My Wife, The Author: My Adventures in Book Publication

When my wife and I married in 2001, I knew she had a passion for writing.

One of the first things she wrote was an account of our love story, and how we met on ICQ; one of the early instant messenger apps before MSN, Facebook or Twitter existed. To allow her to have a printed copy of the account, called I Seek You, I taught myself how to use Cafepress, and I began my first quest at self-publication.

Then, 2006 came around, which brought about the culmination of several years work for Bekah. Having teamed up with her sister, Abigail, her first full-length novel, Weeping Willow, was released, followed in the same year by her independent novel, based in Toronto called The Starfish. To make it possible, I’d used what I had learned to publish them both via CafePress, and two beautiful new paperbacks with my wife’s name on their spine adorned our book shelf… later followed by another, another, and yet another.

Throughout the process over the years, I was able to establish ourselves with Library Archives Canada, basically making us an “official” Canadian book publishing company. One of the coolest features of this affiliation is that I could now issue my own ISBN and later, ISBN-13 codes. In other words, I didn’t have to pay someone else a hefty fee to register Bekah’s books, and we could now print our own barcodes which allowed us to sell them.

So that’s a quick bit of backstory for you as to how I got into self-publishing novels. I’ve personally grown and evolved my abilities, and am always, for the sake of my wife’s readers, working hard to make our publications as professional looking as possible.

By the time Bekah was ready to release her biggest release to date, A White Rose in 2012, I’d been able to really step things up in the publishing department, doing away with CafePress entirely, and working directly with what we called the “world’s biggest book store” at the time, Amazon. Suddenly, not only were Bekah’s books available for purchase all around the world through Amazon’s family of sites, but also available on their Kindle e-reader. The printing itself is done through a child company of Amazon called CreateSpace.

Side Note: I’ll say now, self-publication is not for everyone. If you’re reading this and thinking “Wow, I can publish my own books with these sites,” you should know it has taken 11 years for me, a teacher of tech and full-time tech industry worker, to learn the ins-and-outs of the process, and to get to the quality of publication that I am at today. Maybe one day, someone will request that I edit and publish their book for them. That’d be cool. In all honesty, the bill would be at least $2,000 to do it, just for the labor. Hope that gives you an idea of how much work is actually involved.

So, this month, August 2017, is another big one for our “publishing house”–called Rock of Ages Publishing House, named after the popular online radio station I founded and ran for many years in the early days of online radio.

After countless hours, we have released not one, but two new novels this month.

The first is Bekah’s newest and proudest work, When The Fog Cleared. We call it a Christian Romance as far as genres are concerned, but Bekah’s very “non-preachy” approach to faith is truly unmatched. It’s not, in my opinion, a Christian Romance in the traditional sense, but rather, a beautiful romance and story of true love, involving a Christian character. If you’ve read Bekah’s books before, you already know she creates characters who you feel you know like a real person. The people in her book are so real to the reader, it’s kinda mind-blowing. You’ve got to read it.

The second is another joint effort, this time with her other sister, Rachel Xu. And it’s a long time coming! They finished writing it in 2014, and I’ve finally been able to edit and publish it. This one is a Mainstream Fantasy. Creatures, wild things, and a Gothic mansion. Need I say more? The Attic is such a fun read that you will definitely want to get the paperback just so you can keep it on your bookshelf or share it with friends.

So how did I publish two novels in just one month?

I locked in. Many, many hours with my Rebel BT’s, my playlist, and my laptop computer. I did everything using open source software. The GIMP was used to create all the cover art, and I used LibreOffice Writer to actually create the layouts and files. That bit was brutal… figuring out margins and pagination, making sure you have the book or author name at the top of the appropriate pages, but not at the top of chapter pages. I even took special care to ensure there was just enough room at the edge of the page that your fingers wouldn’t obstruct the text, and just a bit more near the binding to ensure the text doesn’t run into the fold. It was a lot of work to setup. But I did it all for When The Fog Cleared. Then, having gotten through that novel, I took the files I had created and imported the text for The Attic, which was long overdue for public release. Recycling the same layouts, the same master files, and the same dimensions, saved hours upon hours of work, and gave me a very good looking layout (as I’d spent so much time creating the format). I then did all the edits from our notes, reformatted the break point artwork, and through an onerous process of back and forth with the editors, I was able to complete our second publication this month.

I hope you love both novels, and can’t wait to start seeing your (5/5?) reviews on Amazon! Thanks for reading!

Robbie

WHEN THE FOG CLEARED – http://amzn.to/2etypZf
When Kylie Cadore arrived at her father’s Georgian home in Bermuda for a summer vacation, she wasn’t expecting to find his common-law wife, Pearl, hiding a mysterious illness from him. And a handsome cousin. Having journeyed to the island after several months of separation from her husband, Drew, Kylie hoped to gain clarity amidst the palm trees and sandy shores. Instead she found herself drawn like a magnet to the charms of Pearl’s cousin, a cruise ship pianist. When Drew unexpectedly shows up on the island a couple of weeks later, Kylie’s heart is torn between the prospect of a new romance, and still loving the man who broke her heart.

THE ATTIC – http://amzn.to/2wmR5jE
When Lily Kline takes possession of a Gothic estate with Ian Hawke, her co-heir and a stranger, she soon realizes there is more than meets the eye within the many corridors of the sequestered mansion. Ian is aloof and even hostile at times, and though he warns about rabid wolves in the forest, as though trying to frighten her away, she can’t help being drawn to him. As events grow more bizarre, she questions her safety and Ian’s identity. Why did her late Grandfather see fit to make them co-heirs? Furthermore, what lurks in the attic, that hidden room everyone takes pains for her to avoid?

Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi 3

I wanted to document the instructions shared on Episode 459 to supplement the episode.

On the show, Jeff and I demonstrated how to turn a Raspberry Pi 3 with Raspbian Jessie into a Plex Media Server, giving you the chance to stream your entire video and music library to all your devices.

I won’t get into the full details here, since this is only a supplement to give you some copy-and-paste instructions, but I’d encourage you to watch the video.

What You Need

  1. A Raspberry Pi 3 Micro Computer. Please consider purchasing it through our store to support what we do: https://cat5.tv/pi
  2. Raspbian Jessie – A free download from raspberrypi.org
  3. Obvious stuff like a good MicroSD card, Ethernet cable (preferred as opposed to wifi), keyboard and mouse… etc.

How to Do The Do

  1. In terminal, upgrade your distro to the latest and greatest.
  2. Reboot the Pi.
  3. Add the ability for apt to use https repositories.
  4. Add the Plex Media Server repository provided by Universität Leipzig.

    Add this line:
  5. Add the GPG key for the repository.
    This is the “easy” method (which didn’t work for us because my keyboard was in some weird mode with no pipe character):

    Alternate method (which I had to use on the show since I didn’t have a pipe character… I’ve cleaned it up a bit since the live show so it is cleaner since it was an unexpected twist and I kinda made it seem more confusing than it should):
  6. Update apt.
  7. Install Plex Media Server.
  8. Create the default config file so Plex knows what user to operate under.

    (Thanks to Steve for submitting this additional step)
  9. Reboot one final time.

And there you have it! All the commands we used to get Plex Media Server installed on a Raspberry Pi 3 in a nice clean blog post  🙂

From there, we plugged in the USB flash drive (don’t do it! Use a proper external hard drive–this was only a demonstration) and after it mounted we used the following command to see its /dev assignment:

Since our drive was /dev/sda1, and of the filesystem type “fat32” this is what I did to make it work as the media library for Plex Media Server:

and add the following line:

I then created the mountpoint:

and made it so it can only be written to if mounted:

and finally, mounted the drive:

From there, I could easily add folders on my external drive to Plex using the web interface, which you’ll find on Port 32400 in the /web subfolder on your Pi.

To get my IP address, I brought up the terminal on the Pi and typed:

That showed the IP address of my Pi under “Ethernet”… 192.168.0.105

So to open Plex in my browser, from my computer I entered:

The IP address will most likely be different for yours, and you might even want to set it up as a static IP. Easiest way to do that would be to use your router’s DHCP reservations to hard-set the Pi to something outside your DHCP pool. For me, that’d be 192.168.0.5 or something like that, since the pool seemingly starts at 100.

Good luck, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Don’t forget, if this has helped you out, or if you just love supporting nice guys who wanna keep giving knowledge for free, please head over to our Patreon page, or throw a bit in the tip jar. Thanks!

WordPress 4.3 is here!

WordPress 4.3 has been released, and our Managed WordPress subscribers are already enjoying the benefits of this major release. The rollout to 4.3 to all our subscribers has begun and will be complete within 24 hours. The next time you login, you will benefit from these great new features.

If you are not yet experiencing the benefits of our Managed WordPress 4.3 Deployment and Hosting service, make sure you contact us today.

Here’s an overview of what’s new in WordPress 4.3

Easier In-line Text Formatting

WordPress 4.3 Editor

One of the key focuses of this upgrade has been on simplifying the process of formatting your content. This means the improved ability to format your text as you type, without ever having to stop and click with the mouse. A hyphenated list intelligently becomes a bullet list, a blockquote can be created with a > and ## lets you enter a heading. These are just a couple of examples how WordPress 4.3 is improving your workflow, helping you get things done quickly and easily.

Improved Customize Feature

Another way WordPress 4.3 improves the user experience is to enhance the “Customize” feature, allowing you to take control of your site or blog.

Site Icon CustomizerSite Icons / favicon

Upload your logo and let WordPress do the rest. Your site icons and favicon will be automatically generated and included in browser tabs, bookmark menus, and even on the home screen of mobile devices as the icon for your site. You no longer have to add a special module or hack up your theme code only to lose the settings after an update. Site Icons are now part of WordPress 4.3.

Customizer Menu FeatureMenus With Live Preview in Customizer

Now, you can preview your menu in Customizer as you add or edit items. The streamlined interface allows menu revision to easily take place on either desktop or mobile devices. Navigation creation continues to get easier and faster with WordPress 4.3.

Improved Security

WordPress 4.3: Better PasswordsPassword System Enhancements

A feature that has been sorely lacking from WordPress is password strength enforcement. WordPress 4.3 now generates strong passwords, and gives visual feedback to the user when they change their password as to whether their choice is weak or strong. In addition to this, plain-text passwords are no longer emailed to users, further protecting you. Now, if you forget your password, WordPress 4.3 will instead send you a password reset link. The password itself will not be revealed.

And That’s Not All

This is only an overview. Further refinements have been made to provide a smoother admin experience across all your devices, and overall the intuitiveness of WordPress 4.3 is a step in the right direction. From a more technical perspective, 180 bugs were fixed, and a final point worth mentioning is that WordPress 4.3 makes way for the upcoming PHP7 release by deprecating some old PHP4 style constructors. WordPress is now ready for the upgrade when it arrives later this year.

All in all, WordPress 4.3 is another great update from the WordPress team. Positive E Solutions Inc. keeps our customers current and protected through our Managed WordPress services.

Enjoy the new version! We look forward to hearing your feedback.

-Robbie

— Update Wednesday August 19, 2015 4:43pm —
All customer web sites on our Managed WordPress service have been upgraded to WordPress 4.3.

Thinking of buying a large-capacity USB flash drive? Think twice.

An interesting recurring topic keeps coming up around the office today.

Large capacity means more danger to your files.

What am I talking about?
Continue reading