Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year!

Leap Year! Every four years it comes around, February 29th. Jokes about birthdays and anniversaries abound. Watches have to be rolled around one less day to set the proper day on March first.

Some countries have their own traditions and superstitions. Check out this list.

IMDB has a list of 275 people in the film/music industry who were born on Feb 29th.

Here are a few more famous folks born on the 29th.

You can even read some random facts, strange facts, about the day.

Then there are the top 20 craziest facts about leap year.

Yes, it's leap year. Enjoy the extra day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Home Again" - FREE on Amazon, 2/23-25/2016

You heard me right, my stand alone romance novel "Home Again" is FREE on Amazon, but only through Feb 25th. So grab your copy now and tell your friends.

"Unemployment, an ex-husband, old friends and a tornado
stir things up as Sarah tries to go home again."


Sneak Peek Preview


Monday, February 22, 2016

A little history...


I was browsing through some old photos last week and came this little animated graphic that I got made. I suspect it was around the mid to late 1990's, back when I was writing for The Mining Company (TMC) which was the original iteration of the site About.com. It brought back so many memories.


Originally founded in 1996 as The Mining Company, the site was launched on April 21, 1997 by Scott Kurnit, owner of General Internet, Bill Day, and a group of other entrepreneurs in New York City. The original goal was to maintain 1,800 topic areas, but after five years of operation, this number was reduced to around 700. [wikipedia] 
I am still friends with some of folks who wrote for The Mining Company, many of them women who banded together for support. This was my first "paid" freelance writing gig and my topic was "Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue & Related Disorders". Later I also did "RV Travel", but under my husband's name since we weren't allowed to have two topics.

Later I also wrote for Suite101.com and BellaOnline.com. Life changed and I left all the sites, at least for a while. I eventually went back to TMC in it's new version, About.com and took over the Senior Life site (even though I still had a few years to go before I would be considered a senior).

I also took over as web designer for RV Companion magazine and wrote a monthly column for them, 'Healthy Trails'. I also had a weekly column in a local free newsletter for seniors, 'Floppy Trails' (the floppy referring to floppy disks, yes, eons ago in the computer age).

This was when I was dabbling in fiction. This was when I gave it all up. This was 2001. My now late husband was diagnosed with cancer and all writing went on the back burner until 2006 when I started my first blog.

So there you have it, a little history!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Neither here nor there....

Smiling Cartoon Face clip art
My mother used that expression a lot when responding to my arguments with her, "That's neither here nor there." I never thought much about it but for some reason it just popped into my head.

But what does that mean?

"Neither here..." refers to something not being present HERE.
"Neither there.." refers to something not being present THERE.

But I somehow knew that my mother was telling that what I had to say wasn't important, it was irrelevant to the discussion. It was her way telling me that the conversation was over.

Another one she used a lot was "No ifs, ands or buts..."

This got me to thinking about various phrases, expressions and idioms that we use. Some had a valid reason for being coined and those are typically from from the current usage.

Here are a few interesting pages with the origins of common words/phrases that are still in use today. Some of them will make you think twice before using them today.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Music, music, music!

Music - everyone loves it. Back in 2004, as a new widow, I decided to buy my first MP3 player. iPods were VERY expensive so I picked up some off brand at Walmart, not sure how much I would even use it. I remember calling my son to ask where and how to get MP3s to play. Eventually I figured it out and even discovered some indie artists that I liked, thanks to their free offerings (enticement to buy more from them).

It wasn't long after that I made the decision to get an iPod Nano. It was a first generation one but I really liked the earphones on a hanger, great for walking. That little Nano has lasted me since 2005 but recently I've noticed the battery life waning, often finding it discharged (when I was sure I had turned it off) when I need it.

Many are moving to music on their phones but I prefer the small size of the Nano. Fortunately, for me, Apple hasn't completely phased out their iPod line. I compared prices at Amazon and found the pretty much the same price. BUT, on the Apple site, I could get my new iPod in RED. Woot!! Added bonus was free engraving on the back so I opted to add "Carpe Diem", the same thing I have on my iPad mini.

The Nano arrived shortly after we returned from our cruise and I quickly set it up. I love the fact that it's touch since I am used to that with my iPhone 4S and iPad Mini (the old one was the swirl wheel). I fit 99% of my music on it and, most importantly, my favorite playlists.

Since I often use music when writing, I have a playlist that works for me. Mostly instrumental (so I don't sing along...LOL).
Oh, one side note - I tend to buy music from Amazon and not iTunes, when I can. Then just store it all in iTunes. Personal preference.

Do you listen to music as you work (whether writing, crafting, sewing, painting, whatever)? If so, what do you listen to?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#IWSG for February 2016: Take Two

2016 is upon us and it's time for my monthly IWSG post. Last year is history and it's time to make plans for the new year. No fretting over what was or wasn't done, it's time to move on (yes, I'm coaching myself).

The theme for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group is TAKE TWO.

I've sometimes wondered why I write. Many of my author friends say the HAVE to write. I don't feel that way (until I am in the middle of story). I can go forever without ever writing another book. My readers keep me writing.

I enjoyed my two years off from writing much of anything except blog posts. I enjoyed the writers group that I started while living in Ecuador (and am proud it continues on with me gone). I enjoyed keeping in touch with my author friends. And I especially enjoyed getting time to read!

But now it's time for TAKE TWO, time to get back to writing. My goals for this year are:

  1. Finish the rest of my 8-12 (or maybe 6-10) year old short stories and get them published at Amazon.
  2. Write and publish book three in my Klondike Mystery series, "Almost a Touch".
  3. Ambivalent here - either book four in the Klondike series of book one in my new Lia Rules series (kick-ass PI, probably in the YA genre).

Have you ever had to put your writing on the back seat for a while? Did you come back?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Writing While Cruising

I mentioned in a previous post that I had bought an ASUS C201 11.6 Inch Chromebook and I would be testing it for writing purposes on our cruise. Well, I did just that. First, a brief look at my portable writing set up.

ASUS C201 11.6 Inch Chromebook and Logitech optical mini-mouse with flat mousepad (freebie from my IT days - link goes to a similar product without advertising on it).
I carry a variety of small cables - just in case. The things I use the most are the IOGear card reader, Belkin USB hub (link goes to newer model), 64GB memory card and DataStick Sport memory stick
Targus CoolPad (discontinued)
The swivel is nice but the larger bumps on one end mean the laptop is elevated - great for cooling but even better for those of us who need to type with the keyboard at an angle.
Kosmicc Neoprene Sleeve
 Best carrying case EVER! I have it in three sizes, one for my iPad Mini, one for my Chromebook and one for my MacBook Pro. The front zipper pocket easily carries all my accessories, shown above, as well as my charging cable.
Now for the pros and cons as well as how it actually worked out for me.

PROS:

  • Amazing battery life
  • Very lightweight and thin, even with weak wrists and arthritis, I can pick it up with one hand.
  • The keyboard was very good, for me. The size worked out well.
CONS:
  • Would occasionally freeze and I'd have to do a hard power-down.
  • REALLY would like to have a backlit keyboard. If this gets replace, that will be a must for these old eyes.
I thought I had spent enough time researching apps and extensions that would work offline with Chrome. But I did most of it on my MacBook and FORGOT to turn on the Chromebook, connect to WiFi and sync. Oops! That meant I had to pay for WiFi on the first day of the cruise. Not a budget buster at $16 for the day, but did catch me by surprise.

The next surprise was not finding the apps that I installed on my MacBook on the Chromebook after syncing. Dang! Oh well, I spent a little time finding the apps that I thought I had decided on (finding one to read .rft or Rich Text Format docs was important for formatting issues).

Long story short, the latest update of the app I had chosen wouldn't open files already created, only create new ones. Grrrr! So more time was spent searching for another app that would be workable.

Ended up deciding on Google Docs offline. Okay, I can do this. Oops! Google Docs can't open files that aren't in Google Drive. Phew, glad I had my reader and my files on the memory card. Uploaded them to Google Drive (still using my Carnival WiFi) and started writing.

Next defugalty - even when connected to WiFi, Google would sometimes save in offline mode. That shouldn't be a problem, right? Well, for whatever reason, it created ANOTHER file. Double argh...

Okay, these were short stories without much need for formatting, so I decided to just write in the text editor that came with Chrome. That worked and the files were saved in my Downloads folder (using up the little bit of hard drive space offered).

By day two, after talking to another passenger, I opted to pay for WiFi all week, $60. Not bad considering I wasn't doing any excursions. I used it a lot for research...if you do all your research ahead of time, not a big issue. But for me, it was important. Plus I used an online thesaurus a LOT!

By the end of the first week, I was looking for a better alternative to the basic text editor. Much more trial and error, installing, testing, deleting - I ended up using a little app that is working well for me. Minimalist Markdown Editor. It enabled be to use markdown language OR HTML for basic formatting. One thing I really like is the split window - I type on the left and what I am typing shows on the right. The more I played with it, the more I liked it.

On a scale of 1-5 with five being the highest, I give the Chromebook experience a 4 overall. I will continue to use it for all my travel writing as well as my McDonald's writing (anyone who has followed me for a while understands what I'm referring to).

I will continue to test writing apps, hoping to find THE ONE, but for now MME works for me. The biggest lesson learned was to be prepared. Bring two types of backup media (you never know what will fail), pre-load either Google Docs or your Chromebook's download folder with the files you need and backup as you write (keeping it in two spots at least).