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Blackberry part II – fixing a stuck trackball

The problem with second hand devices is that they are elderly and sometimes have physical issues resulting from this.

The Blackberry has been having a sticky trackball issue, and when this morning it refused to scroll left or down, I did wonder if I would be taking it apart. (And whether I could get my files off – I don’t want to lose “Scarlet Fever” a second time.)

Fortunately I went online and there is an easy fix. I’ll include the demonstration video below: it goes like this.
  • Get a flat surface
  • Put a piece of white paper on it
  • Lock the Blackberry
  • Turn the Blackberry face down
  • Rub it fast and lightly back and forth over the paper for a minute or so
  • Check if the mouse no works (unlock it first!)
You can use any colour paper, but white shows up any dirt that comes off best. My paper didn’t have any visible dirt, but the mouse now works, so I’d say its a good trick.

And it also lets me get on with writing Scarlet Fever, a webshort that occurs before In Depression and fills in some backstory.

Posted by on July 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

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EUVAT Part 2

There was a flaw in my previous article: I actually understated exactly how much of a cut selling through a third party would take.

You see, many of these third parties are US-based, and unless you hold a US tax number, they automatically pay 30% of your earnings to the IRS. So my table from the last page should have looked like this:

Book PriceSold onFeesGrossUS TaxIncome
(Paypal fees for other amounts are here:

Switching to a third party platform lowers my income to 22% of what it was – so less than one third. And then I have to pay income tax on this…
After protesting that 50% tax rate on people earning over £50,000 was unfair it seems very odd that the UK government wants me to pay 20% VAT (yes, Amazon charge the author not the customer) 30% to the US gov and then another 10% or 30% income tax.

The other problem with third party platforms? Since I switched the titles to Amazon and off the site, any sales have stopped dead. Quite literally, not a single book sold or free book downloaded. So, on the bright side, at least the income tax won’t be a problem.

Apparently the EU Parliament are very concerned – so concerned that they will do nothing about this until 2016, by which point it really will be a little late. My apologies to my readers.

EUVATACTION are working on it, and you can get the latest updates here:


Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

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EUVAT and why releases are delayed

I have three books ready to come out. I can’t currently release them because of the recent actions of our government, specifically the mess that is called EUVAT – a new set of tax laws created in 2015 with little notification that are hammering small businesses and sole traders.

If you’re not familiar with these, for many the VAT system limped along, expanding organically to cover the web as it developed – VAT had to be calculated and paid in the seller’s country. This was sometimes abused by larger companies to base themselves in a country with a low VAT rate. Then the EU changed it. From Jan 2015 VAT has to be paid in the buyer’s country to the buyer’s government, but still calculated and paid by the seller. The customers details have to be stored for ten years, and there is no threshold. From the first cent of a sale, VAT must be calculated.

You will hear a lot of misinformation
  • that companies which are under the VAT threshold aren’t affected
  • that MOSS means not completing a return
  • that German language products are exempt.
These are nice ideas, but unfortunately they are untrue and stem from utter denial. In the vein of a teenager trying to pretend that if they do it standing up or if she wears a blue wristband she won’t get pregnant, many businessmen are clinging desperately to the idea that somehow they won’t have to deal with the consequences and it will be alright. Regrettably this blue blankie won’t stop them being hit with a VAT audit.

To be fair there is an element of “Jesus Christ, they can’t do that!” which is the single most common reaction when I mention this, followed by a protest that I must be mistaken. Unfortunately they are, they have, and we can either do something about it or stick heads back in the sand and grab onto a comforting myth.

The facts remain. If you sell a digital product to an EU customer (or a physical product from 2016)
  • you need to have two pieces of data locating your customer, which have to agree – you need to store that data for 10 years
  • you have to charge VAT on the product at the correct rate for the country and product
  • you have to remit that VAT to the buyer’s country.
  • there is no threshold: you have to do this from the first penny or cent you sell, and it doesn’t matter how large your company is.
If you get any of it wrong, you are liable for fines. Even if it is because the customer put in the wrong data, or because the VAT rates issued for use on the EU site are incorrect (which they currently are). The tax authorities are even trying to make sellers based outside the EU collect and remit this tax to them, something which US sellers are not taking very well.

This law is badly broken: –
  • Paypal do not provide the data required.
  • Storing customer data for ten years creates a PCI DSS issue and is illegal under some countries’ and US states’ laws.
  • Using a third party like Amazon as they suggest cuts your income significantly.
The costs of trying to comply are outside the range of small businesses and micro-businesses. In fact even the EU Commissioners responsible admit that the law is having a devastating effect on small business and are trying to get it changed. More concerningly, the businesses getting hit are disproportionately owned by those who cannot take a conventional job. Women and the disabled are being slammed.

Concerning Killgrace , this affects me quite badly because I use Paypal and so cannot confirm my customers’ location. I could sell through Amazon but the loss of income is huge. If I sell my books through Amazon my income is cut to a third – 30% – of what get if I sell directly.

Book PriceSold onFeesIncome
(Paypal fees for other amounts are here:

Switching to a third party platform lowers my income to 32% for 0.99 books and 31% for 1.99 – so less than one third.

At a time when I’m recovering from illness, I’m not really up to dealing with this and I know there are other people in a similar situation. It is a shame that a class action suit against the EU Commission for loss of earnings through bureaucratic negligence is not practical. (see next page)


Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Site Update

You may notice the theme has changed. I finally bit the bullet, since I wasn’t going to add any more stories until Novelist had gone.

I’ve still got a few tweaks to make to the stories and ebooks sections, but the site should get a bit of an update with new stories soon. I am cursing, however, that both I’ve been back to the doctor for followups for the reason I wrote so little last year, and that a powersurge blew my drive and backup drive.

I have hard copies and, I suppose, a lot of typing to do.


Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Updating look and feel

I will probably be changing the theme for the site fairly soon. This is a disappointment, as Novelist is a very pretty theme and easy to read content on. However it is also a complete nuisance to update, breaks the tumblr connection and ocassionally looses the background. It has added a huge overhead to things like the book pages where the existing CSS interferes with layout significantly, so I have to rebuild them from scratch. It has actually resulted in me slowing the release schedule because it is so difficult to work with, and the lack of widget areas does not help.

The original MT theme broke on Firefox so I won’t be going back to that, but if you wonder why the site is changing look a few times over the next week, now you know.


Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Changing a release style

After last year, I have a huge backlog of material written, but not quite ready for release.

Once a story is written it has to be edited, have a cover added, be formatted to ebook etc. All of this takes time, and energy that even with RA doing the bulk of the work, I just don’t have anymore. Being in and out of hospital took its toll, and I’m not back to 100% yet.

Given this I’m wondering about changing methods: setting up a Patreon and scheduling monthly releases of chapters through the site. That way each chapter can cover the editing of the next, and so on, and it is something to definitely get me moving on releasing this rather large backlog. My only small problem is that it means showing off my still-creaky voice on a video.

The first two stories would be Living Legend and Wandering Star, both largely finished but not ready for ebook.  Please, let me know your thoughts on this below.

Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Wear your poppy with pride

Wear your poppy with pride

Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Viewpoints available for pre-order

Viewpoints available for pre-order Viewpoints is now available to pre-order on Amazon. The anthology of four Killgrace stories goes on sale on 6th Sep, priced at 0.99. With a cover by James at GoOnWrite, it looks very different from the main series, and it’s not just the cover that takes a different approach.

Unlike the usual Killgrace stories, these are not written from the point of view of the main characters, Susan and Cet, but from the viewpoint of those who were caught up in the events around them. These are entirely new stories, not just old ones re-written from a different view:
  • •    Iconocide
  • •    Lake
  • •    Tears
  • •    Inconvenienced
So to pre-order your copy ready for the 6th, please click below.

Buy from Amazon stores worldwide

Posted by on September 4, 2014 in New Releases, Uncategorized

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Killgrace B.A.U.

BAU, a short story, is coming out today in a rather unusual form for the series. It will be released in a daily tweet at 2:30 each day on twitter. You can follow this using the hashtag #kgs1 or follow @Killgrace1 for updates.

This is the first twitter story for the series, set firmly in late Era2, when a visitor stumbles into the Killgrace offices demanding to see Susan with a normally unbelievable story. But then, this is Killgrace Industries, and the unbelievable is business as usual…

Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Killgrace Inverted Planet update

Killgrace Inverted Planet update The reworked Killgrace and the Inverted Planet is now available on Amazon. This was due in January, but delayed by health issues.

At a total of around 30,000 words, it will now be available free from their Amazon dashboard to anyone who has purchased it. The extra short story Weighty Issue and the absolutely amazing cover by Rashevskaya are still as they were.

You can find Inverted Planet on Amazon: Buy from Amazon stores worldwide

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

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