Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Friday, 28 February 2014

How to ‘unpack’ an epub file to edit the contents and see what’s inside

*The first in a series of posts about techincal matters relating to e-books. This series was prompted by difficulties linking a table of contents for a Kindle e-book. That post is to follow. Logically there need to be some preliminaries. A growing index will appear at the bottom of each post.

An .epub file is really just a .zip archive in disguise. Inside are all the necessary files needed by the epub reader to display the e-book correctly. If you need to edit these files using an html editor, or are just curious to see what’s in there, you will need to ‘unpack’ the epub. To do this, first change the extension FROM .epub:
TO .zip:
And IGNORE the warning:
Its icon changes into that for a zipped archive:

Select the file and right-click on it. Then select ‘Extract All...’ from the pop-up menu:

Thursday, 20 February 2014

WIN a FREE copy of my book!

To celebrate the 30,000th pageview of my blog, I am giving away up to TEN (paperback) copies of my book!!!!

Just use the ‘send me some email!’ box below my picture in the right-hand side panel of my site to send me an email with the answer to the following question: ‘What is the name of the sauna where Kash and Everton go to meet Riccqui?’ Don’t forget to include your mailing details!!!! ONLY entrants emailing me by using the ‘send me some email!’ box will be considered.

One copy will be available to begin with. Another copy will be added for every ten entries received up to a maximum of 10 copies available. Copies will be sent out free of charge to any address worldwide on May 1st or when I have received 99 replies, whenever is the sooner. Hint: read the free sample, the answer is in there!!!! One copy only per entrant. Winners to be allocated by random number draw. Tell your friends!!!!!

IF you have entered the draw AND ALSO do anything to interact with my social media such as following my blog, become a facebook friend, like any of my posts or facebook content, follow me on twitter, retweet me, comment on this post, link to my blog from your website etc. etc. Please tell me and I will give you an extra chance in the draw per interaction (within reason!). Please enter!!!! This ought to be fun!!!!!!

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Monday, 3 February 2014

What size should a Facebook Event picture be?

I recently set up two facebook events for Paradise Press book launches. In doing so I discovered they have CHANGED the dimensions for the picture you can upload for your facebook event. Googling around, I first found a page from facebook saying the image should be 850 × 315 pixels. Then another from someone else saying it should really be 714 × 264 and that if you used the size facebook advised it would be cropped.

I used the 714 × 264 size and all was well. BUT … there is ALWAYS a BUT … facebook said they used the middle bit only for the square picture they use in your events list. In my case, they used a portion over to the right of centre, centred on ONE of the book images. Looking at a number of other events on facebook it seems they are using some sort of image recognition routine to identify the most ‘interesting’ part of the image. Some used the central part, some began from the left hand edge of the image and some like mine over to the right.

So for the record, use an image 716 × 264 pixels and hope they select the central square 264 × 264 px for the event list. Here is one of my event ‘banner’ pictures:

To make this, I reduced the book covers so that when taken side-by-side they fitted into 264px. The border this left above and below the cover images could be used for my text. I posted two almost identical images for two different events. When viewed in the ‘event’ list I got these results:
As you can see the picture is indeed a square selection from the image, but one is centred on the original image and the other is centred on just one of the book covers. Luckily, by making my text fit into the 264 px width it is all included in both cases, and I would recommend this approach, given that you can’t guarantee with absolute certainty which bit of the image will be selected by facebook.

UPDATE: 24 March 2013: Here is a schematic outlining what I have just said:

When I posted the events on Facebook, back in February, there was a ‘letterbox’ version of the event picture used by facebook. This seems to have completely disappeared. I certainly can’t find it any more. For the record I am leaving the rest of my original post intact, although it seems no longer to be relvant/current.

end update

A horizontal full-width slice of the image is used for the list of events suggested by facebook, with the event details superimposed on the bottom part in white:

I measured this screenshot and it came to 902 × 171px and doing some quick sums this gave an image size of 714 × 135px OR, more likely 714 × 132px which would make it the middle 50% slice of the original image. It also looks as if the white text occupies the BOTTOM 40% of the image. Here’s a schematic:

Hopefully this helps anyone wanting to get their event image ‘right’. Please bear in mind that the pixel dimensions along the left hand side of the schematic are based on my calculations and might be a few pixels out. Also don’t forget that the piece used for the event photo might be over to the right or left, rather than centred.

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