Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lovely Monday

The cover of my book.
This morning I showed a group of Austrian amateur astronomers around some telescopes, had lunch "up top" and got down about 4 pm.  Not long after, the EcoGeek team showed up with a pen drive, and we finally uploaded the book about the observatory to the printers.

Well we tried.  The transfer kept timing out.  But eventually I managed to send it via Dropbox this morning.


Now I "just" have to translate the whole thing into Spanish. And meanwhile we have a storm here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paperwork for publishers.

I just got back from a long weekend in El Hierro.

I did it again you know.  I thought I'd have finished the book by now, so I booked a long weekend away to relax and celebrate. And I haven't finished.  so the "holiday" was punctuated with checking proofs for the book, and chasing up the ISBN and "Deposito Legal" and so on.  In addition to the photos I'd promised to take.

In Spain, getting an ISBN for your book is a three stage process.  First you pay.  A few days later, you get an email confirming payment, and inviting you to fill in the database entry. (Why several days?  Are they still doing this by hand?) That email got shunted into the spam folder and it took me a couple of days to find it.  So I filled in the database entry, and four days later I got an email to say there was a problem with the entry. The book is A5 - 210 mm x 147 mm, only the ISBN database is in centimetres, so I had to change it to 21 x 14.7. I'm now waiting again.

When you publish a book (or release a CD etc.) in Spain, you have to give a few copies to the government for libraries. (And I suspect that under Franco, they checked that you weren't spreading sedition.) Fine, I hadn't budgeted for that, but no problem. Only the magic number has to be printed in the book, so you have to get it first. Thanks to fellow writers on Facebook, I found out that this is done via regional governments. With a bit of googling, I found a website which explained that yes, I needed to get the number first, and I'd have to give the central library in Santa Cruz de Tenerife 4 copies of the book.  Fine.

But it didn't mention how to get the number. So I used the contact form, and two days later I got an email with an email address to contact. I dropped everything and sent an email, which bounced. I tried the address for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which also bounced.

So yesterday, while I was between buses to the airport, I phoned the library. I was shunted around four people, but the fourth one was very helpful and sent me the forms to fill in - one to get the number and one to send with the books when they're printed.

I've sent that off.  Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I got a Buzz from Buzz Trips

I enjoy tour guiding.  If I'm honest, I like the sound of my own voice, but I also like to share my enthusiasm for astronomy and La Palma, and I love to see people go away happy.  I like it even more when they tell the world about it, like Buzz Trips blog just did.
Actually, Buzz Trips looks like a great blog.  I'll have to keep reading it.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Photography Trip

From left to right: Liverpool Telescope, Isaac Newton Telescope, Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope,
William Hershel Telescope (with laser guide star) Swedish Solar Telescope, Dutch Open Telescope. At the front, MAGIC I.
The very bright star is actually Venus.
I got permission to take photographs of the observatory early this morning. I'd carefully planned it so that the full moon would be setting, illuminating the telescopes for me, and I hoped to get the last few photos I'd need for the guide book.

I phoned up last night, only to be told that the observatory was sitting inside a cloud.  (This doesn't happen often.) I was pretty depressed - obviously, there's a month until the next full moon, and I'd really hoped to finish the book by then.

I talked it over with Carlos, who was on night duty, and agreed that I'd set my alarm,  check the webcams at about 4;30 am, and then either drive up, or (more likely) go back to bed.

I didn't sleep too well, because my brain wouldn't stop trying to come up with a plan B. Predictably, I finally got to sleep just before the alarm went off.  So I dragged myself to look at the webcams...

... and they were full of stars.

So I drove up, and took my photos from the roof of the observatory's private hotel.  And I'm happy with the results.

Rose Petals, Lavender and Glitter

I'm delighted to announce that my story, "Rose Petals, Lavender and Glitter" is up at Abyss and Apex.
One side effect of spending so much time on the guide book to the observatory is that it's been a while since I had something published. I've missed it.

So I'd better get on with getting the book published, hadn't I?