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Off-Grid Newsletter

JENNI'S OFF-GRID NEWSLETTER, NO. 29 (OCTOBER, 2017)

October 29, 2017

Life Goes By

It has taken some effort to love the NZ temperatures in October after spending four months at 28 degrees. The winter we missed in NZ was generally considered wet and cold, and although cold on Great Barrier Island is not really cold (as in Boston-cold or even England-cold), 12 to 18 degrees Centigrade feels chilly after 28 balmy degrees and mostly nothing but sun. The upside is that it is getting warmer, and on the big map of Australia shown every night on the NZ TV weather, Cairns is now at 32 degreees. This is getting too warm., and from experience it will also be getting more humid there. It is so tough to get our lifestyle exactly right.

Another upside of being home is that the sea is crystal clear and blue (unlike the sea where we live in Australia), the beach is deserted and wild (also unlike ‘our’ beach in Oz), the spring is springing (with the daffodils and asparagus sadly overly-sprung before we got home) and there is a baby NZ dotterel just about fledged and therefore relatively safe from predation (by hawks or black-backed gulls mainly). A current and unusual visitor to Awana Bay is a large Leopard Seal, usually at home in Antarctica. Perhaps a clue to the sea temperatures here still. Another new feature is that at the south end of Awana (known by me at least as ‘Jenni’s Bay’) a red-billed gull colony has established itself on the rocky headland, and John ventured over to it this morning to check that they were actually nesting and not just roosting. They are, but he didn’t count heads or eggs as he was being mobbed. Perhaps about 200 he thought, could be more. It is a mystery why the colony would suddenly decide that Awana is the perfect place. Perhaps they like the air temperature and find it just right. It would be more exciting if it were an Albatross colony or even a gannet colony but never mind, it is nice lying reading near-not-under my massive pohutukawa tree (in case I get too hot in the sun and have to seek its shade… not likely yet) and hearing the great squawking and squabbling of the birds. A few occasionally come to inspect me and see if I have the odd sandwich crust for them, but no luck there. They can’t help being successful. It is strange how we find almost extinct birds and animals so much more interesting, and scoff at the truly clever ones who have survived in spite of humans and eco-change—like rats.

And of course this month has been very exciting politically as we now have a new Prime Minister, 37-year-old smart and humanitarian Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern. Bizzarely our new Deputy Prime Minister is Winston Peters of New Zealand First. In his favour he is NZ’s most experienced politician (20 years last century and 20 years this century). Possibly he is the most experienced politician in the Western world? Also in his favour is that he sticks to his principles, many of which are leftish-wing. The Greens for the first time also have seats in Parliament, although sit outside Caucus so retain independence in areas where they don’t hold portfolios (one of which is Climate Change). The National Government which has lost power after nine years will be a very strong opposition as they hold the most seats for a single party (but not as many as the Labour/NZFirst/Greens coalition). Exciting times ahead! So far most commentators, even in the business community, seem to be positive about all this. I certainly am. Winston Peters is also the Foreign Affairs Minister, and it will be interesting to see how he (and indeed Jacinda) communicate with That Man in the US. My money is on the Kiwis who have more common sense, brains, honesty, and most importantly humanitarian values in their two rather different big toes than the US person has in his big head. Climate Change is of course the top issue for all three parties in the NZ coalition, and pretty much the top for the opposition party as well. Of course. As it should be in any country where facts and science are considered important when developing policies and actioning them.

Writing

Well, the Bulgarian Foreign Translation Rights for “A Drop in the Ocean” have been sold to a Bulgarian (duh) publisher, for 7000 Trade print copies which they presumably hope to sell to Bulgarian women readers who pine for a holiday on a tropical island. Good job I didn’t set the story in NZ!

Currently (until 13th November) there is a 99 cent e-book sale for "A Drop in the Ocean" and it is always fun to check out the sales ranks on Amazon while a sale is taking place, especially when the e-mail is sent out just once by a large book promotion organisation to hundreds of thousands of keen readers. Especially if one's book hits the Bestseller list (meaning in the top 10 of all paid Kindle books in a particular country; ie: in US in the top 10 paid Kindle books of 5 or 6 million+ books, but probably more like 3 million in Australia or Canada; no one knows the true figures which are increasing apparently by about a million + books per year). As a result of this single promotional e-mail, "A Drop in the Ocean" made it to Bestseller in both Canada (#6) and Australia (#4), in both cases for a whole two days! Also in its categories (Literary fiction, Women's fiction, Contemporary fiction) it got to #1 or #2, and got into the #2 slot for Kobo in Canada as well. A week later it is still high (much higher than previously) although way lower than the top 10. I was amused to see it had also become #1 of all Australian Kindle books in 'Movers and Shakers' —meaning its trajectory up the sales ranks was faster and greater than any other paid Kindle book over the past 24 hours. It stayed there for two days. It went from sales rank #118,158 to #4 which was a 'move' or 'shake' of 2,953,850%! The pointless but fun things that can be done with statistics.

The sale hasn't been advertised in the US yet– that's next week—so then I'll be on a sales rank watch on Amazon and Kobo US. It will be a much more modest effect as the promotion machine being used for the US promotion (ie: the number of e-mail recipients) is much smaller than the one used for Australia, Canada and the UK. And of course the competition and numbers of Kindle books on Amazon US is much vaster. The trivia we occupy ourselves with when we should be writing the next (or next) book! If you want a copy of the e-book for the price of a third of a cup of coffee it is available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Nook in most countries at 99 cents, or in some countries and retailers a bit more or a bit less. If you read it, if you like it, do please review it for Amazon or Goodreads or even better, both, or at least give it a rating (takes one-fifth of a second to click a star). If it makes you yawn, don't fret about rating or reviewing it!

If you want to join in the promotion efforts (and I would of course love you to), please go to my Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/JenniOgdenbooks/ ) and (after ‘liking’ it!) there you can ‘share’ the advert for the sale (pinned cleverly to the top by me who hasn’t much clue about working FB pages) on your own page. Or tweet it or something. Whatever you know how to do, can be bothered to do, and think is appropriate. If all your social media followers are male football players or any gender of toddler, perhaps not. The baby turtles on my advert are cute though so perhaps toddlers would be OK. Or you may be able to use the very same advert which I have cunningly just decided to put at the top of this e-newsletter, because the tide is now too high for me to clamber over the rocks to the new gull colony and take a pic of that for the newsletter (my previous cunning plan). But the FB image is better quality I note...

My latest Psychology Today blog post
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trouble-in-mind/201710/reading-minds-is-skill-we-all-need-work (Reading Minds is a Skill We All Need To Work On: It is fun and will improve your communication)
This is about Colin Cloud, the Scots forensic profiler/mindreader and how we can emulate his amazingness! All it takes is 10,000 hours of practice (rather like writing a Man Booker Prize winner, the 2017 winner of which I heard speak at this year’s Auckland Writers’ festival—George Saunders, and the book, ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ set over one night as Lincoln mourns his son’s death. Incudes ghosts. Apparently the Audio book version is stunningly good and includes lots of wonderful actors reading the different parts.)

Book Review

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan had a hard act to follow when she recently published ‘Manhattan Beach’ as her last novel ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Beautifully written, ’Manhattan Beach’ is an unusual story full of meticulous historical detail. The main character, Anna, grows up in New York during the Great Depression, and the main plot line is her search as an adult woman for her father, Eddie, a man mixed up in the murky gangster world, and who mysteriously disappears when she is a child. Yet it is more the story of Anna’s battle for equality as she becomes a deep sea diver in the early days when the diving equipment was mindblowingly clumsy, heavy, and scary. These diving scenes were the most interesting and vivid for me. In the second half the story becomes rather disjointed as it switches between Anna’s and Eddie’s stories, and the end is somewhat an anticlimax. Overall, an impressive novel, but perhaps too long, too much telling of history, and with characters who, apart from Anna and her disabled sister, not especially likeable or compelling!

E-newsletter: http://www.jenniogden.com/newsletter.htm

Contact me: jenniogdenauthor@gmail.com