The digital ecosystem is indeed a murky place. When I first set up my blog my comments page was inundated with spam which I decided to go through manually.  Some of this spam was so utterly nonsensical and apparently pointless that it got me thinking – who or what generates this drivel and for what purpose?

Alligator Mississippiensis by H Zell
Alligator Mississippiensis by H Zell

I’d like to tell a story here to illustrate where I’m going with this.  When we lived in crime-riddled Mexico City, many houses in our suburb were hidden behind high walls topped with shards of colourful broken glass or decorative but lethally pointed wrought iron.  Not long after we arrived, a uniformed man knocked on the fortified door of our high walled but not particularly secure property and offered to guard our house. Without getting into the whole social justice side of societies like this where the rich and poor live cheek-by-jowl, we were told by people well versed in how such operations worked that if we didn’t pay up, we would probably be robbed.

So perhaps some spam serves a similar purpose. After all, if spam didn’t exist, then anti-spam services wouldn’t exist either.  It’s like creating a disease then selling the cure. In my mind the paid host should do a spam clean as part of their service. It’s the only way to keep things fair.

I believe in a free market, albeit one with a finely tuned moral compass. See John Oliver’s wonderful Last Week Tonight for ferocious investigative journalism and examples of how things can go horribly wrong in the free market when people/corporations behave unethically.


Which brings me to the comments people have sent me. Most arrive on my comments page with advertising attached. So who puts this in? WordPress? ( in which case I’m sorry to genuine posters). Or do the senders have hidden agendas;  ie: are they actually advertisers?

This lack of transparency really bugs me.

But to those of you with specific and I’m going to  assume sincere questions: with regard to copyright, anything posted online has copyright, but this doesn’t mean someone unscrupulous will ignore your artist’s rights ( see my mention of moral compasses above). The copyright page of The Infidel’s Garden has a thematically relevant strategy for dealing with this. Click on the link below  for a ‘Look Inside’ version of the book.

bosch demon 1 flipped with shadow

On that note, I’ll be including a separate post on superstition shortly. I’m also planning to set up a separate blog for The Infidel’s Garden.

No idea with regard to internet compatibility issues. Yes, to the request to share my blog on Facebook – the more readers I have the better as long as they have lungs, brains and hearts pumping warm blood through their veins.

Meanwhile, to those of you who are not bots or marketers of advertising space, I’m interested in any comments on the whole spam/advertising conundrum.   How can we clear away the murk?  How do we keep this digital ecosystem free of predators and pollution?

Obviously spammers and advertisers need not reply.


The other day as I was trawling through sites of fellow eBook authors, I came across a blog with some very disturbing information about fake book reviews.

As these reviews undermine the efforts of all genuine reviewers and hard-working writers, I feel this is a very loud conversation all self-published eBook authors need to have.

In the absence of a famous author brand name and/or advertising undertaken by the traditional publishers, genuine reviews by enthusiastic readers are gold for self-published eBook authors.

However, it seems multiple paid reviews (some of them astoundingly inarticulate) are the strategy some authors use to make their books swiftly climb up the ranking scales and even hit the best-seller lists.

I do understand ePublishing is still the Wild West and as the industry takes shape, it will have its fair share of unscrupulous opportunists with no systems or clear rules in place to weed these villains out.  So, how do we, as genuine hard-working authors, deal with this lazy and dishonest practice?

I’d also like to throw another idea out there – are paid reviews any more or less ethical than paid advertising or those extravagant PR campaigns undertaken by the big publishing houses to market a chosen few authors? Are we being unrealistic in expecting word-of-mouth to be our sole method of spreading the word about our books?

In the midst of all the eNoise, when you are an unknown author, without an advertising and PR budget, how do you gather a following? Mark Coker of Smashwords points out you must write a book that touches people’s souls. I agree with this, but how do you reach people in the first place to tell them their souls just might be touched by your book?

Let’s also remember writing a genuine, insightful review that is constructive and helpful for both readers and authors is no small task. A reader must be sufficiently moved by a book to write something. They must be confident of their writing skills and also understand the importance of good reviews in this recently formed eBook universe. And they must do this all willingly for no financial compensation.

With that in mind, I’d also like to point out an uncomfortable truth. Amazon KDP is in the business of selling books. And, as authors, we are supplying the products. Business after all, is business and our mesmerizing writing and rollicking plots, our soulful characters and the wrenching moral dilemmas they face may not be enough to draw in the volume of readers we would like.

In this new world where so many of us are competing to be heard, the pragmatic me can see the future of reviews changing. Professional and paid reviews by people who have genuinely read the books may become the new norm. Then another issue will rear its ugly head. Will only reviewers who generously dish out five stars get the most work? Ah, what a dilemma!

I’d be very interested in knowing how other eBook authors and reviewers feel about this.

As a first time author, I’m new at this whole business, but I’d like to say my two five star reviews for my recently published book The Infidel’s Garden were unsolicited and unpaid. My sincerest thanks to you both! And without I hope sounding too greedy, here’s hoping for more.

I’ll say no more on this, as there’s an excellent discussion thread on this topic here.



Five Star Review for Infidel’s Garden

Seasoned writers may be blasé about such things but as this is my  debut novel and my first review, I’m posting it here.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is the kind of tale that gets into your head and keeps you thinking about it all the time. The kind of book you sit up to midnight reading promising yourself ‘just one more chapter, just one more.’ I read it over three nights (had to take a break to feed the family – drag) but the story and the characters are still running around in my head a week later. The main character, Marjit, is spunky and witty, the acerbic black dog that sits on her shoulder makes me laugh and cry, Pieter, her beloved, is upright, moral and dishy, and the sex scenes are steamy and poetic. The setting, Christian Holland after the Spanish Inquisition, is very well presented. It is a world completely alien to us today but the author brings it to all our senses – the sights, the smells, the fears, the horrors, and the delicate gentle corners where innocence is nurtured and encouraged to blossom. It’s a frightening place that can only be survived with the aid of love – the question is whether love can survive in such a place at all.
Hearty congrats to the author for a fantastic first full length novel and looking forward very much to the next.

Thanks to JoannaGoanna and all of you who have purchased/downloaded The Infidel’s Garden. I do hope you are also enjoying the book. If you have any questions or comments about the characters or story, please feel free to contact me on this site. I would love to hear from you!

I’m also well into The Seven Plagues of Love, so if you want to have a sneak peak of Pieter and Soheila’s next incarnation, please contact me and I’ll put you on my mailing list and send you some sample chapters once its ready.


Finally! It looks as though everything is up and running.     The Infidel’s Garden is now available across multiple eBook platforms including iBooks, Amazon Kindle and Kobo.

It’s free for a while on all sites except Amazon where it costs less than a cup of coffee (or at least a Sydney cup of coffee).

For a little taste of the book, here’s the link to the book trailer which has  been uploaded to Youtube.

The music is Prince Waldecks Galliard by Blackmore’s Night. The sources of the very-fiddled-with-artwork are mine and royalty-free images from Wikimedia Commons.


Here are links to the book.


iBooks – sorry I can’t work  this one out – you’ll have to do a hunt on your iPad. Author name and  book title will bring it up on the iBook store.



Barnes and Noble Nook

Thanks for taking the time to have a look. If you do read the book and enjoyed it, a review (on Goodreads, Amazon, iBooks etc)  would be wonderful and will make many people ( including this author)  happy.


My apologies for this – I’m having issues with the formatting on the Kindle version of The Infidel’s Garden ( no bold or italics!) which Amazon is looking into. Until then, my advice is to stick with the Smashwords version. I’ll set the book up on Goodreads and post the trailer once these issues have been addressed.


I’ve just finished publishing  The Infidel’s Garden  to   Smashwords and Kindle Direct. Once I know everything is up and running, I’ll follow this post up with a link to the trailer. At present, if you download through the Smashwords link, it’s FREE until March 31st. Enjoy!


ad sheet 4

Ps If you really love it, please feel free to post a review. I have an account with Goodreads which will be updated once the book is fully available across all the eBook platforms.


Welcome to my website and thank you for taking time to visit.  My name is Ingrid Banwell and here, you’ll find pages and links to the things I like to paint and write about – nature, science, magic, alien life, technology, religion and other topics that intrigue, exasperate, and invoke heated arguments at dinner parties.

You’ll also notice some things aren’t quite complete. I’m currently blundering my way around WordPress, so come back in a week or so when I hope to have everything worked out.

Also keep an eye out here for news of the release of my first novel, The Infidel’s Garden, which will soon be available as an eBook. As soon as it’s ready, I’ll be advertising it and providing links to both the book and its trailer on this page. For a fuller synopsis, visit my books page.