Archives for category: True Love


We’ve just returned from a first visit as house guests at a beautiful friend’s circa-1923 lodge and garden in Gulfport, Florida. These few bits of advice helped us wise up and fit in fast:
1. For a few dollars, you can buy a pair of aqua shoes to wear in the water. They protect your feet from the sharp edges of broken shells, for example.
2. Sunny Florida is also often windy. It’s good to have a hat that ties underneath the chin, especially for boating. The Gulfport marina was celebrating its Funday, so we were invited on a private yacht cruise with hot dogs and iced tea afterwards. I learned this tip the hard way; my mauve hat with the wide brim is now bobbing up and down on its way back to China.
3. The way to swim in the ocean waves is to proceed sideways, parallel to the shore. It is much more exhausting if you try to let the tide push or carry you. Try it and you will be amazed!
4. Keep your eyes open for manatees bathing below the surface in a quiet stream while you are kayaking, pelicans fly overhead and an egret watches from shore.
5. Florida wild life often shares the same inner premises as people in a way not seen or tolerated in northern cities. A possum nonchalantly passed through the semi-open patio of a trattoria as we ate appetizers. The black non poisonous snake lurking around the mansion court’s garbage bin is regarded as a valuable guardian who keeps the rodent and beetle population down.

6. The northerner who moves in with cans of pesticide is looked at askance as someone needing to be educated. It is important to keep the delicate natural world in balance. Wasps and bees don’t just sting, they are also pollinators, some of them super and endangered. “If you don’t bother it, it won’t bother you,” is the motto to

7. Little gheckos, something like lizards, are everywhere so learn to love them! Fortunately they are cute, charm a lot of people and eat annoying small insects. It’s upsetting if they die from pesticides aimed at other targets.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first extended visit to Florida and look forward to returning some day soon.

Happy Reading from

Final Proof of a paperback edited with phone help from Createspace

Screenshot of a paperback edited with phone help from CreateSpace

You can do a near-perfect job of self-publishing a paperback, or converting an e-book to print. Here are last-minute tips about how I made use of phone calls:

 1. Help! My pictures are blurry. They don’t have 300 dpi (dots per inch)!

Answer: If you want to have images in your book, CreateSpace guidelines ask you to go back to your original photos and save them at a resolution of at least 300 dpi. I did this but CS sent a message saying that, except for one, they were only from 75 to 176 dpi. What was happening? By Googling around, I found out many authors have this problem. If you are typing your manuscript in Microsoft Word, the final step before submitting it is to change it into a pdf. At this point, apparently trying to be helpful, MSW ‘compresses’ or ‘resamples’ the file to save space and that means they reduce the dpi. After a long discussion with the CS representative who answered my phone call (a 24/7 service), he finally suggested I could submit my manuscript as a docx instead of a pdf. It worked and my old, authentic pictures came through clearly.

2. Help! This is my second book cover design (on right below) but it still looks terrible!

My first and second front cover design attempts

My first and second front cover design attempts

Answer: I phoned to talk to one of the ever-helpful CS representatives and told him that my cover proof was a big improvement over my first one, with the horse’s head chopped off, except for one thing. I would like them to superimpose a black and white photo of my mother on the landscape. That would make it engagingly human, and give an inkling of the kind of authentic, historic tale that lay inside. He said “No”. I would have to search through the pre-designed templates and images they offered and find another one. It seemed like a hopeless task until I found something very simple (photo at top). From the huge palette of background colors they offered, I chose sea-foam for the background and midnight blue for the font — both of them just right for my content and theme! The quirky font was one of the immutables in the template. I like it because a cariole ride is a bumpy, incongruous thing, like my mother’s life.

3. Help! No imprint logo appears because there’s no spine and no space provided for it on the back. This looks unprofessional!

Answer: Patient as always, the CS rep at the other end of the line (in some faraway part of the world) told me my paperback had no spine because it was no more than 120 pages. What other authors do, he said, was to insert their logo on page two beside the copyright and ISBN information. He assured me it would look very professional, so I did it.

4. Help! I’ve received the new-covered proof in the mail but I still see inconsistencies in the interior copy.

Answer: Obviously the dozen or so times I and others had proofread the book were not enough, so I went through it carefully two more times. The mistakes I found were often things I thought had been corrected by using the ‘Find’ and ‘Replace’ options in MSW.  However, when I changed ‘JACK’s name (it’s an acronym) to ‘Jack’ for easier reading, it didn’t always do it. Also, I had decided at one point to write out numerals up to 100, instead of just up to ten, and had missed some of them. I was shocked to find a mistake that had not been caught in the e-book version. In places I still referred to ‘Mother’ instead of  ‘Kathleen’ as I had called her in my original book about my parents. Another error was that the capitalization and italics lacked consistency. As an author, I believe in being fastidious because your mistakes are multiplied with every copy and every buyer so you might as well be your own best friend and get a reputation for being smooth and accurate.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

(Next week I will write about how I plan to promote and sell the paperback.)