Appearing on Personal Truths’ List of Six Inspirational Blogs!

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“Being involved in an accident can be very distressing for everyone involved and the recovery process doesn’t always end when the visible injuries have healed.”

Personal Truths Six Inspirational Blogs Screen Capture

Personal Truths is a UK website that documents real people’s journeys through personal injury and provides useful information for those who’ve been in accidents. Recently, they not only found my blog, but they also featured it in a post about six inspirational blogs that their readers “NEED to read”! Wow! My brain couldn’t compute this blessing that fell into my lap amidst all the dreck that rains down on me (really, could I have a week where blessings outnumber crap?! Too much to ask?). I quickly replied — didn’t want to miss this opportunity no matter how frozen my processing — and supplied them with the photograph they requested to go with the summary on my blog.

Read their helpful post, right now! And check out the other blogs they highlighted while you’re there. All good people sharing their stories!

Internet and Computers

Website Update Time

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Amaryllis collage in two black and white versionsBooks don’t sell themselves. Unfortunately. You must market, publicize, convince people to write reviews for you — not rave about the book only to you. An up-to-date website also helps to sell yourself and your books. It ups your SEO on Google, a good thing as that’s how people find you. But an old-looking website plants doubt in potential readers’ minds.

So I’ve set myself a triple updating job: keep the blog pages that are an extension of Concussion Is Brain Injury updated with new info and ideas; blog regularly; and update the appearance and function of the entire site.

That last task I used to do yearly. Every year, I had to relearn what I’d done the previous year in the back end of my site: how to tweak the theme I used and how to read the HTML/CSS codes I’d copied and pasted to customize my site. Now the free — always and only use free is my motto — theme is obsolete, and I have to find a new one to customize. The problem is I feel like I can’t understand the back end anymore, it’s been years and years since I last updated (for reasons I touch on in Concussion Is Brain Injury). From my experience with SoloLearn, I know my programming knowledge is in my brain somewhere. I can relearn. But I haven’t retained what SoloLearn taught me well. Believe it or not, that is a step up. At one time I couldn’t have remembered my pre-injury programming knowledge at all, and whatever I had learnt would’ve vamoosed in minutes. So at least I can remember for a bit. It was hard to believe that though this past week as I found a new theme, tried to learn it, and all I felt was a massive wall between me and understanding.

I’m beginning this updating mountain climb with an easier site I manage. At first, the new theme was completely — I mean completely, absolutely, totally — incomprehensible to me. I’m used to clicking here, mousing there, to figure things out, kind of like how I play with my photos, trying out different looks until I find what I like. But all the options were, like, huh?‽!!! Thankfully the theme designers had made a helpful video; it just took awhile to find it.

I clicked here, played with settings there, tried and tried experimenting with almost every option to see what they would do to the site. But still the whole thing was murky. And I was seriously, painfully fatigued.

All of a sudden, I understood how their theme worked, what all the options did, how to “read” the back end. Phew.

But now I have to keep working on it, for I’ve only just begun with the basics of the site and after two days off, already began to forget how some of the options worked. I still have to relearn how to use the Events feature I installed years ago, figure out how to make some of the fonts look the way I want, and set up a gallery. And, oh yeah, why does the site title keep changing its look FFS??!!

Once I master the easier site, I’ll be set to work on my site.

If I take too many days to rest, which exhaustion probably will force me to, because with brain injury, rest is neverending, I’ll forget it all over again. Stab a fork in my eye if I have to take too much downtime and relearn it all. But right now, I’m pleased with how it’s looking and functioning . . . Except for that site title that seems to have acquired a gremlin.


talk talk talk Blog Looking Snazzy and Modern

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Screenshot of political blog talk talk talktalk talk talk — my original blog — has been looking sad and dated for way too long. I put updating it in my endless ToDo list. Publishing Concussion Is Brain Injury: Treating the Neurons and Me moved it from being written in some task app into my head, needling me regularly until finally Christmas arrived with NO appointments, NO TTC to sap the living energy from me. I got it done. Took longer than expected. With brain injury, doesn’t it always? I used one of Blogger’s new themes, then customized it, sticking with a dark theme because I liked it, and it helps to differentiate my political blog from this one. And I fiddled around with one of my Toronto waterfront photos for my header image — even mulling over a quacking duck shot — until I decided I liked the sardonic look of the gulls. They’re just soooo Toronto and political looking.

Yes, folks, talk talk talk is looking pretty good now. The gulls are even impressed. Sort of. The only problem is that with losing so many years of regularly working on my websites to focus on my brain injury recovery, I lost my familiarity with HTML. I only ever copied and pasted code I needed that I found on the web, anyway, but trying to figure out how to change the full post page to a white background with black text defeated me. The HTML code looked like complete gibberish. Worse, I couldn’t find what helpful techies in their helpful posts said to find in order to add or replace code. I felt like my computer-understanding brain had turned into Swiss cheese. Blogger’s themes are more visually accessible than they used to be, so I’m going to have to rely on that . . . for now. It’s not that easy trying to make one’s blog or website accessible, but as I improve, I’m hoping to be able to do that here as well as over on talk talk talk.

The nice thing about refreshing a blog’s look is that it makes you want to blog again. It’s been sporadic on talk talk talk and barely weekly here because I had to make the hard decision five, uh, six (gulp) years ago to putting my energy once again towards treating my injured neurons and recovering brain function. I hadn’t truly heard the years ticking by until I logged into my CafePress site to update its widget on talk talk talk and saw my last login date: November 2011. That was a depressing stunner. I have some choices to make.


Website Adjustments

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Regulars to my website may notice some tweaks to my sidebar. I’ve replaced the Amazon carousel widget with a new plugin created for authors to help us showcase our books and with one click of a cover, it will show readers where to buy. I’ve included my four main books: Lifeliner, She, Concussion is Brain Injury, and Eleven Shorts +1. You may notice the cover for Concussion is Brain Injury is not clickable. No error! It’s not published yet. Heh. After December 14, it will be. And I will make the cover clickable, just as soon as I come out of book launch coma!


New Site Design

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I can’t help myself. I say don’t do it, not interested, tired, in pain. And I do it anyway. I redesign my site. You may have noticed.

The background texture is handmade Japanese paper I photographed, uploaded to the computer, and futzed around with in Corel Paint Shop Pro X4. I used layers, the Color Efex Pro 3.0 plugin on one layer; then after duplicating and doing my usual Gaussian Blur technique (I can’t remember which Property I used), used another Color Efex Pro 3.0 plugin on the merged-layered image. I finally figured out the right crop for my widescreen display when in Firefox (Chrome doesn’t look as good) and uploaded to my site. I also used the same texture for the menu backgrounds. There are some elements I couldn’t figure out at all how to change. Oh well. But on the bright side that plugin came in handy with its Flux effect to make my header dark. The site now looks fine, more artistic. And it’s way past time to get off the computer!

Let me know what you think. 🙂


New Gift for New Subscribers — Free!

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It’s been awhile since Lifeliner came out, and I thought it was well past time to update the gift I send those who subscribe to my website using the form in the right sidebar.

I pondered what to give for a few weeks. I wanted to give something unique and attractive, something I hadn’t done before. And then Apple came out with iBooks 2, followed by a special app to create fixed-layout ebooks. Looked good but I didn’t like the terms, and right on cue, Twitter coughed up an alternative app: Book Creator. Looked snazzy. I downloaded it, then played around in my head some ideas. I have written poetry; I have taken and displayed on Flickr thousands of photographs; I have done some readings. I married a select few of the three, and voilá, a poetry and photography fixed-layout ebook: my gift to new subscribers. Free! Because gifts are always free.

Fixed-layout is best for poetry because poetry is about more than the words, it’s also about how they look on the page. It’s about line lengths, indentations, white space. Traditional ebooks that flow according to the device or app they’re read in muck up the way the lines look. But fixed-layout ebooks don’t flow. You can zoom in and see the details in the photos or enlarge the text, but the way the words look remains the same. What I design is what you see. In full colour too. At this moment, the gift is available in ePub format only for viewing in iBooks for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. The PDF version is forthcoming — when Book Creator updates its app. But the ePub is glorious and worth subscribing to Compositionally Shireen.

Compositionally Shireen is what I call the weekly digest of my articles and posts, delivered conveniently into your inbox each Tuesday morning (click here for a preview). So what are you waiting for? Fill in the field below with your email and read your exclusive ebook now.

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Order Page Updated

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I have updated my Order Page with the latest information on where to buy around the world my five books in ebook formats, paperback, and hardcover (Lifeliner only for the latter). CreateSpace has not finished rolling out the paperback version of She to all the online retailers and bookstores, and Smashwords is still distributing She to all its retailers. Smashwords has not yet approved my brand-new ebook Eleven Shorts +1 for distribution. As these go live on more websites over the coming weeks, I’ll update the Page again (and again…and again).


Changes on the Backend

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I’ve been moving and tweaking my website these last few days. A couple of months ago I became fed up with the technical ineptitude of my web host provider and decided to move. As is usual with the friendly people on the Internet, several immediately recommended various providers and gave me some tips. And as usual, I took my time in acting on that decision.

Well, I’ve made it and enacted it. And it’s finally working after a day of freaking out that my site looks like it was designed by a dunce. Suffice to say that I seem to be a better transferer of content than the web host! However, the new guys have lived up to their billing. They knew their stuff, especially the ones on the telephone (as opposed to Live Chat).

Since I had to do mega backups, I took this opportunity to install a new comment system: Disqus. I hope this will make it easier for non-techies to comment and for my site to reflect all the comments made on any given post, no matter where they’re posted, here or elsewhere like on Twitter or Facebook. Once the backend looked stable (and crossing my fingers that the cancellation process with my old web host doesn’t screw things up), I finished drafting the final posts on my Reading-with-a-brain injury series. WordPress will make them live next week.

I will be going offline on Monday for one of my computer-free weeks. So I hope that I’ve caught all the changes that need to be made by then, everything works, and the blogs I’ve been drafting and promising to post on reading will show up. I hope.

Internet and Computers

New Year, New Website

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Since I have at last completed my second novel and submitted it to publisher and agent for consideration, I thought it was time to update my website. Besides which, the style the 2009 version was based on was no longer supported by its creator. I like the new style or theme that the new website is based on. It’s highly versatile and easier than the usual theme to customize. I’ve pretty much set the style; next I shall work on content. Stay tuned for more changes!