Tuesday 24 September 2013

Crossword Puzzle - September 2013

This will be the second crossword puzzle since I started my newsletter. As per usual, everybody who had signed up for my newsletter before today will receive a link to this crossword puzzle in their Inbox, before my followers on Twitter or Facebook. To subscribe, punch your e-mail address into the box on this page.

It's also early this month, in honour of Heritage Day in South Africa; like most people, I'm not at work today.

I had a lot of fun creating this one, and I hope you'll have a lot of fun solving it! So, without further ado (and there's a clue), here is the September 2013 crossword!

1 Speak nasally or through the nose (South African spelling) (8)
9 Extend beyond the main body of something (3)
10 Bit of wood with a phosphor tip (5)
12 Six sided shapes (8)
14 A low, steady, continuous sound (3)
15 The side away from the wind (3)
17 A collection of wild animals (3)
19 A piece of old cloth (3)
21 River valley in Missouri, name given to a tribe of Native Americans (5)
22 Give a smooth, shiny surface to something (5)
23 Supernatural creature (3)
25 Distinctive practice, system, or philosophy (3)
26 A long, wooden bench (3)
29 Fuss (3)
31 Citizen of this North African country (8)
34 Sacred song or hymn (5)
35 A billion years (3)
36 Outshines (8)
2 Singer, Rolling in the Deep (5)
3 PSL team in Cape Town (4)
4 Box used for carrying fruit (3)
5 In terms of (3)
6 Emergency Medical Services (3)
7 The last in an unspecified series (3)
8 Unit of electrical resistance (3)
11 A country in the western West Indies (4)
13 Used to hang people (6)
15 As happily (4)
16 Having an intense or sharp quality (4)
18 Slowly seeping out (6)
19 What you do with what you sow (4)
20 Nibble persistently (4)
24 Brings to a finish (4)
27 Make someone ecstatic (5)
28 An inactive volcano in Sicily (4)
29 Large primate lacking a tale (3)
30 A tree bearing acorns (3)
31 Flightless bird from Australia (3)
32 In the affirmative (3)
33 It called the kettle black (3)

Also as per usual, I will be publishing the answers to this puzzle next week Tuesday, 1 October 2013. If you're the first to send me the answers before then, I will publish your name on this blog.

You can print out the board, fill it in, and send me the scanned answers. Or you can simply send me the clue numbers and the answers. Or you can fill it in using an image editing program and send me the completed image.

When you're done, Tweet me, or send me a message on my Facebook Page. Don't post your answers in the Comments box below, though - you'll ruin it for everyone!

Happy hunting!

Sunday 22 September 2013

World Retina Week Promotion

It's World Retina Week this week, and as a sufferer of retinitis pigmentosa, it's a cause that's really close to my heart. For this reason, I've decided to do something this year, towards helping to raise money for research, into a cure for all retinal and macular diseases. So, from Sunday 22 September 2013, until Saturday 28 September 2013, I will donate R10 to Retina South Africa for every copy of "A Petition to Magic" sold at Smashwords.com. If you haven't read it, buy it for yourself; if you have, buy it as a gift for a friend! This is a really worthy cause, and I hope you'll support it!
  • For more information about Retina SA and what they're trying to do, click here.
  • To purchase "A Petition to Magic" at Smashwords, click here.
If you live in South Africa, you may also donate your own R10 to this wonderful organisation. Simply SMS the keyword "DREAM" to 38267. The SMS will cost you R10, which your service provider will add to your account, or deduct from your prepaid airtime.

Even if you don't want to buy my book, and if you're unable to donate directly to Retina SA, I'd still very much appreciate it if you would share this blog post through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and any other social networks you belong to. Every little bit helps!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

My First Smashwords Interview

Last month, Smashwords announced a new feature on their site, called Author Interviews. They would ask a bunch of questions for authors to answer. I completed my first one, and it went live. Instantly, the views on "A Petition to Magic" sky-rocketed at Smashwords, and I'm very happy with the results!

I decided to post my first interview here. I'll be updating it as I publish more books, so this will serve as a place to keep each interview I do. I hope you enjoy it!

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up in Alberton, Guateng, in South Africa, in the 1980s and 1990s. The year I turned six, I went to Alberton Primary School, where my mom was a teacher, and I ended up in her Grade 1 class. From a very early age, she instilled in me a love of reading and speaking, and so by the end of my first year of schooling, I was reading a year ahead of other kids my age. Throughout Primary School I participated in various reading competitions, and graduated to public speaking and debating in High School. I believe that this helped to foster a strong and vivid imagination, and I've always yearned to tell the stories that were in my head because of it.

When did you first start writing?

When I was eleven, I think, I was very into game books, and my favourites were the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever. I wrote a short game book on the family's first ever computer, about a secret agent. All I remember from it is a scene where the main character had to follow a trail of cigarette butts ("stompies", I called them in the story) to find someone. I would love to read it again, but unfortunately we never knew about backups back then, and the only place it now exists is in my hazy memory.

I was also a romantic at heart, and throughout High School I wrote letters. They were really bad, really soppy letters, to girls I liked, people I didn't like, my parents, and myself. I also used to blog on my little Bulletin Board System, before it was called blogging, and even wrote a couple of articles for a friend of mine's electronic Christian magazine, back in the day.

What's the story behind your latest book?

My latest book has yet to be published, so I can't give away too much. It's a novelette about a guy in an office who comes across what he believes to be a relic of a genocide that happened years ago. If he's right, the artefact is worth a ton of money and will give lots of people closure as they will finally know what happened to their families.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

Writing has always been my passion, and I've always wanted to tell stories. But I was always too scared of submitting my books to any of the big publishing houses - they were too short, anyway. I got the idea to write "A Petition to Magic" at the beginning of 2012. I always knew it would be a short story, and so Indie Publishing was really the only option that I ever saw.

Now, I think self- and independant publishing is truly the way of the future, and I can't see myself ever being interested in publishing anything the traditional way.

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?

Smashwords is great! I really love the idea of being able to upload it once and seeing it distributed everywhere. I also really like the reports they give. It is extremely motivating to log into my stats every day and see views and sample downloads from the day before. That helps me to see that people are actually interested in what I write, and drives me forward to write more and more.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

For me, it's sitting down and reading and re-reading a particular scene, and banging at it until I feel it describes exactly what I had in my head when I wrote it.

It's both joyous and a bit painful though, because I have to be extremely disciplined in cutting out scenes, sentences, words and paragraphs that don't add to the image I'm trying to create in the reader's mind.

What do your fans mean to you?

My fans mean everything to me. To see how someone purchased and downloaded my book, and to read what they thought is the most exhilarating feeling on the planet! Good reviews are great, bad reviews are sometimes even better if they offer me some constructive criticism.

When writing, as with anything in life, I guess, you're not always in the mood to do it, and sometimes wonder whether it's worth carrying on. When I see a new review of my work, or a new Twitter follower interested in my writing, I know it is!

What are you working on next?

Well, there's the story about the relic from the genocide, which I already mentioned. I will be working on marketing that for a long time to come.

After that one goes live, I'll be working on another short, a bit of a mashup between fantasy and science fiction, but I can't give any more details just yet.

Who are your favorite authors?

My favourite author of all time has got to be Terry Pratchett, but lately I've been enjoying Terry Goodkind and Stephen King.

Spot the odd one out, I know, but Stephen King writes the most evocative, descriptive words, and it's really something I think I can truly aspire to, one day.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

The thrill of a new day with new experiences, which I can draw upon and write about later. I store everything that I see, feel, hear and touch away. Maybe it will be a basis of a story I write one day!

Also, checking my reports on the various book retailers' sites, to see if I got any new downloads or reviews.

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?

I'm a computer programmer by trade, and I do still love it. When I'm not writing, and not coding, I spend my time trawling the Internet looking for interesting things to share and write about. I also watch a lot of TV series' with my wife - any genres, really.

Oh and, naturally, I read. A lot. I don't think you can be a writer if you don't read. I read at least two books a month, in all genres and from all time periods. Just recently I've been revisiting the classics, like Treasure Island, A Tale of Two Cities, and Dracula.

The most up-to-date version of my Smashwords Interview can be found here.

Update: To listen to my interview, click the Play button below:

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Review: Write It! by Adam Jackson

I picked this book up on one of its KDP Free Days on Amazon. I see it's now $5.99. Had I paid $5.99 for it, it would not have gotten more than two stars out of five from me. At it stands, though, I gave it four.

This book aims to be a simple formula to write loads of books, very quickly. It's a guide on how to make money writing, and is loosely part of a series on writing, publishing and marketing your book.

Adam Jackson is very sure of himself. He maintains emphatically that if you follow his guidelines to the letter, you will have a complete book (fiction or non-fiction) written, edited, cover-designed and published within 30 hours.

Some of the advice here seems sound. There's a chapter on outlining, so that when you finally sit down and write, you have the outline of exactly what you want to write, when. There's a section on research, so that when you sit down to write your outline, you have all the facts needed to write your book. There's even a section on finding ideas, so that you will never be short of an idea for a book.

It all seems a little too easy, though, and I don't know many writers who write that way. I'm taking it with a pinch of salt, but I'm giving it a try and starting with his advice for writing an outline for my next book.

I do like his section on how to motivate yourself when you don't feel like writing, and on vocalising your dreams, because I'm sure many writers go through stages where they wonder why they're doing this in the first place. I think the section on motivation would be good to go back to and re-read whenever I feel this way.

"Write it! - How to write your book in 30 hours or less" is not a bad book, although I get a bit frustrated when people write as though Amazon Kindle is the only ebook platform available for publishing. I just think that Adam Jackson is setting himself up for a lot of backlash when a person doesn't get their book published in 30 hours, or doesn't make a fortune selling it no matter how good it is (getting your book published is one thing, but no matter how good it is, marketing is a huge part, and even then, there's far more luck involved than I think the author would like to admit).

Update: To listen to me speaking about the book, click the Play button below:

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Crossword Puzzle - August 2013 Answers

Short blog post this week.

Who's looking for answers to the August crossword puzzle?

Hope you had fun trying to get all the answers. Well done if you managed; better luck next time if you didn't!