Book Promo Day: 25th July, 2013

An exception to normal Book Promo Day entries:

Smashwords Sale from Sarah Baethge

Smashwords is having a sale!
If you want a cheap read, now is the time to check out Smashwords.

My short story, Right Now is free with the code SSW75 .

My novel, Panoptemitry is only $1.25 with that same code: SSW75 .

My other two short stories are always free, you can get to them from my Author Page.


Fraudulent Robert Spake Fraudulent by Robert D. Spake

It’s the late 19th Century. William Traven is returning home to England after four years of travelling. Along the way he feels as though he’s lost himself, so he comes home hoping to recapture his lost spirit. However, he’s worried that a sense of belonging will still elude him and if he can’t find it at home he fears that he’ll lose all hope. There’s also Eleanor, the girl who promised to wait for him while he went away. He feels an obligation to marry her but he doesn’t know whether he can carry out his duty if he doesn’t truly love her, or whether he can be the man his parents expect. He’s torn between honour, duty and love, and death hangs like a shadow over him as he struggles to find a place in the world.

Purchase details:

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

More information:

Amazon author page
Goodreads
Author’s Blog
Facebook


Letters Home: Afghanistan by Teresa Jones

Letters Home: Afghanistan is the story of a soldier and his family that experience the ups and downs of a year of deployment to an active war zone. In this story we watch as the son John, deals with the reality of war in addition to missing out on all the wonderful things that come along with being part of a family and a community. We also get a peek into how the family on the home front deals with their son being so far away and in harm’s way each and every day.

Together they must find the strength to stay strong and positive while struggling daily to be a constant source of encouragement and support to each other.

~This book is a novella that is the first in a set of four from the “Letters from War” series. ~
~This book reads like a packet of old letters instead of in typical chapter formation~

Available exclusively on Amazon.com with Createspace version coming soon!

Purchase Location: Amazon.com
Current Price: 0.99 cents!

Contact the Author:
Facebook
Goodreads
WordPress
Twitter


Thanks, Changes & Marketing Musings

First, and most important of all:

I would  like to express my sincere appreciation for the numerous messages of support for myself and my family in what is a very difficult time!  In all honesty, your response has overwhelmed me and all of us.  I didn’t post looking for such a reaction, but to inform you all as to why my posting might be rather unpredictable, but I do genuinely THANK YOU ALL!  I’m unable to bring any fresh news on the situation, unfortunately, and, as is the way with medical matters, it may be some considerable time before we learn more.  In many respects, the uncertainties, coupled with guesses, cause the greatest stress.

Changes to a book

My novella, The Sigil of Ahriman, is currently being rereleased, with some minor revisions to the content, including the correction of a few typographical errors that managed to slip through.  If you are unable to download it from Amazon, please try again in a day or two.  The novella is also being processed for release in other formats than the current Kindle and paperback versions, so that it’s available to all.  More information on that will follow in due course.

The Truth About Book Marketing

I was looking at all the avenues I, and most others, pursue in seeking to achieve effective marketing.  i thought long and hard at what I was finding, and a certain truth that seems to have become somewhat elusive in the quest to be read, and maybe even to make a little money.  Given the efforts I’ve made for months now, the conclusion was rather disheartening.

In case you’re wondering, I was provoked into these considerations by an apparently unrelated matter.  That, however, caused me to identify with one part of it, sending my (alleged) mind into new paths of pondering.

We’ve all said similar things.  Get your book a good, attractive cover – covers sell books.  Utilise every possible avenue you can find in the mind-boggling array of  paths offered by the internet.  Social networks.  Blogs.  Facebook Fan pages.  Create you the brand!  Thrust the fruits of your writer’s labours before everybody you can reach.  Surely, such things, coupled with special events like blog tours, competitions and general giveaways, must see you ascend to the heady heights of success!  You are just a matter of a few mouse clicks away from having a bestseller on your hands.  But wait!  If that was al true, we’d all be enjoying such notoriety.  Why aren’t we?

The answer’s simple.  You can devote vast amounts of time and effort to every online marketing principle you ever encounter.  It may even result in some very minor success.  Ultimately, however, the most effective tool for selling books lies not in such things.  The best advertising is good old word of mouth.  Of course, that means you have to write something that somebody not only enjoys reading, you need for them to tell others about it!  It has a strange effect that other means lack.  There’s this peculiar facet of word of mouth – trust.  You can have hundreds of superb reviews but potential readers are cannier than might be thought by some.  They realise that some lists of reviews, and excerpts of reviews, are only part of it.  They know that reviews may be deliberately left out because they’re unfavourable.  Excerpts which appear to show how much the reviewer enjoyed a book may actually prove no such thing – because they are the ‘gentle’ parts taken in isolation and out of context from generally less than 5 star reviews!  It’s the simple fact that we, as authors, are expected to cheat by glossing over the feedback we dislike.  So, while a great cover and enticing blurb might initiate some mild interest, and a welter of positive reviews may hint at worthiness, the potential reader will still give all of this far less credence than the excited assurances of a friend or family member they trust!  Just as the low opinion of the same can torpedo all that beautiful, carefully presented advertising!

Maybe I’m being too negative, given current circumstances, but I do actually think that this has some considerable, thought-provoking, validity.

~ Steve

Slightly Excited: Saturday Supplemental Post

TheSigilofAhriman.jpgPaperback Launch!

Yes!  It’s for real!  There’s a new paperback in town and am I excited?  You bet!  The Sigil of Ahriman has been released in paperback and it looks so good!

I confess to a certain special delight in this particular paperback release.  With my son Reuben’s artwork on the cover, in full colour, and inside, in black and white, and being a novella rather than a novelette, this is my proudest achievement to date.  If you think the ebook looks good, it’s nothing compared to the print version!  I can honestly say that it is far ahead of any cover of any of my other books, with a real sense of style!  I can say with all honesty that, if you buy books based on their covers, I seriously believe that this would be one that would definitely attract you.

This release also excites me for other reasons.  If my novel, the fourth story in the G1: The Guardians series, looks anywhere near as good, I’ll be in Seventh Heaven!  With the upcoming rerelease of the first in the series, Shade of Evil, with a new cover by Reuben, I think that the series is looking really good as a collection.  I honestly believe that most people would be happy to have the books on their shelf.

I hope you forgive my wildly enthusiastic blathering!

G1: The Guardians and Beyond

Against All Evils

The Sigil of AhrimanThe Sigil of Ahriman is now available as a paperback!  So you have the option of reading the Amazon Kindle ebook version, which is available from all Amazon stores, or a very smart paperback.  I admit that the paperback version is the more expensive, but I’m afraid there’s no way around that.   I wish there were!

The novella is the third in the G1: The Guardians series.  There is a sense, I hope,  of the backgrounds of the members of G1, and certain essential other characters, being revealed, in a kind of jigsaw form.  I think that this reflects how things work in real life – you learn about new friends, colleagues or whatever a little at a time, you don’t sit down and exchange detailed life histories!  And so it should, I believe, work in fiction that is spread over a series.   Even in single volume works, I believe the characters should be given backgrounds over time, not all at once.  Bur I begin to digress!  Suffice to say, the histories of main characters will continue to grow over the course of the series.  The lives of the Guardians in a more general sense will be uncovered over time, too.  This novella begins that process, as well as being a great adventure for G1.

I’m also pleased to announce that I have finished part four in the series.  This new part is a full novel!  It takes G1 to an exotic location and into an unusual situation.  I won’t say too much.  I think it’s enough to state that it is an adventure unlike those which have already been related, with an exotic location, things that challenge scientific knowledge and more.

A Restructuring

I have encountered a problem when asked for links to information about my books.  Quite simply, there’s no simple answer to the question.  I have pages with more information, but which don’t give all the primary links for buyers.  So, to get around this problem, I’ll be changing how the Published Works page functions.  It will be a gateway for more detailed information, but the purchase links will be removed from it.  Each book will have its own page, some of those grouped under a ‘series header page’ or link (I haven’t decided yet).  I hope that this will be an improvement all around.

News and Questioning

Double Hit Saturday!

Today sees me being doubly honoured!  First up is an interview by Amanda Keeney author of A Whisper of Hope (to be released 1st October).  Next, and a total surprise to me, is a feature thanks to Chris, of The Story Reading Ape blog.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the kindness of these good people, and their generous support!  It is such things that demonstrate, over and over again just what a wonderful community authors enjoy online.

A Growth Into Uncertainty (WIP)

The latest book for the G1: The Guardians series has entered that mysterious borderland between being a novella and being a novel!  Currently a touch over 41,500 words long, the story is caught in a grey area, which may result in my not knowing how to classify it.  According to the guidelines on Wikipedia that I’ve been using, 40,000 words is the lower limit of novel length.  But the Wikipedia article also points out that some publishers consider the minimum to be 50,000 words!  I feel no desire to keep writing to simply pad out the story and thereby cross the 50,000 word boundary.  If it happens naturally, then there’ll be no problem, of course, but I have no idea, at this moment, where, or when, the story will conclude.  I’ll admit that the size of the story surprised me quite considerably.  When I started writing it, I never expected it to be so long!  There’s definitely a part of me that would be very happy, and satisfied, if the story does breach the 50,000 words.  It would, after all, be my first novel in the period since returning to serious writing.  To me, that’s huge!

Facebook(?) Fan Pages

Knowing just how limited the impact of Facebook is on bringing people to the blog, I’m unsure of whether to do more there.  I was, a few days ago, contemplating following the lead of other others and creating fan pages specific to individual books and/or series.  It’s very difficult to decide, though.  I think it would just be very sad if I created the page(s) and it/they received no traffic!  There is an alternative, of course.  I could create pages here, on the blog.  They would appear under the Works by Steve K Smy – Published Works menu options, with a page to each series, at least, and featuring some background, a list of the books available, and interactivity via the comments.  If you have any thoughts on the two options, I’d love to hear from you!

Do any of you use Facebook fan pages that are specific to works rather than general to yourself?  I only have the general flavour page at the moment and traffic fluctuates wildly from day to day and week to week.

~ Steve

Book Promo Day – 19th June, 2013

Charlene from Barnes & Noble Charlene the Star by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Charlene the Star comes from a family of famous racehorses. But what if Charlene doesn’t like racing? Will she become a model instead?

Charlene goes to great lengths to show her trainers she’s not happy racing. Your child will love this funny, entertaining and educational story, told from Charlene’s point of view.

Purchase from:

Available on www.amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com

Reviews:

Review on www.jemsbooks.wordpress.com

More information:

Author’s blog


Beyond the Camera by Joanne Jacquard

(Note that this book is for Adult readers!)

Bored with her elderly husband, Elise Harper leads a steamy life of sexual encounters through her legitimate photographic business. An erstwhile darkroom technician takes umbrage when she fires him for misuse of her equipment and his ensuing stalking behaviour leads Elise into many dangers from which she is eventually rescued though traumatized by an old flame with help from a new love. The plot examines the psychological impact of various normal events that also overtake Elise during these traumatic few years. There is a set of books in preparation that fleshes out many of the characters involved in this tale, all of whom had complicated personal tales to tell.

Purchase from:

Amazon.com

More information:

Author’s website
Author’s blog


The Sigil of Ahriman The Sigil of Ahriman by Steve K Smy

An artefact, which can be used to unlock great evil from antiquity, is in the hands of a madman, and only the Guardians can oppose his insane schemes – whatever they may prove to be!

Against all precedent, a stranger is allowed into the inner sanctum of the Guardians.  This man brings news of something that threatens the human race with eternal slavery.  An artefact has been stolen, the Sigil of Ahriman.  Now, it is in the possession of an unknown person, and there can few reasons for that – to tap its power, risking freeing Ahriman, or to deliberately bring the ancient god of Darkness into the world again.

The Guardians’ elite team, G1, despite having been decimated by their last mission, must face this new challenge and win. Defeat is unthinkable.

A novella, being Part 3 of G1: The Guardians.

More information:

Purchase links


I Would Never Have Believed It

Steve K SmyIf somebody had told me, just a few short months ago, that most of my writing efforts would be pointed anywhere near the horror genre, I would likely have dropped dead from a fatal episode of hysterical laughter!  Fair enough, as a kid, and even as a youth, I dabbled with reading the genre, but they were true horror classics.  Well, maybe not classics, except my one reading of Dracula, but classic in the sense of content.  There was lots of carefully constructed tension and very little, if any, actual gore.  They were, I suppose, what could be termed ‘psycho-emotional horror’, working on the shadowy corners and dark places of our primitive mind.  Those authors didn’t, then, feel the need to compete with the gory, in-your-face, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination bloodbaths churned out by Hollywood (and others).  Many were writing when there were still directors, producers and screenplay writers who saw the value in creeping you out – not trying to gross you out!  Subtle horror movies are now very rare, and the same is also true with books.

Don’t get me wrong!  Horror isn’t the only victim of ‘bloodbath fixation’.  Thrillers, crime stories, and other genres have suffered, too.  One thing I enjoyed about reading Chris Allen’s excellent novel Hunter was the fact that action sequences didn’t devolve into mass shootouts with bodies dropping every few microseconds and people being torn asunder, graphically, by a variety of explosive devices.  The action was real, sometimes brutal (violence can’t, after all, be anything else!), but never excessive and most certainly not the reason for the book!  The action was a fundamental necessity of an excellent story, but only because such violence is a natural part of the world portrayed.  The world wasn’t reinvented to allow violence to be the dominant characteristic.

Shade of Evil

Anyway, back to the fact that I seem to have become hooked on what is, essentially, the horror genre.  The appearance of a character interview with one of the ‘stars’ of the books is evidence of that fact.  It actually started as an experiment, and one that I deliberately wanted to keep as far away from the flood of Vampire tales as possible.  That first tale, Shade of Evil, reached an unexpected conclusion and introduced a group I didn’t even know existed when I started!  In fact, after that first tale, I initially had no plans to pursue it.  Then a tiny idea popped into my head.  This time, though it still wasn’t to be immediately obvious, the mysterious group would be a key element, and one or two of the characters in their number started to take on real personalities.  I didn’t know their histories, but I knew more EvilUnderTheCircle.jpgabout them, as people.  So, Evil Under The Circle came trotting out into the light of day and the mystery group took on a real identity that had the power to survive, and to go on.  Even so, I was fairly ruthless towards them and made their loves hard and grim.  Grief, it was now clear, was to be a familiar part of their lives.  Grief and change.  But, that needed a balance.  Nobody would last long in that kind of existence!  It was necessary, as well as desirable, to bring in a new character.  One who would provide an anchor, a sort of paternal figure, only more.  Yet the second book wasn’t the right time or place for this new person to TheSigilofAhrimancoversmall_thumb.jpgappear.  It was only to be in the new book, The Sigil of Ahriman, that the gentle, kindly figure of the Director would make his entrance.  There are hints that he is able to be ruthless himself, of course.  An entirely benevolent leader couldn’t function in the world of the Guardians!  He had to have the strength to send teams out against Evil, even if everything indicated that they would fail, and perish in the failing.  Yet, he has a pacific nature, on the surface, that can stabilise even the most volatile of the people under his command.  He loves his people, as a parent loves their children, and he feels their grief with them, but he has a personal balance far beyond anything his people possess, or can understand.  And with the introduction of the Director, so the personalities of the others began to become more apparent.

Like most people, I’ve subjected myself, during a lengthy period of semi-vegetative existence, to the Soap Opera!  I can’t say, now, that it was entirely wasted time.  Like the vast majority of authors, I’m a people-watcher.  I never just see a person.  I analyse them, digging into their minds, their emotions.  In fact, ‘digging’ is a good word.  It’s like people are mines, containing precious elements,and the author is a miner, delving deep down to extract those treasures.  What’s that got to do with writing horror?  Well, in truth, it relates to all writing!  Yet I have never before used the treasures I mined quite as wholeheartedly as I am now.  Some genres of fiction let you get away with superficial characters, to some degree.  Placing them in situations which elicit strong emotional and psychological reactions, however, as in horror, you have to have stronger, more real characters, with the correct human responses.  And you can’t have everything pleasant outside of the danger periods.  You have to admit the friction always found between those who exist in a tight knit group.  In essence, a horror-based Soap Opera.

I know that I’ve gone on, rather, in this post, but I’m nearly done now.  I want to close this post out by saying that I would never have discovered the deeper characterisations and the often mixed and confusing interplay of characters if I had continued to plod along writing those things I was most comfortable with!  By risking the experiment, I have discovered something not only about characters, but about myself, and some of my deficiencies as a writer in those more comfortable genres.  That’s why I’m hooked on the G1: The Guardians series.  It’s a Soap Opera I control (sort of), but it’s also much more.  I owe G1 a great debt.  I only hope that I can repay it in the tales to come.

~ Steve

Book Trailer and News in General

Book Trailer Released!

You may have seen already, if you follow me via Twitter or Facebook.  I have released a book trailer, for The Sigil of Ahriman.  I announced it yesterday, but there was a slight hiccough with the video.  As it seems to be impossible to upload a revision to an existing video, I’ve had to lock out the one from yesterday and I’ve now uploaded the corrected version.  I had fun with this video, using special effects.  I deliberately selected an enhancement that makes it look like an old film, as I think that fits with the book’s character.  I was even more delighted to find the soundtrack, which is Anxiety by Kevin MacLeod, (incompetech.com) [Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0, creativecommons.org/licenses…].  Here’s the trailer:

The paperback edition of the book is getting closer all the time.  Watch for an announcement in a future post!

Revisions

In addition to writing the next book in the series, I’m working on revisions of the first book, Shade of Evil.  This will include some significant changes, so it will appear as a ‘second edition’.  I’ve been considering changing the cover, too, but haven’t made a decision on that as yet.  It isn’t a case of not liking the thinking behind the existing cover, but more a matter of making the two editions obviously different.

I’m also still working on the new story for the Thief series.

Eyesight Problems

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing some eyesight problems.  This has significantly reduced the amount of time I can spend dealing with things online.  Naturally, I have devoted as much time as I can to actual writing, as I can no longer devote late hours to that.  If I seem to have overlooked emails from anybody, I sincerely apologise!  Obviously, I deal with things as best I can, handling the most urgent emails, keeping the blog up to date, and writing.  I’m afraid that other things have to be fitted in as and when I can manage to do so.  Nobody is more frustrated by the situation than I.

~ Steve

Cover Reveal & Book Launch

Mystery Book Cover Well, it’s here!  The latest tale in the G1: The Guardians series, and my first novella.  After a considerable amount more work than the two novelettes, and the editing and proofreading consequent to having written the story, the new child is born.

It is my pleasure to announce the birth of The Sigil of Ahriman (Being Part 3 of G1: The Guardians).  The ebook is available (or will be in the next few hours) to buy from all Amazon stores.  The paperback will be available soon.  Part 1 (Shade of Evil) and Part 2 (Evil Under The Circle) are both available from most major online book stores.  The first is also available as a paperback from FeedARead.com and the second will be available as a paperback very soon, from skoobebooks.

The Blurb:

An artefact of evil from antiquity is in the hands of a madman, and only the Guardians can oppose his insane schemes!

Against all precedent, a stranger is allowed into the inner sanctum of the Guardians.  This man brings news of something that threatens the human race with eternal slavery.  An artefact has been stolen, the Sigil of Ahriman.  Now, it is in the possession of an unknown person, and there can few reasons for that – to tap its power, risking freeing Ahriman, or to deliberately bring the ancient god of Darkness into the world again.

G1, devastated by their last mission, must face this new challenge and win.  Defeat is unthinkable.

The Sigil of Ahriman cover - small The Cover:

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the image used on this cover was created by my son, Reuben.  The cover in its entirety is a combination of his artistic talent and my own efforts.  I had a vague notion of what I wanted, in terms of the image, but, in all honesty, the brief I gave Reuben was very imprecise.  It’s all the more amazing, therefore, that he somehow succeeded in capturing exactly what I wanted.  I hope it doesn’t sound wrong but I am very proud of the result!  I am particularly looking forward to seeing it in paperback.

The Future:

I have started work on the fourth tale in this series.  I have the concept for what may be involved in the challenges meeting G1, but exactly where the story will take them is yet to be seen.  Rest assured, though, that they will be facing considerable danger and survival is never guaranteed in their business.

Reviewing The Adventure So Far

DSCN7533 I thought I’d share a photo’ or two.  These are the first two paperbacks of my novelettes.  I was finally able to get some batteries for my camera.  Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get them into good light so there’s some flash flare on the photo’.  Still, I think it’s better than a simple scan!  I still can’t begin to describe just how it felt, after waiting 43 years, what it’s like to hold them in my hand.  Don’t get me wrong!  I doubt very much that I would have them now, if I hadn’t first discovered the miracle of ebooks.  Seeing my ebooks receiving interest gave me the courage to go for the ‘real thing’!

Perhaps that’s the true importance of ebooks and self-publishing.  Without ebooks, I would have continued to write, but what I wrote would have remained forever a curious pile of paper or collection of computer files, gathering dust, getting damaged or lost.  I’ve never had the resources to mail agent after agent, publisher after publisher – well, not since my youth, anyway.  As many manuscripts I produced were either written longhand or typed in non-manuscript format (MS format took far too much paper), I couldn’t even afford to have them typed professionally, ready in case somebody actually showed interest.  But ebooks!  Oh what a revolution!

DSCN7525 Early experiments with PDFs had not convinced me.  I don’t like them.  It’s as simple as that.  SO a handful of half-hearted attempts at writing on the computer simply sat there, doing nothing.  discovering Kindle ebooks and ePubs transformed everything!  A good number of short story ebooks yielded the fact that I could get readers – judging by the number of downloads.  It was this that led to the novelettes.  Naturally, like the vast majority of Indie writers, translating hundreds of downloads of free stories into sales of longer tales has not been quite so impressive.  In fact, I still get excited by a sale.  That gives you some idea of how quick sales are going!  Despite that, I know that there are millions of people who don’t like ebooks, so I decided to issue the novelettes as paperbacks, at the absolute minimum price.  I’m not sorry I did, even if I’m yet to get any sales!

And that’s the thing.  I have made a discovery.  I now know that the dream on its own is enough!  Yes, some sales would be very nice, and no, they’ll never make me rich – or even financially ‘comfortable’, but, I have realised the most cherished dream of my life!  Yes, I would feel immensely honoured to have readers, especially ones who come back for more, but that would be icing on the cake, and icing without a cake is rather pointless.  After all these years, I now know that it is simply the sense of having moved from a manuscript to a finished, honest-to-goodness, book is incomparable in terms of satisfaction.

Does that al sound egocentric?  It probably does, but I’m honest enough to acknowledge the truth, now that I understand it.  This realisation of a simple fact caused me to consider something.  Is my ambition now fulfilled?  Do I now move to something new?  Well, you may be unhappy to learn that I intend to continue writing.  I have another ambition, and it may even be the one that has driven everything else this far.  I want to see one of my novels not in ebook format, nor even in paperback.  I really wish to see one in hardback!  More, it should be a stylish hardback, such as anybody would be proud to display on their most publicly visible bookshelf.  Sure, it can have a slip cover, but the bare book, without that paper wrapping, however ‘pretty’ is very much secondary.  And here, I will make a confession.  I came very close to having that a very long time ago.  I contacted a company I thought were legitimate publishers.  In fact, I discovered that they were ‘Vanity publishers’.  Still, if I had had more money and less sense, I would have leapt at the opportunity to see my book published.  I had a clear impression of how it would look, and I so wanted it!  Yet, with the good sense instilled in me by excellent parents, I recognised that it would be an expensive way to massage my ego.  As a result, and not without a few twinges of regret, I rejected the deal and returned meekly to the realms of the author dreaming but not succeeding.  Today, I am very glad that I didn’t take that route.

The other two of my novelettes are on the brink of appearing as paperbacks.  My recently completed novella will follow as swiftly as possible.  I’ve now begun writing another book, which will be the fourth of the G1: The Guardians series, and I don’t yet know what length it will be.  It is my hope that it will be the longest tale yet, but that could mean that it will still be of novella length.  My production rate has declined, but that’s natural given the increased length of each book.  I’m not really writing less, it’s just more concentrated.

So far, this adventure has been fascinating and fun.  With any luck, it will continue in the same vein!

~ Steve