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MEGATRON BEARS GIFTS

Dear Gandalf,

I’m glad you announced your big move. I have been so proud of you these last few weeks. I’m surprised that we are both on such a roll. The critique group got The Plastic Divide yesterday. I hit the hard question: if you bought this for $.99 would you be satisfied with your purchase? I know I want to publish this within the month. I’ve learned how to format and already made the cover art. I just want to get it to an acceptable level. But I’m not going to dwell on it. I’m going to polish it to the point where I’m satisfied, release it, and on to the next.

I don’t have high aspirations for this piece. The market is set against me, considering it is a short story and I’m a new author. But I’ve been so sick of people off the internet wanting to read my fiction, and having nothing to offer them. The Plastic Divide is me, proving to myself that I can publish something. It’s time to break the ice and have those stories pour out.

Also, I come bearing gifts from dear RLL:

DARTH SINISTER PAINTS IT BLACK.

Wicked self-publisher Darth Sinister has returned to his repainted DEATH STAR, in preparation for the release of yet another Twisted Lifestyle Guide.

Throwing the rulebook out and deciding there can be as many Darths as space allows, Darth Sinister confers with his equally Darthtastic e-pubbing colleagues. First to arrive at a decidedly chilly pre-planetary-devastation cocktail party is nefarious self-publisher Darth Woodward…

DARTH SINISTER: You have done well, Darth Woodward. Now I sense you wish to continue your quest, to e-publish the rest of your trilogy.

DARTH WOODWARD: There’ll be nothing to stop us, this time.

DARTH SINISTER: Send your stories to the far side of Amazon. There you will encounter the fleet of indie readers.

DARTH WOODWARD: They will come to me?

DARTH SINISTER: I have foreseen it. Everything is proceeding as planned.

DARTH WOODWARD: Leaving time in which to make some popcorn, then. Goody. Ah, I mean. With pleasure.

DARTH SINISTER: You have been well-trained, my young apprentice. The critics will be no match for you.

DARTH WOODWARD: Gosh.

DARTH SINISTER: Rise, Darth Woodward. Deep-fried Ewok? I will MAKE it legal.

DARTH WOODWARD: What of the critics massing against the prospect of all that deep-fried Ewok?

DARTH SINISTER: There aren’t any.

DARTH WOODWARD: I sensed…at least six.

DARTH SINISTER: Diehard fans of Ewok movies. Which, incidentally, I have never seen. Wipe them out…some of them.

MOFF LARKIN: My Lord, Darth Biozarre’s shuttle has crash-landed in bay 1138. The Wookie pilot is being brought here for questioning.

DARTH WOODWARD: Aren’t you that moody poet, from Hull?

MOFF LARKIN: From Coventry, originally. No one is from Hull. All poets are moody. Except Pam Ayres. She fakes moodiness. Google her.

DARTH WOODWARD: I’ll be over here, making popcorn. With my lightsa…too much information.

MOFF LARKIN: Darth Biozarre and Wookie companion, my Lord.

DARTH SINISTER: Leave us.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Dude, I know we’re evil. But, did you have to respray the DEATH STAR black? Really…

NOISES OFF: (Bzhwwzumm, zhwum, bzzz jzh-zjzh pop pop pop pop pop!)

PISSED-OFF WOOKIE: Where the £&%! are MY subtitles? I’m walking off this gig. Jabba the £&%! gets subtitles. The £&%!*$ doesn’t even pay tax. Off-planet accounts on Cloud City, my arse.

DARTH SINISTER: What is it?

DARTH BIOZARRE: Young Vanderkarr has been sighted eyeing-up the scattered asteroid fields of the paper publishing belt.

DARTH SINISTER: That’s a bold move for her. Young Adult fiction hasn’t quite seen the same crashing slump in paper sales as in other sectors – though that will change with time. She could annoy us.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Darth Sinister, she’s just a girl. Old Fogey can no longer help her. If Young Vanderkarr could be turned to the Dark Side of publishing, she would be a powerful ally.

DARTH SINISTER: Yes. Young Vanderkarr would, indeed, be a great asset to e-pubbing. Though I must not ask if it can be done. Should it be done? There is a danger in those joining us bitching and moaning about their lot…

PISSED-OFF WOOKIE: What the £&%! was that about?! You won’t give me subtitles but you’ll £&%!+”@ bleep me?! I’m not Artoo £&%!+”@ Detour.

DARTH WOODWARD: Are you setting up a lame pun based on a detour?

PISSED-OFF WOOKIE: Not for what they’re paying me. I’m going back to porn.

DARTH WOODWARD: Consuming, or starring in?

PISSED-OFF WOOKIE: I’ll be staring in. And starring in.

DARTH WOODWARD: Don’t think I’ve ever seen Wookie porn…I’ve heard of Wookey Hole. Is that…

PISSED-OFF WOOKIE: One of my bestsellers? No, it’s a geological formation in the Mendip System.

DARTH SINISTER: Having trouble with your Wookie?

DARTH BIOZARRE: Ah, he brought some droid. It’s a poor excuse for setting up a lame pun involving a detour. There’s a sponsored message. A few public service announcements. And a travelogue. I slept through the Wookie porn.

DARTH WOODWARD: Consuming, or starring in? Too much information.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Here’s the droid. The pun is beneath me.

ARTOO DETOUR: BEEPS AT LENGTH, LEADING TO LOSS OF POORLY-ARRANGED PUN.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Did you have to say that?

ARTOO DETOUR: PRETTY MUCH. THE BLEEPING BUDGET WAS ALLOCATED TO THE WOOKIE. HERE’S THE NUMBER TO CALL. UNACCOUNTABLY, IT STARTS 555. EVEN THOUGH I KNOW WE’RE NOT IN A MOVIE…

DARTH SINISTER: It’s ringing.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Is this the self-publishing self-help line?

DARTH SINISTER: Take your literary place at my side. It is your e-pubbing Destiny.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Er, I think I’ve swallowed some publishing blocks and…overdosed. But I fear the cure is worse than the disease! My stories are – gulp – unpublishable.

DARTH SINISTER: I will send my apprentice, Darth Biozarre. She will fix your broken stories.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Young Vanderkarr will come to understand the true nature of the Dark Side. This involves painting everything black, apparently.

DARTH SINISTER: Darth Biozarre, be mindful. Only together can we hope to turn young Vanderkarr to the Dark Side of publishing.

DARTH BIOZARRE: As you wish.

DARTH SINISTER: I hadn’t expressed a request.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Dude, I’m in the middle of unfollowing an entire army of Twitterbots.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: This is all turning quite scary. And a bit Darth-heavy, if you don’t mind my saying.

DARTH SINISTER: What publishing blocks have you swallowed, young Vanderkarr?

YOUNG VANDERKARR: I believe that my stories aren’t good enough to be published unless an agent tells me that they are good enough. Consequently, there are consequences. I could improve that last sentence. If only I had the confidence…

DARTH SINISTER: Is it also true to suppose that your stories aren’t really bad unless people tell you that they are bad?

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Uh? Wha? I, er. They are bad, because they aren’t any good. Or so I haven’t been told. Er…

DARTH BIOZARRE: Calm down. We’re not telling you that a paper publishing deal is a bad thing.

DARTH SINISTER: I wonder if your feelings are CLEAR on this matter, Darth Biozarre…

DARTH BIOZARRE: There is no conflict. Well, some conflict. That’s inevitable.

DARTH WOODWARD: Paper publishing companies aren’t evil in and of themselves. Er, going back to popcorn now.

NOISES OFF: (Bzh-t-t-t-t-t-t-t pop pop pop pop…)

YOUNG VANDERKARR: I just don’t think I’m ready to ever be ready for any kind of publishing deal. Ever. Certainly not a deal that involves electronic publishing and becoming, gasp, Darth Vanderkarr. What’s a girl to do? Let’s crank this up a bit, so I can appear as a hologram…

DARTH WOODWARD: Just CONTROL + ALT + DELETE your droid, and press the red button marked 10. Obscure sci-fi ref. Whoops.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Hi there.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Wearing a fair bit of black today, for someone who feels too goody-goody to stray on over to e-publishing.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: This is just an old robe…not like it’s a cowl or a cape or anything.

DARTH WOODWARD: No capes, dahling! Er, I’ll just be over here.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Black nail-varnish, young Vanderkarr. Methinks the Darth doth protest too much.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Casual fashion-statement. Don’t read too much into that. I was spoi…stuck…for choice.

DARTH SINISTER: Perhaps better to say, don’t p-read too much. E-read, you know it is your Destiny.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: That’s too much tech for the lowly scribbler in me. I feel more comfortable with…

DARTH SINISTER: Ah yes. The Typesabre. Weapon of an author. Much like your father’s.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’m tilting toward the ergonomic keyboard…

DARTH BIOZARRE: Just for the record, I’m not your dad. Not even in some twisted time travel sex-change artificial insemination weird shit second sex-change weird shit more time travel kinda way.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Thanks for that. And if there’s an unknown twin brother out there, one I accidentally kissed a few times at a wild party, no need to call in. I’m happy living without that trauma in the background.

DARTH BIOZARRE: It’s legal in those Southern star systems.

DARTH WOODWARD: Deep-fried Ewok, anyone? I haven’t fried any. Just…taking orders. Would prefer not to. We could stick with…popcorn. It’s…Mild Mint Bubblegum.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: You seem awfully nice, for a Darth.

DARTH WOODWARD: I’m a Canadian Darth. We’re…polite as all hell when slicing you up with swords made from buzzy light.

DARTH SINISTER: Join us, Young Vanderkarr. Embrace e-publishing. Listen to Darth Biozarre…

DARTH BIOZARRE: By now you must know that the Old Order kept authors in subjugation.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: No! It’s not true! Well, with a limited time-window and a “shed” load of product to shift, the business-model employed by publishers of romantic fiction tended to generate galley-slaves all pulling at the oars to get the next torrid volume to readers…but…

DARTH BIOZARRE: Join me, and I will complete your training. It is folly to resist.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’ll never join you. Nice use of folly, BTW.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Obi-Wan Old Fogey never told you what happened to your father.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: My dad never fought in the Print Wars.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Again, I’m not your dad.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Pending the DNA Test. Potential freaky sex-change time traveller.

DARTH BIOZARRE: That’s sex-change, sex-change back. If you will not join me, then you will face your Destiny!

YOUNG VANDERKARR: But if I do join you, won’t I face my Destiny anyway? In the wider sense…

DARTH BIOZARRE: Well, in the narrow sense, you’d face a different Destiny. Though that would still be a Destiny, of sorts.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: But you could seek out a paper publisher yourself.

DARTH BIOZARRE: It’s too late for me. Darth Sinister once thought as you do. That was in the Old Republic. When paper publishing was the only game in town, and all forms of self-publishing were mocked as though akin to sexually-transmitted diseases. The oogly ones. With green stuff…

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Yes, yes. Too much information. But…just because publishing changed. That doesn’t mean. We have to turn our backs on the old ways. I still cling to the need to hold a paper book in my hands, for crying out loud!

DARTH SINISTER: Oh, I’m afraid the Kindle reader will be QUITE OPERATIONAL by the time your paperback books ARRIVE.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Join us. Together we will rule the publishing world. From our repainted DEATH STAR.

DARTH WOODWARD: Ooh, we could paint it RED. Who would mess with a scarlet DEATH STAR? Hmm, I feel a song coming on…perhaps not.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Too many Darths in this kitchen. Though I would look stylish in black, with a red lightsab, aherm, koff koff, is that the time? I should be going.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Don’t underestimate the POWER of underestimation.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: Okay.

DARTH BIOZARRE: You just did.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: I knew that. Darn. Well I’m just a hologram, so, I’ll be going.

DARTH SINISTER: Think it over.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’m afraid to think it over.

DARTH SINISTER: Turn your fear to your advantage. Fear is a powerful ally. You must come to fear NOT publishing, rather than publishing.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: No! Help! Where’s the off-switch…

DARTH BIOZARRE: There is NO off-switch. Search your feelings. You know it to be true. The fear of NOT publishing is more powerful, more seductive, than fear of publishing could ever be. Mark well Darth Sinister’s words.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: It can’t be true.

DARTH BIOZARRE: Still not your dad.

DARTH SINISTER: The most important thing about advice is that you aren’t required to like it. Format your work for Kindle, Kacey. Become your own publisher. Kill any fear you have. Rein in emotional responses and think hard about your plans. Do what I did, and what I continue to do. Self-publish.

And don’t just self-promote – help other writers. That’s what I’m doing right now. When will your work be ready? When it is finished. Publish. Right. I’ve done my bit, trying to help other writers. If anything I’ve written here seems to be a hindrance to you, ignore it. Just don’t ignore the previous sentence.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: There’s something awfully familiar about that speech…you weren’t RLL before you turned into Darth Sinister…

DARTH BIOZARRE: Oh, you are so busted. I knew painting the DEATH STAR black was a bad idea. Total giveaway.

DARTH SINISTER: The only way out is to wake up and realise this was all a symbolic dream.

DARTH WOODWARD: Goodbye, Kacey. Don’t eat the Ewoks. That wasn’t a Wookie porn reference.

YOUNG VANDERKARR: And then I woke up. With new plans…

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