As I Grow Old

As I head off to court to ruin someone’s day, this seems both timely and appropriate.

Brian Bilston's Poetry Laboetry

As I grow old
may I not shuffle
to the beat
of self-interest
and make that slow retreat
​​​to the right.

May I be a septuagenarian espouser of noble causes,
and march with the kids
and sing ‘La Marseillaise’,
brandish made-at-home placards,

May I be an octogenarian obstructionist,
and build barricades
out of bottles of flat lemonade,
electric blankets and chicken wire,
to keep prejudice at bay.

May I be a nonagenarian nonconformist,
armed with a ballpoint pen
fighting bureaucratic baloney,
filling in boxes intended
for Office Use Only.

May I be a centenarian centurion
and stage sit-ins
with fellow citizens of the world.
My mobility scooter and I would move
for no-one.

And may I be scattered ashes
attaching themselves
to lashes,
blinding the eyes of bigots
and fascists.

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Review: The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl

Illuminite Caliginosus

18308621Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th-century French girls can only dream of: money, designer dresses, suitors, and a secure future. Except she can’t quite commit to a life of dull luxury and she suspects she may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithy in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love—only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure, and restitution await her if she can survive the voyage.

Based on the true story of The Daughters of the King, Louis the XIV’s social program to settle the wilds of Canada with women of noble birth, Marguerite’s steampunk adventure follows in the footsteps of nearly one thousand brave women and girls who were rewarded handsomely for trekking across the pirate infested Atlantic…

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A Poem Written When I Should Have Been Doing Other Things

Yep, this is me.

Brian Bilston's Poetry Laboetry

My in-box bulges.
It swells like the clothes
in my laundry basket. It grows
like the mould on the pans in my sink;
so I had better get on with this poem, I think.

It may look effortless,
this dilatoriness,
but you should know
I have a professional qualification
in procrastination.

This level of consummate dawdling,
my exemplary shoulder-shrugging
at all forms of industry,
has taken years of struggling
against doing things straight away.

Work is not easily shirked;
one must learn how to delay.

Fridays, for instance,
are best spent spent dilly-dallying.
Saturdays are more suited
to some sharp shilly-shallying.
Sundays I loiter, Mondays I linger,
Tuesdays I fester, Wednesdays I fritter.
Thursdays should be left
for chewing one’s jaw
(although it’s acceptable to just hem and haw).

Props help: a chaise longue,
a fine pipe to smoke,
a phone, of course,
and a cat to stroke.

But even…

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Shop Cats of New York – Preorder Now

Screenshot (2410).pngPreorder now for release on November 1, 2016.

Humans of New York meets The French Cat in this carefully cultivated, gorgeous full-color collection featuring New York’s iconic felines and the stories behind them.

They inhabit New York City’s most legendary and coziest spots—the Algonquin Hotel, a whiskey distillery, Bleecker Street Records, and a host of yoga studios, bodegas, bookstores, and bike shops in between. True New Yorkers—masters of people watching—they perch on wine crates, piles of books, and a classic hotel countertop, taking in the activity around them. Depending on their mood, these cats will ignore enthusiastic admirers, offer a few delightful purrs, or occasionally even take a swipe. Some even find a mouse or two to chase.

Shop Cats of New York introduces forty of New York’s favorite felines—all who have an extraordinary story to tell. Popular cat blogger Tamar Arslanian and Instagram pet photographer Andrew Marttila capture these deeply loved and well cared for animals in their city habitat and reveal how they came to reign over their urban kingdoms.

A celebration of some of the city’s most revered citizens and a unique look at New York life, this enchanting illustrated volume is a must for every cat lover, and every Big Apple devotee.- Amazon

Amazon Modifies Its TOS to Prohibit Incentivized Reviews

On October 3 Amazon posted a notice of an update to their customer reviews. This mainly addressed the problem of incentivized reviews that has been a topic of much sometimes heated discussion lately.

From Amazon’s TOS:

Promotions and Commercial Solicitations
In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:

Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.
Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.
Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.
Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.
Posting advertisements or solicitations, including URLs with referrer tags or affiliate codes.
The only exceptions are:

You may post content requested by Amazon (such as Customer Reviews of products you purchased on Amazon or received through the Vine program, and answers requested through Questions and Answers). In those cases, your content must comply with any additional guidelines specified by Amazon.
You may post an answer to a question asked through the Questions and Answers feature (but not a question itself) regarding products or services for which you have a financial or close personal connection to the brand, seller, author, or artist, but only if you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., “I represent the brand for this product.”). We automatically label some answers from sellers or manufacturers, in which case additional disclosure is not necessary.
You may post content other than Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers regarding products or services for which you have a financial or close personal connection to the brand, seller, author, or artist, but only if you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., “I was paid for this post.”). However, no brand or business may participate in the Community in a way (including by advertising, special offers, or any other “call to action”) that diverts Amazon customers to another non-Amazon website, service, application, or channel for the purpose of conducting marketing or sales transactions. Content posted through brand, seller, author, or artist accounts regarding their own products or services does not require additional labeling.
Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.

For more information and examples, read About Promotional Content.

There is a lot of discussion many places about the disclosure on reviews and, yes, you still need it. Please note that not only will it not save your Amazon reviews but it will make customers distrust any review you post. And any author who encourages this.

Like this one.


Then she sort of leaves it up to the reviewer:


I know she has been evacuated because of the hurricane so hopefully when she returns home (may it be in one piece) she will find her misplaced good judgement.

Add the disclaimer. If you lose a review on Amazon, it’s just words. If you don’t disclose and people find out you’ve been receiving books you review for free, well, you might lose their trust and that is something  a lot more important than any review.


Reviews deleted by Amazon? Here’s why (update)

UPDATE: On October 3, 2016, Amazon announced a change in its policies, eliminating nearly all “incentivized” reviews. According to the new policy, reviews (and certain other content) may no longer be posted on products received for free or at a discount in exchange for a review. Amazon’s own Vine Program is an exception to this new rule, and reviewers also continue to be allowed to post reviews on books they have received for free, so long as the book isn’t given in exchange for the review.

In response to Amazon’s announcement, some sellers and clubs changed to a policy that reviews would now be optional and, therefore, permitted under Amazon’s new rules. They also said that because reviews are optional, no disclosure of the freebie/discount would be required. That is NOT correct. The FTC Guidelines still require a disclosure that the item was received for free or at a discount and who provided it, even if the recipient can choose whether or not to write the review. What’s more, Amazon’s executive customer relations staff have stated that a review “tied to” a free or discounted product is not permitted and that making the review optional doesn’t change that.

The rest of this post was written when incentivized reviews were permitted, provided the sellers and reviewers complied with other rules, including those against manipulation.

For the original post, go here.
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