Nathan McGrath: spam or fan?

Nathan McGrath is, by all accounts, an author. His site (to which I am not linking shows he has written 3 books. So why is he scraping out content?

I first noticed Nathan McGrath when I saw an unusual ping on another WordPress blog I write for. What was unusual was that the ping title and body were content I had written.

When I followed the link home, I discovered that Nathan McGrath (or whoever runs Nathan McGrath’s website) had taken articles from Thanet Creative Writers and reposted them on his blog. As he kept the links intact his blog pinged the links. Which is where we came into the story.

It did not take me long to realise that Nathan McGrath’s blog had a lot of our content. Some of it seemed to fit while other parts made no sense for him to have. I’ve worked with things like this before and every time it is the result of something called automated scraping. How that works is a script pulls the content and then posts it.

I’d be tempted to think Nathan McGrath was a fan of our charity had he bothered to link to the source of his article but that, of course, would ping the people he was stealing content from.

I’m really not sure what to do next. On the one hand Nathan McGrath’s books sound somewhat interesting but, on the other hand, I refuse, point blank, to support content theft.

What do you think?

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Where are the winners, Matt?

You may well be asking, “where are the winners, Matt?” and with good reason. This is not the post you are looking for.

Back towards the start of this week, I promised to announce the winners for the last week of the writing competition. I have been reading your posts but as for trying o work out winners, well, I might have been more than usually distracted.

Sort of a lot going on

For starters, I have been thinking about non-linear storytelling. When I say “thinking about” I mean seriously working stuff out and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. In essence, I am writing a computer game that requires you to have free-form conversations with characters. That’s a lot of specialist AI. I should really give that a rest for a few days.

Also, a certain person lent me Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb. If you thought Netflix ate up a lot of my time, that is nothing compared to what a good book can do. Blame Simon, for that one.

Also, and this is quite important, the Trustees of our charity voted last month to hold a summer BBQ and social for all writers, poets, readers, and arty types and people who like to hang out with writers, poets, and… You get the picture.

We’ve been working hard to make sure this is a great event. It turns out that it takes a lot more work than slapping up an event and hoping for the best. I’m quite excited about the BBQ now.

The BBQ is taking place on the 22nd of July and you are all invited.

At the same time, I have also been working on Author Buzz and getting things ready to start promoting it hard. If you have any of the following you should sign up (it is free and easy to do) and use your profile (and/or the directory) to let the world know about your thing:

  • A blog or website in any way related to writing (for example, your own).
  • A book coming out (or already out).
  • A club or group for readers or writers.
  • A regular literary event.
  • A bookshop. Bookshops are great.
  • An agency for writers.
  • Anything else writers or readers might find interesting.

A new plan

So my new plan is to use the time slot normally reserved for announcing the next contest (there are no more to announce) to announce the last winners that I pick. This gives you one more week to post your links to Reddit and vote for your favourite entry. Some of you should have 12 links to share.

I hope the small pause is not too disappointing and I promise the wait will be worth it.

Plotting or Pantsing: What is best for me?

And so we come to the last theme of our competition. One last hurrah and then the big vote off. Back when I was thinking up this idea I thought that ending on a reflection about if planning or discovery writing was best was a great idea for platform building. You guys have taken things in an interesting direction and I have no idea what you will do with this one.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 29th.

Plotting or Pantsing:
What is best for me?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Pantsing, for those that don’t know, is where you make up the story as you go and “fly by the seat of your pants”. The opposite is plotting, where you plan the plot out in advance. I used to be a pantser but I am more of a plotter these days.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Sometime after this post goes live I will be picking out winners. I hope you guys have written something great for me to read (I’ve seen some of them so I know that you have).

How Author Buzz UK is helping writers

This post is all about a new project called Author Buzz UK it can be found at authorbuzz.co.uk and is designed to help writers, bookshops, authors, publishers, and agents connect with readers.

Author Buzz UK was designed to help authors create a solid platform without any more technical skill than is required to sign up for a free account. A fully customised Author Buzz account should definitely become part of your growing author platform.

All of this goodness is offered for free to anyone and all you need to get started is an easy to set up profile. Once you are set up with your profile you will have access to the following resources. If you have a wordpress.com account then you can log right in with that and start enjoying your profile right away.

Talking about running your own blogs, I already have a writer blog set up. The Matthew D. Brown (author) blog is where I post my stories as a serial. You should get over there and give them a read. If you subscribe to the blog you can get an update when I publish new story entries.

Later, as the admin team continue to expand the site’s capability, there will be even more great features open to you. These features are planned but are still being tested and improved.

  • Agents will be able to maintain a profile for their authors
  • Authors will be able to maintain a list of their books which readers can review and, quite importantly, purchase from major retailers.
  • Readers will be able to connect their account to GoodReads and show off the books they have read.
  • Read more about the vision for Author Buzz UK.

It has to be said that, as of writing this article, things are still being set up at Author Buzz. So there will be ongoing changes and improvements. Crucially, this is the stage of development where your input could radically alter the finished product. If your company or your needs as a writer are not being met anywhere else, then your input could help shape Author Buzz UK into exactly what you need.

I would highly recommend that anyone who writes, publishes, or promotes those that do, sign up for a free account and become a beta tester while your opinion has the power to shape the site.

The admin and development staff at Author Buzz are dedicated to the principles of transparency and open creativity. As such they have a dedicated development blog where they talk about both the success and failures that they encounter as they work towards bringing this dream to life. I know this because I am the lead developer in the team.

Thanet Creative Writers already have our own group on Author Buzz. Connect with us there if Facebook is not your thing.

Get on over to Author Buzz UK and create a free account.

The thing I love most about Thanet Creative Writers

This is, if I am honest, the one I have been looking forward to the most. Finding out what about Thanet creative writers (the blog, the group, or the charity) that resonates best with you guys.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 22nd.

The thing I love most about
Thanet Creative Writers

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

I am particularly interested to see if the fiction writers can turn this into a fiction prompt or if you will write a more tranditional blog post. This posts image was actully taken during a Tea and Chat meeting. You can use it for your post if you want.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

My favourite book ever

If you ask me what my favourite book is I am likely to tell you that it is whatever amazing book I am reading at the moment. That said, I am quite likely to quote you such books as “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. Our theme this week is favourite books.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 1st.

My favourite book ever

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined).