powell. You can see the marina in the background.

The next morning, it was off to Horseshoe Bend, where there were a lot of ridiculous tourists taking ridiculous selfies from ridiculously unsafe positions. I couldn’t stand the idea of watching someone fall to their deaths, so after a quick stop, we were off to the Grand Canyon.
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Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 7. Indian Monument and Monument Valley

After Bryce Canyon, we were up for a big drive, from Bryce Canyon to Monument Valley, slightly complicated by the fact that up until now, the directions had either been clear or we’d used Google Maps.

Uhm.

No reception.

AAAARRGGH. Technology.

So we’re at this big intersection, and the option is left or right. Which way to go? No idea. I looked it up on the map the previous night, but can’t remember. I’d have expected there to be signs to the, y’know, major tourist attractions in the area.

So we went into a petrol station. It’s that way, the attendant said. By the way, what’s up with the fact that you have to pay for your petrol before you can get any. Yeah, I understand, but our non-US credit cards don’t work in the machines, so we have to go inside, give them twenty bucks, then get the petrol and then go back inside to get the change. What a nuisance.

OK, back on the road, and we spot this sign “Indian Monument” and get a spidey sense. Maybe that’s what they’ve directed us to. So we decide to have a look. Surely there will be a map or someone to ask.

There was. And what was more, there was a gorgeous little walk to a lookout where you can see a cave where people used to live.

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And after all that, we finally made it to Monument Valley.

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We booked a 4WD tour and would be looking at those wonderful rocks the next day.

Patty’s Epic Trip to the US. Part 6. Bryce Canyon

We stayed in Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon National Park for two nights. Being January, there was almost no one in the entire hotel, and OMG, it was cold.

We walked the entire rim trail, and took hundreds of photographs of the snow and the weird rock formations below.

The deer were curious, but despite many signs not to feel them, didn’t come close.

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Author Mailing Lists and Misinformation Lemmings Jumping Off GDPR Cliffs

If you’re like me, you probably feel yourself a little besieged right now. Yes, I just went through my inbox, and deleted yet another handful of “GDPR-compliance” emails, exhorting me to tick a box in order to stay on a list.

I delete them.

The senders are nuts, uninformed lemmings jumping off unnecessary cliffs.

There is just so much misinformation about author mailing lists and GDPR, that it’s rage-inducing. The flood of misinformed emails is rage-inducing, too.

Why?

The EU is introducing laws about personal data and how it can be used online. Good on them. Know those emails where you have no idea how you ended up on a list, much less how to remove yourself? It’s directed at those people. Big companies, who might sell your data to data warehouses. They’re not allowed to do that. Awesome.

For small-time users of email lists, Mailerlite made this really helpful post (and variations of this information exist elsewhere). The beef is in the little paragraph under “Revalidate Your Subscribers”:

If you are not sure that the people on your current lists gave consent or you don’t have a record of it, the onus is on you to revalidate all of your EU subscribers now.

OK, let’s unpack that from an author perspective:

“IF you are unsure…”

As author, you’re not unsure, because you’ve used double optin and/or tickboxes in your signup process, like ALL THE FRIKKEN TIME.

“The onus is on you…”

Cool, but only if you are unsure. YOU ARE NOT. Please don’t fall to the “better safe than sorry” ruse. In this case, it’s really not safe to be safe and send it out “just in case” unless you want to commit mailing list harakiri.

“Don’t have a record of it”

Yes, you do have a record. Mailerlite or whatever company you use records it. If your subscribers are from a joint giveaway, the King Sumo app that almost every organiser uses, records it. Furthermore, for each individual subscriber, they have a record of what they clicked and what groups they’re in. The subscriber can download that if they like. The subscriber can unsubscribe whenever they like.

“revalidate your EU subscribers”

OK, if you really want to do this (and I really don’t think it’s necessary, but say you really want to reduce your perfectly legal mailing list by 80%), please only send it to EU subscribers. NOT THE WHOLE FRIKKEN WORLD. I am in Australia. Why am I getting this garbage? Learn how to separate out your subscribers according to locality, and don’t even touch this subject before you can do it.

What am I going to do?

I’ve used double optin or checkboxes for my entire list (and my guess is, so have you). What am I going to do about GDPR? Well, at this stage… NOTHING. I’m already compliant. I might put up a privacy policy on my website, but I incorporate a statement in my signup process already.


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Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 5. Zion to Bryce Canyon

When you’re in Zion National Park, there is a road that takes a steep, hairpin-riddled shortcut up to the top of the rocky platform and you can drive from there through farmland and forest to Bryce Canyon.

The road gets quite busy in summer, I’ve been told, but in January, it was almost deserted. There is some truly stunning scenery along the way.

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That’s the faithful (and by now very dirty) silver Corolla. Isn’t that scenery awesome?

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Being Australian, my daughter had a good ol’ time with the concept “frozen water”.

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Really stunning scenery.

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Yes, it was coooooold up there.

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I think this is called Red Canyon, still a way from Bryce Canyon, but you can see what’s coming up next!

Patty’s Epic Trip to the US Part 4. Zion National Park

Slowly working through all the photos.

We stayed in Vegas for one night, as you will have seen in the previous post, and the next day left to go north.

Where the main road goes through a narrow pass, it started to get cold, and then it got colder, and it started raining, and it got colder still.

Until we got to Springdale, Utah, where they had torn up the entire (and single) main road and it was wet and misty and the weather couldn’t make up its mind whether it wanted to rain or snow.

There was only one other room occupied at the Bumbleberry Inn (cool name), and it was warm and dry.

Driving down that unpaved muddy main road to do such mundane things as buying some groceries, we put some serious red mud over the car.

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So yeah, the weather was kinda rubbish, but the next day we woke up to a bright clear sky. Time for Zion National Park! Apparently it gets really, like, really busy here in summer, but during December and January, you can drive into the canyon.

Funnily enough, the US government had decided to throw a hissyfit in the form of a shutdown, and there was no one at the gates to take our money.

Anyway, Zion National Park is pretty. And also very, very cold down in that dark canyon.

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Patty’s epic trip to the US 3. When in Vegas…

I have to admit that I don’t like cities, and so we left LA as quickly as possible (and I don’t like LA in particular), and had no great desire to go to any more cities, except Las Vegas was on the way, and a friend here in Sydney said: you have to go to Vegas, even just once, because Vegas is ridiculous.

And it is.

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This replica of Venice is quite something. Well done.

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This canal is actually inside a building, on the first floor (for you ‘muricans out there, that’s the floor *above* the ground floor)

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All I can say is that the real Eiffer Tower is bigger than this 😛

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Fountains set to music. Hate to think of the power bill. Hate to think of the power bill of Vegas in general. LOL.

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We were staying at the north end of The Strip and I think we walked about 18km that day, seeing that the previous post in Death Valley was on the same day. So this was the obligatory Vegas visit. The pizza was good.

We were ready to hit some bush and see some rocks.

When Should You Self-publish And When Should You Submit To A Publisher?

This question comes up quite a bit amongst new writers.

They have finished manuscript and I wondering what to do with it. They may feel discouraged by the long and arduous process of finding a publisher, and they’re wondering whether to just self-publish.

One thing I should say. Whether or not to self-publish should never be a question of publishing what you could not get published by a traditional publisher. You should always self-publish your best work.

Surprisingly to many people, I very often recommend that when new writers have finished their first manuscript, they should be submitting it to a publisher.

Why, since I am obviously a proponent of self-publishing.

Well, in the first place, submitting to publishers buys you time.

One of the main problems of self-published writers is that they often do things in far too much of a hurry. They self-publish their first books before those books are ready.

I know this may sound quite arrogant, but I don’t mean ready as in that the book has polished prose and is of literary value, I mean that the plot is tight, and that book fits well in the market.

Submitting to publishers gives you a better idea of that market that you are trying to sell to. It is not about whether your book is good or not by whatever standards you want to measure “good”, it is about whether it fits the current desires of readers.

For all they’re maligned in the self-publishing community, publishers have not survived for many years by ignoring the type of books readers want to read. In fact, they employ professionals who in general have a pretty good understanding for what makes a commercial book. When you submit to publisher, you are a encouraged to see what else this publisher sells. You are encouraged to read those books and to socialise with those writers. This can give you a much better idea of the current book market.

Since a lack of understanding of this market is the main thing you’ll have to overcome whether are you self-published or submit to publishers, it is a huge advantage to gain this knowledge.

When you have been submitting for a little while and have gotten some encouraging reactions, this is when I would courage you to make the decision whether to self-publish or continue submitting.

This is when you have to consider how much work you are willing to do. Self-publishing is a very hands on experience. There is a lot of work that needs to be done that you may not necessarily want to do. If your goal is to just see your book out there then that just fine. But I assume that you are interested in giving your book the best chance possible and actually making some money. So, consider for yourself whether you are interested in learning how to market your book and whether you are interested in sourcing editors and cover designers. Whether you are interested in doing this for significant amount of time, all the time, for the lifetime of your writing career.

One of the major disadvantages of publishing traditionally is the loss of control and the extraordinary amount of time everything can take. Add to that the complete randomness of some decisions as they are influenced by internal changes within the publisher’s business. Are you happy to roll along with this, say for example if an editor who was really keen on your book leaves the publisher and the new editor suddenly doesn’t want your book any more? Are you willing to wait or resubmit to another publisher while you thought you had it all in the bag?

The frustration of waiting times and being scuttled at the very last minute is real.

On the other hand, a publisher can help you get into bookshops so if your aim is to find your book on the shelves, you really cannot do this half as well when you self-publish.

In the end, it is about educating yourself first, and then deciding based on your personality. By the way, no one says you can’t do both. But you need to do it with two different books, preferably into different series.

The beauty of today’s world is that you have this choice.


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