Archive for October, 2017


An Early Halloween Treat…


 

Happy Halloween

A Halloween Tale is now available for perusal over at The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition. Come on over and enjoy a brief scare by clicking on the link below…

https://thevampyreblogs.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/a-halloween-tale-from-our-upcoming-anthology/

 

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We’re going to continue our discussion about adventures with computers.

When last I posted, I had just finished telling you all about the events involving the death of my little blue laptop and our desktop, and how we had just gotten around replacing them with refurbished computers.  In both cases, neither the new laptop nor the desktop had MS Office which meant no word processing program, excel, etc.  And since we were still on a budget purchasing would be more than a minor inconvenience at this point.  So what to do?

Well, Helen had told me about WPS Office, a system that she had downloaded onto her laptop a year ago which is fully compatible with MS Office while costing $0.00 to download.  There is one caveat however, every time you open a file in WPS Office you have to put up with a 5 second ad before proceeding.  Right off the bat I was like, “I can handle a 5 second ad, and if that’s all sign me up.”  But then a second thought occurred to me.   How how well would the files from that system would work for submitting finished books and stories to Createspace and Smashwords.

Both of those publishing systems have strict and specific submission guidelines, for those who haven’t used either yet.  In the case of Createspace, they insist on submissions being in PDF so right there I had a major concern.  However, my worries were quickly relieved when I saw that as part of their Word Processing program, there is an option to save your work as a PDF.  This was a big relief.  Furthermore, you can also save your documents as Word .doc or .docx.  Word .doc is the big requirement for Smashwords, so again a big plus.  And of course the price was right, so I went ahead and downloaded the system.

Navigating WPS Word is very easy.  The layout is very similar to the MS Word program most of us are already familiar with.

Your cut/paste, fonts, sizing, and other favorites are all there at the top just as usual.  The exact order they appear may not be identical but a minimum of patience is all that I found to be needed.   You’ll also find your little symbol buttons for save, print, go back, go forward, available as well.  Of course, to save your file in a specific format you’ll need to click on the W Writer box and select Save As… which will give you a number of options including Export to PDF, MS Word .doc, MS Word .dot, and MS Word .docx.  Which basically covers your submission needs for both Createspace and Smashwords, as I explained earlier.

The system is nearly identical to MS Office in all the respects for my needs.  Someone else may have encountered issues I’m not aware of, if you have and are reading this please share those concerns with the rest of us down in the comments section.  The reason I put this blog together to share personal knowledge and experiences in my writing journey, not just mine but yours as well my friends.  So please don’t hesitate to share yours or even some concerns you may have.  If I don’t know the answer, chances are another reader might have it.

Now as for the other programs offered under WPS Office, I haven’t worked with many of them yet but Helen has with great success.  From what she’s told me the spreadsheet and Powerpoint are on par with MS 365 Office.  If you choose to go for the WPS Office remember you can download the free version which also comes with 1 GB of Cloud space, or you can upgrade to Premium (which removes ads) has advanced features, including document collaboration.  There is also a Professional Version and a Student Version.  I don’t know too much about those last two versions so I cannot say much about them.  As I said earlier I myself stuck to the free download which is serving me just fine as I already share collaboration documents through Google Docs, and of course have Cloud storage space there.  So if you find yourself in a situation like mine, hopefully this is a viable alternative for you.  I still love MS Office, but until I get some other things taken care of like dental work, I have to watch my pennies for a while

Regardless of what Office system you use, remember to back-up your files.  I do so on Google Docs, Cloud, and on Flash Drives.  You never can have too much back-up for your work!  All of these saved hours and months of writing projects when my laptop and desktop died, I didn’t lose a single sentence, word or period.

I want to finish by saying I haven’t actually submitted anything to Createspace or Smashwords since starting with the WPS Office system, but trial runs where I submit a file to get a preview on Createspace has met with the same success I’ve experienced using MS Office.  Once our latest project “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time” is submitted, I’ll let you all know how things went.

Until then, use whatever you feel comfortable with as far as “Office” systems go.  If you’re on a budget like me, I think you will be rather pleased with trying WPS Office.  You can find it by simply Googling WPS Office.

That’s all I have for now.  Until next time, take care and keep writing.


Guess what?

 

September has been quite the month for me and Helen.  Some of you may remember that about a month ago, my little blue laptop became… ‘unreliable’ to the point I dared not risk any of our stories on it.  So it was sent to the wayside, leaving only our desktop (which I could not bring to work of course) and Helen’s laptop which she needs on a daily basis for her online college classes.  This put a serious dent in my ability to write or even be online as often as I wished, much less getting much writing done except on weekends.

We also had expenses to take care of, like college books for Helen which took priority over replacing my laptop.  Finally, things were looking up just on the eve of my week-long vacation at the beginning of September when illness and car troubles reared their ugly heads and forced us to push the laptop purchase back even further.  After getting the car situation squared away (over the course of most of my vacation), our desktop computer joined the little blue laptop by giving up the ghost.

This left us with just Helen’s laptop and my Kindle and little else.  Finally about a week ago, our finances were stable enough for us to purchase a refurbished desktop and a refurbished laptop together for about $300.00 (thank you Amazon, you guys are a God-send).  However, the delivery time for each computer was about another week or so, which meant I was still cut off from real productivity.  This led to a decision about pushing back the release date of our upcoming anthology book.  We had hoped to have the book ready for beta-readers by now, but with the delays in writing and the upcoming holidays, finding readers who have the time to even look at the book will be difficult.  Furthermore, the earliest we could get the book out would be a week or two before Christmas which is not a good time for indie authors to sell unless they have a huge fan base already.  It’s around Christmas the the big publishers make a massive push and getting your own book noticed at this time is a nightmare.

However, early January is an ideal time for new indie books because the holiday obligations are over and people have lots of lovely gift certificate cards they want to use on Amazon, B and N, etc.

With this in mind, we still wanted to catch some of the holiday spirit and have decided to release “The Vampyre Blogs: One Day At A Time” on January 5th, which happens to be Twelfth Night (or the 12th Day of Christmas).  This works great for us in a number of ways, especially since the first story in that anthology takes place around New Years Day (or on Twelfth Night itself, Helen has plans for a story that may be finished in time to add to the anthology… we’ll see).

There has been one other thing that forced us to push the release date of the book, namely getting used to the new computers.  Since both are refurbished, this means that all programs were erased from the hard drives and one is mostly left with whatever operating system remains.  This meant, no MS Office (i. e. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.), very basic Anti-Virus protection, or other special programs a writer might really want/need.

Now, being that we are on a budget decisions had to be made about what to load up onto our new computers.  How did we handle that?  You’ll find out in our next post, but the word “FREE” figures heavily into the solution.

Until then, take care and keep writing my friends…

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