I Feel Utterly Betrayed!

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In the last few days I was publically subjected to an accusation of plagiarism online because of the publishing of a short story I had written. The owner of the site in question where it occurred has turned out to be nothing more than a ‘fair weather friend’.

Far from stopping the whole sorry affair before it had even begun, the accusation was allowed to stand. Instead of jumping in to protect their site’s No:1 contributor – myself, the site owner chose to do nothing! Had they at least ensured their site had comment approval, allowing either them or the contributor to decide whether or not a new comment was, at the very least inflammatory, or in this case downright slanderous, the accusation would not have appeared.

To say that I feel hurt, betrayed, let down and angered would be a major understatement. For several years I have enjoyed a working relationship with the site in question. It would be true to say that up until a few days ago I thought the site owner was an honorable human being. It appears I was grossly mistaken.

Despite my asking them to do the decent thing, the site owner has done and said nothing of consequence. Instead they chose to bury their head in the sand. Should they read this, I hope that their conscience is bothering them right now. I know that if I was the owner of the site, mine certainly would be. But then again if I was responsible for the site, I would not have allowed the incident to even get off the ground in the first place.

While its true that most online relationships are usually good ones, sadly some are not. Do I feel utterly betrayed?

Sadly yes…

Professional Envy

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It has to be said that in the current world of the written word, occasionally good old fashioned green eyed envy rears its ugly head. Along with envy comes jealousy and professional hatred, combined with personal loathing for you when your books sell in their thousands each year. In particular this usually applies to an ‘Indie’ after he or she parted company with his or her former publisher, editor or agent, to strike out on their own. A few of the aforementioned simply cannot stomach the thought that you have succeeded without them.

It is a fact that in the world of the written word, there is still a hell of a lot of professional snobbery. How many independent writers of your acquaintance have ever received a begrudging “well done” from their former trad or small press publishers? I’m betting that its next to none.

Instead, what the vast majority of us are guaranteed to receive from them is nothing but  unmitigated harsh criticism and scorn. Why? Because since parting company with them, we have experienced varying degrees of literary success in the only way that really matters in the end – multiple book sales each month!

Even one or two writers who’s own sales are to all intent and purpose none existent add to the mix usually by adopting a pseudonym to add their bile, invective and scorn in the form of a one star troll review. We have all had them at one time or another.

On behalf of all ‘Indies’ I have only one thing to say to each and every one of you – get over yourselves for goodness sake! When you have a literary success, I will be among the first to congratulate you, not criticize and belittle.

Lastly, E.L James is a classic example of someone who has experienced envy, jealousy, hatred and professional loathing. The simple fact that her first book – Fifty Shades of Grey has achieved success is anathema to a lot of the so-called professionals in the writing game. So what if the original was chock full of errors? Millions of readers didn’t give a damn!

Once mainstream publishing realised that she had written a winner it was already too late. They had their chance and blew it. The point is that her book appeals to millions of readers worldwide. I say good for her!

A link:- http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/04/amazon-kindle-ebook-sales-indie-publishers

Whatever Happened to the Goodreads Sociopaths?

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Yesterday, December 3rd, the crusading anti bullying group Stop The Goodreads Bullies announced that they were closing down in A final Note to Our Readers. This group was specifically set up to fight on the side of all Independent writers who had been targeted mercilessly by the internet sociopaths who descended on Goodreads in numbers from its parent company’s ‘chat rooms’ specifically to target ‘Indies’.

The real problem was that a small number of Goodreads’ actual staff members were part of the whole sorry affair, siding with the in-house bullies against the Indie writers, who Goodreads officially censured if they dared stand up for themselves, often by closing their accounts. Eventually Goodreads were forced into taking action to clean house.

While its true that some of the more rabid bullies have been removed, whether or not all have gone is still uncertain.

What the Indie community is now most concerned about is where did they disappear to?

These days they can no longer hide behind pseudonyms, apart from various forums like Amazon’s infamous ‘chat rooms’. One or two individuals who fit the now classic bullying profile are surfacing on legitimate sites which act as an outlet for Indie articles and short stories.

I got that now familiar pit of the stomach ‘Oh God, not again’ feeling the other day when I was mercilessly attacked on what I thought was a safe site. The individual in question finally showed his true colours by openly accusing me of plagiarism. Another person was quick to side with him by attacking a fellow Indie writer who had decided to support my claim of non plagiarism!

Sadly there are many different individuals in society who, while initially appearing plausible, will eventually not be able to hold back their true selves any longer. The particular one I am speaking of has, since he joined the site, been acid tongued to say the least, not just towards myself, but several of the other contributors on more than one occasion.

The problem is that you could pass someone like this in the street and not be able to distinguish them from the crowd – see the following article for a description of the sociopath and how he or she sets up their targets .

Now, while I am not actually suggesting for one moment that the individual who decided to attack is a sociopath, his actions never the less are the classic ones most Indie writers who have been targeted in the past,  are all to familiar with – bide your time, sucker them in, then strike!

Will I be returning to the site in question? Sadly not in the immediate future. It’s a crying shame really. It is a brilliant forum. Its owner is an absolute sweetheart. But until she introduces a method of comment approval, regrettably I won’t be contributing any more in the immediate future.

Out of respect for her and her site I will not be naming either. Nor will I name my attacker.

No matter whether you are an Indie, or a conventional writer, we all have to put up with the odd pedant from time to time. It’s par for the course. But if like me you are an Indie writer, trust me when I say that the bullies are still out there…

Has George Orwell’s nightmare vision finally become reality?

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To my way of thinking George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare vision of society, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is on the verge of becoming the norm.

Instead of his fictitious character ‘Big Brother’ being in charge, dictating what will happen, whether we like it or not each and every one of us are being controlled by ‘Big Business’ in its many forms, largely thanks to their sycophantic enforcers – our current crop of politicians.

There was a time not too many decades ago when the business community looked after its lifelong workforce by rewarding their loyalty, often working in conjunction with the various Unions to improve the worker’s lot. No longer.

These days what passes for the union movement in many western nations is largely toothless.

At one time there used to be a marked difference between political party’s. Here in the UK, the Tories have always represented the conservative and business minded, while Labour unashamedly represented the ordinary working man and woman. No longer.

Whether we like it or not, in the relentless pursuit of profit at all costs, many branches of big business, in particular the world’s stock markets and major banking groups, now control every aspect of our lives.

How much longer will the workforce put up with being treated abominably? In effect what we now have is capitalism gone mad! What’s the alternative? Is there one?

Here in the UK we currently have a system where to massage the unemployment figures and please the business community, our politicians have introduced a new concept in the labour market called Zero Hours.  It is an employment contract used here which while meeting the terms of the Employment Rights Act of 1996 by providing a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment, does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee, nor does it oblige the employee necessarily to accept the work offered. Although given today’s climate, you would be a fool to turn it down.

The employee is expected to be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He or she only ever receives minimum wages for the number of hours worked.

Zero-hour contracts may suit a tiny minority, but most people in the general working population, including those with mortgages to repay and a family to provide for, run the very real risk of zero money most weeks, thanks to the unpredictable hours and earnings. Is it any wonder that so many people now make use of food banks to feed themselves? I think not.

There is a very real possibility of the use of Zero Hours contracts becoming a tool to reprimand employees for any trifling reason. This raises the issue of how workers can adequately assert their employment rights or maintain decent employment relations.

More and more people are falling under this umbrella these days. While the reduction in unemployment figures may look good on paper, it does nothing for the average man or woman formerly laid off by their previous employer. In effect we have entered an era of slave labour.

Come the next election, I firmly believe that apart from the political headache of Scotland holding a vote to leave the United Kingdom, the current Tory led government will struggle to be re-elected. But what is the alternative to their ‘let them eat cake’ attitude? The Labour party is certainly no longer a viable alternative, being equally as bad as the Tories when it comes to sucking up to big business. That just leaves the wimpish Liberal Democrats or far worse, Nigel Farage’s anti European Union Ukip party.

In my own case, as a pensioner I have to consider whether to feed myself or heat my home during the winter months, thanks to the exorbitant power bills I receive. If you are wondering, I choose to eat.

God help us all…