thinking outside the tank

Archive for November 2009

Authonomy – valuable feedback or a distraction from writing?

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After only five days using HarperCollins’ Authonomy website I’m reviewing whether or not I should continue. The site allows authors, editors, publishers, and people who simply like to read, to view and comment on the books that have been uploaded. There is a system of ranking both the books and the commentators. Books that are backed by others move up the rankings; books that climb the rankings improve the Talent Spotter ranking of those who backed them.

There are many games to play on Authonomy to get your book backed. The first task is to get people even to look at it – as with everything online getting eyes looking at your stuff is vital. 

  • You can send messages to other members inviting them to read your book, often with the promise of reading their book, the so-called ‘swap read’.
  • You can find books, read all or part of them, and then write comments to the author, hopefully constructive ones, in the hope you will prick their conscience into looking at your work.
  • You can be an active forum participant. Eventually people will click on  your profile to find out more about you and from there they will see your book.
  • You can write the most brilliant, beautifully crafted story and rely on its intrinsic quality to get unequivocal support from the Authonomy community (I haven’t tried this one yet).
  • You can blatantly offer to swap ‘backings’ without even reading the other person’s book.

And all for what? At the end of each month, the top five books go before a HarperCollins editorial review board. Beyond that is the hope that after much rework your book might actually be published. Read the rest of this entry »

How to convert car insurance into cavity wall insulation

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This post is a follow-up to Nil By Ear when I said I was swapping my car for a tricycle. Today was the day I handed my Prius back to Toyota Financial Services. As much as anything, the photographs above are to show that it was in good condition when it left me.

I feel an inexplicable lightness – but then maybe it can be explained by the realisations that: a) I won’t be pumping all that carbon dioxide into the air, b) I won’t be incurring the running costs of a car, and c) I’ll be healthier for walking and cycling everywhere.

Continuing the theme of taking individual responsibility for my carbon footprint, I’ll be spending the refund of the car insurance policy that I’ve just cancelled on the cavity wall insulation that will be installed tomorrow morning.

The article in George Monbiot’s blog last week looks to me more like an excuse to do nothing. He seems to be forwarding the argument, based on an experiment at the University of Toronto, that we licence ourselves to be greedy and to perform environmentally unfriendly acts by taking a few small-scale green actions. He’s more in favour of allowing the politicians – the ones with two houses, two jags, and who never admit to ‘wrong-doing’ – to make the decisions for us and to tell us what to do.

I believe we can, and should, make decisions for ourselves about how we behave. Putting a cross on a ballot paper every 4 or 5 years isn’t enough, especially when you can’t trust the people who get the power. I really hope that Copenhagen is successful, but I’m not waiting for the outcome.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurt, 2009


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SparrowHawkThis rather damp female Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) appeared in our garden this afternoon. It’s a common enough bird across the country, having recovered from a number of threats including guns and DDT. It’s not that common in our garden, though, so it was quite exciting to see it.

The excitement is tempered by the knowledge that the hawk is a threat to the other avian visitors we enjoy. At the base of the fence in the picture there’s a raised pond that we built over the summer. The pond is used daily by blackbirds, pigeons, and others, all of which are part of the Sparrowhawk diet.

RSPB information about the Sparrowhawk

Written by netkingcol

November 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm

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