Tag Archives: how-to

Breathing exercises that may help

I’ve found two videos that demonstrate:

  1. specific breathing exercises recommended for those with Covid-19 infection,
  2. posture exercises that coincidentally ‘open’ the chest area and may help with breathing.
Doctor learns from nursing staff

I keep using the word ‘may’ because there is no definitive evidence that any of this stuff will help with Covid-19. But…if something does no harm but may do some good, I believe it’s worth a try.

Stay well.

Meeks


Unpublishing a book

I’ve just unpublished ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’.

It’s not the first book I’ve unpublished – I had to unpublish the two CreateSpace versions after CreateSpace ceased to exist. Nevertheless, hitting that ‘Unpublish’ button on KDP felt very odd, especially as I’m not sure whether I’ll ever republish in the same way again.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I unpublished the KDP how-to book because it was first published in 2018, and parts of it were now quite out-of-date. KDP only made a few changes, but Thorpe-Bowker [the agent for ISBNs in Australia], and the National Library of Australia, had both completely changed their websites. I would have to update much of the second and third parts of the how-to, and basically create a ‘second edition’ of the book.

Unfortunately, when you create a second edition of a book, you have to publish it with a new ISBN, and that costs money. Given that I haven’t earned a single cent from the how-to, it didn’t make sense to invest yet more money into a project that no body seemed to want.

Around about this point, I sat down and did some hard thinking.

Was the how-to bad? Was the Kindle Fire version too restrictive? Was the paperback too expensive?

Or could it be that people have grown used to finding information online? For free?

Given how much research I do online, for free, I could hardly fault others for doing the same thing. So I had to decide whether to keep flogging that poor dead horse, or move with the times. I chose to move with the times and publish the entire how-to, online, for free on my blog.

Was this a completely altruistic decision? Hah… -cough-

The truth is, self-publishing is hard. Making yourself visible on Amazon is hard. Selling your books and making money is next to impossible unless you’re:

  • very lucky,
  • very good at marketing,
  • have oodles of cash for advertising, or
  • have some way of enticing people to your blog

I suck at the first three, but I am good at teaching people how to do things. At least half of all the people who visit my blog are there for one of my how-to posts. So if that’s my strength, how do I translate it into increased visibility for the rest of my work?

Honestly, by the time I got to that question, the answer was pretty obvious – the smart thing would be to self-publish the how-to on the blog and hope that increased exposure would lead to…something. -shrug-

I’m realistic enough to know that very few of the people who come for my how-to posts stay to chat, or buy my science fiction. But you have to work with what you have. Besides, I’ve put so much work into my how-to books I’m damned if I’ll let them sink into complete obscurity.

So, allow me to introduce you to the new, updated, 2020 edition of ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing. -points to sidebar on the right-

Clicking that image should take you to a Table of Contents which contains all the links to all the sections/chapters of the how-to. Alternatively, you can click the link below:

Click here to display the Table of Contents

Enjoy,
Meeks


Section Breaks

Click here to display the Table of Contents

In Word, the purpose of a section break is to isolate one part of the document from the rest. The new, isolated section can then be formatted differently to the rest of the document.

This is particularly useful when printing novels because the page numbering of the three parts – front matter, back matter and chapters – is usually different for each part.

For example, a typical novel may have no page numbering for the front matter, but the chapters will have Arabic numerals [ 1, 2, 3 ], while the back matter has Roman numerals [ i, ii, iii ].  To complicate matters further, both the Arabic and Roman numerals are required to start at ‘one’.

The only way to set different page numbering, and number styles, for different parts of a book is to ‘isolate’ each part using section breaks.

As a general rule, most books need to be broken up into three sections – one for the Front matter, one for the Chapters and one for the Back matter – but you will only need to set two section breaks manually. The third section break is set automatically by Word and includes the parts of the document that are left over – i.e. that remain outside the manual section breaks.

There are four types of section breaks in Word:

  1. Continuous – sets a section break but allows the text to continue on the same page.
  2. Next Page – starts the new section on the next page.
  3. Odd Page – begins a new section and attempts to start it on the next, odd-numbered page.
  4. Even Page – this section break works in the same way as the Odd Page break, but it attempts to start the new section on the next even-numbered page.

All of the section breaks have their uses, but I recommend using the ‘Next Page’ section break only.

Apart from choosing the correct type of section break, there are also do’s and don’ts governing how and when to set section breaks. These include:

  • Do your formatting and set your ordinary page breaks first.
  • Always begin inserting section breaks from the end of the document, not the beginning.
  • Always set the section break command in front of the new section, not at the end of the previous section.
  • Unlink the sections, starting with the last one.
  • Do not try to format the page numbering until the section breaks have been unlinked.

How to set a Section Break

To set the first section break, navigate to the end of the document and click just in front of the first word of the Back Matter [see Front Matter, Back Matter & ISBNs].

Next, open the Layout tab on the Ribbon and click the Breaks option:

This will open the Breaks menu which contains options for Page and Section Breaks.

From Section Breaks, click the Next Page option.

Word inserts the section break, but you won’t see it on the page because it is hidden inside the Headers and Footers.

Headers and Footers are located in the white space above and below the area where you type:

How to open Headers and Footers

The easiest way to open ‘Headers and Footers’ is to double click the blank spaces above or below where you type the text on the page.

Note: to close ‘Headers and Footers’, simply double click inside the body of the page – i.e. inside the area where you type.

As well as displaying repeating text, such as the name of the author, Headers and Footers also display section breaks. 

With Headers and Footers open, you should now see something like this:

Note: the Header displays ‘Section 2’ even though only one section break was set. That’s because Word counts the area of the document outside the section break as a section as well, so that area automatically becomes ‘Section 1’.

Same as Previous’ indicates that the current section is ‘linked’ to the previous section and shares its formatting.

You will not be able to change the formatting of individual sections until they have been ‘unlinked’, but you should set all the section breaks before you ‘unlink’ them.

To set the final section break, navigate to the very first chapter of your document and click in front of the first word of the chapter heading.

Next, open the Layout tab and click ‘Breaks’.

Select ‘Next Page’ from the list of section breaks.

Now if you open ‘Headers and Footers’ again, you will see that Word has updated the number of sections to three – i.e. the two that you set and the one that Word set to contain everything else in the document.

Once all the section breaks have been set, you are ready to unlink them.

How to unlink the Section Breaks

As before, navigate to the end of your document, to the first page of the Back Matter [where you set the section break].

Double click inside the top margin of the page to display the Headers and Footers.

Opening ‘Headers and Footers’ automatically opens the ‘Headers & Footers Tools – Design’ tab [as shown below].

Note: if you do not see these options, click Design on the tab.

The first thing you should notice is that the command ‘Link to Previous’ is highlighted on the Ribbon. This shows it is active.

To unlink Section 3 from the earlier sections, click the Link to Previous option to deselect it. Once ‘Link to Previous’ is deselected, the Header for Section 3 should no longer display ‘Same as Previous’:

With ‘Headers and Footers’ still open, click inside the Footer and deselect the ‘Link to Previous’ option from there as well.

After you have unlinked Section 3, find the first page of Section 2 and unlink the Header and Footer as for Section 3.

Once you have Sections 2 and 3 unlinked, you will have three, completely separate areas in your Word file, each one ready to be formatted in a different way.

The next chapter will look at setting up different page numbering, and page number formatting, for each of the three sections in your book file.

Click here to display the Table of Contents


Create a Table of Contents

Click here to display the Table of Contents

Although it’s not strictly necessary to include a Table of Contents [TOC] in a paperback novel, Word does offer two automatic TOC styles that are very easy to use. Both are based on the Heading styles, so if you used Heading 1 on your Chapter headings, most of the work has already been done.

As well as being easy to use, Word’s automatic TOC styles are also easy to update – for example if you add or remove significant amounts of text from the document.

How to generate a simple Table of Contents

If you have not already done so, format each chapter heading as ‘Heading 1’ (see ‘Designing the interior format of your book, Using Heading 1 for Chapter Headings’).

Next, click at the end of the Copyright Page and insert a Page Break as shown:

The cursor will now be positioned at the top of the new page.

Open the ‘References’ Tab and click Table of Contents:

You should now see a drop down list of options. At the top of the list are previews of the pre-set TOC styles. At the bottom are four further options. The fourth option is only available with Custom Table of Contents.

Click either Automatic Table 1 or Automatic Table 2 to select it.

Note: if you generate a Table of Contents before formatting the page numbering of your book, Word will use its automatic numbering system – i.e. counting the Title page as ‘1’ – for the Table of Contents. After you have formatted the page numbering, you will need to update the TOC to reflect the correct page numbers.

How to update a Table of Contents

Any changes to your document, such as the addition or subtraction of pages [or the formatting of the page numbering], will mean that the Table of Contents must be updated.

To begin, click inside the Table of Contents to automatically select the entire table. It will look something like this:

Next, open the References tab and click the Update Table option:

Word will check every Heading in the table and update the page numbers as required.

Note: if you have made substantial changes to the document, Word may ask if you want to update the page numbers or the entire table. Select the entire table.

How to remove a Table of Contents

Click inside the Table of Contents to select the entire table.

Next, open the References tab and click the option for Table of Contents.

On the Table of Contents menu, click the Remove Table of Contents option:

This will remove both the TOC entries and the table itself.

Note: You can click ‘Remove Table of Contents’ without first selecting the TOC entries, but this will cause a Continuous Section Break to be left behind. Not only will this section break clutter up the file with unnecessary commands and functions, it may also interfere with manual section breaks inserted later on.

In the next section we will look section breaks and how to use them.

Click here to display the Table of Contents


Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to display the Table of Contents

What is Kindle Direct Publishing?

Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP for short, is part of Amazon.com and provides a one-stop-shop for both ebooks and paperbacks. KDP uses ‘Print On Demand’ [POD] technology to produce trade paperbacks that are automatically listed for sale on Amazon.

What is POD?

POD is a relatively new technology that makes it possible to print just one book at a time.

Before the development of POD, all books were printed using offset technology. This involves etching the book onto metal plates, an expensive process. To be economically viable, large quantities of books have to be printed at one time. This is called a ‘run’. 1000 units [books] is often quoted as the realistic minimum per offset print ‘run’.

At such quantities, the cost per book is very low, but the total cost of the ‘run’ can be prohibitive for self-publishers. A POD book is more expensive, per unit, than a book printed the traditional way, but it has other advantages that make it ideal for self-publishers.

How does POD work?

On Amazon, POD works like this:

  • A customer sees your book and buys it,
  • Amazon sends the order to KDP,
  • KDP receives the order and produces a single copy of your book,
  • Amazon then posts your newly printed book to the customer,
  • The customer receives your book in the mail and the order process is complete.

Why use POD?

The most compelling reason to use POD is that it costs the author nothing up front. The cost of printing and selling the book is subtracted from the sale price of the book…after a customer buys it. The difference between the sale price and the total cost of printing and distributing the book is the author’s royalty.

What if I want to sell my book through bookshops?

At the present time, large bookstore chains do not sell self-published books. These chains are geared towards the traditional publishing houses which allow retailers to return unsold books. These books are then pulped.

Local, independent bookshops, however, may agree to stock self-published books.

Which version of Word does the guide use?

Most of the screenshots and examples used in this guide were developed using Microsoft Word 2016. For certain critical steps, however, information is also provided for Word 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013.

More generally, anyone familiar with the Word Ribbon should have little trouble following the instructions, and the section on KDP does not require Word at all.

Requirements

To use this guide, you will need:

  1. your manuscript [in Word],
  2. the ability to save and retrieve files [in Windows],
  3. a connection to the internet [to access KDP],
  4. an email address.

Click here to display the Table of Contents


Introduction – is this guide right for you?

Click here to display the Table of Contents

‘How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ is a step-by-step guide specifically designed for new authors who struggle with the concepts and terminology associated with self-publishing a paperback novel.

POD? ISBN? Trim size? PDF? Bleed?

In PART 1 – How to Prepare Your Novel,  you will learn what these terms mean, where to find them and how to use them to convert a simple manuscript into a professional standard book file.

Imprint? Distribution channels? Sales percentage? Royalties?

In PART 2 – How to Set Up Your Novel, you will learn how to turn your formatted book file into a Trade paperback that can be sold on Amazon.

And finally, in PART 3 – Australian authors will learn about:

  • purchasing an ISBN in Australia,
  • US Withholding Tax exemption,
  • the National Library of Australia Legal Deposit requirement.

With examples and over 140 screenshots,  ‘How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ takes no step for granted and leaves nothing out.

Click here to display the Table of Contents


ATO – ‘Business Activity’

This is a quick update about one of the myTax questions that I mentioned in this post. It was one of the questions I ‘guessed’.

The question occurs in the section under PSI, or Personal Services Income, and asks for the:

‘Number of business activities’

Nowhere on the ATO website is there a definition of what ‘business activity’ actually means. Thanks to the very knowledgeable and patient lady I spoke to this morning, I can now tell you that for Sole Traders, the question refers to the number of people/companies you have worked for.

So, for example, if you work for ten different people/companies during the course of a financial year, the number of ‘business activities’ to report is…tah dah…10!

You’re welcome. 🙂

Meeks


7 things I learned about the ATO

I’m going to start this post by sending my heartfelt thanks to the wonderful woman from the Bendigo Bank who went above-and-beyond to help me find deposit information – from an account that was closed a year ago! At the end of this post you’ll find a quick how-to about finding specific names on the statements available via online banking with the Bendigo. But first, I need to explain why my deposit information is so important. It starts with Newstart.

I went on Newstart back in 2013 and found a couple of casual tutoring positions in 2014. Like a good girl, I reported every cent I earned to Centrelink and did all the right things, except for one – apparently I should have lodged a tax return.

I should have lodged a tax return in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as well.

Why didn’t I lodge tax returns for any of those years?

Because no one told me I had to, and I assumed that my earnings were well below the tax free threshold. As it turned out, they were [and are], but apparently I should have lodged a return anyway…

I rang the ATO, and after a two hour conversation, I learned 7 things:

  1. People who are on some kind of pension and don’t earn an outside income must lodge a ‘non-lodgement’ form for the relevant years.
  2. People who are on some kind of pension and do earn an outside income must lodge an actual tax return, no matter how little they earn.
  3. Individuals and Sole Traders [such as Indie authors and tradies] can lodge a tax return through a tax agent [$$$] or online at the ATO. Those are the only two options. I’ve already complained to the ATO in writing. Nothing will change and pensioners like me will continue to struggle because of the following:
  4. To lodge a tax return online, you must have the ATO linked to your MyGov account.
  5. You can link the ATO to your MyGov account via a Bank Account or a Centrelink payment summary but…the Bank Account has to be the same bank account you used the last time you lodged a tax return. For some of us that could be decades ago. As for the Centrelink payment summary, it only seems to work if you haven’t received any outside income – e.g. from casual work.
  6. The only option that worked for me was to ring up and ask for a linking code. Frankly, that was the only easy part of the entire two hour conversation.
  7. If your tax return is at all out of the ordinary – e.g. if you’re on an age pension and run a small business as a Sole Trader – and you can’t afford a tax agent – you’ll be told to go to Tax Help. Tax Help is basically a group of volunteers who can help you fill out the online forms. Maybe. Given that a paid employee of the ATO couldn’t help me, I can’t help feeling just a tiny bit sceptical.

Before I do anything else, however, I need to go back and find out how much I earned above and beyond the Newstart allowance for the years 2014 – 2019. This year is fine, but the information from the previous years must have been thrown out when I did one of my rare ‘clean ups’. That left me with 3 casual employers to worry about.

This is where the Bendigo Bank rode into my life on a white charger. As I was pulling my hair and wondering what to do, I remembered that all of my casual pay would have been paid into a bank account. Eureka! All I needed to do was go back through all that old information and I’d find how much I’d earned.

I was right, except for one thing. I’d nominated an unused ‘cheque account’ for my pay. When I reached retirement age last year, I decided to get rid of the cheque account as I never used it. Another disastrous clean out.

This led to my final phone call of the day – to the Bendigo Bank. The lady I spoke to was so nice, so understanding, so bloody patient she deserves a medal. She found the cancelled account and went through it, transaction by transaction, looking for the three employers I’d named. And she found them.

There are literally no words to describe my relief. Now I can give the ATO the exact information they need so I can avoid any possibility of becoming a ‘Robodebt’ victim. Anyone living in Australia knows the horror stories circulating about Robodebt victims. I was honestly terrified that I’d end up as one of them. And I owe it all to one, nice lady at the Bendigo Bank. So here’s that quick how-to I mentioned:

How to search online statements via the Bendigo Bank.

For starters, login to your Bendigo Bank account and click on the account you want to check.

Next, at the top of the account transactions you’ll see four options. The one on the far right is ‘Statements’.

Click Statements and specify the year or time period you’re interested in [card accounts allow you to go back for many years, easy saver accounts only go back 2 years].

Open the statement of your choice. It’ll open as a PDF document. To save yourself a lot of time and eye-strain, hover the mouse over www.bendigobank.com.au as shown below:

Now, press Ctrl f on your keyboard.

This will cause a ‘Find on page’ box to display at the top of the screen. Start typing the name of the company or person you’re looking for.

If it’s found, the statement will automatically move to the appropriate page and the item will be shown with a small highlight. If it’s not found, you’ll see a message to that effect next to the search box.

I hope you never have to go back over years of transactions, but if you do, this neat trick will make it a lot less painful.

Okay, my brain hurts. I’m going to go do something mindless now.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


How to save $$ in Victoria [Australia]

This post is for Victorians on a tight budget – i.e. people on Newstart, the Age Pension, Disability Pension or young people working in the GIG economy – and concerns energy bills such as gas and electricity.

The first, critical step to saving on your energy bills is to understand that utility companies bank on us being too busy to go out and actively look for better deals. The new initiative by the Victorian government only means that energy retailers have to inform you of their best deals. But those best deals could still be very expensive when compared to the rest of the marketplace.

To give you an example, I changed my gas supplier about a year and a half ago. At the time, my new gas supplier offered the best deal according to the Victorian government’s own comparison website:

https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au

This morning, when I did a fresh comparison, my existing gas supplier was close to the bottom of the list, and their best deal was over $400 more expensive [per year] than the new ‘best deal’. As a result, I got on the phone [contact details supplied by the government website], made sure the quote was still accurate and…signed up:

When AGL’s best is no longer the best, I’ll move my gas account again.

Gamers would recognize this as ‘churn’. The term refers to how gamers move from one ISP to another to get the best deal. I don’t ‘churn’ often, but since I became an age pensioner, I’ve learned that loyalty simply doesn’t pay. These days I ‘churn’ my gas, electricity and comms suppliers on a regular basis.

So what’s involved in comparing prices?

Once you land on the government’s comparison website, you’ll be asked a series of questions about how you use your gas [or electricity]. It pays to make your answers as accurate as possible so dig out your most recent bill and keep it handy. After you’ve completed all the relevant questions, the website will do some kind of general comparison and present you with a list of the best matches for your circumstances.

Gas pricing is a mess with about five different rates in both the ‘peak’ and ‘off peak’ categories, but don’t let it scare you. One easy thing to compare is the daily supply charge. Essentially this is the amount you pay for the privilege of having a gas connection. In other words, even if you don’t turn the gas on at all, you’ll still be charged that daily supply charge.

All retailers charge you for supply, but the amount varies. AGL’s daily supply charge is 62 cents. Another retailer I looked at [not one of the most expensive ones] was charging 83 cents. Assuming the rates don’t change for 365 days, that’s $226 vs $303 per year [or a saving of $77 per year].

When the cost of living means you have to think twice about buying that latte, a saving of $77 is nothing to be sneezed at. And when you add that small saving to the actual cost of using the energy, the savings really do add up.

So please, bookmark that government comparison website and check it out, at least once a year. Doing your homework and making a change will probably take an hour, all up, but the way I see it, I’ve just earned over $400 for that hour. Not a bad hourly rate, don’t you think?

And finally a word about keeping all your eggs in one basket. Energy retailers that supply both gas and electricity will try to convince you to move both utilities to them. Doing so may be more convenient. It may also be cheaper, sometimes. But…a cheap gas price does not automatically mean the electricity price will be the best available price as well.

Remember, the best price a retailer offers is not necessarily the best price from all retailers. Compare…and save.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 


Windows 7 Update – SERIOUS problem

I have my Windows 7 updates set to manual, meaning I get the notification, but the update isn’t installed automatically. If you do the same, and you haven’t already installed update KB4512506, do NOT install it:

The update is called:

2019-08 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB4512506)   285.9 MB

That 285.9 MB update size was suspicious, so I tried to get further information, but the links [on the update page] did not work. So I went online and searched for KB4512506. This is what I found on the Microsoft forum:

The critical part here is this:

Further down the Microsoft forum page you can find workarounds that may help you fix the error if it’s already happened to you.

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/security-update-kb4512506-leads-to-bootbcd-error/8f97ba71-6da8-44be-9478-7542312b39bd

If it hasn’t, I strongly recommend ‘hiding’ this update so Windows won’t install it. This is how:

With the update page displayed, right click update KB4512506. You should now see a small popup with just two options:

Click ‘Hide update’.

This will cause the update to be ‘greyed out’. You can now install all the other updates if you wish.

Just a bit of history about this contentious update. The size of the file makes me think it’s an updated version of an earlier update [March? April?] that I refused to install. The reason I refused to install it back then was because under the Support link it stated clearly that installing the update would lead to problems with the Network Card. Thanks but no thanks.

I still don’t know exactly what this update was meant to fix, but I continued to not install it while I waited for Microsoft to fix whatever caused the problems with the Network card. Microsoft never did, through multiple updates. Now, it appears they’ve made it even worse, all without warning ordinary users of the potential harm it can cause.

Curiously, not installing the update allowed nothing ‘bad’ to happen to my pc. I admit that might be because I have one of the best anti-virus software installed, but it does make you think, doesn’t it?

If I were a writing a novel, the cast of characters might include an unscrupulous multinational corporation that deliberately sabotaged its clients just to make them buy its latest product. Luckily, even I’m not that much of a conspiracy theorist. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


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