Tag Archives: 2018

Apples, alpacas and some results

First and foremost, to all those who re-blogged and retweeted my ebook free promotion over the last two days…THANK YOU! There were 40 downloads and I’m grateful for each and every one. 🙂

And now to soothe my frazzled nerves and yours, I thought I’d show you what else I’ve been up to:

Exhibit 1 – one of the alpacas that mows my grass, strips my rose bushes and turns my fruit trees into umbrellas

You may also notice that there’s not much grass on the ground. This time last year, the two alpacas would have been chewing through knee high growth. It’s been dry, very dry.

Exhibit 2 – the apple tree inside the new fence

I got  a bit artistic with this shot. 🙂 The metal framing the picture is actually the reo ‘gate’. More on that in the next shot.

This whole project started because I was determined to save the apple tree from the alpacas. Most of my fruit trees are tall enough to survive having all their lower branched pruned into an umbrella shape by the ‘girls’. The apple, however, is kind of a dwarf, and I made the mistake of planting it too close to the fence. As a result, even when the alpacas are locked out, they just reach over the barbed wire and nibble away [that’s why there’s new growth in the middle of the apple tree but not on the ends of the branches].

The first step, therefore, was to put wire mesh above the fence. To do that, I had to hammer some star pickets into the ground and then screw another star picket half way up to increase the combined height [star pickets have holes along one flange so if you marry up the holes you can screw them together]. Then the wire was attached to the ‘posts’.

You can see how the star pickets are attached in Exhibit 3.

Exhibit 3 – the fence

The grid of metal wired to the star pickets is the ‘gate’ leading into the fenced off area. The grid is called ‘reo’ by tradies, but it’s official name is ‘reinforced wire mesh‘. Reo is used to reinforce concrete as it’s being poured. The heavy duty variety is also rigid enough to make an excellent gate. And that’s what I did. Haven’t quite finished so the gate is just wired shut for now.

Exhibit 4 – the enclosure

This last pic just shows the wire enclosure around the apple tree. If you look closely you can see the doubled up star pickets and wire mesh.

Apple tree 1, alpacas 0. -fist pump-

My hands are covered in bandaids and my back hurts, but seeing the apple tree burst into green makes it all worthwhile.

cheers from Warrandyte!

Meeks

 


2 free days for the KDP how-to books

I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:

The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.

Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:

Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.

Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app.  You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow.  I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


How to fudge an Index with Kindle Create

There used to be a number of individual Kindle applications you could download and install, now there’s just one: Kindle Create.

When you open Kindle Create on your computer, you’ll be presented with two options – text heavy novels or graphics heavy non-fiction:

The one I use is ‘Textbooks, Travel Guides, Cookbooks, Music books’. It requires a PDF file and allows me to control exactly where and how text and graphics appear on the page [of the ebook].

Termed ‘fixed format’, these ebooks behave almost exactly like print books in that the size of the e-reader screen is the size of the ‘page’, and the text and graphics have to be sized to suit that page.

The screenshot below was taken from within Kindle Create and shows how the fixed format ebook will appear on a Kindle Fire:

The three things you should notice are:

  1. The page is in colour,
  2. The page contains a graphic image that fits exactly within the margins,
  3. The page contains a hyperlink.

All three elements, and their placement, were set in the original Word file, before it was converted into a PDF. Kindle Create then imported the PDF and converted it to a proprietary format called .kcb. [When the file is ready to be published to the Kindle, it will be converted to its final format which is called .kpf]. The important thing to note is that all three elements are retained in the .kcb file, including the hyperlink.

You won’t be able to do much in the way of editing, but you will be able to create a Table of Contents. The TOC is bog simple, manual and only allows for one TOC entry per page. It also allows for only one level of TOC.  Effectively, this means that you will be able to create a table of chapter headings and not much else. And, of course, there is no option for creating an Index.

The lack of a deep TOC and no Index means that non-fiction ebooks are kind of hard to dip into and ‘browse’. Yet that is precisely what most non-fiction readers need. How was I going to make my e-textbook more user friendly?

The answer was kind of obvious, once I thought of it. -sigh-

As mentioned before, Kindle Create gives you the option of preserving any hyperlinks present in your PDF. This means you can tap a link inside the ebook and be taken directly to that location…both inside the ebook and out.

-cue light bulb moment-

What if I added a list of hyperlinks to my Word document before I converted it to the PDF?

If Kindle Create preserved all those hyperlinks, I’d end up with a list of links in alphabetical order! I’d end up with an Index of Links!

As with all great ideas, mine turned out to be a wee bit harder than expected.

I started by creating a simple two column table in Word.

Then I printed off the Index pages of the paperback and marked the most important Index entries. I then typed those into the left hand column of the table with one Index entry per cell.

Next, I trawled through the print Index a second time, marking the most important ‘Subentries’. They went into the right hand column with one subentry per line.

Finally, I selected a subentry, opened the Insert tab and clicked Link:

The screenshot above shows the ‘Insert Hyperlink’ dialog box in Word 2016. If you have text selected before you open the dialog box, Word will automatically make that text the ‘Text to display’ [see two linked orange circles]. In other words, you will see that text rather than the hyperlink itself.

The orange circle labelled as ‘A‘ shows that ‘Place in This Document’ has been selected as the general location of the hyperlink.

The orange circle labelled as ‘B‘ shows the TOC sub-heading selected to be the actual location of the hyperlink.

Wait…’TOC sub heading’?

Yes. When you create a link within a document, Word looks for the same heading styles that are used to generate a Table of Contents. As my document contains five levels of heading styles – i.e. from Heading 1 through to Heading 5 – those headings are the locations I can use for my hyperlinks. Effectively, I’m using all the TOC levels Kindle Create won’t let me put into its Table of Contents to create an Index of sorts. It’s not perfect, and this work around does entail a lot of work, but…a fudged index is better than no index at all.

In case you’re wondering, this is what the Index of Links looks like in Kindle Create:

Apologies for yet another how-to post, but I was kind of pleased with my little solution. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Melbourne – wind direction

Just checked the VicEmergency website and took this screenshot of the wind-direction[s] around Melbourne at the moment:

The little arrows indicate where the wind is coming from, and where it’s going to. The bottom of the picture is ‘south’ so you can see that in the lavender coloured areas down the bottom, wind direction is a steady ‘south easterly’ – i.e. coming from the south and east. In the pale areas, however, the wind is all over the place. Literally.

Why bother with wind direction?

Because you need to know whether a bushfire is being blown towards you or away from you.

To see the wind direction overlay on the VicEmergency map, click the Filter option as shown:

This will open a drop down list. Scroll down the list and click ‘wind direction’. This will display the lavender map at the top of this post.

To get rid of the wind direction overlay, open the Filter menu again and select ‘None’.

If you’re looking at the VicEmergency app on your phone, you have to tap your watch zone first. Once it opens, the Filter option is located up the top on the right-hand side of the screen [next to the ?].

Tap Filter and select the option for wind direction as for the website.

Given how dry and horrible this Spring has been, I think I’ll be keeping that wind direction overlay on at all times.

Stay safe,

Meeks


Amazon free ebook, one day only

Just a quick post to let you know that ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing‘ [ebook version] will be free in the US from 12:00am, September 26, 2018 till 11:59pm September 26, 2018.

For the Eastern seaboard of Australia, 12:00am Seattle time [Amazon] translates to 5:00pm Melbourne time. So for us, it’ll be sometime after 5:00 pm tomorrow, Thursday September 26, 2018.

Gah…I hate timezones.

Now, the ebook uses a fixed format so all the pictures fit properly. BUT. That means the ebook will only work on:

…Fire tablets and free reading apps for iPads, Android tablets, smartphones, PCs, and Macs.

 

 

Sorry, but it simply won’t work on ordinary Kindles. I will play around with a different format, to see if it works, but I’m not holding my breath; Kindles are great for text heavy books, but I suspect their ability to ‘flow’ will cause merry hell with pictures…

Anyway, even if creating a paperback of your book is still nothing but a rosy fantasy, grab a copy of the KDP how-to for future reference. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Twitter users! Change your password, now

I subscribe to an Australian government website called ‘Stay Smart Online’. The site sends me notifications of current security alerts, and this is the latest:

‘As a precaution, Twitter is urging more than 330 million users to change their password after a glitch left log-in details exposed in the company’s internal computer system.

When you set a password for your account, Twitter uses technology that masks it, so no one can see your password.

The company recently identified a bug that stored unmasked passwords in an internal log. Twitter found this error itself, removed the passwords and is now looking at how it can prevent this from happening again.

Twitter has advised it has fixed the bug, and has no reason to believe the passwords left Twitter’s systems or were misused by anyone.’

Despite these assurances, however, you really should change your Twitter password now. More importantly, you should also change your password on any other sites where you used the same password.

I know you’re not supposed to ‘re-use’ passwords, but I’m just as guilty as everyone else because my memory is simply incapable of storing hundreds of passwords. I have special passwords for my banking accounts, or accounts that deal with money, that don’t get shared, but for the main social media accounts that I log in and out of multiple times a day, well….:(

Anyway, I’ve just gone through and changed mine, so I’m a good girl now. 🙂 Are you?

Please don’t ignore these warnings off as you never know when they’ll come back and bite you on the bum.

Meeks


Please join me on Myths of the Mirror today!

D. Wallace Peach is a sci-fi/fantasy writer that I have followed for quite a while now, usually by lurking around her blog – Myths of the Mirror. But she caught me and did me the great honour of reading Miira. And she liked it. 🙂

This is a quote from her review:

The pace is steady and yet I flew through the book because I could NOT put it down. Exquisite writing, gorgeous descriptions, high tech science, and human pathos that grab the reader. I’m a fan and gladly recommend this book to readers of science fiction and anyone who enjoys an unusual human story.

And then she invited me onto her blog. Of course I said ‘yes!’, but I’m still gobsmacked just to be asked. Please come say hello to D. and all her friends. Partay… 😀

A Human Story: Guest Post with Andrea Flory

-hugs-

Meeks


Ursula K. LeGuin, 1929 – 2018

To say that Ursula K. LeGuin has been an influence in my writing life would be a woeful understatement. Her Hugo award winning novel ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ opened my eyes to what could be done. By women. With courage.

The world has changed a great deal since LeGuin finally found a publisher for Left Hand of Darkness, but the book still stands as a beacon to all writers: stay true to yourself, be brave, sometimes merit is recognized.

This is a screenshot of LeGuin’s author page on Amazon:

Such wonderful books, and now there’ll never be another.

Never being forgotten,

Meeks

 

 


Achievements, failures and RESOLUTIONS!

In a fond farewell to 2017 I thought I’d list my achievements:

I worked out how to use CreateSpace [after years of thinking it was too hard] and created print versions of 4/5 of my sci-fi novels, including all four covers for:

  • Miira
  • The Godsend
  • Nabatea
  • The Vintage Egg

I used the CreateSpace experience to write, produce the cover and print a non-fiction book called How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace.

Then I got all ambitious and decided to do one for more complicated books. I am enormously proud to annouce that How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace was uploaded to the CreateSpace website at 9:50pm December 31, 2017. Yep, I just scraped it in. The Non-Fiction book is not available yet as I want to road-test it a bit first, but at least it’s up there. 🙂

As for the failures, most were small – like trying to replace the bulb in my rangehood and failing miserably – and some were just plain enfuriating. I mean, I’m a grown woman, right? I eat well, stay fairly healthy, I even do a bit of physical exercise out in the garden…so why can’t I lose weight? I don’t want to lose a lot, just 5 or 6 kilos…grrrrr.

Anyway, let’s not talk about the past. 2017 is DONE. It is over, finished, consigned to the trash heap of history. 2018 is going to be a lot better and for me it’s already started…Ta Dah

You are looking at the ebook version of How To Print Your Novel with CreateSpace!

Remember that poll I ran a short while ago? The one where I asked you which screenshots were easier to see? Well the results were overwhelmingly in favour of the coloured screenshots, but that left me with a terrible problem as I knew the print version would be seriously expensive [around about $25 USD for the longer how-to].

And then I stumbled across a new-ish Kindle app called the Kindle Textbook Creator. Could this be the answer to my problems?

Before I continue I have to send Chris McMullin a huge thank you. Chris is a publishing guru who writes textbooks and wonderful, clear blog posts about all sorts of technical things. One of his posts became my ‘bible’ as I researched the Textbook Creator:

Optimizing Amazon’s Free Kindle Textbook Creator Publishing Tool

If any of you have thought about writing say, a cookbook, but were put off by the tech, I strongly recommend that you read Chris’ post and get to work.

Anyway, I took Chris’ advice, optimised a copy of How to Print Your Novel for the Kindle [Fire only] and went to work. I finished turning it into an e-textbook just about 2 hours ago and uploaded it straight to KDP. It was a breeze!

The Textbook Creator uses PDF files just like CreateSpace, and basically makes each PDF ‘page’ one page for the Kindle. But the thing that really makes it standout is the clean, efficient interface that makes everything intuitive and easy. Amazon definitely got it right with this one.

So there we go, two days into 2018 and I have an e-textbook to my name. 🙂

And finally to those resolutions. First up, I’m going to convert the How to Print Non-Fiction book into an e-textbook too. Then I’m going to take the Offspring’s advice and re-visit the cookbook I started a few years back. But mostly, I’m going to focus on the Vokhtah saga. Because I’m turning 65 in 10 days and I can feel my creative clock ticking. I’m a slow writer, and there are still a lot of stories I want to tell.

Oh…and that diet thing? I’m determined to win that battle too!

So, what about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you manage to keep any of them? Should I just shut up now? -giggles-

Happy 2018 my friends,

Meeks


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