Monday, 26 September 2016

A busy week amidst the sniffles and sneezes.

I survived. And so did the deadlines.

Having decided to implement our new eBook distribution strategy that will focus on Ingram Content Group's Ingram Spark, I waited (im)patiently for our files to be transferred from Ingram Group's Lightning Source arm so that the conversion process to ePub could begin.

In a recent post, I talked about our visit to the Publisher Event at Ingram Lightning Source UK printing and distribution facility at Milton Keynes. Naturally, I took the opportunity to take the trip in a relaxed way and spend a couple of nights away. It was a charming interlude, staying by the Grand Union Canal, enhanced by the hot weather.

At the event, we learned more about Ingram Spark which has been set up for the smaller independent publishers like our Christal Publishing. We already had eBooks in Adobe Acrobat Reader under the Lightning Source banner but Ingram Spark - the dedicated eBook arm - offer a manuscript conversion service to ePub - the international standard for eBooks - from the physical book (which are Print on Demand (POD) from one copy to any number as required).

Having pushed a few buttons I will wait patiently for the conversion to be complete. In the meantime, you may notice that our titles have temporarily disappeared from e-Retailers such as Kindle, Apple, Nook, and shortly Kobo so as not to cause confusion and double distribute. By the end of the October we should be back to normal with these digital stores and more such is the global distribution reach of Ingram Spark. Sadly, it will be a while before Amazon Kindle is live again due to Amazon's constraints.

In the meantime, all is not lost.

Currently, we have all titles converted by Smashwords at no cost in the ePub format which qualified, due to quality, for the Premium Catalogue and shipping to major e-Retailers - see above - as well as being in a multitude of formats such as ePub, mobi for Kindle, pdf, rtf, html to name a few in Smashwords own store. This was an answer to a prayer for me five years ago and I do recommend them. Although IT literate, it was a steep learning curve as I followed their excellent style guide for formatting a manuscript for conversion to an eBook.

Formats in the Smashwords store include:

  • ePub for Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, and tablets
  • mobi for Kindle
  • pdf for desktop (best read in Adobe Acrobat and good for technical and illustrated books such as our Lifelong Learning: Personal Effectiveness Guides)
  • rtf for BeBook e-Reader
  • lrf for older Sony readers
  • pdp for older Palm devices
  • html for reading online
With a choice like that, why not check out our titles on Rosalie Marsh Profile page in the Smashwords store? Watch out for special offers.



Sunday, 18 September 2016

The crisp mornings of late summer.

Floating serenely into autumn.

September is a lovely month I always feel and this year it has not disappointed. The mornings, hidden for a while with a lingering mist, soon emerge with the promise of sunshine.
This week has been no exception with temperatures staying high. This in itself brings another problem each morning. What to wear. Tuesday was no exception.

Decisions, decisions.

We had a business appointment so smart dress was in order. I started of thinking that something light and floaty with an added light wool jacket would be in order. On second thoughts, I realised that bare legs would not be suitable, changed to a semi-formal fitted dress and all that went with it. Putting on a jacket, I went, "Phew, it's hot", so changed for a light cardigan.
Our appointment and discussions over and all dressed up with nowhere to go, I ventured of my OH, 'Are you up to a drive out or are you too tired?'. With relief at getting some movement on the current issue casting a blight on our lives, he assured me that he was OK and thought that I wold be suggesting something.

After some discussion, we headed towards the Oswestry road and settled for the Moreton Garden Centre  at Chirk for a look around before  lunch at the Lord Moreton next door.
This has changed hands since our last visit, has been refurbished, and appears to be geared more to adults. A very pleasant interlude where we enjoyed a light lunch.

On Thursday, my day off, the sun was still shining brightly. Actually, it was quite hot by late morning; a quick change into a strappy sundress was in order before our car turned its nose down the A5 towards Llangollen. The town was thronged with visitors and on turning left over the bridge by the restored railway a sign pinned to a lamppost announced the upcoming Balloon Fest - what a sight that promised.  Negotiating the narrow turning towards the Chain Bridge Hotel and the now restored chain bridge over the River Dee I reflected how cool and peaceful this spot was as you walked or drove along the narrow canal path between the towering sheer wall of rock on the other side of the canal and the river babbling along among the trees far below on the other side.

This is a lovely spot, as I have chatted about before, and popular with walkers and tourists alike. After a walk along the canal, the terrace overlooking the river is a restful place to enjoy a welcome cup of tea and snack from the bar of the hotel. Inside, the bar has panoramic windows that, when open, allow the sound of the river rushing along as it pounds over the rocks below.
It is now Sunday and time to get ready for church. The morning is crisp with a promise of a warm sun later as it peeps through my study window. Still not decided what to wear, I am off now to talk to myself and consider all options. Again layering is the answer.

Just a small interlude in my busy life. Got to keep up standards. It is not all lunches out really. I do work hard.


Monday, 5 September 2016

Retired? Still need Time Management skills? Reflections.

Reflecting the other day how busy we were, my husband never ceases to be amazed at how full our diary becomes.

In filling our changing lives with other activities to 'fill the gap', maintaining others while dovetailing an increasing number of what I will call essential appointments,and a catch-up with long-standing friends and family, we still need flexibility and a can-do attitude.

Our trusty Outlook calendar on the desktop PCwith reminders as well as digital calendars and an old-fashioned paper diary all need to be synchronised.
I had a new computer in May which came with Outlook in Windows 10 plus an Outlook desktop application with the Office 2016 upgrade. I find that some things synchronise with both but have found it best to stick with the desktop application as I can colour code appointments, meetings, birthdays and holidays etc.

Catching up with friends is not as easy as it seems as we all have to dovetail holidays and family visits. It is important, not to forget our friends. Social media help to keep the links alive. Being active even if in a lesser manner than hitherto all helps to fill our calendar and keep our minds fresh. Must encourage the grey cells.

So, back to time management. I have always made lists but here is what I learned about time management when I was undergoing my degree in professional studies in education. This degree fell into the continuing professional development framework (CPD) where success in the Module on 'The Process of Professional Development', which was the cornerstone of the whole course, was essential in order to be successful in the whole degree course.

Essential Time Management Skills.

"‘Time’ can be broken down into three categories:

  •   Prescribed time.
  • Maintenance time.
  •  Discretionary time.

We will look at each of these in turn.

What is Prescribed Time?

Prescribed time means things you have to do such as going to work, looking after a family.
My own life was prescribed around the needs of the business and family responsibilities. I was travelling across the UK as part of the working day. Changes in arrangements with clients and learners often meant that maintenance time and discretionary time changed to prescribed time.Some family responsibilities became regular fixtures in my diary. Flexibility became second nature.

What is Maintenance Time?

Maintenance time is the time you spend looking after yourself; shopping, making meals, getting your hair done etc.
This varies according to prescribed time. You tend to fit these tasks in depending on what your work constraints are. In my own case, it had precedence over discretionary time due to family responsibilities. Using outside help for household needs (a cleaner) reduced my maintenance time, allowing me to maintain discretionary time at the necessary level.

What is Discretionary Time?

As the name suggests, discretionary time is the time which you have available to do as you please. Your spare time.
I attended a fitness centre. This activity, although located within my discretionary time was, largely prescribed as it was very expensive not to attend on a regular basis.

However, the choice is there – to go or not to go. If there was a need for a little more rest combined with an earlier start on studies, then the option was there. I had a choice. My decision to sometimes not study on a Sunday also enhanced my discretionary time. This allowed me a family day.

Now that I work from home with my writing, marketing, and publishing activities - which bring their own pressures, and with my husband having had an enforced retirement some years ago due to ill-health, we still keep ourselves very involved with various activities including our GWOCGB of friends across the UK, and networking opportunities(me). My husband also, from time to time, goes off to see friends from working days which gets him out of the house and gives me some quiet time to bury myself in my writing and other matters, including digital technology which keeps my brain busy regenerating the little grey cells.

C'est la vie! ( And we wouldn't have it any different.)