Relaunch and Cover Reveal: “Shade of Evil”

Shade of Evil - 400x600 G1: The Guardians

This series began with the novelette, Shade of Evil, though I didn’t know then that it was going to lead where it has!  One thing I can assure you of is that I am delighted that it has grown into the series, and excited as to where it will go.

Shade of Evil Front Cover 02-smallBack in the beginning, Shade of Evil had a cover design meant to be very plain.  With later developments, however, that concept is no longer appropriate.  As a consequence, the book has a brand new cover.  This new cover features artwork by Chris Graham, and I hope that you’ll think it’s as great as I do!  I think Chris has captured the essence of the story superbly.  You can see the new cover better by clicking on the image.

In addition to the great new cover, the text has been revised, to eliminate some errors and to make the story fit later developments of G1: The Guardians better.  Unfortunately, that does mean that if you own a copy of the 1st Edition, it won’t tally with this version.  I believe that you get automatic updates from Amazon and some other sites, however, but if you don’t, please contact me before the end of this month (August 2013)!

The 2nd Edition of Shade of Evil is available as an ebook, or will be very shortly, through Amazon (stores worldwide) and Smashwords.  It will also be available from most other major online bookstores (including Barnes & Noble, kobo and Apple iTunes) and numerous other sites but I’m afraid I have no control over when!  Remember that Smashwords offers all major ebook formats.  The paperback will be available very soon, via skoobebooks.

If you read Shade of Evil, or have already read it it, I would be very pleased if you provided feedback as to your opinions about it!  Star ratings are okay, though limited when in isolation.  A brief comment on one of the bookstore sites that allow customer reviews to be placed, or a review of any length, would be even better!  Apple iBooks readers, specifically:  I would be thrilled if you could offer feedback on iTunes, which is one of the few major outlets where I don’t currently have any feedback on my books.  If you do leave feedback, I would appreciate you dropping me a line to let me know – sadly, only Smashwords actually notifies authors of reviews received!  If you belong to groups in networks like Google+ or Pinterest, especially where short reviews are posted, I’d be very happy to hear if you’ve posted about this or any of my books there.  Of course, you could leave a comment here, on the appropriate page, or even post a review on your own blog.

~ Steve

More information on G1: The Guardians 
Shade of Evil page with purchase links 

News Roundup

I am delighted to tell you that I have had an article, or guest post, put on the Indies Unlimited site.  You may find it of some interest.  If you do, it would be great if you could make that known over there.

I have more news.  I now own a new Samsung Galaxy Ace Android smartphone, thanks to my eldest son!  I quite like Android as a system but this ‘phone suffers from what would appear to be a common problem with such devices.  The ‘phone itself has very limited storage and relies on you using a memory card.  Sounds okay, until you find the glitch in the system.  Basically, there’s a bunch of apps preloaded, many of which you probably won’t need, but which you can’t delete, so when you find apps you would like to use, you soon run out of space for them!  What happens is that the apps install to the ‘phone and not the memory card and you can’t move them across.  So you actually find yourself with a device with maybe four or five apps you chose and a mass that you didn’t.  I don’t wish to sound ungrateful, because I’m not, but it seems a very clumsy system…

Because of problems I was having with my health, I spent several weeks unable to go out of the house.  Needless to say, I started going just a little nuts.  In fact, it takes very little time for me to develop mild agoraphobia, which simply makes going out even harder, when it does become possible.  Well, yesterday’s lack of a blog post was a direct consequence of the fact that I managed to not only leave the house, but I travelled around 25 miles to my daughter’s!  It isn’t without a price, of course, as road conditions are such that I’ll probably need most  of this coming week to recover, and I got a whole 30 minutes sleep last night.  Still, I did go, and I even spent the day sat outside.  That’s how I discovered that I am distressingly pale.  My hands were amazingly white, and I’m used to them being quite brown long before this time of year.  All said and done, though, it was great to get out and to see my daughter and her family!  I even  got to see my eldest son and his kids en passant.  That was a touch amusing as he brought the kids out to the car to say hello.  Naturally, I opened my door.  The moment the youngest, a little girl, couldn’t retreat fast enough when she saw me and spent most of the time hiding behind her Dad’s leg.

There will be something of a delay in new books being published.  My younger son is absolutely swamped with work, which means that, between that and his family, he can’t devote time to producing the cover artworks.  Naturally, while this is immensely frustrating, I do fully understand.  It means, however, that the second edition of Shade of Evil and my novel, both from the G1: The Guardians series, will not be appearing for a while yet.  It may be of interest to you to know that I have gotten a fair way into the next tale in the series, too, which is showing every sign of being a second novel.  As a side issue, I’ll be posting another segment of background to the series this week, so keep an eye out for it!

And Finally…

I’m looking for willing volunteers!  I’d dearly  like to hear from anybody who would like to review the tales in the G1: The Guardians series.  Naturally, I am willing to provide free review copies, in whatever ebook format is required.  I am not looking for any ego massaging!  I would truly like some honest reviews.  It would also be fantastic if said interviews were published on the following:

  1. Amazon,
  2. The reviewer’s blog,
  3. any other bookstore site (kobo, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc.)

Obviously the review could be copied and pasted!  I would also like permission to include such reviews here, on this blog, and some might well be included in any advertising/marketing I do, and even potentially in the books themselves, or as part of the blurb!  I do not offer anything beyond a review copy of each ebook!  If you’re interested, please use the contact form below.  I will be extremely grateful for all reviews.

Please indicate sites you may be willing to submit your review(s) to in the “Remarks” field.

Hardware, Software and Brainware

I was browsing the statistics for this site.  It’s amazing what information you can find, though I’m not sure how relevant some of it is.  For example, between the creation of Imagineer-ing, in March 2012, and the end of December, this site had a total of 651 hits.  So far, in January 2013, we’ve had a phenomenal 444 to 29th January!  This is further analysed to give an average of 2 visits per day in 2012 – but that doesn’t mean much as there’s a definite rise towards the end of the year.  Even the January 2013 average of 15 visits per day is deceptive, as the number of visits continues to rise.

The question of what software is of any real use to authors is raised by such online analytical data.  Personally, as an ex-statistician, I confess that I find some of it fascinating.  It doesn’t, however, contribute anything to writing, other than blogging.  Of more interest, perhaps, is the facilities available to authors.

Hardware

I use a desktop PC more than anything else.  I can, though, also use a netbook that is synchronised to the desktop.  The first uses Windows XP and the second uses a cut down Linux.  Apart from these, I could use my iPhone or iPod, though I find those less user friendly.  You could also use a notebook, a tablet or a laptop, if they are available to you.  Outside the realm of computers, there’s also the option of using a typewriter or even handwriting.  Your preference is exactly that – yours!  What should be noted, however, is that your manuscript (MS) must, at some time, be processed for publication.  A handwritten MS will be costly to have worked up into a typed/printed form, unless you’re willing to do it yourself.  Then, there’s the question of formatting.  From what I’ve seen, this varies surprisingly widely.  The one thing that is certain is that you will need your MS to be formatted to suit a publisher’s requirements – even if you self-publish.  You can, of course, write your MS in a word processing package on computer already formatted in the most common way.  That would certainly save some effort.  The matter of formatting is something where software can help.

Software

First and foremost, you’ll need some kind of word processing package.  Of course, many computers come with things like MS Word already installed.  If you don’t have that, then there are some excellent options that are free to download and use.  Probably the biggest, and most reliable, is OpenOffice.  A version of this is called Libre Office, but I confess I’ve found no differences between them.  Other options exist, such as AbiWord, and there are some packages specifically designed for authors, though the latter are not free software.  I, personally, would not recommend using software that produces Adobe PDF files.  I’ve experienced some annoying errors in ebooks that have been converted from PDF.

I use OpenOffice, coupled with the pay-for ebook creation package, Jutoh.  This allows me maximum freedom.  I can write on any device, with the files being shared between all devices, and then Jutoh will help me produce ebooks in a variety of common formats.  That saves me some huge headaches!  Personally, I think Jutoh is worth every penny.  These, together with various desktop eReader programs, mean that I can write, create an ebook in different formats, and check how they will look on eReaders like the Kindle, the Nook and the kobo.

Finally, I use Calibre to organise my collection of ebooks, including updating their metadata  and converting between formats where desired.

Brainware

Sound silly?  Well, perhaps it is, in a way.  What I mean, here, is the core of all writing activity.  It’s a plain fact that none of the above have any relevance if your Brainware isn’t what it needs to be.  It’s the home of creative thought, creating structures, and just plain dreaming.  If you mistreat it, you can be sure that your writing will reflect that.  I don’t say that it has to be perfect!  Some of the great writers were somewhat disturbed, mentally.  They are the “flawed geniuses” who create works of immense power and significance.  As for the majority of us, we need to place ourselves in a situation in which our Brainware can function comfortably, usually where distractions are minimised and you’re physically comfortable.  Whether you need a neat, tidy workspace or chaos, all that matters is that your Brainware will function for you.

~ Steve

A Question of Format

Well, it’s been a little while since I got my kobo mini eReader, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time either reading or trying to organise its contents.  Having shelves is useful but I’ve discovered that there are definite failings, though I’m not sure that they’re unique to the kobo.

I like to have the best metadata (information about the ebook) possible, and the nicest covers I can find, for all the ebooks I’ve got.  Neither the kobo desktop app nor Adobe Digital Editions allow the metadata to be altered from within them, any more than the eReader does.  As a consequence, I’ve been using Calibre to perform the task, and also to keep a track of my full library.  It’s a very useful tool for such activities as updating metadata, converting formats and maintaining a database of contents, including moving books to and from the kobo.  Unfortunately, problems are thrown up very early on!

First, and perhaps the most frustrating, is that when you obtain an ebook through the kobo store, adding it to your library but not actually downloading it, a “virtual book” record is created on the eReader.  This shows up in Calibre as being a book but is in reality just a pointer – you can’t save the book to your Calibre library or to disk!  The first ebook I opted to read on the kobo was The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, which I added to my library on the kobo site.  All was well, until I discovered that I didn’t actually have the ebook – just that pointer.  Naturally, I downloaded it then, from the kobo store.  The metadata was very poor and the cover was transformed into something of no interest.  Naturally, I updated the data in Calibre, though I first had to copy the ebook to disk and add it to my Calibre-kobo library.  To get the information back onto the kobo, I then had to copy it back to the mini, which left me with two copies!  Deleting the original, uninformative version was the obvious thing to do – until I ran the Synch process – which proceeded to reinstate the version on the kobo store.  I had to delete it from “My Library” at the store to avoid duplication on the eReader.  What’s more, I lost annotations and bookmarks in the process.  Updating metadata leaves much to be desired!

Next, there’s an issue with the way ebooks are rendered.  Pages don’t flow properly.  I constantly encounter situations where large areas of the screen are empty – with fragments of text which are completed on moving forward in the ebook.  Also, bookmarks don’t work!  Periodically, a muddled piece of text is displayed, where a page number collides with a word, at the right edge of the screen.  Putting the eReader to sleep, or powering off, causes a complication in that the automatic bookmark, which is supposed to remember where you got to, restores you to an earlier position in the ebook because the page numbers don’t equate to the number of actual screen pages you’ve read.  This has happened in both PDF and ePub versions.  I don’t know whether it’s a question of the kobo getting it wrong, or the publisher/author!

None of these problems are truly critical, but they are niggles which cause some annoyance.  Interestingly, the pagination/bookmarking worked perfectly for the Sherlock Holmes ebook when it was just a virtual book!  It was only after I switched to a genuine copy of it that the pagination/bookmarking errors started.  It’s not a good advertisement for ebooks.  I’ve also discovered a problem with the Facebook connectivity function – which may be a consequence of using different email addresses for my Facebook and my kobo accounts – I’m still investigating that.

I hope that these problems can be addressed and solutions found.

~ Steve