Semi-Online and Forging a New Routine

The last three months has seen my entire life change. Sadly, Dad passed away at the end of June from lung cancer. Those last few weeks were horrible, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget certain details from that period. The pain. The confusion. The acceptance. The moment I realised he was gone.

Then the changes started. Moving house. Transferring location at work. Forging new routines. Learning to cope with Mum’s condition and the constant questions. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, at times I found myself sitting staring at the floor consumed with thoughts that scared me. But, like all bad situations, there were teething problems but it is settling down now.

My only constant during this time is that I have found time to read. I finished “The Lavender Keeper” by Fiona McIntosh, which was a brilliant book set in WWII. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I also finished “Wanted” (A Leopold Blake Thriller) by Nick Stephenson, which reminded me of The Da Vinci Code without the history lessons (and believe me when I say that’s a compliment). Currently, I’m reading “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Many people that I trust recommended this book to me. At first, I found the backstory annoying, even though it is a large part of the plot, however, the storyline is quite twisted and I’m so engrossed in it now that I find it hard to stay away from. I look forward to seeing the movie when I’ve completed the book.

Anyway, I set up my laptop yesterday and here I am … checking on things, writing updates, sifting through emails, catching up with news.

I don’t think I’ll have the same internet experience anymore, not like I used to. I just don’t have the time. But I will write updates when I can. And I will attempt to start writing book reviews once more, but no promises.

And, no, I haven’t written during this time, but I have found myself thinking about my works-in-progess. If time permits, I think I’ll try to dedicate that time to finishing those works-in-progress rather than spending time on other activities.

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Win $100 for a Promo Video

Yes, that’s right, I’m willing to give someone $100.00 for the winning promotion video. However, there are guidelines so keep reading if you think you have the know-how to enter this … competition/work offer.

I don’t have the know-how and that’s why I’m willing to run this competition (for lack of a better word); and why I’m prepared to pay the money. If you submit a video and I like it, then I’ll be paying you for full exclusive use of that video, to use in any way I see fit, for as long as I want.

Firstly, there are three categories and three chances of grabbing $100.00. That means, if I receive videos that I like and want to use in each category then I will pay the submitter(s) $100.00 for each video chosen, which is a total of $300.00.

Secondly, the $100.00 will be paid in Australian dollars. I will pay through PayPal if you live overseas or I will do a bank transfer (or pay through PayPal, if your prefer) if you live within Australia.

Thirdly, I reserve the right not to pick any submitted videos, if they are not to my liking. In other words, I’m not going to pick something I don’t want to use. That would be wasting money and I’m not into doing that.

The Categories:

1. A promo for the Hope Anthology (refer to Hope Anthology webpage).
2. A promo for the Night Terrors Anthology (refer to official webpage).
3. A promo for The Land of Miu series (refer to webpages for Book 1 and Book 2 and upcoming release page for Book 3).

The Guidelines:

1. The video must be under 3 minutes.
2. The video must be tied to the book (or books in the case of category 3) in some way.
3. Everything used in the video – music, images, sounds, voice overs, etc – must not be copyrighted in any way.

That’s it for the guidelines. I don’t want to restrict your imagination by saying any more so the rest is up to you.

If you would like to obtain higher definitions of the cover art work, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Submissions will be accepted up until 31 January 2013 by sending them to my email address, which is karenleefield AT gmail DOT com.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. 😀

Review: WooThemes Extension & Support

Recently, I was looking for ways to sell books and ebooks on a website. When looking at ways to set this up I discovered a WordPress plugin called Woocommerce and decided to install it. However, whilst the plugin is free, it didn’t allow for purchases by weight. So, I went to WooThemes (the developer of Woocommerce) to see if they had anything to solve the problem and found an extension (Australia Post Shipping Method) which, when installed, uses Australia Post API to fetch up-to-date shipping prices. The extension was not free. It cost me $49.00, which I was happy to pay.

But…

It didn’t work!

It would fetch the correct prices if the order contained one paperback book, but would not adjust the shipping fee if multiple of the same book were purchased – 2 books or 200 books; the shipping fee remained the same as it would have been for one book. Also, if a paperback and an ebook were added to the cart, then an error message would be returned instead of a shipping fee for the paperback book.

Naturally, this was not correct. I returned to WooThemes and submitted a support ticket. I’m not a demanding person and I know these things take time, so I was prepared to wait for the help I needed. Besides, there was no urgency.

A week later I received an email confirming that there seemed to be a problem and the issue would be forwarded to one of their developers to have a look at. Two days later another email turned up saying it would be checked to determine if a fix was needed. I continued to wait patiently.

Another week passed and I returned to WooThemes as I hadn’t heard anything and was getting a bit concerned. When I logged into the account and checked on the progress of the support ticket, I discovered it had been closed, but I hadn’t actually received any help.

My patience ran out at this stage. No help had been offered. The extension doesn’t work. It is useless to me. I have paid for the extension and expect more from them than that.

I sent another email. This time I was more demanding. This time I said that if I wasn’t going to receive the help I required to get the extension working properly then I wanted a refund. No response has come back to me in over 8 days. They were happy to take my money, but not so happy to help me get the thing working. I am not happy with their extension or their support.

I do not recommend anyone purchase anything from WooThemes. It doesn’t ‘just work’. And the support is non-existent.

I have since found a free plugin called AWD Weight/Country Shipping, which is simple to use and works like a charm. I wish I’d found it BEFORE throwing $49.00 down the toilet.

Edited on 1 November 2012: Just wanted to say that I didn’t actually ask for a refund, I requested a credit towards another extension called Table Rate Shipping, which reportedly worked out the shipping fee using the total weight in the cart at the time. I have no idea if this extension would have worked or not, but the extension costs $99.00. As I was willing to fork out another $50 it shows I was serious and sincere, in my opinion. However, still no reply and at this stage I wouldn’t spend another cent with them because I simply don’t trust them now.

Edited again on 15 November 2012: Still no reply. I guess that tell me everything we all need to know. Support doesn’t exist over at WooThemes, so be wary of purchasing anything.

Main Website Problems

In April this year, my main website experienced a sudden jump in bandwidth usage. It went from the normal 2gb per month to over 5gb in a couple of hours, which caused the site to go offline. My host gave me some extra bandwidth and two days later I was offline again.

Upon the end of the month, start of May, my website came back online. However, ten days later 7gb had been used and I was shoved offline yet again. My host gave me another gigabyte and before the end of the day I was offline until a few days ago.

I don’t expect to be online for long!

My investigations have shown that Googlebot is the culprit. These necessary evils have been coming to my site and, after 100,000 hits in a matter of hours, causing my website to go offline. It really is frustrating.

Research have instructed me to do multiple things to fix the problem, but nothing (yet) has worked. My resolve to fight is waning and now my thoughts are turning to moving my domain to a host that gives me unlimited bandwidth, because that will definitely solve the problem once and for all.

Yes, the host I’m with has such a plan, but it’s expensive. I can move elsewhere and get six years of unlimited bandwidth for the price of one with them. My gut is telling me to start packing!

With six months already paid for, I will wait and see what happens this month. If I do go offline, and I’m 99% sure I will, then I will start the moving process. Because, in all honesty, what’s the point of having a website if it’s not accessible to anyone, including me?

And, I might add, this is the reason I have a backup website. I have and will continue to post here while trying to sort out the problem with the main website.

Finally … a theme I really like!

Frequent visitors to this website will know I constantly swap and change themes. This is because I’ve never been entirely happy with the themes available through WordPress.com. However, today I checked out the new themes added over recent weeks and found “Retro-fitted”.

I love it!

It’s clean. It has colour (including my favourite colour, blue). It clearly defines the sidebar. There’s plenty of “white space” so the page doesn’t look cluttered and messy. And, I like the way tables are handled, as well as images. Overall, it ticks all the boxes and I really can’t complain about anything … so it’s a winner.

I think I’ll be satisfied with this theme. 🙂

Looks Do Count

For regular readers of this website, I must apologise for the constant swapping and changing of the theme. There may be over 100 themes to pick from but I find most of them are too much alike so there isn’t really much to pick from. Bold themes are too bold, too ‘in your face’. Colourful themes have too much colour, or colours that don’t suit my needs, or colours I simply don’t like. Minimal themes are too basic, too black and white, and lack everything!

Or maybe I’m just too fussy.

I like themes with a defined top menu. I prefer the blog title to be visible but not the only thing you see when you land on the home page. I want the content and the sidebar to be well defined too, separate … not merged into one. I like colour (vivid or pastel), but it needs to be elegantly done and the combination should compliment not distract. And header images are great, but what’s the go with these huge things that take up the entire screen? *sigh*

What one theme gives me in one area, it fails in others. I have been through so many over the past week. At present, this grey theme gives ‘most’ of what I want. Not all. But maybe I’ll never be satisfied. For now, it will have to do.

Dusting the Shelves, Sweeping the Floor

Hello! My name is Karen Lee Field and I live here. Not that you’d know it. The place is smothered with dust. I should have covered everything with white sheets before I wandered off. Hmm, why do they use white sheets? Seems a bit silly to me.

Anyway…

I’ve been extremely busy over the last few months. Hope has been my top priority. The book will be launched this coming weekend, 7 – 9 October 2011, at Facebook. Feel free to join us. There will be ebook giveaways and one paperback to be won by guests.

Now that the bulk of the Hope project has been finalised I’ll be able to go back to doing other things…like reading, writing and my studies. Oh, and writing posts for this website.

Now, where did I put that broom…?

Swapping and Changing

My apologies for the constant swapping and changing I’ve been doing over recent weeks in regards to the theme. Each theme I’ve used has its pros and cons, but none of them really felt right.

However, I always liked this theme, but felt it was too “black and white” and I really wanted a touch of colour. I’ve tried several different themes, but kept coming back to this one. Then this afternoon I realised there was a simple solution. I could add a background image and a header. Geez, I can be so stupid and slow at times.

Anyway, now I have a theme I like and a touch of colour too. It looks modern and crisp. I like it!

WordPress for iOS

Due to the injury I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to stay away from my laptop for a few days.

No, I haven’t caved already, I’ve been using my iPod Touch. I rarely use it for anything other than reading ebooks. However, today I’ve discovered it’s a great way of posting status updates to Twitter, checking out what’s happening on Facebook, and writing posts for this blog using my new discovery from WordPress — the WordPress for iOS app.

I can write posts and check comments on any of my WordPress blogs, hosted or self-hosted.

This post is being writing through the app. And I’m writing it with one finger and left-handed! This is quite something for someone who is right-handed and when that someone is a touch typist. It took longer than usual, but it wasn’t too bad.

I probably won’t use this app often but it is handy and is a sign of how we can adapt and how technology adapts.

Change of Theme…again

For those of you who have known me a long time, this sudden change of theme will not be a surprise. I like changing the look of a blog and I especially like a “clean” blog that works for me.

There are many good looking themes available through WordPress.com, and more are being added on a monthly basis, but just as many of them have little things wrong with them that I find irritating. For example, I might love the layout itself but hate the way images are displayed or how headings mess up the page or how bulleted sections hug the paragraph below or above. I might love the colour but not the style. Most of the time, I love quite a few things, but don’t like the blending of the posts and sidebar. Most of these things are purely personal preferences, but they are enough to be distracting to me.

This morning, I noticed “Choco” has been added to the themes. I like the rich colour. I like the distinction between the posts and the sidebar. I like the way the images are displayed and the headings. I haven’t seen a problem with bulleted items, as yet. I don’t mind the dark background with the lighter reading surface. So, yes, I decided to change the theme and give it an opportunity to prove itself.