Monday, March 30, 2009

Gay and visually impaired ... what are you reading, and how?!

It's only very recently that this question has hit me -- and it's hit me like a brick. No, Keegan isn't going blind! But my mother is. Life-long, my mother has been the most major supporter of whatever I wanted to be, do, and write. I'm one of the incredibly lucky ones. My mother was a professional musician with experience of performers from the legitimate stage to what, today, would be called "pub rock." (In her day it wasn't rock, of course, but the popular music of the era.) That breadth of experience makes a person wise, compassionate, tolerant. However your kids grow up, you know that they're bright, savvy, talented, as "normal" as any human being ever is (since there's no such thing as "normal" anyway), and if they're going to work hard, they deserve the best shot at success a person can have.

I had this fantastic lady behind me from Day One. Friends, partners, life partner and so on -- all that came along later, and some friends disappeared as smoothly as they appeared. There's been one constant, however -- yep. Your Mom isn't going to disappear on you. Mine calls herself "Mel's #1 fan," and although she hasn't read everything I've written (a few titles are too hot, too "down and dirty" for a lady of her years and refinement), she's read a hell of a lot of it. The Swordsman, Dangerous Moonlight, Lords of Harbendane, Nocture and Twilight, Tiger, Tiger and so on -- these are among her favorite reads...

Except, she can't read them any longer.

Just after Christmas, she was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma, and right now her specialists are struggling to stop the condition worsening (yes, it's the laser treatment, starting next week). We've gotten her every big magnifying glass and reading light you can name, but the fact is, small type is beyond her.

So naturally (Keegan being far from dumb even now, though I have no doubt a considerable number of brain cells have gone bye-bye), I went back to the software, reset the type in BIG fonts, and hit "print."

Joy. She can read again, so long as the type is up there around the 16 point mark. Problem solved ... I can also download loads of stuff from the web and do the big-type printouts.

But all this got me to thinking: If you're blind and gay, or visually impaired and gay, how many publishers out there are making books available in extra-large type? What are blind gay readers reading?

So I hit the web, and discovered a lot more than I'd imagined. There's a page at Writers' Services, for a start: ... and here is an outtake:

"Anybody who does not require glasses for reading by the age of 40 is a freak. A bit shocking perhaps but it makes the point that eyesight degrades with age for absolutely everybody. The little muscles and membranes in the eye are truly remarkable but they do wear out. Anybody who could design a modern material as durable as the components of the human eye would make a fortune.

So reading and seeing is a problem that everybody will have to deal with. The only question is the age and the severity. A few are blind from birth but a much larger group are not blind but have problems reading text. The ability to read was not, after all, a factor driving our evolution.

There are about 2 million people in UK with sight problems. According to RNIB, ‘another 100 people will start to loose their sight’ each day within the UK. Figures from the American Foundation for the Blind, (ABF) ‘approximately 1.3 million Americans are legally blind’ of which 55,200 are children and a further ‘5.5 million are visually impaired’. The Blind people’s Association of India estimate that there are over a [m]illion people on the sub-continent are blind because of cataracts.

Demographics makes it likely that the problems people have reading are going to increase in spite of medical advances. It is important that publishers address the issue both on the grounds of social exclusion but increasingly for good market motives. In the UK 96 per cent of the books published cannot be accessed by those with sight loss or dyslexia. By 2030 the number of people with sight loss will have doubled, and eight out of ten people say that they would want to continue reading if their sight deteriorated."

I'm sitting here being shocked. Appalled. And I can imagine how much more difficult it must be to be blind or visually impaired, and gay, and wanting desperately to read a good gay book, and not having a damned thing available.

Now, ebooks are starting to make this easier. You can always use a PDF and go up to 200% or whatever you need on the text size. The little palm-top screenreaders will be a right royal pain though -- first, they're bloody damned expensive, and if you're on a budget ... well, I don't have one myself yet, because of the price of the things. And if you're seriously visually impaired, the screen will be displaying about six words at a time. Gak. So, to read an ebook you have to sit at a desk for many, many hours. Again -- gak.

And (fair go, here) you want the same reading comfort that a sighted person would have -- to be able to curl up in a lounge chair with your feet up. Can't do this when you're chained to a desk.

And there isn't a single publisher, not one, which caters to these needs.

Keegan is appalled. Again. Keegan is remembering a 79 year old lady hunched over with a big magnifying glass, trying to plow through The Lords of Harbendane -- and that problem got fixed in about an hour flat, as fast as the printer could run.

Blind, or visually impaired, and gay -- or know someone who is? Tag yourself onto my mailing list and watch your emails, because in the very near future I'm publishing a range of books in large type. I can't speak for other publishers, but I can certainly address this deficiency in the system myself.

The books will be produced by, and will be "the real deal," properly designed and laid out, with text around the average 16 point mark. (If my mother can read it, almost anyone can.)

Let me show you what I'm doing. Here's the first 10pp of The Swordsman as a PDF, as a sample. Download it, guys, and print it out. Find out if it suits you (or your friend, whoever needs the large print) ...

Give me some feedback here. Is this good for your vision? Can you read comfortably? This is what my mother is reading without a problem, but before I go ahead and hit "publish" I'd like to have feedback from a group of people. So -- let me know! Leave comments right here.

Need a little perspective? This is excellent:

Thanks! Stay tuned.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Writer beware: marketing deals? Be very, very cautious

I'm wondering how many other writers reading this blog (and there are about a dozen that I know of ... hi, guys!) received this rather outrageous piece of unsolicited advertising ... you want to call it spam, go ahead and call it spam ... and since they spammed me, I'll consider myself at liberty to paste the whole thing in here, verbatim -- and then talk about it below:

You've published a book. What's next?

The hard part about writing a book should be writing the book. You're not a digital marketing guru - you're an author.

So let AuthorWeb take care of the digital stuff. Here are some of the things we can do for you:
  • Upload your manuscript to Google for Google Book Search
  • Upload your manuscript to Amazon for sale on the Kindle
  • Upload your manuscript to "Smashwords" for all other ebook distribution
  • Make sure you are listed with Bowker's Books in Print program so your book is listed on all e-commerce sites
  • Work with Barnes &'s Small Press division for web (and possible store) distribution
  • Work with your POD service (Lightning Source, Lulu, Xlibris, etc.) to make sure you are getting the value you've paid forList you on author sites such as Filedby

Other services may include:
Enrolling you in AuthorsGlobe and other services, so you can get virtual speaking engagements
Setting up Facebook/MySpace/Twitter accounts so you can jump on that social networking thingSetting up a blog so you can tell the world what you're doing

How do we do this? We've been in this business for 22 years. We've watched it evolve from a print-and-paper world to a digital world - so fast that many authors are left hanging with no support. How do you navigate all the rules and forms? Why is an ISBN essential for selling your book? Once you've got your book listed on Amazon, how do you get the word out so people can buy it?

What we do

Basic Services - $1000 Upload files to Google for Google Book SearchNegotiating author's agreement with GoogleUpload files to Amazon for Kindle ebook sales Get listed (or enhance existing listing) on Amazon/B& for print salesNegotiate the best distribution deal possible for both Amazon and B&NWork with your POD service for any further (independent) distribution - getting all those forms filled outEnhance your listing with Books in PrintEnhance your listing on FiledbyAuthor and other websites

Viral Marketing Services - $1500 Creation of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter pages
Creation of blogSocial networking tutorial, so you can maintain these pages yourself

We have helped authors for 22 years.

Contact us today to learn more about how AuthorWeb can help you.

Exclusive: I've negotiated a special deal with to offer all of you a $10 discount on a premium AvantGuild membership. Members get access to a wealth of professional resources and information, including their "Pitching an Agent" series, health insurance options for freelancers, and discounts on courses and instructional videos. Just make sure to click on this link in order to claim your discounted membership.


Now, I don't appreciate spam any more than the next person does, and the only reason these people are not getting a very annoyed email from me is that they dropped two names that are new to me. Author's Globe and MediaBistro have not yet crossed my path -- and that path has cut swathes all over the Internet. I'd have stumbled over them all on my lonesome sooner or later.

I'll trade: no stinging email from Mel in exchange for two dropped names by them.

The rest of this stuff? I've already done it. YOU've already done it. EVERY author who has the talent and courage to call him/herself a professional has already done it.

The only writers who haven't done this stuff are amateurs, whose books are (sorry guys; it's nothing personal -- it's just unavoidably truth) not yet up to snuff. Amateurs who have several years and another 250,000 words of writing, self-correcting and learning to go before they can work their way into the entry-level of the professional arena. (Notice that the above spiel begins, "You've published a book." A book. One. It had better be the 3rd or 5th or 10th book you've writtenbefore you tried publishing one, because 99.7% of first books are tripe -- this much is fact.)

Almost without exception, first outing writers are not ready to sell copies. They'll get stinking reviews, lose a lot of money, get a lousy reputation as artists, and very likely have the "heart" knocked out of them. They might never write again, even though the latent ability is very probably there inside them.

The only people making money out of this kind of deal are the shrewd manipulators at the controls.

For gods' sake, all genuine writers (even the upper ranks of the wannabe authors) already have blogs, and websites, and Amazon listings, and ISBNs, and a thorough knowledge of Bowker, and Lulu, and ... so on.

You and I -- having been there, done that -- would rate the above list of chores to be worth about $250, max. And some of the items on that list are professional suicide.

I just went through a wringer to get my books OUT of the Google Book Search program, and these jokers are advocating it! They actually recommend a system that would upload 20% of an Agatha Christie novel -- including the END. Get this straight: You want to beat your brains out writing something like Death on the Nile, and then have Google "tell the ending" to everyone who searches on your name or title ... for free?!

Other forms of slow suicide are FaceBook and similar. Chatchatchatchatchatchat... Amateur and wannabe writers, take note and beware: Very soon, you'll be spending the time you ought to be investing in learning your craft, and WRITING, in chatting. You won't be writing; at best you'll be blogging, and at worst you'll be babbling. Writing and studying time goes down the chute, and -- it happens routinely -- you can wind up with carpal tunnel syndrome, with nothing to show for it.

Every pro or semi-pro writer reading this has already filled the above list, and a lot more besides. Personally? I've got that list quadrupled in terms of initiatives I've undertaken. I also have 26 titles on my backlist ... and I still occasionally get "dead days," or days without sales.

Here's a fact you might not like: the average professional writer earns about US$3000 from writing, per annum. Some of us earn a hell of a lot more, and I'm privileged to be among them ... but it didn't happen overnight, or even swiftly. I've been in this game for 25 years.

If you're an aspiring writer, you cannot afford to shell out $2,500 for services you could perform yourself. A day arrives very soon in your career (long before you find a publisher or take the plunge and POD it yourself) when you must commit to what you're doing. LEARN. You'll have to be your own must ruthless editor, your own most ingenious publicist, your own dynamo of a marketing analyst, and your own demon accountant.

The first thing an accountant will tell you is to "plug the leaks: Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves." Writing is your business. If you were a chef, you'd expect to work long, hard hours for nothing in the early days while building up your restaurant. If you didn't want to do this, you'd go work for someone else.

Writing is no different. You'll work for years to gather and hone your skills; then you'll work for months or years writing not one but several books. This is how you become good enough to charge money for your work, have people pay you, call it money well spent, and buy your next book.

My heart aches for aspiring writers who get drawn into deals like the one outlined in the above spam. I wish there were some regulatory body to stop these people, but alas, there isn't. It's down to folks like me -- us -- to speak up.

Uh ... pass it on.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Keegan at --!

Good news from the Mel-o-sphere: you can now buy your Keegans at -- check out the picture, it tells the whole story. Click the image to see it at full size:

At this point, Amazon is still loading the database, and 11 out of the 12 books are visible at The "missing" item is DEATH'S HEAD UNABRIDGED, and it ought to pop up automatically in a day or two.

This is extremely cool! Full marks to Amazon for this one.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mel Keegan March 2009 Newsletter

The newsletter, as dispatched from DreamCraft this morning...

Mel Keegan March 2009 Newsletter
All five NARC books are now available at Amazon!!

Before I tell you all about this wonderous event let me remind you how easy it is to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter.

Just go to Mel's blog
or any of the pages at the Mel Keegan Online site
and check out the sidebars until you see big, friendly newsletter banners with sub and unsub links, no worries. With no further ado... Here's all the goodies in this newsletter:

NARC! Jarrat and Stone! At Amazon!
At last! It's the event many people -- MK included -- had begun to think would never arrive.
We've finally got all of Mel Keegan's NARC books available at Amazon. Death's Head, Equinox, Scorpio, Stopover, and Aphelion. Don't worry as this is NOT the end of Jarrat and Stone though. Mel has several more NARC stories mapped out.

We've been able to do this because CreateSpace is partnered with Amazon, so that every book that goes through them also goes through Amazon. Very Cool. We're thrilled to have finally come to this day.

Not only does each NARC book have its own page at CreateSpace with a push button shopping cart...

Death's Head

But we've also put all the Amazon shopping cart buttons onthe main NARC page:

You'll notice the LuLu shopping cart buttons are still there and still active, no worries.
And of course you can just go to and search onyour favorite author ... Mel Keegan.

Mel Keegan: LEGENDS
Mel's foray into the world of online serial gay fiction is moving along at a brisk pace. Every day there's a new post up at the Legends blog and Book One is close to completion. (Yep, it's a trilogy, with each book ending in a solid punctuation point, so you really do reach a point where you can say, "The End" ... for now.)

Are you interested in a grand Atlantean Saga? Pop on over to:
to find out what you've been missing.

You will probably want to start at the beginning though:

Be ready to download a lot! There's currently 53 episodes online, and they're good, bite-sized chunks of reading each.

Have you checked out DIGITAL KOSMOS lately --?*****************************************
You might remember that MK began to contribute to a new photoblog a few months ago. (Mel has been aprofessional photographer for more years than you might care to remember...) The blog is Digital Kosmos, and it took us all by surprise.

There are currently more than 160 images online -- at one pic per post. How's that for a blog that went online only eight weeks ago?! The images are all astonishing, and many of the most amazing are MK's work.

Here's the url for Mel's photoblog:

Now, it's very true that MK has been working too hard to contribute much to DK lately, but the blog itself is very beautiful, and Mel will be back with rafts of images in the next couple of weeks. So ... enjoy!

You can also "follow" the photo blog and be updated when brilliant new images go online ... which is every day.

A massive thanks to Doctor Mike for keeping DK up and running while things in Keegan Country went berserk. As they calm back down to normality, we'll see more entries from MK and our cover artist, Jade.

Do you like your Kindle? We now have four Mel Keegan novels available for your Amazon Kindle, with more to come soon!

The Lords of Harbendane

Dangerous Moonlight

Fortunes of War


And for users of the popular Mobipocket format, you'll be pleased to know that the Keegans are starting to appear there too. The first title online at Mobi is The Lords of Harbendane ... the other25 MK titles will be going up as 2009 progresses -- they'll also be appearing at Amazon, and later, at Smashwords. (We seem to have upload "issues" with Smashwords, probably due to being outside the US. These issues will be answered, and you'll find us at Smashwords before long.)

Aricia Gavrial at large:
Launching a new Gay Book Shoppe
It's amazing what our resident proofie, AG, is doing -- when't the last time you looked at her two blogs?!

In total, AG has now reviewed (or touched down on)more than 50 books, and there are SIX MK reviews, and THE INTERVIEW.

What's this you say ... an interview with Mel? You bet.This rare item is informative and fun, and you can find it right here:

Here's the book blog itself:

and here is AG's Lords of Harbendane review:

The latest reviews added are for The Lords of Harbendane,The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks, China Mountain Zhang,The Jade Owl ... and lots more.

One of the most impressive developments is Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe, which is an Amazon Store filled with *only* hand-picked titles. Every single book and video on these pages has been added byAG. You'll find Mel Keegan, Josh Lanyon, Alex Beecroft, and more than 150 books and videos -- all gay titles, and all recommended.

Here is it:
Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe,

There's more (there's always more, right?) ...

Way back on January 22, AG's other blog launched. Remember the spiel? "Welcome to Aricia's album of delicious decadence, hot goss and hotter bods, gay goodies, celebs being silly, sweet treats and candy for your senses!"

Have you looked at this blog lately? There are about100 posts online now ... Brad, Orlando, Hugh, Elijah, Viggo, Capn' Jack (both of them!), Philip Morris, Mr. Gyllenhaal, Mr. McGregor, and an amazing collecton of goodies.

In fact, this blog is starting to gallop. It was recently featured on Huffington, and you don't do that without having something great to offer.

Here are some recent posts:

Elijah Wood ... as Iggy Pop?!
Johnny Depp: vampires rock!
To Liam Neeson and family: our deepest sympathies
Twits, nuisances, lawbreakers: where does Twitter draw the line?
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Brangelina to the rescue
David Tennant: what's next?Jack Harkness: immortalized in comics!
Rutger Hauer ... ice up a cold one. Wow!
The Ultimate Movie, starring Depp, Jolie, Smith and Knightly
The boy from Barcelona is back!
Viggo, Orlando -- and that other cute dude from TROY
Star Trek was never like this; or was it? Come to think of it...

No, they're not links. Go over there and browse:
Aricia's Album:

What's next in 2009 for Mel Keegan?
In a word: HELLGATE. Two books (big ones) to go, and both finished by Christmas. That's the plan. The books are quite huge, so you can expect the work to devour the rest of the year. As 2009 progresses,you'll also see the Keegan titles appearing en masse at Kindle, Mobi, eXcessica, and other places, too. "Social networking" is where we're going right now --

In fact, MK now has a Live Journal page:

From that page, you can keep updated with events in the Mel-o-Sphere. Or even add MK to your 'friends' list. Cool stuff, this Live Journal.

Remember, to keep up with everything Keegan, just check out

Monday, March 23, 2009

More on Google ... and it ain't pretty

Gotta see this!
The whole story is here:, but to capture your interest, read on...

Total US ad revenue across all 17 companies grew 9% from 2006 to 2007, from $53 billion to $58 billion

Online ad revenue grew 28%, from $14 billion to $18 billion.

Offline grew only 3%, from $39.5 billion to 40.6 billion. This was helped significantly by the inclusion of affiliate fees and (and global revenue) at CBS, Viacom, and News Corp.

Online ad revenue grew by $4 billion.

Offline ad revenue--in all other media--grew by $1 billion.

So advertising revenue is flowing online at a frantic rate. That's the whole story? No. Let's look at how that online revenue breaks down.

Online ad revenue grew 28%, or $4 billion.

Online ad revenue at Google grew 44%, or $2.7 billion.

[end of snippet...]

...and here's Keegan, trying to get Google bloody Book Search to stop giving away, free and gratis, the ends to a whole range of action-mystery novels, before they kill me!

Fact: writers who somehow get dragged into Google Book Search are providing vitually infinite free web content, so Google can park advertising on it.

Oh ... brother.


Google Book Search is the ultimate ripoff

No kidding, folks. I just discovered that Google has been displaying my entire NARC series -- with a few pages omitted here and there to "legitimize" this ripoff.

These are MYSTERY novels ... and the endings are out there for all to see, for free. Like reading the end of the whodunnit while standing in the store, and then not bothering to buy the novel, because you already know who did it.

This is not fair; it shouldn't even be legal. This is just Google using writers at large (like yours truly) to create virtually unlimited content, so they can park their bloody stupid Adsense commercials next to material from which we're trying to earn a crust.

Then, they can make anything from 50c to $100 per click on the commercials -- while the writers get paid nothing ... and meanwhile, the END of the mystery has been displayed, so who in hell is going to buy it? Writers are going to be in the unemployment lines at this rate -- while the Google bosses get richer and richer on the commerials.

I'm steaming mad. Can't you tell?

Google has turned into a massive rip off merchant. In two words: Google sucks. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is putting it in polite terms.

Now, Keegan is in the middle of a labyrinthine process, trying to get the NARC books OUT of the book search engine. You fill a form, give the ISBNs, and --

Hope for the best. There is no human contact. They could take six months over giving me back my livelihood. There's no court of appeal. They could utterly ignore the take-down request, if they chose to, because there's no one to contact about it.

Hope for the best, right?

I'll post again if/when anything is done to remedy this situation. But I have to say, I consider the whole thing shameful.


UPDATE ON THIS POST. March 28th ...

I'm pleased to be able to report that the situation was remedied much faster than I'd anticipated, and without a big scene at Google. I did indeed receive a personal response, and the books were removed without further ado. Problem solved, and full marks to Google on the way this was handled, once I'd made my case.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Save the Internet ... somebody!

----- Original Message -----
From: 'GetUp'
Sent: Fri Mar 20 12:22
Subject: Your ideas could save the net

Dear Mel,

Yesterday Senator Conroy confirmed1 that websites on the Government's closely guarded 'blacklist' of censored sites had been leaked. News outlets are reporting that if the Government's censorship plan went ahead, a dentist and a tour operator are just two of the many legitimate Australian businesses whose websites would be blocked.

We've reached hundreds of thousands of Australians through our petition and online advertising campaign. Now we're after your creative ideas so that together we reach millions.We're producing a TV ad to turn up the heat, and we want your ideas. Script ideas, images, music, video content or just a good pun - your brainwave could end up on national TV! We'll turn the best ideas into a TV advertising campaign ready to hit the airwaves in April.

Click here to find out

The internet isn't about control, censorship and government interference. It's about collaboration. Working together we can create and broadcast a message the whole nation will see. This is our opportunity to drive a nail into the coffin of internet censorship. Send in your ideas for a hard-hitting TV ad, and we'll use the best ones to create a unique TV ad:

Our online ads, running all over the internet since December, have been seen over 3.5 million times. Internet users are firing up the bloggersphere against the proposed censorship. Now it's time to take our message to TV screens around the nation.

A hard-hitting TV ad delivered now can protect that most important of freedoms - the freedom of the community to stand up and defend rights we perceive to be under threat. Let's harness the power of the internet to create the best ad to defend our rights.

Thanks for being a part of the solution,The GetUp teamPS - If you're in Canberra, come join the 'March in March' against the internet filter: 1pm tomorrow, Saturday March 21, Federation Mall outside Parliament House. Organised by the Digital Liberty Coalition and supported by GetUp!

1'There are some common URLs to those on the ACMA blacklist' stated Senator Conroy, Minister for Communications:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Death by Google

Well, I said I'd be back -- and I'm only a day late. Only. The wifi connection was "up," but there was no opportunity to blog ... as well as nothing significant to blog about. You certainly don't need to know about w.o.r.k, and how it totally screws up your life!

However, I'm back in a lull where I can transform myself from drone-for-hire to optimistic-and-opportunistic-writer. [short pause while Keegan puts on Writer's Hat]

You can probably tell from the relative brevity and occasional invisibility of recent posts, that life ain't what it used to be! The global economic downslide has hit everyone, everywhere -- physical bookstores are closing, publishers ain't publishing too much anymore, and writers are writing less and reading the employment ads more. And Keegan is no different. Middle of '08, we were screaming along and I was hoping to "give up the day job" by about May or June of '09. Not going to happen this year, guys --

In fact, in the immediate future, I'm going to have a good deal less time than usual to spend blogging and chatting: I have to get my priorities hammered out. I need time to write, and to do promotional activities, and blogging, alas, is going to be shuffled waaaaay down the list.

Add to this the fact that Google never did respond to my request to get my page rankings restored for this blog (they zeroed me out five months ago now, and apparently refuse to talk about it), and you have a blog with 350+ posts up, which is struggling to get 10 visitors per day ... which sadly (in fact, it's tragic) means that the time I invest in this blog is a dead loss, speaking in purely "business" terms.

Why did Big G zero out my page rankings? I'm clueless. I've read their rules. I've abided by all of them. I have been critical of their policies regarding Adsense on gay-friendly pages (where publishers are paid out in fractions of a penny per click on ads for which the advertiser paid to Google dollars, plural, for said click). I've begun to suspect there is a human monitor who reviews criticisms of The Goog, and when they recognize criticism, you get ... terminated. I can think of nothing else to account for what's going on.

So --

Time to shuffle my priorities. I need more time to write and do promotional work; I have less "spare" time to simply chat. I can certainly continue to post to this blog about book launches and special deals, and reviews, and webpage rebuilds. Hey, that's "promotion." But -- and I really am sad to be saying this -- I won't be able to write about every subject under the sun, as I have done for nine months!

Eventually, I'll be recutting this blog into two or three new blogs -- but again, this is a very time-consuming project. Put it this way: if we want Legends finished, and Hellgate finished, the time has to come from somewhere!

This is a very sad occasion for me: I've enjoyed blogging, and if there were any way to keep on doing it ... I would.

Blame the global recession if you like. Or blame Google (which is probably far closer to the mark!) for being a righteous, "true faith" prima dona who disapproves of gay-friendly sites and punishes criticism harshly.

To those readers (you know who you are!) who have been following this blog for months now: thank you! It's been a tremendous learning experience for me. Tune in occasionally, because when I get Hellgate finished (Christmas '09??) I'll have the time to cut The World According to Mel into Keegan's World, plus at least one other blog besides. And since those blogs won't have been "Googled to Death," theoretically I should be able to chat again. When you're chatting for a wide daily readership, you can rationalize the time invested as (!) promotional activities.

What's next, for me? Heavy-duty marketing. All titles available at Kindle, Mobi and Smashwords. All titles available as hardcovers. Press releases and review copies going in every direction; and ... so on.

Summer is winding down into fall ... the rain won't be far away now. Cool weather is good for getting some work done, and I do feel inspiration starting to bite. So --

Ciao for a while: I will be back, but not daily!
Thanks for reading, I appreciate it...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blogger at dawn

Keegan here ... signing in and letting the world know I'm still alive -- and this is THE chance I'm going to get for a post today. I'll be lucky to get within reach of a keyboard or internet connection before midnight. Working...

Hence, I have no idea what's going on in the world, or how I'm going at Amazon, etcerea and so forth, so --

This is Keegan's Message to Creaton for today: I'm alive. I didn't get hit by a truck. And like someone said in some movie, "I'll be back."

Bear with me...


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Feeling your mortality ... just a little

If I want to blog at all today, this is my window of opportunity do to it -- and (thank whatever guardian angel looks after these things) the Internet connection is behaving itself.

So, naturally, there's nothing remotely interesting to blog about --

Except this:

"...over the past 50 years more than 75,000 chemicals have been introduced into the environment with -- yes count them -- 300 synthetic chemicals now found in the bodies of almost every American man, woman, child and even newborn.

That little gem is from a story, "The Dirty Word in Clean," which is running on Huffington ... and I challenge you to read the whole thing. Your blood will run cold.

Do you ever get days when you feel barely human? When you're sure you're turning green and moldy, and maybe growing a second head or a third leg? There you go. Now you know why.

I've been something of a "fresh air fascist" since I watched my father die of lung cancer. It's the kind of experience that turns your life around. At one time, I had my father, a grandmother and two aunts dying of cancer, all at the same time; then my cousin (only three months older than me -- and this was 10 or 12 years ago, so said cousin was still only about 40) had a series of strokes resulting in paralysis and wheelchair dependency. I guess I became super-sensitive to the crap we live among, what we put into our bodies by just breathing ...

In your 20s and 30s, you know for a fact, you're indestructible. I certainly was. I lost my immortality at about the age of 43 or 44. I don't know quite how it happened, but one day I woke up and realized, hey, time is catching me up. I might not be immortal after all. To misquote the commercial, "well, shoot, what a feeling."

Today, as I run off in the direction of work, I leave you with this parting shot from that feature on Huffington: "The Soap and Detergent Association is a one-hundred plus member trade association representing the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market and -- oops -- it seems that they kinda' forgot to inform their brand loyal customers that their products might be killing them." Go read the whole story. I dare you.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday morning blues (and greens)

Regular readers couldn't have failed to notice ... no post yesterday. For the first time ever. I just spoiled my perfect record of posting every day since June 20th '08 ... well, rats. I had an extremely narrow "window of opportunity" through which to launch a blog post, and when it came around the wifi connection was jacking around. No Internet connection.

It's not till your connection goes down that you realize the extent to which we have become Internet dependent these days. No connection?? Count three, two, one, and we're ready to spit the dummy. I certainly was. No blog post? [screaming sound issuing from general Adelaide area]

Not that there was actually anything much worth blogging about yesterday -- but it's the principle of the thing.

Today, however, there's something quite nice to report: another title is up at Kindle, and also The Lords of Harbendane has been unstuck. So there are now four Kindle titles:

The next titles in the Kindle Store will be The Swordsman, Aquamarine, Twilight ... and then, the big news.

Next week we'll be having something of a launch, because the whole NARC series will be hitting Amazon, all of a piece. Now ... believe it or not, guys, they're actually there now, but to find them you'd have to go to Amazon and search on Mel Keegan. Next week, we'll be having a full-on launch, including a new webpage, a newsletter, a press release, and so on.

But for regular readers ... well, check this out, folks:

That's pretty cool. Right after we launch the paperback range, we'll organize the Kindle copies -- and Mobipocket, too.

So it's going to be busy in the next week or so.

Legends is coming along nicely, with getting close to 50 "episodes" online, and I have to admit that lately it's been getting some very nice traffic, with about 35-40% of visitors coming back to read the whole thing. The only thing that surprises and confounds me is that financial support in the way of Google patronage (those pesky swatches of text that you can never get away from, where the publisher gets about a dime when someone, somewhere, clicks one), Amazon shopping, and Paypal $1 donations, is ... weak. It takes (get this) 3,000 page impressions to get a single click on a Google ad, or a donation; and then Ma Goog pays in copper coins for said click.

Anyway -- the experiment continues, but for writers out there who are interested to see how this turns out, here's what we know so far: you'll be lucky to get about $5 in a week from the advertising parked on the site, but (!) the words DOWNLOAD FREE GAY FICTION bring in new readers by the swarms. Significant numbers of them go on to check out your web page, your blog, your landing page, and you'll notice a steep uptick in your sales figures. So ... the advertising is very close to a waste of time, but the volume of potential readers checking you out is quite large, and a number of them, uh, buy books or ebooks. And that is what it's all about.

Legends has been a lot of fun, and it currently maybe 20 posts away from hitting the spot where you're at "Here Ends the First Book of the Fall of the Atlantean Empire." I will be putting it onto hiatus there but the site will stay up perpetually. At that point, I'll properly format the book and put it into all the PDFs and so forth that people need for their gizmos. Also, there'll be artwork -- screensavers, desktops, cards, mugs, mousepads whatever --

And, as I do believe I've mentioned somewhere, my brain is switching gears already. I'm in HELLGATE mode. Seriously. It's Travers, Marin and Vidal going through my gray cells ... and three more delicious dudes never came alive off the page of one of my novels. I'm looking forward very much to finishing out the whole series in one haul -- two books, not three, and each of them about the size of Dangerous Moonlight. Yes, it's going to be a lot of work ... it's also going to be a load of fun.

Then, next year -- back to the Legends project, get that finished. Then ... we'll see.

Right now, I have to run: work. That other four letter word ending in K.

Ciao for now,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

And now for something entirely different

About a decade ago -- when nanotechnology was entering the common vocabulary -- I read an SF book called Bloom (quite a good novel, actually), and then forgot all about it.

Much later, I read a feature article in some magazine, about how nano is being used in PAINT and COSMETICS these days; how the damned things, being so itsy-bitsy, can and do get right through the barrier of your skin and ... golly only knows what they're going to do to odd items like your heart, your liver. Your brain.

Well, far be it from me to be a doomsayer and a disaster monger. Heaven only knows, the worlds of NARC and Hellgate aren't likely to come to pass without nano. Turns out, we need those little guys.

Still, it makes you wonder -- when you know that the very cells of our bodies are turning to plastic. And then (all the while wondering) you stumble over a video like this:

Like I said, makes you wonder! And I think I'm going to pull our Will McCarth's SF novel, Bloom, and read it again. Last time I read it, I was on a plane halfway between Anchorage, Alaska and Tokyo. (I remember, I was also reading William Gibson's The Difference Engine -- that one, I finished while lying flat on my back in a departure lounge at Narita Airport.)

And I think ... just maybe ... I feel a novel idea coming on!

So, when someone asks you, "Where do you get your ideas from?" Well, blame the nano -- in all probability, your brain is already full of them. Like mine.

Bizarre concept, isn't it?

Friday, March 13, 2009

POD Publishing: Mobipocket has made it so simple.

Regular readers of this blog will know that The Lords of Harbendane seemed to be under a cloud from the get-go. No matter what we did, things seldom went right, and often went wrong ... including javascript cockups at CreateSpace and other stuff that you just wouldn't believe.

The "jinx" continued when we tried to get Harbendane to the Kindle Store! We uploaded three books; two were published like greased lightning -- automatic. The third got "stuck" in the "publish process," and it's going to take customer support and a tech crew with a large screwdriver to get it unstuck, make it available to you --

And you guessed. It's The Lords of Harbendane that had to be the one to get stuck!

So, it was with a degree of healthy trepidation that we approached the Mobipocket store. And it's with the same degree of absolute relief that I can report ...

The process of publishing to Mobi is easy, simple, a breeze. Harbendane went through so easily, we were left looking at each other, waiting for the other shoe to drop! It never did. It's done.

Try this for size:

Yep. You can go there right now, buy the book for your Kindle, PC or Mac, screenreader, Palm Pilot, iLiad, Blackberry, Pocket PC, smartphone, whatever ...! It was just that easy.

The Mobipocket publishing process, in a thimble, is this:

Have your book ready in HTML, DOC or PDF.
Open a Publisher account with Mobipocket.
Download the Mobipocket Creator, Publisher Edition.
"Build" your ebook on your own desktop.
Make a project, set the metadata, add your cover.
Click on "deploy," which logs you in.
Upload the file from Creator.
Set the price.
Activate the book
Get your affiliate link.

And you're done. And all the instructions for every last thing are right there on screen. You're listening to sighs of utter relief here.

And in the coming days you'll see a lot more Keegans appearing at Mobipocket ... and, end of next week, we'll have a launch. Get the champagne on ice.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ice Dreams

It's that time of the year when memory takes me to Fairbanks, Alaska ... and part of me is glad I'm not there, and part of me wishes to be there so bad, I've been looking at plane fares --

The World Ice Art Championships were just judged. This is an amazing event, held in Fairbanks every year in March. In 1999, I photographed it -- at night, under lights. Here's the rub: being a pro photographer at the time, I did it "properly." I shot transparencies. Which were all packed away safely when we moved house in 2004 ... and haven't been unpacked yet. They're in storage -- with 90% of my best pro work -- and are unlikely to be unpacked anytime soon.

So I can't show you my own ice art photos ... but I can give you a link through to the World Ice Art Championships website, and show you the winners here, in the hopes that it'll inspire you to go there and see the show!

So here is Ice Alaska (dot com, believe it or not)...

And here's the winners ... and having said that, the competition must have been close to impossible to judge, because there isn't a hair's breadth of difference between #1 and #10 ...

...and yes, it's cold beyond your concept of cold (unless your from Alaska, Finland, Siberia, Manchuria ...!), and yes, I wish I could be there again. I know. I'm weird.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Live from somewhere near Seattle...

This has to be worth a swift post before I run out the door (duty calls)...

The first title we uploaded to the Kindle Store was The Lords of Harbendane, swiftly followed by Dangerous Moonlight and Fortunes of War ... in fact, Harbendane is still waiting to publish while the other two have gone "live" --!

...and what's more, is having a mark-down special for some kind, so you can get these books for $7.99 ... gotta like that. I do believe that's the cheapest price we've ever seen on these novels.

We'll keep you posted as the list goes up -- and also, as they go up to Mobipocket, which is essentially the same service, but available globally.

More later,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Flat Calm Follies

It would be wonderful to bounce back at the end of the day's work with a colossal post, rich in valuable thematic material. Unfortunately, nothing is happening. At all. Zip. Nada.

No lottery win, no desperate email from Steven Spielberg saying he's dying to buy that script I wrote and will US$8m be acceptable? No card inviting me to Frankfurt to participate in a high-six-figure deal at the book fair. Nicholas Cage and Orlando Bloom didn't pull up on the driveway demanding that Keegan autograph their copies of some vampire book I may or may not have written --

Incidentally the casual reader should not get my novel, Twilight, mixed up with the PG-rated chick flick of the same name. Guys the globe over are calling the movie one of the most boring things ever filmed ... I wouldn't know, I ain't seen it! My novel is a gay vampire story which is ... anything but boring, I promise you!

Um ... steak for dinner. It's been a bright, beautiful day but I've been stuck inside working. Got quite a lot done ... modems running in the background, three books up at the Kindle Store, slogging their way through the publication process. Do a couple more tomorrow, with luck ... feeling like a beer, right now!

Two posts at Legends today:
40. Fear (part three)
41. Thus Spake Iridan

And a couple of links of interest, in the event that anyone is still interested in ebooks after I've been talking your ear off about them for the last week:

And so, from the uninterrupted flat calm of the Mel-o-Sphere on this Tuesday arvo, whilst hoping that something, anything, will actually HAPPEN tomorrow (work doesn't count) --

Ciao for now,

Among the 93,036 at Amazon Kindle...

Just a "service message" at the moment: you can actually go to the Kindle Store, search on "Mel Keegan," and have The Lords of Harbendane pop up. It's still in the "publishing" process, meaning it's starting to filter its way into the global engine, but you can already "sign up to be notified when the item becomes available" :

And as of a few days ago, you can get the Kindle reader application for your iPhone. Cool stuff, this. We'll keep you posted. (And yes, Harbendane is probably title number 93,036 at the Kindle Store ... that being the number of titles quotes as being inthe catalog, with Harbendane still working its way in.)


Monday, March 9, 2009

Sneaking in via the backdoor

Some of you will have been waiting for this news for several weeks now, and I'm delighted to be able to deliver it! We did indeed find a way in through the back door, and we've snuck into Kindle. The Lords of Harbendane will be the first title to show up in the engine -- in "12 to 72 hours," according to the system. Could be later today, could be Wednesday, but certainly by the middle of the week you will be able to read Keegan on your Kindle.

Next books on their way: Dangerous Moonlight, Fortunes of War, Nocturne, Twilight and Swordsman. These ought to be showing up in the next ten days.

We've left the price the same as you'd pay over on Payloadz -- $9.99 -- which seems fair for the books. Amazon keeps 65% of that price, and DreamCraft and Keegan will split the rest. The theory is that you may earn less from the sale, but you get a lot more sales. So here's the grand experiment ... let's take this for a spin!

We're also working to get the same books up to Mobipocket, in the same time frame, and I only just discovered that if you need to read on a smartphone (though not YET yet iPhone), you can get a Mobipocker Reader (free download) for your device.

I have no idea if Mobi is going to be available for the iPhone anytime soon, but I know that Kindle is already available for the Apple gadget, and since (!) Amazon owns Mobipocket, one suspects that compatibility can't be far behind.

You might find this interesting and useful: ... if you need to juggle formats. What won't they be doing next?!

And here is the homepage of the company behind the Stanza format which is about to put Keegan on your phone:

But if you're into both Kindle and iPhone, it's as simple as this:
Amazon's Kindle for iPhone hits the App Store. "Sure, Amazon could pit the Kindle squarely against phone- and PDA-based e-book apps, but why not play both sides? The company had previously mentioned its desire to embrace non-Kindle devices in its digital delivery ecosystem, and the first fruits of that labor have now hit the iPhone App Store. The uncreatively-named Kindle for iPhone allows you access to all of your Kindle content right from the comfort of your iPhone or iPod touch ..."

...and so on, and so forth, and such like.

Meaning, any time around about now (that story started to run a few days ago), the iPhone fraternity and sorority will be looking to the Kindle Store for readable goodies.

Time to get on board before the bus leaves! Hence, we're working very hard to get popular titles online, and into the "global catalogs."

Speaking of popular titles, the proof of NARC: Aphelion should be in the mail, tomorrow or Wednesday, latest -- so look for a newsletter from us later in the week, when the whole series launches in paperback at Amazon. And yes, the Kindle launch will be about a week later.

Chapter Fourteen is up at Legends...

Otherwise the long weekend (Adelaide Cup Day -- a horseracing carnival) is all about work. I'll be taking a day off next week -- and if not, then I'll seize a couple of days the week following. By then, I'll need the break, big time.

And now, back to work.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

A little social networking on Sunday

This will be a little brief: Real Life has stuck its nose in, with domestic problems which need o be sorted, asap. In other words, chatting time on this Sunday downunder is out of stock, and though it's on back-order, it'll be a couple of days before we can expect delivery!

So I'll confine myself to the news, such as it is:

Due to the aforementioned Real Life Intervention, we haven't been able to get to either Mobipocket or Smashwords to see if we can get uploads to go through and books to publish in the various engines: try again tomorrow.

However, Support at Smashwords is looking at the word-count problem, and as soon as this is fixed, I can just call up my dashboard there, and hit "republish." Dangerous Moonlight will reappear, and the Keegan fix will be available for you iPhone readers...

Through a tip (thanks, Erastes!) I found an excellent place (a newsletter) to get Legends listed. I've not only made contact, I actually set up a LiveJournal account. I tried everything I could think of to get the name of "Mel Keegan" into a form LJ would accept it, but there's another Mel Keegan who has well and truly beaten me to it there, so it's "mkeegan," and like it.

So the LiveJournal page is, and currently it looks like this:

This is the first experience I've had of LJ, and it seems to be a blog engine, not unlike Blogger. I certainly won't be able to post there with great frequency, but I can put things up, like pasting them into a scrapbook. The object seems to be that people will find you there when they didn't find you here! Let's see how it works -- my mind is open, and I'm genuinely curious.

Also, LJ has certainly made the process easy -- perhaps even easier than Blogger, and much easier than Word Press. I had a brief flirtation with WP, and found too many problems with it. (I also notice that Jade & Co. have let go the Exploring South Australia blog, which was at WP -- and I understand it's for similar reasons. Too many problems in the interface.)

Thanks to Erastes for this networking: left to Google, I'd never have found the newsletter.

Domestic strife and all, I did manage to get Chapter Fourteen up to Legends...

And, work-wise, that'll probably be about it for the day! Well ... it's Sunday, after all, so maybe I need to take one off anyway.

Right now, I have to put on my red cape and go get things fixed. Something along the lines of changing the Earth's rotation to turn back time, putting a mountain back on its foundations, parting the Red Sea. Just trivial things like that. So --

Ciao for now,

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mobipocket adventures ... and a Very Good Mystery

In answer to the four people who got in touch, asking why the heck they can't find Dangerous Moonlight at Smashwords today ... bear with me, guys: we're not out of the woods.

To begin with, Smashwords is having server issues which is slowing everything down -- and no one is immune, in this area. There were problems at Amazon last week, and CreateSpace is prone to difficulties. Be a little bit patient here, and thou shalt be rewarded...

Dangerous Moonlight was uploaded, and IS at Smashwords even as we speak, but you won't be finding it until a tiny bit of fine-tuning is done in the book's "order me" page. The system (which Smashwords calls the Meatgrinder, with excellent reason!) performs the word count on auto ... problem is, right now it's only firing on four out of five cylinders.

For the iPhone (Stanza) edition of Dangerous, it gives a word count of just under 20,000 words (which is 10% shorter than Callisto Switch), and for the Kindle (Mobi) edition it gives a count of about 40,000 -- 10% shorter than Windrage ... so you know something is way off the beam, because Dangerous Moonlight is 208,000, according to every word processor and DTP program I have! We "unpublished" the book, making it disappear temporarily, because to the casual browser who doesn't know it, an $11 pricetag on 20,000 words looks outrageous -- not the first impression we want to make. Then the server started to jack around, and it'll be tomorrow, earliest, before we can get back in and make adjustments.

Patience, guys: I'm in touch with Support at Smashwords, and they are both knowledgeable and helpful. It's just a minor hiccup that will be straightened out before you know it.

Rest assured, I'll update you on the blog here when we're up and running. In fact, if you want to be in on the launch, just make sure you're on the mailing list, and watch your mailbox!

Next piece of good news: the proof for STOPOVER was delivered and looks fantastic. CreateSpace has done another great job. We're now just waiting on the proof for APHELION, and the NARC books will be launching at Amazon ... next week, I hope.

The Mobipocket experience has also begun, behind the scenes. In fact, DreamCraft has gone in and set up the account as the publisher.

The way it works is this: I'm the writer, DreamCraft is the publisher, Mobi is the distributor, and virtually thousands of affiliate sites all over the web correspond to the bookstores. I'm almost a passenger on this one, just sitting back and watching. The way the financial aspect works out is interesting. Mobi pays 35% of the gross, meaning, $3.50 from a $10.00 book will come back here, to be divvied up between writer and publisher. There is also another 10% fee up for grabs -- the affiliate fee, in the event that someone passing through my websites and blogs buys a Keegan for his or her Kindle or smartphone as they jet through. Say it's a sale from the bookstore on my website -- that's another dollar that lands in the account here, helping to cover the expenses of running this show ... and bolstering Keegan's daydreams of quitting the day job to write full time!

So that's how the Mobipocket thing works. My understanding at this time is that they have affiliate members left and right, all over the globe, who will be on the lookout for books to sell off their sites. Each sale, no matter how or where it's generated, brings 35% back to base. And you know what my backlist looks like right now:

(The Hellgate series will be done by Christmas, adding two; unless there's a miracle, the LEGENDS project will be curtailing online at Book One, leaving the whole project to be released in various formats ... and so on. And yes, the haunted house book and Dead of Winter are still on my list of to-do jobs.)

Tomorrow, with the Mobipocket account set up and operational, and the conversion software downloaded, we'll see about running Fortunes of War, Dangerous Moonlight and The Lords of Harbendane through their publishing process ... and I'll let you know how it goes. The sheer size and complexity of Mobipocket is a little intimidating, but it seems simple -- they just have the loose ends tied off, legally, in French braids and sheepshanks, half-hitches and granny knots. The legal-beagle jargon is dense, but the interface is simple.

We downloaded the Mobipocket Reader, and I like the interface a lot: dead easy, and it works offline. If/when I get myself a screenreader (and right now I'm examining netbooks), I would be able to download direct to the gadget.

The other place where the Mobipocket publishing process is very different is in the file conversion system. Basically, with Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Lulu, whatnot, you upload your files to them and the conversion happens at their end. This is neat and tidy -- so long as you're inside the US. If you're not, you time out a lot, and when a file isn't quite right and has to be uploaded again, you can have hours to sweat through, to get a usable version.

Now, Mobipocket does it ... backwards. You download the free conversion software, do the work at your end, get it perfect and (hopefully) upload the little bugger ONCE. It's simple by comparison, because Mobipocket offers ONE file format, whereas Smashwords offers a whole range. With Mobi, you just make sure you download and install the correct reader for your device -- PC, Mac, desktop, netbook, screenreader, phone, whatever.

It's ... ludicrously complicated. Reminds you of the days of VHS and Beta. Of PC and Mac, before the advent of the PDF. Of SD and XD. (One longs to say, of Ford and Holden...)

Today, I leave you with a mystery. As you know if you're a regular reader here, I submitted the LEGENDS blog/site/novel to a directory called BlogCatalog and got it chucked back, rejected. Now, Aricia, being Aricia, was both incensed about that and curious as to the process. So she submitted her celebrity gossip blog, Aricia's Album, to the same venue. And something unspeakably weird went on.

Get this ... and explain it, if you can. We're still trying. After the submission, AG turns off the computer and leaves it for maybe 14 hours. Next day, checks her Gmail, and the are (count them) THREE messages from BlogCatalog.

1) Your blog is unacceptable. Here are the problems ... fix them, resubmit, and we'll reconsider your application.
2) Changes approved!
3) Welcome to BlogCatalog.

Hunh?! She did NOTHING, the computer was turned off. Also, the original message outlining whatever the problems were had vanished from the dashboard when the situation was rectified, so AG never will know what the perceived problems were. And then it was "welcome to BlogCatalog," without a line of text being changed, a picture deleted, or an ad moved.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

No, me neither. So --

Chapter Thirteen concluded at Legends today...

Ciao for now!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ebooks ... and other seven-headed monsters

I can honestly say that I've learned a lot today ... about code; about myself; about persistence; about going cross-eyed in front of a monitor and not giving up; keeping a cool(er) head when all about me people were losing theirs and blaming it on me --

[And before you say, "Hey, that reminds me of something," it's a tangential misquotation (deliberate, damnit!) from Kipling's poem, "If." And yes, you can source it on the web -- wonderful poem; find it here:]

--It's taken a couple of days to get the code right, but Dangerous Moonlight is now online at Smashwords, where you can download it for your iPhone, your Kindle, your Palm Pilot, your Sony Reader...!

Click on this image to, uh, "buy now from Smashwords"

We had wanted to launch with three books, but it's more of a wrestling match than we'd expected, to get really good results in all formats. Mind you, it's well worth the effort, because now Dangerous is going to perform properly on everything short of Microsoft Reader. I'm holding off on offering it in the LIT format for several reasons...

I've heard that the new Reader has "issues;" and also, there's no way short of paying too much money to be able to secure the file to prevent people just copying the text right out into a DTP program and printing it by the case. I don't like that.

Anyway, Keegan is on your smartphone, and on your Kindle (in Mobi format), via Smashwords -- at least with Dangerous Moonlight! The next up will be Lords of Harbendane, but Fortunes of War is being a little devil. A few days ago I rattled off the book's pedigree, which was received by howls of disbelief. To say that the manuscript is a mutt, a moggy, a mule, is too kind ... to call the finished book "moving and inspirational" is not helping me get it bashed into shape for a new edition.

However, we persist. The Smashwords interface is certainly easy. We did time-out a few times when trying to upload/convert files -- but hey, this is Australia, which has a backbone like like a pygmy shrew.

And -- well, that's where we are today. Want Dangerous Moonlight ... Harry and Nick ... on your iPhone or Kindle? Then (here are the magic words) BUY NOW FROM SMASHWORDS. And yes, that's a link, takes you right to the page where you can download the goods.

Chapter Thirteen has commenced at Legends, but otherwise the day has been devoted to CODE. And I have to give credit where it's due.

Jade can actually read this gibberish:

When all else failed (and it did), she loaded it into a progaming editor (Notebook++) and took the css gobbledygook apart. Rebuilt it. Make the gibberish actually work. Ye gods, there's something seriously wrong with the woman. It's not normal. (And Mel Keegan is going to prognosticate about normality?!)

I think this one is going to cost me a bottle of wine.

Ciao for now,

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gay books gone gaga at Google

Is it just me, or does Google seem to be "all over the shop" lately?

I'm still thinking along similar lines to my post yesterday, which was about getting seen, recognized, and plucked out of the ocean by the Searchbot. It used to be about keywords and relevance. Now? I have no idea.

Looking for blog venues where one could reasonably expect "free online gay fiction" to be listed, I search on (wait for it -- this is going to astonish you) "free online gay fiction."

Woah. Have you picked yourself up off the floor, where you collapsed in shock? Then, let us continue:

Now, you couldn't be much more pellucid in your keywords. And the results? Curious, to say the least.

My own post from yesterday was top of the list, but only because I'm searching from an address NOT inside the US. Remember, Google has my page rankings zeroed out, so anyone searching from an US address won't be seing me in any search results.

Next: a rather nice personal book blog with a handful of posts looking at gay novels, none of them free or online.

Next: an article repository, where features are FREE, and stored ONLINED, and *one* of them talks about a GAY individual who was busted for perving on minors.

Next: a personal blog with a post asking, "Why did President Lincoln FREE the slaves," and considering ONLINE resources. The words "gay" and "fiction" do not appear anywhere.

Next: at last, a real one. "Finding Free Ebooks" at blogger -- where (shockingly) free ebooks are listed. Good range of titles -- bit difficult to navigate the blog due to the slightly odd template design, but there's some gay ebooks there, and they're free. (Won't do me any good to pursue a listing there, because "serial" fiction is not listed.)

Next: personal book blog featuring ... books. Handful of gay topics, none free or online.

Next: political blog with a post having a (justified) rant about anti-gay sentiment, featuring the terms "free advice" and "online newsletters." The term "fiction" was never mentioned.

Next: personal blog with a post talking about an SF party to be held at an address on Gay Street -- inquiries online.

Next: Canadian radio station talks about pulp fiction, one character in which is "nerdy and gay."

Next: personal blog with a post giving the blogger's top ten recommendations for published gay fiction. Not online, not free.

Then you get onto page two, and it really goes haywire, getting worse and worse with each horrific shot in the dark. At the top of the page Google proudly announces, "Results 1 - 10 of about 80,664 for free online gay fiction," and "Sorted by relevance."

Out of the first page, the Bot was right in 2 instances: me (yesterday's post -- I was absolutely, bloody determined to get through to the Bot what I was talking about, if you recall!) and the Finding Free Ebooks blog which would be difficult to miss because it's CALLED "Finding Free Ebooks." Missing that one would be a lot like missing "Aricia's Gay Book Blog."

(If you Google the term "gay book", so long as you're OUTSIDE America, you should find yours truly at #5 with, and Aricia at #8 with If you Google "gay book" from INSIDE America, you won't find me at all -- Google killed my page rankings, if you recall, so it doesn't matter what I write about, what keywords I use, or what I entitle the post!)

So here's the question: WTF is going on with Google? They're just so wrong, they're hardly useful anymore! Thoughts, anyone??

In other news --

Chapter Twelve concluded at Legends today,
AG has uploaded the interview we did a few days ago, to her book blog...

Otherwise, the Mel-o-Sphere is a vacuum. Which is kind of restful, in a way.

Ciao for now,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

FREE online gay fiction! (And other goodies)

The title of this post is FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION.

And just in case the Googlebot (which is infamous for the peanut-like dimensions of its brain) is having a hard time interpreting that, allow me to expound:

FREE, as in "at no cost, no charge;"
ONLINE, as in, "on the Internet, in cyberspace;"
GAY, as in "not straight; bent; queer; you know ... gay;"
FICTION, as in, "a story, a novel, a plot; not a documentary."

So: FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION could be interpreted as "no-cost Internet-driven bent stories." Or "cost-free web published queer novels." Or, "no charge cyberspace not-straight plots."

I wonder if there enough KEYWORDS in this post to get some Bot's attention, and get through to its microscopic mind that I'm talking about --

You guessed. Free online gay novels.

Because, I'll tell you something ... you have a hard time giving the damned things away! I mean, there's Legends, commencing Chapter Twelve with about 35,000 words online, and I'm increasingly at a loss as to how to get people's attention.

I can't just make the novel itself searchable by Google, because the very thing you don't want is for some twinkie, underage and all, searching for hair care tips or skin care products, pulling up a page in which two very male males are getting ... companionable. Why did the page pull up? Because the text on said page speaks of "hair" and "skin." Bad, bad idea to let the engines index it.

So, since 0% of traffic is going to be coming from search engines, visitors can only come from directories.

And this is where it gets interesting!

I don't recall Google Directories being the same animal as DMOZ, when first I started marketing my work ... back in those days, Goog was Goog and DMOZ seemed to be a bunch of dessicated old wannabe academics with the power of god to award lesser mortals a place among the halcyon pages of their divine directory -- or not. And it was usually not. At the time, you could submit your blog or site to multiple Google Directories, which gave you half a chance of being discovered since you had cross-referenced and indexed yourself.

Turns out, Goog and DMOZ are now the same thing. The dessicated drivellers have gotten control of Google Directories, meaning -- yep -- you can now only have one submission category. (And tough luck if you're fantasy, AND gay, AND a novel, AND a serial!) Playing it safe, asking nicely for Legends to be listed under Gay, means a work of serious fiction is going to be listed along with the oceans of pornography, the rivers of erotica and similar ... stuff.

Not that it's likely to be an issue, because the DMOZ people are reported to be so far "down" on sites carrying commercials, your name could be Moses, you could be uploading the word of God himself, and if you carry commercials in the margin for Guttenberg, the local Synagogue, and Kosher groceries by mailorder -- DMOZ will take a great delight in rejecting you, and chucking God out right along with you.

So ... directories are a little bit thin on the ground. I spoke yesterday about something called ... and utterly to my confusion, Legends was rejected by these bods, too. Here is some vaguest clue as to why the blog isn't good enough for them:

Dear Mel Keegan,
Thank you for submitting your blog LEGENDS: a digital novel by Mel Keegan
( to BlogCatalog.

Unfortunately upon reviewing your blog we are unable to grant it access to the directory.

The most common reasons for not getting into Blog Catalog are:

We could not verify ownership of your blog. A link back, widget or meta-tag is required to verify site ownership.
The URL you submitted is not a blog.
The URL you submitted is solely for commercial purposes, or is suspected to be spam.
Your blog is brand new and/or doesn't have enough content to make it truly valuable.
If this is the case, please resubmit after you have made more postings.
Your blog contains pornographic material.
At the time of review your blog was unavailable or there was a typo in your submission URL.
Please make sure the URL submitted is correct and accessible.

The above list is complete twaddle: the backlink was there (meaning, I'm potentially feeding them traffic even now! I'm about to delete it, naturally); the URL is at blogger -- duh; it's not "solely commercial" -- it's a bloody novel; it's not spam; it's not brand new -- there's 35,000 words of fiction and a half dozen works of art there; there is no pornographic material there -- you'd have to be a puritan of the first water to file the love scene under "porn"; Blogger was not "down" at the time -- it hasn't been "down" in months; and the URL is both correct and accessible.

I have the strongest feeling that someone at BlogCatalog got as far as the Caveat (which is required by law and decency), and cut corners to save time on the job. They hit the "reject" button as soon as they saw the words "adult themes, realistic violence, and material of a sensual nature." In their world, the literal translation for the above is PORN. They're dead wrong, but I can do nothing about it. On this criteria, everything from Highlander to Conan the Barbarian would be filed under porn. It's so moronic, I'm astonished.

At the same time I also contacted a third directory, with an application for a listing ... no reply. I think the word "gay" probably gives them a rash.

It's going to get tougher from here on, because I've already hit the high spots, and I do believe homophobia is at work in at least a couple of cases. (Plus commerciophobia, in the case of DMOZ, where it's advertising of any description that brings the dusty old dears out in hives.)

Okay ... back to the drawing board, think of something new!

So I started surfing, looking for opportunities -- and after having been locked out of the Kindle Store (not through homophobia, but through xenophobia! Amazon Kindle is a privilege not -- yet?? -- permitted to foreign devils, such as Aussies, and Brits, and all souls born beyond those fabled shores) ... so, well, let's say I was surprised and delighted to be made welcome --

At the Mobipocket Store. Publishers wanting to sign up? The line forms to the left! I alerted DreamCraft to the possibilities, and it was "on" at once.

Right now we're looking into Mobi as a serious alternative to the Kindle store. To begin with, Kindle users can read Mobi files. Then, the store is almost as big as the Kindle store, with over 120,000 titles. And -- being a French company -- Mobi is not as hidebound as Amazon. They do have a gay/lesbian category, but most gay books are not listed there. They're listed under SF or Fantasy, or Romance or whatever, because Europeans are not so touchy on the subject: the word "gay" doesn't make too many people in Span, France, Germany, start to itch and sneeze. (The titles listed under Gay/lesbian are sizzling hot and short on plot. Uh huh.)

So here's where we are right now: we'd have been at Smashwords with three titles today (!) if only the upload server wasn't "down." Since it is -- well, we'll try again tomorrow. And we'll be at the Mobipocket store by the weekend, all being well.

The only downside I can see with Mobi is the DRM thing ... Digital Rights Management is, at this time, a bit of a mess. However, it does prevent people from just sending copies to friends, willy nilly -- which is, alas, what happens with unprotected PDFs. (If your name is Jeffrey Archer or Stephen King, you sell so many thousands of the things, you don't care; but if you're still celebrating each sale, as most self-marketers are, the file-sharing hurts).

So, the DRM protection of Mobi files is certainly going to get up a lot of readers' noses, but if you can live with this, people --

Keegan on your Kindle is a reality ... no thanks, mind you, to Amazon! You'll be able to get Fortunes of War, Lords of Harbendane and Dangerous Moonlight for your Kindle in a few days. We'll issue the backlist a few at a time this way.

And at the same time (as soon as the Smashwords server is back up) you'll be able to say you've got Keegan on the phone ... Smartphones and iPhones are catered to here: Stanza. We'll start with the same set of three, and go on, and out, from there.

To see what it's going to be like reading on a phone, I resized a browser:
That's not too bad at all, is it? I could live with that.

So there you have it. Progress is being made, albeit slowly. Legends remains problematical, not because of itself, but because it's a heck of a lot harder than I would ever have expected, getting listed in any location where interested will see it. Also, the "viral url" concept, where the address is emailed from person to person, is a non-starter. No go. The worst that can happen is that I'll finish the thing and issue it via Payloads, Smashwords, Mobi, Amazon, Lulu and whatever else has come along by then.

In other words, we'll see how we go.