Monday, November 24, 2014

(For Writers) Building your author platform: Free Book Promotion Sites

1. iAuthor Top of the list and one of the newer sites around, is iAuthor.  Very easy to use, iAuthor manages to fit everything neatly on one screen, including the promo video if you have one.  You can add your book to ‘themes’ ranging from ‘indie books looking for reviewers’ to ‘stories from ‘adventures in far off lands’.

2. Wattpad Much more focused on encouraging creative writing than book promotion, the best way to use Wattpad to build your author platform is to upload the first chapter of your books and encourage readers to take a look and comment.  There is a really wide ranging user base catering for every taste.

3. e-novelist E-Novelist is a free platform for writers to connect, share their work and contribute to forums, blogs and groups to share ideas on the writing process, from promotion, to blogging and publishing.  It is a simple process to upload book covers and excerpts and the support is excellent.

4. Ganxy Ganxy is a really well thought out campaign-based website where you do all the work for 90% of sales.  It only takes a few minutes to set up pages to sell from any website, blog, or even Facebook pages.  Ganxy collects payments and can deliver your book in any format to any device, so it looks very future-proof.

5. Smashwords Smashwords is a great way to reach a wider readership, as people can easily download samples of your work in any format. Smashwords is important as it reached all the non-Amazon outlets, such as Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  From your author platform Smashwords can act as another free webpage for new readers to ‘discover’. 

6. Bublish 
Bublish is one of the newest sites and also one of the most innovative, with the idea of ‘book bubbles’ where authors can say something interesting to accompany an excerpt.  It’s still in ‘beta’ so they are interested in ideas on how it can be developed, but Bublish is easy to use, as you just follow the prompts on each screen to complete your profile, add a book or create and share ‘book bubbles’. You can create and share unlimited book bubbles and they even add ‘buy’ links for you.

7. AUTHORSdB Another innovative site, AUTORSdB has a weekly list of randomly selected authors and a special Author Spotlight which offer authors useful exposure to new readers.

8. The Writers Room If you take a look at the listed authors you’ll see there are some very well-known writers here, so you’ll be in good company.  The Writers Room has a nice feature where readers can learn more about their favourite authors and ask them questions, as well as comment on their books.

9. LibraryThing LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalogue up to 200 books.  At the present time there are 11,193 LibraryThing Authors and a community of 1,700,000 ‘book lovers’. It costs nothing to make sure you are listed properly.  If you have the time you can also post reviews.

10. Shelfari 
Shelfari is owned by Amazon and is a site where users build ‘virtual bookshelves’ of books they read and they can rate, review, tag and discuss their books. Users can also create groups where other members can join and talk about books, or other topics.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Eco-friendly 'poo bus' powered by human waste

Continuing on with the 'poo theme' (sorry about that, really I am) I found this news article rather interesting. 

Britain's first bus to be powered by human and food waste has taken to the roads.

The 40-seat Bio-Bus, nicknamed "the number two," will transport people between Bath and Bristol Airport.

The biomethane gas it runs on is produced at a sewage treatment works at Avonmouth.
The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of about five people to produce.
Waste not want not I say ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Something a bit different - World Toilet Day

Toilets in South Africa
According to the United Nations, 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets. To mark World Toilet Day on 19 November, photographers from Panos Pictures have been working with Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) to produce an exhibition that documents women and girls with their toilets, showing the effect this has on their lives.
Renee is an artist. She left her former home in the densely populated suburbs of Sydney to live a quieter life in bush surrounds, a one-hour drive north of the city. She has built a shed on 10 acres of land and has an outside toilet. Renee has no concerns about privacy as she is not overlooked by neighbours.
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Sukurbanu in Bangladesh
Sukurbanu, 65, has lived in Rupnagar slum, in Dhaka, since her childhood. She uses a hanging toilet - a platform built over water - from which she recently fell. She says she often suffers from illnesses that she believes are caused by using these toilets. She lives with three daughters, who face long queues to use the toilets before they go to work in the mornings.
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Isabela, 33, lives alone in a penthouse in Rio de Janeiro. She has an MBA in environmental law and works as a fine artist. "My toilet means comfort to me. But I know what is behind it: water supply, sewerage, pollution of lakes and oceans.
"The fact is that I do like to have a good shower, and for a Brazilian girl like me, it means at least 10 minutes of clean water being wasted. It's a privilege. I have a clean water supply, hot water and a comfortable toilet seat."
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Fabiola, 69, lives in Cumbaya, a valley near Quito. Between the ages of seven and 21, she shared a toilet with 20 other people who lived in her condominium. Now she lives in an apartment, which has five bathrooms. Her bathroom is the biggest one and she is very proud of it.
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Meseret, a restaurant manager in Addis Ababa, shares a one-bedroom government house with her two children, two sisters and mother. She was widowed nine years ago when her husband was shot during the aftermath of the 2005 elections. Her shared toilet is a long way away, so for safety the family use the side yard next to their house.
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Ima, 47, is a toilet attendant in Kumasi. She lives in a rented room with her husband and four children aged 14-22. She is a very dedicated worker and relies on the income from her job to fund her children's education. She does not have a toilet at home. During the day, she uses the public toilet where she works, but at night she uses a plastic bag as it is not safe to go outside.
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Martine at her toilet
Martine is 27 years old. She lives near a river in Cayimithe. "I don't have an enclosed toilet. My toilet is a hole in the ground by my house, which is now full and has become really dangerous. I only use it at night when I can have some privacy. In the daytime, I use a community toilet which is about 15 minutes away from my house."
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Sangita, 35, moved to Delhi City 10 years ago. Before that she lived in a village where she used to go to the toilet in the fields, and says she felt ashamed of it. This made her adamant that she would have her own toilet in Delhi.
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Eiko, 61, lives in Tokyo. "Since this department store is close to my home, I often come here for shopping. When I was a child, the public toilets were not clean and smelled bad, but every time I use the bathroom here, I feel so relaxed. I could spend many hours here."
In this department store, the toilet is called a switch room to describe a special place where people can switch their mood and feel relaxed. The toilets have features like surround-sound music and heated seats. In the powder room next to the toilets, Eiko can charge her mobile phone, watch TV and have a foot massage.
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Eunice and a pupil
Eunice is the co-founder of Kasarani Academy in Naivasha. Previously, the school had only two toilets for 250 pupils. Tenants living nearby used the toilets as well and left them in a poor condition.
Because of this, Eunice found that the children preferred to go in the open. Eunice and her husband Paul have now invested in child-friendly toilets. These tiny toilets have prevented adults using them as they cannot fit through the doors. "Parents will enrol their children here because of our child-friendly toilets," she said.
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Flora, 19, is a high school student. She lives in Chamanculo C in Maputo with her mother, sister and niece. She shares a toilet with several other families living nearby. "I hate using the toilet. Sometimes men peek over the fence. There is no privacy."
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Pana, 49, lives in Buzescu. Like almost half of the Romanian population, she lives in the countryside where there is no running water or sewerage supplied by the municipality. Pana does have a toilet inside her house, but it is used only by her nephews when they visit. She uses the outside toilet, even in the winter.
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South Africa
Nombini has two porta-potties, which are used by the 12 people who live in her home. When she first moved to Khayelitsha in 2005, she did not have a toilet so she had to go in the bush, across a main road. "It was terrible in the bush - the cars hit you. When we were given a porta-potty in 2009, it was much better than going in the bush. Flush toilets are first class compared to the porta-potty though. My dream is to have a flush toilet."
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United States
Mary is a writer who lives in New York City. "Living with two housemates, it is important to schedule our bathroom time and take turns cleaning it. I used to live in Beijing, where I had to use a public bathroom as my apartment didn't have a private toilet. While it was safe and relatively clean, I used to hate putting my coat on just to go to the bathroom in the middle of night during winter. That experience made me really appreciate the privacy and comfort of having a clean toilet at home."
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Susan, 46, is the founder of a community school for children with physical and mental disabilities. "It makes me proud and happy to teach disabled children so that in the future they can have a better life and not just stay at home. I was attacked by polio at the age of two. It's not easy being disabled in Lusaka. Using the toilet is a challenge, especially in the rainy season, as I have to crawl to the toilets on my hands."
My Toilet: Global Stories from Women and Girls can be seen at the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London, from 17 to 22 November 2014.

Whether you read the post or just looked at the pictures, you will agree, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Never take anything for granted ...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

School Allow Students To Pose With Guns In Yearbook Photos.

This is a true story...

Students at a high school in Nebraska will now be allowed to pose with guns in their senior portraits.
The Broken Bow School Board made the decision to allow the guns in school photos a couple of weeks ago after a student asked last year to be photographed with his gun, Broken Bow Public Schools Superintendent Mark Sievering told The Huffington Post. That student asked after the deadline last year, but his request prompted the board to review their practices around guns in pictures and vote on whether they should allow them.

The school board voted 6-0 to allow the guns in photos as long as the images are tasteful, such as in hunting or sporting, and that they cannot point the firearm at the camera.  No, really???
Has the world gone completely mad? As long as the images are tasteful? I'm sorry, but WTF?

Just off to bang my head against the nearest brick wall ...

Friday, November 7, 2014

New Release by Milo James Fowler - the YAKUZA TERRITORY

Musa Publishing is proud to announce the release of Milo James Fowler's most recent science fiction novella Yakuza Territory.  Take a moment to discover what happens when a hardboiled detective story is set in a science fiction world:
A detective with no way out.
A telepath with something to prove...

World-weary detective Charlie Madison has seen more than his share of war. When he stops by the 37th precinct late one night to check on his old friend Sergeant Douglass, the place is as quiet as a morgue. The last thing he expects to find: half a dozen Russian gunmen with a score to settle.

What starts out as a vicious Alamo-style battle soon evolves into something more sinister as Madison's past comes into play. Will his ties to a branch of the Japanese mafia be a help or a hindrance? And who is the strange man in holding? Why are the Russians determined to break him out?

Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he's outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.

Available from Musa Publishing
Add Yakuza Territory to your Goodreads bookshelf


Maybe checking in on Sergeant Douglass late that night hadn’t been the best idea. I should have paid more attention to the warning signs right off; things weren’t exactly business as usual at the precinct. The pencil-necked clerk wasn’t at his post, and an eerie quiet held the foyer as still as a morgue. No cops, uniformed or otherwise, to be seen. In a city that never slept, one expected its law enforcement personnel to share the same god-awful insomnia—graveyard shift or no.

The vacant front desk didn’t sway me from my course, though. Little glitches out of the ordinary seldom did. I’d trained myself over the years to file them away, but not focus on them too much. As a detective, it was easy to get distracted by particulars while going after the big picture. Besides, I was suspicious by nature. I questioned everything as a matter of course. But as far as I knew, everybody on duty was partying in back, throwing Douglass a well-deserved soirĂ©e after his recent ordeal and return to the land of the visible.

I paused at the unlocked door leading into the bullpen—an open-concept area with clusters of desks for everybody ranked lower than lieutenant. Access into the station’s inner workings wasn’t usually so free and easy. As I quietly stepped inside, I knew without a doubt something was amiss.

The whole room lay empty except for five guys standing in the middle with assault weapons slung over their shoulders—AK-12s and SIG MPXs by the looks of them. Not what your average citizens usually carried around concealed on their person.

“Hey.” I saluted the first one to notice me. “Am I late to the party?”

He glared my way, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was back in high school; once again, I’d forgotten the beer. They weren’t in uniform—unless black nubuck jackets and jeans counted, not to mention the scruffy stubble, slick hair, and stocky frames. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the look of your standard-issue thug for hire these days.

“Charlie—get down!”

I would have recognized that Scottish brogue anywhere. I’d already assembled a good enough picture of the situation to know it was in my best interest to hit the floor a split second before the deafening staccato of weapons fire and a hail of bullets headed my way. The rounds blasted straight through computer monitors and potted plants on desks; sparks flew upward along with shards of clay and clouds of potting soil. Chairs disintegrated as I cringed behind a solid steel desk and drew the snubnosed Smith & Wesson from my shoulder holster.

“Sarge, you all right?” I barely heard myself over the stampede of slugs plowing into the steel that sheltered me. The rounds were making some serious dents, but none had punctured through—yet. It was only a matter of time.

I wouldn’t be able to stay put for long.

Get to know the Man behind the book:

1. When did you start seriously pursuing writing as a career?

I've been writing since I was a kid, but I started submitting my work for publication in the summer of 2009. I'd always thought I would pursue publication at some point—probably after I retired from teaching or turned 40. My first story was published in January 2010, and I've had another 96 accepted for publication since then. I won't turn 40 for a couple more years, and I'm still teaching full-time. Doesn't look like I'll be retiring anytime soon!

2. How did you create the character Charlie Madison?

When I was a kid, I learned to type on an old-school manual typewriter. That's where I learned to write, too. My first novels were messy, full of typos and plot holes. But they were fun. And at age 15, that's what it was all about for me. Private eye Charlie Madison was one of the first characters I created, based on Box 13 and Dixon Hill, and The Double Murder was his big debut. By the end of it, I had over a hundred pages of snappy banter, mob hits, double-crossing dames, car chases, and even some alligators on leashes. It was a horrible parody, and I knew it.

Halfway through Write1Sub1 2011, I came up with the first Charlie Madison story I'd written in decades: Girl of Great Price. It wasn't anything like his original case, but he was the same quick-witted, intrepid detective I'd known before. I transplanted him into a more serious and gritty "future noir" sci-fi setting, and once I'd envisioned that world, I knew I'd be back. Immaterial Evidence soon followed, and Yakuza Territory will be available from Musa Publishing on November 7th.

3. Are you working on more Charlie Madison stories?

I'm outlining the follow-up to Yakuza Territory, and it's going to be full of assassinations, kidnappings, killer robots, and maybe even a mad scientist. The working title is The Gifted Ones, and it follows the origins of the mysterious suprahumans who have appeared in all three Charlie Madison detective stories so far. 

Author Bio:

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he's not grading papers, he's imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. He is an active SFWA member, and his work has appeared in more than 90 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and the Wastelands 2 anthology.

Visit and join The Crew for updates about new releases as well as exclusive promotions. Or find Milo on twitter @mfowler76

I wish you well, Milo. Here's to many book sales!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Before They Were Famous: The Oddest Odd Jobs of 10 Literary Greats

Plenty of acclaimed and successful writers began their careers working strange—and occasionally degrading—day jobs. But rather than being ground down by the work, many drew inspiration for stories and poems from even the dullest gigs. Here are 10 of the oddest odd jobs of famous authors—all of them reminders that creative fodder can be found in the most unexpected places.

#1. Kurt Vonnegut managed America’s first Saab dealership in Cape Cod during the late 1950s, a job he joked about in a 2004 essay: “I now believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for Literature.”

#2. John Steinbeck took on a range of odd occupations before earning enough to work as a full-time writer. Among his day jobs: apprentice painter, fruit picker, estate caretaker and Madison Square Garden construction worker.

#3. Stephen King served as a janitor for a high school while struggling to get his fiction published. His time wheeling the cart through the halls inspired him to write the opening girls’ locker room scene in Carrie, which would become his breakout novel.

#4. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines for more than eight years, writing stories in her spare time. This all changed when a friend offered her a Christmas gift of one year’s wages, with the note, “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please.” She wrote the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird within the year.

#5. J.D. Salinger mentioned in a rare interview in 1953 that he had served as entertainment director on the H.M.S. Kungsholm, a Swedish luxury liner. He drew on the experience for his short story “Teddy,” which takes place on a liner.

#6. Before joining the likes of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs worked as an exterminator in Chicago. It served as a handy metaphor years later in his novel Exterminator!

#7. Richard Wright worked as a letter sorter in a post office on the south side of Chicago from 1927 to 1930, while he wrote a number of short stories and poems that were published in literary journals.

#8. Before his writing career took off, William Faulkner also worked for the Postal Service, as postmaster at the University of Mississippi. In his resignation note, he neatly summarized the struggle of art and commerce faced by many authors: “As long as I live under the capitalist system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.”

#9. T.S. Eliot worked as a banker, serving as a clerk for Lloyds Bank of London for eight years. The job must have been a bummer—he composed passages of The Waste Land while walking to work each day.

#10. Sometimes, an odd job can actually lead to opportunity. Poet Vachel Lindsay was interrupted as he dined at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C., by a busboy who handed him some sheets of poetry. At first irritated by the young man, Lindsay was quickly impressed by the writing. When he asked, “Who wrote this?” the busboy replied, “I did.” Langston Hughes was about to get his big break.

There is hope for me yet!