Yesterday afternoon an artist friend acquaintance of mine introduced me to her new neighbor. As you know, I play around with rocks, and because this new neighbor is also a lapidary, my friend wanted to introduce us. Fine and dandy.
After two or three minutes of pleasantries, the new neighbor mentioned that she wanted to get into faceting, that she had done some freehand work but wanted to do more. I contributed that I have a faceting machine.
She immediately invited herself over to my house so we could play with it together.
Um, isn't that supposed to be my job? The inviting, I mean?
I said nothing, partly because I was a little astonished at her cheek.
She then went on to say that she had done some work for a guy in California who sent her "Andara crystals."
I blurted out, "They're glass. Andara crystals are glass."
"Oh, no, these are the real ones from California," she insisted.
"They're all glass," I told her. By this time I was a bit testy, since I absolutely despise the scammers who sell this shit. And I will not be a party to enabling other scammers.
I purchased the Amateur Gemstone Faceting book when it was advertised by the author Tom Herbst on the U.S. Faceters Guild email list, to which I have been a subscriber for many years. I also purchased the second volume of this phenomenal guide. I can't say that I "know," Tom, but I have certainly read a lot of his posts to the list.
I acquired my faceting machine from a friend who literally would have thrown it in the trash if I hadn't taken it off his hands. At the time, I had no idea what it was worth -- way, WAY more than I could have afforded if I'd gone out to buy it! -- and frankly I just haven't had the time necessary to learn all of its ins and outs. I've played with it a little, but not much.
As I mentioned in my post earlier about my acquisitions at the Mesa Flagg Gem and Mineral Show last week-end, I picked up an inexpensive chunk of amethyst that I intend to do some practicing on. I could just as easily practice on some "andara" crystal, since scrap glass is very inexpensive and easy to come by.
But that doesn't mean I'm going to let some virtual stranger into my studio to use my expensive equipment to mess around with her bullshit.
I see since starting this post that she has sent me an email, probably to further extend her invitation into my studio. I'm just not into that crap.
Besides, I have a two-day show coming up this week-end, so I really don't have time for her.
My resolutions for New Year's Eve fell by the wayside due to exhaustion. It was physical exhaustion brought about by mental/emotional exhaustion, so although I did accomplish some of what I wanted to do, I didn't get to all of it.
I cleaned up several hundred accumulated emails from the backlog, though that is barely a drop in the very large bucket.
I reviewed/recorded most of my Festive Season tasks and reading, leaving only two or possibly three to go. The final tally was a disappointing 19 points, but I read three VERY LONG books in the mix, and I'm patting myself on the back for them regardless of "points."
During the gaming time, I also made significant progress on one of my long-term, ongoing personal projects: the transcription of all those spiral notebook diaries. Yesterday morning I reached January 2017, so I am just a few days less than a year behind!
This coming week-end is the Flagg Gem and Mineral Show held at Mesa Community College. Though not nearly as big as either the Quartzsite or Tucson extravaganzas, the Flagg show is close to home and convenient, with free parking and admission, and more than enough goodies for me to ogle. It's not that I need any more rocks, but, well, a girl can't have too many! The weather forecast as of last week was not promising, but it has improved steadily the closer we get to the show. Friday looks like the best day, with mostly sunny skies and a high around 75.
The following week-end is the two-day Heritage Days celebration at our local Superstition Mountain Museum. I'll be setting up there to (try to) sell some of my jewelry and other hand-made goodies. Last year we had horrible weather, with powerful storms that destroyed several vendors' canopies and kept visitor attendance way down. The forecast looks much, much better for 2018, with mostly sunny skies, high temperatures around 70, and neither rain nor wind predicted for either Saturday or Sunday.
There's one part of Heritage Days that I am very much NOT looking forward to.
One of the entertainment acts scheduled is singer Paula Erlene, "America's Yodeling Sweetheart," and her husband Ermal Williamson, who does a John Wayne impersonation. At last year's Heritage Days, Paula debuted her new, original patriotic song, "We Are One," which Ermal (as MC) touted as "the next God Bless America." He further exclaimed that Paula was writing new verses almost literally while rehearsing.
As I sat under my little rain-drenched canopy and tried to smile through the yodeling, I realized I had heard Paula's "new" song before. The tune was completely familiar, and even over the noise of the wind in the cactus, the murmurings of the appreciative crowd, and the tramp of footsteps in the muddy ground, even with the terrible outdoor acoustics, I knew the words to this song she claimed to have written herself.
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We'll share a dream and sing with one voice,
"I am, you are, we are . . . ."
How was this possible??? I had never heard of Paula Erlene before in my life, but I knew the words to the song she bragged about having just written.
After the Saturday shows -- the entertainers each perform twice each day -- I hadn't pegged it down, and I was too cold and too tired by the bad weather to even think further once I got home. But it nagged at me, so that when she took the stage for Sunday's performances, I listened more closely to the words . . . because I had finally developed a very sneaking suspicion as to why this song was so familiar.
As Paula once more sang the chorus,
"I am, you are, we are Americans,"
I knew the last word was wrong. And before she finished her new, original composition, I knew why it was so familiar. There was nothing I could do while I was at the Museum, but as soon as I got home Sunday evening, I got on the computer and found confirmation of my absolute worst thoughts.
Some of you here may recognize the performers, though this YouTube screenshot is of a 1994 live (and farewell) performance. Some of you may already have recognized the lyrics.
I broke into tears when I realized what Paula Erlene, "America's Yodeling Sweetheart," had done.
She had stolen someone else's work and claimed it as her own. (I played the video linked above just now and started crying again.)
Paula Erlene now has a CD out that appears to include the song.
Whether there is any credit given to the original composer and lyricist, I don't know.
EDITED TO ADD: I was finally able to get a decent shot of the Facebook page on my other computer with larger monitor, and yes, it does state that "We Are One" is adapted from Woodley & Newton's "I Am Australian." This is more than she and Ermal did at Heritage Days last year; it will be interesting to hear what they have to say this year.
But on her Facebook page -- or Ermal's, if you will -- she does claim to have written it herself.
Maybe it's just a nasty and shameful American habit of cultural appropriation. "God Save the King" became "My Country 'Tis of Thee." And "To Anacreon in Heaven" became "The Star-Spangled Banner" (minus, of course, its racist later verses). Paula and Ermal performed in South Korea ahead of the recent visit by American "officials," and their political affiliation is apparent. It's not likely that any public announcement of this infringement would be met with anything other than, well, approval.
After last year's discovery, I wrote to The Seekers, either via Facebook or email, regarding the situation. I never heard anything back. I don't have a recording of Paula's performance or her claim to have written the song herself. I only found the above Facebook claim this morning.
I hate these people. I hate them with a white hot passion. I hate their supporters and defenders. And I know America is better than this.
Australia certainly is.
Watch the views of the audience on this one
And from 2012, with verses not in the shorter versions, verses Paula Erlene also . . . used:
It was often played at citizenship ceremonies from 2008 until 2012 when the Copyright Tribunal ruled that this was an infringement and ordered the Federal Government to pay Bruce Woodley $149,743.34 in compensation.
In 2009 two additional verses were added to show remembrance during the official National Day of Mourning for the victims of the Black Saturday bushfires. Woodley performed the song along with his daughter Clare and Kinglake fire survivors Merelyn and David Carter during the memorial service at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on 22 February.
Disclosure: I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on 6 January 2016. I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter. I am an author of adult fiction and general interest non-fiction.
Thanks to comments by Darth Pony and Alexandra's Adventures in Books to my original "Over Priced at $0.00," I did some further research on how the scammers have operated to screw over readers -- and writers! -- via the Kindle Unlimited program. Because I already had this item purchased and downloaded, it provides perfect material for analysis.
As you can see from the above screen shot (taken today), this item is now listed at $0.99 and is not available for Kindle Unlimited reading. The lone Amazon review is a one-star warning not to buy the book.
According to the product information, this "book" is now 37 pages long.
Here's how the scam worked.
When Kindle Unlimited began, authors were paid the full royalty on any KU book the reader turned 10% of the pages. This quickly proved too easy to scam, so the process was changed. Authors were then paid a set amount per page turned (whether actually read or not). It was still easy to pad books by double or triple spacing, leaving blank pages between chapters, and so on. At that point Amazon came up with Kindle Edition Normalized Pages ("KENP"), which basically amounts to counting pages by equivalent words. The current approximation is ~187 words per page, and the current royalty payment is ~$0.005 (one half cent) per KENP.
What the scammers did was to bundle dozens (literally dozens) of these short books/stories into a single volume, slap a cover and title on it, and publish it via Kindle Direct Publishing and enroll it in the KU program. One book, of course, wouldn't be enough to rake in lots of royalties, so they took the same dozens of stories, shuffled the order, and republished them in other collections. With new covers and new titles, they looked like another whole product, even though they weren't.
(I have some more of these in my Kindle collection and I'll try to locate and post more screen shots later.)
Once the reader was enticed to download the book via KU, she encountered various enticements, such as this:
Yes, "at the very end of this Book." But, look at the number at the very bottom of this page: 116459.
By comparison, Marsha Canham's full-length historical romance Bound by the Heart only yields 6801 "locations." (These are not actual pages; I'm not sure exactly what measurement is used.)
A single click to the end of 116,459 brought the scammers 17 times the KU royalty that a full-length novel by a real author would have brought. If the reader found out the material was crappy, she didn't much care, because it came "free" with her monthly KU subscription. There really wasn't much incentive to leave a negative review, and it would only have taken more of her time, which she may have already considered wasted. Why waste more on a negative review?
Whether "Joyce Carroll" really is a New York Times bestselling author remains to be discovered. She may have been one of those who sold a big bunch of books in a collection for $0.99 and ended up on some list. Again, it's a scam.
Now, are readers hurt by this? Well, they are if they spend good money on this crap. I confess I haven't actually looked at the "Promised to an Earl" story yet, but the others I looked at were pretty poor fare. Still, most KU readers probably only look at the time they spent on books they otherwise wouldn't have read, because there's no actual money involved for them.
Authors, however, are directly impacted.
The KU pool is determined by Amazon each month, and it is then divided amongst the participating books by those KENPs actually turned. To give you an idea of how that works out, my book The Looking-Glass Portrait is listed at 391 pages on Kindle; Marsha Canham's book is listed at 406, so pretty darn close to equal. LGP is calculated to have 827 KENPs. So this scam book "Promised to an Earl" generated roughly $68.00 in royalties each time someone clicked on that link to take them to the end of the book for a freebie.
That $68.00 was pulled out of the pool of funds available to the authors who actually wrote books and lent them via Kindle Unlimited.
And we don't know how many of these scam books were actually listed.
Here's the review I did of one, however, along with one page from the text to show spacing and the location amount on the bottom.
Apparently Amazon has tried to rein in some of these scam books. I don't know if The Second Sister has been trimmed down so it doesn't add up the KENPs; I'll check later.
But, friends and fellow readers, this is just another reason why negative reviews are important. This is why we can't just shrug our shoulders and say "There's nothing I can do about it." These tactics are wrong. They hurt real authors, and they hurt real readers by depriving them of the well-written books real authors are putting out there.
Deal with it, Anne Rice. Deal with it.
EDITS BELOW FIRST PIC.
Found on aNobii, among a whole lot of others. Please note the word "free."
EDITED TO ADD:
How I found these at aNobii.
Click on Groups.
It shows "hottest groups" and "largest groups."
Click on "see more" of "largest groups."
On right are "popular group tags" and click on "romance."
All of this is what comes up:
And many, many, many pages more.
I don't know what to do about it. The discussion group for aNobii problems is in Italian, and while I can read Italian pretty well because of my background in Spanish, I don't speak or write it.