Fourth In The Series

Intruder - Imagineer Intruder was released through Smashwords on 27th February.  It’s the fourth in the Thief Series.  The folk of Ur’gavan are again threatened, but by an evil from within this time.  Whether Tirnam can save the day is uncertain, as this threat is decidedly outside his experience.  This is the longest of the tales, at a smidgen under 8000 words!  The first two stories (Thief and Gabrin: The Avatar) were about 5000 words and the third (Ur’gavan) was almost 5500 words.

I don’t know, as yet, whether there will be more, but I hope there will.  They’ve been fun to write, and actually recall how I used to write many, many years ago.  I believe that I’ve left stray threads that can be used to attach other stories to.  The important question I have to ask myself is: “Should the series go on?”.  At the moment, I don’t think I can answer that.  I know that there’s plenty of potential for more stories.  The people of Ur’gavan will, after all, continue to live their lives, forever at risk from new perils: raiders, invaders, plagues, natural disasters.  And Tirnam and his friends will have to lead them through it all for their whole lives.

Perhaps I should throw the question open to all!  I’d be interested to know whether you think I should pursue the series further.

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Jutoh – The Answer To Self-Publishing Prayers

Jutoh: What it is

jutoh Jutoh is a software package that permits the creation of ebooks.  That was difficult!  No, seriously, it is just that.  You can import your writing from various sources or use the (admittedly) basic built-in editor.  When you are ready, you can then export your ebook in various formats.  There’s also a basic cover designer.  Jutoh is programmed and published by Julian Smart of Anthemion Software.  If you want something to provide a “writer’s desktop”, with a wide variety of very useful features, I would recommend that you also take a look at Writer’s Café, from the same source.  This concerns the whole process up to creating the finished product.  It provides tools that can help in the actual writing of your works of fiction.  Combine the two (very simple), and you have everything you need!

.:0:.

My Own Story

When I first started writing ebooks, the only option that I could find was Open Office’s PDF export.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t like PDFs.  More, I was aware of the Kindle and iBooks, along with other ebook formats.  That’s what I wanted!  I wanted something that came as close to behaving like a real book as possible.  After a lengthy period of searching, my eldest son, Damien, sent me a link to Anthemion Software’s Jutoh.

Now, I’m not going to pretend it was all smooth sailing from that point.  To be honest, I’m not a great one for reading guides to software.  To me, the best software is usually as intuitive to use as possible.  Jutoh appeared to be just that.  Naturally, not having actually read anything about using it, I started colliding with problems, most of which could be sorted in moments by simply reading the User’s Guide.  What I did learn, however, was that Julian Smart, the creator of the software, is superb at providing remarkably patient support, whether it’s just pointing to a part of the User’s Guide, or delving deeper.  I can say in all honesty that I have never experienced such excellent levels of support!

These days, I write away in Open Office, open a new project in Jutoh when ready, and import the Open Office document.  Very little work is required after that.  I have saved configurations that I import at the beginning.  Close the project, reopen it and apply the configurations.  That just leaves designing a cover, or using one already made, adding a few extras, and then I can run the ebook generator for each format I want, including a special format Open Office document for submission (after conversion to a Word document) to Smashwords.com with no problems.  Life simply can’t get any simpler.

Jutoh can be as simple or as complicated as you want, according to what you want of your ebook.  If you opt for complicated, you can rest secure in the knowledge that Mr Smart can help in an emergency.  You will get quick support through joining the Yahoo Group.

.:0:.

Testimonials for Jutoh

“I just put a new Teen novel up on Kindle – using Jutoh, it came out clean and easy to read, even with my differing fonts.   I started to get good reviews right away; and as you know, that is the life-blood for self-publishing.”

R. W. Jensen, Author of Diary of a Celebrity Horse Trainer

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“I started using Jutoh almost a year ago. Up until then I was going crazy trying to get my first book formatted to meet the Smashwords premium catalog standards, but it seemed no matter how closely I followed Smashwords’ own directions I kept having problems. I was not a happy writer.

Since I’m fairly technically inclined I decided I had no choice but to learn HTML and format the book that way. While I was looking for HTML tutorials somehow I ran across a review for Jutoh from an indie author and so I checked it out. I was blown away and in love from first usage.

Here’s what makes Jutoh such an invaluable tool for me:

  • It runs on every major platform. I like to use GNU/Linux, the fact that it’s supported is great. Occasionally I need to use Windows or Mac, and it’s even better than I can install it legally on all three platforms using my serial number.

  • It uses HTML for formatting, but I don’t have to dig through the code unless I really want to. eBooks really do need to be formatted in HTML, but having use of Jutoh’s WYSIWYG editor makes my life so much easier.

  • Producing a book for nearly any bookstore is painless. Want to upload to Kindle? Push the button for .mobi. Publishing on iTunes or Nook. Piece of cake, that’s the .epub button. Smashwords, my old nemesis? Again, as easy as pushing a single button. (OK, Smashwords has the extra step of opening the file and resaving it as a .doc file, but even my grandma can do that.)

  • The community is active and vibrant, and Julian (the creator) is a champ at service and support. And bug squishing. I’ve yet to run into an issue that the community couldn’t help me through, and I’ve had some strange ones come up. I’m sure there are other communities this helpful, but the fact that most Jutoh users are authors adds something special to it.

I’ve gotten handy enough at formatting that I’ve even been able to take on some clients, and Jutoh hasn’t failed me yet. If you are willing to learn your way around inside Jutoh (and the learning curve is short), I would encourage you to try it. It will let you focus on writing more and formatting less, and that’s what all writers want, isn’t it?”

Adam Tervort http://adamtervort.com

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Of the dozen or so eBook creation apps on the market aimed at the non-HTML crowd, Jutoh is the ONLY one I can recommend without reserve. It’s what Word or Word Perfect would be like if they produced epub and mobi files, and it’s just about as full featured as either. It produces the best looking HTML and CSS out there. More importantly, it’s very easy for amateurs to use. Making a table of contents (TOC) has never been easier. There’s no perfect substitute for coding by hand, but Jutoh comes closer than any app of its kind.

Charles Seper – professional eBook formatter and owner eBook Pioneers

Jake Needham, Crime Novelist

An Introduction to Jake Needham
http://www.JakeNeedham.com

Photo for FB & Twitter (crop2)

Jake Needham is an American crime novelist who lives in Bangkok.  He has published six crime novels set in contemporary Asia: THE UMBRELLA MAN, THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE, A WORLD OF TROUBLE, KILLING PLATO, LAUNDRY MAN, and THE BIG MANGO. The print editions of Jake’s novels are distributed only in Europe, Asia, and the UK, where they have all been bestsellers. Happily, the ebook editions of his novels are available worldwide.

Mr. Needham has lived and worked in Asia for over twenty-five years. He and his wife have two sons who attend school in the US.

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Comments about Mr Needham

“Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.”
– The Bangkok Post

“Needham is Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction.”
– The Singapore Straits Times

“Jake Needham has a knack for bringing plots to life. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!”
– CNNgo

“Mr. Needham seems to know rather more than one ought about these things.”
– The Wall Street Journal

“Needham certainly knows where a few bodies are buried.”
— Asia Inc

“Jake Needham’s crime novels about Jack Shepherd have earned rave reviews.”
– Malaysia Star (Kuala Lumpur)

“In the genre of crime fiction set in Asia, Jake Needham is in a class of his own.”
— The Bangkok Post

“Jake Needham can lay claim to being Asia’s best selling crime novelist.”
The Edge (Singapore)

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UmbrellaMan (thumbnail) AmbassadorsWife

Visit www.JakeNeedham.com to learn more about Jake Needham’s international crime novels:

THE UMBRELLA MAN
A WORLD OF TROUBLE
THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE
KILLING PLATO
LAUNDRY MAN
THE BIG MANGO

Copy and images courtesy of Jake Needham.

New Feature

You’ll notice a new menu entry: “Authors: An A to Z of my Favourites”.  This is where you will find an alphabetical listing of authors whose work has become a favourite of mine.  The reason for listing these works by author rather than book title is explained in the top page.  I’m hoping that this listing will prove of some interest and value to you all!

The listing will grow over time so do keep an eye on it!  There is absolutely no way that I could create all the pages before adding the feature.  Over 30 years of reading to date, plus continuing to discover new favourites, makes the task enormous indeed.  If the entire body of work falls into the “favourite” status, no individual books or series will be mentioned, other than generalised references.  In many cases, however, there will be particular books or series only, in which case some mention of preference(s) will be explained.

I would love to know if you enjoy any of these authors’ works, or if my mentioning them inspires you to give them a look.  There have been instances when I’ve recommended books to a friend or family member and they have ended up bigger fans of them than I am!

~ Steve

Ur’gavan – New ebook Release!

The latest short story by Steve is now available as an ebook!  Ur’gavan is the third in the Thief series.  It is slightly longer than the two previous tales, Thief (Thief 1) and Gabrin: The Avatar (Thief 2).

To quote the blurb:

Continuing on from the end of both “Thief” and “Gabrin: The Avatar“, this short story sees the people of the ancient city of Ur’gavan facing grave danger. The one-time boy thief, Tirnam, and his friend Gabrin Parr, must seek to forge a new future, a future of hope. They are the only ones who can achieve the impossible, or can they? The risks are enormous, but the rewards are even greater…

The ebook is available from Smashwords (multiple formats) and Goodreads (ePub only).

To make it absolutely clear as to the correct reading order of these stories, they should be read in strict sequence as numbered!  While there is overlap between Thief and Gabrin: The Avatar, the sequence should be adhered to – it’s the way they have been written to be read.

A Few Words About The Blog

I thought it was time to say a little about this blog.  There’s been some truly amazing activity over the last couple of months, which I mentioned in the Milestones post.  The growth of Imagineer-ing is continuing at a most encouraging rate.  However, there are some things that make a blog really jump!

Comments

Comments on the posts on a blog can make a big difference.  First, they encourage blog authors to continue their efforts. Second, they are an effective way to provide feedback, along with Likes.  In fact, the nature of comments can help to shape a blog, indicating what the readers find interesting, fun, informative or boring.  Third, comments make a blog appear more alive, encouraging others to follow it and to participate in discussions.  So, if you want to say something about what you’ve just read, please do, even if it’s just a quick word or two!  The only comments that are unwelcome are spam, trolling, or other incendiary remarks designed to cause trouble.

Ratings

Likes are wonderful!  They are truly encouraging.  However, you are given the opportunity to indicate how much you like a post, by giving it a star rating of 0 to 5.  This information helps, along with comments, to shape a blog.  Knowing what readers enjoy makes it easier to choose what posts to make.  The rating facility is on the post’s page, not the main blog page.

Sharing

It is always gratifying when a post is shared by a reader!  The nature of the share isn’t important.  Whether you share via a social network or by reblogging a post, or even pointing to it in a blog post of your own that, perhaps, takes up the subject matter.  I realise that Imagineer-ing is guilty of not doing much reblogging and I am working to correct this situation.  In common with many, of course, time is part of the problem here, in that maintaining a blog while being busy with other things (writing, in my case) makes it difficult to do as much reading of other blogs as I would like.  A big plus of sharing is that it may attract more followers.  This isn’t just a benefit to the blog, it can help to bring more material of interest to readers, such as more reviews, guest posts and such.

Contact

There is a facility that allows private contact.  I have been very pleased to receive all but one such contact (the odd one was spam!) and fully understand why the private option was chosen.  Generally, I receive notifications of most activity almost instantly, unless it gets misdirected into the spam folder, and I do try to respond, where appropriate, as quickly as possible.  I would suggest that private contact should really be reserved for requests for reviews, making guest posts and similar applications for support.  Of course, if you have a problem with the blog, then the contact system is also the right thing to use.

In Conclusion

I’m not begging!  All I wish to do is to encourage more interaction, to help make the blog even better, more interesting and more entertaining.  I don’t think this ambition is a bad thing, as it can only enhance your enjoyment of Imagineer-ing.

~ Steve

The Imagineer Blog Awards 2013: The Winners

These are the results for the inaugural, annual Imagineer Blog Awards, given to blogs in the following categories:

  1. Authorship blogs, which give tips and general advice to prospective authors.
  2. Book review blogs, focussed on book/ebook reviews primarily.
  3. Publishing blogs, focussed on advice on publishing and self-publishing.
  4. Part-work blogs, where stories are presented in serialised form for reading online.
  5. Poetry blogs, where poetry is presented in blog format.
  6. Photoblogs, where photography is the primary feature of the blog and may involve books/ebooks about photography or photo “gallery” books/ebooks.

1. Authorship blog 2013

The award goes to… drum roll please… Cristian Mihai.  Cristian has consistently helped authors through his excellent blog.  He is now reaching out to others in the realm of the Arts, through irevuo, an excellent online magazine.  Many congratulations, Cristian, and thank you for your tireless efforts.

2. Book review blog 2013

This award was extremely difficult to assign, with so many excellent review blogs out there.  In the end, the award has gone to Rabid Readers ReviewsWe were particularly impressed by the nice clean presentation of this blog.  Congratulations to Tammy Dewhirst, who runs the blog.

3. Publishing blog 2013

Another tough one.  However, one blog stood out, in the end: Self-Publish 101This blog provides an enormous amount of help and advice for all authors looking to self-publish.  Congratulations to the team behind this blog,

4. Part-work blog 2013

One blog sprang to the fore for this award: Unbound Boxes Limping GodsWhile the presentation of each part of the story leaves something to be desired (white on black in a small font is rather eye-straining!), nobody demonstrates more determination to continue to tell a tale as a part-work.  Congratulations to the author, Cheryl Moore.

5. Poetry blog 2013

The winner of the poetry blog isn’t a purely poetry blog.  It has been chosen, however, for the poetry it presents: TIPPR BlogCongratulations go to Tamara I, the blog owner.

6. Photoblog 2013

One blog rose above the competition with ease: sethsnap.  The breadth of the subjects and the beauty of the photographs is inspiring.  Congratulations to Seth Snap.

This has been a challenging process, and, as with all awards, we don’t expect everybody to agree with the choices made.  I would still ask you all to applaud the winners.  And remember – 2014 is another year!

Espionage

Well, kind of.  The author practices it all the time.  We study others, learn about human nature while delving into the secrets most people would rather not have known.  We become amateur psychologists, sleuths and general observers.  And all this is just so that our characters can have depth.  We can’t just sit and chat, content with the surface.  We have to delve, to try to see into people, to interpret their words, gestures.  Some authors are very social, enjoying the company of others and ready to talk in a lively manner, but others just sit back and observe, speaking little but hearing much.

I tend to combine both kinds of authors in a social situation.  I can, when necessary, give the appearance of just chatting, but the talk is a cover for what’s happening beneath it all.  And if there are lots of people about, I can sit back, in the shadows as it were, simply absorbing everything around me.  Now don’t get it wrong!  I’m not (normally) judging, beyond knowing virtually instantly whether I like somebody.  It’s instinctive, this plumbing the depths of others.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do it.  There are times when I wish I could switch it off.  There are dangers, you see.  You may discover something about a person that makes you more than dislike them, something dark, sinister.  Then, too, you are aware of the emotions of others, and there are situations when that can have a devastating effect on you, such as at a funeral.  You may not be opening yourself to others, but very strong emotions can break through any walls you may protect yourself with.

This gathering of intelligence on human nature may seem immoral, but it’s part of what makes a writer what they are.  Of course, the intelligence can be abused, by writing characters that are readily identifiable as real people.  There have been authors who have hurt people, often friends, family, acquaintances and neighbours.  In fact, the intelligence that has been gathered should actually go into a melting pot, to blend in such a way that characters emerge, fully developed but totally fictional.  That’s what it’s all about.  We need this intelligence if we are to create characters that aren’t simply variations on ourselves, our family members, or fictional characters we have encountered in our reading.

~ Steve

The Nicest Burdens

Burdens?  What burdens?  I refer to reading and writing.  No, don’t scream at me!  I use the word with complete honesty.

There are most definitely times when both are, to me at least, very burdensome.  Sometimes, with reading, it’s the sheer volume of books I want to read, and have available to read.  I’m a slow reader.  I savour the written word.   That means that I may be really looking forward to reading something but either I’m already reading something or I’m in that dreadful limbo, where I simply haven’t the energy to read anything.  That limbo!  Cruellest of places for any avid reader.  It may be the result of poor health, simple tiredness, or having finished a book that has had a profound effect, making it impossible to select something new (or old) to read.  The only way to deal with the limbo is to weather it.

The burden of writing is rather odd for me.  I cannot and will not work to a deadline.  I may set myself a target, but such things are very flexible and I feel no shame in failing to meet such targets.  So where does the burden come from?  Simply knowing that I have a work in progress!  Or, to be more precise, usually several WIPs.  Such knowledge can weigh heavily.  It doesn’t matter why things aren’t progressing as they should.  It suffices that they aren’t.  I feel a degree of guilt for every day that passes without doing something towards those WIPs.

These burdens are just that, and make me uncomfortable.  However, I would not be without them for the life of me!  Oddly, I feel an immense pleasure in their existence.  The need to create, or to luxuriate in the creations of others, reflects an aspect of myself that I am, in all humility, proud of.  I love the fact that I am creative, that my imagination hasn’t been worn down to non-existence by Life.  I also love the fact that I have retained an appreciation for that same creativity in others.  This may sound peculiar but, I feel a great pride in others and their achievements, and often feel the need to share my enthusiasm for their creations with others.  It’s almost as if I have adopted them as family members.  So I am willing to pay the price for such feelings.  If I must sometimes feel burdened, then so be it.  It is, after all, a small price to be paid.

~ Steve

Milestones!

We have now passed 100 posts on Imagineer-ing!  We’ve also broken the 100 blog followers – thank you all!  We’re approaching our first anniversary, having launched the Imagineer-ing blog on 10th March, 2012.  Finally, our Facebook page is a year old today, having been launched a little before this blog – why not pop over there and say “Hi!”…

Hopefully, all these milestones will be just the beginning of a great new year!

~ Steve

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ebooks published as at 18th February, 2013