Thursday, May 22, 2008

Molly the Shetland Pony

I love a story with a positive ending and this one is so good, I'm posting it twice. Yes, this is exactly as posted on my pets' journal, Jan's Funny Farm.

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We received an email today with a wonderful story and photographs. We can't post it because Jan says we are supposed to use links, not use someone else's story/pictures without permission. And since so many emails are nothing more than someone else's work "borrowed" (a polite way of saying "stolen") without permission, they don't contain contact information or identify the source.

But this story is so good we just have to post it. So we did some research. First we went to snopes.com and checked to verify the story is true.

Then we read several blogs and sites on the subject. We searched the videos at YouTube. And now we are ready to post the story.

Molly the pony was left behind during Katrina. Eventually, she was taken to a rescue farm. There she was severely injured when attacked by a rescued pit bull. She survived, but lost a leg. Have you ever heard of a 3-legged pony ... wearing a prosthesis?

You can read some of Molly's inspirational story on The Jurga Report. The Jurga blog entry announces the book, Molly the Pony, but don't let that deter you. It gives you some background on Molly.

When you have read a little about her and how extensive her initial wounds were, her story becomes even more amazing.

This is a video made by the LSU School of Veterinarian Medicine and Molly the 15-year-old Shetland Pony is the star. It is well-worth taking a few minutes to watch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Come on down to the farm

You might have noticed MAP posts have been few and often far between for some time and some of them have been little more than a video. This one will include a video too, but since I've been deliberating for several days whether to post it, there is something I want to say first.

If you believe the modern teachings that God is whatever you want to make him, that there is no such thing as truth, that sin does not exist, that the purpose of our existence is to feel good, or that sex outside of marriage has no consequences, I respectfully disagree.

I believe there is a creator God, the Holy Bible is His written word, and in His word we can find certain dos and don'ts for our ultimate good. One of the most controversial through the history of the world is the directive that sex belongs within the framework of marriage and that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's almost illegal to say that today, but society can not dictate to God what does or does not constitute sin.

That said, here is a tongue-in-cheek truth from the word of God. The song is performed by Lewis & Lewis.

Monday, May 19, 2008

POD vs Amazon.com

I have a friend or two who has gone the POD (print on demand) route, so this email from Angela Hoy of Writers Weekly caught my attention. If you are considering self-publishing and have a dream of seeing your book for sale on Amazon.com, you might want to read this message. Click on the links to read the related material.

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BookLocker Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Amazon.com

This article may be quoted and/or reprinted in its entirety. If you'd like to comment on this situation, please visit.

BookLocker has filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon.com in response to Amazon's recent attempts to force all publishers using Print on Demand (POD) technology to pay Amazon to print their books.

You can read the complaint here.

Amazon began their clandestine effort earlier this year by phone (nobody there seemed to want to put anything in writing), approaching POD publishers, and telling them they must pay Amazon to print their books or their active "buy" buttons would be turned off at the Amazon.com website. What this means is Amazon customers won't be able to purchase those books directly from Amazon.com (and would not qualify for free shipping), but only through third-party resellers on the site.

Under the Amazon/BookSurge contract, Amazon:

* Controls the printing price of the POD books - The prices can change at anytime, at Amazon's discretion, with 30 days notice.

* Controls the retail price of the POD books across the board - Publishers would not be able to sell their books for a lower price through "any other channel" (including other bookstores), and would not even be able to sell their books for less to their own customers under any circumstances.

* Controls the wholesale price of the POD books - Amazon's new contract demands a 48%-52% discount (different contracts have been sent to different publishers). Many small, independent publishers can't afford to offer this discount to bookstores and would be forced to raise their book prices, which will ultimately hurt book buyers.

* Controls the digital setup and scanning fees for each POD title - After the initial dump of current books, publishers would be charged approximately $50 per title (again, different publishers are receiving different contracts) in setup fees and/or varying scanning fees payable to Amazon/BookSurge. These fees can change at anytime, at Amazon's discretion, with 30 days notice.

* Controls the formatting specifications - Many publishers can't absorb the massive number of man-hours required to reformat every single book interior and cover file in their inventory to match Amazon's specifications.

* Controls the quality of the books - Refer to THIS ARTICLE for details and links. It's no secret that BookSurge has a poor reputation for quality, including complaints about pages falling out of books, upside-down pages, and more. If a publisher pays Amazon to print their books, their reputation could suffer due to any possible BookSurge quality problems with that publisher's books.

* Attempts to control the public's knowledge of who has signed the Amazon/BookSurge contract, along with the details of that contract, through a confidentiality clause, so that publishers signing it may feel they can't talk about it at all.

* And, Amazon controls the golden nugget - that coveted "buy" button that book buyers want (so their order can qualify for free shipping).

In a public statement Amazon offered only one alternative to publishers, which is their "Advantage Program." However, they did not divulge in the public statement that the terms of the Advantage Program are even worse than their printing contract. The Advantage Program requires POD publishers to give Amazon 55% of the list price, pay them $29.95/year, and pay the shipping costs for books going to Amazon.

STRONG DISSENT FROM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES

The Author's Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), YouWriteOn.com (the U.K.'s leading writer's website) and the National Writer's Union have all issued strong statements denouncing Amazon's attempted power grab of the industry.

OUR STORY

After hearing rumors of Amazon's alleged activities, we spoke to an Amazon/Booksurge representative by phone on March 26th. You can read what transpired that day here:

After reviewing all the materials presented to us, and after talking on- and off-the-record with publishers, authors and industry representatives at all levels of this controversy, it is our opinion that Amazon may be positioning itself to directly print and control every book it sells. By forcing publishers to sign their extraordinarily oppressive contract, Amazon gains the power to charge publishers whatever printing and distribution costs it desires, as well as controlling the retail, discount and wholesale prices of the books it prints, and, through this contract, automatically positions itself to control the market.

We cannot say for certain if what Amazon is doing is legal or not at this point; that is for the Federal courts to decide. However, in our opinion, the seemingly covert manner in which Amazon has conducted itself in this matter seems to make their actions highly suspicious.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Amazon has already taken control of publishers' ebook sales on the Amazon.com website by requiring ebooks to be available for their ebook reader, the Kindle. Now, Amazon is attempting to take control of the printing of all POD books. We wonder if traditionally published books are next. Some are speculating that Amazon won't stop until they are being paid to print every book they sell.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

You can read more information about this situation here including a time-line of the events that have transpired.

You can comment on this situation here.

ARE YOU AFFECTED?

According to Amazon's public statement, ALL POD books will be affected. If you are a POD publisher (this includes self-published authors who publish their own POD books through a printer), or a traditional publisher using POD technology for some or all your books, and would like more information, please contact:

Angela Hoy, Publisher
Angela Hoy
Booklocker.com

Interview requests can also be directed to Angela Hoy at the email address above.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hand in Hand

A friend sent a video. After watching it, I searched YouTube in order to post it here and share it. It's an inspiring ballet. Please, if you aren't a ballet fan, watch it anyway. It might surprise you.