Tag Archives: free

#WordPress…what the…? 1:32pm update


Okay, this time I’ve been taking screenshots to prove I’m not going nuts. The timestamp of the first one shows 12:47 pm – i.e. just before lunch here in Oz:

The second one is timestamped 1:36 pm   – i.e. just after lunch in Oz. The advert in the sidebar is not the same, but it does duplicate the one below my post:

Something, or perhaps someone, is playing funny buggers, and I’m not impressed. I left a complaint on the WordPress.com forum, but until I receive a proper resolution to this issue, I’m going to keep posting updates about it.

Apologies, everyone, but I’m so angry there’s steam coming out of my ears.




Sunday, February 4, 2016. This is beyond a joke. When I logged into my blog ten minutes ago, the advert was back, even longer than before. I started updating this post and decided I needed a screenshot. Viewed my site again, and the advert gone, again.

Am I going mad?

If anyone viewed my blog in the last 8 hours, could you please let me know whether there was a long, blue advert in the sidebar?

Honestly, I am starting to feel as if WordPress has it in for me. Am I too outspoken? Have I been too critical? Or am I being not-so-subtly pushed to upgrade from free to paid?

I don’t want to think so. I would really like to think there is a reasonable explanation. I would really, really like to think that WordPress is a company with too much integrity to play underhand tricks like this, because just at the moment it feels a lot like…coercion? standover tactics?…blackmail?


I’m not sure how it happened, but that advert I was complaining about has disappeared, and I have my sidebar back. -dance-

When you run a free blog, you have to accept some advertising.

After all, the company that runs the platform that makes that free blog possible have to recoup their costs somewhere.

Until very recently, that ‘somewhere’ was just after my blog posts.

Now, I have this:

Right at the top of the page, taking up PRIME realestate in my no.1 sidebar. That’s the spot where I put all my important widgets, the ones I want visitors to see, even if they don’t see anything else. That is my critical spot. Now it has a great big advert. in it.

But that’s not all. The same advert. also appears at the bottom of the post, along with a second one for some other company so visitors to my blog are hit with three adverts, coming at them from all sides. Nothing discreet about this!

I was furious and clicked the ‘Report this ad’ button’ which is why it now has just a placeholder. But is this enough? Or will this disgusting placement simply return tomorrow or the day after?

What the hell were you thinking, Workpress?

Fair use is one thing. Blatant exploitation of my blog, to the detriment of my blog, is another. This is a step too far.

Soooooo not happy WordPress. 😦


Allelujah! Innerscape, Episode 4 is finally free…

I’d better make this quick. Episode 4 is now available for free download from December 6, 2016 to December 10, 2016. To get your free copy, please follow the link to Amazon below:


The Innerscape competition is ready to go as well. Simply read the ‘Look Inside’ below [use your browser’s back button to return to this post] and answer a simple, multiple choice question in comments, and hey presto, you’ll be in with a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift voucher. 🙂

The question for Episode 4 is – what did Alex Tang die of?

  1. pneumonia?
  2. a heart attack?
  3. the common cold?

If you know the answer, please write it in comments [only one per person please] at the end of this post. When the competition finishes, I’ll write each correct entry onto a piece of paper which will then be folded and placed into a vessel of some kind, maybe a hat. Finally, the Offspring will come along to select the winning entry. Easy.

The winner of the competition will be announced on this blog, plus I’ll email or contact the winner directly. Then it’s just a case of deciding what to treat yourself to…erm, with.

If you haven’t entered the competition yet, please do because I get as much fun out of it as the winner does. 🙂

And now for a music track that I didn’t listen to while writing Innerscape. It’s a cinematic from Advent Children, an animation by Square Enix. This scene depicts the final fight between Cloud and Sephiroth, iconic characters from Final Fantasy 7. Even if you don’t like fighting, please watch the incredible cinematography and animation. 🙂



Innerscape – Music competition for Episode 1 begins!

reworked-cover-final-1Good evening, good afternoon and good morning. 🙂

Innerscape Episode 1 is live on Amazon, and from November 14, 2016 to November 18, 2016, you will be able to download Episode 1 for free, and enter the Music Competition to win free music.

The Music Competition, which runs in lockstep with the free downloads, will give two lucky winners one of the following digital albums:

  • Elysium, by Jo Blankenburg, and
  • Vendetta, also by Jo Blankenburg.

This is a video clip of one of my favourite tracks from Elysium.

And this one is a making-of type video clip that features snippets from Vendetta.

If you don’t like these albums, or miss out for some reason, don’t worry – there will be two new albums up for grabs with Episode 2.

To enter the Music Competition, all you have to do is answer a simple question based on the excerpt from Innerscape, found in the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ for Episode 1.

You can find the excerpt here:


Hint: if you read as far as the chapter entitled ‘Takh Ahn’, you’ve gone too far. But don’t let me stop you from reading further. 😉

And now for the all-important, multiple choice question:

Who is the Head of Patient Care at Innerscape?

  1. Kenneth Wu?
  2. Charles McGragh?
  3. Emily Watson?

Once you know the answer, type the correct name, or simply 1, 2 or 3, in the comments section at the end of this post, and that’s it.

[Sorry, only 1 entry per person]

Both the Music Competition and the free download days for Episode 1 will end on November 18, 2016. Yes, I know I’ve said that before but I don’t want anyone to get the dates wrong and end up disappointed.

On November 19, 2016, I will pick two correct answers, at random, from a big mixing bowl, and the names of the winners will be announced in a post on this blog. The winners will also be announced via Twitter so please check back to see if you’ve won.

To find out how you can claim your free digital music album, please read the Innerscape FAQ here:


Thank you for joining me today, and may the Party begin!

Innerscape – beautiful one day, deadly the next

Just about to race off to work, but I’d really like your feedback on the tagline – too cheesy? Not science-fictiony enough? Or for my fellow Aussies – too much like the Queensland advert.?

And just a quick word about http://www.freeimages.com. This seems to be a great place to find free images. The one below is one of the ones I’ve found:


In case you’re wondering, it’s a stylized drawing of a circuit…for a computer. 😀

I won’t be using the image as is, but I’m not game to reveal the ‘real’ cover just yet. Maybe on Thursday when I’m not rushed off my feet with work.

’till then, cheers



My new obsession – #jigsaw puzzles

I play games because I hate being bored, but sometimes the opportunity to be bored only lasts for a few minutes – that’s where these super-small, online jigsaw puzzles come in:

jigsaw fox up the tree

The one you can see in the screenshot above is called ‘Fox up in the tree’, and you can find it at the following link:


The #FREE jigsaw puzzles available on Jigsawplanet.com range from 300 pieces to just 4 [perfect for little kids]. The Fox puzzle shown in the screenshot is made up of only 12 pieces and took me just 36 seconds to complete…and I’m about 3 times slower than the people with the best times!

Another nice thing about Jigsawplanet is that you don’t have to register to do the puzzles. The only time you have to go to any effort at all – and that’s not much – is if you want to create your own puzzles. Yes, your own! My effort is not going to win any prizes but it was fun :

jigsaw alpacas

Basically, you:

  • sign up to jigsawplanet.com
  • click on ‘Create’
  • select a good quality photo from your computer
  • upload it to jigsawplanet.com
  • select the type of cuts you want – i.e. shapes – and how many and…that’s it. 😀

The very nicest thing about jigsawplanet.com, however, is that all the puzzles are created by ordinary people so the variety is never-ending.

If you have a few minutes to spare, try it out.



Playing with the Youtube video editor

WARNING! The following video clip is rough. The text looks awful and the transitions are crap. But the music is great! And it’s free so this is a tool I am determined to master.

What we have here is my first, not so successful attempt to use the Youtube video editor. Like I said, not great but it is a trailer, sort of. 🙂

Canva for ebook covers

Never heard of Canva? Don’t worry, neither had I until this morning. Canva is a [free-ish] online graphics program? facility? that allows us cash-strapped writers to design our own ebook covers. It also allows us to do a lot of other things, but I only needed an ebook cover so that’s what I played with.

After doing the 2 minute tutorial, I spent about an hour playing with the graphics and, I have to say, I am very impressed. The image below is a draft of the cover I came up with for Innerscape:

innerscape cover draft

The cross hatching is part of the watermark [along with the name CANVA in the middle of the image]. The reason for the watermark is that I chose 2 non-free images for the cover – the landscape and the picture frame. Each image costs $1 – yes, that was not a typo, just one solitary dollar – for both personal and commercial use. So all up, my costs would have been $2.

I was very tempted to just pay my money and be done with it, but they have a special deal whereby you can buy 11 images for ten dollars, and I thought ‘oh, parts 3 & 4, and 5 & 6….’.


Anyway, a bit about the design. The final, ‘real’ cover will have a different graphic on it, but for the moment I like the idea of mirror images and worlds within worlds and the visual tension of seeing the title as a not-so-subtle price tag. Paradise is only for the rich, after all.

Of course that could all be a bit of BS – there is a reason why I’m a writer not a graphics designer. -sigh-

Once you are ready to download your newly created image/cover, you are given the option of either paying for any non-free images you have used, or downloading a draft. I haven’t tried the paid option but assume it is the same as the draft one – you get to choose between downloading a 70 DPI resolution image or a 300 DPI pdf file.

DPI stands for dots per inch so 70 DPI would give you a reasonable resolution [as in my cover image] but nothing great. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t chew up your bandwidth. My image weighs in at about 75 kb, which is next to nothing. When I downloaded the 300 DPI pdf however, it took quite a while to download and was HUGE. Well over a megabyte of data.

I would use the 300 DPI for actual print covers but not for ebook covers. Finding the right balance for the cover image will require a bit of trial and error so that it looks good but doesn’t take half an hour to download.

Oh and one last thing. I converted the 300 DPI pdf file to a more reasonably sized jpg file but discovered that my version of the software didn’t include the fonts used by CANVA. My app substituted similar fonts but you can see that they do not look quite right. Next time I’ll either use fonts that I know I have, or I won’t mess with the image. 🙂

And for those who might like to play with CANVA themselves, here’s the link to a great Indies Unlimited tutorial on how to use it.


Comments? Please feel free to let rip. I haven’t paid for anything so you’re not going to hurt my feelings or my wallet. 🙂



Amazon giveaway featuring Laurie Boris!

Okay, I admit it, I had no idea Amazon did giveaways so I’m rather excited, and you should be too you’ve heard me rave about Laurie Boris’ work before. Now’s your chance to win ‘The Joke’s on Me’, her first book.

I pinched the following from Laurie as she’s better at describing things than me:

Here’s the link where you can get the details. If you’re not already following me on Twitter (@LaurieBoris), you’ll need to do that first. Hit the linkage and Amazon will get you started.


Now, I’ve never used one of Amazon’s giveaways before, so if you choose to play, I’d love to know your opinions about it. The giveaway ends April 14th or when all the books are won, whichever comes first.

I’ve read ‘The Jokes on Me’ and really enjoyed it, so if you’re in the US, why not give this easy competition a go?

-cough- And if you win, you can tell all of us how it works. -cough-



Stepping outside my comfort zone #2 with My Gentleman Vampire

canstockphoto8443816In Stepping Outside my Comfort Zone #1, I dipped into First Chapters, and found a sophisticated YA novel. This time round, I overcame my dislike of all things sparkly to read the first chapter of a vampire novel like no other.

Imagine you come home one day and find a gorgeous man in your kitchen. He’s barefoot and wearing a pink apron. And, he’s just done the dishes.

I know if that were me I’d be pinching myself. Unfortunately there’s a catch, in fact a whole series of them. First he’s gay – isn’t it always the way? Second, he thinks your cat, Arabella, is really a human who was bewitched for sleeping with the wrong guy. Third, he thinks he can read your mind. And fourth, well …

“There’s one more, teensy thing I need to tell you. Have some wine.”

I did as I was told, took a big swig of wine, and swallowed hard. His tone suggested this was about to get even weirder.

“There’s just no easy way to say this. I am a vampire.”

gentleman vampire coverI can’t lie. After learning that this gorgeous man is living in the heroine’s basement, the big reveal wasn’t exactly a surprise, but I laughed anyway because it was the perfect ending to a delicious chapter. In fact, I was so taken with that chapter I bought the book.  Yes, I bought a vampire book, and I’m urging you to buy it too. 🙂

Which book? My Gentleman Vampire, by Lois Lewandowski. This little gem will set you back all of 99 cents if you have a Kindle.

But the point of this post is not to recommend one specific book. The point is to show what an amazing smorgasbord of writing talent you’ll find in First Chapters, the book of samples.  And guess what? First Chapters is free for the next two days.

Honestly, what have you got to lose?

Happy reading,


A community service announcement – freebie alert!

I’m Australian and we don’t really do Halloween, although I believe the custom is growing amongst the younger generation – by which I mean anyone younger than 50! So please don’t come to my door expecting treats coz you ain’t gonna get none!

There is one treat I can offer though, and that’s a free novella or three. 😀 My good friend Candy Korman is literally giving away her wonderful stories for free until November 1st, including her brand new one – POED. I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while,  so as soon as I finish here I’ll be heading over to pick up my own copy to complete my collection. You can expect a review tout suite, but honestly, why wait? If you have any doubts, you can read my reviews of Candy’s first two Monster novellas here, and here. Trust me, POED will be every bit as good as its siblings.  And if you haven’t read any of Candy’s Monsters then jump in and grab yourself 3 bargains as well as 3 very special treats! 

And now, over to Candy :

Tricks & Treats!
Posted on October 29, 2012

A few years ago I made an unusual New Year’s Resolution: I will eat only good chocolate. It turned out to be one resolution I could, and did, keep. It’s extended to every year since.

Even my Halloween offerings are good chocolate or not chocolate at all. Living, as I do, in an apartment building with few Trick or Treating aged kids, I hang a black, spider-web shaped basket on my doorknob and fill it with sweet treats. My neighbors and the staff in the building know where to find “the good stuff” so I have no need to advertise. I also fill my pockets with give out candies all day long.

This year, I’m expanding the reach of my Halloween treats to my Internet friends and their friends. All three of my Candy’s Monsters ebooks will be FREE for three days! October 30, October 31 & November 1 are FREE MONSTER DAYS.

Three Monsters?

Yes, three! If all goes well (Frankenstorm & formatting folks) POED will be available in time for Halloween and FREE!

POED is my tribute to the master of gothic horror, Edgar Allan Poe. I hope that both Poe fanatics and readers who haven’t dipped their toes into the depth of Poe’s dark and twisted, macabre stew since they were 12, will enjoy my story.

“The Mary Shelley Game” (my mystery inspired by “Frankenstein”) and “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” (my dark comedy, vampire un-romance inspired by “Dracula”) and “POED” are my Halloween treats for readers. I’ve got some nice dark chocolate caramels for my door. Too bad I can’t send them along with the ebooks.

* * *

Breaking News! Just before posting, I received an email from Candy. She is in NYC and has been hit hard – no electricity, no hot water, no nothing – and had to go to a friend’s place to get online. If you can help her do some last minute marketing I know she would be very grateful.


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