Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Crossword Puzzle - December 2013 (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had an amazing 2013, and that 2014 turns out to be everything that you want it to be. If you're going to be partying tonight, please be responsible. Don't drink and drive, and don't get up in anybody's faces. Be considerate, and remember that everybody else has just as much right to enjoy themselves as you do.

Last week Sunday, I tweeted an article, celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the crossword puzzle:

As you can see, I also promised that my monthly crossword puzzles would continue into 2014.

For my last crossword of 2013, I thought it might be appropriate to create one that was inspired by that very first, one hundred years ago. Well, loosely inspired anyway. As you'll see, the shape is quite similar (except that mine is a smaller board), but that's where the similarity ends: the clues and answers are completely different.

In case you've never played with me before, here's how it works:

  1. First, you print out the crossword puzzle
  2. Next, you complete it
  3. Once you've completed it, you send your answers to me, in one of the following ways:
    1. Scan in your completed grid, and Tweet it to me
    2. Copy your answers and send me a Facebook message
It's probably not a good idea to paste your answers into the comments below; you don't want to ruin it for anyone else!

I'll be posting the answers next Tuesday (7 January 2014). If I've received the correct answers before then, the first person who gave me the correct answers will get a shoutout on this blog! If you send me the answers via Twitter, I'll mention you there as well.

Simple enough? Well, here's the puzzle. Good luck!

And here are your clues:

1 Character from the Orient, in this famous Christmas Carol (4)
5 Sound of an explosion (6)
7 A story expressing great sorrow (8)
9 A woman's body part (4)
10 Third word of KKK (4)
12 Flemmish painter Jan van, born 1395 (4)
13 Popular American auction site (4)
15 2001 film about a famous boxer (3)
16 British Thermal Unit (3)
17 Afrikaans acronym for South African national carrier (3)
18 "Take on Me" band (3)
19 A vase-shaped pitcher (4)
21 An Overzealous maniacal fan for any celebrity or athlete (4)
22 Blackthorn (4)
24 German-Baltic-Russian noble family von (4)
25 People who yodel (8)
28 Champagne and Orange Juice cocktail (6)
29 Boats for towing larger boats (4)
1 Arabic word for dog (4)
2 International Boxing Organisation (3)
3 Neither (3)
4 Korean (offensive) (4)
5 An eccentric person (4)
6 A sterile donkey (4)
7 Submissively (8)
8 Seventh Days (8)
9 Common laws of a local authority (6)
11 Court prophet in the time of King David (6)
12 Without difficulty (4)
14 Currency of China (4)
20 An enclosed space (4)
21 Sumerian minor God of War (4)
23 Make changes to (4)
24 English pianist (1890-1965) (4)
26 Australian bird resembling the ostrich (3)
27 It burns in a fireplace (3)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

All Time Blog Stats (And Merry Christmas!)

This blog has been running for a year now, and I thought it might be a good time to share with you how it's gone. I've had lots of fun this year, and it's interesting to see which of my blog posts have stood the test of time, and where the traffic comes from.

Most Viewed Posts

The top viewed posts on this blog this year are (drumroll, please!):
  1. Crossword Puzzle - March 2013
  2. live sex cams: tkdot.com
  3. My First Book: A Petition to Magic
  4. World Retina Week Promotion
  5. Crossword Puzzle - July 2013 Answers
The third most viewed blog post of all time was also my second ever post on this blog, back on 26 December 2012! (My first ever blog post was on Christmas Day, 2012, entitled Merry Christmas!). I'm glad to see that post is still being viewed today!

The number one post is a bit perplexing. I'm not sure what was so special about my March 2013 Crossword Puzzle. Even more perplexing is that people appear to be more interested in the answers to my July puzzle.

Number two made me chuckle a bit. I wrote it back in April, in response to an observation at the time that I was getting a disproportionate number of views from the Google search lave sex cams: tkdot.com. I had no idea where those searches were coming from, or why they pointed to my blog, but I thought I should give them a place to land on. Of course, if you use that search term in Google now, you'll find that that post is the number one result!

The World Retina Week post also brings back some good memories. I ran a promotion back in September (during World Retina Week), promising to donate R10 to Retina South Africa during the week. I didn't make any sales that week, but hopefully I got people to SMS and donate to Retina South Africa (The SMS number is still active, by the way).

Top Web Searches

  1. www.grahamdowns.blogspot.com
  2. grahamdowns.blogspot.com
  3. mike@moretechtips.net
  4. lave sex cams: tkdot.com
  5. tkdot.com
Looking at the first two, it's interesting to note that many of these "Top Searches" type statistics seem to include searches for web addresses, quite high up in the stats. I'm grateful, at least, that people clearly want to come to my blog. Why they're searching Google for the address, instead of just typing the URL directly into their address bar is a mystery, though.

The last two most searched for terms that led to my blog are evidence of what I observed back in April, but I still have no idea how people got my blog using those terms.

Number 3? No idea. I don't know who mike@moretechtips.net is, or why he'd be linking here. I'm grateful if he is, though!

Hopefully next year we'll see some more "logical" searches bringing people to my blog.

Top Countries

  1. United States
  2. South Africa
  3. Latvia
  4. Russia
  5. Germany
This one's a bit disappointing, but at the same time, flattering. This is a South African blog, after all, but I guess this is the nature of the Internet. Of course the United States would be on top. They're the powerhouse of the Internet, and most Twitter and Facebook traffic comes from there.

I don't really know what interest my blog would be to Latvians, Russians or Germans, though. But hey, I'm not complaining! If you are in Latvia, Russia, or Germany, drop me a comment and let me know what keeps you coming back. I'd love you hear from you!

Top Browsers

  1. Firefox
  2. Chrome
  3. Internet Explorer
  4. Opera
  5. Safari
Well, obviously, the top three powerhouses are there!

I'm a bit sad that Firefox beat out Chrome, since Chrome is my favourite browser, but the margin was pretty small, with Internet Explorer trailing behind at a distant third.

Opera's pretty cool too, and I guess Safari's on the list because Macintosh is too (see below).

Top Operating Systems

  1. Windows
  2. Macintosh
  3. Linux
  4. iPhone
  5. Android
So Windows continues to be the Operating System of choice on the PC, with Macintosh trailing quite far behind. I'm quite pleased, though, to see that Linux and Macintosh are actually neck and neck, since I'm personally a huge Linux fan!

On this blog in particular, mobile traffic is still lagging behind, but the proportion of mobile versus desktop traffic does seem to be increasing. And as we know, iPhone and Android are the top mobile phone operating systems in the world today.But

Last Words

Thank you for reading to the end of this rather long post. I hope you find these stats as interesting as I do. If you have any observations to make, I'd love to hear from you! Just pop them into the comments below.

There will be a Crossword Puzzle next Tuesday, for New Year's Eve, but until then, have a wonderful Christmas.

May God bless you and your family on one of the most important days of the Christian calendar, and as you're sitting around the tree tomorrow morning opening presents, may you not forget the true significance of the day!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I am not Frazzle! Available Now!

A couple of weeks ago on this blog, I mentioned that I had written a short story called Stingers, for an anthology entitled I am not Frazzle! And other stories for grown-ups. I said that all proceeds from the sale of this book would go to a local children's charity in the UK, the Devizes Opportunity Centre. I also said that I believed that the book would be out by Christmas.

Well, guess what? I didn't lie. You can now buy I am not Frazzle! in paperback, from Lulu! Here's the book description from that site:

Here is the deal, we take 10 great authors, give them the freedom to write a story in their own style and genre as long as the general theme has children involved. Next we put them in a big pot (the stories not the authors) and mix them up a bit to see what comes out at the end. And here it is, a marvellous mixture of inspiring, entertaining, funny and thought provoking fables that will delight every grown up from here to the Land of Lorff ... Huh? What do you mean you’ve never heard of the land of Loff? Well my friend, read on.....

Authors include: Darren Worrow, Maria Miller, James Cruickshank and James Penhaligon, Richelle E. Goodrich, Cecily Magnon, Holly M. Kothe, Nancy Brooks, Paul Howard, Graham Downs and David Darby.

All proceeds of this book will go to the children’s charity; The Devizes and District Opportunity Centre.

For now, it's only available as a paperback, and you can buy it by clicking on the following button:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Be sure, though, to check out the book's website and Facebook Page, for more information about when and where it will be available as an ebook... although you have to admit, paperbacks are much cooler than ebooks, anyway!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

My Interview with IndieAuthorLand

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday afternoon when the following tweet showed up in my mentions column on TweetDeck:

They'd told me that my interview there would only be published today. Anyway, I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Here's the text of the interview:

Heritage of Deceitis about a guy in an office who, while surfing the Internet one day, comes across something he thinks is a relic from an old genocide. Even more exciting, he firmly believes that it exists, and it’s right under his nose!

If true, the artefact could bring lots of families the closure they desperately need, not to mention lots of money, but it won’t be easy to find out.

It’s a thrilling novelette, with a love interest, and lots of twists and turns.

What arena are we in here?

I always struggle to define what genre my writing is in, but I guess I would put this one firmly in the thriller genre.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?

People who like thrillers, but not long, complicated conspiracy theories. This is a quick story with a plot that’s easy to understand (but definitely not boring!).

Tell us a bit more about your main characters.

Well, there’s Lloyd. He’s the one who discovers the artefact on the Internet. He’s very much your typical ADD kind of guy. Nothing keeps him interested for very long. At the start of the book, he’s bored and looking for an outlet for his talents.

Lloyd’s friend Robert is much more pragmatic. He hears Lloyd’s theory, but wants to check it out. He takes his time finding proof that Lloyd is right, and then he carefully ponders what to do next.

Carla is young and naive. She’s in love with Robert and constantly pines for him, but he doesn’t seem to know she’s alive. As the story opens, she’s your typical drama queen.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?

My last book is called A Petition to Magic. It’s a short fantasy story about a new queen. Desperate to prove herself, she agrees to hear the case of a farmer who claims his neighbour stole his cow. Hearing such a case is unheard of for the ruler of a kingdom, but you’ll just have to read the story to find out how it turns out!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Alberton (South Africa) in 1980. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and a passion for telling stories. I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop RPGs when I was younger, and still like to play them whenever I get time (which isn’t very often).

For a day job, I’m a computer programmer, but I still love to write. My stories simply have to be told.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?

You can check out my blog at http://grahamdowns.blogspot.com/ From there you will find links to Heritage of Deceit and A Petition to Magic, and I’ll be updating it with more books as they release.

You can follow me on Twitter at @GrahamDowns, where I tweet about all sorts of things from writing and publishing, to programming and IT, to business, to Christianity.

My Facebook page is much more focused to my writing, so if you’re not interested in any of the other stuff, you can Like me at http://www.facebook.com/writergraham/

What’s next?

I’m currently working on a short story called Stingers, which I’m submitting to a short story anthology that will hopefully be out by Christmas. All the proceeds from sale of that anthology will go to a children’s charity in the UK. I can’t divulge more at this stage, but it’s really exciting stuff!

If you're a reader looking for new authors to read, then IndieAuthorLand is a great resource! If you're an up and coming author, looking for exposure, it's just as good! Go check them out at http://www.indieauthorland.com/.

To watch the interview on YouTube, click the Play button below:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Crossword Puzzle - November 2013 Answers

Well, well, well, so nobody got it in time to get a free copy of Heritage of Deceit. Never mind, you can still buy the book from a variety of different places (in print, or as an e-book).

I hope you had fun trying to get the answers, though! If you don't want to know yet, close this tab now. Otherwise, see below:

Next one coming Christmas Eve! (Wow, I can't believe Christmas is almost here already!)