I sort of hate trivia, but I have been obsessed with the idea of writing trivia questions entirely from my existing knowledge (ie without research) (except to check that they're right). Here's the FINAL day of my 5 Days Of Trivia - without googling or checking the comments, answer as many of these as you can. No cheating!

Answers start coming in tomorrow!

Geography and Religion:
1) How many malls are there in Iceland?
2) California has a town named after which Australian capital city?
3) Queensland has a town named after which US State?
4) The Counterweight Continent is a part of which fantasy world?
5) What is the fastest way to travel from Seyda Neen to Vivec?
6) What is the name of the northern-most region beyond the wall?
7) Look around, look around, the revolution's happening in:
8) Who was immaculately conceived?
9) In the religion of the Latter-Day Saints, who is "Mormon"?
10) Jeff, the god of ____
BONUS: In what year did "Central Australia" cease being a territory?


I really hate trivia, but I have been obsessed with the idea of writing trivia questions entirely from my existing knowledge (ie without research) (except to check that they're right). Here's the fourth day of my 5 Days Of Trivia - without googling or checking the comments, answer as many of these as you can. No cheating!

Science and Nature:
1) Why did Cambridge close for two years during Isaac Newton's studies?
2) Which scientist invented the word "meme"?
3) Why was Unidan banned from reddit?
4) What is another name for frequency illusion (learning a new fact or word and then seeming to encounter it several times in quick succession)?
5) Which set of complex numbers did Jonathan Coulton write a song about?
6) Creationists frequently leave out a few key words when quoting the second law of thermodynamics. Which part do they drop?
7) In the eye of the hurricane, there is:
8) Marine biologists and whale experts have gone on record to confirm that which word is NOT a term meaning "whale penis"?
9) What is the name for the condition where the foreskin cannot be fully retracted over the penis?
10) What distinctive shape do duck penises have?


I typically hate trivia, but I have been obsessed with the idea of writing trivia questions entirely from my existing knowledge (ie without research) (except to check that they're right). Here's the second day of my 5 Days Of Trivia - without googling or checking the comments, answer as many of these as you can. No cheating!

I genuinely tried to put as much sports in as I could, to mixed results.

Sports & Leisure:
1) What is the nickname for the Australian national soccer team?
2) What is field hockey called in Australia?
3) Who is (widely considered) to be Australia's greatest batsman?
4) Combine dodgem cars, a basketball court, lacrosse scoops, and a wiffleball and you'll get which sport?
5) Which famous piece of Harry Potter fanfiction analyses the faults of Quidditch?
6) In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, who brought tennis into existence from an alternate dimension?
7) I spend hours in the garden. I walk alone to the store. And it's quiet uptown. I never liked the:
8) Rubik's Cube and Codenames have both won which award?
9) Name three games which have achieved #1 in the BoardGameGeek rankings.
10) Who voiced Abe in Abe's Oddysee and its various sequels?


I normally hate trivia, but I have been obsessed with the idea of writing trivia questions entirely from my existing knowledge (ie without research) (except to check that they're right). Here's the second day of my 5 Days Of Trivia - without googling or checking the comments, answer as many of these as you can. No cheating!

As we move away from entertainment, my knowledge-base gets waaaaaaay less specific, so you should have a much better chance of getting these.

History and Politics:
1) BLANK for America was consistently the lowest-polling candidate for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination. Who is BLANK?
2) Abbott and Costello are the surnames of which two prominent Australian politicians?
3) Which former mayor of Toowoomba led the campaign against treated sewage water during the drought?
4) What was Toronto's name before it was Toronto?
5) Why did Mark Hofmann start bombing Mormon document collectors?
6) In which year was Australia Federated?
7) It's crazy that the guy who comes in second gets to be Vice President. We can change that. You know why?
8) Why didn't the Ancient Egyptians ride horses?
9) Which was the first state to ratify the US Constitution?
10) Who was the youngest female convict on the First Fleet?


I actually hate trivia, but I have been obsessed with the idea of writing trivia questions entirely from my existing knowledge (ie without research) (except to check that they're right). For the next 5 days I'm going to post 10 trivia questions - without googling or checking the comments, answer as many of these as you can. No cheating!

1) Who is the current voice of Kermit the Frog?
2) What is the highest-grossing film directed by a woman?
3) Which is the only Pixar film that the Pizza Planet truck doesn't appear in?
4) Name two Rob Reiner films in which a character always reads the last page of a book before reading the rest.
5) Why was Beyonce's song "Drunk In Love" banned from several college radio stations?
6) For which song did Amanda Palmer request 4-syllable item suggestions from Twitter?
7) We had a spy on the inside. That's right:
8) Before hosting his own late night talk show, which TV series was Conan O'Brien a writer for?
9) Who was the youngest showrunner in TV history?
10) Which Australian TV series did Greg Daniels adapt for the US?

Introducing: The Percy Award

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Last year, when I saw Alison Bechdel talk, she introduced me to Stigler’s Law of Eponymy – “No rule is named after the person who came up with it.”

Stigler did not invent that law.

In the spirit of Stigler’s Law, allow me to introduce you to the system I’ve come up with to test how feminist a film is: The Percy Award. There’s only two criteria…

1) There is at least one woman with a plot that doesn’t revolve around: a man, femininity, beauty, or being a mother.

2) There are (roughly) at least as many female speaking roles as there are male speaking roles.

If a film accomplishes both of these, it gets The Percy Award. Let’s break it down:

1) There is at least one woman with a plot that doesn’t revolve around: a man, femininity, beauty, or being a mother.

Most of the time women are given same two roles, over and over again. They’re mothers or lovers – the virgin or the slut. They exist to dispense sex or nurturing, to be lusted after and fulfil societal expectations. They can always be described in relation to a male – “the love interest”, “the sister”, “the ex”.

Women in films exist to dispense sex or nurturing, to be lusted after and fulfil societal expectations. They can be described in relation to a male – “the love interest”, “the sister”, “the ex”.

And on the rare occasion that they do more than just prop up a male character’s plot, the fact that they don’t fit the typical feminine archetype will be their plot (think Merida in Brave).

To fulfil this criteria, the woman also needs to actually be given a storyline, which is pretty important*. We’re defining a “plot” here as “A story with a beginning, middle and end (in different scenes).”  Megan stealing the dogs in Bridesmaids isn’t a “plot”, but Annie dealing with the closure of her bakery is (and while it involves a man, it certainly doesn’t revolve around one).

* Note that I’m not saying “main characters” or “central storylines” – that would eliminate every film with a single male protagonist, and a film can still be feminist while having one protagonist who is male.

2) There are (roughly) at least as many female speaking roles as there are male speaking roles.

Our population is made up of (roughly) 50% men and 50% women. You would expect representation in film to be roughly the same, but in 2013 only 30% of speaking roles were female, and only 15% of protagonists. The further back you go, the worse it gets.

As a writer, whenever I need a character to deliver a throwaway line or piece of information, my first instinct is always for that role to be filled by a man. Shop-keeper, hotel clerk, doctor – unless a character needs to be female, they’ll be a man.

This ties into the first criteria as well. If a writer sits down and asks themself “Okay, let’s put a woman in – what would a female plot be about?” then they’ll repeatedly draw from the same well. Men can have any plot in the world; women need to have a woman plot.

Male as the default is a dangerous and unhealthy attitude. You’ll see it all the time – if a character doesn’t have to be female, then they won’t be.

Also note – we’re not counting the number of lines, just whether or not they have lines at all. This is for the same reason that “roughly” is specified. You should be able to work out whether a film is deserving of the award without having to sit down and rewatch it with a pen and paper.

You’ll find that the vast majority of the time, it will quickly become obvious whether a film is going to come close.

In Bridesmaids, for example, female roles include: Annie, Lillian, Helen, Megan, Rita, Becca, Annie’s mum, and Rebel Wilson. Male roles include: the policeman, Lillian’s father, Jon Hamm, Annie’s boss, the fitness instructor, and Matt Lucas.

There are probably a few more scattered around, but Bridesmaids? Totally deserves The Percy Award.

Finding worthy films is extremely difficult. That’s why it’s not a “test” – it’s not a pass/fail system, and it’s not something that a movie can accomplish with one throwaway line (I love the Bechdel Test for looking at trends, but I just don’t think it’s the best standard for evaluating individual films).

Getting a Percy Award is an accomplishment – if a film manages to give a woman something to do outside of base gender expectations and it shows a roughly-equal representation of both genders, then that’s (sadly) a genuinely rare feat.

So let’s celebrate it. What films can you think of that deserve The Percy Award?



Originally published at You can comment here or there.

In my experience, every genuine disagreement I have with someone ends up coming down to one of three things:

  1. Differing core beliefs. “Look, when it comes down to it, I would rather someone productive and unhappy died rather than someone unproductive but happy.”
    “Oh what? I would always rather someone unproductive and happy died.”
    “Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”
  2. Conflicting information. “I can’t believe Julian Blanc was barred from entering Australia – sure, there are some sleazy pickup artists, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be allowed to come here just because of his job.”
    “Actually, he had videos in which he explicitly encouraged men to choke strange women as a way of hitting on them.”
    “Oh. Yeah, okay. I now fully support his visa being revoked.”
  3. Miscommunications. “So you really think that the idea of God is impossible. There’s not even a one in a hundred hundred billion chance that he exists?”
    “A one in a hundred hundred billion chance IS impossible. That’s the same odds as guessing every password you encounter, exactly correctly, first time every time. That’s not going to happen – it’s impossible.”
    “Well no, that’s not impossible. Impossible is something that could never happen.”
    “Like what? Impossible, by that definition, doesn’t exist. There’s nothing that could never happen – only stuff that’s so unlikely that we call it impossible.”

(Those are all real arguments I’ve been a part of.)

I think of myself as an extraordinarily good communicator. I make my full-time living from writing, all of my hobbies involve communication in some way, and I used to be a great math tutor specifically because of my ability to make complicated concepts quite clear.

But I would say something like 90% of the arguments I’m a part of come down to miscommunication. Quite often, they come down to semantics – the way I’m using a word (or the way I interpreted it) is unusual. Maybe it’s just that my social circles are mostly made up of people with similar opinions and information to me. Maybe I only remember the Type 3 arguments because they go on the longest (when you’re arguing different premises, it’s amazing how much time it takes you to realize that).

“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”

So I’m wondering if there’s something about me that means I communicate things strangely, so tell me – think back to the last 5 or 6 arguments you had. With your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, anyone. Did they fall neatly into those 3 categories? And if so, does one stand out as being the main cause of these arguments?

I just want to check if I’m an asshole.


Mrs Pembrose’s Talent

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Originally written July 2012, rediscovered just a few minutes ago.

“Oh dear,” she tutted, shaking her head from side to side. “Oh dear oh dear oh dear.”

Everyone has a Talent. Some are more obvious than others, some find years to find, and presumably some die without ever having discovered their Talent at all. Mrs Pembrose had been 45 and a half before she’d discovered hers – she thought she’d never discover it. She’d lived her life quite happily beforehand, getting married, having two children (quite young, as was the trend these days) – a son and a daughter – and seeing them off to college and a family of their own respectively.

But then, one day when she was at home, she had dropped her address book, tutted, and said “Oh dear.”

It was crystal clear, the second the words escaped her mouth. It was odd, really, that she’d never uttered that simple phrase, those two words in conjunction before, but as soon as she did, she knew:

She’d found her Talent.

Her husband had found her in that same position when he returned home several hours later. She was just sitting there, and it appeared at first glance that she was muttering to herself. Her husband briefly wondered if she had gone insane, especially when she looked up, with that gleam of excitement in her eyes.

But then she had simply said “Oh dear”, and he understood. She’d found her Talent.

Mr Pembrose had discovered his talent quite young. It wasn’t one of the Talents that everyone hoped for – acting, dancing, stockbroking – but it was solid, and he enjoyed it. He had a Talent for middle-management, and armed with this knowledge, he’d soon found himself a lovely middle-management position, where he cheerfully worked, no ambition for advancement, no fear of demotion. His bosses appreciated his skills, his employees were glad to be working under someone who was perfectly suited for their positions, and he didn’t have to worry about playing the brown-nosing game, he just had to go to work each day, and be one of the best middle-managers in the country.

The usefulness of Mrs Pembrose’s Talent was less obvious. In those first few days, she was so excited about having found it that she simply sat at home and repeated “Oh dear” to herself over and over again. She called her family, her friends, her children, they all shared in her joy, celebrated with her. She organised a Talent party, as custom encouraged, and everyone brought her small presents. Mrs Pembrose’s father, known for his sense of humour, bought her a small figurine of a deer. Her children bought her a set of business cards with her name, number, and catch-phrase on it.

And at the end of that first week, after the initial excitement was over, Mrs Pembrose set out to see if there was any way she could use her Talent to make a living. She’d worked most of her life as a secretary – work that she enjoyed, but had never completely fulfilled her. She knew that there was a career that she was so perfectly suited towards out there, waiting for her, and so her stint as a secretary felt like a time-killer until her Talent came along.

But now, now she knew what she was capable of, what she could do best. But how to implement it?

Mrs Pembrose tried finding voiceover or acting work – anything that required the line “Oh dear” delivered, she excelled at. She could say it happily, sadly, disapprovingly, orgasmically – name the adjective, and she could say “Oh dear” perfectly. But “Oh dear” situations are few and far between – knowing what she was capable of, interested in making use of such a unique Talent, a few advertising agencies specifically wrote campaigns to utilise it, but after a month or two work dried up. “Oh dear” ads were done with, and the cyclical nature of advertisements meant that they wouldn’t become fresh again for another decade or two.

She managed to get a few interviews – the news was always interested in unusual and individual Talents, with most channels dedicating a brief segment at the end of their news slots at the less popular times to showcasing weird Talents, but once she had worked through the networks, she was again without anything to do.

And then it occurred to her – there was no job out there waiting to take advantage of her strange Talent, because it wasn’t a skill that people were expected to had. Jobs grew out of not only necessities, but also talents – if someone could do something well, they would typically try to work out how to use their talent to better society, and more importantly, earn them money.

And so it was that Mrs Pembrose got a job as a professional Disapprover.

Corporations would call her in to disapprove of ideas. They’d present her as a neutral observer, or an expert in a particular field, and once an idea was explained to her, she’d pause, tilt her head to the side, and say those two words:

“Oh dear.”

Mrs Pembrose never got sick of seeing how people reacted. Some of them were indignant, some of them were disappointed, some of them seemed to be expecting it, sighed, and packed up their presentation without another word. A few, when she was just starting out, were skeptical, but after a few weeks on the job she worked out the exact tone of “Oh dear” to give out, the tone that conveyed a lack of interest in the idea, no room for argument, a hint of disappointment, and an unwavering sense of authority.

She was a huge hit – companies were hiring her to disapprove of anything and everything, from plans for expansion to new stationery suggestions to annual performance reviews. Individuals starting hiring her, for jobs as varied as fortune-teller to divorce lawyer.

One job consisted of setting her up as a fashion guru, approving of one company’s designs but not the other. She was surprised, six months later, to see some of the garments she’d nodded at (or, on a few occasions, given an enthusiastic-and-impressed “Oh dear” to) selling for many hundreds of dollars at her local clothing store.

The work started sporadically, but became more and more consistent as word spread. Of course, as word spread, she had to be careful not to be recognised – she had awkwardly turned up as a “bee-keeping expert” to one job, only to discover that the target of her “we’re-interested-but-you’ll-have-to-lower-the-price Oh dear” was a previous client. At one job shortly afterwards, she’d felt suspicion coming from her target, but she had (rather impressively, she thought to herself at the time) quelled it with an “Oh dear” of “Your suspicion is absurd”.

It didn’t always work, of course – the best-delivered “Oh dear” can’t always change someone’s mind, but delivered in the right way to someone who already has some doubt, especially when the messenger is imbued with implied status, knowledge and power…well, an “Oh dear” can go a hell of a long way.

After a year, Mrs Pembrose was making a reliable, if not exhorbidant income. She enjoyed her job – there was something about knowing your Talent, knowing that you were one of the best at what you did (and with her extremely specific Talent, probably THE best that ever was and ever would be) and having other people appreciate it. She understood now why Talented people were always the happiest ones at Talent parties, the ones celebrating the newly-Talented the most.

As part of her job, she’d had to start putting on disguises, voices; she’d even attended one or two sessions pretending to be a rather heavily-bearded man. It added a bit of variety to what otherwise risked being an overly negative job – disapproving of things all day every day ran the risk of getting her down, but the costuming element ensured that she was never bored.



Originally published at You can comment here or there.

So you’ve had a look at the sites. You’ve decided whether to go all-in on Amazon, or upload everywhere and see how money-making goes. (remember, too, you can try a split of the two, or start with every site and then take stuff down if you decide to go Amazon-exclusive. You just can’t suddenly change the other way, since Amazon-exclusivity locks you in for 3 months.)

Now you want to turn your books from “words on your screen” to “available for purchase on everyone’s sites.”

There’s a lot of different ways you can do it. I use Scrivener, which I can’t recommend strongly enough – if you can afford it/ever want to do any kind of writing ever, get Scrivener. It’s incredible for many reasons.

(In a future update, I’ll do a step-by-step guide showing how my books go from “existing in Scrivener” to being exported, using a system I got from someone else on the erotica forums. The vast majority of this knowledge is garnered from people on one of the 3 or 4 erotica forums I’ve been on.)

The specific formatting required to make stuff look good on e-readers is very dull – FORTUNATELY, one of the sites I was talking about yesterday has an extensive guide, which most people use for every site: (free to download)

As well as that, Draft2Digital offer a free conversion tool – you can convert your book on their site, and then download the file to use everywhere else.

As a rule, you want to upload in .doc format, and your files should contain (in order)

-A small copyright notice (I use “Copyright 2015 Pandora Box”)

-Which site it’s uploading to (i.e. “Kindle edition”, “Kobo edition”, etc. Smashwords requires a huge chunk here if you want Premium Distribution – it’s in their style guide.)

-OPTIONAL: A small piece saying “All characters in this story are 18 and over.” This has become the standard, and I’d recommend it…at the very least, so that you don’t have to awkwardly insert it into the narrative somewhere.

-The title of the story (“Gay Cowboys Cheat With Firefighters 2: Hosing Each Other Off”)

-A small excerpt of one of the sexiest scenes that leaves you wanting more (this is for Amazon’s “look inside” feature, which offers the first few pages of your book – people will quite often click through to see the quality of your writing, and if they’re hit with a page of set-up, they’re less likely to buy it. I’ll post an example in the comments.)

-Your story

-Three hashes (or something) to indicate the story has finished (I don’t think there’s a standard, I just like the look of three centered hashes.)

-A small “About the Author” piece.

-A link to the rest of your catalogue on the platform you’re publishing this book on (so Smashwords for Smashwords, Amazon for Amazon etc).

-Aas your catalogue gets larger, this should just go to pieces that are similar. (Your werewolf gangbang should link to other werewolf gangbangs, your incest breeding should link to other incest breeding.)

-“BONUS MATERIAL” – a (decent-sized) excerpt from another book, again ending just when it’s getting good. (will include one in the comments)

-Again, if your catalogue is sizable enough, link to a book that’s similar, and always to the first book in a series (which should be $0.99…more on that in a future update!)

-A link to where people can buy that other book on the same platform.

Whew! What a lot of information. Here’s an example for you, which covers all of the above – this is my favourite book to link to people, because I think it’s genuinely amusing (it’s also the one I’ve read out in public a few times now) – it’s called ‘Bred by the Billionaire Tentacle’, and I wrote it as a joke (as well as porn and how-to-write-smut pieces, I write comedy) when the three huge trends were breeding, billionaires and tentacles.

(NOTE: It’s an old story, most of the links within are dead. More on THAT another day!) for the .doc, and here it is on Amazon, if you have an e-reader (or Kindle app) and want to see what it looks like in its final form:…

I was going to talk about the difference between the sites today, but these keep getting longer than I expect, so I’m going to leave it there. More tomorrow!

Here’s an excerpt from one of my books, either called “Pleasures at Home” or “Breeding My Sister”, depending on what site you’re on.




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Originally published at You can comment here or there.

Making money off erotica comes in two parts:
1) Actually sitting down and doing the writing.
2) Making the money.

The second part is easy. If I sent you my catalogue of work and the below instructions, you’d be able to make a living off it in a few weeks (I do!). But it’s the part that most people obsess about.

Here’s the fact: if you set out to do this and fail, in 99% of cases, it’ll be due to step two, not step one. But step 2 is what people want to hear about, so let’s start there.

There are four main outlets for publishing erotica online:
-Barnes and Noble

If you live in Australia (as I, and most of my readers do) you can only publish directly to the first two. If you live in America, then you’ll have direct access to all four. I don’t know about other countries, so I can’t help you there.

HOWEVER, if you’re not in the US, then you can publish to Barnes and Noble and Apple via a site called “Draft2Digital” – you upload your books there, and they’ll distribute them to B&N, Apple, and a handful of other sites that I never learned the names of because I make a negligible amount of money from them.

(There’s also Kobo, which I make about $9/month from. If you are desperate to get your works available everywhere possible, then sure, sign up there. I very much doubt it’ll be worth your time, but hey! Gotta procrastinate from actually sitting down and doing the writing somehow.)

If you missed it, yesterday I posted a direct link to my profit spreadsheet (which I obsessively updated for about 22 months) – that’ll give you a pretty good indicator of where most I made my money for a long time*, but it predates draft2digital.

*until what was referred to as the Pornocalypse. Not even making that up.

On a slow month, Smashwords and Amazon would be fairly even. On a good month, Smashwords would be a tiny fraction of Amazon’s earnings. Smashwords has been a reliable income for me for years now – I’ve made something like $20k there – but Amazon is where the potential for breakout success lies.

draft2digital, meanwhile, was a game-changer: I now make anywhere between $1-1.5k there, each and every month. That’s the largest portion of my income (followed by Patreon, Smashwords and Amazon.)

HOWEVER: the common wisdom these days is to publish your stuff exclusively at Amazon. They recommend disregarding the other sites entirely (at least at first), and signing up for Amazon’s “Kindle Select” program, which requires exclusivity. The reasons are simple:

1) Kindle Select books get a huge boost in the search algorithm. Go search the Kindle store (not Amazon as a whole, just the kindle store) for whatever you like – “Gay Cowboys”, or “Cheating firefighter”. If you see anything with this at the side:

Borrow for free from your Kindle device. Join Amazon Prime

Then it means it’s on Kindle Select.
2) Amazon don’t allow free books. Also, anything priced below $2.99 or above $9.99 (more on this tomorrow, but general rule: always price everything at $2.99) will only earn you 35% royalties, instead of the standard 70%.

(That’s right. You get 70% of your book’s sale price. This is why it’s possible to make a living from writing smut.)

The exception to these two rules? If the book is in Kindle Select.
3) This is the big one – that “borrow for free” thing? It costs Amazon Prime members nothing to borrow a book or two (I don’t know the exact numbers), but you still get money from it. It’s not the $2 you’d get from a sale, it’s a portion of the monthly “fund” (generally $2-5 million, IIRC) but it generally comes out to $1.50 or so – no matter what your book is priced at.

And people will borrow your book for free in the *thousands*.

The downsides are, obviously: you don’t get money from anywhere else, and once you sign a book up for Kindle Select, you’re locked in for 3 months. If they find your book anywhere else, you’ll get a warning, and if it’s not corrected – permanent account ban.

From my point of view, that’s never been worth it. I’d have to not only sacrifice my income from all the other sites (which, these days, make more for me than Amazon does) but I’d also have to take my stuff down from the free sites. BUT if you’re coming into this fresh, and you’re serious about making money from it – Kindle Select is the place to be.

There’s so much information, and I hate to stretch it out like this, but I’ve got a life outside of Facebook (hard as that may be to believe) so I’m going to come back tomorrow with information on Smashwords, d2d and formatting your work. Then, next week: actually sitting down and doing the writing.

Here’s some homework while you wait – visit AmazonSmashwords, and Draft2Digital and sign up! Have a poke around, and see if it all makes sense.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions (about stuff I’ve talked about so far, not content that I’m saving for future posts).