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Batshite on Indefinite Hiatus

05/07/2013

I started this blog 2.5 years ago, and it’s served me well. Through my environmental blogging, I connected with some amazing people. I went to Rio de Janeiro to blog for UNEP and TreeHugger at World Environment Day. And I believe I even changed a few minds.

By no means does this mean I’m halting my environmental activism. I will continue to fight for the environment (and for our survival in it) through my fiction writing, through my personal habits, and through social media. This only means that Batshite is going on hiatus until further notice. I may pick it back up at a later date, but I may not.

Here are what I consider to be among the most important Batshite posts:

I will be still be blogging, at scottplots.com. I hope you’ll connect with me there.

An Ecosystem of Solutions

03/24/2013

UNEP asked me to write an article on this year’s World Environment Day theme, Think.Eat.Save. I’m crossposting it from their website.

I’ll be frank: my years researching and blogging about environmental issues have left me with serious concerns for humanity’s future.

Our problems are numerous and grave. For example, at our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, we are set to destroy the stable climate that allowed civilization to arise. As well, global oil production is fast approaching a peak—many remaining reserves are harder to access, and more carbon-dense. And environmental degradation threatens to destroy 25% of the world’s food production by 2050.

That’s all pretty bad news, and my first time hearing it made me eager for some good news. Here, I did find encouragement. I learned that possible solutions far outnumber the problems, and even better, many of the solutions address several problems at once. For instance, reducing fossil fuel use and pursuing clean alternatives won’t just help with the energy crisis—it will also mitigate global warming, which in turn will preserve our ability to produce enough food.

It’s one thing to read about remedies, but it’s quite another to encounter a network of resourceful, determined people working together to realize them. When you experience that, you start to believe we can overcome the mounting crises that face us in the 21st century.

At least, that’s what happened to me when I traveled to Rio de Janeiro last year, to cover World Environment Day for UNEP and Treehugger.com after winning the Rio+20 Big Blog Off. This amazing opportunity brought me into contact with such environmental heroes as Maasai warrior Samson Parashina, who won a Champions of the Earth award for his leadership in conserving the wildlife and cultural heritage of the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya.

I also had several opportunities to speak with UNEP’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner. On one occasion, he told me that UNEP doesn’t select host countries for World Environment Day based on whether they’ve achieved “environmental nirvana”—the presence of lively debate is much more important. Another day, I heard him say UNEP’s role is “to speak truth to power.”

When I began to reflect on the theme for World Environment Day 2013, Think.Eat.Save, I realized the food crisis calls for the same approach. World leaders have a lot on their plates, and environmental issues are often pushed aside. It’s vital that during World Environment Day—and indeed, during our day-to-day lives—we work to promote informed debate on environmental issues, and also to speak truth to power.

Our food problems are considerable. According to a recent report, one-third to one-half of the four billion metric tons of food produced yearly goes to waste. Meanwhile, 20,000 children under the age of 5 die from hunger every day.

But again, possible solutions are diverse, and their benefits extend even beyond the food crisis.

For example, we can bolster our communities’ food security by growing our own food, as well as buying locally. Security isn’t the only benefit here, however—numerous studies show that getting food locally emits fewer greenhouse gases than importing it does, and also improves air quality.

World Environment Day provides a high-profile forum to discuss such solutions, and to develop interconnecting frameworks for their implementation.

For humanity to continue flourishing, we have to work together.

Click here to subscribe to Batshite.

Giving Away 15 Signed Copies of Royal Flush (my medieval comedy novel)

02/06/2013

ImageI’ve tried a bunch of zany things over the last year to promote my humour novel Royal Flush, from hosting an open-source book launch, to selling at my local farmers’ market, to embarking on a month-long blog tour, to recording the first part as an audiobook and giving it away for free.

And while my promotional efforts have resulted in a steady increase of awareness, so far there has been no point when it’s exploded.

Except for, maybe, right now.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Here’s what’s happening: I posted a giveaway to Goodreads, which began two days ago, and which at the time of writing has attracted 401 entries. While I wouldn’t exactly call this the ‘ship coming in’ for my writing career, it strikes me as very promising, and I do believe I’ll be hosting multiple Goodreads giveaways in the future (though perhaps not with as many books).

In an attempt to make this something more than a straight promotional post for my book, I’ll tell you what I’ve figured out about hosting a successful giveaway on Goodreads. (Not that, I’m sure, mine could be called successful just yet. Getting there, though!)

Giveaways are accessible to users via 4 lists, and the more time your book spends at the top of these lists, the better. The lists are as follows:

1) Ending Soon

2) Most Requested

3) Popular Authors

4) Recently Listed

You get on the Popular Authors list by being a popular author–meaning, your books have attracted lots of ratings/reviews from Goodreads users. That isn’t me yet, so it’s not a list I’ll be focusing on for this particular giveaway.

ImageYou get on Recently Listed by, obviously, having recently listed your giveaway. This is probably what got me most of the initial 400 entries. But it isn’t quite that simple–you should choose an unpopular date to start your giveaway, so that you aren’t competing with a bunch of other giveaways on the day you start. I chose February 4th, which is neither a holiday nor the beginning or end of a month.

The same thing applies to the Ending Soon list. (I’m ending mine March 7th.)

As for Most Requested, your giveaway needs to be among the currently active giveaways with the most entrants. To this end, I plan to put a push on to promote my giveaway both on and off Goodreads. I figure the earlier one can get on this list, the better. (Hence this blog post, lol.)

Goodreads also has a paid advertising option, which puts ads in front of its users and only charges you based on the amount of clickthroughs you get to your giveaway–50 cents per. Though I’ve barely paid for any advertising at all over the last year, I’ll probably drop $100 or so on this.

According to my research, having an eye-catching book cover is crucial. Scrolling through the books currently listed, I noticed mine is among the most colourful–many book covers on there right now use a lot of dark tones.

After that, the giveaway description is very important. I’ve read you should start with review quotes, then list any awards the book has won, and then give the book’s description. Some say not to even bother giving the description. I took a gamble and put a slightly-tweaked version of my usual book description first–I believe in my book to speak for itself.

But let’s get back to that thing in this post’s title–go join my giveaway!

Featured on the BookBaby Blog and Conversations LIVE

01/28/2013

Over the last couples weeks I’ve received generous exposure from a few places online.

ImageOn Friday, Chris Robley, who maintains the BookBaby blog, posted a write-up of the book launch I held for Royal Flush last year. I made the launch ‘open source’, meaning anyone was welcome to contribute to or modify the event. (BookBaby is the company I used to publish the Royal Flush eBook.)

I should also mention that Susan Heim interviewed me on her blog, and it’s one of my favourite interviews to date. Underneath it you’ll find a giveaway of the Royal Flush eBook, to which there are already 58 entries(!) The giveaway is over January 31st, so get steppin’ if you want to enter!

Finally, Cyrus Webb interviewed me on his radio show/podcast Conversations LIVE. I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion, which involved both my fiction writing and environmental activism, and also explored the intersection between the two.

All these generous peeps featuring me made me feel bad about posting here so rarely, and inspired me to post more. And how better to start that than to write a blog post about the people who’ve inspired me to do it!

So that’s what I’ve done.

Free Audiobook, Read by Me

01/16/2013

I briefly considered just adding all my Batshite subscribers to the list for my new monthly newsletter, which I’m calling “News in a Letter”. (Apt, right?) Then I realized what a dick that would make me. I don’t want to be a dick to you guys, so here’s my effort to convince you to subcriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiibe!

By signing up for my newsletter, not only will you receive *AMAZING* exclusive content in your inbox every month, you will also get Part One of Royal Flush as an audio recording, complete with sound effects and all the different zany voices–for FREE FREE FREE!

Image

This is my book, you may have seen it around

You will also be entered to win a signed copy of the novel.

So yeah. Here’s the link to sign up. I won’t take no for an answer! Except, actually I would, because what am I gonna do about it?

2012 in review

12/31/2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 75,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My 2012 Carbon Footprint = 3.789 tonnes of CO2

12/12/2012

I finally got around to calculating my carbon footprint for 2012, using Turn Back The Tide’s carbon calculator. Regular readers may remember Turn Back The Tide as the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s climate change public awareness initiative, which I helped launch in September.

So, without further ado, here it is:

carbon footprint

My footprint is about a third of the provincial average, which I’m glad of. It was also increased quite a lot by the trip I took to Rio de Janeiro in June, to blog from World Environment Day for the United Nations Environment Programme and TreeHugger.com. As I was working through the calculator’s seven steps, inputting that trip created the biggest leap.

At the end, the tool provided me with tips for lowering my footprint next year:

carbon footprint tips

All in all, a versatile and helpful resource. Again, if you’d like to check it out, click here. (Note, however, that certain values used in the calculator are specific to Newfoundland and Labrador.)

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