Friday, March 30, 2018

Jean Batten: An Amazing Early Aviatrix

If you ever departed from Auckland, New Zealand (or if you live there) you might have seen a grey Percival Gull monoplane hanging overhead a couple of duty-free stores in the international airport terminal. In fact, the terminal is named after Jean Batten.  The upper walls of this terminal are decorated with an image of New Zealand’s most famous women pilot.  
How it All Began:
Though she was a gifted pianist, at age eighteen she decided to become a pilot after the Australian pilot Charles Kingsford Smith took her for a flight in his Southern Cross airplane. In 1929 she moved with her mother to England, to join the London Aeroplane Club.  Jean Batten gained her private and commercial licenses in 1932 and started her long-distance flights around the world.

Later, she received an endorsement contract with Castrol Oil and several awards for her achievements.  Local Maori honored her with a feather cloak and she was named “Hine-o-te-Rangi” – "Daughter of the Skies”.  Jean Batten also wrote two books: Solo Flight and My Life.  The latter is still available in digital format through the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection in Wellington.

She flew solo from Britain to New Zealand in the 1930s.  Born in Roturoa, NZ, in 1909, the famous aviatrix, died an infamously obscure death in Palma de Majorca, Spain - the antipode of NZ. In 1982 she was bitten by a dog on the island of Majorca. She refused treatment and the wound became infected.  She died alone in a hotel in Majorca, from complications due to the dog bite. The world only learned about her death five years later, as she was buried in a paupers grave. In the Palma suburb of La Bonanova, not far from where Batten died, there's now a newly rechristened street called Carrer de Jean Batten, or Jean Batten St.
Jean Batten: The Garbo of the Skies
She was the sweetheart of the nation in the mid-1930s when she made her pioneering solo flights, but thereafter she pretty much turned her back on New Zealand.  She is remembered in some ways, quite forgotten in others.  Around the country, there are several statues, streets, a park and a school named after her, and even a couple of mountain peaks.  And a dramatic statue of Jean Batten still stands outside the terminal in Auckland.  However, not every Kiwi is aware of her significance to New Zealand’s aviation and to the airport.
Women Fly Just as Good as Men
For young New Zealand women, she was a role model and showed that women could fly just as good as men, and even outperform them at times.  Her amazing achievements include, among others, these flights:

1933 Great Britain – India in a Gipsy Moth open biplane
1934 Great Britain – Australia in less than 15 days in a Gipsy Moth open biplane
1935 Australia - England in 17 days and 15 hours
1935 Great Britain – Brasilia in 61 hours in a Percival Vega Gull
1936 Great Britain – New Zealand in 11 days in a Percival Vega Gull

Record-Breaking Trans-World Flights
These flights all took place in tiny airplanes with no navigational equipment, no air traffic control, barely any maps, and difficulties to even get fuel and technical support anywhere along the route!  With this meager equipment, today's pilots would have been lost… Jean Batten even survived several crash-landings, but never gave up. 

After two failed attempts to fly from England to Australia, Jean made her comeback with a record-breaking return journey in 1934.

Her Cat Flew With Her From England to New Zealand
Her success elevated in 1935 when she became the first woman to ever fly solo across the South Atlantic, and then it soared in 1936 when Jean and her lucky black cat, Buddy, made the first-ever direct flight from England to New Zealand. She described the moment the wheels hit the turf as “the very greatest moment of my life,” proving to the world that the sky’s only the limit if you let it.

WWII Ended Batten's Flying Adventures
Her Gull was commissioned to active service and Batten was not permitted to fly it.  During the war, she was involved in campaigns, giving lectures in England to raise money for guns and airplanes, but her flying days - unfortunately - were over.

Ian Mackersey: Jean Batten: The Garbo of the Skies. Warner Books, London 1992
ISBN 0-7088-5332-3 available through

Jean Batten was one of the great aviation megastars of the 1930s. Her spectacular flights ranked with those of Britain's Amy Johnson and America's Amelia Earhart. Yet, despite her brilliance as a pilot, she remained the least well-known of them all, as the dentist's daughter from New Zealand built an impregnable wall around her private life.                                                                                                                                                                                                     


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Easy Task: Barcode Generating

Free Barcode Generating: Your book cover designer usually takes care of the bar code and includes it on the back side of your print version.  You just need to tell her/him your retail price of the title. 

WikiHow explains: 

“A barcode contains two sets of numbers—a global prefix that identifies your business, and a product serial number—that allows you to bring up a product's information by scanning the code.

  • Register your business with GS1. GS1 is a not-for-profit company that maintains the global standards for barcodes.
  • Determine the type of barcode you need. Most businesses will use either UPC (North America, U.K., New Zealand, and Australia) or EAN (parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America) barcodes.
  • Open the TEC-IT site. Go to this or a similar site in your browser. The TEC-IT site has a free barcode generator here.  There are several free programs on the internet:

Here are free barcode generators:

  • Select EAN / UPC. On the left side of the page, you'll see a list of barcode types. Scroll down until you see the EAN / UPC heading, then click it to expand it. Your mouse cursor must be over the list of barcode categories when you scroll.

Find the rest of the instructions - for Windows and Mac users - here:

Even more important: check your bar codes if they are working properly (on your phone for example) before delivering to the printer or book distributor.  See also YouTube videos, for example:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

How Amazon’s Algorithms Really Work

The German journalist and author Matthias Matting -- faithfully followed in Europe his "Self-Publisher Bibel" site -- has conducted an experiment to see if he could detect what may affect sales rankings on Amazon.

Matting has kindly written up a shortened edition of his report in English -- Test: How Amazon’s algorithms really work – myth and reality -- and comes up with some signal notions.

He starts with four books nominally named "The Self-Publishers Bible: Knowledge for Authors" and "...News for Authors" and "...Tips for Authors" and "Marketing for Authors." Here is one of them on These are new titles, which he generated from the previous omnibus work, the "Bible" of each title. Two are priced at 0.99 euros, two at 2.99 euros.

He went in with three expectations. Matting thought he would see, as he writes, that:

  • Price influences sales rank
  • Enrolling in KDP Select influences sales rank
  • The dynamics of sales influence sales rank

He came out with five "facts," and I'll leave you to peruse most of the supporting commentary for each at his site. In quoting him:

Fact 1: Price does not influence sales rank.

Fact 2: Enrollment in KDP Select does not influence sales rank.

Fact 3: An organic growth of sales number results in a higher ranking.

Fact 4: Sales of (much) more than 24 hours are important for the sales rank.

Fact 5: Borrows on Kindle Unlimited influence the sales rank immediately.
Some of Matting's most interesting notes tie  to "Fact 4." He writes, emphasis his:

One day without sales decreases the sales rank of a title in the same way as halving its sales numbers. That means the Amazon algorithms devalue a sale by half every 24 hours (approximately, the exact amount is impossible to calculate). Add to this that the sales numbers are increasing exponentially with high ranks and it gets clear how hard it is for a new title to climb into the charts.
And as for "Fact 5," what Howey calls "the KU effect" in which Matting sees an immediate impact on sales ranking with Kindle Unlimited, emphasis mine this time:

I couldn’t believe this [at] first. Borrows on Kindle Unlimited are only paid when the user reads at least 10 percent. But for the sales rank, all borrows count immediately...You can reach higher visibility on Amazon without having to wait until a borrower actually reads your book. Even if a borrower never reads your book but only returns it later, you still have a higher sales rank (but you won’t get paid, of course).
His advice, in fact, is that Kindle Unlimited may not be so bad for authors, at least in terms of sales rankings, per his test and observations, emphasis mine:

Twenty sales each day for a week [can] get you higher [in sales rankings] than 150 sales one day and none the [next].

Kindle Unlimited is not as bad a deal as one might think – at least, you get an immediate boost if someone borrows your title.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Before You Turn Your Manuscript Over...

Pre-Editing Made Easy:

Daphne Gray-Grant, a writing, and editing coach and author explained in an article: “When I started writing back in high school, I developed the nervous practice of producing a sentence and then going back to edit it, immediately.  Perhaps you do the same thing?  It took me 20 years to understand why editing-while-writing is so destructive – and another three years to stop it.”

“Remember, you should always write as quickly as you can.  Just be sure to edit – later when your manuscript is finished – as slowly as you can bear.  And to edit your work make use of the great tools that are available these days.”

Edit Minion
This free software identifies adverbs, passive voice, duplicate or frequently used words, and sentence length.

Language Tool
A tool that is capable of proofreading more than 20 languages. Style issues will be marked in blue.

Paper Rater
Robust grammar checking tool which allows you to find those pesky mistakes and correct them.

After the Deadline
This program helps writers to avoid spelling errors, gives grammar or style suggestions. You will spend less time editing.

This tool helps writers of novels and short stories to highlight all the issues in their drafts, including misspelled words, and repetitiveness.

My advice is to not use only ONE software, but at least TWO – better THREE – and use them in separate sessions to fine comb your manuscript BEFORE sending it to a professional editor.

… And Why You Still Need an Editor:
Pre-editing will save you money and embarrassment.  However, none of these grammar tools can replace human intelligence.  You will still need a professional editor who then fine-tunes your manuscript for an outstanding, successful book.  Just to give you one example, how your editor will improve your book even more:

Developmental and Line Edit
He or she will give you the “big picture” feedback about structure, style, pacing, and voice. A developmental edit for a work of nonfiction may include feedback about the book’s organizational structure, as well as both stylistic and informational strengths and weaknesses. For fiction manuscripts, developmental editing also includes notes on plot, the point-of-view, and characterization.
Often, a developmental edit is given in the form of a detailed report or letter rather than as notes made directly on the manuscript. Then, there is also the line edit, where your editor will point out specific things such as certain lines of dialogue that don’t sound convincing, or pacing problems in a given section.
Here are even more digital tools for your pre-editing:

Happy Writing and Editing!


Friday, March 9, 2018

Intl Women in Aviation Week March 5 - 11

. . .

Meanwhile in Canada 
The first female Indigenous Medivac Air Ambulance team
was announced Tuesday in Manitoba. 

Congratulations to Captain Robyn Shlachetla of Wabowden, Manitoba and First Officer Raven Beardy of Shamattawa, Manitoba.  They lifted off this evening, with Missinippi Medivac and are proving Indigenous youth are soaring within our community.

This historic Manitoba flight coincides with Woman of Aviation Week - Mar 5-11th Worldwide.


Magazine Article:


Monday, March 5, 2018

Writing on LinkedIn for More Exposure

Founder and CMO, Social Marketing Solutions 
wrote a very useful article on that the LinkedIn Editors recently changed their Twitter handle.  
They changed it from @LinkedInPulse to: tip @LinkedInEditors.
However, they forgot to let LinkedIn members know about their new Twitter handle. 
John White explained:

"In the past, writers would compose a tweet for their post and then include the words "tip @LinkedInPulse." The editors wrote a post in the official Writing on LinkedIn group explaining the process. Mentioning their Twitter handle triggers a notification of your tweet to the editors on LinkedIn via their Twitter account and alerts them to your post. I didn't see any announcement from them, and I searched all over. It seems that LinkedIn's Editors just changed their Twitter handle one day and didn't tell anyone.  Many LinkedIn writers still tweeting their posts to the old Twitter handle not knowing that there is nobody on the other end.  If you want to increase the likelihood of a LinkedIn editor seeing your posts, make sure to tweet them to "tip @LinkedInEditors" (make sure to put a single space between the word  tip and @LinkedInEditors)."
Thanks, Mr. White