Reading, Writing and Watching

Reading:  If you stop by here from time to time, you’ve probably heard me complain about my lack of reading time.  Nothing’s changed.  I still buy books faster than I can read them.  But I keep at it, and recently I finished reading Lowcountry Boil, a delightful mystery by my friend and Firebird sister Susan M. Boyer.  The heroine, Liz Talbot, is a very modern P.I. who returns to her family home on South Carolina island Stella Maris to invesitgate her grandmother’s untimely death.  Her pursuit of the truth is complicated by a parade of family members and friends, an ex-flame and an ex-husband, a devious cousin and the ghost of Liz’s high school BFF.  It’s no surprise that this Golden Heart finalist made it to publication so quickly.  I recommend it enthusiastically.

Lowcountry Boil introduced me to Henery Press, a new publisher in Dallas, specializing in mystery and suspense fiction, much of it in the cozy/humorous vein I enjoy.  On Susan’s recommendation, I ordered another book, Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart, which was a finalist in my own West Houston RWA chapter’s Emily contest last year.  That one’s waiting at the top of my priority To Be Read stack.  And isn’t the cover art on these books wonderful?  Stop by the Henery Press site to see more; the books are available as e-books or trade paperbacks.

Writing:  My One Hundred Words a Day loop is jumping again, with quite a few of us back on track, and even trying for 250 words a day.  I’m hard at work on my new Jinn story, and I’ve fired up my enthusiasm with a new piece of software for witers, Scrivener.  I had pangs of envy when Scrivener was a Mac only program, but a few months ago the Windows version was released, so I decided to try it out with a manuscript that was barely started, and therefore easily switched into a new file.  I had files relating to Bathtub Jinn in Word, Action Outline, Excel, and OneNote; Scrivener stores everything, including research, pictures, note cards, an outline, and no doubt things I haven’t discovered yet in one file.  It’s a large, complex program, so I did what I normally do:  I bought books.  Two of them, in fact (although Scrivener does come with a very good tutorial and a pdf manual), Writing a Novel with Scrivener by David Hewson and Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez.  I’m just getting started with Scrivener, but so far I’m very impressed.  You can try it before you buy it, and it only costs $40.  (What would I have given for a program like this when I was in grad school?   I couldn’t have imagined it.  When I was in grad school computers were programmed with punch cards, and I wrote all my papers with index cards and carbon paper on a portable electric Smith-Corona typewriter.)

Watching:  I’ve tried to get excited about Revolution, I really have.  I love the premise.  I’m a sucker for abandoned amusement parks and disintegrating freeways.  Rebuilding civilization–or sliding back into the dark ages–has always been a favorite theme.  But I find myself watching the show on DVR or On Demand, when I get around to it.  When it’s actually on, I’m watching Castle.  I think, once again, that it boils down to characters.  As much as I like the premise of the show, the characters haven’t grabbed me and refused to let go.  But this week’s episode is on again Saturday evening, and I’ll give it at least one more shot then.

This evening I’ve been watching/listening to a show I recently discovered on the Travel Channel: Mysteries at the Museum.  Very enjoyable for a history/artifact buff like me.  I’ve started watching the schedule and recording episodes.  One of these days I’m going to find the beginning of a good story on that show.


Thursday thoughts

Nothing special to write about tonight, but I thought I’d post a few random bits and pieces.  I’m on Day 117 (once I write at least one hundred words tonight) of my current writing challenge, trying to finish my work in progress by the end of the month.  My deadline has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo, and I don’t have a whole novel to write in that time, but the idea is the same.

I’m reading a new book by my friend Cheryl Bolen, With His Lady’s Assistance, the first in a planned series of Regency-set mysteries.  It’s a delightful book, and should be available shortly on Amazon and other reputable ebook shops.  I’ll post a review and a link when it’s up.  [Here’s the link, review coming soon.]

I’ve now read three of the six John Wyndham books I ordered a couple of months ago.  The Midwich Cuckoos was filmed (twice) as Village of the Damned, but Cuckoos is much the better title.  Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes (Out of the Deeps in U.S. editions) included a lot of action, but Cuckoos is a philosophical book for the most part, with a great deal of rather academic dialog and a first person narrator who warns the reader from the beginning that he will be telling the story as it happened, not as he learned of it.  I enjoyed the book, remembered most of it from long-ago readings, but I was struck by what now seems a very old-fashioned style and pace.  One of those classic books that makes one wonder if it would ever be published today.

The lastest version (3.4) of Action Outline has added graphic support.  Now you can tuck pictures into the text portion of your outline, which should be useful for research notes.

A friend (Hi, Margie!) sent me this picture in one of those email collections that circulates endlessly around the universe.  I hadn’t seen this little guy before.  I would happily give credit where credit is due, but I have no idea where the photo came from.

A glitch in my WordPress system: Solved.

I’ve had an odd problem with WordPress for a few days, although I didn’t notice it until yesterday evening, when I left a comment on the entertaining blog of my far-side-of-the-world cyber-friend Jo Eberhardt (The Happy Logophile).  When I swooshed the cursor over my name on the comment, up came not my URL but my username, quite worthless as a hyperlink.  When I checked back through past comments, I saw that the problem popped up a few days ago.  Why?  I had no idea.

I was pretty sure this was something I could find and fix, if only I could figure out where.  I posted a question to the WordPress forum, and received an answer from a helpful Happiness Engineer about the time I stumbled across the right place myself:  the web site line on the Personal Settings page.

But try as I might, I couldn’t change that line.  Or more precisely, I couldn’t make the change stick.  I’d type in the correct URL and click on “save changes.”  The screen would say “user updated.”  And when I opened the page to check it,  the line had reverted to my user name.  Every time.  Frustrated, I went to bed.

Nothing had changed this morning.  But when I got to work and signed on from that computer, everything was fine, web site URL was where it should be.  Aha, I thought.  Signing out and signing back in an hour later, that’s the secret.

That wasn’t the secret.  When I got back to my home computer this evening, the Personal Settings page once again showed my user name instead of my URL.  How could that setting not be the same on both computers?  Was there some hidden WordPress cookie on one and not the other?  What was different?  My work computer runs IE8 on Windows XP, and my home computer runs IE9 on Windows 7, but I really didn’t think that should matter.

Hmm.  What was the difference?  I tried rebooting, and even turning the computer off and on, which I don’t do all that often.  No change.  The web site line and the password box below it still sat there wrong and green and–wait a minute.  Green?  Why are those boxes green?  They weren’t green on my work computer, where everything was correct.

And then the penny finally dropped.  Green boxes, sitting right there in front of me.  And green boxes whenever Norton Identity Safe, my clever password storage and log in program, signed me in to WordPress.

I’m terrible about passwords.  Hate to change them, can’t remember half of them, use the same one for lots of things (I mean really, who’s going to break into my account at the Science Fiction Book Club and order extra books?).  So I have Norton log me into almost everything.  And when it does, it turns the username and password boxes green.  I’ve been using Norton far longer than I’ve been using WordPress, but I think once I had the blog set up I had no reason to go back to the Personal Settings page. 

Then one day last week I was wandering around my Dashboard, just looking at stuff, and I opened the Personal Settings page.  And Norton Identify Safe saw that box marked password, so it filled mine in, along with my user name in the box above it where the web site URL should be, complete with those tell-tale green backgrounds.  And every time I opened the page to check for changes, it did the same thing. 

As soon as I removed WordPress from the auto-log in list and signed in myself, the Personal Settings page came up with my blog’s URL in the right place, and no green boxes.

So I’ll keep WordPress off the log in program for a while, or stay off the Personal Settings page, and keep an eye on things, but this time I think I’ve actually solved the mystery.

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