Steampunk – What It Is, What it’s Not

I have been a fan of Science Fiction since I was old enough to pick up a book and read it for myself.  Normally I prefer hard science Sci-Fi to any form of fantasy.  However I have been captivated by the old Wild, Wild West television show and movies such as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and books like Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and From the Earth to the Moon, H.G. Wells’s First Men in the Moon and The Time Machine.  All of these combine a Victorian environment with high-tech achievement but without high technology.  Confused?  So was I when I first heart the term “Steampunk”.

The ‘punk’ part misguided my brain onto thinking it was some urban-new wave sort of stuff and I paid it no mind.  But as the term was bandied around more, I became curious, and found that it is in fact that odd, red-headed  stepchild of Sci-Fi with which I was so fascinated.  But I still was not clear on what the rules were; where are the boundaries.  Then I came across this PBS mini-documentary that cleared it up nicely.  If you are less than certain, I hope it will do the same for you.

Continue reading “Steampunk – What It Is, What it’s Not”

Jedi Mind Twits: Follow Limit on Twitter

Photo by tychay

It’s like running a race; you’re hitting your stride, settled in and making good time.  Suddenly out of nowhere, a block pops up out of the track, you trip over it and end up stumbling and twisting all around trying not to end up face down in the dirt.

On Twitter you’ve been tweeting good stuff about you and your work, sharing interesting links, retweeting things for others and your following has been steadily building up.  You found another great person to follow and clicked the button.  But suddenly a window pops up and says “Looks like you’ve hit a limit” and it won’t let you follow this great tweep.  Why NOT!?  Continue reading “Jedi Mind Twits: Follow Limit on Twitter”

Jedi Mind Twits: Messaging

twitter, peeps, shout-outTwitter is all about sending brief messages to others, but what you send, how you send it and why can be tricky to learn.  Here are some pointers starting with the basics and moving into some lesser known tid-bits.

Twitter offers two types of message: a tweet and a Direct Message (DM).  Tweets are visible to the public DM’s are private communications between two users.

Direct Messages

Direct messages you receive from others are listed on the Messages tab on your Twitter home page.  A chronological list (newest on top) is displayed on the left, a reader panel on the right.  Click a sender to read the direct messages to and from that sender. 

In the Account Settings (click your name in the upper right hand corner of the screen, then Settings, then Notifications) you may choose to have a copy of your DMs sent to your e-mail address.  These include a link that will take you back to Twitter to reply to the DM if you like.  Continue reading “Jedi Mind Twits: Messaging”

Jedi Mind Twits: #HashTags

Last time we looked at some Nuts and Bolts usage of Twitter, to help newbies get the bike rolling.  Now we’ll begin looking at some of the fancier stuff; like popping a wheelie.  Some of this will help you get more out of Twitter, some will help you work faster, some will help you look like a Twitter Jedi Master.

This time we will look at hash tags.  Continue reading “Jedi Mind Twits: #HashTags”

For Twitter Newbies: Nuts & Bolts

Lawrence Block seems to be of the opinion that John Locke’s latest book, “How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months” is largely responsible for the sudden influx of writers and authors to the Twitterverse.  Whether Mr. Locke has had that much influence or not is not really the issue.  The issue is that I have noticed many more writers and authors in Twitter and their profile numbers indicate that most of them are twitter newbies.  Some of these folks have asked me about the cryptic shorthand Twitterers use as well as heaping praise and adoration upon me for my methods of welcoming new followers.  OK, maybe that’s just a tad over the top, but not by much: Twitter users, whether paduan learner or master, really do appreciate the recognition.

I remember a time (two months ago, to be exact) when I too was staring at the twitter screen and asking myself, “How in the world does this thing work?” and “What the flapjacks does THAT mean?”  So I thought I’d endeavor to cobble together a plain-English Newbie Nuggets guide to Twitter to help all these new folks get up to speed.

The Lingo

 The hardest part for me was learning what all that cryptic goobledy-gook meant, when to use it, when not to, and why you can’t just say what you mean.  As I write this I’m still learning some of it, but here is a quick run-down of  the most common terms, and how to use them.  Continue reading “For Twitter Newbies: Nuts & Bolts”

Juicing Up Your Twitter Power

Let me start by saying that I am NOT a social media expert.  I am NOT an SEO specialist.  I do not have a PhD in twitterology.  I can’t even claim to play any of these roles on television.  I’m just a guy who has learned a few things; mostly by trial and error, who is willing to share these things with you.

I opened my Twitter account in 2010, but didn’t do much with it because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  Why didn’t I jump on board sooner?  That’s simple: I thought Twitter was just the silliest thing around and had no use for it at all.  Continue reading “Juicing Up Your Twitter Power”

Twitter Education

Are you an author looking for ways to market your book(s)?  Do you want to use Twitter but are not sure how to use it effectively?  If so here are some great information resources.  The first section came from Joanna Penn’s post on Social Networking for Authors and she offers some do’s and don’ts as well, so be sure to stop in there too.  These are great places to further your Twitucation.

Some Useful Posts on Twitter

Looking for info on how to use Twitter?  Here are my articles from nuts & bolts to Jedi mind twits.


Stepping up to a 3D Book Cover

Writing for Profit or Pleasure: Where to Sell Your Work - book imageToday I took the next step in the full-publication process of my latest book. That step being to produce a PDF version that I can sell on my web site. Most people who buy and read PDF books are accustomed to seeing snazzy, 3D book cover images that look like a photo of a real book. So the flat 2D image that I’ve been using in the bookstores isn’t going to be quite good enough if I want to look “professional” as an author of PDF books. But, I can’t spend $700 on Photoshop (the most popular software for doing this) nor do I have the time to learn it even if I could afford it.  So I went looking for alternatives.

I found a bunch.  Several were plugins for Photoshop to make setting that up easier – no good if you don’t have Photoshop. {Gong} They’re disqualified.  Continue reading “Stepping up to a 3D Book Cover”