Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scribd Shoots Off Own Foot?

This just came off the Smashwords blog:
Scribd, the fast-growing ebook subscription service, today announced dramatic cuts to their catalog of romance and erotica titles.

Effective immediately, I (Mark Coker) estimate 80-90 percent of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will be dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of our most popular romance titles.  Books priced at free are safe and will remain in their catalog.

Based on what I've been able to glean, the lower the price and the higher the word count, the better the odds the book will remain.  Few books priced $3.99 and above will remain.  Scribd is not publicly revealing the formulas for what stays and what goes, probably because much of this is still in flux. They're cutting all publishers and distributors with the same blunt knife.

It's ugly.  The problem for Scribd is that romance readers are heavy readers, and Scribd pays publishers retailer-level margins for the books.  In a letter to publishers and distributors delivered earlier today, Scribd said:
Dear Publisher

As you know, in starting Scribd, we bore the majority of the risk when establishing a business model that paid publishers the same amount as the retail model for each book read by a Scribd subscriber. Now, nearly two years later, the Scribd catalog has grown from 100,000 titles to more than one million. We’re proud of the service we’ve built and we’re constantly working to expand the selection across genres to give our readers the broadest possible list of books for $8.99 per month.

We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.

We look forward to continuing to grow subscribers, increase overall reading, and increase total publisher payouts in a way that works for everyone over the long term. We of course want to keep as many of your authors and titles on Scribd as we can, so we’d love to discuss our plans and how we can best work with you going forward.

Thank you for your business.

Bottom line, romance readers - readers we love dearly at Smashwords - are reading Scribd out of house and home.  Scribd's business model, as it's set up now, simply can't sustain the high readership of romance readers.  They're not facing the same problem with readers of other genres.
WoW! Read the rest HERE

Never thought I would see this.

Okay, I admit I've never been a fan of Erotica. I've slammed them as pornographers and rolled my eyes when Erotic authors brag about their earnings.

I've already noted that B&N weighs the rank of Smashwords titles by about 100k points. They've done that for years now.

But I never, ever thought I was going to see this.

I don't know if Swallow The Moon and Let's Do Lunch will be affected. Both are short and under $3.99. Neither of them is going to Scribd via Smashwords. (*Which doesn't matter, D2D sent out a similar notice. The difference is they aren't looking at 90% of their catalog.)

I'm going to test the links. Yes, the books are still up.

Perhaps I will get a few more sales because of this. But I'm not going to hold my breath. This is a very, very strange thing to watch happen.


There have been rumors that the purge is aimed at the content, but I've also been told that Erotica has never been part of the subscription service. So I raise an eyebrow at Mark's assertion that the Erotica titles are going too.

Perhaps we will never know why this is happening.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Points To Ponder

As I withdraw from the World of Social Media, I'm feeling less stressed. I've stopped lurking on every writer's site on the web, and I'm getting more active around the house. As a person with an addictive personality, I find that I've been addicted to being online. 

I'm sure that my attempt to liquidate #TheHoard will pull me offline quite a bit. It might be enough to shake it off.

I'm making quite a bit of progress with the latest short story. It's twice as long as what I started with, Mom didn't do dialog. I've centered it in the Harbor, where I believe she intended it to take place.  I've decided NOT to release it via Amazon, Select/Unlimited -- as I have with the recent e-books,

Since Amazon announced changes to it's Select/Unlimited programs, I've taken a long hard look at my results.

Frankly, from where I stand, Amazon is no longer a viable market.

Two days of freebies resulted in 12 d/ls for "Shelter From The Storm" last weekend. Two days for "Character Flaw" gave 2 d/ls, 1 a day.

I can do better than that on both B&N and Apple's iBooks and get a few sales on other e-books after the giveaway.

It's time for me to drop out of Select/Unlimited for good.

Oh, and PS - buy my books. :-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Sky Is Falling! Kindle Select Pays By The Page

First of all, I need a Puppy Break.

Aren't they cute? That's Trouble (with the slipper in his mouth) and Mocha the Great Watch'em Dog.

Now that my breathing has returned to normal - let's talk about Amazon's newest program in Kindle unlimited. The Blogosphere would have us think it was designed to make us Indie Writers insane.

Remember, these changes only apply to e-books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

Look at the puppies, and breath. (Make sure Carole isn't around.)

My mother's Short Stories are released in Kindle Select. Usually I put them in Select, wait a week, crank out all the free days and when the 90 days are up, I go ahead and release them from captivity.

I do that to give them a boost. I might get 1 or 2 halo sales, but not too many.

So I understand why ANY changes are making other people crazy. The whole WORLD is in chaos! The economy stinks, mad-men with guns are walking into churches and killing middle-class citizens, Steven Colbert has vanished and Jon Stewart is quitting. (Ulp, back to the puppies.)

The fact that Publishing Bloggers, like The Little Red Hen, are screaming "THE SKY IS FALLING!" doesn't help me a bit.

It's okay, really, it's all click-bait.

Look at the puppies. (Carole isn't around, it's safe.)

Maybe Amazon is trying to lure the Novelists back to Select/Unlimited. If that's true, then it's going to pay to be a Novelist again. At $0.60 a borrow, Select and Unlimited don't pay a lot, so longer works shouldn't be trapped in the system.

I used Select when it first came out, hit the Amazon UK Best Seller's List and rode that pony for 10 long and lovely weeks. Then the algorithm changed, and that pony didn't go as fast or as far after that. My work settled deep in the mulch layer, and has never been able to dig it's way out. Yikes!

Here's another pretty face:

That's Grumpy, in full length fur. Ain't he squee-worthy?

We work hard for our sales. Some people have success, others don't. It really sucks to go from Best Seller to micro-seller. But that's what happened to me. When Amazon changed over to Kindle Unlimited, my sales tanked. I went six months without one damn sale on Amazon.

Publishing is a craps-shoot. It's worse than D-n-D. You roll the dice, pay the price and there's nothing in the world that will give you a +1 bonus.

The Honeymoon is long gone.

For me, the advantage, when there was one, of releasing Mom's short stories to Select/Unlimited is pretty much gone. Amazon's lowest price, $0.99 yields $0.35, which is better than $0.01 or $0.10. With an average of 12 d/ls for 2 free days, no halo sales and no lift in sale's rank, why wait 90 days to hit a dozen more markets?

I can get a better run on Apple's iBook with either Smashwords or D2D, WITH halo sales and a bump in sales rank.

The playing field levels out.

For a rational examination of Amazon's new policy, I recommend this post The Great Amazon Hysterian...Part 31 by David Gaughran. 

For a gentle scolding if you've already become hysterical Elizabeth Hunter posted this gem: For Indie Writers: You Have The Control. Own it!

PS - Please buy my books.*

* (They say Barry Eisler ends his posts with 'Buy my crap.' I figured 'what the hell?')

Dawns The Light

Last night a some of our local authors gathered together for a Meet-&-Greet, it was a small gathering, like the Reading on Saturday.

The wonderful thing was we got to put our heads together and share information.

It freaks me out when someone says they can't afford to publish a book because it costs thousands of dollars. I realize that communication, between writers, isn't as lightening fast as email.

It is easy to forget that I'm plugged into the World of Indie Publishing in ways that other people aren't. The hundred or so hours I've spent every week since 2009, learning all I can, is stuck in my head. (It wants out.) I want to pay it forward, and haven't had a clue on how to do it.

My books rode the cutting edge for a few sweet, fleeting, weeks, and dropped into the mulch layer, like thousands of books before and after mine.

I see myself as a micro-publisher, on the fringes of a vast industry that doesn't know that my itty-bitty company exists.

I live in a region full of talented writers. The more I hear and see the work of others, the more in awe I become.

These books are incredible.

On Saturday I heard four authors who wrote completely different genre, in different styles, and they all touched me with the quality and craftsmanship of their books.

Craftswomanship is a better term for Saturday, but yesterday there were two guys there, and they were craftsmen, too.*

These authors and their books don't belong in the Mulch Layer. The bookstore that was kind enough to host us should get recognition as well as the gallery/pub who hosted us last night. There are supporting craftswomen and craftsmen, editors, proofreaders, cover artists toiling in obscurity who deserve some kind of recognition.

Together, we can achieve, or ascend, to heights we can't reach alone.

It's a matter of finding the way to dig ourselves out of the mulch layer.

This blog might make a good starting point.

* Gender is such a sticking point. Using either pronoun leaves out half the population. Using both sounds stilted. (sigh) I'm gonna use both.

Monday, June 22, 2015

New Cover For 'The Emissary'

My proof of the new book cover came today. I'm pleased to say that I approved it and ordered a number of copies.

We have another event tomorrow, however, I'm almost out of books.

I'm Pleased With D2D Today!

Remember a couple days ago, when I mentioned that 'The Emissary - Journey' had a higher rank on Draft 2 Digital than 'Impressive Bravado' did via Smashwords, that was also a freebie and being d/led briskly on iBooks and B&N?

Check this out:

Product Details
BN ID: 2940152209761
Publisher: Icy Road Publishing
Publication date: 7/14/2013
Series: Horsewomen of the Zombie Apocalypse, #1
Sold by: Draft2Digital
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 93,410
File size: 3 MB

Product Details
BN ID: 2940011320446
Publisher: Icy Road Publishing
Publication date: 5/17/2011
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 113,405
File size: 2 MB

Crazy! Isn't it?

The D2D file has 22 d/ls on Barnes and Noble in two months, when 'Impressive Bravado' is just 2 e-books behind, but has been free since 2014. 

Yet 'Impressive Bravado' is still ranked 113k, after a year or more of 8 to 10 d/l a month.

'Impressive Bravado' is doing really well as a freebie on iBooks and iTunes with 47 d/ls last month and 60 in April. There's the prologue and first chapter of The Emissary inside it. The highest monthly d/l for the year is 87.

Of course, since they're both free I've missed out on $200 in royalties. But if they weren't free...I'd get zip anyways. (rolling eyes) That's just how the publishing cookie crumbles.

Visibility -- there just doesn't seem to be any way to pull myself out of the mulch layer and into the bottom-tier of the mid-list. 

I've been kicking the tires on the ideas for the Icy Road Publishing mailing list. I sold a buncha fence posts the other day, I'm hoping it will cover getting some help with the Mailing List. 

I'm going to see if my writer friends want to share email addresses for a slot on the August Newsletter. I'm thinking Drew, Juliet, D. A., Briget and Debra might be interested. (The links are to their books on Amazon.)

We need a thousand addresses by Christmas. So we can send out a New Year's Special Edition to kick off Reading Season.

There's so MANY talented authors around here, and we ALL need a break.

It seems that a co-op mailing list is the way to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Draft 2 Digital - Update

I'm pleased to say that I'm getting some results from Draft 2 Digital.

I've had books on the site for two years now, and had ZERO sales. But I'm a bit more than frustrated with Smashwords. Half of my frustration is their content, every pornographer in the world uses them, the other half is the fact they hold earnings for 3 months before they pay.

So I switched over to D2D. They post faster, and the books appear to have better visibility. (They aren't being filtered for content, which helps.)

The results are encouraging.

My B&N downloads of free books are double what they were from Smashwords. Or at least the reporting is twice as fast. On Smashwords I get one or two d/l of Impressive Bravado a day, but The Emissary might as well be invisible.

On D2D, I've already had 20 d/l of The Emissary this month.

Why the difference?

Content filtering, is my guess. As Smashwords panders to the pornographic, B&N is forced to blanket filter their content - it all goes into the mulch layer and stays there. They don't have time to sort it, so it all gets about 10k 'points' added to the rank to keep it from dominating the charts.

Since D2D doesn't carry that content, the files have an even chance of being seen, which is a BIG boost to a small-fry like myself.

Why do I say this? Impressive Bravado (via Smashwords) has been a steady give-away on B&N for 3 years, it has a rank of 113k. The Emissary, Smashwords version, is invisible. I can't find it with a simple search. However, the D2D version is sitting pretty with a rank of 101k.

My work has always sold better on B&N than on Amazon. Smaller venue, better chance to be seen. But the NookPress website offers no advantage, and is being curated by Author Solutions; of all the drek vanity publishers in the world, Author Solutions, under all it's aliases, is the worst.

Unfortunately, I can't close the NookPress account, just like with KoboWritingLife, there's no way to close the account as an author and no way to get your money out if you have them do it. (Both sites have owed me $9 for years, I'll never see that money.)

In case you are curious, I'll clarify my methods. I uploaded all my short fiction to D2D two years ago, where it did nothing. I've been getting a smattering of d/ls of freebies on Smashwords, but only about $10 of sales per year. (Most of those were Sony Sales.) This February I uploaded Mom's short stories to D2D, made a couple of hers free and one of mine (Impressive Bravado) her's started to get some action when I re-did the covers.

The Emissary started getting hits on B&N via D2D with the new cover. I couldn't even FIND the Smashwords version on B&N, so I pulled it. They report 2 months in arrears on Smashwords, while D2D has promised to report daily starting yesterday.

Oh, what a difference a day made.

I'm showing 11 d/ls of The Emissary in May and 10 for June. The Emissary has FINALLY been discovered on B&N!

I'm handling the switch-over very carefully. First, I've raised all Smashwords prices to $.99. I'm handling all the freebies via D2D. Then I started pulling all the Smashwords files from vendors who have hooked up with both companies.

The wild card is Apple, currently my best vendor for Impressive Bravado. Switching over to Apple has proven trickier. First off, they require ISBNs from Smashwords. However, they do not appear to require ISBNs from D2D.

I may not switch over on Apple. Upsetting the Apple-cart is not in my best interest. We'll see what happens with freebies vs dollar-dreadful on Apple.

If I can start making money on Apple, I'll leave Smashwords alone.

IMO Kobo is a black-hole. Kobo is a black-hole even if you have an account in Writing Life. I've found it impossible to get any ACCURATE sales information out of them since Day 1. (Shrug) They never update covers, or files, or prices and they never pay.

Meanwhile, I earn a dollar or two from Amazon each month.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to make this announcement: I'm pulling out of the e-book business at the end of 2015. 

I had two books hit the Best Seller's List - it was fantastic - but it didn't last. Since 2012 my best month was $14 last year. I can't justify all the time I spend online for zero return.

I'm going to finish up all the current projects in time for the Winter Reading Season, in my spare time. I'm pulling e-books from every market that has zero return at the end of 2015.

I intend to get rid of The Hoard, get Talbot Hill sold and get a Real Life.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Irene's Birthday

My mother would have been 91 on the 22nd of June this year.

Time flies, it really does.

I've been working on the Newsletter for the last 2 days. There are two short stories out so far this month. I posted the links in the posts that announced the releases.

I might get one or two more story stories posted before the end of the month. It depends on how things go with The Hoard this weekend.

I've been fussing up a storm about The Hoard this week. I've got a book signing with several other authors this Saturday, which means I have to have the Hubs babysit the yard sale for me. He's agreed to help me, and I'll be back before dark on Saturday night.

But this isn't working for us. I can't be in two places at once, and I've got another book signing coming up on Tuesday next week. Time is running out for The Hoard and Dad's farm.

I've got to find another way to get rid of all this stuff.

I know I can sell it all, lock stock and t-post clips to an auction house - but if I do that, I might be selling important papers that will be lost forever. There's a genealogy for the Gypsy side of the family that goes back a couple hundred years. I need to find it and send it to the rest of Anna Androcovitch's grandchildren. It's the X-chromosome that all us girls have in common.

So I'll keep sorting it out. I'm feeling better about it, because I've made a lot of progress in the last month. As soon as I burn all the dirty boxes and papers, there will be room to walk around in the barn.

To have both room to walk around AND room to sort things is going to be a big step up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's All About The Trolls

Watching the general meltdown over 'The Good Reads Bullies' I'm sitting at my computer, shaking my head as I read more and more of this LOLERcoaster.

No where have I seen a single sign of remorse - as in 'gee, maybe I shot myself in the foot when I compared that author's work to dog vomit?"

For my usual readers - in case you have just tuned in - it started out like this:

Trollette #one: "I'm a mean-girl. Look at me trash this writer. Trash, trash, trash...hehehe...trash, trash, trash." Types furiously. "They are JUST authors. They HAVE to take it. They can't strike back...hehehe."

Trollette #two: "OMG! Isn't #one a real bitch! Hehehehe...I wanna be just like her! SOooo I'll trash, trash, trash, too. Look girls, we can trash these writers, and they can't say a word! HAHAHA...trash, trash, trash!"

I found this on my hard drive. Thought I would post it just for kicks and giggles.

And the trollettes had a wonderful time, trashing writers, competing to out snark each other in perfect safety - because writer's are wimps who can't fight back.

UNTIL one day:

Trollette #one: OMG! That BITCH! how COULD she trash me back? NO, NO! BAD WRITER! You can't TRASH BACK! TRASHING is for TROLLS!" Runs to the Troll Cave. "TROLLETTES, Report! Some stupid writer who doesn't know they can't fight back is ACTUALLY FIGHTING BACK! We must STOP THEM!"

Trolls race to where they can menace writer - they spam the writer with nasty comments, huffing and puffing vitrol as fast and as far as they can. They happily drop docs and troll-on - getting heavenly lolercoasters going - and it's always 10 trolls to 1 writer.

ALWAYS the TROLLS WIN with superior numbers!

For a time, the Trollettes are happily turning a site for book lovers into a trashy troll cave. They have a wonderful time saying mean things they wouldn't want their families to know about. They say all kinds of trashy troll things on all kinds of social media - because they are MEAN-GIRLS and no one is allowed to fight back.

EXCEPT - one day a writer or two turns the tables. They open a website, calling out the Trollettes and dropping ice cold docs on their steaming hot asses.

"BWAAAANNNNNAAAAAA!!!" Scream the trolls. "YOU CAN'T DO THAT! You're writers and you can't fight back! BWANNNAAAAAA!"

Now this is bad. The trollettes aren't safe in their happy trashy cave any more. They have NAMES - and addresses and houses, bosses, husbands and pastors who don't like trashy troll-bitches. Suddenly it's not so safe to be a trolls - they're butt-hurt because they've been outed as trolls for all to see.

So do these trolls look at themselves and say "HOLY SHIT - I shouldn't have done that!"

Of COURSE NOT! That would mean they are human - these are MEAN-GIRLS. Mean-girls are NEVER, EVER wrong!

So they travel FAR and WIDE over the interwebz to make sure that EVERYONE knows they are the Wronged Party.

There was a mention made on the Passive Voice comparing internet Trolls to  anger/excitation rapists. The more the victim struggles, the more frenzied the attack.

At first, I scoffed, then I thought about it.

Really - in all these frenzied posts, there is a feeling of animal blood-lust. At first going in for the 'Kill' on prey that 'couldn't reply.'Now they appear to be running scared - 'bwannnaaaaing' all the way back to their cave.

Back Into The Hoard

One corner of The Hoard

This is a photo of The Hoard from just inside the door. These shelves used to be piled all the way to the rafters, with boxes and boxes of stuff. 

There's still plenty of stuff there, I took a photo to show that I made some progress. Not a lot of progress, but some. 

This weekend I'm going to take another shot at getting rid of some more. This time, since there's some room, I've got a couple shelves set up with items for sale. I've got the opposite corner cleaned out as well. 

The progress is slow, because there's SO MUCH stuff. At least there's room enough to move around. I'm going to burn a bunch of files and old boxes, to make more room in the barn. 

One more weekend, one more yard sale, a few more boxes emptied and gone.

This is gonna take all summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two New I. C. Talbot Stories on Amazon

I've just finished posting two new short stories by I. C. Talbot to Amazon.com

The Secret of Aleworthy Acres, by I. C. Talbot
Cara Novotny gets a letter from Amy Aleworthy, an elderly relation that takes her on a journey to the old family farm. But someting isn't quite right, Amy isn't what she seems. This short story is 5.5k words.

Shelter From The Storm, by I. C. Talbot
Hurricane Georges is coming to the little Florida farm belonging to a loney widow. Amy knows her house and barn can handle the storm. Meanwhile two cars break down on the road, a mother and her children are trapped in a ditch. Short story 3k words

I'm glad to be back on track with releasing these short stories. I've been working on the Estate since April, and gotten behind in my publishing.

If you click the link on the first line, it will take you to the Amazon US, I. C. Talbot Author Page. 

If you would like to know when new e-books are released and when they will come on sale or free, sign up for the Icy Road Publishing Newsletter. The link is on this page.

Also, I would like to announce that 'Tales From The Leeward Lounge II' is in the works, as are 8 more short stories. 

I would like to credit my friend Karlin at The Country Clerk for her help in getting the short stories ready to publish. The stories needed to be formatted and proofread because they've gone through at least 10 different word processing updates and 6 operating systems. There were strange little glitches in all the files, so she had to seek them out for me. 

If you are an author and need a hand proofreading, I recommend her highly.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

State Of The Estate

The result of 2 weeks of clearing.

This weekend I have again joined the battle against #TheHoard. This is my pet name for my mother's estate, a collection of things acquired over 89 years.

There are so many things. Most of them have some small value, but not enough to make hauling it to a flea market worth the effort. Although, I'm going to have to do something to get rid of it all. Now that I have one small section of the barn cleared out, I can see this is going to take all summer.

I was afraid that my own inner hoarder would be jumping up and down clamoring to keep the majority of it. So far it's only been a few tools, a couple of rugs, a brass ashtray, two shot glasses (from the bar we once owned) and a copper nick-knack.

But it's in such an out-of-the-way area that I'm thinking I'm going to have to haul all this to the flea market. It would be a tremendous amount of work. Everything is priced, so THAT much is done. 

It's tempting to trash it all.

However, every last bit of this stuff is useful on one context or another.

I did have one very interesting customer, a Mennonite family from Lancaster Pennsylvania. They bought a lot of stuff that I was selling at rock bottom prices. (There are hundreds of small items that I'm selling 5 for $1.)

Here's the fun part -- rumor has it that my father's mother was Pennsylvania Dutch...also known as Mennonite...from Lancaster county Pennsylvania.

A very interesting article I found in my wanderings says that we tend to like people who have similar genes. (This could be pure BS, but who knows?) All I know is this -- I really liked the family.

They could be my cousins.

My life is strange like that.

Using Scrivener To Manage A Series

An ongoing series is a massive creature that takes on a life of it's own. It requires an expanding cast, villages, farmers, mad men, villains and more supporting cast than this aging brain can hold.

So I'm using Scrivener's Research folder to hold and track the expanding cast.

I started with a single folder of notes. Names, ages and a few details of the inhabitants of Fort Chatten and Dunvegan. That was enough for the first two books.

But Homebound presented a problem: The people squatting in StoreMore, a 3 acre storage yard. I needed names, ages and a few words of description.

Then a series of fires burned people from their homes. They needed shelter...and names, ages and a few details.

This is what I'm going to do -- the details are going to change with the books. I'm going to need to expand my universe, but until I do, the individual book files can contain what I need for that book. Which character are where and what they are doing, for that book. Then, since I rename a file when I'm starting a new book and remove the old information, I have all the information I need for the next book.

So far, I've expanded from a single file to a folder under "Manuscripts" named "Horse Women" that contains a folder for the new manuscripts. I've got "McLeod 1 - 2" "McLeod 3" "McLeod 4 - The Healer" and "McLeod 5" each file has it's own copy of the world to that date.

Under 'Research' in each Scrivener file, there is a folder for 'People,' the characters most used in that book, 'Places,' the fort, the castle and the villages,  and 'Things' my general information on the Zombies, rate of travel for horses, food requirements and links to information that I need most.

Zack and Hector are at Fort Chatten in book 2. All their character information for that time and place are listed under Fort Chatten.

They are on the road in Book 3. Their information is stored under "People" in that file. I have a list of what gear they are carrying while on the road.

In Book 4, they are in Dunvegan and so is their information. But I've got the active characters in the 'People' folder.

It becomes easier for me to track characters.

I just need a similar system for dates.

Is this ideal? No - eventually I'll need a separate Scrivener file for the world. It will have to be on one monitor while the main story I'm working on is on another monitor.

Did I ever post that I use two monitors while I'm writing? 

My laptop monitor has a browser open so I can research, and the secondary monitor has my current story up. If this series and it's system expands any more, I'll need to have the World file open on the laptop at all times. 

I wonder how George R. R. Martin tracks the Game of Thrones? That feels like a nightmare task to me.