Weird Wednesday: Spam, Spam, Spam, Wonderful Spam.

To quote Monty Python, “I’ll have your Spam, Dear. I love Spam.”

Well, I don’t love it, there’s just an odd ‘like‘ there. I haven’t had it in quite some time though. As a child, there was often the knock-off, Klik in the cupboard, usually after dad’s hunting trip. Beans and Klik. There’s a tent you don’t want to be in.

But, potted meat is not want this is about.

Dear Occupant, 1-877 numbers, “Lovely ladies waiting”—that kind of spam.

The phone calls are incessant. If I don’t answer, it will often go to voicemail. Apparently, I have either:

  1. Won a cruise (Yeah, I’m going on one of those at this time)
  2. Have an inheritance to collect
  3. I’m in arrears
  4. Something’s wrong with my banking/tax information

There is also an odd countdown from 10 that ends anticlimactically.

Sometimes I’ll answer because the number appears to be local, but if there is no response, I’ll hang up and block the number. I still get at least one or two/day.

As an author, I get many emails from “reviewers”, “SEO experts”, “promoters”, “screenplay adapters”. As a blogger, well . . .if you blog on WordPress, then you know that the system does redirect spam comments.

I think it does a pretty good job because I don’t seem to let any through on my posts, and there are a lot of them. I forgot to clean them out for a while—which is the impetus for the post.

So, I’ll do some cleaning today, recycling junk mail and flyers, erasing my voicemail messages, deleting my spam emails.

But first, by looking through my blog spam comments, apparently there are some lovely ladies waiting to show me their naughty bits.

My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays:

Lines by Leon Newsletter: January 5

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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Tuesday Tidbits: New Year, New Purge

“Why am I here, and where is my tidbit?”

Whew. I just finished tidying my desk and working area. My first thought was, “Hey, that’s pretty nice faux wood finish (Not really. It’s a pretty crappy old desk, but it keeps stuff off the floor). My second thought was, “I have to clean off those coffee rings.” My third thought was, “That’s a very neglected coaster over there.”

Now that that it done, It was time to purge my mailing list. I’ve written about previous purges:

The Purge (Subscribers): Quality over Quantity
Newsletter Success: Benchmarks
The Purge: Redux

but, This was going to be my biggest yet. I sent it on Monday, to give subscribers time to open (or not), then today I went though the list and kept the ones who opened and did not unsubscribe (2), and then unsubscribed the rest (52). That took my list down to 166. That should improve my open rate and the engagement. I’ve said before that I’d rather have 10 engaged subscribers than 100 duds.

My last open rate was 38%. My newsletter goes out tomorrow to 52 less subscribers. I’ll update you*.

-Leon

” Forgetting something?”

* 48% now.



Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Free Book Friday on a Monday: Wait. What!?

I spent the weekend getting all my review copies and platforms in order for my novella, The View from Here, and I didn’t want to wait until Friday. If you are interested in doing an advance review, keep reading.

Two heads are better than one.

What would you do if you found yourself on or in another world? Do you have the skills and knowledge needed to survive or to make sense of what you see?

Thomas sets out on a hike he has done many times before. Taking only what he needs for the three or four hours he expects to be gone, he passes a vehicle in the parking lot. The handwritten note on the dashboard read: Not Abandoned. The view at the end of the trail was not what he expected—neither were the friendships.

Two people with adventurous spirits, heading off into the unknown with only their physical fitness and combined knowledge to get them through everything they may encounter.

How far could you make it?

If you are interested in reviewing my book, you can receive your preferred format by:

  1. Joining my newsletter: Lines by Leon Newsletter
  2. Through StoryOrigin: The View from Here (requires free account but has many opportunities to review in all genres)
  3. Direct download: Send me an email with ARC in the subject. Let me know why you would be a good reviewer for this book.

Reviews do not have to be long. Even one or two sentences can attract new readers. As for the timeline, I’m hoping that they can be done within 4 weeks of receiving your review copy.

When you have completed your review, please let me know so that I can link it on my website. If you choose not to leave a review for any reason, could you please inform me so that I can remove you from my current reviewers list.

Here are the review links. Please leave a review on any (or all) of the sites. As my book is only available on Amazon at the moment, that would be my preference if you are just going to post on one.

Amazon.com- The View from Here

Goodreads- The View from Here

BookBub- The View from Here

Final Note: Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, so if you enjoyed the book, please tell your friends and family and share the review on your social media! 

I look forward to reading your review. 

Yours sincerely,

Leon Stevens


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Weekend Wra—Wait. Year-end Wrap up

It’s 2022.

The new year used to be the time you would write the wrong date on your checks, but who writes checks anymore. People sometimes make resolutions, but who carries through on those anymore. The night before used to be a time to gather in a big crowd , but who feels like that is a prudent choice anymore.

What about Top Ten lists? Who doesn’t like those right?

d

Top Ten words I used in my blogs:

  • the
  • a
  • and
  • is
  • of
  • for
  • but
  • that
  • I
  • obfuscate

Top Ten Annoyances

  • Spam calls
  • Spam email
  • Spam comments
  • Amazon
  • Amazon
  • Amazon
  • Rude people
  • Expiration dates
  • Tik Tok

Top Ten Sports Bloopers

  • When the player tripped
  • When the fan
  • When the goalie let that one in
  • When the slam dunk wasn’t one
  • When the ball got stuck
  • When the ball bounced off his head
  • When the animal ran on the field
  • When the racecar wouldn’t start
  • When the fan interfered with the play
  • What that other funny think happened (that was hilarious)

We lost way too many people this year due to the pandemic: 5.5 million

Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, girlfriends, boyfriends, (is theyfriends a thing?), just friends . . .

We lost many public figures as well, the latest being Rev. Desmond Tutu and actress Betty White. Soon, news programs will air In Memorium segments, and we we will watch and say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about her/him.”

I just heard this song on the radio (who listens to radio anymore?). From way back in 2005. “Happy” New Year everyone.


From my blog this week:

Free Book Friday / Top 10 Interview Questions
Weird Wednesday: Just Cartoons
Tuesday Tirade: Bad Writing Sells? – Well, I finished the book. No, not mine, well yes, I did finish mine, but that wasn’t the book I wrote about.
Music Monday: Songs You Might Want to Hear / Latest Book Sneak Peek – Who is Andy Shauf?


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

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C’mon, space stuff!

Free Book Friday / Top 10 Interview Questions

I have a few interviews in the queue for January, so in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite questions—and answers, from 2021:

Musician Abigail de Niverville – The very first question.

In 33 1/3 words (see what I did there?) or less, tell me a little about you.

I’m a musician and author from the East Coast, now living in Toronto! I also play the oboe, sing, and write lyrics. I’m very inspired by the places I grew up around back home. Did I do that right?

You’re a little over, but I’ll let it pass.

C. Streetlights

Do you have a favorite meal or snack to eat that other people just think is weird?

I really enjoy rice cakes with peanut butter. People don’t get it and complain about how tasteless and dry rice cakes are, but honestly, with peanut butter it is *chef’s kiss*.

I do like peanut butter. I discovered Jiff Dark Roasted recently. Now that’s…as you put it…*chef’s kiss*.

I am putting that on my shopping list to give it a try. I’m usually a Skippy girl, but the dark roasted sounds delicious.

Effie Kammenou

You are of Greek ancestry. Does it bother you when people mispronounce gyro?

Ah, the gyro. With the way it’s spelled, I don’t blame Americans. This is what it looks like in Greek: γύρο. That letter that looks like a y is gamma. But it’s not a hard g. It’s g and y together formed in the back of the throat. Perhaps, if the English spelling dropped the g, it wouldn’t be as mispronounced. And that’s your Greek lesson of the day!

I suppose its that same way with Vietnamese “Pho”.  

Yes! That’s another understandable common mistake.

Dani Hoots

What’s something you say that you think is funny, but no one else does?
Werewolf jokes
Care to share one?
How do you stop a werewolf from attacking you? Throw a stick and shout “fetch!”

Cara Cilento

You mention on your blog “…being an award-winning author who writes with LGBTQ+ themes is hardest of all.” What I find hard is saying the acronym. I’ve seen several other  versions: LGBTQ2, LGBTQ2S, LGBTQ2s+, LGBTQIAPK, LGBTQIA+, LGBTQQIP2SAA. Any thoughts for  people who may be confused with this? 

There are a lot of versions and everything keeps changing. I even wrote a blog about how the gay flag has changed so I understand where people can become confused. I think we should all be focused on making the world a better place for the  straight and LGBT+ community. I think the time we spend on what we call ourselves could be better spent on people and not labels.

Kyle A. Massa

Do you have a favorite meal or snack to eat that other people just think is weird?

Taco Bell. I have an irrational affection for that place.

I think you should try Maui Taco—if there is still one in Manhattan. There was only one more in the mainland US—at the Minneapolis airport.

Dang, Google tells me there are none left on the mainland. But if I ever make it out to Hawaii, I’ll buy a taco and cheerily announce, “This one’s for Leon.”

That’s sad news. I always looked forward to the mad dash between flights.

Now onto the best of the lightning round:

Nicole Pierman

What number am I thinking of?
Number 3 because that’s my favorite number and yours too (from now on). 

G.G. Collins

Ever pick up an armadillo?
No, but they’re really cute

A.R. Silverberry

Favorite city?
Drive south of the sleeping lady and her soaring redwoods, cross a golden bridge—where on a clear day you cast your eyes twenty miles out to sea and just make out the islands—and you find it. Most days you hear the foghorns.

You could go to the marina. Today you don’t. You pass an expansive park, housing two grand museums. Then you’re heading down Van Ness. Better stop at Tommy’s Joynt for the world’s best pastrami on rye. Afterward, there are more destinations than you can explore in one day. You might walk the wharf and fight the seagulls over a loaf of the greatest sour dough bread on the planet. Or head to Chinatown, the largest and oldest outside of Asia, for dim sum. Or take in Jackson Pollack at MoMA. Or drive the up-and-down dizzy streets. Or the crookedest. You might take in a ball game or the strains of the world-class symphony orchestra, or simply head to Telegraph Hill for the panoramic view.

Whatever you do, you’re charmed and seduced, and it never leaves your heart.
So … San Francisco.
[Grins]

Elizabeth O’Carroll

What number am I thinking of?
11
Close enough.


There you go. Some of the highlights of my first 13 interviews. You can read them all in their entirety here:

https://linesbyleon.com/the-interviews/

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

BookFunnel and StoryOrigin Promos

Dec 29 – Jan 26

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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C’mon, space stuff!

Weird Wednesday: Just Cartoons

Got my 3rd shot this morning. With the first two, I didn’t feel too bad, just a bit achy and blah. At least it’s cold out (-30 C), so there is no reason to go out again.

The Untitled

The Miniscules

My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays:

Lines by Leon Newsletter: December 29

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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Contact me!

Tuesday Tirade: Bad Writing Sells?

“What? It was a dark and stormy night.”

I didn’t major in creative writing. I will, at certain times, misuse commas, only because there are too many rules, and as much as I try, it is challenging to remember them all.

I try not to make my writing difficult to understand. Using more common words rather than obscure, recondite, or esoteric ones, enables a reader to focus on the story instead of having to look up or deduce the meaning of a word.

Sure, I’ll use the thesaurus (that’s not a tome shaped dinosaur, by the way), to discover interesting words, and have inserted them in place of, for lack of a better word, bland* ones.

Every writer has their own voice and idiosyncrasies (or foibles**). I tend to be less descriptive in my writing, only because that’s the way I read, skimming over information that I deem unimportant. I think I have been getting better at writing dialogue (but not spelling it), although, my dialogue is usually succinct*** because I think that my characters would have a conversation as most people would.

What was my point? Oh, yes. Bad writing.

I was, well, still am, reading a book by a best selling author. I have read several of his—umm, or her—books in the past, some I have enjoyed, others I found . . . meh.

In previous books, I noticed that many of the sentences were quite short, and would have several in a row, exactly the thing my grammar program would red flag. I’m not adverse to short sentences. They have their place. Not too many, though. That gets boring. Some might say monotonous. Yes. Exactly my point.

In the book I am currently reading, I came across this passage which made me think, “His—or her— editor let this through?“:

Yikes.

I wonder what the countertops in his—or her—kitchen are like?

-Leon

If you have a good example of bad writing, add it in the comment section.

*There are better words: insipid, lackluster, mediocre, vapid, banal, trite, inane, characterless . . .
**Shortcomings
***Brief or concise



Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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Open Book Blog Hop Dec 27: Dinner Guest(s)

Thanks to P.J Maclayne for today’s topic.

If you could invite anyone in  the world to be your dinner guest, who would you invite?

You could open a book or Google to gain knowledge of a person, but I think to have an opportunity to sit down with someone in your home, in a coffee shop, or a dive bar for a few hours would be a real eye-opener. I would even offer to buy the drinks (secretly hoping for the reply: No, no. It’s on me.) Here are some different people—in no particular order.

Anthony Bourdain: He came across as egotistical, brash, and a bit of a bully, but the more I watched his shows and read his books, the more I was intrigued. During travel, I would visit the places that he did, which was never a poor choice. I would confess that I was not a very good cook, so we would cook together. He tragically took his own life a few years ago.

Herodotus: The original Rick Steves/Lonely Planet guy. Hearing about the history before history became history. This guy travelled and saw most of the Seven Wonders of the World before they succumbed to time—with the exception of the pyramids. All this before it was easy to travel. I’d show him TripAdvisor, and I’m sure he’d be impressed.

Kurt Vonnegut: So many authors to choose from, but he is one of my favorites. 

Margaret Atwood: Oh, to pick her brain.

Patrick Stewart: C’mon, how cool would that be.

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop. https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/7d3ce9d9de2548f3ab2f535442237a99
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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C’mon, space stuff!

Music Monday: Songs You Might Want to Hear / Latest Book Sneak Peek

I started working on my book cover and blurb over the last few weeks. I find many book covers either: too busy, too cartoony, or too sexy. I am a minimalist at heart, so my covers tend to lean that way. I may be missing out on a proven marketing strategy, but if you can’t please everyone, you might as well do something that you like.

I also am formatting my manuscript so I can give it out as an ARC (Advance Reader Copy). If you are interested, the contact info is at the bottom of the page. You can leave any comments too.

I’m also debating whether to go KDP (Amazon), or wide (Kobo/Google/iTunes etc.) this time.

So without further delay [drumroll]:

Thomas sets out on a hike he has done many times before. Taking only what he needs for the three or four hours he expects to be gone, he passes a vehicle in the parking lot. The handwritten note on the dashboard read: Not Abandoned.

The view at the end of the trail was not what he expected—neither was the friendship.
 
Two people with adventurous spirits, heading off into the unknown with only their physical fitness and combined knowledge to get them through everything they may encounter.


(Coming Spring 2022)

There is a radio show on CBC here in Canada that occasionally does a feature called SYNTH: Songs You Need To Hear.

Now, I can’t say to someone, “You’ll like this song” (or book for that matter) because I can’t presume that others will share my taste in music (or books), so it is safer to say, “You might like this” and if they don’t like it, so be it.

Maybe you will find a new favorite.


I went to a songwriters workshop once (remember those days when people interacted in person?) and after playing one of my songs there were several comments about how some lines had too many syllables, that the rhyming was a bit off at times, which prompted a discussion about how to craft a song that would get airplay.

A few days later I remembered this song which goes against what many of the people were saying. I wish I had remembered it then. At times, his lines keep going on much longer than you expect, the rhymes are sporadic and . . .

And, that’s what makes it a good song. Listen carefully to the story. it’s a good one.



I hope you enjoyed this piece.

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

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C’mon, space stuff!

Drop me a line if you are interested in reviewing my book

Weekend Wrap-up Dec 25

I wasn’t going to write an update this morning. Many people will be waking up to celebrate Christmas, others have already been there/done that, and many more will either be going about their normal lives (or as normal as things can be) either not celebrating anything, already celebrated something, or waiting in anticipation to celebrate their culture’s tradition.

I’m up early, as I often am. So, as always (or usually) I write. Something.

Whatever you do today, be safe, be kind, be happy.


From my blog this week:

Music Monday: Songs You Might Want to Hear – Sunburst by Andrew York. My favorite classical guitar piece.
Tuesday Tirade: Winter and Cereal
Weird Wednesday: Recurring Numbers – 2? how about 22?
Free Book Friday Dec 24 – I’m out of interviews. Whaaahappen?*

*Bonus points if you know what movie that is from.


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of four books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and The View from Here, a science fiction novella to be released in March 2022.

Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!