Book burners quietly torch their own page…

The Write Agenda goes book-burning
Write agenda? Wrong agenda. Idiots.

The so-called Write Agenda, anonymous pyromaniacs, seem to have finally caught on to the fact that book-burning is not synonymous with unprejudiced reportage. Took the morons long enough. They’ve finally removed the page from their website.

Unfortunately, they failed to do so before people screen-printed the page. So here, to remind everybody that idiots are still idiots, no matter how they might try to disguise themselves (and remember – they never actually managed to explain why they were in favour of burning books to begin with!), is their page. Oh, diddums, did I embarrass you? Fer shame…

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In The Bag!

Good news, for once! ED3, aka The Kiiren Boy, is now finished with a total of 52000ish words. That brings ED to a current total of 160000 words – validating the episodic approach. ED wouldn’t have got this far if I’d tried to write it as one big lump.

The next step, after adding in all the formatting and editorial tweaks, will be to play with the cover design – another variant on the theme is required and right now I’m damned if I can work one out. And while that happens, I’ll be shunting ED2 up onto Smashwords to join its older brother, nursing Project P into its Difficult Second Chapter, and trying to regain The Voice for MC2. Oh, and at some point, I’ll have to shut myself in a small room and edit MC1 properly. And Christmas is coming up too.

Busy busy….

The Write Agenda in retreat?

Obviously there’s been a lot of attention directed at the bookburning freaks currently trading as The Write Agenda. And rightly so – flat-earthers like them should have died out with the dinosaurs. Short of flailing wildly and ranting unintelligibly at the various blog postings however, there’s not an awful lot The Wrong Agenda can do about it.

Now they’ve had to start retreating – their Twitter account, @thewriteagenda1, has been pulled in behind a privacy wall. Not a very effective manner of communicating to the masses, I have to say, but then Fletcher Nunn and Bauer were always about preaching to the converted. I’d like to claim some partial credit in this – I’ve been asking them every day why they advocate book burnings, and as yet I still have not received any kind of reply (let alone a satisfactory one). There’s probably more chance of AP Leam FC getting into Europe than there is of The Write Agenda coming out with something meaningful. The chumps are clearly getting tired of having to put up with my questions, and obviously don’t want anybody else to see them on their twitter feed.

But that isn’t going to stop me. Chaps, the fact that I can’t see your pointless tweets isn’t going to stop me asking why the hell you think you can masquerade as a genuinely impartial interest group of “writers and wordsmiths” when you also believe in burning books by particular authors. Perhaps I should also be asking your twitter followers whether they believe in burning books.

Don’t forget – I asked a legitimate question. You owe us an answer. I will keep asking.

Oh, and this ain’t stopping me writing either, in case you’re wondering. ED3 is virtually finished; all I need to do is work up a cover…

Update: 16th Oct 2011
The Wrong Agenda has taken some – at least – of the world’s criticism to heart. They’ve changed their front page. Wow. Such dynamism. I may faint.

Anyway, here’s what they say now: “The Write Agenda works hard to ensure that both sides of an issue are explained fairly and in an unbiased fashion.”

Everything but book-burning, anyway, obviously. Oi, idiots – how do you square book-burning with fair and unbiased explanations?

(Slight clue for the dense: you can’t.)

Still waiting for the “anon” mouses to squeak in public…

The Boy With Tape On His Face

A rare night out, courtesy of Mrs C, to go take in some new comedy at the Memorial Hall in town. So rare are these occasions that I don’t think I’ve been inside the Memorial Hall since seeing John Hegley there in nineteen ninety something or other. That night, I was inducted into the secret society of spectacle wearers (you too can join – it’s simple: take the index finger of your left hand, raise it, and firmly tap the lenses of your glasses. Anyone here wearing contacts? Yes? Now you try that too….).

picture borrowed from the BBC
The Boy With Tape On His Face

Last night we saw The Boy With Tape On His Face. The easiest way to describe this is as follows: silent comedy. Well, there ain’t a lot else you can do with duct tape stuck over your mouth. The Boy himself looks like a wild-eyed cross between HMV’s own Ross Partridge, John Lydon, and any number of silent-era comedians, with a modern-day grungey twist. And a length of duct tape, of course. After Barry Dodds’s more traditional warm-up routine, The Boy came out during the interval and sat on the stage, tearing up pieces of tape, stuffing his pockets and bag, and staring manically at various members of the audience. Especially those who seemed tardy in returning to their seats. He was already getting laughs. A good sign of things to come.

An interview in the Grauniad has called this old-school vaudeville but these days it is refreshing to see someone who doesn’t rely on topical “tell-you-whats” or bombarding the audience with gags until something sticks. The convoluted set-ups of interactive routines, looks of frustration and dismay made ever more comical by his inability to say anything, and sometimes the sheer uncoordinated embarrassment of the volunteers from the audience all combined to create a show that left Mrs C with a headache from laughing too hard – while I hadn’t had such a fun night out in years.

If you want a taster of The Boy’s genius, the BBC has a routine from Edinburgh that was featured in last night’s show (not sure how long it will remain available online, unfortunately). Of course, this being Sheffield, it took twice as long to get the three blokes anywhere near being schnchronised. In fact it took one poor chap a good five minutes to understand what he was meant to be doing. Even his girlfriend was wailing with laughter.

As Mrs C has pointed out, silent comedy is universal. You could take this show anywhere in the world and make it work. You don’t have to intellectually “get” the jokes.

As a side note, the half-time conversation in the row behind me was almost as funny as the comedy itself. Two ever-so-slightly affluent ex-students, getting to know each other.
A: Oh, my degree is in drama, but now I’m in catastrophe risk management.
B: Really? I nearly did that myself! My brother’s fiancee is in the same field! How strange!
A: Oh I know – I only went into it as a temp job, but I liked it so much I asked if I could stay on. The CEO really liked my coffee, so he said yes! We’re ecologically friendly too – we have our own little section of woodland. Well, really, it’s more of a field of saplings right now, but I suppose one day they’ll be quite useful, won’t they?

You can’t make this shit up. Honestly.

Repeating the question, again…

The Wrong Agenda continues to ignore me. No surprises there. As one of my correspondents on Twitter has noted, they can never actually directly answer a question; all they will ever be able to do is lie.

Yet on their website, in their latest posting, the Wrong Agenda still claim that “transparency is all that we have asked for”. This, from a bunch of anonymous nutcakes.

They also comment that “[writer Janrae Frank] has also posted on Twitter that: ‘The Write Agenda has gone after me.’ We fail to see how this amiable debate has escalated to that level.” Really? Really, chaps? You, the muppets who put up a picture of a row of garbage bins poorly photoshopped with Writer Beware-associated names poorly Photoshopped onto them, fail to see why a writer would believe that an anonymous hate site has “gone after them”? Fuck me, you’re thick as two short planks, the lot of you.

I commented on that posting, although I doubt that comment will ever see the light of day. Here’s what I wrote: “Can we also have an “aimiable debate” (your words, not mine) on the use, history, politics and efficacy of burning books? For starters, how does a group of unbiased wordsmiths come out in favour of book-burning? I’ll be interested to read your replies, whatever your name is.”

No, they still haven’t explained why they are in favour of burning books.

Idiots.

Failure to communicate

Hehehe. The so-called Write Agenda have come sniffing around my door, I think. My blog isn’t all that well-traveled, you know – heck, this is only my 15th post – so I get to see the whole range of search terms that folks are using to get here (somebody once got here by searching for Ian Sales: good chap, and here’s one of his blogs to get readers started). Now, the Wrong Agenda’s favoured tactic is to list their “boycotted authors” along with the range of their Amazon sales. I know, pointless, but they have to do something, don’t they? They can hardly form a line outside every bookstore in the world and whimper “Don”t buy these books!” Hell, they can hardly form a line. They can’t even use Photoshop straight.

Back to the point at hand: one of the search terms being used right now is “steve poore sales”. Somebody wants to know my sales figures. Presumably from Amazon. I’m guessing the creeps behind Wrong Agenda are researching their critics again. Well, here’s the thing. I’m not “traditionally published” (yet). Mostly because I haven’t submitted anything to agents or publishing houses. The Empire Dance is available through a number of online retailers though. Not just Amazon. B&N, itunes, Kobo, etc etc… Amazon isn’t the be-all and end-all of publishing stats, you know, chaps at Wrong Agenda/TurnAround/ABP/etc. You must know this more than most, seeing as you trade under so many different names.

So, no, you can’t have my sales figures. You can post up the ranges of my Amazon sales if you wish, but that hardly tells the story. You really don’t have a clue on this score, do you?

Because I’ll restate – I’m not traditionally published. In fact, I’m probably your own core target market – an aspiring writer with something to sell. The key difference is that I read Writer Beware and the threads at AbsoluteWrite: I know that the fringes of publishing are filled with dead-eyed scammers like yourselves. You’re being attacked by both traditional and non-traditional authors here – do you want to give up now?

While we’re at it, you still haven’t managed to defend your stance on book-burning. Any comments?

Heh. Thought not, you cowards.

Dissecting the Write Agenda

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, some bloke once said. Doesn’t mean the reaction is right.

Writer Beware is a fine, upstanding watchdog of the writing community. Hosted and helped, in part at least, by the SFWA, it looks to shut down the con-schemes prevalent in the vanity presses, or at least educate novice writers to avoid the predatory clutches of such shysters. You know the sort of thing – “pay us £2000 and we’ll publish your book!” (which normally translates as “pay us £2000, we’ll press up 50 badly-set copies designed by a blind chimpanzee high on Sunny D, we’ll make absolutely no effort to market your book, and you’ll feel cheated instantly and have no recourse to the law!”). Real fly-by-night companies.

Victoria Strauss, Anne Crispin, and their colleagues are thorough and tireless in their efforts, and I’ll take this opportunity to thank them publicly. (You can also do this by buying their books – after all, they don’t get paid for doing the WB! work). But obviously every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

In this case the reaction is an anonymous hate-site called the Write Agenda. I won’t link to it, as they seem inordinately proud of the hits they receive, but I will quite happily spend some time – my own time, I should note, not paid by anybody or any organisation for this purpose – deconstructing The Write Agenda’s miserable excuse of a website.

And, who knows, I might just make it onto their celebrated blacklist!

The first thing you see on any page of this site is a bold title. In fact, that’s almost all you cansee.

How not to design a webpage
How not to design a web page. Idiots.

There are sub-headings below this space-eating monstrosity (which is too large for the space it is given – the first sign that these people have no idea how to design, typeset or present themselves), but they don’t mean anything to the casual visitor. Propaganda Alerts? Propaganda Watch List? The Write Agenda Ninja Group? Nope, me neither. You have to dig a little deeper – just as you have to with the con-artists WB! warns against – to find out what these chaps are trying to warn you against. If you can be bothered, that is.

Deconstruction Number One: Who are you people?

I already said it was anonymous. These are people who are so angered by the threat posed by WB! to their ill-gotten gains that they have forgotten their own names. “We are a group of individuals, writers, want-to-be authors and inquisitive wordsmiths that have become “literally” numb (1) from reading the numerous author help related blog posts,” says a piece of puffery a third of the way down the first page. “Many of  these postings are subjective and do not offer any substantial documentation regarding purported claims regarding publishers and other industry professionals. In addition, many of these sites have become nothing more than complaint boards that disseminate speculative claims without any substantiation.”

So far, so woolly. Nowhere does it give you any indication of who they actually are or what they represent. And from that pointless paragraph they could just be complaining about the direction of the wind. “We do not discount the validity of some claims made. However, we want to question both sides of an issue and to assist other authors in making informed decisions,” they continue in bold type. What claims? Which ones are valid? I’d like to see both sides of the story, please!

You have to scroll even further down – if you can still be bothered by now – to start seeing the links to the site’s actual articles. These are, almost without exception, attempts to smear the names and reputations of anyone who has had anything to do with Writer Beware! Hmmm. So much for informed decisions and utilising both sides of an argument. Clearly, they have something of a grudge against WB! Let’s see… who would have a grudge against WB?

…we are not affiliated with the individual that “had his defamation lawsuit against Writer Beware dismissed a couple years ago.”

Really? Proof, please. Who are you people?

Deconstruction Number Two: Inappropriate behaviour for booklovers

Next we move along – swiftly, and covering our noses against the stench of sockpuppetry – to a page called “Book Donations Needed: The Write Agenda’s 1st Annual Book Burning”.

Wait. What? Did I just imagine this? Did a group of authors, wannabe writers and inquisitive wordsmiths just call for a book-burning? Really? Yes, they did. You’d expect this sort of behaviour from holocaust-deniers, KKK and nutjob creationists, as well as bonkers fundamentalists of all creeds, but not from people who allegedly love books. Unless, of course, they don’t love books. Maybe they just love taking money from people who love books. There are some authors I would happily never read again, but I will never wish books burned. Not a one. Not even the Bible, though it has done more harm than good in the last couple of millennia. Ever read Fahrenheit 451, Wrong Agenda peeps?

 The page link has been taken down from the front of their site, but the page itself still exists(2). Here’s a screen print.

The Write Agenda goes book-burning
Write agenda? Wrong agenda. Idiots.

Hey you guys, whoever you are – fancy explaining your ideas to us at any point? Dig yourselves out of a hole? Or are you too literally numb to do so?

Deconstruction Number Three: Author Watch.

TWA (I’m really tempted to add another T, but that would be childish, so I shan’t. You, on the other hand, gentle reader, can molest their acronym as you wish) helpfully provide a weekly bestseller list of books that are “non-traditionally published”. I guess that means, as no other definition is provided, that these authors have been taken for a ride by one or other of the charlatans that WB! warns writers against. Even better, beneath this chart there is a “Watch list”. All seven books on this list are from the same company – TurnAround Media. Go to TurnAround’s site if you want, and tell me what you reckon: old amateur bait site for desperately naive writers? I personally love the way they’re so dedicated to their authors that their monthly newsletter went out the window after only three editions. That’s not even making the effort – just like the lack of thought that went into the TWA site to begin with.

OK, I’m done for now. I could go on for hours, rubbishing every page, but I have writing of my own to do and I shouldn’t be letting these tossers rile me up in this manner. They sound like they’re sore losers, which means that Writer Beware is very much doing its intended job. And that is something good indeed in this world of crap.

Edit: here’s a nice recent summation by WB! of their thoughts on TWA, which I didn’t actually read before posting the above. Nice to know that my initial thoughts on Turnaround Media were probably correct.

(1) “Literally” numb? Poor chaps. Rub it and hope it doesn’t fall off.
(2) Or at least, it does at the time of writing. Here y’go.