Keeping track of my yearly goals – Mid-year freak out – June reading wrap-up

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With the world in a weird place right now – politics kinda scaring me, cancel culture burning through the internet, pandemics, weather catastrophes, huge social issues around discrimination and questioning a person’s right to live… and many of us are out of work, stuck at home wondering about our future, the security of our homes and families. My little list of goals for 2020 feel so trivial and somewhat irrelevant. This list was made in a time when I wasn’t fearing if I could put food on the table, have access to medical care, or being able to keep my house. But I know the planet will get through this. There will be a time of getting a back to normal – even if it is a new normal. So I will keep this list and track it for now. But depending on the direction of our communities and climates I may have to change and revisit my priorities towards the latter end of the year. So, for now, here’s an update on where I’m at on all things related to my reading and writing goals…

Book worm:

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI’ve managed to get my TBR down from 453 to 417 so far with no new book purchases. With reading as widely in genre as I possibly can and the COVID-19 shutdown, I’ve managed to get a lot more reading accomplished, finishing off neglected series, discovering some more enjoyable reads, and it’s re-ignited my love for reading again. Though, admittedly, I haven’t made any inroads into my promise to include text books and reference material: mainly for professional development and feeding a curious mind. But I will get there.

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Books I’ve managed to complete for June 2020

Scribe and scribble:

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI have been determined to get my word count up and finish some projects this year – with three novels waiting final edits and 2 novels both at the halfway point… I have been writing, but in comparison to the previous three years I’m not getting as much work done. I know I took April off writing when sick, but I’m going to have to seriously pick up my game if I want to reach my goals. And this is the most important goal for me! I have to take a conservative look at my habits, stop making excuses, and put my head down and work!

Levelling Up:

PrintThe online certification in marketing that I wanted to finish in March is still waiting to get completed… it’s starting to feel boring and repetitive, but I just have to suck it up and get it done. With all this isolation, it was a prime time to knock off this achievement and I have dropped the ball. On a different note, I’ve been doing a lot of research and networking with other authors and the publishing industry, so it has not been a complete waste. Knowledge is knowledge.

 

Social Butterfly:

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleThe shutdown has meant no social interaction in person – which was the whole point of me including this in my goals list. Being a writer is pretty isolating and I was missing catching up with friends and being a social butterfly. Having some fun. Attending some writing conventions or workshops. Welp, nothing has happened here. Doh! Damn virus! Though I managed to catch up with nearly all my friends and family online as they suddenly had time to chat, skype, and email. So at least everyone knows I’m not dead.

 

Get creative:

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleAll of the creative projects that I have earmarked have also screeched to a halt. Mainly because of the money I would need to spend (and shops I’d have to visit) to complete them. And with all my household out of work and social isolation still in place, getting my creative on has proven difficult. Though I have started making a list of new projects that I can complete without spending money or leaving the house… though it just feels like I’m adding to the list rather than completing the ones that I’m halfway through. For now, I’m concentrating on writing and raising our household’s income. The fun stuff is going to have to wait.

 

 Cash grab:

Fist Full of Money

Everyone started having online garage sales with the self-isolation to help many losing their source of income. So it felt like the market was saturated and I was hesitant to join the fray. Plus I’m having to pick up the slack with the rest of the household unemployed. I can still earn and operate my business online, so I’ve been bidding for more writing gigs and leaving this clearing out of clutter and selling online business until I have the time and people are feeling confident with spending again.

 

Work that body:

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 08 by Casey CarlisleI was actually starting to make progress with managing my health and fitness until the COVID-19 shutdown. My gym only opened last week. Though I was taking daily walks in the bushland behind my house, using the elliptical, and following some fitness workouts on YouTube, I’ve actually gained weight and lost mobility with the frequent flare-ups of my back injury and no access to specialised gym equipment and my chiropractor. I’m actually a little miserable at this back-slide.

 

So professional:

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 09 by Casey CarlisleMy goal to start expanding my digital platform has made a little progress. More development in specifics of the ideas and their execution, but I still need a bit more knowledge to pull it off – unless I pay someone for it, and right now we’re watching our pennies. Plus I’d rather have the knowledge and control over my own business and intellectual property as much as I can. I’d hoped to have achieved more in this area by now, but I’m giving myself a break because of needing to concentrate on boosting my income and a few health issues taking up my time.

 

Overall, progress towards my goals for 2020 has been damned poor! But you know the world is a much different place now than what it was in January. Some of these goals may have to change to fit the climate… it’s just a bit of wait and see at the moment. Mainly everything is being swayed with members of this household trying to return to work, shops and businesses being closed or restricted in how they operate, public places still closed or restricting numbers… there are a lot of roadblocks but I’m trying to stay positive and control what I can so that I am moving forward and taking steps to realise my dreams.

 

How has the current world climate affected you reaching your goals – are you putting them on hold too? What unexpected roadblocks do you now have to overcome?

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

e-Book Piracy – What to do if someone steals your book.

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Information and actions around preventing the theft of your published work.

I came across the below article penned by Dave Chessan a while back and thought I’d share it here for those wanting this type of information. The sad reality is that there is so much piracy of IP, and most of the time there is precious little we can do to stop it; or the reality of tracking down and persecuting those breaching your copyright is expensive and takes up a lot of time, money, and research. The piracy in the publishing world is primarily with e-books, and I can only hope that those downloading and reading pirated novels will like them enough to go and purchase a hard copy at a later date.

The other issue is that pirated copies usually are formatted differently, may be ARCs, or incomplete files as well. You never know what your going to get. Not to mention the digital security risks with getting files infected with a worm or virus, or having your personal information stolen.

Considering its something like $300 million or more annually of lost income to authors who are traditionally published (in the United States.) This is a big issue. Authors generally don’t earn much, so it would be ideal if we could eradicate piracy altogether. But I don’t see that happening, and unless some major technological developments, laws on copyright and e-commerce drastically change, it is going to continue.

I’m unsure how this affects independent authors and writers whom publish exclusively in electronic form (like Amazon KDP and similar) as there is no data available; but it looks to be only popular book titles that are being targeted for piracy.

But anyway, here is the article with some information to help tackle piracy, but keep in mind the laws can change quickly, and in dealing with international IP addresses, you are also grappling with both international and their local laws. Today, most pirates use fake accounts, and it is nothing for them to close them down and open another. But we have to keep fighting for the right to keep our own income and intellectual property.

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You’d be amazed at how many websites have pirated or claim to have pirated your book.

There it is…sitting there, being given away for free.

All those sales…lost.

Worse yet, most of these sites have no contact information and probably aren’t even located in your country.

So, how do you protect yourself against these pirates and protect your rights?

In this article, I want to show you the legal, safe, and extra awesome way that anyone can regain their book from these pirates with some cunning tactics that only the most advanced computer nerds know how to employ.

Don’t worry, this will be simple…even for the most tech-challenged readers.

In This Article, You’ll Learn:

  • When to act and when to leave it alone
  • The steps to get the pirates to release your book
  • How to get Google to slap them around
  • And more…

BEFORE YOU GET JUSTICE…

Before you go all Klingon and serve that dish cold, I’m going to give a recommendation that SHOULD apply to 99% of you: If you find out someone is offering your book for free on their website, you should just leave it alone and move on.

Why?

  1. Most of the time, they don’t actually have your book.They scraped your title off Amazon – seeing that it was popular or potentially popular – and are only lying saying the book is available in their archives.  This is for one of two reasons.  Either:
  2. They want the searcher to pay their subscription in order to get the “free” books
  3. They will “send you the book” but it will actually be a virus.

So, in the end, you’re actually safer if you don’t look for these pirates.

  1. The amount of work it will take to get your book removed is usually not worth it.That’s not a knock against you or your book, but the number of sales that you would lose because of that book is probably so negligible that you shouldn’t even waste your time with it.  Most people who go looking for free books probably aren’t the type that would actually pay for one.  So you really aren’t losing any money.

Also, it’s important to note that sometimes ebook piracy can be a good thing.  As my good friend Tim Grahl shows, it can actually help you out.

But I get it.  It’s just the sheer fact that someone is either lying to people or conning them out of money, and using your book to do it.  You’re out for justice!

ARRRRR! Finally…a way to deal with ebook piracy #Ebooks

Well if that is the case, or your book is outside of reasons #1 and #2 above, then below are the steps you should take in order to get it removed or hurt their website, without getting a lawyer involved.

STEP 1. CONTACT THE WRITER/OWNER/EDITOR

Probably the most obvious of steps, yet often overlooked and more effective than you’d think with these cheap book thieves.

Why?

Because they are probably not making much money off of your book specifically, so instead of endangering their website/business (for fear that you are savvy with the ways of the Internet force and have read this article), they’ll acquiesce to your request and remove the one single page.

But what if they don’t have a contact page or way for you to contact them?

That’s okay because we’re going to use Whois to find out all we need to know about this website.

NOTE: For this, I’m going to use a pretty cool fiction website made by my good friend, Shaunta Grimes, called What Is A Plot.  How good of a friend?  Well, let’s just say I photo-bombed her Huffington Post picture.  But rest assured, she is not a pirate.

To do this, navigate to http://www.whois.com/whois/ and type in the pirate website’s domain name.

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Whois is awesome because it not only lists their personal contact information (unless they paid for privacy), but also lists where their website’s domain is registered, who their hosting service is, when they bought the domain, and more.

Basically, it’s useful for figuring out information about any website out there.

And that information is going to be important for these next couple steps. So, keep this information handy as we move forward.

Now, scroll down to where “Registrant Email” is listed.

ebook piracy pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

If it says something like “privacy@servername.com” don’t worry.  Just send an email to that address, and it will get redirected to their real email.

Now that you have the owner’s email, craft a well thought out email that details your displeasure in the matter, your request that they remove it, your rights, and the steps below that you WILL take if they don’t comply.

STEP 2. CONTACT THE HOST/DNS PROVIDER

If you’re at this step, then they either didn’t have contact information readily available, didn’t respond, or they said they were disinclined to acquiesce to your request…

So, let’s take it to the next level.  In this step, we will contact the hosting company – the people who house their website on their servers.

What good will that do?

These hosting servers have more to lose than some sneaky ebook pirate. If it is found that they are hosting illegal sites and are not in compliance, they could get shut down and lose their business. Plus, most of them don’t want illegal activity on their servers.

But how do we find out who their hosting service is?

Simple!  We go back to Whois Lookup.

Now, to find out who their hosting service is, you want to scroll down in Whois until you see “Name Servers.”

ebook piracy pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

These servers usually look like “ns1.somehostingcompany.com.”  In the example above, it is Bluehost.com.

In this case, you’d want to go to “somehostingcompany.com” and look for a “Contact Us” form or an “Abuse” form and file your complaint there.

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When you contact them, be sure to use your best legalese and state the following:

  1. The violations occurred by the website owner
  2. Specific URL you want to be taken down with a “fix it or else” type statement
  3. Inform that you tried contacting the owner of the site directly but they were unresponsive
  4. Your next step will be to file a DMCA (more on this later)

STEP 3. CONTACT THE REGISTRAR

Many of the scourge of the Internet actually have their own hosting service (you can basically turn any old computer into a web server), so sometimes trying to contact their “hosting service” will do no good.

But that’s okay.  We can kick it up a notch because even if they have their own hosting, they CAN’T have their own Registrar.

For this, we again look at the Whois info and locate their “Registrar Abuse Contact Email” and/or “Registrar Abuse Contact Phone.”

ebook piracy pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

If a phone number is available, it’s best to pick up the phone and contact the Registrar with your complaint.  Since its a copyright infringement, you have a decent shot at getting the information removed pronto.

If for some reason, you don’t get through to them on the phone or no phone number is listed, then send an email to the Registrar Abuse Contact Email with the compiled information and close your email with the statement “My next step is to follow through with a DMCA request since you are dealing with stolen content.”

That ought to get ‘em!

STEP 4. ENTER THE DMCA DRAGON

If nothing has happened yet, then it is time to roll up your sleeves and slap them around for real. In this case, a dish served cold with a side of DMCA.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is supposed to protect the owners of content from copyright infringement on the web. It’s basically a formal action.

So, why not just start with this?  Because DMCAs are supposed to be the last resort.  It’s the “I’ve tried everything and they didn’t listen so here comes the boom” move.

This is how you can take down the Pirates who steal your #book, Matey! #WritersLife

Most of the hosting services and registrars have a specific page for submitting a DMCA.  The best way to find this is to do a Google search with the “Name of the Company” + “DMCA”.

Here is an example of Host Gator’s DMCA page.

If the company you’re looking for doesn’t have a DMCA, then you’ll need to create your own and send it to them or their legal department. You can also access the Copyright.gov website list of companies and hit them there.

When filling out a formal copyright claim, you’ll need to list some of the following:

  1. Your full name and contact information
  2. Exactly who you are filing this DMCA against (website owner, host, registrant, etc. – you need to do a separate one for each)
  3. Take a screenshot of the blatant abuse
  4. Provide proof that you attempted to contact the violator
  5. Sign it yourself (electronic signatures are sufficient)
  6. State that you are complaining in “good faith”
  7. State that “under penalty of perjury, the information contained in the notification is accurate”
  8. State that you have the right to submit this DMCA because you are the copyright owner or the owner’s agent.

Here you can find a couple of templates to use:

DMCA Notification Template
DMCA Template from our dear friends at Scribd

Also, to help this step move in a better way, be sure to check out my article on Book Copyright pages and what to put in them. Having a strong copyright page will go a long way to helping to bolster your argument.  Also, there are extra steps you can take in order to formally copyright your book other than just publishing as well.

STEP 5. THE FINAL TAKEDOWN WITH A GOOGLE SLAP!

Hopefully, by now, you’ve made some progress with all of this.  But here’s the thing…even though the website finally complied, their cache might be slow to change.  Therefore, to get the Internet and Google to stop showing the page, you need to tell Google to remove the URL.

To do this, just click on Google’s URL request, put in the URL you want Google to stop acknowledging exists on the Internet, and click “request removal.”

Then Google will get to work ASAP so no one in the near future will stumble upon it.

Any SEOers reading this know what the above image references…haha.  Panda Update, anyone?

WHAT NOW

Again, I hope you didn’t go through all of that to save a couple of sales.  But if you did or needed to, then kudos to you and may the Copyright force be with you.  The above steps have only worked 2 out the 3 times I’ve enacted them.  The third?  Well, not really sure what happened there, but the owners were above average in covering their trail.

So, you no longer need to feel helpless if your book is being stolen or your content is being used without your consent.

You’ve got the steps and the means in order to exact justice.  Now, it’s up to you to decide if all of that is worth your time. Personally, I’d rather get back to writing.

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Have you been personally affected by piracy? Did they steal your novel, or simply use it as a lure to attract traffic, charge money, or steal personal information?

I’m seeing pirates getting more and more imaginative, setting up profiles on goodreads.com, contacting consumers directly through email gleaned from Amazon reviews… Keep reporting, it’s up to us to police our own industry!

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Has working from home made you lazy, or did you flourish with productivity?

May 2020 Wrap-up.

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As a writer this whole self-isolation thing did not impact me so much. But it desolated my house mate who lost his job and any prospect of future employment until the travel ban is lifted. (Most of his work is located interstate.) I had to help him apply for early access to some of his superannuation and sign up for unemployment benefits to get him through the interim. Though the process is just filling in forms online, it takes a knock to your stress levels and pride. Poor buggar. Curse you Covid-19!

So I can’t complain about the fact that my creativity plummeted because having an extra human around barging in constantly with questions or statements like “Have you seen the peanut butter?” or “I’m going to mow the lawn” and “Have you seen this funny Youtube clip?” Another irritating habit is him blurting out a conversation he’s obviously been having in his head – but he verbalizes it half-way through and expects me to understand what he is talking about. Not once in any of his activities does he think that me sitting at the computer with Word documents open typing away furiously is any form of work.

May 2020 Reading Wrap up 02 by Casey Carlisle

I want to tear off one of his limbs and bludgeon him to death with it when he responds to my sighs and complaints with “You work from home, you can do that anytime.” Seriously mate, you’re walking a thin line. My time is still valuable. I work like I would any other job, except my office is located in the house. You don’t see me tapping on your window at your job site saying “I’m just going to take a break, make a cup of coffee and have a poo.” It’s inane right? It could be really annoying if I did that fifty times a day at inconsistent intervals. And if you were wearing headphones so you couldn’t hear me, I’d tap your shoulder incessantly to break your concentration and get your attention with another snippet of irrelevant information; that wouldn’t start to send your blood pressure rising, would it?

So I shouldn’t complain, I still have a form of income, I can still get to work, only now I have a new person in the office verbalizing every thought like he has Tourette’s.

But I managed to plow into my blog and have started getting into the month ahead, freeing up more time in June for me to get some more chapters written on my WIP (sans house mate verbal diarrhea.) May hasn’t been the month to get a lot progress on writing my novel, but I have been writing non-stop on some paid work and scheduling posts. Also, after a mammoth month reading in April of 20 books, I was content to complete a smaller number of books in May totaling 9, and I’m happy with my progress. Still no buying of new books, and knocking that ridiculously high number of novels down on my TBR shelf/box/stack to 420. (Don’t judge me I’m doing a good enough job myself.)

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With all the whining I did in the opening of this post, I have to say having my house mate home has it’s good points. He’s tending to our property with some gardening and tree maintenance, getting those odd jobs done on the house that have been waiting for close to a year, the house gets cleaned more regularly, the washing is magically done, so too are meals, delivered to my desk without asking. And do I help him in the extra free time all this chore-doing has created… urm, well, actually I end up reading books. So while I’ve been more productive in some areas, it’s made me lazy in others. But it all balances out in the end? Right? Am I justifying my indulgence as recompense of the many abovementioned work interruptions?

 

How has this lockdown affected you? Did you take advantage to get some writing or reading done?

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Women in Writing – has the pay scale equalised with their male counterparts?

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I was looking into the gender pay gap, chiefly in writing as a career, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Keep in mind that writing can include journalism, copywriting and marketing, book writing, technical writing, and the list goes on…

Drawing on general statistics from governing bodies and research biometrics we can conclude that writing does not suffer the gender pay gap as much as other pursuits. In general the figures show female writers are looking at 97-99 percent of a male counterpart’s wage. Though more media focused professions tend to see a larger gap, close to 80%. A prime example of this is in 2017 when Lisa Wilkinson abruptly departed her position as host of Channel Nine’s Today Show after almost a decade when the network refused to match her pay demands to that equaling her male co-host Karl Stefanovic.  Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/2017/oct/18/australia-gender-pay-gap-why-do-women-still-earn-less-than-men

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Though, when doing research for this article I was gobsmacked at how much of a gender pay gap still exists on a global stage across all sectors of employment today. I could get very emotional about the injustice of it all and go on a rant, but I’m focusing on the facts I’ve gleaned within the writing community because it directly affects me. Publishing seems to be a much more accommodating environment for female careers. But if you want some interesting general facts about the gender pay gap check out this article: https://www.aauw.org/2019/04/02/8-surprising-facts-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

For general take home pay across all industries, I have found typically there is less of a margin of difference for differing sexes wages here in Australia compared to other countries. And it also seems skewed towards industries that are dominated by men, run or managed by men. Like favors like it seems. In industries dominated by female staff we see more of a balance, except in the retail sector where women typically earn more than men for the same job.

For contrast, I canvased over fifty writers that I know who have published 2 or more books in Britain, America, and Australia with an equal representation of genders to get a view if there was a gender pay gap in authors. Covering traditionally published fiction, Non-fiction, and differing genres. There were some interesting findings – but this may not represent the community at large because of the sample size, opportunity, how much independent effort the author undertook to boost sales – there are so many factors that can influence the results, but it’s a nice litmus test into my favoured profession.

Technical writers in non-fiction favor men over women (but I have a feeling this was due to professional qualifications and time in the industry. But that could also mean that men were favoured over women for opportunity and career advancement. It’s such a microcosm of a niche it was hard to get a handle on what the landscape was like.”

Women in Writing has the pay scale equalised Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Women dominated YA and romance fiction and tended to not only get higher signing bonuses, but produced more novels per year on average, thus being seen as a better investment for publishing houses.

Men skewed higher than women in thriller, adventure, and horror genres. This has to do a lot with famous authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and Clive Cussler to name a few, paving inroads and publishing houses wanting to emulate their success.

Science Fiction and contemporary novels came up and even odds. As did historical fiction.

Though when you look as historical non-fiction male authors dominated the field and drew in much larger signing bonuses and sales figures (you know what they say – history was written by old white guys.)

There is an increasing trend in feminist literature that is seeing some great in roads to a completely female dominated genre with great rewards.

Memoirs and Autobiographies were interesting to look at. Ten years ago it was mostly dominated with male writers pocketing huge bonuses, but it seems to be swinging to a more female dominated market. Though they are not getting the kind of bonuses the men saw in the past, but that has more to do with economics and the industry that it does gender and opportunity.

Children and middle grade books were also dominated with women and their income was actually higher than those offered to their male counterparts.

I think overall the trend I see is in more serious and factual based writing we see men getting the professional notoriety and opportunity – and that also being reflected in their offers and income streams. Whereas women dominate in the creative, touchy-feeling genres, or genres reaching into childhood and female literature.

Sarah Connell and Julia Flanders

The industry is also still going through even more change with profiles like Ursula LeGuin and J.K. Rowling getting accolades for their body of work and many contemporary female authors having their novels optioned for film and television, we are seeing the gender pay gap getting mostly obliterated, and more opportunities being afforded to women. As to opportunity for people of colour and those who don’t conform to gender norms, to those of a variety or sexualities. It’s great to see such diversity and equal opportunity spreading throughout the industry – and have that reflected in the amount we get paid for our craft.

I wish I could discuss specifics and figures, but a key part of getting information for this article was keeping personal financial information private. Fair enough. I’m just greatful for the opportunity.

There was also a skew in the results with certain publishing houses. Some were more generous in their signing bonuses than others. But in some of the cases where I was privy to a lot of information, I can see everyone was judged on their own individual merit and what they could bring to the table in the arrangement. So while the overall figures still show the men being offered larger signing bonuses in certain categories and as the bigger earners overall, there was a balance for writers across the board. I think the industry will balance out even more in the near future as we see staffing changes and old attitudes pushed out of the industry.

The take home summary of my research shows that even though the gender pay gap in writing and publishing is one of the smallest in comparison to other industries, there is still a lot of work and attention needed to bring it to an even, open opportunity landscape. It’s great that we can even have these types of discussions. I know if this topic was brought up when I first started writing I would have been tsk-tsked out of the room. For me personally when I applied for jobs, or put in a submission for work, my worth would also include my appearance. If I was too attractive, I couldn’t also be intelligent. If my qualifications exceeded those of the interviewer, I was seen as a threat. Such a delicate rope we walk in the social-political climate. But with more ‘woke’ attitudes, more exposure and open discussions on equality, and deconstructing discrimination we are seeing a more accepting, global movement for equality. And that gives me hope for the future… and for my writing career.

 

What have been your experiences in the gender pay gap? Do you know of any writing-centric experiences or statistics that can add to this topic? I’m interested to build a better snapshot of opportunity and remuneration afforded women writers.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

March through April self-isolation = staycation and inspiration

When Roadblocks Prevent The Way Of Your Passion Pic 01 by Casey Carlilse

A sort-of monthly and quarterly wrap-up… let’s just call it an update with this crazy moment of viral outbreak.

My quarterly goals were mostly thrown out the window for the start of 2020 as we all know the world has been in a tailspin over the treat of a nasty virus – and much of my list involved being more physically present in social gatherings and professional appointments. *shrug*

There are many points in my writing career that I feel isolated and like a caged animal. Usually the remedy would be a short break away, a holiday, an outing, some form of social interaction or inspiration. But after nearly a month of being ill followed by social isolation from Covid-19 outbreak, those activities weren’t really feasible. So I decided to mix it up. Stop everything. Put a nix on all my daily tasks for the month of April and do other things I love.

That mostly translated to reading. Which is fantastic for my TBR. I had this great idea to start listing the number of books on my TBR shelf. (*cough* bookcase and storage boxes *cough*) I was astounded when I finally calculated all of the fiction novels waiting to be read… it was 453! Totally embarrassing… it’s going to take me years to catch up and not have an overwhelming number of titles waiting for attention. I put it down to moving – having volumes hidden away in boxes for over 3 years. Even though I have a self-imposed book buying ban, I didn’t feel like I was making that much of a dent in the number of tomes waiting for me to read. I didn’t realise how much underlying frustration I had over this. Add to that my housemate dropping comments about how many books I own, and I started to question the collection myself. But March/April has made me feel much better. I’ve accomplished a 23 book dent in the TBR. (April being my best reading month to date – I broke my record for most novel read in a calendar month. It felt great to achieve something even though I was on a staycation 😉 )

Books read in Mar Apr 2020 by Casey Carlisle

Books read in Mar Apr 2020

During this break I also got to restore/renovate some old bookshelves giving me that giddy feeling of being able to put my lovely hard and paperbacks on display.

April also saw me being able to shower my furbabies with even more love, learning more pet grooming skills (thanks Youtube!) and buying a few key pieces of professional grooming accouterments.

Ballie, my editor by Casey Carlisle  Buster strikes a pose 02 by Casey Carlisle

Other creative endeavors like cooking, gardening, and sewing – and planning out ideas for future fabric related projects filled my head. I always need some sort of artistic outlet, and usually that is my writing, but it was nice to take a month off and see it explode in different mediums. So while I was in social isolation, I was still able to recharge the batteries and get me back on track to becoming more productive and passionate.

Heck, I even managed to squeeze in finishing off an online marketing course.

With many forced to stay home during this period, I actually got to catch up a lot more with my friends than in many, many years.

So this scary thing, threatening to make us sick, steal our loved ones, and possibly cripple businesses and take away peoples livelihoods has made me look at the upside and make my own opportunity to reconnect, revive, and rest.

Here’s hoping you can get some positiveness out of this epidemic too.

It’s going to be back to normal for May and I’m looking forward to getting some vigorous writing done.

 

How has this lockdown affected you? Did you take advantage to get some writing or reading done?

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Transgender and intersex protagonists – are they represented in the mainstream literature yet?

Trans and Intersex representation in mainstream literature Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Is there still a lot of discrimination or is it just fear and dysphoria? Or is a thing of the past?

I had this idea a couple of years back after beginning to read more diversely, and with the latest coming out and worldwide publicity around Nikkietutorials, curiosity of how trans and intersex protagonists are represented in mainstream literature is back in the forefront of my mind. We even have what I think is the final season of ‘I Am Jazz’ which has just started airing and a trans character in ‘Supergirl.’ I also loved the representation in shows like ‘Pose’ and ‘The Fosters.’ Just to mention a few – so there is definitely an accepting and welcome addition of transgender and intersex representation in the mainstream media – but I wanted to explore it further and take a look at the publishing industry (and my own personal reading habits.)

Trans and Intersex representation in mainstream literature Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There is also the concept of ‘own voices’ books, written by transgender and intersex authors – which can be a more authentic representation of their own community and experience. I’ve read novels with leading characters who identify as transgender or intersex penned by cis authors, and I must admit it’s very hit or miss with how I enjoy the narrative. Half the time they are a tiny bit offensive or dysphoric without meaning to be. It says more about the authors’ education about this niche community that it does about someone who has actually lived through the experience. And thus, the novel reads like its demographic is skewed towards enlightening cis gendered readers. Deep discussions with members of the LGBTQIA+ community always praise the efforts and inclusion on the surface, but if you have a deep discussion with these readers, the details are often off-base.

If you search for the terms transgender or intersex when looking for your next read you will typically get a list of non-fiction titles. Socio-political or psychological focused papers, autobiographies, and erotica. Where are all the great stories that just happen to have a transgender or intersex protagonists that are fiction which are not revolved around coming out, transition, or sexual intimacy? Believe me, they are out there, you just have to really look. The only place I was able to find a decent collection of current releases are from blogs or Listopia on Goodreads. And if you compare the lists to general fiction current releases… the average transgender and intersex list sits at 100 books, the average general fiction list in anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000. Which boils down to a 4-10% representation on the current market. Which is an interesting figure because that is what psychological journals are quoting as the percentage of people identifying as transgender or intersex in the real world as a general benchmark – whether that is accurate or not today is a different debate. But it felt like a significant correlation. Looking through my own library (which is skewed by the availability of literature and available funds to purchase books) sits at approx. 5% (up from 4% in 2018) out of a 22% share of LGBTQIA+ titles.

I am definitely thankful for the changes in attitude to transgender and intersex characters. Twenty years ago it was rare to read a novel with their representation, and if they were present, they were usually treated as evil, a freak, a sex worker, or the comic relief. The ending of their storylines usually culminated in tragedy too. It was dehumanizing. The trend is definitely skewing towards greater representation, more realistic, well-rounded characters, and positively ending storylines.

I do have to say that there is a great deal of acceptance out there. And it warms my heart. People are people. Love is love. We are seeing that reflected in representation in our publishing material, film and television, and the wider community in general. Yes, there are still opposing voices, but as loud as they get, their manifesto is getting tossed out the window in favor of a more inclusive and accepting environment. And something makes it feel like we are heading for that Star Trek future.

So what does it all mean? I think is shows how society’s attitudes are changing, how that change is reflected through representation in art and culture, books and movies. It’s allowed for the discussion and importance of own voices literature. It is also opening doors for other minority groups into inclusivity. It leaves me feeling positive for how the human races collective consciousness is evolving, and how we are getting a wide array of poignant reading experiences.

Trans and Intersex representation in mainstream literature Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

What was the last book you read with a transgender or intersex protagonist? Can you add to these titles of new and upcoming books with transgender/intersex protagonists?

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The importance of scheduling your writing time.

The importance of scheduling your writing time Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

You want to finally write that novel? Here’s a great tip that has never failed me. I’ve spoken to many aspiring authors and published authors, and inevitably the discussion comes around to how do you write? The getting-stuff-done part, not the process.

Basically it has come down to a very simple rule for me (and nearly everyone I canvased for this article) – you need to make a dedicated window of time each day/week for your writing. I did this while I was working full-time, and when I started writing from home full-time.

The importance of scheduling your writing time Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI have a rule of absolutely no interruptions for me to get in the zone and write. Even if the words aren’t flowing so well, I have a number of techniques to coax the prose. So writer’s block isn’t a thing for me. I have many tools to keep me writing, and multiple projects to jump to if needed. The biggest hurdle is having time to write.

No running chores, no telephone conversations, no social media, just a comfortable place to sit and get the ideas formed into sentences and on to the page.

At the moment I dedicate the minimum of an hour a day. I set a timer. And beware my demon snarling wrath if you impede on my creative time.

Usually I will write longer than this self-imposed minimum, but I found setting the bar too high stresses me out, leaves me feeling like I’m falling behind. It also allows me to plan my day, whether I have appointments, chores, or other life stuff to do; knowing I get at least an hour of dedicated writing time puts my anxiety in a box, buried deep in a dark hole, never to raise its bothersome head again.

Now this 1 hour minimum takes many forms in its delivery: I could be in my office, completely quiet; I could be in my pj’s lounging on the couch, the dog asleep on me feet; I could be at the library, noise-cancelling earbuds in playing chill-out tunes; maybe at the University library feeling studious amongst all those people filling their brains with knowledge; or even at a café where I can indulge in the atmosphere and the occasional pastry. Heck, I’ve even written on a blanket in the rainforest to the soundtrack of birds chirping, or under the shade of palm trees at the beach. Whatever is working for me at the time. I need to mix it up so I don’t feel complacent or stale. And as long as I get in a minimum of an hour a day to write.

The importance of scheduling your writing time Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Depending on your process, and your situation, you’ll have to adapt this concept to work for you. I know authors who write 10 hours a day in silence (in a stylishly converted shed); some 4-5 hours in a bustling coffee shop; I know a mom who has 1 hour of quiet time from her four children, locks herself away in the attic/office to get stuff done while her husband takes his turn of the child-rearing business. Heck, when I was working in the city and had an hours commute either way, I’d write while listening to music – that meant 2 hours a day to scribble out a narrative. Score!

Work out a reasonable goal for you, be it daily or weekly, and stick to it. Maybe you only write for a few hours on the weekend? You might feel the flow just before bed and spend some time before calling it a day?

It’s all about commitment and perseverance because writing a novel is a big, long-term project. There’s writing the thing, re-writing the thing, editing the thing, maybe doing all those things several times over, and getting the thing published. So creating a regular habit around your writing can only assist you tremendously in your journey.

Get to it fellow scribes.

 

Do you have any writing rituals that help keep you on track and motivated? I’d love to hear what tricks and tips you use.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jan – Mar 2020 Quarterly Goals

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I’m attempting the quarterly goals thing again this year, (inspired by Jenna Moreci – check out her YouTube video here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67VbahiISDo) it helped increase my productivity in 2019 – even if I was a bit lazy in posting my updates… well, posting in general. I think after doing too much of the same thing for five years now, it was feeling stale. So, I’m trying to mix it up a bit, do a slight facelift and hopefully breathe some enthusiasm back into my online activity.

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleBook worm:

I was surprised once I posted my Goodreads challenge earlier that there were no autobiographies, memoirs, or non-fiction titles; so I plan on getting back to including some of these in 2020. Again variety is the spice of life – no wonder my reading felt somewhat lacklustre.

I shall also be including some text books and reference material: mainly for professional development and feeding a curious mind.

I am also hoping to increase the number of diversity reads and novels written by Australian authors. Mainly because they are the type of books I enjoy the most, and help support my local economy,

And lastly I made little to no progress in finishing series I started years ago – got to get that TBR down.

Plus I’m still bargaining with myself that I can only buy less than half of the number of books that I read. It was torture doing this in 2019, but if forced me to actually read some of the books on my shelves. Consequently my wish list has grown exponentially, but my bank balance is greatful.

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleScribe and scribble:

2019 has been one of the better years for writing in a long time, and I plan to continue this trend in 2020. I want to at the very least get another four chapters written on my WIP. (My goal is to complete the first draft this quarter, but 4 chapters is more realistic.)

 

PrintLevelling Up:

I’m looking to add a few more feathers in my cap this year. I’m part way through a digital marketing course and want to finish it by the end of March. I also want to start something new and I’m eye off SkillShare… has anyone taken any courses from this platform? Has it provided you with practical skills that have translated in furthering your professional career?

 

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleSocial Butterfly:

Being a writer, and living in a remote location I sometimes feel like a hermit. So this quarter I want to attend at least one writer event, and one social event. I know I haven’t set the bar very high, but I’m starting slow. Plus its a guaranteed success… right?

 

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleGet creative:

I was very lazy last year and have several unfinished projects… so I want to finish something. Sew a garment, restore some furniture, renovate a room. Just one thing other than writing.

 

Fist Full of MoneyCash grab:

There is so much stuff stored around this house that is never used or no longer needed. And a good percentage of it is brand new. So I’m challenging myself to start listing items for sale. Probably on eBay. Reduce the clutter and provide a little extra pocket money.

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 08 by Casey CarlisleWork that body:

I started a new fitness regimen halfway through last year and had a small amount of success, so I’m taking it up a notch this quarter and want to start seeing some bigger results. I like how healthier eating and fitness has kept my mind alert… now I want my waistline to shrink!

Quarterly Goals 2020 Pic 09 by Casey CarlisleSo professional:

I also want to start expanding my digital platform. I’ve had ideas for years now but still to implement any… this quarter I plan to cease the day!

 

If I can achieve at least half I deem it a success and do a happy dance, if not I’ll have the shame of announcing it publicly and everyone will know what a lazy human being I’ve become. See you in three months for a recap and a new list of goals.

Wish me luck!! I’m also sending out creative vibes and motivation to help you reach your 2020 goals.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Books I read in 2019

Here are some goodreads stats and book covers of everything I read over the course of last year…

Casey Carlisle Books Read in 2019

…and if I had to pick my favorite read for last year it would have to be ‘Contagion‘ by Erin Bowman.

What was your most enjoyable read from 2019? I’d love some great recommendations.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Happy New Year everyone!

Happy New Year for 2020 Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve been loving all the recaps and top 10 lists you all have been posting, I can really feel the vibe of a fresh start for 2020.

2019 was heads down bum up – stuck at a desk or glued to a screen; so for these holidays I wanted to reduce my time on devices and be present. The great thing about this is I feel like I’ve had a break, relaxed and recharged, and really enjoyed my time with friends and family. The flip side to this is that nearly everyone else I keep in contact with is through social media… and well, sorry if I went radio silent. But you were all in my heart and thoughts.

I did manage to check my email a few times, and snuck a peek at a number things in the allotted 30 mins every other day I gave myself to keep in touch (I’m not a complete philistine) and of notable mention the things that brought me joy have been:  the top reading/new release lists from https://mousaibooks.com/, https://kingdombookblog.wordpress.com/, https://doddyaboutbooks.com/, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWFZF_Twf2E&t=0s.

Happy New Year for 2020 Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Plus some holiday fun with makeup https://www.youtube.com/user/NikkieTutorials over Nikkie’s Winter Wonder Week and https://www.youtube.com/user/GlamLifeGuru. Who can’t go past a bit of joosh?

Happy New Year for 2020 Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Plus binge watching Lost in Space Season 2 and Daybreak.

Happy New Year for 2020 Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

I feel like posting a Top 10 List of my own is a bit redundant at this point, so that’s why I wanted to include a list of blogs and vlogs that gave me a bit of joy over the break.

Apart from reading what kept you entertained over the holidays – any recommendation you want to share?

Currently I’m toying with the idea of a format change up for my blog. It’s been five years of the same thing and a new tweak sounds like fun… so keep an eye out for a fresh look to the regular content. I also want to be a bit braver with my content. Fear has stopped me from adventuring into different aspects in social media. I’m starting to slip into that old mindset from before I got sick, and letting it restrict my goals and growth. I’m taking opportunity of the new year to break free and start experimenting with my online life more. It may take a month or two to get into the swing of things, but I hope breathe some new life into this blog, my creativity, and spark inspiration for fellow writers out there.

So, a big smiling hug to all and welcome to 2020. May the coming year be full of love, happiness, abundance, creativity and inspiration.

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