Sunday 21 May 2017

The Pirate Ghost Meets Readers...

Do you recall me mentioning I'd won one of the annual competitions at the writers' club late last year? Yes the ghost story one with my entry 'The Wishful Spirit'.

Well today it joins the short stories available on Alfie Dog Fiction and it's now live...

(Honestly, my profile was harder to write than the story! :D )

Photographer Jack Sawyer doesn't believe in ghosts, but when he escapes to the little seaside village of a pirate ancestor, he meets archaeologist Lizzie Gibson, and discovers he's arrived at the perfect moment to help save their museum- with a little help from a mischievous ghost.

You can download it for a an inexpensive 39p, and in a choice of formats to suit your chosen reading device, just follow this link... You pay using PayPal, and there's information on the website if you're not sure which version you need...

I have a soft spot for this feel-good ghost story, which was why I persisted with revising it-despite earlier rejections elsewhere. The fact it was accepted this time proves I finally got it right.

Although the little coastal town in the story is fictional, I had images of places and buildings from holidays, more recent and long ago, in my mind, along with memories of my many visits to the Kent coast as a child.

If you have ever visited Lyme Regis in Dorset, you'll be familiar with the Marine Parade that runs along the beach. Just before that there was a small car park. The bus stop where the park and ride bus stopped (overlooked this car park) just as the road begins to climb uphill to the shops.
In the rigging...

I've no idea if that small car park is still there, as the last time I visited Lyme Regis was 2010. But a little car park just like that was where I imagined Jack listening to the tour guide and being accosted by the ghost of 'Bold Jack'...

Looking in my submissions book I realised that the story was a little older than I thought. The first version- a 1,000 word short story- was written in 2008.

I'm glad I persevered in finding a home for it...

I hope you enjoy reading it.

(Alfie Dog Fiction is celebrating its 5th birthday and they have lots of celebratory offers, so do pop over to the site and find out more.)

Monday 15 May 2017

Windows 10 Reinstallation is Not Scary...

I spent the weekend doing a clean reinstall of Windows 10.

For my friends who have already heard this- I apologise- but decided as I blogged about my initial trials and tribulations of setting up my (new) Windows 10 computer last year, I thought I might as well reveal this latest issue and solution.

At some point in the last 6-8 months something interfered with the Windows update system-despite the security and malware systems. I had the rare update fail to install, but usually they reinstalled the next time.

One of the advantages of Windows 10 is that the security updates are checked for and installed in the background, so unless you actually go into your settings and look at the update history you don't know whether anything important has failed to install.

It was pure chance I happened to look and saw a couple of big updates from the March Security update had failed, and failed... The system kept trying to install these updates and they kept failing. When I did the manual update they kept failing too...

Sadly the system doesn't alert you to this, which is a weakness. So I'd definitely suggest checking your update history now and then.

So off I went to the online tech support for Windows, and over the next 24 hours, five different (but very understanding) techs from across the globe tried to resolve my issue via remote access. Sadly each time this wretched update failed at the last moment- after the tech had signed off.

An important. task..
If you ever have an update that keeps failing you'll find an option to fix problems in Windows updates. You'll need to check your computer/laptops settings as they can be different.

Go to your computer's Control Panel, choose the Systems and Security option.

On my machine it's then Troubleshoot Common Computer Problems, and on clicking that you should be able to find Fix problems in Windows updates. Sometimes it will also say during the process something about administrator permissions, so just click that and then the next button. It will do it's magic and show you what has been fixed.

Every time my system was fixed, but it didn't stay fixed...

Eventually tech no.5 in Israel told me I had 2 options: a refresh, or reinstallation. Apparently the refresh would be a waste of time, and I'd be better off reinstalling. They sent me an email with the link to the info I needed.

March and April are the busiest months for me, so I put it off. Other security updates were installing okay.

Then this horrible ransomware issue emerged on Friday in the UK.

This was when my uninstalled big update of various patches became serious. My computer was not patched. And although I was not a company or big organisation, my computer was still vulnerable because of the missing patch.

So I did a final back up of anything not yet backed up. (You might like to read Simon Whaley's latest post over on his The Business of Writing site about backing-up your work.)

Then I read up on clean installation process, it was actually relatively easy. I was also able to reinstall from the Anniversary edition (that was released last Summer) rather than from the memory stick with the original version.

Go to your computer settings, then Update and Security. Select Recovery from the list on the left-hand side, it's just a matter of following the instructions and selecting the option you need.

The longest part was the downloading- though it does say you can continue to use the computer meanwhile. Once the installation begins you do need to be there as you're required to set the country and language, but it doesn't take too long; you just need to sign into the computer again each time as it needs to restart through the process.

Of course once it's all back in place you then need to go through all the settings just as if you'd just got the computer.

Most of the programmes (apps) I need I've reinstalled, and that important security update installed first time.

It's also solved some minor display problems I had: the missing sign-in at the top right of my blog screen reappeared, and on Facebook, where the stats show for individual posts, in the insights on my Carol Bevitt-writer and Serena Lake pages, they came back too. I hadn't associated them with my computer issues.

So far all is going okay.

I'll be blogging with some news and links on Sunday, so I'm glad the computer is fixed...


Sunday 7 May 2017

Celebrating 90 Years...

No, I'm not 90 years old, but Nottingham Writers' Club is this year. Which is why I was out celebrating on the 4th May.

We attended a reception at the Nottingham Council House in the Market Square, with club members and their guests, plus a few members of the City of Literature board.

There was a short speech by the Lord Mayor (who was previously the Sheriff of Nottingham), and then by our President of 10 years, Roy Bainton.

The Lord Mayor and NWC President
Roy Bainton cutting the cake
One of our Vice Presidents, Pat, arranged and paid for the cake- it was an open book shaped sponge with jam filling and iced - it was delicious.

The club committee provided the wine and non-alcoholic drinks.

Tea and coffee courtesy of the Council.

There were about 35 - 40 people at the reception, but not everyone was going on to the nearby restaurant, George's, for dinner.

We had part of the cake at the reception, and rather than ordering any puddings after our dinner (don't think any of us had room for pudding anyway) we had another slice of cake to finish...

It was a wonderful evening all round, with lots of talking, as well as the eating and drinking.

Me and my own personal hero...
Just as 10 years ago at the 80th anniversary celebrations, I got a picture taken of me with my own personal hero- my husband - who much prefers to be behind the camera than in front of it.

It may look like we're doing head contortions and looking in the wrong place, but the room lights were reflecting off the lenses of our glasses, so we had to keep making adjustments until we eradicated the light problem.

The club's celebrations continue for the rest of the year, but they'll be low-key...

Only 10 more years until the 100th anniversary...