WIPs and Memories

WIPping up a Storm!

Yeah, I know!  Terrible!  But this little paragraph is about, shockingly, WIPs.  Though circumstances forced a stall, I am working on a new book.  It will be the fifth  in the G1: The Guardians series.  It has a slightly different atmosphere to the other stories.  I decided that there was a serious risk of things becoming just ‘more of the same’, so the new tale has some very different elements, including multiple threads and some nods to European folklore and even some Christian myths.  As to more immediate WIPs, the soon-to-be-released novel is progressing well in the preparations for printing, and Shade of Evil is already heading to the final proof stage with the printers.  There’s good reason to hope that the novel will be available in both paperback and hardback print editions on the launch date!

A Memory of a Wonderful Series

Back in the 1970s, The Hamlyn Publishing Group produced a lovely set of books – the Hamlyn all-colour paperbacks.  Now, before anybody who remembers them jumps all over me, I know that the binding quality was absolutely awful, and you were liable to end up with a set of loose-leaf books!  No, for me, what made these books so special was the range of subjects and the first class colour illustrations.  I had numerous books in the series, ranging from animals to geology, from Budgerigars to guns!  As one of hose kids more inclined to learn by self-education at home, or out and about, the books were an invaluable resource.  And, most important of all, they were affordable.  The books were all written by experts but in an interesting way, without being overtly educational or, vitally, condescending.

~ Steve

Blog Tours, Teasing and More

SKSmyButtonHome Page: What It’s All About

Yesterday, I completely revamped the blog’s home page, which is listed as What It’s All About.  This reflects some changes in circumstances.  There’s nothing staggeringly revolutionary about its content, as it mainly indicates what the blog is all about (if you hadn’t guessed).   The significant change is that, sadly, there is no longer any intimation that there will be, or is, an entity known as either Imagineer ebooks or Imagineer Books, in publishing terms.

Continue reading

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!)

News and Creative Questions

Apology!

I have to start with an apology.  I realised too late that I posted twice in a very short space of time about my latest paperback.  I really had no intention of doing so but I was rather swept along by my excitement yesterday, and forgetting that I’d already made the announcement didn’t help!!  My only excuse is that yesterday was caused by my receiving my own copy of the book.  I really have no intention of becoming one of those bloggers who just bangs on interminably about their own works!

An Amusing Fact

This statement is not meant to elicit a cascade of good wishes.  It’s simply something of some mild amusement, in my view.  Today is my birthday, the 56th one inflicted on me by a cruel calendar.  It strikes me as slightly funny that the one thing I haven’t received is – a book!  Don’t get me wrong, either.  I have a large library, which has grown exponentially with the advent of ebooks!  It’s also a truth that, with my increased writing activity, the time I have available for reading has declined significantly.  Of course, as it’s early yet, there’s still time for a book to put in an appearance, and it would be very welcome, naturally.  I also have to say that I don’t make gift buying for me easy!  I admit to only one thing, when asked: that I don’t need anything, and there’s nothing I would dearly love to possess.  More, I reiterate, every year, that I would rather that our three children spend their money on more important things – like their own families!  And I can say that I mean every word – totally!

Of course there are books I would like to get, but so many are out of print and can’t even be found online, or are insanely expensive if they can be found.  There’s not one, single book that matters so much to me that I am willing to pay any price for it!  So I am content.  If I should, by some happy chance, come upon a copy of a desired book at a sensible price, fair enough.  Until then, they will remain on the list.

Work In Progress

This may be a matter of total disinterest to you, some mild interest, or even some resignation.  I have already begun work on the fifth book in the G1: The Guardians series, and surprised myself by its opening!  I won’t, for obvious reasons, give any details.  It has to be enough to say that the beginning is very different, and the story promises to be equally different.  Naturally, G1 won’t be excluded, but there are glimpses of other things, including a bit more about how the police of that undefined future time regard the Guardians.  There’s also a clear indication that the members of the organisation aren’t so insular that they have no contact with people on the outside.  It’s not an ‘international’ story, this time, so we’re again somewhere in England, but perhaps we’ll learn a bit more about future English Society – or maybe not.  Only time will tell.  The one thing I’m fairly confident about is that this is very likely to be another novel.

A Parting Question

There have been numerous new books, and movies, that are quite blatant retellings of old stories.  Everybody seems to be doing it.  Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Treasure Island, and so many more.  This would appear to be a downhill path to stagnation.  But is it?  Are there any truly original stories?  Taking English alone, there may be a very large potential vocabulary at our disposal, but, when all is said and done, it is still a finite language.  And when you start putting words together into comprehensible sentences, the variations available actually diminish.  So, as authors, are we ultimately condemned to come up with rehashed tales, even if we’ve never personally read anything even remotely like the material we’re writing?  It’s reminiscent of music’s difficulties.  We’ve all encountered music tracks which sound very familiar, but which have been honestly composed, without sampling or direct copying.   There being a finite number of possible combinations, however, means that there is an inevitable occurrence of familiar musical phrases.  Surely this applies to stories too?  The basic themes are repeated, with new settings and characters, and maybe as a kind of story stew, with elements from a wide variety of earlier works.  I’m not talking about plagiarists!  All I’m asking is: are we all retellers?

~ Steve

G1: The Guardians and Beyond

Against All Evils

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

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

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

A Restructuring

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

News and Questioning

Double Hit Saturday!

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

A Growth Into Uncertainty (WIP)

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

Facebook(?) Fan Pages

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

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

~ Steve

WIPs, A Worry On Costs and News

Another Quick Note I

First, Shade of Evil is now listed on Sweetie Picks.  Second, following on from my chat with Matt Carter, you can learn more about Kate Wellesley, co-leader of G! with Matt, courtesy of Nancy Jardine, who also includes a quickie profile of yours truly.

A Question of Price

I receive numerous emails about the world of books and authors, plus seeing and reading many blogs from the same area.  I have noticed an increasing number of websites offering ebook services, such as formatting and publishing.  What I cannot understand is the spiralling cost of these services!  I have often mentioned that I use Jutoh, which is a commercial product.  The price is considerably lower than the cost per ebook quoted by service websites, and I know that Jutoh’s not the only option.  Couple this with services like Smashwords – which is free – and I really don’t understand how the service websites can possibly justify their charges!  More, I can only assume that such services are aimed at the most vulnerable of new authors looking to self-publish – those with no experience in the process.  I’m probably going to upset some people here, but surely there are enough potential costs without adding ‘formatting and publishing’?  Every author has to consider whether to employ an editor and cover designer, to name just two possible expenses.  I can’t help but think that the ever increasing level of profiteering and plain exploitation will drive many authors to either pursue the traditional publishing path or give up!  And who’s to say that we won’t lose a Tolkien, or King, or Steinbeck?  What a shame that would be.

Another Quick Note II

Yesterday, I posted a new poem.  It’s a slightly odd look at ebooks and whether they have a real future in a world where technology changes so rapidly.

WIPs and Futures

The two current WIPs.  The new Thief series short story is i abeyance – the story I stated just didn’t pan out, so I’ve got to think about what to try next.  The new G1: The Guardians series story, on the other hand, is not only progressing very well, it’s already past 30,000 words!  I’m not giving out even its working title, as that would be something of a giveaway.  I’m hoping that any fans of the series, and the characters, will find the story more satisfying, with more character-driven episodes.  I’m also hoping that it might attract lovers of thrillers and other ‘action’ stories, with far more action going on.  Hopefully, I’ll succeed in throwing in a good surprise or twist.

As to the future, I’ve been thinking hard about that.  I don’t plan, as such, but i do jot down any ideas that might come along.  So far, I have many potential storylines for future G1 books.  What will be needed is some thought as to how these various snippets might develop, and the order they may take, chronologically.  What has become clear is that the series is strong and exhibits many potentials.  It will, therefore, be around for a while, much to my surprise!  A more challenging matter is pursuing the Captain Henri Duschelle Stories series.  Probably because the G1 series is so strong, I’m finding it rather difficult to fix any ideas for the tales of the good captain.  They will, however, sail again, I’m sure.  I would quite like to write something that isn’t part of a series, but that obviously has to await an idea!  Another area I’d rather like to have  ago at is children’s stories.  That’s a major toughie, though.  They might be short, but that makes them all the harder to write, for me.  They demand something that kids will enjoy and want to hear or read more than once, demanding a good story in a (relatively) few words.  I have a concept, which I’ve mentioned before, but I haven’t tried again, so far.  The loss of several pages when my netbook’s battery died still hurts.

So the future looks pretty good, and potentially very productive.  I’ll just have to hope it all materialises!

~ Steve

Book Trailer and News in General

Book Trailer Released!

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

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

Revisions

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

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

Eyesight Problems

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

~ Steve

Spotlights, Finds, WIPs and Extras

Stage_vector3 I Was Placed Under The Spotlight – Twice!

I have to thank M C V Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths, for putting me under the ‘spotlight’ on her blog!  You can find the post here.  I also have to thank Kat at Indies Unlimited for another spotlight feature, for my book Shade of Evil.  The book is also featured in the Indies Unlimited Bookstore.  With Wednesday’s release of The Sigil of Ahriman, that’s pretty good timing!  Please support both these blogs by popping over to visit and leaving a ‘Like’, or even a comment, if you feel moved to do so.

Delightful Finds

A few days ago, my wife (Jenny) found two books in a local charity shop.  One will prove to be wonderful for entertaining the grandkids, I’m sure.  It’s The Pagemaster by David Kirschner & Ernie Contreras, illustrated by Jerry Tiritilli, published in 1994 by Kingfisher (ISBN 1 85697 276 3).  I’m sure many of you will know it, and/or the movie of the same title.  The other book is The Trivia Lover’s Guide To Cricket Stories, Facts & Feats, published in 2007 by Complete Editions (2009 reprint).  As you might guess, this little book is a highly amusing, and informative, guide to the great game of cricket, including some fascinating, and sometimes hilarious, facts about the history and practice of the sport.  Considering the original cover prices, the shop sold these at a stunningly low price each!  The first book is just as it should be, with beautiful illustrations that make the words come alive.  The second is one of those books that any enthusiast of cricket will delight in dipping into whenever the mood strikes, or they just need something of a lift.

Works In Progress

I’m currently working on two writing projects.  First, I’m writing the fourth instalment of G1: The Guardians, as I mentioned in a previous post.  The second project is in response to a recent review, on Goodreads, of the fifth short story in the Thief series.  Not wishing to frustrate a reader, especially one who has taken the time and trouble to write reviews of my books, it seems only fair to write another instalment of the series, though whether it will remain a short story, like the others, remains to be seen!

While not a book of any length, Kat of Indies Unlimited (see above) is encouraging me to write a guest blog post for their site.  I’ve thought about this and I decided to go with a subject that I have some strong feelings about.  Needless to say, I am honoured to be asked!  If the post I submitted isn’t accepted, then it may appear here at some point.

Extra Features

You may have already noticed, but you may not, so I thought it appropriate to mention a couple of extra features.  First of all, the top menu now includes eBook Reader software/Apps.  This takes you to a list of software/apps that allow you to read virtually any kind of ebook.  I included it because there are still many readers who don’t know about these eReader substitutes.  If you use anything else that’s not listed, I would love to hear from you!  Secondly, there’s a new ‘badge’ for the blog, that serves a specific function.  It advertises the Book Promo Day.  Beneath the badge itself is a text box containing code.  By copying this code and pasting it into a page on your own website or blog, you can help spread the word!  The more authors availing themselves of the offer, the wider the range of books featured – which has got to be good.

Reviewing The Adventure So Far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Steve