Giveaway Winners

Last week, I ran a giveaway for subscribers – and the winners were…

Martin Seddon and Sarah Cundy.

Sarah – let me have a mailing address, and I’ll get your copy of Aegyir Rises into the post for you.

Giveaway

Amanda’s website

Members 65. Newsletter

“Lockdown. Reach out to your extrovert friends, they have no idea how to deal with this.”

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Giveaway

It’s about time that I did a giveaway. Before that though, some shameless self-promotion.

You may know that I co-host a podcast, 1857.

I have started appearing in another.

Shelflifesitcom

The following excerpt was written by Harry Marks, producer, director, leading voice and top fellow of the Shelflifesitcom.

Harry is a talented swine, and silver-tongued with it. He has worked out that I can resist anything bar flattery, so he’s perceptive too.

“[Ray Liotta voice] As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to own my own bookstore. Unfortunately, the economy and, more recently, the virus situation around the world have made achieving that dream impossible. But there was another dream. Once upon a time, I was a film student focused on writing the next great screenplay. As I got older, my passions shifted toward fiction writing and I’ve spent the last 10 years writing six failed novels.

Rather than invest months of time and effort in another manuscript, I wanted to write something I could guarantee would be seen by more than agents and critique partners. And since self-publishing any of my novels was never part of my plans, I figured I’d tap into one of my other hobbies: podcasting.

The Show

The Shelf Life is a sitcom about Edwin Charles (played by yours truly), the owner of Blue Cat Books, a small-town, independent bookstore. The coffee shop next door is run by Vincent Hughes (played brilliantly by the 1857 podcast’s Stuart Lennon). When a young woman from out of town shows up with a bombshell secret, Edwin’s quiet life is turned upside-down.”

Told you he was silver-tongued.

Read the rest of the post here, at Pencil Revolution, the fantastic blog of Johnny Gamber, of Erasable Podcast fame. Careful at Johnny’s blog, before you know it, an hour has passed.

Free Book

My writing buddy Amanda Fleet has been slacking off. Just publishing novels three, four and five. She’s forever putting me to shame!

The books form the Guardians of the Realm trilogy. They’re excellent. Go buy them atamazon.com or amazon.co.uk

I’m giving away two paperback copies of the first of the series, “Aegyir Rises”.

Giveaway

All you have to do is be signed up as a subscriber to my newsletter. Not that I have actually sent any newsletters, but I’m going to – if only to announce the winners!

I will draw a couple of names from the hat on Wednesday, April 1st.

Membership

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

To be clear – you DO NOT need to be a paid member to qualify for the giveaway, only asubscriber – and that’s free.

 

Members 64. Updates

It’s time to talk about almost anything else, I think.

So – a variety of updates this week:

My writing is supported by people like you. The remainder of this post is reserved for Members. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Working Tools 30. iPad First

In April of 2019, I had settled that I was not ready to leave behind a traditional computer and work on iPad first.

Concerns

  1. Backup. Corporate disasters in a past life make me paranoid of data loss. My mac has backups of backups.
  2. Filing systems. I found IOS cumbersome in managing nested folders.
  3. Certain tasks – podcasting for example, just worked better on the Mac.

Remedies

  1. The world has moved on. Everything is online. Either in proprietary databases (my company accounts for example) or remote sevices like Dropbox or iCloud. We have, in effect, outsourced data backup to third parties. These guys have backups of backups don’t they? Don’t they? As you may gather, I’m not 100% sold on this, but I have also come to realise that not all my data is a precious as I would like to think. I’m thinking on that. In the meantime, my Mac sits in a corner, quietly running backups.
  2. The files app on IOS is fine. Could it be better? Yes – but increasingly, I access data, not through a central repository of data, but through an app. This post, for example, originates in Ulysses. I wouldn’t know how to find it in the Files system.
  3. Apple updated their operating system (Catalina) and it broke my podcasting workflow. Once forced, I explored multiple alternatives for both Mac and IOS, and found IOS easiest.

I know what I always suspected. Everything is possible on every platform. It’s a case of having the right workflow for the chosen platform. So – I’m committed to learning how best to do things on IOS.

Project 1

A Newsletter. I want to send a monthly email to customers over at Nero’s Notes, and in the future, one to subscribers here. I have lists at Mailchimp.

Task – Produce a simple newsletter that can serve as a template going forward.

Reset

I was remembering why I had stopped sending newsletters. Surely it shouldn’t be this hard?

My intention was to reach out to some smart people. People who know what they’re doing. However, just like asking for directions, reaching out is only to be done once I have driven round and round in circles for an hour or two. Me? Stubborn?

I went back to basics. A pencil and a bit of paper. I drew out what I wanted a newsletter to look like.

The scales fell from my eyes. The newsletter was the final product that would be sent via Mailchimp, but it was made up of a series of distinct elements. Each element needed to be viewed separately.

Solutions

Photos – there are multiple apps that make this an absolute breeze. I download the photos to my library, edit them to to the right size and resolution (I use Pixelmator) and save them to an album.

Text. I live in Ulysses. I like the interface, and I can make the final version come out in all sorts of formats. I’ll write the copy in this app.

Links. In essence, I want to be on a website, mine or someone else’s, and quickly file the link somewhere. A clipboard, if you will. There are loads of these. Some of which I had discovered in a past life, downloaded and forgotten. Copied is one great option. However, if I tap the share icon, I can save the link into a Ulysses Group set up for the purpose.

Once all the elements are complete – I simply assemble. I upload the photos, paste in the copy and links, and boom, I have a newsletter. I can even use multitasking on the iPad.

It tickles me that this process mirrors exactly the way I cook. All the ingredients prepared and ready to go in advance.

The epiphany was not discovering a specific app, it was rediscovering that doing one thing at a time is nearly always more efficient than multi-tasking.

Shortcuts

But wait…there’s more.

The process above is a huge improvement, but it’s only halfway there.

There are shortcuts.

Literally, the app is called shortcuts. Built-in on IOS devices, this is the successor to an indie app called Workflow. It’s a simple automator. Actually, it can be a really powerful automator too.

Time for me to explore…

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Members 63. WTFJH?

I’m not, by nature, alarmist. However, Italy is on its knees, with Spain not much taller. France, Germany and others are closing their borders. Are they closing their wallets too? The southern economies were teetering anyway, and all rely on tourism. As Easter approaches, it seems there will be no season in 2020.

My writing is supported by people like you. The remainder of this post is reserved for Members. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Living the Dream – 80. Lockdown

Before the Lockdown

Adamantios (his real name) took me through the CT. I’m sure he was speaking English, but when it comes to the medical terms, Greek remains the lingua franca. Spondylolisthesis was one of the more entertaining tongue-twisters.

I’m not sure I can accurately explain the breadth of the issues, nor indeed the intricacies of the solutions proposed. The recommendation was to operate. Then it wasn’t. Then it was again. I was getting dizzy. Poor Mags was increasingly confused and most important of all; in agony.

First hints

On Tuesday the 10th, as a response to Corona virus, the hospital limited patients to one designated visitor, who should wear a mask. Then, on Wednesday the 11th, all visiting was suspended. Margaret’s birthday on Thursday, she would be allowed no visitors. Tough.

The operation was now scheduled for Friday the 13th. Well, it would be, wouldn’t it?

Postponed

Then, on the morning of the 13th, Mags awoke with a sore throat. An ear nose and throat specialist examined her and declared the operation off, prescribing a course of antibiotics for a week. Moments later, Mags’ doctor informed her she was being discharged.

Put simply, while the pandemic rages, Mags is safer at home than in hospital.

Time for me to step up. “Nurse Lennon, your patient.”

As I type – the patient has survived 30 hours plus with no mishaps. That’s a start, I suppose.

I have learned a few things.

  1. Nursing is hard. Really hard. A professional nurse is nothing short of a superhero. Likewise those people who are full-time carers for a loved one.
  2. My fear of needles is personal. Turns out I’m fine sticking them into other people.
  3. There are always people worse off. With all that is going on – our problems shrink rapidly.

Lockdown

Right now, the government of Cyprus has effectively closed our borders, and all non-essential business. “Lockdown” is the new buzzword.

Dramatic times.

Now – how’s the patient?

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Members 62. New iPad

Well. I did get the new iPad.

However, before it was delivered, my world flipped upside down. When I wrote last week, Mags was really suffering. Last Tuesday, she took to her bed and has not left it since. She is now in another bed – having been through multiple transfers, managed entirely by medical professionals.

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Living the Dream – 79. Field Test – Medical

Ambulance

“What?”

The paramedic eyed our straightest staircase with horror.

“If we go around the house, there are fewer steps,” I ventured.

We went off to explore this route, while the ambulance driver focused on turning the vehicle around, knocking over the lighting on the driveway as he did so.

Eventually we exited the house through one of the bedrooms. Keen to reassure the patient, strapped to the stretcher, Marios, the paramedic, said,

“This part is very dangerous. But don’t worry Mrs Lennon.”

He and I took the front end of the stretcher. A couple of times he let me bear the weight while he helped his colleague at the other end. A clever tactic to make me feel useful, I’m sure. Eventually, the Chuckle Brothers and I got Margaret into the ambulance. I picked up the hypodermic needle that had fallen to the floor and followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Accident and Emergency

As I entered the Accident and Emergency department from the car park, I met the stretcher coming in from the other side.

Margaret was pale.

“Marios tells me, this is the worst A&E in Europe.”

I made a note to talk to Marios about his over-sharing problem.

We were seen promptly and courteously.

“You need to see an Orthopaedic surgeon.” The A&E Doctor look harassed and tired.

“I know.”

“But they’re upstairs.”

“You have lifts?” I was trying to keep my tone neutral.

“But you can only see Orthopaedics, in the morning. You should come back then.” Dr Stress said.

Disappointing, I felt. “My wife can’t walk, can’t sit or travel in a car. How do I get her home?”

“Ambulance.”

“Ambulance? Had you seen the journey here, you wouldn’t say that. How do we come back?”

“Ambulance.”

“Three ambulances in 15 hours? Would it not be easier just to take her upstairs?”

“There are no beds.”

The Mediterranean

Ultimately, we whistled up a private ambulance and had Margaret admitted to the clinic that, if she could travel, she would have come to as an outpatient. It was half past nine at night.

“Insurance details, please.”

“We’re self-insured.”

Brows were furrowed.

I explained that I had phoned ahead and was happy to pay the medical costs.

“Right. Off we go.”

“Off we go where?” I asked, suspicious.

“CT scan.”

How the other (medical) half live.

After the scan, Margaret was admitted into a room in the surgical ward. Her roomie is an 83 year old who has just had a new knee. They prattle away at each other. I’m not sure that not sharing a common language is any impediment. Several nurses are in and out of the room constantly.

That night, for the first time in a week, Margaret was in good medical hands.

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Members 61. Back on the Corona

This is a holiday weekend in Cyprus, Monday being “Green Monday / Clean Monday”, the beginning of lent. Therefore, next physio is scheduled for Tuesday. At that point we will need to make a call on our planned London trip, which is scheduled to begin on Thursday. As things stand, (I’m writing this on Sunday) there’s no way Mags can travel.

My writing is supported by people like you. The remainder of this post is reserved for Members. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.