Spooky reads are here, and a NEW RELEASE from P’kaboo

After a far too long wait, but right in time for Halloween, Andrea Kaczmarek’s “Do You Know The Rainbow Witch” is finally live. Get it here on P’kaboo, or follow the links on the site to Amazon. (Please remember to click “like” on the way.)

Image of book cover "Do You Know The Rainbow Witch"

P’kaboo’s Spooky Reads:

Get your deeply discounted haunted Halloween Reads on Smashwords with the following coupon code:

JP97R

Happy Halloween!

“Well, Sally’s gone, but I’m still here…”

Just an update:  The promo at Smashwords has come to an end.

But do not fear.¬† My experiment with x free downloads of Solar Wind 1 is still going, so you can still grab a copy of “The Mystery..”, and “The Assassin” (the second book) is still priced at the experimental “Reader sets price”.¬† So you can, if you feel like it, set the price at $0.

This “Reader sets price” is a puzzler, because it leaves the reader to guess how much $ equivalent of enjoyment they will get out of a book.¬† It would make more sense to have them first read the book and then decide what it was worth to them.¬† This is why I have it on the second of the series.

Regardless, enjoy!  And the next post is going to be a normal blog post again.  Promise.

Click here to pop over to Smashwords, to find the series.

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Thank you Silver Threading: Introducing Carmen Capuano

How I Wrote ‚ÄúSplit Decision,‚ÄĚ by Carmen¬†Capuano.

SplidDSilver Threading, an awesome blog supporting authors (whose author is in the process of becoming an author herself ūüėČ ), introduces our own Carmen Capuano who is having such a rush of success with her extremely fast-paced novel, “Split Decision”.ccapuanowSD

Go and have a read, enjoy!

Updates, RELEASE dates and fresh dates from Woollies

First of all I need to apologize about the lie in the heading. ¬†There are unfortunately no fresh Woollies dates on sale at P’kaboo.

P’kaboo: ¬†Release of “From my Cold Undead Hand” imminent

FMCUH bookseeker imageOn the 15th of September, ebook copies will be available for the first time from the P’kaboo shop, of the brand new vampire-fiction novel by Marie Marshall, “From My Cold Undead Hand”.

grinI’m still pretty chuffed about the way this author, with her exciting¬†and fast-moving style, responded to my “vampire challenge” with a novel that will leave you checking under your bed at night. ¬†That is, if you’re brave. ¬†Otherwise it might take some rescue remedy to get you off to sleep – plus a night light and a handgun loaded with a silver b… ¬†wait, that’s werewolves.

Did I mention that the ebook is available for pre-orders?

Please note:¬† The ebook is available for pre-orders on the P’kaboo Bookshop site. ¬†Pre-ordering will mean you receive your copy as soon as the ebook is released. ¬†

There is also a surprise waiting for the first 25 copies ordered.  

Read more about this book here.

 

 

Honeymead Books:

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The inimitable Douglas Pearce.  We meet again, with his second novel published by Honeymead Books:

The Pourne Identity.

If John Pernelli believed in doppelgangers he might well have had second thoughts about boarding British Airways flight 226 from La Guardia airport. Mind you, even if he had had a last minute change of heart, it is doubtful whether the two grey-suited men in dark glasses sitting either side of him in first class would have allowed him not to board. 

If you enjoyed “Almost Dead In Suburbia”, get ready for an even faster, funnier and more confusing trip, this one taking you into France, to meet with secret police, fat-cat politicians, and… ¬†aliens…

Some people have compared Douglas Pearce’s style to that of Terry Pratchett. ¬†Personally, it reminds me more of Douglas Adams, in its way-out ideas and fast execution of the same.

They say laughter is good for your health.  Do yourself a favour and get a copy of this vitamin D.  You will not regret it.

For a limited time, all ebooks on Honeymead Books will be priced at $2.99 to fit your pocket.  

Talking of challenges, Pearce is right now working on a book that will be a little bit Рon the juicier side, if you like.  It too started with a challenge.

Honeymead is ideal to represent books such as his: ¬†Rebellious political viewpoints, highlighting the thorns on religious rosebushes, and thoroughly challenging your view on reality evolutionsmileywithout the author having to look over his shoulder to see if any parents are offended every time he wants to write “merde! Le cochon a croupi dans la boue!”. ¬† (P’kaboo would never allow his piggies to get away with that kind of wallowing. )

winkWe are considering restricting Honeymead to readers who can prove that they are not currently raising, or involved in raising, children (own or otherwise).  This will rule out parents, teachers, sports coaches, child psychologists and occupational therapists, and in short, everyone involved in any way in the under-16 industries.

P’kaboo: ¬†Mercury Silver

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For a limited time we are making¬†FREE EBOOK COPIES of the short-story collection “Mercury Silver”¬†available on P’kaboo. ¬†They are free¬†right now.

8 authors contributed wildly varying shortstories to “Mercury Silver” which was named after the Roman messenger of the Gods, winged Mercury, who is the patron god of writers, poets, merchants and… ¬†thieves. ¬†(Yeah. ¬†Well. ¬†Those Romans are crazy.)

These stories are a very good combination for readers who love a varied diet.  Explore, experience!  Enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon.

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The Case for the Waterproof Kindle

Very nearly ready with “From My Cold Undead Hand”

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“From my Cold Undead Hand” by Marie Marshall

is a short, fast-paced YA novel. ¬†The story sprang forth from the writer’s (totally not cold or undead) hand as a result of a challenge set to her by¬†yours truly. ¬†We were commenting on the “Twilight” series (who doesn’t) and both of us were convinced each¬†could write something faster, pithier, something with more gusto than the epic teen/vampire romance series.

The result of this challenge is this story.

Better hold on, crawl in under the blankets and put the Kindle light on. ¬†Don’t read it while you’re alone. ¬†The story is set a few decades in the future, with the protagonist a young girl in high school who does martial arts and knows how to “dock” a vampire. ¬† Her feisty warfare is backed by a “cell” of vampire hunters, and opposed by other young people who seem to be more of the “Twilight” persuasion, idolizing the vampires.

But Chevonne Kusnetsov has more than vampires to fight. ¬†Teenage mood swings, uncertainty about friendships and a very remote relationship to her mother give an ominous background to¬†the plot. ¬†Throughout the book she is in fact discovering herself and her own family’s history, as well as having to get behind¬†what the vampires are planning. ¬†They are organized, far too organized to be mere mindless predators…

You readers, safely under your blankets reading with the Kindle light on Рbe afraid.  Be very afraid.

For those of you who loved the “Everywhen Angels”: ¬†This one is even better, and the¬†best¬†news is that there may be sequels.

Well done, Marie!

Last Chance

One more round. ¬†ūüôā

The Four Winning Titles are still up for free download. The downloads are down to single digits now.

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to download your copies.

If you have already downloaded and read one of these books, and you are writingly inclined, please consider submitting  reviewsbutton

to buddy up to the authors WIN a paperback copy of ANY title in the P’kaboo shop.¬†

~

IMPORTANT: ¬†This is the last post concerning the winning titles before they go “off the air”.

MORE IMPORTANT: ¬†You’ll still be able to¬†buy these books and more at the P’kaboo Store after the free downloads have gone off the air, and they will be winners no less. ¬†They all passed an important milestone.

A gig and a contest

Last night we played a corporate gig…

You’d think, corporate functions = posh, expensive venues, wedding-like decor, and most of all the classical-style music we’ve come to expect of real high-class movie villains (Schubert’s Trout Quintet). ¬†But no – not at all! ¬†This company is a supplier firm who supplies other companies – business-to-business, in other words. ¬†They picked “Zoltan & Kalinka” for our¬†uniqueness – gypsy and tango, acoustic, unplugged, one guitar and one violin. ¬†Because they wanted ambience but not something that would take the buyers’ focus away from the actual products on display. ¬†And they got it! ¬†ūüôā ¬†It’s always wonderful if an audience likes one.

The food was excellent; the decor – unique, that’s all I can say. ¬†The venue selected was a military museum. ¬†Old war planes and battle tanks. ¬†It’s fascinating how small these things were… ¬†and young men got stuck into those with the orders to go and destroy the enemy! ¬†Sounds risky to this calico cat. ¬†Bummer we missed out on the ice cream.

I’ve played many weddings and birthdays in the interim but the last corporate function I played at, I was literally on my own, one sole violinist doing the gypsy stunt. ¬†That was even before the days of Gypsy Jam and being dubbed “kalinka” by the others. ¬†(We all had band names. ¬†“Sirba”, “Zoltan”, “Vlad” (LOL!), “Doina”. ¬†I miss them!) ¬†That time, it was a hospital that was having a year-end function, and all they wanted was one hour of violin as background. ¬†I think the year was 2002. ¬†I was still sensitive about my “evil” genetics background.

Well the upshot of all this is: ¬†I’m (sort-of) back. ¬†The enormous amount of stress of 5 different events happening on 4 different days is all gone. ¬†Now all that is left is to pick up the pieces and prepare my kids (own and students) for their violin exams, and retake P’kaboo where we left off.

On that note:

The following books of 7 have made it into 2nd round (“The Zone”) by now:

Lupa” by Marie Marshall

The Mystery of the Solar Wind” by Lyz Russo

The following need a good boost to catapult them into the “Zone” before 1st October:

Almost Dead in Suburbia” by Douglas Pearce

Tabika” by Leslie Hyla Winton Noble

Baa Baa Black Belt” by Leslie Hyla Winton Noble

The following are unlikely to make it into the Zone:

The Assassin” by Lyz Russo

Mercury Silver” by 8 different authors, a compilation of short stories

.. strange, that. ¬†Short stories take less effort to read, I’d have expected people would like to boost Mercury Silver into the Free Download Zone, already because you’re hedging your bets. ¬†8 different authors? ¬†There’s bound to be someone whose style you like!

Anyway, arrivederci as they say…

Feedback from You

Thank you my blogfriends for the feedback on what you want to experience on a website.

There weren’t terribly many respondents but those who did, gave good feedback. ¬†To summarize:

  • I think we all agree we prefer calm layout to busy.
  • Ease of navigation is a big one
  • Of course there should not be bugs
  • It must load fast
  • It must be logical.

Some went quite a bit further with suggestions and questions.

Kvenna rad asks why I picked 5 sites from a wide variety of industries as examples, and not book sites in specific.  She also included further links; some extremely beautiful.

The answer to her question:

Of course I’m not Bank of England or Mercedes. The reason I picked such wildly divergent sites was to get a general idea of what appeals to people. ¬†Only looking at book sites (Amazon, Goodreads, Lulu.com, Author’s Den, Epub Bud, Leisure Books, Scribd…. the list goes on) gives a very narrow view. ¬†Book sites tend to have something in common, as do artist sites (such as she posted in her comment).

Here is what you’ll find on a standard bookshop site (think, e.g., Amazon):

  • a good search box
  • unbelievable clutter under, over and around the search box. ¬†The clutter consists of links to the 1000 places on the site, and of “also read” suggestions. ¬†The eye moves right past it and zooms in on the search box. ¬†If the search box and the logo were the¬†only things on the home page, it would still be enough, because most people arrive on the site looking for a specific book/product.
  • You do need the logo, because otherwise you can’t be sure you’ve really arrived at Amazon.

We already agree that we hate visual clutter. ¬†A well-designed home page needs a focal point and a little bit of peripheral stuff; and of course the logo so that you know you’re on the right site.

Why is an artist-style layout not enough for P’kaboo?

It would be enough for our author pages (and those will get their overhaul, promise! ¬†The whole concept is being revised.) ¬†But P’kaboo has more than that. ¬†An author page / artist page focuses on¬†one artist’s work. ¬†P’kaboo has multiple functions; so the layout will out of necessity have more links than an artist page. ¬†(Ease of navigation.)

As for the 5 websites I showed:

  • Mercedes: ¬†Love it to bits! ¬†Classy, sleek, expensive look. ¬†Calm and pleasing on the eye; yet enough image to keep it interesting. ¬†

Mercedes, of course, has a completely different function from P’kaboo. ¬†So I can “steal” certain ideas and elements, but the design as a whole would be a mismatch.

  • On the Dot: ¬†Highly functional, organized. ¬†Not as sleek as Mercedes, but the ease of navigation is amazing. ¬†From here, I’ll steal navigational ease.
  • Bank of England: Banksy, boring. ¬†At least it looks better than the ABSA site which is in link overkill and has design cramps. ¬†Money, of course, should be regarded as a boring necessity (the banks would like us to see it that way!). ¬†And a bank has nothing to prove online. ¬†Can you exist without a bank? ¬†Sure… ¬†you can technically also exist without a dentist.
  • w3schools: ¬†Here’s an example of function with practically no form. ¬†The look deceives. ¬†At first glance it looks cluttered; but once you look at the actual links, you realize that ease of navigation is outstanding. ¬† The absence of graphics results in an extremely fast load (it’s usually graphics and fancy scripts that slow down a site while it is loading). ¬†And the actual function of the page (tutorial with live examples) is super. ¬†w3schools exists not to look good itself but to help you make¬†your site look good, and they are absolutely brilliant at it. Ease of navigation is nearly at 100% on w3schools.
  • And then there is Coca-cola. ¬†*SIGH*

Coca-cola is a huge, wealthy company.  It owns nearly all the non-nutritive beverages in the world.  The idea of putting chemicals in water and selling these in 2000 varying shapes, tastes and colours, was a profitable one.

Coca-cola was the company who once tried it out whether they could get away without advertising, seeing that everyone knew about them.  A clever thing to consider, because marketing is immensely expensive.  After a week, their sales had dropped so critically that they retook their advertising in full force.  Conclusion:   The company is 100% dependent on its marketing.

With this background, one would have expected something as appealing as Mercedes on their website. ¬†Instead, it is jumbled, confusing and (to my taste) downright ugly. ¬†What? ¬†Can’t they afford designers? ¬†I’m sure designers did this! ¬†It makes it ever more puzzling which market they appeal to.

Sites like Bookseeker and Goodreads are really networking sites, not bookshops. ¬†Their function is to bring people together, to make people stay on their sites longer and interact. ¬†The people who frequent such sites are usually authors looking for agents, agents looking for authors, and reviewers looking for people to offer their services (though what I’ve seen so far of reviewers, they are flooded and don’t need additional networking).

Artist websites and author sites can be very sleek and beautiful; however they don’t tend to be very extensive or deep as the product they are showcasing, is usually a single limited portfolio. ¬†If you are looking for a good illustrator, e.g., or a photographer, you’ll page through their photos, looking at each in detail; as opposed to a bookshop where you’ll visually scan the books and zoom in on the most eye-catching. ¬†Slide shows and “flip-files” (slide shows that you can control with your mouse) are ideal for such showcase sites; we now have a slide show of only our 6 youngest releases on P’kaboo’s home page as the focal point. ¬†(The bookshop is unaltered, as it isn’t that cluttered, the layout is logical and clean and the navigation takes precedence over the visual).

When I write about such things, I also clarify them in my own mind.  Thank you for all your input and discussions, and for the opportunity of exploring the topic.