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Monday, December 22, 2014

Who would be a lighthouse keeper?

French lighthouses and v-e-r-y big waves

Public Lending Right in New Zealand

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

The Public Lending Right for New Zealand Authors scheme was established in 2008 to compensate New Zealand authors, illustrators, and editors for the use of your books in New Zealand libraries.
As an author registered with the scheme, you’re entitled to receive annual compensation based on the number of copies of your title held in New Zealand libraries. This number is determined by a regular survey.

Registering for the scheme

You must register with the scheme each year in order to be eligible for payment, whether or not you have any new books.
You need to be a New Zealand resident to register, meaning you have been in New Zealand for at least half of the last year, or you have a permanent abode here.
The registration period is between 1 January and 30 April each year. We make any owed payments in December.
Registration has closed for 2014. You can register again from 1 January 2015.
Your registration must be received or post dated on or before 30 April, the date set by our legislation, or we can’t register you.
Up to three contributors – authors, illustrators, and editors – can register for one title, and their payment will be split.

Payments from the PLR fund

The Public Lending Right fund ($2,000,000 annually) is divided among registered authors, based on how many copies of their works are held by libraries.
If you’re eligible for a payment, you’ll receive it by December 31, directly into your nominated bank account.
In the unfortunate event that you die after registering, the payment will go to your estate. However, your heirs may not re-register for you in subsequent years.
We cannot make payment for years when you were not registered.

Titles included in the scheme

The scheme makes payments for books published by 31 March of the registration year, and doesn’t include ebooks or audiobooks.
  • Adult books must be at least 48 pages long.
  • Children’s books must be at least 24 pages of text or text and illustrations
  • Poetry must be at least 24 pages in length.
  • Editors registering must have contributed at least 48 pages to the book they are editing.
You need to have at least 50 copies of a title in New Zealand libraries to get a payment.
You must be entitled to receive a royalty payment or income from the sale of your book. Self published books are eligible.

More information for New Zealand authors

Send registrations, requests for information and queries to:
Faye Rodgers
Public Lending Right for New Zealand Authors Coordinator
PO Box 1467
Wellington 6140
Phone (04) 470 4528

Operation of the scheme

The Public Lending Right Advisory Group advises the Chief Executive on regulatory proposals, policy, and administrative matters relating to the scheme.
The National Library pays for the scheme’s operation, and the fund goes entirely to registered authors, illustrators, and editors.

Surveying New Zealand libraries

We count titles by surveying a sample of New Zealand libraries, based on advice from Statistics New Zealand. The nature of the survey alternates each year, between counting all titles, and only counting new titles.
We survey the National Library, all the large public libraries, the university libraries, consortia like SMART, and a rotating selection of the rest of New Zealand libraries
All the print copies of a title held by the library being surveyed are counted.
This weighted survey methodology gives us an estimated count – you may find your title count is 58.5 copies, or (frustratingly) 49.9. To maintain the fairness of the fund, we can’t round counts up to meet the threshold for payment.
Title counts may go up or down each year as we survey different libraries, or as they purchase or dispose of copies.
While you could boost your numbers by donating copies to libraries, it’s not likely to be cost-effective.

I love that last sentence!

This year, the payment will be made on 23 December.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Simon goes to the vet

The pleasures of research belong to cartoon makers as well as maritime historians!

Watch, to see the story behind the making of a new Simon's Cat video

Want to be published?

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

WRITE FOR US, they say, and go on to ask:
Are you an author who would like to get your material out into the market but unable to find a publisher with enough readers to give you some exposure?  We have figured out a win-win solution.
Just write an article for any of our 44 news websites listed below, and submit it using the form below.
It must conform to our basic guidelines, and it must be original content that has not been published elsewhere.
We will do the following:
  1. Post the article for you on the appropriate site
  2. Post a link to the article to our Social Media Network to help build additional traffic to the article
  3. Create an “About the Author” page for you with your headshot, a brief bio, a link to your social media profiles or website, a list of all of the articles that you have posted on any of our sites, and a contact the author form.
You win because we may get you a good amount of exposure, your about the author page gets indexed on the search engines, and you can say that you have been professionally published.
We win because we can provide our regular readers with additional, original content, at no cost except for our time.
Read the rest to find the application form, the guidelines, and the list of sites where they contribute the stories.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The hazards of sailing model steamboats

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

The "Irish" kayak-carrier

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.


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.”

 – Jo Stanley, leading expert on women and the sea, and author of Bold In Her Breeches

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

Top four travel scams

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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

NYT Best Book Jackets


From the NYT via GalleyCat @

The Best Book Covers of 2014