French lighthouses and v-e-r-y big waves
Monday, December 22, 2014
It's that time of year again, when registered New Zealand authors look eagerly at their bank account statements for that magical sum of money that will tide them over Christmas.
It's the Public Lending Right scheme, which compensates New Zealand authors for royalties lost when people borrow their books from libraries, instead of buying them from bookstores. No one has thought of compensating the bookstores for lost sales yet! But nonetheless it is a blessing.
Here is how it works. If you are a New Zealand author with published books, and have not registered with the scheme, read with great attention.
Public Lending Right for New Zealand Authors
Registering for the scheme
Payments from the PLR fund
Titles included in the scheme
More information for New Zealand authors
Operation of the scheme
Surveying New Zealand libraries
I love that last sentence!
This year, the payment will be made on 23 December.
This year, the payment will be made on 23 December.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Often the hardest step in building a track record is to get something published. And writing travel stories is a very good way to do it. I built up a readership in the early years not with novels or short stories, or even well-accepted non-fiction, but with writing for travel magazines, the inflight magazine for Air New Zealand (then called Pacific Way) being a very good example, though Signature, the magazine of a prominent credit card company, also bought a number of travel articles.
It was great! Not only was I paid well, but I went on so-called "junkets," where the local tourist department would meet you at the airport bearing gifts, pay for lodging, and take you to a series of nice restaurants, along with all the local museums and so forth, where prominent people like museum directors would be glad to show you around.
Interested? Well, it is possible to enter this world via an online magazine, which is currently asking for stories. They don't pay, but they don't charge, either.
It is Justtravelnews.com
Read the rest to find the application form, the guidelines, and the list of sites where they contribute the stories.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
There are hazards out there, from swans to pondweed, and rival model boatmakers ...
Wreck on the Round Pond – Sea Breezes July 1962
Could anything be more inspiring than the very kindly feeling which a few years ago, prompted a certain underwriting member of Lloyd’s to issue to a small boy, named Levy, an insurance policy covering his model steam yacht, for a period of 12 months, on a valuation of £8, against the risks of fire, collision, sinking and stranding whilst actually running on ponds or lakes in or near London; and all for the modest premium of 7s. 6d. in full?
Possessed with a dedicated passion for model yachts, the youngster had already lost one steamship in a Hampstead pond, and, doubtless it was this misfortune which led to his conceiving the bright idea of effecting an insurance at Lloyd’s. A happy thought indeed, for within a few weeks of taking out the policy it became necessary for young Levy to give the underwriter formal notice that the model yacht had been totally lost through foundering in the Round Pond at Kensington Gardens, London W.2.
The boy at the time and in a most business-like manner, made an arrangement with the park-keepers to salve the sunken vessel, at a cost of £1 should it be recovered, or 10s. in the event of their operations not being successful. Every effort to locate the yacht and salve her proved unavailing. Then a claim was put forward under the Lloyd’s policy and, in due course, the boy shipowner received from his insurance broker a cheque for £8 plus the salvage charges, and thus happily ended the story of a shipwreck on the Round Pond.
I would very much like to know what happened to young Levy in adult life. Is he, perchance, the captain of a Costa cruise ship ... or the head of a multi-national conglomerate? Surely he didn't go in for a career in maritime insurance!
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Yesterday, there was a highly amusing item in the local paper.
UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A CLUE, ran the headline. "It defies belief," the item began--
"but this is what police came across on a busy Coromandel road.
"To make matters worse, the Irish tourist driving this car could not see the danger in tying his kayak crossways on his car roof."
Today, the story is different.
POLICE QUICK TO BACKPEDAL OVER 'IRISH TOURIST' REPORT, runs the headline.
The man, it seems, was not Irish at all. He comes from Auckland. And, the crossways kayak was a nasty accident, caused when high winds blew off an important part of his roof-rack. He pulled over within ten metres, he says, and a police officer stopped to help, until called away to the scene of a serious accident.
"Police have apologised to anyone of Irish descent who may have been offended," the report runs on.
Policing manager Freda Grace said: "In this case, while the man was a visitor to the region, he was not Irish and as a result Waikato police wish to offer an unreserved apology to any persons of Irish descent we may have offended."
I wonder if she managed to deliver her speech with a perfectly straight face.
The driver, Jonathan Waters, was not appeased. "So apparently I am an Irish tourist who decided that tying my kayak onto the car sideways was the plan A of the day," he wrote on Facebook. "Good old Kiwi cops and their direct quotes of immense untruthfulness."
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Whew, what a pilgrimage Eleanor led me!
As many of you will remember, this time last year I posted a running transcription of the sea-letter she wrote as a 21-year-old new bride on the East Indiaman Friendship. The letter was originally published in 1819 and 1820 as a serial in a little journal called the Asiatic Register, which was published by the Jerusalem Coffee House for the edification of the servants of the Honourable East India Company. The job was not easy, as the columns were replete with typos, enigmatic dashes, and references to people long dead, and places lost to history. To make it even more complicated, it was evident that Eleanor had self-edited the letter when the Jerusalem Coffee House people suggested the publication, so that needed sorting out. Throughout, it was like delving deeply for treasure.
Not only did the sea-letter have to be heavily edited, but it had to be interpreted, too. What was the background to the events she referred to, and what were the islands and outposts like on the day she viewed them? What were the stories that lay between the lines?
Over the past year, that is what I have been doing -- telling the stories that lie between the lines of Eleanor's vivacious, sensitive, and startlingly Jane Austen-like diary. The commentaries that resulted, slotted into the sea-letter, have exceeded the word length of the journal by quite a country mile, but it has all been worth it, for the window into a colorful past that the task has opened.
Two very well-regarded historians did me the honor of agreeing to read the finished version. One was maritime historian Lincoln Paine, and the other women's historian, Jo Stanley.
“In 1799, the twenty-one-year-old Eleanor Reid accepted her new husband's invitation to accompany him on a voyage from Ireland to Australia and back to England—via St. Helena, Cape Town, Sydney, Malacca, and Calcutta. She was a keen observer of the natural and social worlds, and her riveting memoir brims with insights at once worldly and intimate. I can imagine no abler guide to the remote yet cosmopolitan world through which Reid sailed than Joan Druett, whose introductory narratives provide the historical context Eleanor's Odyssey so richly deserves.”
—Lincoln Paine, award-winning author of The Sea and Civilization
“This book is two joys in one. Eleanor's tale is told so compellingly that it could be mistaken for a novel - although it isn't. Full of wise insights, it is an important addition to the study of sea history.”
You can buy the book HERE (Amazon) and HERE (Apple) and HERE (Kobo) and HERE (Page Foundry) ... and HERE (Scribd) and HERE (Nook). It is available both in print and as an eBook.
Monday, December 15, 2014
You've probably come across one or all of these before, but it is that time of the year, and a reminder may not go amiss.
1. Email requests for money
The man who supposedly sent the following email earlier this month – and the recipient – are distant cousins who have a friendly relationship but don’t speak often. The recipient’s first thought was maybe the email is legit. It wasn’t.
- Subject line: “Awful trip”. Text of message:
“Sorry for any inconvenience, I’m in a terrible situation. Am stranded here in Manila, Philippine since last night. I was beaten and robbed on my way to the hotel I stayed and my luggage is still in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment on outstanding bills I owe. Am waiting for my assistant to send me money to get back home but he hasn’t responded. pls let me know if you can help and I will refund the money back to you as soon as I get back home. My return flight will be leaving soon, please let me know if I can count on you.”
What to do: Step 1, do not send money. Step 2, use your common sense. If someone knows you well enough to ask for money, wouldn’t you know they were out of the country? Ask yourself other common sense questions like, Don’t most hotels require credit cards upon check-in? If any doubts remain, ask the sender a question only he or she could answer. Again, these emails are almost always a scam so do not send money.
2. Postcard notification of free flights
Postcards promising free flights have been appearing in mailboxes all over the U.S. This one was received in December:
“Southwest Autumn Celebration: Congratulations! We’ve selected you to receive two (2) round trip, coach class airline tickets. Call this number!”
The name of Southwest Airlines is plastered all over the postcard, but Southwest had nothing to do with this (we asked). Nor are these free tickets totally free; as the postcard notes in teeny-tiny letters, that winner may have to pay taxes and fee (which can really add up). FareCompare has called the numbers on several of these postcards and learned that the requirement for getting the so-called freebie often involves sitting through a long, high-pressure sales pitch for condos or travel clubs.
What to do: Depends. How many hours of your life are you willing to give up for a couple of airline tickets that will cost you something, may take you somewhere you don’t really want to go, at a time you don’t want to travel?
3. Bump and run money grab
These scams work because victims get distracted. Some recent anecdotes:
A tourist in Rome is “accidentally” bumped into by two women, one of whom holds a baby. As the three make their apologies, one of the women helpfully brushes the man off, straightens his coat, and vanishes. So does the man’s wallet. [Note: The ‘baby’ is often a realistic-looking doll]
Local man tries to sell you a cheap bracelet or bauble; while describing its charms at length, his buddy picks your pocket.
Nice guy offers to take your photo with your new camera or fancy phone; as you get ready to pose, he takes off with your gadget.
Fellow diner at an outdoor cafe bumps into your table and spills a drink; as he mops up the mess he spouts a steady stream of apologies, but by the time he leaves he may have all your money.
What to do: There are a few things.
- Don’t let valuables sit around unattended (such as a phone on a restaurant table).
- Never sling a purse over the back of a chair where you can’t see it.
- Keep money, cards, passports in a safe place on your person, in front where you can reach these items perhaps in money belt worn at the waist or around the neck. Note to men: Your back pants pocket is not a safe place.
- Be aware of where valuables are at all times, but no showing off; displaying cash is not smart no matter where you travel.
4. Laptop thefts
This isn’t so much a scam as it is easy pickings for thieves. The scene of the crime is often airport security; travelers get distracted as they empty pockets or walk through scanners so they’re not paying attention to the laptop as it goes along the conveyer belt. When it comes out, a thief in the crowd can easily pick it up and walk away before its owner is even aware it’s gone.
What to do: Keep your eyes on anything valuable at security. Plus don’t blame it all on thieves! Airport and security lost & founds are filled with laptops and other expensive electronic gadgets that were left behind by preoccupied passengers. Don’t be one of them.