Image Problems With Blogger In Draft

The new Blogger bells and whistles lured me over the weekend. I changed from the old Blogger workhouse posting software to Blogger In Draft. Immediately, I did not like the way you inserted images into posts. Much more cumbersome than the old way.

Still, I went exploring. I checked out their touted template customization. It might be okay if you're using one of the Blogger templates, but I'm not. I still like my custom template so I won't be changing.

When Is An Upgrade Not An Upgrade

I left it in Draft mode and went about the business of writing a few blog posts ahead and scheduling them for the days I knew I'd be bogged down with completing the income tax forms. To my surprise, when I checked the first of those posts, the image illustrating the post was not there. I looked at it in edit. Yep. There it was, but it wouldn't publish.

Thus began a waste of 2 hours trying to make the image publish then trying to change back to the old Blogger Posting ap then going in search of information. I discovered I had lots of company from other disgruntled bloggers with all kinds of image problems. Some of the advice was to publish the image with the old ap then switch back to the new ap.

Who has the time to do all this in order to use the new version? Just use the original which seems superior at this time. (Click settings and scroll down to GLOBAL SETTINGS where you'll find the choices of post editor.)

An upgrade isn't an upgrade if it takes longer to do a required step. It's especially not an upgrade if it screws up something that previously had been working fine. I'll be staying with the original software thank you very much.

Takeaway Truth

Use caution if you try the new Blogger In Draft.

How To Publish Reviews On Amazon

I sometimes forget that there are a lot of people who are just getting comfortable with the Internet and all its possibilities. I was reminded of this when a friend emailed me and asked how to publish a review on Amazon.

Today's Lesson

Posting a review on Amazon is really quite simple. Here are the steps.

Locate The Item
On Amazon, find the item you want to review by using the Search function for the specific category. Click on the item when you see it.

Create Your Own Review
Scroll down that book's page until you find those words and click them.

Start Here

On that page, you'll find 3 questions. Are you over 13? How do you rate this item? (Click on the number of stars you wish to give it.) Please enter a title for your review.

Share Your Review
Next you'll be asked to select a review type, either Video or Written. Select one and start creating it.

Tag This Product
Here you'll find 2 boxes that can be checked. The first says: Label this review so customers know you purchased this item at Amazon. The second says: Receive an email when a customer comments on your review.

When you finish creating your review, click preview.

Preview
When you reach this point, you can choose Edit or Publish.

That's it!

Takeaway Truth

Be honest, but try to be kind. No one sets out to create a bad product so give the creator the benefit of the doubt.

Link To Booksellers

Most writers link to Amazon or maybe Barnes and Noble so that visitors to their websites can click to buy their books. The thing I've noticed is that these websites usually only have those links, either one or the other or maybe both. There are a lot of websites that sell books. Why not create a clickable link to as many as possible?

Multitude Of Booksellers

Create links to Amazon, B&N Books, Alibris, Borders, Powell's Books, Better World Books, Books-A-Million, or any of the others. It's easy to find online booksellers with a search string. Don't forget to link to your local independent booksellers. They'll appreciate the boost.

While you're at it, be sure and link to your publisher's website where your book can also be purchased.

Takeaway Truth

Leave no stone unturned in your marketing and promoting efforts.

The Attic

Quote for the Week

My husband and I cleaned out the attic yesterday. Why? I guess because my neighbor was having a garage sale. While I was chatting with her about her cleaning out the junk, I started thinking about all the stuff stowed out of sight and out of mind in my own attic.

We brought down boxes of stuff with the intention of taking them to out local charity-operated thrift store come Monday. Of course that got me to thinking about attics. I always longed for an old house with a hidden room and an attic that had a door, not a wobbly pull down ladder/stair. I envisioned gently worn furniture back to back with an old dress mannequin and maybe a trunk or two.

Of course, my attic is like most modern attics with those pull down stairs, exposed floor joists perhaps covered with a sheet or two plywood to create a storage docking bay. I thought I'd see if some bit of wisdom about attics was available. Here's what I found.

John Painter, who had been the oldest living American until his death at 112 in 1999, said: "Everybody has treasures in their attic, their basement, their garage, that they're willing to let go for a lot less than maybe what they're worth. And someone out there on eBay is looking for those items."

Guess what? Mr. Painter was right. I have lots of stuff for which I shelled out lots of bucks, and I'd be happy to part with it for a pittance. But. eBay requires photographing it, listing it, etc. I just don't have the energy or time to do that when I can haul it to the charity. They can put it out and hopefully make some money selling my surplus, and some person with limited resources can get something nice for a few bucks.

Takeaway Truth

One person's trash is another person's treasure.

Can't See? Need Glasses

Actually, what I should ask is: can't see your computer monitor? If you're like me, you spend way too many hours in front of the computer. Let me give you a tip about getting glasses designed just for your computer. I've had a special pair of glasses that I use only at the computer ever since I had a talk with my eye doctor about the subject.

Specific Use Eyeglasses

I'd got to the point where the text on the screen looked kind of wavy. I just couldn't focus that well on it. I found using multi-focal lenses had me tilting my head back to look through the band that was for intermediate distance. That of course resulted in my having neck pain all the time. I had the brilliant idea of getting glasses made that had a lens that was just that distance.

The end result has been fabulous. If you think it's expensive to experiment with eyeglasses this way, I'm here to tell you that if you shop at Zenni Optical online you won't break the bank. Their stylish frames are offered at rock bottom prices and the prescription lenses are probably as low as you can find anywhere.

Why Choose ZenniOptical

They can offer such low prices because they have no middlemen or retail overhead. They use the latest materials and manufacturing and marketing systems, and that's why they offer only one brand - their own. Zenni eyeglasses stack up to any you can buy elsewhere, and the savings makes you feel like a genius. Plus, you get to see better.

Takeaway Truth

Whether you're looking for specific use eyeglasses or just getting a "regular" vision prescription filled, ZenniOptical's got you covered.

Farewell, Detective Goren

The new Law and Order: Criminal Intent season begins with a 2 parter that has Detective Robert Goren leaving the show. I knew this was coming, but I'm going to miss the character played so expertly by the brilliant Vincent D'Onofrio.

Why I Like Goren

What's not to like about a man who is smart, well-read, moral, and good at his job? Goren could match wits with anyone and come out on top. I loved the puzzle aspect of CI, and the way Bobby always managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Of course, it's the writing that makes or breaks any entertainment vehicle, but actors bring to life the larger than life characters created by excellent writers.

Why I Like D'Onofrio

What's not to like about an actor who is talented, smart, and good at his job? I assume he's smart, and I like to believe he is well-read also. I base those assumptions on his interest in the life of Robert Howard of Cross Plains, Texas, and his subsequent producing of the movie The Whole Wide World about Howard, the author of the pulp fiction stories about Conan the Barbarian.

I love that movie, and not just because Howard is from the same part of Texas as my husband. In case you don't know about Howard or the movie based on his life, here's the gist of it.

Love Hurts

In the 1930s, young schoolteacher Novalyne Price, played by Renee Zellweger before she filmed Jerry Maguire, meets Robert Howard who is young, handsome, and rather eccentric. In today's world, he'd probably be diagnosed as bipolar. When they meet, Howard is already a pulp fiction success, and Novalyne is an aspiring writer. Their friendship becomes an odd, rather rocky, courtship that ends with Howard's tragic suicide. The movie is based largely on Novalyne's memoir. She received a writing credit along with Michael Scott Myers.

D'Onofrio was brilliant in the film. If you've never heard of this movie, I suspect it's because it was low budget with little publicity and probably limited release before it ended up in the video store. It's a gem, and D'Onofrio is memorable as Robert Howard, a man who wanted desperately to have a larger than life love but whose true passion was writing the stories of his imagination.

Cast: Exit Right

Along with D'Onofrio, Kathryne Erbe, his dynamite-in-a-small-package partner Eames, is leaving along with Eric Bogosian, their captain who had taken over from Jamie Sheridan left because of his Bell's Palsy. That leaves newcomer Jeff Goldblum at the helm who will break in Brit Saffron Burrows as partner to replace Julianne Nicholson.

Musical chairs in TV land means trial and error testing to see who clicks with viewers.

Takeaway Truth

Farewell, Bobby Goren aka Vincent D'Onofrio and Eames aka Kathryn Erbe. You'll be missed.

Spring Weather

Quote for the Week

Mark Twain said: "In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."

Mr. Clemens must have been in Texas when he made that insightful remark about the vagaries of weather.

Yesterday was the first day of spring. The day started with sunshine for a nano second and a temperature in the 60's. Clouds hid the sun. Black clouds stormed in from the north. Rain fell by the bucketful for nearly a half hour. The clouds moved on, leaving lead gray skies. A slow drizzle began, and the temperature started falling. By late afternoon, the temp had dropped to 46. Today promises much of the same.

Takeaway Truth

Perhaps the last 24 hours didn't exhibit 136 different kinds of weather, but it was sufficiently varied to convince everyone that spring has come to Texas.

Events That Cause Rain

You've heard of Murphy's Law? The philosophical cornerstone of Murphy's Law is the underpinning of the law that governs the occurrence of rain. There's no formal name for my theory. Maybe we should call it "Don't Mess With Mother Nature."

According to my observations and experience, we're in for a massive rainstorm in my part of Texas. Here are 6 predictors of rain.

1. Car washing. Just got mine back from the car wash. Actually, I had it in for an oil change, and they give a complimentary car wash.

2. Cleaning up the yard. The guy that spruces up my yard in the spring just finished working, and everything looks wonderful with azaleas and Louisiana iris ready to burst into bloom. What usually stops a full-blown yard of color? Drenching rain which knocks off the delicate blooms.

3. Planting a garden. I transplanted my tomato seedlings into the ground yesterday. What will stop them from producing a bountiful harvest? A heavy rain that washes them out.

4. Planning a HONEY DO list. I "convinced" my husband to clean out the garage this weekend. Enough said.

5. Law of Probability and Chance. The weather has been gorgeous every day this spring break week. Five days in a row? Can't possibly last through the weekend.

And, last, but not least.

6. Delivery by Dump Truck. My neighbor across the street just had a truck dump a load of fine garden mulch into his driveway. I can't count how many times I've seen mulch, sand, soil, or pea gravel floating down the street to the storm drain.

Takeaway Truth

When wanting a sunny weekend, keep in rule these 6 causes of rain. Happy Spring Break!

Friend A Fed


Did you see this article on the news today about the Feds on the social networks? As with most news of this sort, I had mixed emotions about it.

Yes, I think something should be done to stop the malicious mayhem that results from evil doers on My Space, Facebook, etc., but. . . .

I'll just give a hearty sigh because I don't know where one should draw the line between protecting society and invading privacy as well as hoodwinking innocents. So how do they know?

Takeaway Truth

Brave new world? Hardly. This is the same old world with the same old crap that's been going down for thousands of years.

Nora Roberts Computer Game

I guess you really know you've made it as an author when you have a video game named after you. Guess Nora joins the club that has Stephen King and Tom Clancy as members.

Here's a time killer if you are so inclined. It's the Video Game Name Generator.

Takeaway Truth

Popularity rules entertainment even in the book world.

Saving Daylight

Quote for the Week

From the funny mind of Victor Borge: "I don't mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I've saved all year."

I have mixed feelings about Daylight Savings Time. Perhaps they should call it Seeing Daylight Time since it allows us worker bees to have a bit of daylight at the end of a long day usually spent inside.

Takeaway Truth

Most of us don't spring forward. We kind of stumble awake and realize it's an hour later than we thought.

Dumb People

I know I'm going to catch flak for this one! However, I've been dealing with plenty of people who fit this description.

In my attempt to close out my late mother's accounts, I called everyone as soon as I was up to the onerous task. Of course, I took notes of the conversations so I would follow their close-out procedures properly.

I was conscientious. Unfortunately, most of the businesses were either uninformed or they just didn't follow through on what they said they would do.

Examples

A well-known organization that allegedly fights for the retired (you know their initials) told me one thing when I first informed them. Then when I called back because they kept attempting to debit my mother's account for a premium, they wouldn't even talk to me because I wasn't on the account nor had I filled out a form to notify them of her death so they could release information to me. WHY DIDN'T THE PERSON I SPOKE WITH A MONTH AGO TELL ME I HAD TO FILL OUT A FORM?

A satellite TV company gave me a phone number to which I was supposed to fax the death certificate. The phone number was a voice number, not fax. Of course, it took a day of fax redialing before I actually got something other than a busy signal. Another hour of calling that same number, and I got a RLP on the phone who gave me different instructions.

The funeral home we used filled out the death certificate incorrectly so it had to be redone and refiled with the state. Just the list of mistakes the funeral home made could fill a blog, and it may before this is all over.

The electric coop power company was supposed to send a check for refund of her membership fee, etc. Instead, they issued a credit to the account which is closed so it's in limbo.

If I keep going, I'll be at the screaming point again since I've been dealing with 10 times this many snafus in the last two weeks. For now, I'm going to pack my bag and make another trip to Louisiana to meet with my lawyer. I'll see y'all next week.

Takeaway Truth

Real life interrupts writing sometimes, and there's just nothing you can do about it.

Charging Cell Phone Explosion

Ah, the myth of the charging cell phone that explodes is making the rounds again. I received it twice this morning in my Inbox so I thought I'd save you the trouble of looking it up on Snopes.

Sure, cell phones can explode. After all, they are an electronic device. Anything using electricity and being charged can explode. I'd be more concerned about the cell phone electromagnetic field causing brain cancer though.

Wonder if this could be a new way to explain the loss of homework? I typed my paper on my cell phone, but it was lost when my phone exploded. Sounds better than the dog ate it, right?

Takeaway Truth

When you get those alarming emails, plug in a keyword search string at Snopes.com before you pass it on.

12 Million PC Victims


Did you hear about the big bust this morning? Ringleaders of the Mariposa Botnet have been arrested.

Widespread Tentacles

The Mariposa Botnet made its debut in December 2008 and blossomed into the kingpin of cybercrime. This network of virus-infected computers stole credit card and online banking info from more than 12 million poisoned PCs. These infected computers included those in Fortune 1,000 companies and major banks.

Incidents like this, which usually aren't publicized until after the fact or after an arrest, are why I don't do online banking. I've sat in on too many FBI workshops on Internet security I guess.

Spanish investigators, working with private computer-security firms, arrested 3 who are supposed to be the ringleaders, and they predicted more arrests are to be made in other countries.

Script Inspiration

After reading the press releases, I thought this would make a great mystery movie. Maybe someone will script this adventure of how the investigators hunted them down and gathered the evidence. It would be a great information plot to find out how the perpetrators went about setting it all up and how the investigators put the pieces of the puzzle together because it's extremely hard to track down these cyber criminals and get enough evidence against them. What's even more intriguing is that the suspects aren't genius geeks. They're so-called normal people who made criminal contacts to set it up and keep it going.

Unfortunately, these three face only 6 years in prison for this massive crime against property that covered 190 countries. I'm thinking penalties need to be stiffened for crimes like this that can wipe out an individual's assets and credit worthy reputation.

Takeaway Truth

Unfortunately, cyber crime is like an iceberg. For every ring busted, there are many more that are hidden. It's also like a regenerating hydra on steroids.

Short Fiction Contests

Who says writing short fiction doesn't pay? Actually, there's a lot of truth in that, but for those who love the short form, here are some contests, with close deadlines, that have handsome cash prizes and low entry fees.

Innovative Fiction Contest

Deadline: March 8, 2010

Entry Fee: $5

More information: Visit website or E-mail nmp @ thediagram.com or send SASE to DIAGRAM, Innovative Fiction Contest, Ander Monson, Editor, Department of English, P.O. Box 210067, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0067.

Prize: $1,000 and publication in DIAGRAM.

Description: given annually for an innovative short story. All entries are considered for publication. Ander Monson will judge.

Submit: story of up to 10,000 words with a $5 entry fee by March 8.

Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest

Deadline: March 31, 2010

Entry Fee: $4

Prize: $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine.

Description: A prize of $1,000 will be given annually for a short story. The editors will judge. Submit a story of any length with a $4 entry fee by March 31.

Takeaway Truth

Someone has to win. Maybe it will be you.

Another Scrrenwriting Contest


I know someone who did well in this the Don & Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting a few years ago. This is sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists.

Qualifications

Original work of 1 writer or collaborative work of 2 who have not earned more than $5,000.00 from writing fictional work for film or TV.

Submit original feature film screenplay of 90 to 120 pages along with application form and $30.00 entry fee.

Deadline is May 1, 2010. For more information and forms, visit the website or write Academy Foundation, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, 1313 Vince Street, Hollywood, CA 90028-8107.

Takeaway Truth

Winning or placing in a contest can be a big boost to your career.