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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Crossword Puzzle - July 2013

I was speaking to a friend the other day, and she was complaining that she always seems to miss my crossword puzzles. She's obviously not checking Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn at the time I post them. I should probably post them more often during the week, but I would also like to point out the newsletter sign-up box on the top-right of this page. If you sign up for my free monthly newsletter, you will be notified via e-mail whenever new puzzles are added. :)

Anyway, on to this month's crossword puzzle. I believe it's quite a difficult one this month, so kudos to you if you get the answers. If you'd like me to mention you in next week's post, then be the first to submit your answers to me by either my Twitter account or Facebook fan page.

Without further ado, here's this month's puzzle:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
Across
1 Owner of indieBerries blog, first name (3)
3 Mineral used in jewellery (6)
6 Sikly sediment (3)
7 Quaint hotel (3)
9 Address for woman of authority (4)
12 Excrement (4)
15 Award craved by actors (5)
17 Unfasten (5)
18 Comprehend (5)
20 17, 3-5-7-5 (5)
23 Centres to edges of circles (5)
24 Deer in love (5)
26 Habitual repetition (4)
29 Russian emperor (4)
32 Nintendo games console (3)
33 Israeli submachine gun (3)
34 Summary of information (6)
35 Land where sleepers go (3)
Down
1 A man (4)
2 Kellog's waffles (4)
3 City in central Iran (3)
4 American actress Gardner, died 1990 (3)
5 Commonly found in batteries (4)
8 Grammatical conjunction, neither (3)
10 Tool like an axe (4)
11 Use these to clean floors (4)
13 Capital of Canada (6)
14 Alter-ego of Bruce Banner (4)
16 Christmas season (6)
19 An Arab ruler (4)
21 Acid obtained from urine (4)
22 A thought (4)
24 Stringed weapon (3)
25 Unmarried young woman (4)
27 Norse creator god (4)
28 Made a living (4)
30 British actress Lister (3)
31 Track made by a cart (3)

Good luck!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

3 Stars: Do you Like it or Not?

When rating a book on any given retailer's site, what do the number of stars actually mean to you?

I've been thinking about this for a while lately, and I got into a discussion with someone about it the other day.

My favourite book review site at the moment is Goodreads. Goodreads is a community of book lovers. It's completely free to join and participate in, and it doesn't try to (directly) sell you anything. You can't buy books there (although you can find links where to buy them); you just rate and review them. Every other member of the community can see your ratings and reviews, and they affect the average ratings of the various books. Based on your ratings, the site also recommends books that you might be interested in.

In order to rate a book, you need to give it a number of stars, from one to five. They offer guidelines to help you decide, and their suggested scale is as follows:

  • 1 Star = did not like it
  • 2 Stars = it was ok
  • 3 Stars = liked it
  • 4 Stars = really liked it, and
  • 5 Stars = it was amazing

Now, Amazon, who are arguably the biggest book retailer in the world right now, also asks you to rate books that you find there. Their suggested scale, though, is slightly different:

  • 1 Star = I hate it
  • 2 Stars = I don't like it
  • 3 Stars = It's OK
  • 4 Stars = I like it
  • 5 Stars = I love it

So, in my opinion, Amazon's scale assumes that more people who review books aren't going to particularly like them (a negative view), whereas Goodreads' one assumes that people are generally likely to pick books to read that they're going to like in the first place (a positive view).

Be that as it may, my short story, A Petition to Magic currently has an average rating on Goodreads of 3.00 exactly, which I would consider good, and that on average, people like it. On Amazon, however, the average is 3.20. That's slightly higher than on Goodreads, so on the face of it, that would be a good thing. Based on Amazon's suggested scale, though, it's worse, and indicates that the average reader thinks my story is "just okay."

Then again, I would think that most seasoned reviewers develop their own scale, and use it everywhere. So a 3-star rating to one person might mean something completely different to a different person.

What about you? Do you have your own opinion of what the various star-ratings mean to you, and use them everywhere? Or would you rate (for example) the same book 3-stars on Goodreads, but 4-stars on Amazon?

Please add your comments below.

Update: To listen to this blog post as a video, click the Play button below:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Secrets to a Great Author Biography

I happened to be on Smashwords last week, and I came across this book. It was free, so I grabbed it thinking perhaps it had some gems in it that I hadn't thought of, yet.

I was rather disappointed.

Secrets to a Great Author Biography certainly jumps straight into it! There's no introduction to what you're about to learn, or why it's important. It's an information dump: "this is what you need to do." Period. There are very few non-obvious things to think about, but mostly it's a wall of text that culminates in an advertisement for Fireblade Publishing, and that advertisement is as long as the content leading up to it!

It's a real pity, because I honestly think that lots of authors could benefit from a better biography. I'm not even sure I'm doing it right yet, and I'll love to learn more.

What are your tips and tricks for writing your biography, if you're an author? If you're a reader, what author bio's have you read that really stood out, and made you want to buy their books?

Update: To listen to this post as a podcast, click the Play button below!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My First Foray into Print on Demand with Lulu

Ever since I published A Petition to Magic last December, I've dreamed about seeing it available in print. I'd always assumed that it was far too short, though, and that no Print on Demand service would agree to publish it.

When I was first reading up about self-publishing, I found a lot of people talking about Lulu, but I'd pretty much put the idea out of my mind because, as I said, I felt A Petition to Magic was too short, and I didn't think Lulu'd be interested in short stories.

Over the past few weeks, some friends of mine (also self-published authors) started posting links to their books on Lulu, and so I started thinking about it again. I had some free time this past Saturday morning, so I decided to give it a try.

What a pleasure!

I fired up my browser, typed in http://www.lulu.com/, and registered for an account. Then I clicked Start Project, and I was away!

Their extremely easy to use wizard guided me every step of the way. What I found most interesting was the Binding Options. If you'd like an ISBN number, and for Lulu to distribute your book to other platforms, you need to use what they call "Perfect Binding". The problem with Perfect Binding is that it requires that your book be a minimum number of pages, and my story (being a short story) wasn't long enough. I was initially disappointed, however (and this is the cool part) you don't have to let Lulu distribute your book in order to sell it!

I picked Saddle Stitch binding, and because of it I was not given the option of specifying an ISBN number of distributing my book. But my book is still live on Kobo:

I then went and had a look at CreateSpace, which as far as I can tell is Amazon's print version of KDP. I found a similar limitation on book length there, but the difference is that they don't have any option for publishing your book in print if it doesn't meet their minimum length. So until I write a book that's long enough, expect to find print versions of all my stories on Lulu, and none on CreateSpace!

The bottom line? If you've written a book, no matter how short, you can publish it in print! It's a brave new world out there, ladies and gentlemen! A brave new world, indeed....

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Crossword Puzzle - June 2013 Answers

Good day again, crossword fans!

The answers to this month's puzzle are a day late, because I got some feedback from some of you saying that you were struggling to get the answers on time. In the end, nobody got it right, and I felt it was time to put all of you out of your misery.

So without further ado, it's time to kick yourself!

M
O
N
A
H
A
N
D
L
U
N
W
E
D
I
E
R
I
N
O
S
B
W
I
S
P
S
P
A
M
R
O
H
M
U
I
L
T
D
F
A
G
B
O
A
O
A
F
I
M
W
A
X
L
D
E
B
T
R
E
V
A
U
S
D
F
E
T
A
U
B
A
S
I
E
L
E
Z
A
M
B
E
Z
I
Hope you had fun. And if you didn't get it right, better luck next time!