Tag Archives: step-by-step

Meeka’s Youtube Channel

I wasn’t game to say anything until I had a reasonable number of videos up, but I think I’m finally there, so…this is the link to my channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHW0WF_RtBjPLBA0ervswtA/featured

Down the bottom you can see a number of playlists. They’re just categories of videos. The how-to playlist only contains one video, but in time, I intend to create videos for all of the relevant sections of the free ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ book.

I’m not there yet in terms of skill, but the video below is my first attempt to do a how-to for the ESO housing editor:

This video will be the first in a series, but boy was it hard to do. Having a chatty narration ‘style’ is one thing, waffling on is another.

Lesson number 1: boring viewers is a cardinal sin!

Lesson number 2: waffling on is boring, especially when the viewer only wants information. 😦

As my narration style is naturally, um, ‘chatty’, I’ve had to do a lot of cutting and splicing to get rid of the waffle. Great practice in editing, not so great for the sound quality which waxed and waned with each splice. In the end, I was forced to do one long take with deliberate pauses so I could edit out the worst of the gaffs without affecting the sound quality too much.

Those hiccups aside, I’m really enjoying this learning curve. If any of you are already experienced in creating videos or have recommendations for tools to use, I’d love to hear them. I’m currently using RecMaster which is a great entry level video recorder, but maybe not quite powerful enough for my ambitious projects.

I also have a favour to ask – could you please subscribe to my channel? Youtube will allow me to have a customised URL for my channel – i.e. something with my name in it instead of hieroglyphics – but only after I reach the magic number of 100 subscribers. At the moment I have 4. It’s a big ask, I know, but I would really appreciate your help on this one.

Have a wonderful weekend, me lovelies. 🙂

Hugs,
Meeks


Milk and Chocolate Shortbread

This is another Offspring special, a basic shortbread recipe with added chunks of Plaistowe dark cooking chocolate. My contribution was the milk. 😀

The photo is a little washed out because it was taken at night with a flash. The shortbread actually looks more like this:

For those who have never tasted shortbread before, it’s an odd combination of dry, crumbly texture that literally melts in your mouth. It’s very easy to make and we love it. If you want to try it yourself, the recipe follows:

Traditional Shortbread [with added chocolate]

Note: the recipe is on the back of the McKenzie’s rice flour packet, and you will need rice flour in addition to ordinary wheat flour.

Ingredients:
  • 225 gm of plain flour [all purpose flour], sifted,
  • 115 gm of rice flour, sifted
  • 115 gm of caster sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 225 gm of unsalted, room temperature butter [do NOT use spreadable butter as the oil and/or process used changes how the butter works in recipes].
  • about 1/4 cup good quality cooking chocolate, chopped into smallish ‘chunks’. We used Plaistowe cooking chocolate because it’s actually good enough to eat on its own so long as you don’t like your chocolate very sweet.
Method

Pre-heat oven to 150 C. This is a slow oven.

Grease your baking tray [we didn’t, we lined it with baking paper instead].

Combine both flours, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Rub in butter and knead gently until a smooth dough forms.

Add the chopped chocolate and gently mix into the dough.

The recipe says to transfer the dough to a floured surface and ‘shape as required’. That basically means you can cut pretty shapes out of it. We don’t do any of that. We place the dough directly onto the baking tray and spread it out by hand or with the back of a spoon until it’s about the right ‘depth’. Shortbread should not be thick! 1/2 an inch is more than thick enough.

Prick the dough with a fork. We also ‘score’ the surface lightly with a knife. This makes cutting the cooked shortbread easier.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until a light, golden brown. The end.

A tip from us: leave the shortbread on the tray and gently cut along the scored lines while the shortbread is still a bit soft and pliable. The shortbread will firm up as it cools. Cutting it once it’s cold and crumbly is…not very successful.

And there you have it. Another day, another treat. If you have favourite treats of your own, please link to them in comments. Oh, and if you have favourite cups or dishes to go with the treats, please link them as well.

Cheers
Meeks


WordPress – how to add a slideshow to your blog

The following how-to uses the WordPress interface [as at July, 2020], not the old Admin. Dashboard. When you’re done, you’ll end up with a small, slideshow of images that can be quite effective at catching the eye of casual visitors.

Requirements

You will need at least one sidebar in your theme – i.e. a visible area next to or below the spot at which your blog posts normally appear. I have two sidebars on my theme and they both appear to the right of the blog post area:

WordPress sidebars depend on the chosen theme

My particular theme also allows me to have a ‘footer’ bar, and this is where I’m going to put my slideshow.

Next, you will need to have images to place in your slideshow. Yes, obvious, I know, but you will need to:

  • edit the images so they’re all the same size – it looks better,
  • upload the required images to the WordPress media library before you begin creating the gallery.

Once all the images have been uploaded* to your media library, you’re ready to begin:

  1. If you are in Reader, click the tab for ‘My Sites’ [top left of your WordPress screen],
  2. From the list of available options in My Sites, click ‘Design’,
  3. Design has two further options – Customize and Themes. Click ‘Customize’,
  4. From the Customize options click ‘Widgets’,
  5. You should now see the areas that can take Widgets**

As mentioned earlier, my particular theme has three such areas and they look like this:

Areas capable of taking Widgets

Finally, select the area in which you want your gallery [Widget] to appear. For me it was ‘Footer Widget Area’.

You should now see a button for ‘+ Add a Widget’. Click it to be taken to a list of available widgets [listed in alphabetical order]:

List of available widgets

Scroll down the list until you reach ‘Gallery’. Select it. You should now see the gallery widget, ready for you to use:

Type a title for your gallery [because you can have more than one], and then click the ‘Add Images’ area as shown above [big red arrow].

You should now see the images in your Media Library. Unfortunately, there is no helpful message to tell you what to do next. A simple ‘Select an image’ would have been so helpful…ahem.

Click the first image you want to include in your gallery. Don’t worry about the order because you can change that later.

On the right of the library of images you will now see a box for adding information about the image you have chosen. Type in the title and…

DO. NOT. CLICK. ‘Add a New Gallery’ ! ! ! This is not how you complete the selection of your first image! ! !

Okay, I’m really going to get grumpy here with the WordPress developers. Not giving any clues as to where bloggers are supposed to go next is just asking for trouble. Most people are not mind readers. Really poor design.

To complete the selection of the first image and go on to select a second image…just click another image. Yes, I know, about as intuitive as a kick to the head.

Continuing clicking images until you have selected all the images you want to place in your slideshow. At this point, mine looked like this:

Images selected for the gallery/slideshow

Down the bottom of the screenshot you can see the six images I chose. The bit on the right shows details for the last image I chose. I added a title for clarity, but you will get a chance to add a caption later. Last but not least, there is the blue ‘Create a new gallery’ button. Now you can click it.

The next screen will be the ‘Edit Gallery’ page. Here you can re-order the sequence of images by dragging and dropping them into the correct position. You can also add captions to each image and change the size of the image [Thumbnail is the default]:

The Edit Gallery page

I only added two captions to these images, but I did move the image for The Vintage Egg to the end of the list.

When I was happy with the sequence of images, I clicked the small down arrow next to ‘Type’ to show the available display options [the default is Thumbnail Grid]. Down the bottom of the list is ‘Slideshow’. Click it and then click the blue ‘Insert gallery’ button as shown.

Almost done! You should now be looking at a preview screen. As my gallery is in the footer, I had to scroll all the way to the bottom to see it working:

The preview screen showing the slideshow working

If the preview doesn’t work as expected, click the ‘Edit Gallery’ button to the left of the preview. If everything does work as expected, click ‘Done’ [to save the gallery].

Finally, click ‘Save Changes’ to save the whole lot.

To exit from the customize area, click either the back button or the ‘X’ button [to the left of Save Changes].

Apologies for making this such a long how-to, but I wanted it to be suitable for even the newest blogger. And some of the interface was down right murky.

Have fun,
Meeks

p.s. this post was created using the block editor. To get the * asterisks down the bottom to show as asterisks [instead of automatically beginning a bullet point list], I had to press the spacebar a couple of times. Apparently this ‘told’ the block editor that I wanted to stay in the paragraph block. -rolls eyes-

* Please contact me in Comments if you need help getting to this step.

** Widgets are small ‘apps’ that you can insert into your blog to make it work the way you want it to. Widgets can include anything from images and buttons to galleries and links. Widgets can only be placed in certain areas of your blog. Those areas will depend upon the type of theme you chose when you first created your blog.


Cookies and Milk

The title of this post should have been ‘Coffee and Cake’, but we made the Triple Choc Chocolate biscuits last night, and it was too late for coffee, so…

Ahem. The Offspring and I adore these biscuits because they really are made with three lots of chocolate. There’s cocoa and melted chocolate in the biscuit dough, and then there are lumps of chocolate in each biscuit as well [the recipe is at the end of this post].

You can see how gooey and melted and divine those lumps of chocolate are here:

and here:

and here:

That’s why these biscuits are at their most divine straight from the oven. They are delicious cold as well, but not quite as delicious. 🙂

Now, a word about sweetness. If you love super sweet, commercial biscuits, you will not love these triple choc biscuits. There is sugar in the biscuit dough, but not a huge amount, and the chocolate is unsweetened, dark chocolate. The cocoa is unsweetened, Dutch cocoa as well so the overall effect is not overly sweet.

There, you have been warned. For everyone else, I hope you enjoy the following recipe. 🙂

Provenance: Vogue Entertaining & Travel, June/July 1999.

[We only ever make half quantities at a time so I’ve provided the cut down quantities in brackets. They’re not exactly half quantities, but they work.]

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups plain or all purpose flour [1/2 a cup and a ‘bit’]
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch cocoa [1 tablespoon ]
1 teaspoon baking powder [1/2 a teaspoon]
3/4 of a teaspoon salt [1/4 teaspoon]
500 gm good quality bittersweet dark chocolate [250 gm]
125 gm unsalted butter [60 gm]
1/2 cup sugar [1/4 cup sugar]
3 large eggs [add 1 whole egg, then crack a second egg into a bowl, beat it and add half of the beaten egg only]

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180o C or 356 F [make it a little less if using fan forced]
  2. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  4. Melt 3/4 of the dark chocolate [about 190 gm if making half quantities] with the butter in a small saucepan – don’t let it burn!
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar [I let the mixture cool a tiny bit before the next step]
  6. Stir in the eggs, one at a time until well mixed
  7. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined
  8. Cover the dough with cling wrap and chill for up to 1 hour
  9. Remove teaspoon sized balls of dough and place on the baking sheet, about 3.5 cm or 2 inches apart [the balls will expand a lot as they bake]
  10. Push small [or larger] chips of the dark chocolate into each biscuit [we like big gooey lumps so tend to use 1 large piece in instead of 2 or 3 smaller ones]
  11. Bake in the middle of a hot oven for 10 minutes or until just done. I set a timer for 8 minutes, turn the sheet, and reset the timer for another 2 minutes. The biscuits should feel slightly squishy to the touch. This is what you want as they will harden as they cool. If you leave them in for even 2 minutes longer, they’ll be hard and biscuity instead of soft and chewy.
  12. Allow the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. That’s the official line. The unofficial line is that you can eat them as soon as they don’t burn your fingers….

Have a wonderful day, and don’t eat the Triple Choc Biscuits all at once!

cheers
Meeks


Sourdough from scratch

I don’t actually like the taste of sourdough, sorry, but I absolutely loved this Youtube demonstration of how to create your own sourdough starter.

You know how I’m obsessed with teaching ‘absolute beginners’? Well, this video how-to is literally the best I have seen. It’s clear, perfectly paced and step-by-step, with no small-but-vital bits of knowledge taken for granted.

Seriously, if sourdough is your thing, this video could change your life.

You’re welcome. 😀

Meeks


How to generate a Table of Figures with Word 16

Click here to display the Table of Contents

Once you have created all the captions for your images [see Adding captions to pictures in Word 16], it’s remarkably easy to generate a Table of Figures from them.

To begin, move to the back matter of your document and click the mouse at the point where you want the Table of Figures to appear.

Next, open the References tab and click Insert Table of Figures:

You should now be looking at the Table of Figures dialog box:

As you can see, the default settings are to:

  • Show page numbers
  • Right align page numbers
  • and ‘Caption label: Figure’

If you are happy with these default settings, click the OK button.

Note: if you have created different kinds of captions – for example, one for ‘Figures’ and a second one for ‘Tables’ –  clicking the down arrow next to ‘Caption label’ will allow you to choose a different label. In this way you can generate a separate table for each label.

How to customise a Table of Figures

To change the default settings of the Table of Figures, click the Modify button on the bottom right of the dialog box [circled in orange above].

You should now see a second dialog box that displays a summary of the current style settings for the Table of Figures:

These settings include font size and spacing, etc.

To change the default style settings, click the Modify button to the right of the preview pane.

Note: these settings control how the table is displayed, not how the captions are formatted. To modify the appearance of the captions, see Adding captions to pictures in Word 16

You should now be looking at the ‘Modify Style’ dialog box you first encountered when you changed the ‘Normal Style’ for your document] :

Format the Table of Figures as you wish and then click OK to save and exit the Modify Style dialog box. The appearance of the Table of Figures should now be customised to your specifications.

How to update a Table of Figures

No matter how carefully a document is prepared, some last minute editing is inevitable, so the Table of Figures may need to be updated.

To begin, click inside the table to select it. The whole table will be highlighted.

Next, open the References tab and select ‘Update Table’ from the options available in the Table of Figures:

Word will automatically update the caption and page numbering in the Table of Figures.

Note: Word may sometimes prompt you to update the page numbers or the whole table. If the editing has been substantial, update the whole table.

How to delete a Table of Figures

Unlike the Table of Contents, there is no specific command that allows you to delete the Table of Figures.

To delete the whole Table of Figures, you will have to manually select the entire table as if you were selecting a paragraph of text.

Note: simply clicking inside the Table of Figures will not work.

Once you have manually selected the whole table, press the Delete key on the keyboard. The Table of Figures will now be deleted, but the captions underneath the actual images still remain so you can reinstate a Table of Figures at any time.

This is the last of the graphics related how-tos, but the defunct ‘How to Print Non Fiction…’ also contains advanced help on Indexes etc. If anyone would like me to post this information, please let me know in comments.

Click here to display the Table of Contents


TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing

Introduction – is this guide right for you?

Frequently Asked Questions

Part I – How to Prepare your Novel

Trim Size, Bleed, and Page Specification

Designing the interior format of your book

Front Matter, Back Matter & ISBNs

Creating a Table of Contents [TOC]

Section Breaks

Page Numbers

Exporting your document to PDF

Preparing the Cover of your Book

Part II – How to Setup your Novel

Getting Started with KDP

Paperback Details

Paperback Content

Using Cover Creator [optional]

Reviewing your Book and Cover

Paperback Rights & Pricing

Part III – for Australian Self-Publishers

30% Withholding Tax

ISBN in Australia

Legal Deposit, Australia

Miscellaneous

Creating a free barcode

Extra help for graphics heavy books like memoirs and cookbooks, etc

Word 16 image compression, image resolution and Wrap Text settings

Editing images in Word 16

Adding captions to images in Word 16

How to generate a Table of Figures with Word 16


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


Designing the interior format of your book

Click here to display the Table of Contents

Having changed the physical dimensions of your print-book-to-be, you should notice an increase in the total number of pages. You can now edit the format of those pages if you wish. The format includes a range of visual elements such as the fonts, spacing, alignment, indents and heading styles. 

The following is a quick discussion of the main design elements of a book.

Fonts – Joel Friedlander, an acknowledged expert in book formatting, prefers the following fonts for the interior of books – i.e. the body text:

  • Garamond
  • Caslon

  • Minion 

  • Janson Text

  • Palatino

You can learn more about formatting on Joel Friedlander’s website:

http://www.TheBookDesigner.com

Alignment – refers to the position of the text on the page – i.e. whether it is aligned to the centre, left, right, or justified. The text in print books is almost always justified with a straight edge on both sides.

First Line Indentation – refers to the way in which the first line of each paragraph begins a few spaces from the left hand margin. Non-fiction books generally do not have a first line indentation, but novels do.

Line Spacing – The default line spacing for Word documents is 1.08. The line spacing for novels is usually 1.0 [single spacing].

Chapter Headings – Whatever formatting you choose for your headings, the style must be consistent across all the chapters.

The easiest way to ensure that all the visual elements of your book are consistent is to set them using the Styles found on the Style Gallery of the Word Home tab.

Using Word Styles

Word Styles contain pre-set groups of commands that determine how headings and paragraphs appear. The most commonly used Word styles are found on the Home tab, in the Style gallery [as shown below]:

Every time you start a new, blank document in Word, the program automatically configures that document using the ‘Normal Style’.

The ‘Normal’ style settings in Word include the default font [Calibri], the font size [11], left alignment, and a host of other less immediately visible options.

If you do not like these settings, you can change them quite easily, and when you do, all the text that was written using the Normal Style will be updated automatically.

Modifying the ‘Normal’ style [optional]

Right click ‘Normal’ in the Style gallery. This will display a drop down list of options:

Click the Modify option from the drop down list [circled in orange].

You should now see the ‘Modify Style’ dialog box:

The first thing to note is that ‘Only in this document’ [shown in green] is pre-selected to ensure that any changes made to the ‘Normal’ style of this document do not become standard for all  Word documents.

How to edit the style name [optional]

To change the style name, click inside the Name text box and type a new name.

How to edit the font, size, colour and alignment

You can change the font and font size just as you would on the Home tab. Remember to also select the ‘Justify’ alignment option.

To change the colour of the font, click the small arrow next to the box that says ‘Automatic’ [as shown below]:

Click the colour of your choice or leave it as Automatic, i.e. black.

How to edit the paragraph options

All of the less common stylistic functions are hidden behind the ‘Format’ button:

Click Format and select ‘Paragraph’ from the popup list.

The Paragraph dialog box is now displayed. The important elements are circled in orange:

Alignment – this is already shown as ‘Justified’ because we set it in the main dialog box along with the font and font size.

Indentation – leave the Left and Right settings at zero.

‘Special’ – click the small blue arrow (shown in the previous screenshot), and select the ‘First Line Indentation’ option from the drop-down list. This will ensure that the first sentence of every paragraph is indented.

For By: type or select the width of the indent for the first line of the paragraph.

Check the preview pane to see how the first line indent appears.

Spacing – ensure that ‘Before’ and ‘After’ are both set to zero.

The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ numbers control the blank spaces automatically inserted before and after each paragraph. If using the ‘First Line Indentation’ there is no need for space between the paragraphs.

Note: this guide has spaces between paragraphs because it does not have first line indentations to mark the start of a paragraph.

Line Spacing â€“ make sure this is set to ‘Single’.

When you are satisfied with the changes you have made, click the OK button to save and exit from the Paragraph dialog box.

Click OK again to save and exit from the Modify Styles dialog box.

If you are using Word 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016, all text using the ‘Normal’ style will be automatically updated to the new settings.

Using Heading 1 for chapter headings

Heading 1 is a style on the Style Gallery, and it comes pre-set with a range of formatting elements, all of which can be modified in exactly the same way as the Normal Style.

Heading 1 can be used to create consistent chapter headings throughout your manuscript.  It can also be used to generate an automatic Table of Contents for your book (see the chapter on Table of Contents).

To apply the default Heading 1 style, position the cursor anywhere on the line that contains the first chapter heading and click Heading 1 on the Style Gallery. All text on that line will now be formatted as Heading 1. Repeat for each chapter heading in your book.

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


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