Fans of indie author fantasy books are in for a treat as a new book club dedicated to the works of small-time author Leslie D. Soule has been launched online.
The book group, named DarkSoules, has been unveiled on the social media network Facebook, and aims to bring together fans and new authors of fantasy literature, as well as being a forum for discussing the books of Soule, who has written fiction stories such as the Fallen Wood series, Hybrid Space, Birds of a Feather, and The Feast of Rule.
New * Fantasy Author Support Group* Love reading fantasy? Want to get the latest Leslie D. Soule news? https://t.co/ZYlAufBtsX
Soule, who lives in Sacramento, California, United States, has had a long love affair with the English language, having studied the subject as a postgraduate student at the National University. She likes to experiment with different genres and has also a varied career in her young life, working as an artist and citizen journalist. She has been an established writer for a decade, and her collections of novels and short stories have been published in both e-book and print format.
DarkSoules will enable fans of Soule’s work to interact with her, receive the latest news exclusively about her new projects, chat with her directly and take a peek at her art works too. The group on Facebook is being promoted in the UK by fellow author and book promoter The Sassy Brit.
Interested fantasy fans keen to know more about Leslie Soule and her new online book group can find all the links below the article.
If you are a regular Facebook user, then you are probably really big on leaving comments on pictures, posts and videos you like (or make you want to kick in your computer screen). You have seen all sorts of comments, ranging from the downright weird and the abusive, to declarations of love (finished off with a tonne of hearts and heart-eyes emojis, no doubt), mini essays on intellectual topics and politics, and gushing comments. You probably know your way around Zuckerberg’s pet project very well. Right? Well maybe not! Let me explain.
As you may know, Facebook has recently introduced many major and minor changes to the website experience and interface design, for example adding extra emojis to show reactions to posts (instead of the bog-standard thumbs up like) and introducing Twitter-style round display pictures for personal profiles and public pages alike. But did you know there are three more ‘Easter eggs’ to be discovered, when you write a comment using certain special words? Well, you are about to find out here (thanks to BetterMe). The author will also be testing them out himself live and giving his own impression, because you know sometimes it has to be seen to be believed.
This one is really epic and perfect for the party people. So your sister has announced her engagement, your best mate is having a baby, or your housemate has just winged a new promotion at work. What do you say? Well surely a congratulations is in order!. If you type in the word ‘congratulations’ or ‘congrats’ into the comment box, your screen will suddenly be filled with a cascade of cartoon balloons and confetti. It is brief, lasting a few seconds, but it is really cute and contemporary and just adds to the happy atmosphere. While the standard congrats earns a flurry of orange and blue party stuff, if you congratulate the birth of a baby, you get instead pink or blue balloons depending on whether the new bundle of joy is a girl or boy. Mood mode made!
Feeling in lurve? Fingers twitching to spread some virtual affection to your bestie, bae, or even bro (nothing wrong in a little bromance!). Give that extra oomph to your affections by typing ‘XOXO’ into the comment box. Your screen will fill with hearts (sadly, I tested this at the time of writing and it appears not to be working) so you can drop some love on your loved ones’ newsfeeds.
3. Give them the thumbs-up
Apparently, if you type in the word ‘Rad’, your screen will become a waterfall of thumbs ups. The unmistakable Facebook fist of appreciation is a highly recognisable symbol that has become a defining moment of social media. Unfortunately at the time of writing, this feature appears to be not working also, so I am a little disappointed.
So while sadly, only one of three of these comment gems appears to be working in the UK at least, do not fret. You can also spice up your comments by inserting an image by clicking on the small camera icon to the right inside the comment box, or to make things really interesting, throw in a GIF by clicking on the GIF icon to the immediate right of the camera one. The GIF feature is one of Facebook’s latest and has proved a huge hit. It makes use of extensive GIF libraries run by GIPHY and tenor, two influential animated image repositories.
You will become king/queen of comments in no time…
As National Blood Week (19-25 June 2017) reaches its end, the U.K National Health Service is encouraging people to come forward and donate blood to help those who need it most, with an online strategy covering websites and social media such as Facebook, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.
The NHS Blood and Transplant division launched National Blood Week with a campaign to get more people visiting their local blood donation centre with a series of advertisements and even a hashtag #ImThere. The campaign was set up to celebrating new and existing blood donors making a difference and helping save people’s lives, according to the NHSBT website.
Blood donors are being encouraged to proudly announce they have donated via social media to help overcome the reluctance of other members of the public to donate and to solve shortages of certain blood groups, particularly those associated with ethnic minorities.
The NHSBT is particularly keen to get on board more donors of black African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, who are currently vastly underrepresented in the blood donation pool. An appeal was launched to increase the number of black British donors by 40,000, to help fight the effects of sickle cell anaemia among the African and Afro-Caribbean communities. The agency has received support from television presenter Scarlette Douglas, whose brother was a blood transfusion recipient. She spoke with sickle cell sufferer Aaron Thomas on the BBC One Show about the condition and the need for more donors from this community.
Donors are being encouraged to add frames to their Facebook profile photos and special ‘Twibbons’ to their Twitter pages. They can also take a selfie at the blood donation centre and use the #ImThere tag, to get their friends and family to join in and donate too.
NHSBT is also keen to reach out to more people with blood group O- as stocks of this blood type are running very low. The agency runs twenty three permanent centres and visits thousands of venues across England.
Instagram is currently one of the world’s most popular social networks by usage and membership. Owned by Facebook, and lovingly known by its fans as simply ‘Insta’, the site is a valuable treasure trove of pictures and memories and offers a glimpse into the lives of its 600 million or so active users. While Instagram has developed a reputation as a bit of a narcissist’s heaven with many users flooding it with selfies, posing like there is no tomorrow, it also has become a valuable resource for creatives such as photographers and graphic designers to showcase their work, and many celebrities use it to give their fanbase a way of keeping up to date with their daily goings-on. And of course, if you ever feel hungry or have no idea what’s for supper tonight, then Instagram’s impressive collection of food photos is the ideal place for culinary inspiration. Not to mention those awesome filters.
With the help of content, social media and online marketing blog The Social Ms, here are twenty facts and statistics about the photo-sharing network you probably had no idea about.
By the end of 2016, Instagram reported it had 600 million active users, that is, people who use their accounts and upload photos or images. This is an additional 100 million shutterbugs joining the service since September 2015
Instagram has a rapidly increasingly ‘growth base’ with rises of 15 per cent, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In the United States alone (its biggest market), the number of users is expected to hit 116.3 million (34.8 per cent of the then population) and become the second-most popular social network, overtaking Twitter, fellow photo social network Pinterest and micro-blog Tumblr, according to recent figures by eMarketer.
Not surprisingly, just like all social networks, Insta is a hit with the young ‘uns. For all age groups of Internet users, 28 per cent use it, 55 per cent of people between the ages of 18-29 are Insta-fanatics, forming its largest demographic, according to the Pew Research Center in the US. The centre also reported that 52 per cent of teens aged between 13 and 17 were also fans of Instagram.
Instagram has good product loyalty. Fifty-nine per cent of its users post daily, and another 17 per cent use it at least once weekly, according to the Pew Research Center.
The site has enjoyed massive growth rates in some subjects, according to MediaPost. Beauty (74% growth rate), ‘big box’ (128%) and household goods (149%) have been some of the most popular topics, at least for businesses using their Instagram accounts to promote their goods to private users. For the rest of us, I assume selfies probably have a growth rate of 100,000 per cent (I kid).
Instagram is big money for marketers. In 2015, it netted advertising revenue of USD $500 million (GBP £407 million). It is expected that this year, Insta will make more money from its advertising platform on American mobile handsets than Google and Twitter, claims eMarketer.
Although Instagram is US-founded and run by a big American tech company, most of its success has been from outside. Eighty per cent of its users are non-American.
Over 80 million photos are uploaded per day. There is believed to be more than 40 billion images crammed into Insta’s servers and users generate an astonishing 3.5 billion likes per day, says ClickZ.
The most prestigious account, going by popularity and celebrity anyway, is the one owned by U.S. singer Selena Gomez. She has 99.5 million followers allegedly.
The most liked photo over all of Insta was one by reality show star Kendall Jenner. The picture of her lying on her back, eyes closed with her hair spread out and arranged into hearts got 3.5 million likes.
If you post a photo, fifty per cent of comments will appear within six hours, meaning a good post will stick around and not get lost in the noise.
Instagram is quite secure, with only eight per cent of its accounts said to be fake, according to an unnamed Italian security firm.
Like any social network, people sometimes do get bored of posting or other things happen in their life that pull them away. The same Italian firm discovered that nearly 30 per cent of account are rarely used or inactive, usually posting one post per month or less, according to Business Insider.
For businesses, Insta is marketing gold. Forrester published stats that suggest people engage with brands ten times more on Insta than they do on Facebook. Facebook ads are annoying, I grant you that.
One-third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online.
Fifty-three per cent of Instagrammers, as fans are sometimes called, are following brands.
As humans love seeing faces, this fact is probably not surprising, but selfies and group photos on average are 38 per cent more likely to get liked, than other kinds of pictures, such as inanimate objects.
Journalists and students looking to maximise their newsgathering potential from online sources can now get involved in a special short course on advanced online research techniques organised and promoted by U.K. journalism news and skills website journalism.co.uk, the Half-Eaten Mind exclusively reports today.
Online research is now an essential part of reporting in the technological age, whether it is to gather information on the history of a local pub, archives of older news articles or political speeches, or for factual research for a breaking news story. By widening their own knowledge on a given subject via the treasure trove that is online research, journalists can help pass on the benefits to their readers, stimulating minds, disseminating facts for public discourse and remaining true to the journalistic ethic of informing.
Tutored by expert journalism lecturer Alex Wood and being held at the London offices ofMSN, a news and internet services giant, the special bootcamp, which runs for one day, is designed to teach students how to quickly find the information they need, as well as acquire sources online for interviews and quotes. The course will also teach the skillful navigation of social media, which while being an excellent source of breaking stories and technical knowledge, can also be a minefield in sorting the facts from the fiction, spin and lies. This course will help media people sift though the online chatter to find the informational nuggets that to craft that influential front page story.
Wood, the editor-in-chief of The Memo, a newly-launched publication on technology, finance and culture news, who is also a visiting lecturer in journalism at London’s City University, will teach attendees how to get more out of the world’s most popular search engine, Google, how to sift through social media smartly, and show how to organise a ‘toolbox’ of useful technological aids to enable media workers to become better and more effective researchers. He has several years’ experience in training and advising journalists and was previously a founding editor of Tech City News, and is a renowned go-to expert on British technology and innovation.
You will learn how to:
Use advanced operators on search engines to source information;
Turn the idea of research on its head by making the most of influencers on social;
Identify where your community is talking online;
Set up alerts to monitor your research areas;
Organise and file your search results;
Set up a toolbox with the services and platforms you need for the future;
…and more handy search tips! (via Journalism.co.uk)
The bootcamp will take place on the 2nd December 2015, beginning at 10 am and finishing at 5 pm at the MSN UK offices in Victoria, London. It is of particular interest to journalists, public relations staff, communications specialists, fact-checkers and anyone else who wants to unlock the best and most accurate researching potential that the internet has to offer. The training at the course will also focus on the tools and techniques that writers can use to meet their research goals, while emphasising practical hands-on journalism knowledge.
Course attendees will be provided with a buffet lunch and refreshments (tea and coffee). The course fee is £240 (inc. VAT). The location address is: MSN UK, 100 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5JX United Kingdom.
If you’re a Twitter user like me, you’ll know that the social media network with the cute blue bird is full of great advantages. A cool interface, brevity of messages, lots of photos and now videos to comb through, and the level of interaction with other users is second to none. You can keep updated on things that matter to you, whether your favourite sports teams, celebrities, artists, politicians etc. as well as your family and friends closer to home. And of course block or mute anyone who does your head in.
But nothing is perfect in life. Not even Twitter. Aside from the occasional and mildly annoying drunken tweet or unsolicited direct message (DM) ….not withstanding the recent controversies surrounding racist and sexist trolls abusing people on Twitter…there is also the scourge of bots. Fake accounts with dodgy names and quotes clearly slurped off a website somewhere, gift-wrapped with a stolen display picture (usually some random meme or woman), or that God-forsaken egg that usually is served up as default, sadly not with some sausages or bacon as well.
These bad eggs are the bane of the Twitterati. Although the admin behind the site are very good at obliterating most of the fake followers, new ones take their place with the speed and intensity of mushrooms on the forest floor after a long rainy spell. Talk about putting too many eggs in one basket.
According to a filing made by Twitter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2014, it is believed that bots and spam bots account for 14% of Twitter’s active user base. That is around 23 million accounts out of the 271 active users on there. Many of these bots are programmed to retweet garbage or clickbait articles. Not all bots are bad, indeed some are fun (such as the Wiener Schnitzel bot that retweets you every time you mention that phrase) but there are concerns that some may be a gateway for hackers or data miners. Other bots are created to boost up follower numbers in that never ending popularity contest of ‘Who has the most followers?’. There are some companies that will for a small fee get fake accounts to follow your every move and tweet, and inflate not only your follower count but also presumably your ego as well. They do a relatively roaring trade despite Twitter rules of usage prohibiting tweeters from enlisting the services of such ‘follower farms’.
No-one, and I mean no-one is safe from the attention of the bots. Not even celebrities or politicians. United States presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton is said to have once had 2 million fake or inactive followers and that only 44% of her followers are real, living, breathing people. She has also been accused of plumping up her 3 million follower figures with fake accounts, according to British newspaper The Daily Mail. Over here in the UK, former Member of Parliament Louise Mensch found herself in a bit of bother after a Twitter statistics and auditing website determined that 97% of her followers are counterfeits. Several other ministers and low-level politicians in her party, the Conservatives, also found their accounts’ popularity called into question amid flying accusations of wholesale fake follower shopping to boost party morale.
Personally I’ve seen more than my fair share of bots and dodgy Tweeters. On both my individual and blog accounts, I often receive up to five add requests from suspicious looking accounts. They are either accounts with Russian names and bios written in the Cyrillic alphabet or English language accounts with really strange names combining different ethnic origins. For example, recently I’ve been befriended by a Yuriko Dille, a Manika Boag, a Eustachius Knowler… other with half Arab or Indian or Japanese names affixed to Anglo-Saxon, Scottish or German surnames. They must shred up phone directories and randomly piece the names together like some sort of hellish Yellow Pages puzzle.
You can usually pick them off because their feeds are full of spammy retweets and their bio is some sort of quote. Other bots have nonsensical handles like @fnerit_elephantfartunicorn which is one of the main things I look out for when evading bots and fake accounts.
Last weekend I was having a Twitter conversation with a fellow blogger and keen writer, SD Cadman (a.k.a Sarika and Luna Elektra). Since we met on WordPress, we often have little chats of 140 characters or less, but this time there was a serious topic on hand. The conversation was inspired by an article I posted on @halfeatenmind about obtaining quality followers rather than just breaking numbers. We then got talking about fake followers, and how Sarika mentioned that they may well be bots sniffing out data for possibly nefarious purposes. We agreed that the worst bots were, in Sarika’s words, those that “act bloody human” or the “nonsense Factoid accounts”. We joked that we needed a weed whacker (a nice sharp blade) to remove these bots from Twitter like those pesky dandelions that never seem to give up sprouting over your smart well-manicured lawn.
Here’s a GIF she sent me to illustrate the frustration with these meddling dregs of AI….
In a nutshell, what Sarika proposed is that Twitter should have some kind of ‘Weed Whacker Award’ for the person who culls the most bots. That can mean ignoring them when they coming knocking at your account’s door, reporting them to Twitter, but most importantly of all, not adding them, as that gives them legitimacy and access to your followers list. Twitter does often undertake regular purges of fake followers, exterminating them like the filthy rats they are, but new ones keep cropping up. The winner of the bot wipeout can receive a certificate in the post or possibly a badge to go on their header or sidebar et cetera on Twitter. A sort of virtual Neighbourhood Watch against the fraudulent and fake. This would be a bit of fun, but also encourage people to look out for each other and protect against malicious hackers and other cyber-criminals and general online trouble makers.
Inspired by Sarika (SM Cadman), I’d thought I’d come up with a couple of designs for a ‘Weed Whacker Award’ badge if Twitter did such badges. If Dick Costolo, the Twitter CEO, is reading this, you can hire me and Sarika as your ‘creative consultancy team’ or whatever they call them in Silicon Valley. Free lunches and Segways would be a bonus.
While being the next Rupert Murdoch or Lord Northcliffe is probably a very unlikely event for me any time soon – a lack of a gold-plated triple-password protected Swiss bank account not withstanding – it is however, stupidly possible for me, or indeed anyone, to have their own newspaper with content that interests them and their friends. No messy printing ink, whiny subeditors, or pleading with newsagents required. Just an invisible, hands-free, fuss-free ‘editor-bot’ who will pull off a carefully-ish curated selection of tweets, website links etc. to make that virtual front page.
Thanks to the internet, the Half-Eaten Mind now has an accompanying online rag, the Half-Eaten Times.
This special newspaper was launched on the 4th April 2015, just before its parent blog’s third anniversary. Created with the help and hosting of the Swiss curated newspaper site paper.li, the Half-Eaten Times draws on the sharing activity of lists and followers on the blog’s Twitter social account@halfeatenmind and curates interesting and newsworthy content, presented in a New York Times format for easy accessibility and browsing.
Like any good broadsheet, The Half-Eaten Times has a respectable and diverse selection of categories for our readers. Updated every 12 hours (twice daily), our e-paper features the latest picks of the current headlines in the HEM world, as well as subtopics covering leisure, entertainment, technology, sciences and business matters. Every contributor is a blogging citizen journalist (excusing the ones who are already journalists, of course) and every follower has the potential to make the news. News media at probably its most democratic.
In addition, there will be also plenty of news from all the world, supplied by our media partners.
Although I own the e-paper, I am not responsible for the content, which is picked up automatically by the curation technology that paper.li makes available to its users.
You can subscribe to the newsletter via email or social media, and special tweets and posts will be sent out every time a new edition of the Half-Eaten Times goes on the newsstand.
Have a leaf-through the Half-Eaten Times at the link below.
I’ve also produced a banner advert for this new feature which may be included in the sidebar of this blog for maximum visibility, however my final decision is still pending. Using the now familiar HEM street sign logo, I was lucky enough to find the right visual elements to make this advert tie in with HEM’s header design (the original sunrise one with the silhouetted buildings) in the same way the e-newspaper’s name ties in with the blog’s name. Smart thinking eh?
The Half-Eaten Times….out now at your local PC screen and at all good tablets….for the cover price of £0.00 ($0.00 US/Canada; Rs 0.00 Mauritius, ₹00/= India)…you get my drift…Get your copy today! 🙂
Let me know what you think. I can also help you set one up if you need.
As many of our blogging friends may know, the Half-Eaten Mind maintains a Twitter account, where I share the latest happenings and articles to come out of a partially digested brain. It just came to my attention that it has been exactly a year since we began tweeting our mind on one of the world’s most influential and bitesized social networks.
I was looking through my Gmail account from where I receive all mails regarding the HEM Twitter feed and came across one from the Twitter HQ in San Francisco, California, USA. It said:
“Happy Twitterversary! You just turned 1.
Let everyone know that it’s your Twitterversary.”
So we’ve been one year on Twitter. That works out to 8,106 tweets, 2,001 followed accounts and 976 followers, as of Tuesday 24th June 2014. So we do not have the legions of followers of famous celebrity accounts like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, for example, but that’s still an impressive tally. Of course, I cannot stress enough that each and every follower counts… We are also big on multimedia. The HEM account currently has 92 videos and images uploaded.
Well it’s mainly a promotion tool for the blog. Our public face. As any online business expert will tell you, social media counts for everything in getting the word out and making your blog, in this case, more accessible. Twitter has millions of users and accounts and your tweets can very easily reach an audience far greater than word-of-mouth or paper-based promotions, perhaps more than the website or blog can generate itself.
The Twitter feed works functionally as a means of showing off new articles. Whenever a new blogpost goes online, a Tweet is automatically created by WordPress straight onto the HEM account. I then manually access the account and pin the tweet to give it prominence for any visitors. I also share other bloggers’ posts, with priority given to those who like articles on the blog. I’ll retweet the article on their site which I like as a reciprocated thanks for visiting the Half-Eaten Mind. I also retweet development from the Daily Post and Hot Off The Press online newsletters from WordPress and news stories furnished via Twitter or LinkedIn. I also retweet articles on blogging techniques or handy advice concerning the noble art of blogging.
I also use the account as a source for news and article ideas which feed directly into the blog. I follow several hundred news and media organisation accounts which provide breaking news and features which saves me having to sniff around the wider internet looking for that next ‘scoop’. Separate from the media section, there are many other bloggers who also tweet their work and I make it a habit to follow other bloggers, mainly those already following HEM on WordPress. We also have a contingent of followers who are Tweeps who are outside either blogging or journalism and media, both individuals and companies. I aim to follow everyone but currently we have reached our following limit which is imposed by Twitter and we cannot do much about it.
The account also has links with providers of journalism resources which is helpful for a bit of self-education and awareness on new issues and techniques affecting the world of news reporting across all platforms.
“News & views of a partially digested brain – a news and features blog run by Vijay Shah (@VShah1984)”
All accounts added to our followers/following portfolios are sorted into one of several lists. That is partially because I am obsessively organised, but also to help place people and businesses into suitable categories for when, for example, I need to find a news story or locate a blogger. In return, we have been added and always subscribe to, other people’s lists. We consider it a big honour and appreciation of our work when we are added to your lists.
This is for accounts on developments and reactions in the field of journalism. This includes educational accounts on the media, press freedom, influential and aspiring journalists, jobs, journalism tools and news on the industry.
This is the list of all personal (not company) accounts we follow. Often many readers who visit our blog decide to subscribe to the Twitter account so get information at their fingers without needing to be on WP or overfilling their inbox.
These are miscellaneous businesses that follow us on occasions who are not connected with newswriting or reporting per se. It runs the gauntlet from South Asian promotional events, facts on whales and alcoholic drinks to flower deliveries, human rights and pubs in London.
Our largest list. This consists of mostly news media organisations and some journalists. A very important list as it supplies much of the blog’s news content when I am using Twitter. We follow both local, national (British) and international news providers from TV, online, magazines and newspapers, across language, political leaning and reporting style to aim for an unbiased and multi-angled coverage of the world’s news.
‘Twitterversary’ is a portmanteau (word-blending) of the nouns ‘Twitter’ and ‘anniversary’. In its basic form, it is a fun way of marking your arrival on Twitter. The MacMillan online dictionary describes it as “the anniversary of the day somebody started using the microblogging site Twitter”.
To celebrate the HEM Twitterversary I produced this cool graphic to illustrate social media’s impact on the blog and incorporating elements particular to HEM, especially our new “London road sign” logo and mascot Woodsy. The globe in space does look ‘pretty’ but it also reflects our focus on news from all four corners of the world, and the dominant blues and turquoises utilised in the original wallpaper image by Geralt chimes in nicely with the flock of Twitter birds. Twitter is valuable in disseminating both news and my writing to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.