Blog Browser Day: 31st August, 2013

Dream Weaver

This is a blog by Su Williams, author of Dream Weaver. She promotes her book on this site as well as doing author interviews.

Blog Class: Author’s Blog

Recommended by: Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


300 Stories

Dieter Rogiers said “I should write more. That’s what I said to myself on the eve of my 35th birthday. 300stories is my way to grab the bull by the horns. My aim? To produce a short story in 300 words or less practically each day for the next year. Some of the stories will be hardly more than a sentence. Some of them will be hell to whittle down to a mere 300 words. It won’t always be easy to keep up the pace and the quality of the stories. But that is the challenge I’m setting myself”.

The result is a great little blog of short stories, each a little gem by itself.

I’d like to qualify giving No against safe for families, Dieter advises ‘there will be some industrial language and graphic descriptions along the way. But that shouldn’t spoil your fun’.

Blog Class: Author’s Blog

Recommended by: The Story Reading Ape

Rating: 4 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  No (see above).


The Story Reading Ape

Chris Graham is one of the most supportive people I have ever encountered online!  His blog, actually a chain of blogs all indexed by this one, carries author interviews, features on authors or specific books, and numerous other matters of interest to readers and authors.  He revels in finding what he describes as “New (to me)” books and authors, and giving his wholehearted support to those he honestly believes deserving of it.  He is a prolific reader and reviewer.

Chris also carries some reblogged items.

One thing is generally a given with Chris is his tremendous sense of fun!

Blog Class: General Blog

Recommended by: Steve K Smy

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Book Promo Day: 29th August, 2013

A Dozen Shorts by J. H. Bogran

An eclectic collection of short stories coming from the mind of J. H. Bográn and his muses.

This collection comprises diverse characters on both sides of the law, from rogue FBI agents, to professional assassins, and everyday men and women facing impossible odds.

The Author strongly recommends popcorn and soda as companions while delving into these stories.

Purchase from:
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E3HMCNE/
The collection is priced at $0.99 through August 31, 2013.

More information:
Author’s website


LITTLE MISS HISTORY LIBERTY Little Miss HISTORY Travels to the Statue Of Liberty by Barbara Ann Mojica

Since her last trip to Mount Rushmore, Little Miss HISTORY has journeyed more than 1700 miles over land, sea and air to reach her second destination, The Statue of Liberty. This national treasure stands proudly in New York Harbor welcoming all people to the land of freedom and opportunity. In this second book of the series, Little Miss HISTORY will help you discover who thought of the statue in the first place, the values she symbolizes, the architects and engineers who built Lady Liberty, and the little known individuals who contributed their pennies to make her debut in New York’s harbor possible. You will learn about why she remains a promise and symbol of the hopes and aspirations of many people around the world and not just to immigrants coming to America. Come now and follow Little Miss HISTORY as she enlightens you about The Statue of Liberty!

Purchase from:
CreateSpace

More information:
Author’s website
CreateSpace


For the Sake of Mercy by Steve K Smy

Merchant Captain Henri Duschelle, a man Union Fleet wish they had, must lead his loyal, hard fighting crew on a seemingly impossible mission: to deliver a vital organ to the dying son of one of his crew, across the longest span of the colonised worlds – to an insane deadline. He is convinced that only his ship, the stunningly beautiful Persephone, can make such a journey in the time allowed. But dangers lie in wait on this, perhaps the greatest voyage ever made by humans…

The first novelette in the series: The Captain Henri Duschelle Stories.

More information:
Author’s website/blog


Wednesday Briefing

An Appeal to Authors on Behalf of Reviewers

Recently, in a LinkedIn Group, I was answering a thread.  It raised something that I felt needed addressing.  I did what I could in a few words, but I’d like to spell it out more fully here.

We all need feedback, and it’s a subject that I’ve already covered, to some degree.  However, there’s an aspect of it that I missed entirely!  We authors have certain duties to those we ask to provide us with feedback.  The obvious one is to offer a product worth their time, of course.  Or, at least, to genuinely believe that we are doing so!  But how many of us take the trouble to offer review copies in more than one format?  As far as this is concerned, authors using Kindle direct, and especially Kindle Select, are perhaps the guiltiest, I’m afraid.  We must not fall into the trap of believing that we need only concern ourselves with one ebook format!  I have experienced the problem myself – where I’ve been asked to review books but been offered ‘Kindle or nothing’.  That’s really not good!  Of course, it’s possible to convert ebooks to other formats, but if you have elected to employ DRM, then conversion is impossible!  So, I appeal to all authors: produce your books in as many formats as possible!  I’m not saying you have to offer them all for sale.  If you want to stick with, for example, Kindle – then by all means do so!  Just make it easier for potential reviewers!

News On Shade of Evil

I am currently working towards making the paperback version of my novelette, Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians), available through CreateSpace and, therefore, Amazon.  I only submitted it yesterday, but I was amazed to find that it is now available from CreateSpace and will be available from Amazon.com and Amazon’s European stores within about a week!   The links will be added to the book’s page on the blog.  it should, I hope, be easier for some to buy a copy.  If things go well enough, then I’ll be inclined to make my other books available through the same channels.

This does not signal an abandonment of skoobebooks!  Far from it!  I couldn’t be happier with the help and service that I’ve had from them, and I suspect that it is far superior to what I could expect from CreateSpace!  It is simply a reluctant acceptance of an unavoidable fact – more people shop through Amazon, especially internationally!  It is also a reflection of the fact that, sadly, I can’t afford the extra fee for wider distribution (including through Amazon), imposed by skoobebooks.

One last word on skoobebooks!  If you live in the United Kingdom, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend your use of skoobebooks.  Having used both them and UK-based FeedARead, I am very happy to say that skoobebooks  win hands down on service!  From the very first book that I submitted to them, I have been constantly impressed by the help provided, and the fact that they work so hard to get your precious creation printed in the way you want!  Working with Keith at skoobebooks has taught me a great deal, and I can only publicly express my gratitude to him, and his colleagues.  Without them, I doubt that there would have been a printed option for any of my books!

~ Steve

New Book Launch: Announcement!

Well, I promised an announcement today, and so here it is!

I have decided that the first person to purchase the Hardback edition of the new book will receive all the books in ebook format – free!  skoobebooks have agreed to provide me with the name and email address of this person, on this one occasion only.  The offer ends at midnight GMT on 30th September, 2013.  The hardback is marginally larger than the paperback and is professionally printed and bound, with a plain cover but wrapped in a dustjacket bearing the illustrated cover design like the paperback.

If you don’t wish to take up this offer, please let skoobebooks know when you place your order!

Please note that this is not a draw or any other kind of competition!  It is purely based on a “first come, first served” basis.  Equally, no obligation is placed on the recipient of the ebooks.  Obviously, if you are the lucky person, and you feel moved to read and review any or all of the books, I would be delighted!  If you do review any of my books, I would be very grateful if you could post such reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as any other site permitting it, as you see fit.

Just as a matter of interest, I’d love to know how many (if any) of you are interested in this offer!  It will help in planning future launch events.  To that end, there’s a poll below.

~ Steve

AWOL Sunday & Falling Behind

Lazy Sunday…

Well, kind of, I guess.  Started with dosing up as much as I dared to make a journey I really wasn’t fit for, but in a very good cause.  Why?  It was the baptism of our granddaughter Kimberly!  Sadly, the best I could manage in participation terms was arriving before everybody headed out, as the “facilities” at the church and the club afterwards were not suitable for me.  So I basically house-sat.  Still, I spent an extremely pleasant day in the back garden, enjoying the warmth and, eventually, the sun.  I dozed off for a while and then used my son’s tablet to start writing a new story (probably a short story).  It was wonderful, actually.  Being somewhere so very quiet, doing nothing of great importance.

If you’re interested in such things, I have a photo gallery of the baptism on my Facebook.  The majority of the photos were taken by my wife, Jenny, and using a Samsung Ace Smartphone (with only one exception), after the batteries died in my digital camera,  I have to say that the Samsung’s camera function provided phenomenal quality results, especially considering that no flash was used!

Not Keeping Up Well…

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been keeping up with things very well, lately.  That’s mainly because of the work involved in preparing for the book launch!  Part of it is the to-and-fro’ of getting the book into print, which will be both paperback and hardback.  I complicated matters by wanting the hardback to be the kind with a dustjacket with a plain book cover, rather than a full colour book cover.  This is probably a holdover from growing up with such things.  I used to love peeking under the dustjackets to see the smart, minimalistic titles on the covers and spine beneath.  Somehow, when I first encountered hardbacks without dustjackets but with glossy, full colour covers (often just on the front), well… to be absolutely honest, they looked cheap and tacky to me.  And yes, I know that’s silly and unfair, but it’s something I can’t get past.  Even those where the dustjacket illustration is still printed on the book cover beneath just doesn’t have the same feel to it.  A further complication because of this wish for a dustjacket is that the book sizes available are different!  Thus, I can’t have the 8 x 5 inch size.  I have to move up to 8.5 x 5.5 inches, which means that there will be a reduction in the number of pages!  The paper will also be crème instead of white.  Finally, the desire for a dustjacket means I need to come up with something for the inner flaps, without repeating anything from elsewhere, preferably.  Keith at skoobebooks.co.uk has been a huge help throughout!

On top of the print issues for the book, I have fallen foul of something I did for the release of The Sigil of Ahriman – producing a video book trailer!  There are many, many difficulties involved in the process, and I spent a considerable amount of time beating my head against very high, hard brick walls!  Without the enormous amount of help I had from Chris Graham (creator of the book’s cover illustration) with the images used in the video, and my son Damien in the narration, I would probably have conceded defeat long ago.  The task would have been, I  now know, far beyond me!  I will admit that this process was complicated when Damien pointed out that the video lost quality rather badly when watched full screen in HD!  I don’t have direct, personal access to HD.  Further, my computer seems to be suffering from serious memory problems (I know that feeling!) so many of the tricks used to persuade Windows Movie Maker to record in HD, or even pseudo-HD, simply won’t work for me.  I found a video conversion program which may have overcome the problem, but I won’t know until Damien confirms one way or another.  Finally, I haven’t yet decided on whether to superimpose the narrative on the video or to incorporate subtitles.  Both present significant technical challenges for a video creation newbie!

So I hope that you all understand why I have been struggling to keep up with other things!  If you’ve emailed me, for any reason, and I haven’t replied as yet, please accept my very sincere apologies.

~ Steve

Blog Browser Day: 24th August, 2013

Story Shucker

The Blogger, Stuart M. Perkins is originally from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys describing his true observations of daily life and recollections of growing up in a large family surrounded by cousins, animals, and more animals. Everyday experiences often carry great messages. Layers of ordinary reality can usually be peeled back to reveal the genuinely humorous or poignant themes buried within common events.

Daily life is full of “mini-scenarios”, each hiding an interesting story. Peeling back, or shucking the mundane facts from the situation to reveal the entertaining story beneath is what Stuart enjoys most. Shucking the story from the facts. Storyshucker. Stuart currently lives in Arlington, Virginia.

He does interesting, short reading, articles.

Blog Class: General Blog

Recommended by: The Story Reading Ape

Rating: 4 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Ruminations of a Remembrancer

This is my principal blog.  It covers several topics besides promoting my own self-published books.  I review books; discuss grammar and poetry; occasionally wax nostalgic, indulge in philosophical speculation, or vent on social issues; and post excerpts from my books, both published and WIPs.

Blog Class: General Blog

Recommended by: Lorinda J. Taylor

Rating: (Own blog)

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


4covert2overt

This is a blog by a person who loves history. She does research and hosts authors and others on her blog. Her book is a book about a historical event that affected her family.

Blog Class: Author’s

Recommended by: Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


The Attic Girls

Subtitled “Adventures and Misadventures of a Writers’ Critique Group…” this blog features a small group of published and aspiring writers who blog about everything and anything related to writing and publishing though their experiences. An eclectic mix of writers means a variety of interesting essays, and these women deliver straight from the heart. This is a newish blog, with each writer contributing once each month (so a new post each week). Consider starting with Jade Kerrion – Attic Girls’ First Date, and I think you’ll be hooked–I was!

Blog Class: Author’s

Recommended by: Candace Johnson

Rating: 4 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Result! Plus, Promotional Days. Questions, please?

Smashingly Good Result

Yes indeed!  I’m delighted to report that the problem and mum with Smashwords has reached a very good conclusion!  I received an email from them which, while brief, was polite and helpful!  I’d still like to be told why they made retrospective reviews on the books, of course…

Book Promo Day Explanation

I should have made this quite clear from the very beginning, I guess!  The weekly Book Promo Day does not have to feature only your latest books!  Any of your books can be featured, which means that you have a great opportunity to bring them ‘back into the light’.  SO, dust off those older works and give them some love by submitting them for Book Promo Days.  Of course, do remember that the limit is one book in any week!

Blog Browser Day

The question has been asked, perfectly correctly!  How can you give a ‘star rating’ to your own blog when suggesting it for Blog Browser Day?  To be fair, you can’t.  The fault was, however, mine!  By making the star rating ‘required’, I forced folk to make use of it!  I have now added a star rating of “My own blog” so that modesty may be reserved in future.  I hope that the problem is now solved satisfactorily.  In future, any blog submission with the new non-star rating will have the lack of a star rating properly explained on the Blog Browser Day posts.

Any requests?

An odd one, this!  You will doubtless have seen the background posts about the G1: The Guardians series.  These are being produced from the copious notes I have for the series,  If, however, there is some aspect that you would like to know more about (within reason, of course), I’d be very happy to hear from you!

Book Promo Day: 22nd August, 2013

Astonished!

I am truly astonished, and not a little disappointed, to be honest.  I have received a total of ONE submission for this week’s Book Promo Day!  Given that this is free advertising, I really don’t understand why authors don’t leap at the opportunity.  In future, if I receive anything less than three submissions, the event simply won’t happen that week.  Any that have been received will be carried over until such time as three or more entries will be possible.

So as not to disappoint Alex Shaw on this occasion, I have added two books myself!  I believe that these will be of interest and I hope that you will understand why I’ve done this.

===0===

Cold Black by Alex Shaw

Former SAS trooper Aidan Snow returns in the thrilling follow up to the Kindle bestseller ‘Hetman’.

Now an MI6 operative, Snow must locate and rescue an old SAS colleague before an Al-Qaeda splinter cell can carry out acts of unprecedented horror. But who is covertly funding these new attacks and why?

Abduction

Veteran SAS trooper, Paddy Fox has lost his job, his wife and his temper. Whilst bitterly job hunting, Fox witnesses a car crash and finds himself rescuing a kidnapped Saudi Royal. Persuaded by MI6 to accept a job as security adviser in Saudi Arabia, Fox travels to Riyadh.

Assassination

In Kyiv, a director of the Belorussian KGB is gunned down whilst trying to pass shocking intelligence to his counterpart in the Ukrainian SBU. Intelligence, which if verified, sets out plans to commit international acts of terror.

Al-Qaeda

In Saudi Arabia, an entire British Trade mission is taken hostage by a new, highly trained, group aligned to Al-Qaeda. But who is covertly funding this new insurgency and why?

An International Conspiracy

Former SAS Trooper turned MI6 operative, Aidan Snow is caught in a maelstrom involving East, West and Middle East which endangers the world’s supply of oil.

More information:

http://amzn.com/B00408A6C0


Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians) by Steve K Smy

The 2nd edition with a dramatic new cover, with an illustration by Chris Graham.  Some fundamental changes have been made to the novelette’s story, particularly in respect of the Guardians.

A simple man bears a terrible burden, unknowing. Now, that burden is killing him, seeking freedom from his exhausted hulk. Freedom to satisfy its evil hunger.  And its food is Humans!

A darkness dwelt there, a vile miasma of misery that gnawed at the very soul of the man. It had been there for years, growing like some parasite, growing bloated with every bit of melancholy that was sucked from him. Worse, it was taking on a life of its own, a substance that should not exist. And the man was becoming something less, something hollow.

More information:

Author’s website/blog


Yule Pause and Frosty Claus (The Owl Wood Publications) by Ian Hutson

Yule pause and Frosty Claus is the second of The Owl Wood Publications and tells the story of two dogs, Pipsqueak and Toby, an owl who’s a hit-man left over from the Cold War, four chickens of dubious IQ, several of the bravest pheasant you’ll ever meet – and a monastery populated by little rat monks with little rat tonsures and little rat sandals. Father Christmas gets his just deserts and the rats get the Harrods Christmas Hamper. All is well that ends well, and this all ends well.

No sex, very little violence and none of that “Hollywood style” and only a hint of the mildest of everyday English gentlefolk cussing.
15,000 words or thereabouts allowing for the cold. More words than you could shake a stick at.

The Owl Wood is a real-life tiny patch of woodland set aside in Lincolnshire, England, for owls to nest and do owlish things. Since the miserable little souls have steadfastly refused to nest for the past five years I rather thought I ought to make up some action instead. Blathering nonsense, but fun.

Why not have a look at the others in the series too while you’re at it? There are sheep in the next one. Sheep I tell you, lovely sheeeeeeep.

More information:

http://www.amazon.com/Ian-Hutson/e/B00C6XFRBG


Smashing! I’ll Stick With The Numbers.

“Smashwords”?  Or is it “Smash my plans”?

I would normally not write this until the whole process of investigation, query and (hopefully) resolution was complete.  It is, however, something which I’m truly angered by.  Looking at my Smashwords Dashboard, which is a daily habit, I have again discovered some of my ebooks have been removed from their “Premium catalogue”!  This means that they won’t be distributed to partner bookstores, like kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, and so on.  I’m not sure how that works, as they had already passed muster and been distributed to these places!  In fact, some have been there since late last year!  So why, in the first place, have these books been reviewed again?  They had already gotten through the Smashwords “Autovetter” and human review, and declared perfectly acceptable!  Up to 9 or 10 months ago!  Whatever the accuracy of the cause for retraction might be, this behaviour can only be described as mystifying.   As to the cause?  Well, it’s the same in every case.  Puzzlingly, the declared problem only applies to some, not all, of my books.  Why is that puzzling?  Well, the simple answer is that every single one of my book manuscripts was created using the same software!  Software designed specifically to produce Word doc files that meet the format demands of Smashwords!

I believe a friend has made a very important observation.  It applies to just about every online ebook publishing site out there, for a variety of reasons!  They seem to forget that 50% of the company’s business relationship base is the authors!  Without authors, they have nothing to sell!  It doesn’t matter how many readers visit them, or how many “partners” (I.e. retailers) they have!  Without us, they have no product.  They should think on that!

Now, I have to go back to waiting for answers from various quarters.  I hope that the response I receive from Smashwords is a whole lot more polite than the last time I raised an issue with them!

+++Late news+++

The indications seem to be that a single setting in Jutoh may have caused this problem.  However!  I maintain that no such problem would have existed for the books concerned if they hadn’t suddenly been reviewed again.  So it would seem that something has changed in the “Meatgrinder” formatting software used by Smashwords and they decided, for some very strange reason, to revisit some books that had already passed muster!  Indeed, I can honestly say that I haven’t heard of anybody else facing this extra work!

A Question of Numbers

You’re probably sick of my fascination with statistics!  Please bear with me for a very short entry, though.

The blog is up to almost 10,400 views since its birth!  From a mere trickle of comments on posts, we’re closing on 1,400.  The number of direct Followers has risen to almost 500, and a further 1,400 on Twitter, 400 on Facebook (for the Imagineer-ing page) and 30 on Tumblr (rounding the figures).  I also have nearly 240 Friends on my personal Facebook page and a considerable number more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn.  I’ll not go into followings on other networks! As anticipated, average daily numbers declined during the Summer months.  As a trained statistician, I wouldn’t make any real assumptions of views of the blog based on a year’s figures.  In fact, I’d prefer to have ten years of data!

As an aside, no, I’m not one of the modern statisticians who seem to think that it’s worthwhile quoting figures based on a handful of survey respondents, like on the majority of TV ads!  They should be ashamed!  Any statistician knows that any sample below a certain level is absolutely no use.  90% of 138 means absolutely nothing!  Even if it does make a product sound good!  Just come back when your sample size is in the thousands!

I’d just like to issue a big Thank You!

~ Steve

WIPs and Memories

WIPping up a Storm!

Yeah, I know!  Terrible!  But this little paragraph is about, shockingly, WIPs.  Though circumstances forced a stall, I am working on a new book.  It will be the fifth  in the G1: The Guardians series.  It has a slightly different atmosphere to the other stories.  I decided that there was a serious risk of things becoming just ‘more of the same’, so the new tale has some very different elements, including multiple threads and some nods to European folklore and even some Christian myths.  As to more immediate WIPs, the soon-to-be-released novel is progressing well in the preparations for printing, and Shade of Evil is already heading to the final proof stage with the printers.  There’s good reason to hope that the novel will be available in both paperback and hardback print editions on the launch date!

A Memory of a Wonderful Series

Back in the 1970s, The Hamlyn Publishing Group produced a lovely set of books – the Hamlyn all-colour paperbacks.  Now, before anybody who remembers them jumps all over me, I know that the binding quality was absolutely awful, and you were liable to end up with a set of loose-leaf books!  No, for me, what made these books so special was the range of subjects and the first class colour illustrations.  I had numerous books in the series, ranging from animals to geology, from Budgerigars to guns!  As one of hose kids more inclined to learn by self-education at home, or out and about, the books were an invaluable resource.  And, most important of all, they were affordable.  The books were all written by experts but in an interesting way, without being overtly educational or, vitally, condescending.

~ Steve