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


Advertisements

Summer Heat Blog Tour: Jennifer Garcia aka Forbes Arnone

Summer_Heat_tour

Welcome to the Summer Heat Blog Tour, 2013

I am delighted to welcome Jennifer Garcia, aka Forbes Arnone, to answer a few questions about herself and her work as an author.


When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?

I think it was when I was little. I used to fill notebooks of lyrics, poems, and small stories. I did not realize how much I missed it until I started again after I raised my young family.

Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?

Yes, I love romance novels and I tend to write romances.

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?

I prefer ebooks. After reading ebooks only lately, I recently had to read a printed book and found it very uncomfortable to hold. I know that sounds awful. How lazy, right? But ebooks seem to be more convenient and I can take a lot more with me on just one small device.

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?

Yes, the beginning of last year I found a book, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani and fell in love with her writing style. I bought all of her books after that and read every single one of them. Her stories are written with many descriptions about the people, their clothing, the locations, and the homes. It’s something about how she does it that makes me feel as if I’m in the story. I can picture everything so clearly.

Another author that I recently found is Alan Brennert. I think his story telling style is a bit like Adriana Trigiani’s that is why I clicked with it so much.

Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?

Absolutely, I may take a scene from any point in my life and build a whole story around it. Other times it may be something that happened around me in a time that is no longer and I want to capture it.

Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?

Adriana Trigiani is by far the author that stands well ahead of the all the others for me.

Have you got both printed and digital books published?

I will. *insert big cheesy smile* This summer I have two books coming out. The first one, In My Mother’s Footsteps, is releasing July 2nd and it is a novella that I worked on for a beach read compilation. The stories will be sold as an anthology and individually. The second book, My Mr. Manny, is releasing August 26th and it is a novel.

Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?

I write what I would like to read. I find it difficult to write something I am not feeling just to be “in.”

How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?

Sort of. I write best when I am alone and the house is silent except for reruns on the TV. But that rarely happens, so I usually write at night after dinner and homework is done. It is mostly when my twelve year old goes to bed.

Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?

Not really. If an idea hits me hard, I try to work it out in my head first to see if it’s something I can even do (make a story out of). So, I’ll take the idea and run scenes over and over in my mind until I think it may or may not work. Once I have a scene or a synopsis then I’ll write it down.

Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?

I do not outline. I’m too lazy. I feel that it takes too much of my time to write the outline when it may not be valid once I start writing. So, I write the scenes in my head and just write, and sometimes the characters change course and write their own scenes.

When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?

Everything I do involves a computer. I have not written things in a long time. I think my hand would cramp if I tried. So, I stick with what I can do, type.

Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?

No, but I was in Bath, England at the Jane Austen museum and in the gift shop they had a first edition of one of her books. Anyway, I wanted it so badly, but my husband thought spending that much money on a book was ridiculous. So, I just drooled over it for a while before he dragged me out.

If you’ve had books published in print form, have you ever come across a copy of one of your own books by accident?

Not yet, since my books are not out yet, but I hope to when it is my time.

What is your greatest ambition in writing?

I hope to entertain people, make them feel good. I would love them to walk away from one of my books with a profound feeling of attachment to it. I have felt that before and there is nothing like it in the world. Finding that book that hits all of your cords and sticks with you. That is what I want to do.

Where can readers find out more about your works?

My blog is the place I use to update everyone on the progress of my books. My novella just posted on Goodreads and I, excitedly, posted it on my blog for everyone to see. I’ll do the same with the cover reveal and all of the other fun stuff.

Blog
Goodreads
Facebook Page
Twitter
Amazon Author’s Page

clip_image002

Bio:

Jennifer Garcia’s (aka Forbes Arnone) love of travel began when she traveled to the West Coast to visit her father at the age of three. Her home until she was sixteen was a small coastal town near Boston. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.

Her lifelong love for reading and writing was put aside for many years while she made her way in the world and nurtured her young family. Even though she is older, and life never seems to settle, she’s finding her way while attending college full-time in pursuit of a B.A. in English Literature. She also runs a business, and is still caring for her family. Believing she can do it all, with the help of her family, she worked on her first novel during the late hours of the night while balancing the rest of her life during the day. Her hard work paid off, as her first novel, My Mr. Manny, will be published August 2013.

Counting Up To Networking

Summer?  It’s here?  Where?

It seems that summer is upon us.  At least, it is in some places!  Personally, I’m not convinced.  The weather here certainly doesn’t suggest it.  Anyway, judging by the stats, a fair number of people are now able to get out and about in good weather, and maybe even have vacations.  There’s definitely been fewer people looking around the blog over the last week or two.  Hopefully they’ll wander back when they aren’t off enjoying themselves LOL!  In the meantime, while the summer months may not get the same volume of traffic, I’ll maintain posting daily, if possible.

Numbers

Anyway, I was delighted to discover, this morning, that the blog has still managed to reach a total of over 7.000 views since I started it!  The vast majority of those views, more than 6,300 of them, have come since the beginning of 2013.  The blog also has just over 370 direct followers – kind folk who have either clicked on the ‘Follow’ link if they use WordPress.com too, or subscribed by email.  I would like to thank all of you who have done so!  When the Social Networks are added in, that’s a lot of followers or people who at least receive notifications of what’s happening on the blog.  In fact, there are 1280 Twitter and 370+ Facebook followers.  I also have way over 500 LinkedIn connections, 200+ fans and friends on Goodreads, and links with folk on Google+, Pinterest, tumblr, etcetera.  Of course, there’s duplication, but it’s still an awful lot of very good people!

The Same Old Advice?

I have seen a few posts recently extolling the virtues of Social Networks.  It still intrigues me that the message is still being pounded out that Social Networks are not only nice to be a part of, but fundamentally essential to success, despite my own recent findings to the contrary.  Don’t mistake me!  I have no intention of abandoning the Social Network scene!  What concerns me is the forceful claims.  Surely these must impact on those newest to writing and self-publishing?  If that’s true, just how useful, or damaging, is the advice?  Active participation in, for example, Facebook soon leads folk away from the matter in hand into strange lands, where peculiar graphically enhanced (GE rather than GM) quotations – many of dubious authenticity in regard to the alleged sources, humorous photographs of animals and other matter, status messages where folk have hit the panic button having read a piece of ‘news’ proven entirely false some years previously, invitations to participate in (fake) competitions for products that are too good to miss out on owning, invitations to join groups/like pages/play games… well, you get the idea!  So, the one absolute certainty of devoting significant time to Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter is that there’ll be no hope of ‘distraction free’ writing!  Other networks can be approached with a little more confidence, but even they have their dangers, circling like sharks, ready to strike.  For example, Goodreads.  There is, in my honest opinion, nothing to compare with Goodreads!  It is a superb system for readers, authors and reader/authors.  But, there are perils, mostly in the form of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of ‘special interest groups’ and more generalised forums.  Join more than a handful, and you will be pulled and pushed, poked and prodded, to be active in them.  And that’s when the trouble starts – just like Facebook and Twitter: overload!  So the potential damage to the actual writing process is obvious.  What about benefits?  Well, I guess there are some.  When an author’s website or blog is very new, then the Social Networks may bring a few visits from the curious, and I do mean a few!  The evidence simply can’t be disputed.  A more significant benefit is in finding other authors!  But even there, it’s good to be wary.

Mistakes in Social Networking

Believe it or not, many authors who have been using the Social Networks for a significant amount of years are actually abusing the system, deliberately or otherwise.  It may be that they simply haven’t got the message, or they may have ignored or discarded it.  There is, however, a very simple truth that must be given heed to!  It is very bad practice to issue post after endless post advertising your book(s)”!  Don’t believe it?  Then you evidently enjoy being continuously Spammed via email, social network sites, and so forth.  More, you enjoy Spamming others!  Because that’s what it is.  If all you ever post is advertising your work or you, then people will flock to the doors – the exit doors!  Apart from the Spam aspect, it’s just bad manners to do it.  If you blog, then let your blog system post updates about your blog.  Don’t repeat the effort.  Social Networks exist to keep people in touch with each other, in a sense that sees constant advertising as an evil.  If you do the same to people you know in real life, then I pity them, and the chances of you having many real life connections are very low indeed.  No, you have to work at it properly!  You have to provide interesting, humorous, sometimes informative information, with only the occasional advertisement for your work, almost as an aside.  This is true at all levels – from blog to network.  Anything else, and the only visitors you’ll have in any numbers will be Spambots and worse – and many of those won’t bother with you, either, because your statistics are so shockingly low.  Everything is open to abuse, intended or misguided.  If you’re determined to use the available facilities, learn to look beyond yourself, beyond your work.  If you’re not inclined to provide ‘informative’ posts, at least try to amuse your readers!  It’s like any social situation.  You have to ‘court’ your audience, even if you don’t appear to have one.  If you get it right, people will find you!  More, if you truly engage in a friendly manner with both readers and fellow authors, others will support your efforts – not just in direct responses but by Tweeting, posting to Facebook, and numerous other ways.  But I’ll sound another note of caution here: if you set out to use others, they will find you out!  In other words, just be a real, ordinary, sociable person – willing to help others not because you want something in return, but simply because

The best advice I have to give?  Be ‘good people’.

~ Steve

Stats And What They Might Reveal

There’s always much made of social networking.  Some of it is useful, and that’s undeniable.  Whether it gets sales or not is another matter entirely.  I’ve done a quick analysis of the social networks and made some discoveries which may interest you.  I’ve also looked at the search engines and other ‘referrers’ to Imagineer-ing.

Since I started this blog:

1

WordPress Reader
(used by followers)
274 (5.5%)
2 Google Search 219 (4.4%)
3 Facebook 218 (4.4%)
4 Yahoo mail
(mostly from Yahoo Groups)
102 (2.0%)
5 Twitter 95 (1.9%)
6 Goodreads 83 (1.7%)
7 Bing 33 (0.7%)
8 Yahoo Search 30 (0.6%)
9 LinkedIn 18 (0.3%)
10 Windows Live Mail 16 (0.3%)
11 Tumblr 14 (0.3%)
12 StumbleUpon 6 (0.1%)
13 Pinterest 4 ( – )
14 Networked Blogs 2 ( – )
15 Ask Search 1 ( – )
Total of all above 1115 (22.4%)
All other referrers 3864 (77.6%)
The itemised referrers are the common ones most of us regard as being essential to our statistics.  “Surely,” we think, “these grand bodies are what drive traffic our way?”  The figures above suggest a different reality.  Less than a quarter of views are generated by people using these major sites!  More than three-quarters come from other sites, like the blogs of fellow authors and book lovers in general.  Personally I’m staggered by this revelation!  Considering the investment in time and effort involved in these sites, especially the social networks, I think the results are rather disappointing.
The fact that Facebook comes 3rd, Twitter 5th, Goodreads 6th, LinkedIn 9th, Tumblr 11th and Pinterest 13th would suggest that Facebook is the best social network to use, with Twitter and Goodreads as additional networks.  That said, it’s clear that we shouldn’t expect miracles in our blog growth by our use of these.  I find it most intriguing that Google Search just edges Facebook.
Of course, we need to be wary of these statistics, which is true of all statistics!  We don’t know how many of the WordPress Reader users originally came to the blog through one of the social networks.
Still, it’s all food for thought.
~ Steve

Blog Awards and An Appeal To Readers

As Yoda would say: “Remiss, I have been!”  And it’s too true, I fear.  I have received two blog awards from very kind people and I have said nothing.  I am ashamed!  Let me correct the situation now.

Super Sweet Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Yes, in what was a double whammy, I received the delectable Super Sweet Award again, on 7th May, from the very sweet and generous Rachel of Spilled Ink blog.  I’m amazed that folk are so willing to share this toothsome award!  Or perhaps it’s because there’s no chocolate in the picture LOL!  Seriously, though, thank you so much, Rachel.

A few days later, on 11th May, the very kind jemsbooks nominated me for the wonderfully complimentary Very Inspiring Blogger Award!  This is the second time I’ve been honoured with this award, the last time being on 21st January.  Thank you very much jemsbooks!

I’m afraid that I must break all the rules.  Having received two awards already, and obeyed the rules, I’m afraid I’m lost for selecting more bloggers deserving of these awards.  That’s not to say that I couldn’t find any.  Far from it.  The problem is entirely one of time.  I’m endeavouring to write a third tale in the G1: The Guardians series and things are really not going as they should.  It’s my own fault.  I keep allowing myself to be distracted.  I hope I will be forgiven.

Support Your Local Sherriff Author

This is an appeal, and it’s one all too familiar for authors, I’m afraid.  We happily, and determinedly, put our work out there.  We do it in a spirit (usually) of sharing.  We hope that others, however few they may be, will gain some reward from reading what we have offered.  I know, for instance, that some of my free ebooks have been downloaded many times.  I’ve even had sales of my novelettes.  Sadly, like most authors, the ratio of feedback to sales/downloads is very poor.  It is disheartening, and some authors might even be so discouraged that they give up entirely!

What I’m asking readers to do is really not as difficult as might be supposed.  If you read a book (however long and whatever format), please leave some kind of feedback!  We commonly use the word ‘review’ and I understand fully that it sounds daunting.  In truth, we’d love to get full blown reviews, but we understand that not everybody has the time or desire to devote time and effort to that.  We are happy, therefore, to just receive a few honest comments and a rating (which is usually a matter of clicking on the number of stars you wish to award).  The simplest way to leave comments is on the site you obtained the book from.  If you’re very kind and generous, however, it would make us ecstatic if you could copy and paste your comments onto certain other sites commonly used by both authors and readers.  These are: Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, and Smashwords.  Different authors have a different ‘spread’ of feedback sites and their websites/blogs will usually show you where they hang out.  It is also extremely helpful if you share your comments through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which is usually a matter of simply clicking on ‘Share’ buttons when you submit you comments on one of the other sites.

Some readers may expect the courtesy of a ‘thank you’ for their kindness, and I wish I could say they would receive that.  Unfortunately, the fact is that most writers simply can’t respond to all feedback!  Most are busy writing or keeping blogs up to date, and maybe a Facebook ‘fan’ page.  Rest assured, however, that your comments are appreciated!  If you wish to interact with an author, check their activity on Facebook, Goodreads and their blog (if they have one).  I’m afraid that you might find that they are not hugely active online, and it can seem rather foolish to respond to a comment made some weeks previously.  Also, a few don’t actually run these places at all.  They are run by fans, agents or publishers.  It comes down to a choice, really.  Do you prefer direct, quick interaction or another book?

One last thing.  If you didn’t enjoy a book, that’s fine.  It’s your prerogative, after all.  We might be disappointed, and regret that we failed to please you.  That doesn’t mean that it’s alright to post inflammatory comments.  A wise author will ignore such comments anyway, and if they’re of a personal nature, then the site is likely to delete them.  Be honest, by all means, but be courteous too!

I’ll close this appeal with my personal “Thank you!” to everybody who has left comments, of any (courteous) nature, for any of my books.

~ Steve

A Miscellanea Of Topics

Reviews Received and an Interview Posted

Shade of Evil

"Thief" by Steve K SmyI’ve received two very kind reviews.  One is for my novelette Shade of Evil (G1: The Guardians, #1), and appears on Julie’s Book Review, written by Wende Sheets.  Wende awards it 4 stars!  This review has also been posted to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  The second is for Thief (The Thief Series, #1), and appears on Tracey Wickham’s blog.  Tracey gives the short story a glowing 4 stars!  The ebooks are available from most major online book stores in ebook form, though Thief isn’t available from Amazon.  There’s also a new interview that features myself on Book Goodies.

I would be very grateful if you could leave feedback on these on the appropriate sites.

New Tale Progressing

The third tale in the G1: The Guardians series is progressing nicely.  More, the cover is doing even better and has me very excited!  It is being created by my son, Reuben, who is a gifted artist.  In fact, the concept drawing is so incredibly impressive, I’ve decided to hold back on showing it!  I can’t wait to see the finished artwork.  I also decided that there will be a reduced copy of the image inside the book, in black and white.  I haven’t yet established whether this tale will be a novelette or a novella, though.

A Little Ditty

Yesterday, I was inexplicably moved to write a little ditty on Twitter.  It’s a tribute to my favourite beverage: Tea!

Is there anything better than tea?
A taste of heaven, don’t you see?
Dark leaves of exotic lands,
A little bit of India in your hands.

(Copyright © Steve K Smy, May 2013)

It’s just a little bit of fun, of course.

Book Cover Artists and Book Illustrators

I would like to add a new occasional feature to Imagineer-ing.  Are you a book cover artist or a book illustrator?  Do you use, or know, either of these?  I would really like to include interviews of these very important people to the blog!  The interview wouldn’t be arduous.  It would only involve responding to an interview questionnaire, and including some examples of some book artwork.  It is my hope that this would benefit the artist, by providing links to their sites.  Also, if any artist would like a special feature done on them, and they have the copy prepared, I’d be very interested in that too.  Finally, if you’re a client of an artist you cannot live without (as an author) and you want to brag about them on their behalf, please feel free to submit an article, remembering to include links to the artist’s presence online, and images of book covers or internal illustrations they’ve done for you.

So, artists, please contact me direct!  Authors, help spread the word – send them a link to this post!

~ Steve

Excerpt of a New Tale Plus News

Twitter Frustrations

It’s very frustrating.  It drives me to distraction.  For a while now, I’ve been unable to Follow anybody new on Twitter!  I have, it seems, hit the maximum for the number of Followers that I have.  I’ve pruned out some who I was following but weren’t following me, but there are many I wouldn’t expect to follow me!  So I’m stuck.  Some kind folk have opted to follow me in this troubled time, but I can’t reciprocate.  It’s very disheartening, too, when I read that it can take months to reach the next level!  So, while there was a time I wouldn’t have believed I would say it: “Twitter, a first cap of 2000 Followers isn’t high enough, by far!”

Online Business Cards and LinkedIn

Following on from my post in which I spoke (briefly) about Spam, I am ashamed to admit that I got caught recently!  Years of being so careful and never taking anything at face value, and BAM!!  I am a member of LinkedIn, which has brought me into contact with some very good people, as well as adding new levels of links to some I connect with elsewhere.  When, therefore, I get a message asking me to rate somebody on their online business card, I have no problem.  Well, there’s the mistake!  I should have been more cautious.  No reflection on the person who made that initial request, but the whole thing stinks.  I rated them and clicked on a button, all very authentic looking, saying Log in with LinkedIn.  Now, I had no idea if the rating had been recorded.  It went to a screen with my own business card displayed – and that should have rung big bells!  I hadn’t set up a business card!  Oh no, I must have been really switched off that day.  I accepted the offer and did what it asked.  Yes, it was a mass message but it was just a one-off…  Want to bet?  Oh no, the website, mybizcard.co, has since sent two more such mass mailings (that I know of).  Apparently, it had used stealth mode to attach itself as an app on my LinkedIn settings!  I launched complaints to LinkedIn Support. After having to put up with replies from them, which made it all too obvious that they weren’t reading my comments/replies, or were trying to dodge the issue, I’ve finally put the saga of the online business card scam behind me – I hope!  Well, that’s after 72 hours have elapsed, I’ll be free of it, I’m told…  Trust me folks!  Don’t join mybizcard.co!  Don’t even go on their website!

*****

Writing

Yes, I do still write!  Following a couple of bad days, in health terms, and battling the internet demons, I haven’t actually made a huge dent in the things I’ve got on the boil at the moment.  That’s another frustration to add to those of recent times.  I can feel the ‘you have to write’ worm gnawing away at me and yet somehow the days still sneak past with nothing of significance achieved.  I think my novel is under a pile of dust in the darkest corner of my hard drive.  The rest pops to the surface now and then, only to sink under that dread word: Later.  I have sufficient reasons to get on with it.  There’s that beautiful paperback copy of Shade of Evil, and I’ve actually had one or two more sales of ebooks.  That should be plenty of inspiration!  Shouldn’t it?

If you’re wondering, I’m working on a third story in the G1: The Guardians series.  What length it will be remains to be seen, but it won’t be smaller than a novelette.  It follows on from the second, after a few months have elapsed.  Meanwhile, in the field of science fiction, Captain Duschelle is currently resting, awaiting his next adventure.  At the same time, I occasionally dip into a longer tale that I’m working on, using the authoring/publishing website, Pressbooks.  This is actually a WordPress based site, fitted out with some nice, useful templates for authors.  The tale I’m writing there, off and on, is an Alternate History, though I fear it may also incur the label ‘Steampunk’.  Apart from the Alternate History aspect, it’s a detective/mystery tale – another first for me.  To distinguish its alternate facet, the language is very different, and requires care – which is why I have to be in the right frame of mind to add to it.  Just as a teaser, here’s a teaser (the opening of Chapter 1):

Ronald Lowden had anything but the look of either the powerful intelligence he possessed or his profession as a detective.  He was, in fact, acutely ordinary.  Somewhat round of face, with thin brown hair, hazel eyes, and a pale complexion, he was of average height and slightly above his ideal weight.  When he walked into a crowded room, nobody stopped to stare.  In fact, most people didn’t even notice his arrival.  But that very ordinariness worked in his favour, much of the time.  A good detective should be invisible, when he’s on assignment.  Unfortunately, everything else tended to make him less than imposing when a confrontation with unsavoury types was unavoidable.  In essence, however, he was not entirely unhappy with his lot, other than for the fact that he was less than impressive in the eyes of women.  His liaisons on that score had been few and far between, and his employment had ensured that all ha ended unhappily.

Lowden was not a classic private investigator, in that he only ever took cases that intrigued him at a personal level.  He was, most definitely, not ‘in it for the money’.  When his penchant for mysteries of crime had first surfaced, his clergyman father had hoped that he would jin the police.  That was never going to happen, however.  The police held to certain requirements of physical fitness and obedience to orders.  Both were anathema to Lowden.  His only powerful ‘muscle’ was his mind, and that was extremely well developed.

The truly unfortunate thing for Lowden was the fact that so few people knew of him and his choice of profession.  Consequently, he struggled financially.  He couldn’t afford an office and the tiny flat he lived in was not suitable for receiving visits from mice, let alone potential clients.  If it wasn’t for his mother’s generosity, which was always a bone of contention with his father, he couldn’t have afforded even that pathetic accommodation.  Contrary to his father’s oft stated opinion, however, Lowden was mortified that he had to accept the financial support of his mother.

Much was to change.  And soon.  He had no clue to what was going to occur, however, on the morning that he made his way from his flat to the tacky little café where he customarily breakfasted.  It was a very normal Thursday in early Spring.  Cool and bright at the moment, but probably destined to turn cold and wet.  He entered the café, an old bell clattering at the door, and took his usual seat in the window.  Why he sat there, he didn’t know.  The window was so grubby on the outside that it barely counted as a window.  He waited a few moments, until the woman on the counter deigned to approach, a tatty pad in one hand, pencil in the other.  It was the normal routine.  He made a show of reading the unchanging menu, sighed, and ordered the same thing as he had every Thursday.

Lowden was half way into a plate of scrambled eggs on (overdone) toast when a small, round blob of a man suddenly sat at his table, facing him.  Startled, and at a loss for words, all Lowden could do was stare blankly at the man.  The stranger was shorter than himself, by a considerable measure, and dressed in a black suit, white shirt, neatly knotted black tie.  His head was disturbingly close to being an almost perfect sphere.  His nose was a round lump, with scarlet pinpricks which suggested a drinker.  His eyes were small, black objects that glittered like polished jet but gave no hint of anything within their depths.  Tidy but thin eyebrows arched over his eyes.  Beneath his nose was a pencil line of a black moustache, then a small mouth with thin, pale  lips, and finally a perfect little goatee.

“You are Mister Ronald Percival Lowden?” the stranger almost demanded, in a surprisingly deep, but reedy, voice.

Lowden finished his mouthful of food and then slowly reached for the tall,thick, slightly chipped mug of strong tea.  He raised the mug, not looking at the intruder, and took a sip.  Only then did he return his gaze to the man.

“Who I am,” he said calmly, “is my own business, I believe.  What I am willing to divulge is that I am not kindly disposed to rude people.  How is it that you believe you may intrude upon a gentleman at his breakfast, without his consent?”

The stranger blinked rapidly.  “Your pardon, sir,”  he said, with no trace of sincerity.  “I am come upon a most urgent matter, and it has already cost me time to find you, having discovered that you were not in your… er… apartment.”

“Really?  Most extraordinary.  How did you come to know my address?  I do not advertise it.”

“By the kindness of your mother.”

“Remarkable.  But, sir, you have the advantage.  You have not yet introduced yourself.”  He again raised the mug of teato his lips, waiting.  ‘I must have words with dear Mother.’

“I am Humphrey Kingsley, of the Waterbridge Kingsleys.”

“Very pleasant for you, I am sure.  It is always advantageous to have a Name.”  Waterbridge was a quaint hamlet some three miles from where Lowden’s parents lived, and probably enjoyed his father’s rambling sermons on certain Sundays.  The area was renowned, unfortunately, for a certain snobbishness, where pecking order in ‘polite society’ was all-important.  “Now then, Humphrey Kingsley, what is this ‘most urgent matter’?  And how does it involve myself?”

“It is a most delicate affair,” Kingsley replied, glancing round.

The café was empty apart from themselves, and the woman at the counter, who was far more interested in reading a newspaper that rested over the pile of rolls that never seemed to change.

“I do believe we are safe from eavesdroppers,” Lowden said drily.

Kingsley took a deep breath.  “Very well.  The matter is just this:  Yesterday, at approximately ten fifteen in the morning, my superior vanished.  He was known to be in his office, from which there is but one exit, passing through his secretary’s office, which is, in effect, the anteroom to the large room occupied by my superior.  He was seen to enter his office at ten minutes past ten.  At twenty past ten, I sought to speak with him on an internal matter of no consequence to this affair.  The secretary, a most dependable woman in her forties, a Miss Alice Roach, went to the door and opened it to gain acceptance of my request.  She returned to me in a state of some considerable confusion.  When she stated that my superior was missing, I immediately grew concerned and entered the office myself.  There was definitely no sign of my superior.  Fearing some dreadful event, I checked the windows, but found them all securely closed and fastened.”

“Which Department do you work for?” Lowden asked suddenly.

“I am with the Foreign Office,  as….  How do you know that I am in government?”

“Your evasion of using any name or title for your superior suggests one who may be well knwn to the public at large.  Also, you have never once mentioned where you are employed.”

“Remarkable,” Kingsley said.  “Well, you have heard my tale.  Do you believe that you can help solve the riddle?”

“I do think that I may be able to solve the puzzle.  Come, we shall go to your offices and investigate the scene.”

Lowden stood up, Kingsley hurriedly following suit,  and paid his bill at the counter.  The pair of them left the café, stepping out into a hot day that threatened the dreaded Smog.  A short distance away, Lowden hailed a steam-cab and they were soon trundling through the narrow streets of the old city, a trail of steam left behind.  The driver sat up front, in a high seat, watching his gauges and occasionally feeding small lumps of coal into the little firebox.  Similar vehicles were everywhere, all in bright colours and most sporting the liveries of cab companies.

~ Steve

Indies Unlimited – the website for all Indies: Guest Post by Carol E. Wyer

carol wyer Imagine, if you can, a middle-aged technology-challenged woman who has eight friends on Facebook (four of whom are her son’s friends) and who isn’t sure what a blog is. Yes, that was me three years ago, when I decided to write my first novel about a middle-aged woman who writes a blog, has a torrid online affair with an ex-lover on Facebook and makes hundreds of cyber friends.

overlay medium Sometimes, life imitates art and in my case it did exactly that. (Apart from the torrid affair bit.) This was not thanks to luck but thanks largely to one genuinely kind author, Stephen Hise, and a website he started along with some very talented folk: Indies Unlimited.

All new writers flounder. The internet is awash with advice and help but if you, like me, don’t know where to begin, then having a website like Indies Unlimited is an absolute Godsend. Should you need advice about anything at all to do with writing, publishing or social networking, you are sure to find the answer there.

If you want to grow your own social platform then the twice weekly “Like-fests” allow you to do just that. If you want to challenge your writing abilities, you can enter the weekly Flash Fiction challenges and if you need to know how to become a super dooper internet social butterfly, then the weekly tutorials will introduce you to tools you never would have dreamed of and you’ll become an internet guru.

Indies Unlimited is filled with intelligent, well-written articles and features from authors who clearly know their stuff. I subscribed to the newsletter and got a daily dose of what was on offer. Before long, I was able to set up pages at Goodreads, my own author page on Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, shorten URLs, learn about the latest developments in the publishing world, find out if services I might have otherwise considered weren’t just rip-offs, and was thoroughly entertained every day, by lively posts. The biggest success came when I followed a tutorial about joining HARO, help a reporter online. I followed KS Brooks’ advice and sent off a pitch in response to a query. It later transpired that the query was from NBC who chose my pitch, interviewed me, wrote an article about me and gave my book a lot of exposure on their website too.

The tutorials transformed my online life. I rapidly learned an enormous amount and became fascinated by the tools you can employ or use to improve your life as a writer.

It may sound like I am gushing here, and to an extent I suppose I am, however, writing can be lonely, and advice, especially good advice is hard to come by. Indies Unlimited offers sound thoughts and expertise based on personal experiences.

Last year, I was invited to join the team at Indies Unlimited. I write mostly about marketing since I have become somewhat of an expert on that side of things, and more recently I’ve begun to write some of the tutorials. I love researching and finding out new ways to help authors so they can get their work noticed.

That’s the key thing about Indies Unlimited; the authors are so enthusiastic and want to help others. It is infectious. I find, even now, that I want to discover more and share that knowledge.

Indies Unlimited gave me more than the confidence and support I needed to become a well-known author; it gave me a group of incredibly friendly and supportive people who are only too happy to help with a query. If you are starting out or indeed have questions you would just like answered, drop by the website. You are sure to find what you need and more.

********

carol wyer Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post  For more information, please see the IU Bio page and her website: http://www.carolewyer.co.uk

cew Grumpy cew miniskirts

Author Interview – Marie Lavender

I’d like to offer a warm welcome to Romance author Marie Lavender!  I feel confident that you will enjoy the following interview.  Personally, I can relate to so many things Marie has to say.

Marie Lavender - Upon Your Return When did you first discover the desire to write was so strong in you?

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be an author. I began writing stories at the age of nine and really never stopped. I had a pretty big imagination, and even when I was a small child, I entertained myself with play worlds including characters and plots. It’s no wonder that’s what I ended up wanting to do.

Do you usually write in the same genre you tend to prefer to read?

Yes, for the most part. I love reading romance novels, and I definitely write them. Though I read a lot of different sub-genres such as contemporary, historical and paranormal. I have written in these sub-genres as well.

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?

Though I am coming to accept the prevalence of digital technology, I have a definite preference for traditional books. I love the texture, and I love collecting them. I want a huge library at some point!

Have you been influenced and/or inspired by another writer, or writers?

Of course! I have been influenced by Catherine Coulter, Jennifer Blake, Nora Roberts, Emma Wildes, Tessa Dare and Nicholas Sparks. These are some of my favourite authors as well. I have also been inspired by classic authors such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.

Do past or current events in your life have an influence on your writing?

I believe that my experiences have fashioned me as a writer, in a way. Sometimes I can look back through what I’ve written and track where I was in my life based on what is there. So, I think events, either past or present, have a definite effect on an author.

Have you got a favourite author, who stands well ahead of all others?

For historical romance, I would choose Jennifer Blake or Catherine Coulter. For contemporary romance, probably it would have to be Nora Roberts. For paranormal romance, I definitely love J.R. Ward.

Have you got both printed and digital books published?

Yes, I do. I have published sixteen books under various pen names. Nearly all are available in print and digital forms. My last release, Upon Your Return, is available in e-book format, and the print version will be coming out in May or June. You can find information on the rest of my books at marielavender.webs.com.

Do you try to write to satisfy what is fashionable, or do you write pieces that you would want to read?

Though I have wondered if there is a niche for some of my works, I mainly write what comes out, what makes me passionate to write about. My ideas just come to me randomly so I just write and hope that someone will want to read it. After a manuscript is finished, then I can worry about whether there is an audience for it. Someone told me once, “You do what you have to do. You write for yourself, not to please anyone else.” I didn’t get into it for money or anything trivial. I just write because I love writing.

How do you fit writing into your life? Do you have set times for writing?

That is an interesting question. My life feels so hectic sometimes! The best thing to say to that is that I just try. I try to set aside time every day to write, no matter when it is. I am a night owl so I do end up writing in the evening quite a lot, but I have been known to write during the day as well. Sometimes the mood just strikes me, and I have to write or it will drive me crazy.

Do you keep every jotting of ideas, just in case they might be developed at some later date?

I keep journals. I write everything down. I also keep files, digital and hard copy, even for my less developed ideas. I never seem to run out of ideas. They come to me all the time, even when I am focused on a specific project.

Do you write freeform or do you faithfully plan every piece meticulously before you start on a piece?

I write as I go. Scenes come to me in pretty much any order in a story, and I figure the rest out later. Though I might have a good idea about the main point of a book, what happens is just as surprising to me as the reader. Sometimes I go back and do my research and add those details in later. Sometimes I do research as I go. It depends on the book. Yes, I know preparation is best for some writers. But, I can’t turn off the muse.

When writing, most authors now use a computer of some description. Which do you find more satisfying: writing using any means available, using a computer, using a typewriter or using a pen/pencil?

Someone called me a Luddite once because I preferred writing in pen rather than composing on the computer. And some days, I still do. I like the texture of the paper as your pen goes across the page. I like to see handwritten documents. But, I have grown to accommodate myself to technology, and I just as easily compose on my PC.

Have you ever been somewhere and discovered a copy of a book that’s extremely difficult to find, and drooled over the discovery?

Yes, I believe I have. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with the written word. I collect books, as aforementioned. So, I believe I did find something in an antique store once. It was only a 1947 copy of American folk songs, but I still found that interesting. I also visit used-book stores from time to time. My shelves are full of used-books with yellowed pages and crinkled corners. I find most of my rare purchases online though. I would love to purchase older books, like classic novels. I don’t know much about preservation, but I would definitely like to add them to my collection.

If you’ve had books published in print form, have you ever come across a copy of one of your own books by accident?

It’s funny you mention that! Fifteen of my books were published through Lulu Press. And my latest book is through Solstice Publishing. My books can be found on Amazon, Lulu.com or Solstice.com. Where was I going with that? I’m getting there. I found out that an independent seller was trying to sell two copies of my books through Amazon for an ungodly amount of money. I don’t know who it is, but I just found that kind of comical.

What is your greatest ambition in writing?

I’d like to see my books in stores someday. Just that satisfaction would be enough for me. I don’t have to make millions. The other thing is I just want to write, and I want to feel I have made an impact on someone’s life. Maybe something a character went through really made the reader think. If I got a response like that, that would mean a lot to me. My goal for now, though, is to complete The Heiresses in Love series.

Where can readers find out more about your works?

You can visit my website at marielavender.webs.com. I also have blogs at marielavender.blogspot.com and marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com. All of my books are on Amazon. You can also follow my pages or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.


Author Bio

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats.  She has been writing for over twenty years.  She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.  At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories.  Her imagination fuelled a lot of her early child’s play.  Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one.  She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer.  While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal.  After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories.  Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them.  Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel.  free to visit her website at marielavender.webs.com for further information about her books and her life.  Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie LavenderUpon Your Return

Erica SutherhomeHard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom

Kathryn LayneA Misplaced Life

Heather CrouseExpress Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Cover Reveal: “Greenwood Tree” by B Lloyd (A Julia Warren Mystery)

GWT book cover ‘Well, what do all mysteries have?’ said Aunt Isobel. ‘Money, mistresses, and murder.’

1783 – and Lichfield society is enthralled by the arrival of dashing ex-officer Orville; he charms his way into the salons, grand houses and even a great inheritance from extrovert Sir Morton.

1927 – and detective writer Julia Warren returns to her home in Lichfield to work on her next novel. Initially she hopes to find plot material from the past and set it in the present. Aunt Isobel, while making preparations for the annual midsummer ball, has managed to root out an old journal from 1783 which might prove a source of inspiration. Once Julia starts reading her ancestor’s journal she becomes absorbed in solving the mystery surrounding officer Orville. Detective fever takes over, and she moves from reality to legend as events from the past seem set to re-enact themselves in the present, and she finds herself unravelling more than just the one mystery. Who was Orville? Who was the agent, Oddman, set to spy on him? And who is helpful Mr Grenall ?

Pagan gods don’t walk away just because you stop looking at them. The Gronny Patch sleeps. Perhaps it dreams. Or perhaps not …

A complex, multi-layered story unlike any other, full of whimsy, horror, and mystery, shifting between the centuries and from source to source, until all the threads are finally drawn together by the imperturbable Miss Warren.

Author bio

A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal …

After studying Early Music in Italy followed by a brief career in concert performance, the Bustle exchanged vocal parts for less vocal arts i.e. a Diploma from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.

Her inky mess, both graphic and verbal, can be found in various regions of the Web, and appendaged to good people’s works (for no visible reason that she can understand).

At present exploring the mysteries of Northumberland, although if there is a place she could call true home, it would be Venice…while the fields of Waterloo hold a certain resonance for her as well…

More here: about.me/B.Lloyd & here : lloydanon.wordpress.com

For those who enjoy Twittery: Do drop by @AuthorsAnon as she enjoys a chat (Warning: Please expect occasional bouts of nonsense).

Purchase links

Amazon UK (pre-order):

(hardcover) www.amazon.co.uk/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd

(paperback) www.amazon.co.uk/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd

Amazon US (pre-order):

(paperback) www.amazon.com/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd

(hardcover) www.amazon.com/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd

Waterstones:

www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb

Pre-order page on the publisher’s website:

www.greycellspress.co.uk