Writer Emptor

Every one of us has the dream of becoming popular enough with our readers that we will be able to set aside our day job and simply work at writing – be the next Larry Correia or Andrew Weir. That we will be able to pay attention to only the work of crafting our story, and someone else would handle the nitty gritty details of financial remuneration and accounting, the contracts and such – the ‘icky’ business side of writing.

I’ll be honest and say that the mindset – especially when it comes to financial matters – gives me the heebie-jeebies. Granted, I’m not the best person when it comes to finances; but I do know the basics and how to prioritise them; so I can understand why the mindset has appeal.

But that mindset is where predators can swoop in. And have. Dear God, they have.

I’ll spare the gruesome details here because you can read about them written by people far more able than I to write about these abuses. Mario Puzo can’t write about it any more, but the guy who wrote Fight Club was a victim, and he did.

Mad Genius Club has a post about it. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been writing about this kind of thing for years, and finally she has the smoking gun. And the effects. Which is being hushed up – the reaction to this is frankly, stunning… but unsurprising. It’s a bit akin to people who were at a terrorist attack, except that they’ve been victimised for years. You don’t want to admit when you’ve been a victim in circumstances like these, and the predators and abusers don’t want their cover blown. And in fairness, there are likely to be honest literary agents out there who see this as a big threat to their jobs when they’ve done nothing wrong. There are new writers who w

Everyone has a very good reason to be scared, and not want to see the reality.

Me, I just feel sad for the people who are victims of this. I mean, nobody can tell me that Mario Puzo’s estate for his books, the licensing of the movies, etc, isn’t in the multimillions. It also makes me angry that it seems that the other clients of Donadio & Olson seem to be unaware of this happening.

 

Some writers represented by the agency told The Post they had not been contacted about the theft, and did not know if it affected their royalties.

“This is the first I heard of it,” said McKay Jenkins, a nonfiction author.

Bert Fields, a lawyer representing the Puzo estate, said he learned of the arrest from The Post.

The alleged theft was first discovered last fall when an unidentified author who was expecting to receive a $200,000 advance from his publisher asked Webb why he had not received the payment.

According to the complaint, Webb put the author off for months.

“The author did not receive the payment because Webb had converted the funds to Webb’s own use,” says the complaint.

“The agency’s singular focus at this time is ensuring that all of its impacted clients are made whole to the greatest extent possible, and the agency is cooperating in every possible way with the government’s efforts,” said Matthew Adams, a lawyer for Donadio & Olson.

Calls and an e-mail to Webb’s attorneys were not returned.

 

That’s insane. It’s unthinkable. It’s the kind of ‘don’t tell the passengers we’re sinking’ cover-your-ass. Why weren’t the clients told – they have every right to be. But as Kristine has pointed out, there are no oversights for literary agents, and no enforcement. So it’s no surprise.

Good luck to the authors and creators who have been hurt by this crime. I wish you the best, and hope you get the earnings you were due.

 

 

 

Chocolate Crinkles

A tray of chocolate crinkles

Mmmm… cookie-brownie nom nom nom

My son made a batch of these for his girlfriend’s birthday; they were a great hit! (They’re still young, so he got a kiss on the cheek.) ^_^

The most tedious part of the recipe is rolling the cookie dough in one’s palm to make a ball. If you have a small ice cream scoop though, some of that mess is mitigated.

I prefer using butter to vegetable oil because it gives that richer, more decadent flavour; you can substitute with melted margarine or coconut oil if you prefer, but bear in mind that the latter will affect the taste.

Print Recipe
Chocolate Crinkles
A cross between a cookie and a brownie, these are super easy to make and cheap! Give 'em a twist with a touch of cinnamon, or dried fruit bits; or sprinkles! If adding chocolate chips however, be sparing as the cookie might end up crumbling instead.
Servings
cookies, or so
Ingredients
Servings
cookies, or so
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Sift together all dry ingredients except the coffee powder and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together all wet ingredients, plus the coffee and salt. Make sure they are thoroughly combined.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. With either a paddle attachment or a silicone spoon, stir together until a dough is formed, and all the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for four hours to overnight.
  5. Prepare a bowl filled with the icing sugar. Using a small spoon, or rolling out the dough into logs, make 1 inch balls of dough (or 2 inch balls.)
  6. Roll the dough balls in icing sugar and place on a lined baking tray, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade / 350 degrees F, for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake, or you lose the chewy texture of the cookies! (For 2 inch balls, about 15 minutes.)
  8. Cool for about 10 minutes on tray before removing. Cookies should be a somewhat cakey texture, chewy, but not falling apart. Excellent slightly warm, or with tea or coffee.
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Mocha Chiffon Cake Filipino Style

Double layered mocha chiffon cake with mocha meringue buttercream

Mocha Chiffon Cake Filipino Style, aka ‘Goldilocks Style’

Mocha Chiffon Cake – Filipino Style aka “Goldilocks Style”

This is my own version of the Filipino style Mocha Chiffon Cake that I did a roll cake of the last time.  I use more coffee in the mix,  as I found that the flavour was a little too mild otherwise.

The little coffee bean chocolates came from the Phiippines, and are basically ground coffee granules, in very dark, very coffee-infused chocolate. They are yum.

I like my cakes moist and buttery, so you may want to experiment and reduce the butter on the recipe of the cake. Have fun and enjoy!

Print Recipe
Filipino-Style Mocha Chiffon Cake
A moist, yet fluffy chiffon cake filled with surprisingly light coffee flavor, covered in smooth meringue buttercream frosting.
Course dessert
Passive Time 4 hours to overnight
Servings
8 inch 2 layer cake or 1 roll cake
Ingredients
For the chiffon cake:
For the meringue buttercream
Course dessert
Passive Time 4 hours to overnight
Servings
8 inch 2 layer cake or 1 roll cake
Ingredients
For the chiffon cake:
For the meringue buttercream
Instructions
Make the cake:
  1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and creamy
  2. Dissolve coffee & cocoa powder in a tablespoon of hot water, stirring. Pour into egg mixture with melted butter, and beat until well combined.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and fold in with wooden spoon or with the stand mixer's paddle attachment.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the 6 egg whites & cream of tartar on high until they form stiff peaks. Fold into mocha batter, until just incorporated.
  5. Divide into 2 prepared 8-inch cake pans. Place each pan onto a baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade, for 20-25 minutes or until a bamboo skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, for 10 minutes, before removing completely from the baking pans to cool on wire rack.
  8. Cool completely (even overnight) before frosting.
Make the frosting:
  1. Set your mixing bowl in a pan of simmering water (for ease of use, use your stand mixer's bowl) and whisk egg whites and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until fluffy, marshmallow-like and hot. You may need a separate hand-held electric hand mixer for this.
  2. Remove bowl from heat, scrape the handheld's whisks free of marshmallow meringue, and then using your stand mixer, beat the meringue for another 5 minutes with the whisk attachment.
  3. Add half the butter and beat until smooth. (You may opt to use the paddle attachment for this, or stay with the whisk attachment) Add the rest of the butter, beat until smooth again. Scrape sides, stir buttercream mixture quickly, then go back to beating for 6 to 10 minutes.
  4. Dissolve cocoa, coffee and vanilla extract in a very small amount of hot water, stirring vigorously.
  5. Add to buttercream and beat on high for a further 2-3 minutes, scraping as needed.
  6. Use to put a layer of buttercream between the cakes, and to frost and decorate the cake.
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Why Humans Have Different Skin Colors

I  mentioned that I went back to the Philippines recently, and brought back lots of stuff. One of the things I also brought home was a container of whitening lotion – to use on my elbows, which tend to darken because I lean on them a lot while typing or drawing, and since I do a lot of that, they darken (as well as dry out) on a regular basis. I’ll cheerfully admit to my vanity that I have even skin tone – a lovely golden toast color, that I have no desire to whiten, the way a lot of Filipinos, and well, Asians want to. I don’t agree with the latter explanations of the post; white skin in Asian culture is tied to wealth and nobility, and existed as a paragon of beauty (for both men and women) – note the reference to pre-Qin China.

Personally, skin colour is one of those things I’ve never paid attention to in my dealings with people. I treat everyone the same – entirely dependent on how the person I am interacting with behaves. (Apparently, that’s ‘racist and discriminatory’ to some folks who haven’t picked up a dictionary within the last 50 years, the claim of which makes no sense, since it’s the other person’s behaviour toward me that I’m judging them by, e.g. their own actions and words.) I’m big on treating people as people, which is far less stressful and aging than constantly being on the lookout for something small and petty to be offended by. There are bigger things to get upset about, but that’s a discussion for some other time.

Me, I like my golden toast skin hue (It’s a permanent, perfect sun-kissed tan that I never have to work on!); although since I live in Australia, it makes it a bit hard to find make up at times. Fortunately, I am not the only Asian in Australia, and there are Asian grocery stores and such that I can source the occasional specific-to-my-ethnic-mix cosmetic needs, which are not, fortunately for me, that great a need. (Just need a thin layer of foundation so that the make up has that to cling to, in order to last longer. (More of the blush than anything else, really.) I should’ve picked up a pack of that face powder while I was back in the Philippines, but I forgot, having other priorities at the time. No biggie; and I’m not going to scream ‘BUT THAT IS UNFAIR’ (if I do, I’m joking; much in the same way I make fun about my being short, and there being no lovely thigh-high boots for someone as short as me that also has curves in my calves and thighs.) Also, seriously, there’s the Internet, and if I really was looking for that and willing to pay for it, I am pretty sure I could find that face powder.

Still, the reality is, folks have skin hues, as part of their physical descriptor; and frankly, that’s a better alternative to transparent skin. Can you imagine what that would be like? Seeing one’s muscles, bared? No thanks. Besides, this completely ignores the benefits of skin hues and melanin. Long and short of it is though, physical description is part of of how we tell each other apart – it’s how humans are able to identify a friend or a member of your family, because unlike other animals, we don’t identify each other by scent. We do it with our eyeballs and the use of our disproportionately huge brains. There are numerous theories why different groups have different skin colours (my main one is ‘evolutionary development in response to environmental exposure to the sun and it’s strength in varying regions of the world’) as well as legends, myths and folk tales that served as an explanation for our ancient fore-bearers. They served well enough that these folks got on with the business of living instead of sitting there, paralysed by ‘why?’ and starving to death.

A friend of mine recently told Rhys one of the more humorous Filipino folk tales as to why human beings all have different skin colours. It goes somewhat like this:

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Cyborg Prosthetics Has Ongoing Development

As much as I like Ghost In The Shell, in truth, the very idea of merging organic musculature and nerves with machinery has been something I’ve been having problems conceiving. Fortunately for the rest of the world, Japan is not limited by my knowledge of biochemistry and mechanical engineering. A robotic finger uses it’s lab-grown muscles to lift an object – which might not seem like such a huge advancement to people expecting, but most people don’t really think about how complicated joint control, muscle movements and neural signals are – until they lose the ability to use their hands.  While primitive in appearance, the advancement in artificial muscular response to electrical stimuli is still a large step forward in not just partially organic prosthetics, but also potentially in purely organic repair of muscle function – at least in my view.

While full limb biohybrid mechanical prosthesises are still far off, this new development opens up the possibility of (relatively) small advancements that can be practically applied. As I’ve noted above… fingers are very complex, and you don’t miss them until you don’t have them any more.

A Visit Back To The Mother Country

Wedding couple at the San Augustin Church

The wedding had all the ceremonies observed; we did our parts too!

 

The family all visited the Philippines for the first time in 6 years; for my youngest brother’s wedding. It was a short visit, hectic – but ultimately fun and wonderful. I sadly didn’t have time to interview my Mom for stories as I would have liked (so I can start writing those family stories), but she had fun being Lola to her (currently only) grandchildren, and ‘spoiling her baby daughter’ – so I have a load of daster dresses (yay!) and having Rhys and I eat with her at her new favourite food places. I went home with the intention of being able to eat some of the foods I seriously missed while overseas, and while that ambition was partly fulfilled, I feel rather sad that I didn’t get to sample more of the smorgasbord that is Filipino food and restaurant variety.

The Tombstone Hamburger Stack challenge

We didn’t have the time (it was late at night) to try this challenge, alas.

(To our amusement, the kids simply adored Jolibee, though Vincent found the burgers ‘too small’, and Rhys could eat three Filipino-sized servings of food by himself.) I didn’t get a chance to eat fishballs, or Goldilock’s Cathedral Windows, but I did manage to have some Red Ribbon (and introduced Vincent to the joys of mamon, that fluffy Filipino angel food-sponge.)

I did bring home lots of powdered juice mixes and Mom, upon finding out that Nescafe Berry Coffee was something Rhys – the consumate tea drinker – deeply enjoyed, made it a point to ensure that her only son-in-law had a package of single-serves to bring back to Australia. Note to self: next time, bring even LESS clothes, and bigger suitcases for the children, because while I sent home two balikbayan (return to homeland) boxes full of pasalubong (‘welcoming’ gifts) we got given so much there’s a huge plastic chest of stuff we couldn’t fit on our baggage allowance (30kg per person) that Mom says she’ll send in parcels – with more food things that we liked, but didn’t get a chance to bring home more of. (Waah, I realised just now I left behind my little cookies with the little drop of hard icing on top. I wanted to nibble on those while on the plane ride home!) The pasalubong will mostly go to folks my Mom knows; as they’re mostly ‘thank you for taking care of my Mom for me’ appreciation gifts.

I will have to learn to make taho myself though. =/

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New Book Release! Aff’s Diary: Blessed Hope

 

Nestled deep in the forest, all is as it should be in the village of Blessed Hope – and that’s how chief hunter Dari Finbarr likes it. Then one stormy night the embodiment of death for Humans stumbles into their home: a Szari girl.

The Szari! A race of powerful beings who sought the extinction of Humankind, and were only stopped by the Tzaro people in a brutal war that is still whispered about in hushed voices. A sole Szari warrior is capable of wiping out entire Human settlements by themselves.

The strange, silent Szari is nothing like how the tales describe however; and though it risks his life, Dari is given the task of guarding her until the wise Tzaro are brought to decide her fate. Until then many questions arise, but no answers can be found in the girl’s sad green eyes.

Without knowing it, the Humans of Blessed Hope have found themselves on a path that will change the future of all the races on their world…

After much blood, sweat and tears, and delays brought about by multiple truly life-altering circumstances, we have finally – FINALLY! – got Aff’s Diary: Blessed Hope published! Available from Lulu in paperback and ebook (epub). Distribution will have it available through other retailers in a few weeks, and when it happens I’ll write about it!

Despite the preview image on the paperback’s page, the actual cover image on print looks very good – here’s the proof copy:

This series is set before the Seda’s Diary series of books. Blessed Hope is our thickest book to date at 427 pages (plus supplementary content). I hope everyone who reads this book enjoys the story!

 

BIG thank you to the beta readers who have stuck with us through the hard work in getting this story out!

The Right to Self Defence

This was originally meant to be a reply comment to this post at According to Hoyt, but as it has multiple links, it’s easier to write the comment here, and link only ONE thing in a comment.

A common accusatory meme about gun control that usually pops up after a school shooting is ‘you love guns more than you love children.’

The meme is wrong. It is because I love children that I believe they should be defended with every resource possible – and if that requires guns, then so be it. I would rather the ones wanting them dead to make a name for himself or herself be the one dying of bullet wounds, than the children.

Having been taught by my father – yes, I know, cis-patriarchal and all that noise – to gasp value my own life over that of my attacker, I consider self defence one of my most basic rights. Since I live in Australia, I’m fairly sure that people will disregard my opinions on this – which is a mistake, since my perspective is that of someone who is more vulnerable as a result. I cannot carry anything specifically for self defense – not a gun, not a knife, no pepper spray. Maybe a rape whistle?

Folks at ATH know me as someone who is teeny tiny – I’m 4’7, and am likely to shrink with age. I also brawled a lot as a kid and well into my teens – y’know, because there were people who thought I was ‘less’ than they were -racism being the usual reason, because an English speaking Asian always stands out in places like Germany and France; basic bullying being the rest of it – and I frankly disagreed with the idea that I was less than anyone else, and refused to bow down to physical attempts at pushing me into the box of ‘less.’

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Pot-ability

(Yes I know, not quite the same thing, it’s a pun, for the humor impaired.)

See that pot above? I have a smaller version. You can boil water in it, cook rice with it, or soups or stews. I didn’t feel right about migrating to Australia without one (or without a tabo. I use it to rinse out the tub or when cleaning the shower, it’s really good for pouring water where the spigot doesn’t reach.) You can buy them from any market in the Philippines, and even some department store groceries.

This are originally my comments from Larry Correia’s post fisking the flaming idiot who said it was too much for us to expect poor people to cook. If the fool’s hypothetical poor people throw out their whole damn kitchen and all their eating utensils every. single. time. they cook, they are not poor, by any stretch of imagination. Seriously, give the whole fisk a read. It’s totally worth it.

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Support Your Local Medical Examiner

There’s a snarky meme/ badge pin / livejournal icon I’ve seen before – and used, because I find it funny – that goes Support Your Local Medical Examiner: Die Strangely.

Well. I guess some people… took it to heart, maybe? o_O

But dangerous solo sex is becoming a global issue, with forensic examiners claiming one to two people per one million are killed annually in the act of searching for the ‘ultimate orgasm’, which in most fatal cases can mean oxygen deprivation.

It comes as the body of a man was reportedly found in Hamburg covered in sliced cheese with pantyhose pulled up over his upper body, while he was wearing a diving suit and a raincoat.

He had placed a plastic bag over his head and was sat in front of an active heater, according to local media.

Yanno, the whole idea of pursuing the ‘the little death’ is that you come out of it alive afterward… I mean, I’ve heard of the auto-erotic asphyxiation thing (Thanks so much, David Carradine, I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing about that) but the cheese, raincoat, diving hose and sitting in front of the heater is new. And how did this person find panty hose that fit over their upper body? Was it on top of the raincoat and diving hose?

I’ll leave aside that whole plastic bag over one’s head is a bad idea, because, as the Housemate told me when he linked it to me, “I’m pretty sure that guy was like “Time to fuck with the medical examiner.”

At any rate, that’s enough Internet for today.

Let There Be Light

I recently came across some very interesting articles, which I thought I would share with my readers and friends. While the articles are a bit old – a couple of years as of this posting – I still am delighted with the scientific discoveries.

The first one is about how human eggs ‘flash with a bright light’ at the moment of conception, ‘highlighting the very moment when life begins.‘ A literal spark of life!

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.

How awesome is that? And seriously, how sci-fi is that to imagine? In my head, I see a a mini movie, complete with fwaaaaaaahhhh~~~ sound effect, the moment conception happens. And it seems to me very fitting, because how miraculous is life? How wonderous to behold. (And come on, it’s loads more fun to imagine it happens that way.)

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We’re going to need an aircraft carrier

Probably not the best thing to see when I was talking with my husband about whether or not we could rent a boat one day and go fishing, in the hopes of catching fish that we could grill right on the waves…

 

 

Ahhh. She’ll be ‘right, folks. We’ll just punch the thing in the nose. Belated Happy Australia Day!

Everything will surely be alright

I’m going through some stress in my life so if I am not online as much right now, it’s because I’m dealing with it. It’s taken me a while to try put together enough of a coherent thought, because it’s simpler to try distract myself with other things. I will be fine; eventually.

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Aff’s Opinion Reviews Nier: Automata

Copyright: Square Enix; used here for illustrative purposes for a game review only.

 

Shadow’s Note: Aff wrote this for me some time back, and then shortly afterward, we got buried in being busy. I found this on my desktop and decided to go ahead and post it.


So I haven’t written anything in a while (injury, lack of free time), and Shadow suggested I review a game I blew some of that free time on.

It’s extremely rare that I buy a game for single-player content. Truth be told, that wasn’t exactly why I acquired it – NieR: Automata was added to my Steam account because the box art character looked interesting… and by interesting I mean she looked very hot. Continue reading