Shamed and Delighted


Shamed

Well now, what a time I’ve been having!  First, I suffered shame!  I, who have often warned of the many perils of the internet, got caught out!  I’m on LinkedIn, where I have spent a great deal of effort increasing my network of fellow authors, and others involved in the book business.  When I received a message from a contact asking me to rate them on their ‘online business card’, I naturally obliged.  More, I participated in the scheme.  It was an apparently buggy site, but I thought nothing of that – there are, after all, plenty of those around!  Part of the process is for the site to send a message to all your LinkedIn contacts, which it did.  That was about eleven or twelve days ago.   It was with considerable surprise, therefore, that I was alerted to the fact that the whole thing was a Spam/Phishing site, through a friend.  It seems that she received an invitation to rate me – on 1st May!  That was well after the original day.  Naturally, I immediately changed my password and scanned my computer.  Fortunately, nothing nasty got through my security!  Still, I’m ashamed that I was not more careful, as I normally am.

Delighted

This morning, around noon, there was a considerable clatter at our letterbox, followed by an enormous thump of something hitting the floor.  Upon investigation, I discovered a brown card mailing package.  Sitting down, I opened the package with some anticipation.  In the process, I discovered that the sealant used is rather unpleasant – adhering to the fingers with tenacity, coated in thin layers of the card.  Well, once I had successfully penetrated this sticky seal and the card unfolded, I revealed one of those things I’ve been waiting for with excitement: a paperback copy of my novelette Shade of Evil.

It may be difficult for some to understand, but this was a very special moment in my life.  Here, after many decades of desiring it, was one of my very own books – in real life!  The glossy cover, the beautifully printed text, the texture of the cream coloured paper.  It was almost overwhelming!  I’ve got the ebook copies, of course, but this was entirely different.  I read a few passages and made a discovery: somehow, the words no longer seemed to belong to me!  It seemed, to me, as if I had cut the final binds between myself and my work.  This book represents the fact that it now belongs to the world!

I didn’t retain possession of it for long.  In fact, I was only able to fondle it for about an hour.  Jenny took it with her, back to work, to show her colleague!

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Meandering Through Saturday


Discovery

There will still be bad days, even with the new meds.  Had one Thursday, and today’s none too good.  Still, I’ll be fairly content if I get back to more good days than bad.

Well, Puzzle Me!

Yep, I’m doing puzzles again.  Crosswords, preferably cryptic, are a favourite.  I also like ‘killer Sudoku’ but can’t find any so I’m rattling through ordinary ones instead.  At least it’s a bit of mental exercise.

Double Disco’ Day

Today’s another double disco’ day for Jenny.  One this afternoon and another tonight. So, I saw her up until noon and probably won’t see her again until the early hours.  Bad timing with how I feel, but there’s no way I could ask her to stay home!  Between working full time and caring for me the rest of the time, she needs time off.

Requested Artwork!

You probably recall the mention of Reuben and his artistic talent.  Well, I’ve given him some food for thought.  I’m going to need a cover for my new novelette/novella.  I’ve given him the details and am now hoping that he can do the necessary.  I think it’s challenging, but then I don’t have anywhere near his talent at art!

I also suggested that he and his friends might like to have a go at making a video trailer for my books.  He’s not too optimistic on that one.  I just thought it might be fun for them.  We’ll see how it goes…

Paperback Perils

The first paperback copies of one of my novelettes hit a bit of a snag.  The printer made a mess of things by not cropping the covers square.  Not the fault of skoobebooks, though.  Keith there has done a great job, and still is!  Poor chap was mortified.

The other novelette that’s been being processed has now reached almost final stage.  With FeedARead, however, I can’t release the book for sale, even on their own site, until I’ve seen a proof printed copy.  The problem?  I’ve had to buy a copy!  Not amused!  Considering FeedARead are ‘Arts Council Funded’, it’s costing me more!

Needless to say, all future paperbacks will be put with skoobebooks!  At least I get a free courtesy copy from them, and genuine, one-to-one help and advice.  With FeedARead, all I get is pro forma emails that can’t be replied to!

Handicrafts

The other day, I considered doing some cross-stitch.  I’ve got a big project that needs to be completed.  Naturally, shortly after thinking about it, I discovered that it would be very unwise to do it!  I developed some very nasty little white, itchy lumps on two fingers.  I could just imagine what threads would do to them.  Project back on hold.  Most frustrating!

Follower Numbers Growing!

Since restarting this blog, and changing its mission, the number of its followers has increased rather dramatically!  I would like to think that it’s because folk have been enjoying my posts on Imagineer-ing, but there’s no way I can really make any assumptions.  Still, it’s a nice thought.  If you’re a new Follower – thanks!  If you’re not – thanks again – and I’m amazed you hung around for so long, when I wasn’t posting!  I’d love to hear from you, whichever you are: do you only read this one of my blogs or do you read Imagineer-ing too?

Family and Health


Health

It’s looking like I have a huge “Thank you!” to say to my doctor!  The new meds are doing a fantastic job, so far.  Not only have my pain levels come under better control (for as long as the dosage lasts – today’s my first day on full dosage), I’m even sleeping better.  As a lifelong insomniac, that is a huge thing!  Three nights, now, with at least six hours solid, undisturbed sleep.  It’s bliss.  More, it’s increased my energy levels so when any ‘breakthrough’ pain occurs, I’m better able to handle it.

Family

I was delighted to see, on Facebook, that our younger son, Reuben, has been drawing again!  He’s a fantastically gifted artist, but seldom actually Reuben's Owl Sketchdoes anything, which is very frustrating.  He’s particularly good with pen or pencil.   Just take a look at the owl he has drawn.  He drew this as a “20 minute doodle”.  Some doodle!  I wish I had such talent.

I would love to be able to persuade Reuben to illustrate some of my stories.  Unfortunately (for me), he’s incredibly busy, with work, his table games club and a young family.  Seems unfair to have given rise to such a talented son and not to be able to profit from it LOL!

Seriously, I’m very proud of all three of our kids.  None of them have found adult life easy, as is all too common for our children, but they are all battlers.  Our eldest, Damien, is an excellent writer, if only he’d actually exercise the talent more.  Reuben, the middle child, is clearly a talented artist, but again doesn’t do enough of it.  And Emma, our youngest, is a wonderful singer and very able musician, but again seldom demonstrates her talent, other than in the privacy of family life.  Admittedly, they all have young families and Life challenges, which aren’t exactly helpful to the exercise of talent.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, Jenny’s not left out in the talent stakes!  She is a wonderfully gifted crafter, whose creativity has been creeping out into the light of day more and more.  Despite her protestations, born of a severe lack of self-confidence, she is truly creative.  She demonstrates time and again that she has the ability to come up with new ideas and creations.  I’ve done my utmost to encourage and reassure her, but I fear that she thinks I’m just being the dutiful husband and heaping praise without regard for honesty.  Really, she should know me better than that!

Well, I think that’s enough for now.  Until the next post…

Disgusted and Furious! Update


I am happy to say that Imagineer-ing is back!  I received the following from WordPress.com:

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch.

Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. We have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

We greatly apologize for this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.

No comment….

 

Disgusted and Furious!


I really thought that this month could only get better.  I was wrong!

I fired up my PC this morning to discover that my Imagineer-ing blog has been deactivated!  No warning, no questions.  Just switched off!  And for what reason?  You can be confident of one thing:

I have not violated any terms of service!

So, just as things on that score, i.e. writing and publishing, are looking good – the whole world just comes tumbling down!  Sure, I know – that’s over dramatic.  To be honest, it’s exactly how I feel, though.  Going through a change in meds, involving the withdrawal of some potent stuff and inadequate replacement with new potent stuff, and therefore meaning my pain levels have gone somewhere beyond Jupiter for today and the next two days, at least.   Like many these days, finances have dried up and that has one significant consequence – no cigarettes – and yes, I know many will think “Good!” but, I really don’t need the withdrawal symptoms from that too!  And, an admitted codeine addict – I was ‘cold turkey’ for over a day and a half because I ran out of tablets.  So yes.  I feel extremely put upon!

Now, I’m pretty certain that WordPress.com don’t have people checking every single one of their hundreds of thousands of blogs.  Conclusion?  Somebody reported mine.  For what, though?  I make no money through the blog!  Yes, there are links to places where people can buy books, but the majority are not my books, nor do I receive any consideration for advertising the works of others.  I have been meticulous about making it very clear that I do not want anything in return – not even reciprocal links!  Perhaps, on the surface, it might appear somewhat commercialised, but the fact is that until this week, it wasn’t even that!  And it has only been so this week because of my health issues – during which time I allowed scheduled posts to take over – posts in which I had little to do.

The only other possibility is that WordPress.com are going to come knocking on every blogger’s door.  Or rather, changing the locks while they’re not looking.  Why?  Could it be a drive to increase income?  “Go Pro” or “Get our experts to do a ‘guided data transfer’” – both fiendishly expensive!  I really hope that’s not the case.

I have, of course, appealed.  I was ungentle, I admit.  I’m afraid that, while generally not overly temperamental, when I do get angry, then “fury” is a severe understatement!

Now, in theory, I could do one of three things:

  1. Start from scratch, using a new blog host, like (shuddering uncontrollably) blogspot – and I really don’t have the energy for that.
  2. Purchase a domain and web hosting, install WordPress.org, and plough through, reconstructing the blog as best I can – see conclusion to 1.

     

  3. Same as 2. but also paying for WordPress.com for the privilege of recovering all my hard work!

The problem with both 2. and 3. is: cost!  Quite simply I can’t afford to take up either option!

Final conclusion?  I am being penalised for not having money in any significant quantity, and without any consideration for the years of loyalty I have shown to WordPress.com!  And there was also no consideration on their part as to the consequences of their extremely high-handed methods!

I wonder whether this post will lead to further unhappy consequences?

What a mixed month!


April has turned into a really mixed month.  While the writing is generally going well, and a paperback edition of one of my novelettes almost here, other things have been less good.

A recurrence of pancreatitis to contend with at the end of March, early April, things on the health front were definitely not looking good at all.  The pancreatitis subsided again, but other things surfaced.  Most significant was the increasing level of chronic deep muscle pain in both thighs, making it impossible to get comfortable.  My doctor increased the dosage of one of my meds, which had a very limited benefit.  Within a few days, it was back to the same.  So, still no going out!  Well, no going out until today.  Time to see the doctor again.

Travelling across town is sheer torture, with all the damaged roads and road humps.  I also ran out of codeine more than a day ago, so no support from that.  I wasn’t in a very good state by the time we got there.  Still, the doctor made a quick decision.  He has changed my meds, which will mean 3-6 days of being very uncomfortable, but then we’re hoping for a significant improvement.  I’d keep my fingers crossed, but they’d probably get stuck like it!

The future of Jenny being able to cope with me, as my sole carer, has also been put in doubt.  The doctor suspects that she is developing arthritis.  It’s a big blow and now I worry about her, especially when she has to cope with getting my wheelchair in and out of the car, and things like that.  It can’t be helping her condition!

***

A remote control for the Sky+ satellite TV ser...Last night, I had cause to pause a movie on TV.  When I got back, the Sky box refused to play the movie!  More, it refused to do anything!!  Well, that’s to say, it refused to do anything expected of it.  Instead, it proceeded to alter settings on the TV display.  Now, the picture is entirely the wrong size and shape for the TV and we’re missing bits all around – not good when watching cricket and the current info’ is only half visible.  I’ve tried everything to restore things, to no avail, and I can’t find the TV remote, which has the controls I need.  In a word: frustration!

***

If I’m quiet over the next few days, here, on Imagineer-ing, and elsewhere, do remember that I’ll be trying to cope with the meds change.  Fortunately, I have two or three posts scheduled already for Imaginer-ing, so they’ll appear on cue.  I’m afraid I don’t have any advance posts set up here.

Have a good April and remember to make the most of every day!

A Cautionary Tale


Our wedding 1980 The thing that was always my priority throughout my working life was my family.  My wife Jenny and our three children, Damien, Reuben Damien and Emma.  Eventually, as is  natural and inevitable, our children grew up and left home, going out into the world to carve out their own niches.  That left just me and Jenny.  A big spanner had been thrown in the works a short while before the kids left.  I had become Reuben disabled.  What should have been a time of new freedom for us, as a couple, turned out to be something rather different.

Emma We managed to do some things that we’d never done before in the first years.  Things like going to local air shows at Lowestoft and Clacton-on-Sea.  In time, our new ventures took us on a second honeymoon, on the other side of the country, in Morecambe.  It was our 29th year Cumbria from Morecambe 2009 married.  And what a wonderful time we had!  We saw things, and places, that were beyond anything we had ever seen before.  For me, the peak was seeing the Sunset from Morecambe 2009 mountains of Cumbria, with the lakes nestled amongst them.  It was quite something to be on the promenade at Morecambe and look across the bay to the beauty that is Cumbria.

Sadly, it would prove to be the last great adventure.  Not long after returning, I spiralled down as I suffered bouts of pancreatitis.  My weight plummeted, which was unfortunate as I didn’t have any to spare in the first place.  Since I hit bottom, Hemsby beach 2012 our outings have slowly ceased, despite some degree of recovery. We did manage some time away in a caravan, thanks to our friends Lorraine and John, in Hemsby, on the east coast of Norfolk.

Now, I’m rarely able to go out.  Even visits to the doctor or the hospital test my strength and endurance wickedly.  That means seeing far less of our grandchildren than I’d like, for me, though Jenny is still able to see them.  That’s why I’ve been so prolific with my writing.  It’s a distraction, at least.

The gather There have been some beautiful moments with the grandchildren that I was lucky enough to witness.  One was on little Logan’s “Name Day” (he’s the youngest, at the moment, the son of Reuben and his partner Dawn).  It was possible to get all the grandchildren together with Jenny and get a photo’!

All I can do for now is hope that things improve sufficiently for me to rejoin the visit trips.  It’s not the same only talking to the kids on the ‘phone or via emails or Facebook, and I’m missing seeing the grandchildren growing up.  I missed enough of our own kids doing that because I was working.

Learn something from my story!  Don’t assume that you have plenty of time to do things you dream of.  Nobody knows what tomorrow will hit you with!

Monday Mumblings


Another Monday – do they never end?  Every time I start to get into the swing of it being the weekend, I find out it’s Monday and I’ve missed the break!  I feel cheated every week.

Now, I know I’m fairly well housebound so it really shouldn’t matter what the day is, but the fact is that I like having Jenny home instead of working.  It’s not exactly helped that she has weird weekends.  One week she gets Saturday and Sunday off, but the next she only gets Sunday.  The fact that she also gets the Tuesday after the 2 day weekend off really doesn’t create what could be termed balance.

And this past weekend was a 1 day weekend.

There’s a feature of the 1 day weekend.  Normally, we go to visit our daughter, who lives around 25 miles away, using country roads.  That means we get to see her, the two granddaughters she’s given us and sometimes her partner, and maybe his eldest daughter.  It’s only fortnightly.  Unfortunately, the roads are so atrocious that when I’m at my worst (in health terms), I simply can’t take the punishment they inflict on me.  And that’s happened two times running, now.

Not that it would be any easier if she lived closer.  Both our sons live in the same town as us, and the roads in the town are either full of pot-holes or have road humps every few yards – some have both in abundance!  The rate at which my pain levels rise going even a short distance is ridiculous.  Jenny has dreamt of getting a local councillor in the car, with sharp rocks attached to their backs and thighs and taking them for a pleasant little tour of the town.  It would help them start to get the picture.

But there, Life’s like that and us mere mortals have no control over any of it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

If you follow my other blog, Imagineer-ing, you’ll know that I’ve been very busy writing and blogging about reading and writing.  That’s why the knitting seized up.  Or, rather, the knitting seized up because I had hand problems and the writing surfaced instead.  Writing is also my first love, as an activity, together with reading.  I was writing novels when I was 13!  Life has blocked it at times, but the desire to write has never really gone away.  So, when I had to take a break from crafts, it was natural that writing take over.

Now, you may wonder that I can write but I can’t do crafts.  Both, after all, require a fair degree of finger use.  I can’t deny that, and yes, it really was finger problems that stopped the crafting.  Quite simply, writing using a computer has some major benefits!  There’s spell-check, for one thing.  My hands tremble anywhere from a subtle shiver up to major tremors that should register on the Richter Scale!  hitting the right keys on the keyboard can be challenging, to say the least.  But, unlike with physical crafts, a computer allows me to fix the errors!  Well, most of them, anyway.  And it’s a relatively painless process.  Then, too, all I need to write is the computer and my imagination.  I don’t need books, patterns, tons of materials.  It’s the most compact activity I can think of.

What’s really nice about writing is that you can share even more with others.  I started out publishing short story ebooks that could be downloaded free (and still can) and then recently progressed up to novelettes (longer than short stories but shorter than novellas – about the thickness of many small press poetry publications but usually with a lot more words!) that I sell at the lowest price I can – $0.99USD or the equivalent (excluding any local taxes like VAT).  And it’s truly gratifying that I have even had some sales!  Now I’m starting the process for publishing two of the novelettes as actual paperback books, which is exciting, though time consuming and much slower than publishing ebooks.  Of course, the paperbacks will cost more than the ebooks.  I’ve got no control over that.  Even so, it’s a thrilling time!

***

Well, I’ve bored you all for long enough, for now.  I’ll be back with more tedium for you to digest…

 

Wow! OMG and all that!


It’s been so long since I posted here!  I feel terribly guilty.  I have to admit that I’ve done no knitting and only a little cross-stitch.  I spent a fair while beading and making jewellery but have returned to my first love: writing!  I apologise to everybody for not being more active here, but I kept leaving it because I done nothing new and… well, time flies.

If you’re interested, I have a very active blog on various subjects around writing, called Imagineer-ing.  You would be very welcome to visit me there too!  It might even be fun.

I can’t promise that I’ll be busy with the needles again soon, I’m afraid.  I would love to be able to do everything I love, but it’s just not possible.

I do have a thought… I might turn this into a general blog, with all manner of subjects that reflect my life, such as it is.  I’ve no idea if anybody would find that interesting, of course.  I’d be delighted to hear your views on the idea!

All the best,

Steve

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.