Further Update on Steve Smy’s Progress

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Steve is out of hospital and back home under medication to reduce the risk of further strokes and is (hopefully) resting and recovering, although where Jenny and the family are going to get enough rope from to tie him to his bed or chair is a puzzle.

He is also having problems with his Computer and is unable to respond directly to all those who have left comments of support and good wishes on his blog and The Story Reading Ape’s blog, so he has asked that I extend his thanks to all of you and that he is deeply touched by all your support and good wishes.

Thanks and Sorry

Inadequate Thanks…

It is genuinely impossible for me to express my thanks to all those who have given me their support during this period of illness.  Special thanks have to be sent to Chris (The Story Reading Ape), who has kept the blog ticking over excellently, despite the demands of his own blog and other online activities!

Sadly, there is no sign of an early recovery but I’ll take the liberty of remaining optimistic!  To give you some idea of the state of affairs, I started composing this post back on Friday of last week!  Focussing is a major problem, especially with narcoleptic episodes every time I start writing…

And Apologies…

If you experience a delay in receiving a response to using the blog’s general contact form, I can only apologise.  Equally, if you have emailed me directly, the same applies.  I’m afraid that I’m only online for very brief periods and do what I can, but that’s precious little.  Obviously, the number of unhandled emails rises every day, and it’s rapidly reaching a point where I can no longer promise to catch up with old emails.  If you are waiting for a reply, I can only suggest that you wait until my return is announced and then trying again – if it’s urgent.  Clearly, it will take a bit of time for me to deal with those things others can’t.  I wish I could give you some idea of how long you may have to wait, but I’m afraid I can’t.  It could be weeks.  I’m hoping that it’s not months, as it was the first time around…


Enjoy your reading and please, please support Chris
by visiting his encyclopaedic suite of book blogs!

Poetry, Google+ and Pinterest

A Poem to a a Favourite…

I’ve added a short poem to the relevant section.  Hopefully you will read and, even more hopefully, enjoy it!  You may notice that the character of my poetry is as wildly varied as most things I do.

Those “Other” Social Networks…

I am on Google+ and Pinterest.  No big deal and I’m not begging you to rush off and connect with me on them.  In fact, there are times when I find them intensely annoying.  For example, Google+ defeats me more often than not, by behaving in ways that I just don’t expect.  And I seem to end up sending more messages as ’private’ than as ‘public’. and I have no idea why!

But Pinterest…!  There are two huge annoyances!  First, and the lesser of the two, is the lack of any direct messaging system!  If you need to tell somebody something, you have to do so publicly as a comment on a Pin,and hope they see it.  And then comes the huge annoyance!  The constant stream of identical Pins from the same people – I could name names but won’t.  They’ve got a book out- marvellous!  I’d be happy to be the first to congratulate them.  But, they send Pin after Pin after Pin after… all either identical or as near as it gets.  Fine, post in whatever Groups you belong to and who permit it.  Publicise when/if you have a special at some time and tell people when a new review appears (not some one-liner or just a rating!), but please, I implore you, stop Spamming the Group boards!  For now, I have decided to cease all “Liking” of unjustifiably repeated Pins.  I know that Pins gradually get buried by new Pins, but has it not occurred to you guilty ones that your behaviour is crushing new works, often by people who have only just published their first book?  To me, that’s not just unfair – it’s tantamount to cyberbullying!  It’s immoral!  And know this: as long as you maintain such behaviour, I will not invite you to enjoy the promotional opportunities this blog offers!

 ~ Steve

“Take a letter, Miss Jones.”

I was considering how many ways people use to record their thoughts, from long passages to quick notes.  We have longhand, shorthand (stenography), typewritten, digital and recorded voice.  Now personally, I use longhand (often illegibly!) and digital, these days.  I would use typewritten too, if I had a typewriter available.

When watching TV programmes or movies where a writer is involved, one thing is not infrequent – they have a secretary trained in the art of shorthand.  What a wonderful invention!  So much recorded with so much economy.  But alas, I never had the opportunity to learn any system of shorthand.  Or did I?

It struck me, in my pondering, that I had, in fact, learnt a crude form of shorthand quite recently, mainly thanks to my kids.  And now, there are those who raise their voices in objection to this new semi-shorthand system, predicting the demise of our language!  It is often portrayed as the enemy of good language, an evil infecting all levels of Society.  Yet, these paranoid fears were never voiced when shorthand was invented, even when it took the form of an automated system: the stenotype machine!  Why?  Is it the fact that shorthand was an utter mystery to everybody but the inventors and those who learnt to use it, while the modern semi-stenography uses recognisable letters?

What am I talking about?  Text Speak!  The rapid communication of longer words by contraction and even substitution.  Letters are left out – usually vowels – and some letter combination sounds are replaced with numbers that give a similar sound – the 4 and 8 being the most frequently used.  This quick means of creating messages has spread from not mobile ‘phones, as most assume, but from things like Telex machines, where operators used abbreviations to communicate at a more personal level when sending more official communications.  In fact, it may well date further back – to the first telegraphers!  Yes, it’s really not that new, after all.  Some of the codes and abbreviations are identical, in fact, like TTFN and C U L8R.

So you see, if I now climb down off my high horse of indignation, stupidly acquired through the mistaken belief that I would be condoning the corruption of my Mother tongue, I can safely begin using this shorthand that I have actually been able to learn!  I really don’t have to write everything out in full.  Heck, I can even adapt it to make my own abbreviated word forms – if I’m consistent enough.  Yes, I’ve accepted the modern world and will use so-called “text speak” in my personal notes!

~ Steve

Moving Onwards Monday

Relaunch of Skylord Approaching

The relaunch of Skylord is getting closer!  Naturally, it is going to be necessary to withdraw the current free edition of the ebook.  It will be replaced with the new edition when it is available.  The new edition will be fully illustrated throughout with black and white images, to reflect the fact that the book is most suited to the junior market.  I will also be looking into a print edition, though that may be subject to the size of the revised book, especially in terms of the page count.

If any of you have experience in self-publishing print versions of children’s books, I’d be very grateful for any advice or guidance.

Shade of Evil Now Fully Available

The paperback edition of Shade of Evil is now available from both CreateSpace and Amazon stores (Amazon.com and Amazon Europe only).  The links are available on the book page.  It also remains available through skoobebooks.co.uk.  At the time of writing this, the existing Amazon reviews for the book aren’t currently included under the paperback edition, unfortunately.  If you wish to read them, they can be found under the Kindle version.

Have You Joined the Event?

If you haven’t already done so, please do consider joining the new book launch event on my Facebook!  It’s a great place to discuss what’s going to happen, and to let me know what you think about the new book.  If you need a Facebook invitation, please let me know!  While you’re over there, perhaps you’d be kind enough to answer the post about sharing the good news.  The more feedback I get, the better the planning in future – I hope!  Also, any suggestions you may have would be gratefully received.  A blog is wonderful, but, by its very nature, discussions can be difficult to keep going.  Facebook event pages are much better for that.

Obviously, if you’d like to ask me any questions or make any observations on the event page, please feel free to do so!

~ Steve

Alternate Worlds

The Voice I came across a rather odd question, recently.  I will admit that I couldn’t quite understand why it was being asked.  On reflection, perhaps I was being unfair – making assumptions based on my own ways of thinking.  The question was, in essence: how do you write alternate histories/futures?  I hope that I can put right any fault my initial reaction might have revealed.

Continue reading

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

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!