Smashing! I’ll Stick With The Numbers.

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

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

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

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

+++Late news+++

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

A Question of Numbers

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

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

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

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

~ Steve

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Wandering On Wednesday

The Delight of Unexpected Reviews

I was thrilled to discover that two of my books were reviewed and given 5 stars! Shade of Evil and Evil Under The Circle, Parts 1 and 2 of G1: The Guardians, were reviewed by Chris The Story Reading Ape and the reviews can be found on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  You can find all of Chris’ reviews on Goodreads.  Of course, you can also find Chris’ reviews on his own blog.  I would like to express my sincere thanks to Chris for his kindness and honesty.  Having friends who understand fully that you only wish to receive absolutely genuine reviews of your works is beyond valuable.

I was further delighted to find a 5 star review of Intruder from the Thief series of free short stories!  The review, posted on Barnes & Noble is so heartening!  I quote it below:

This book kept me on the edge of my seat until the last word was read.

There is a serious threat that exudes evil and wants to claim the land in this sci-fi fantasy.  Mages, which this author describes as magicians of a sort, are sought to help go up against the evil.

Characters are richly described and likable and fascinating.  This is a novella which is a quick read but this reader did not want the story to end.  The author is a very talented and creative storyteller. I will be reading many more of his stories. This is an excellent choice of reading for YA.

Review by jesNH, 6th August, 2013.  5 stars awarded.

I would like to thank jesNH for such a glowing review!

Going for a New Look – Again!

Yes, I’m afraid I’m going to be tinkering again!  The main page of posts can be rather overwhelming, especially when the posts are long!  I’ve decided to try to improve things by making use of a WordPress post facility.  This will involve adding the codeword More to all long posts, which will mean that only part of the post will appear on the main page and you will need to click on the More… link in the post to read all of it.  One advantage of this is that it will give easier access to other facilities, such as commenting, sharing, rating and liking.  In respect of special days (Book Promo Day and Blog Browser Day), I will endeavour to place the codeword in such a place that the link has to be clicked or some of the detail information will be lost to the reader.  Obviously, this will be subject to any feedback – positive or negative – as to whether I continue to use the codeword.  Also, I will not be going back to posts already displayed.  I simply don’t have the time to edit all those posts (around 270 of them)!

If you wish to provide any feedback on this change, at any time, please  contact me using the contact form on the blog, or via email if you have my address.  I would suggest not using Facebook or Twitter, as messages are too easily lost unless the direct message system is used.

Uncovered: The Naked Manuscript

If by any remote chance you’re waiting for Part 4 of G1: The Guardians, which will also be the first novel I will have released, I’m afraid the waiting must continue.  It still lacks a cover.  My son is extraordinarily busy now, with negligible time for such extra projects.  My own attempts have been woeful, to say the least, and I simply can’t afford to pay anybody to provide a more professional cover.  I can assure you all that I am more frustrated than anybody else.  I even considered abandoning my original vision for the cover, even if only for the first edition, and going with an extremely simple cover.  So desperate have I become!  There has been a consequence to this situation, too, in that the work on Part 5 is crawling along.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

No – they dream of having more storage space  built into their main circuitry!  How do I know?  Well, I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830i and it is forever complaining that its built-in memory is almost or actually full!  The kind folk of Samsung allow the use of micro SD cards to obtain more space.  Unfortunately, that really doesn’t help because they have been so miserly as far as the built-in space is concerned!  Don’t misunderstand me.  This isn’t a problem unique to Samsung,  I had, for a short while, an Android tablet, and that suffered from exactly the same problem!  Sure, most apps are installed to the SD card, along with things that they handle – such as the Kindle app and the ebooks that you download for it.   I was amazed, having watched TV adverts talking about the vast number of available apps, that this ‘phone has so very little actual capacity.  Every app installed contributes to the space consumed in the ‘phone itself, regardless of where the app itself is installed to!  And even more annoying is the fact that there are pre-installed apps which you can’t uninstall!  Some of these are massive (‘bloatware’) and I know that I’ll never use them, but Samsung have decided that they should be locked in, untouchable.  I find it increasingly difficult to understand how Samsung, and most other Android device manufacturers, expect to compete with Apple’s devices!  For example, the internal, built-in storage of the iPod Touch is impressive.  Sure, you can’t expand it, but at least most of the storage is available without all the nonsense problems of the Android competition.  Yes, there are locked apps with Apple too, and yes, it would be hugely beneficial if we could remove them, but even then I can get loads more apps on the standard, basic iPod Touch than I can on the Android smartphone!

(Apologies to Philip K Dick, author of the book whose title I have stolen for this section!)

Blog Browser Day: 3rd August, 2013

Welcome to the inaugural Blog Browser Day!  I have opted to place this on a Saturday each week, depending on submissions received, as I believe this will give the majority the most time possible to have a good wander around.  Weekdays tend to have severe time constraints on what we can do.  A Saturday should, in effect, allow a full weekend for browsing.  The submission form and details will be available through the top menu, as for Book Promo Day.  Please try to get your submissions in by midnight GMT on the Thursday as I cannot guarantee later  submissions being included the following Saturday, though they will be carried forward to the following week if that’s the case.

Thanks to all those who have submitted blogs for this first edition!

==0==

Barbara Ann Mojica’s blog

Twice weekly (Wednesday and Sunday) review of children’s books (up to and including young adult) I also update my own works, do occasional guest postings and author interviews. My goal is to keep children, parents, homeschoolers and teachers up to date on current resources for children.

Blog Class: Book reviews

Recommended by: Barbara Ann Mojica

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Thriller Writer

The blog provides distinct authors the opportunity to publish a Guest Post concerning some aspect of writing. The objective is to inspire and inform writers of any level. Contributors are both Internationally known bestselling authors and writers who have yet to reach that status. These posts are backed up by a social media campaign designed to attract maximum exposure to their work and help promote the material about which they write. A maximum of 2 guests per month allows for an extended promotion of each post and all participants have indicated that this has increase their book sales and driven more traffic to their own websites/blogs.

Occasionally the blog’s manager, thriller writer Eric J. Gates, will publish additional material, usually of a whimsical nature, related to writing.

Blog Class: Author

Recommended by: Eric J. Gates

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Seumas Gallacher

A personal blog by author Seumas Gallacher, in which he mentions his writing but also gathers a wildly varied collection of threads from all  over the internet.  You’ll not be subjected to hard sell, here, which is refreshing in an author’s blog.  What more can I say, apart from the fact that Seumas has a tremendous sense of humour and is incredibly supportive of others?  Not much worth saying, so let Seumas have the final words (I quote the opening of his “About me”):

Seumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called “bad old days” which were in reality the greatest of days, where everybody was a real character of note.

Blog Class: Writing/Publishing General

Recommended by: Steve K Smy

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Kellie Elmore

Kellie Elmore is a published poet who is currently working on a novel. On her blog she posts on a variety of subjects:
* some poetry
* her experiences as she works through writing her first novel
* she hosts Free Write Friday. This challenge helps me explore my own writing. Kellie takes the time to read all entries and comment on them.
I have found Kellie and her blog to be an inspiration to me ever since I found it. Not only that, her poetry is beautiful to read.

Blog Class: Author

Recommended by: Colline

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


John Guy Collick — On and on I sped into futurity…

John posts about art, writing, films, illustrators, TV shows, sci fi, fantasy, with updates about his own writing. His articles are witty, pithy, beautifully illustrated and researched.

Blog class: General Blog

Recommended by: Jane Dougherty

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Musings of a Social Butterfly Turned Cat Lady

Funny and down to earth blog concerning the everyday aspects of life, love and figuring it all out,  without losing your mind.

Blog class: Author

Recommended by: Karie Thoma

Rating: 4 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.


Change It Up Editing

Offers posts and occasional reblogs of information that is helpful to writers and authors of both self-published and traditionally published books.

Blog Class: Writing & Publishing General

Recommended by: change it up editing

Rating: 5 stars

Confirmed Family Safe?  Yes.

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

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

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

News Bulletin

New Blog Records

200 followers

First up – good news!  Imagineer-ing is going from strength to strength.  The blog hit 200 direct followers.  That’s in addition to over 1170 Twitter and 330 Facebook followers!  And last month’s record 1000+ views is likely to be beaten this month.

I would like to extend my personal thanks to all who have elected to follow the blog.  I am honoured!

New Newsletter Option Available

Yesterday saw the launch of an opportunity to stay updated on my new book/ebook releases, any changes to existing book/ebook availability, any special offers that may come along and special announcements.  This is a recognition of the fact that staying aware of such things through social network postings, or even what’s posted here on the blog, can be extremely difficult.  Obviously, the Newsletter will be continued only for as long as a reasonable number of subscribers are on the mailing list!  Newsletters take time to produce, after all.  Naturally, signing up for the Newsletter will not lead to an inundation of unwanted emails – your details will never be shared with anybody beyond the list handler and myself!

For your convenience, here’s the subscription form:

Sign up for our free newsletter!

If you have a QR Code scanner on your mobile device, just scan this image:

QR Code

New Look

You may have noticed that there is a subtly different look to the blog.  The menu at the top has been condensed, with some items brought together for obvious reasons.  Nothing has vanished, but some pages are now accessible as dropdown options from broader menu subjects.  It’s important that websites aren’t static in their design.  These are minor amendments, but larger changes may occur in future, to keep things ‘fresh’.

~ Steve

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

Updating Progress and DIversifying

Progress Report: Paperback Editions

As you probably know, I’m testing the service provided by FeedARead and Skoobebooks.  Having submitted my manuscripts to both (a different one to each), I was pleasantly surprised to get feedback fairly quickly – on Monday, in fact.  Now, the first comparison is possible.  The email from FeedARead gave the reason why the manuscript needed revision – somehow, the page numbering had gone wrong and I had a book full of Page 1s.  It was sent from an automated system, which meant that emailing back would be pointless.  That struck me as being very impersonal and not a pleasure to deal with.  The response from Skoobebooks was entirely different.  The initial email was from the person who had reviewed my manuscript.  They indicated three corrections they had made, which included correcting a couple of typos, and offered the PDF proof for my approval.  As it happened, I had since spotted a couple more minor alterations that I wanted to make, so I supplied a revised manuscript.  This involved several emails back and forth.  A much more personal service!  I’m now waiting for the revised PDF proofs for my approval.

Progress Report: Writing

I am no nearer resuming work on my novel, which is very frustrating.  However, I should be releasing my new novelette, and my longest work to date, very soon.  It follows on from Shade of Evil and takes up the story of that mysterious group, the Guardians.  It involves their top team – G1.  The series of stories will, in fact, be entitled G1: The Guardians.  The tales of this group of warriors for humanity will take them into some extraordinary situations.  The first two novelettes are merely the beginning!  Meanwhile, the adventures of Captain Henri Duschelle are waiting in the wings, always ready to be told.  What lies in wait for him and his crew is a mystery, for now.  Finally, I am considering bringing the Thief short stories together in a single paperback volume.  If I do so, then I regret to say that I will have to withdraw them as free ebooks, so get them while you can.

New! A General Blog

Yesterday saw the first general post on what was my knitting blog and which will be a general topics blog henceforth.  I will be revising its look and changing its name (if I can), to reflect its new mission.  I won’t cross post between the two, but the general blog might make the occasional mention of things happening here on Imagineer-ing.  The posts over there will reflect things other than writing that feature in my life.  I haven’t yet decided on a new name for it but I hope to shortly – possibly even later today!  I would be very happy to see you over there from time to time, if you’re interested in my thoughts outside of writing, or what some may see as being trivial posts.  You are likely to discover more about me, and my family, there. 

~ Steve

A Slice of Spam – In Praise of WordPress

spam Amazing blog!  Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?  I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.  Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed…  Any ideas?  Kudos!

The above is a copy’n’paste of a Spam message I received here.  Now, this is a good example of how Spam can give the illusion of being genuine and thereby suck you in.  However, the amusing part is that the message raises some interesting points, points which are actually deserving of an answer.

Ignoring the fake praise, let’s look at the rest of the message:

The opening question is, of course, far too general to be easily answered.  However, I believe the rest of the message qualifies the question sufficiently.  It would appear that we’re being asked about blog writing, not book writing.  So the second question becomes the important one.  Would I ‘suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress’?  That, in itself, raises a question in response: what are your intentions – do you intend to try to make money from your blog?  WordPress is, in fact, free however you apply it, but if you’re installing it to your own web site, then you’re probably paying for that, and it won’t be cheap if you’ve opted for a large amount of server space on your host.  I would tend to regard that, then, as semi-freeFully-free would be opting for the form offered by WordPress.com at its basic level (you can opt to purchase upgrades or even the full ‘Pro’ package).  With .com, there are definite restrictions, and some may catch you out.  You can’t advertise freely.  Anything you advertise has to comply with strict limitations, usually meaning that you can advertise your own items, as long as that advertising doesn’t dominate your blog.  You also can’t use certain facilities of web page coding that are supported just about everywhere else.  For example, JavaScripts are barred.  These restrictions are based on .com protecting themselves and, therefore, all their patrons.  You will also find that links to certain sites are not allowed and, if used, will either be removed automatically or may even see your blog suspended.  This can prove awkward, especially if you utilise most free web hosts, because those are so often exploited by people you really don’t want anything to do with!  If you can accept the restrictions, then .com is an excellent choice, as it has many features you’d have to install for yourself with the alternative version.  One of the most important features of .com is Akismet, which is one of the best Spam filters I’ve ever come across!  Akismet will protect your blog like no other system.

The other WordPress option is WordPress.org.  This requires you to have a web host of your own.  A word of warning: the way some free hosts are structured makes it very complicated getting WordPress to work properly!  Assuming that you can get things the way they need to be, the first thing you’ll discover is a basic version of the platform.  You will have to install a theme and various plug-ins to get close to .com standards.  You will, however, have far more choice in what plug-ins to install (you can’t install any in .com) and you can do just about anything you want – subject only to any restrictions your host might have imposed.  I won’t attempt to go into it all, beyond saying Akismet is worth having. along with JetPack.  Note that some features that come free with .com are pay-for in .org!

OK, so WordPress is covered.  Would I choose WordPress above all the other blog platforms?  You bet I would!  It’s far more flexible than any of the alternatives.  You can, if you wish, use it to create a complete web site, and with the right theme, it will look professional.  As a platform, I don’t believe it has any serious competitor.

I think that answers the message…

~ Steve

P.S. Interesting article: All About SEO on WordPress.com