Tuesday 20 February 2024: Burning the midnight oil

Image by Moondance from Pixabay

Yesterday started sunny and bright but looked as though it might rain. By mid-morning, the clouds had scurried away but it was still a bit blowy. It was nice to see sunlight streaming in through the office window when I reported for work. Aside from causing glare on the screen, though, it also showed up all the dust that had accumulated over the winter so far. The glare is easily sorted, with curtains. The dust, less so…

We were up at a reasonable time as the poet was off to Ireland for a 4-day business trip. (Boo!) He called to let me know he’d arrived safely at the airport in Manchester, but while I was enjoying winter sunshine, he was suffering biblical rain. The Woodhead Pass isn’t the best of roads in the winter. It’s often closed in the summer too. So biblical rain would have made driving stressful.

Over breakfast I watched a couple of Plottr training videos. Seeing as I’ve taken the plunge and bought the lifetime version for a Lot of Money, I thought I’d start utilising it while I learn it. The first video I saw was how to create a writing schedule using Plottr. Well, that clickbait got me, and there was even a free template to use.

I started the working day by writing up yesterday’s blog post and posting it. Next, I deleted the extra downloads from the ebook shop on here. I didn’t like the way the pictures were displaying, so I moved them from ‘published’ to ‘draft’ while I sort something out. I started today’s blog post. And then I collected that Plottr template.

The writing schedule they suggest starts with a book dump of all the books you want to write, out of your head (or wherever else you keep it) and onto Plottr. I liked that idea and that too is where I started. But I did it in between work, during my Pomodoro breaks. I just wanted it open so I could start adding to it.

The other template I opened was a cozy mystery template, which they asked Sara Rosett to create for them. I opened it for THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM. Again, to get me used to using Plottr, but also to produce a finished timeline for the story. I know I can work quickly if I have a complete timeline or outline. And right now, I need to work quickly on this one.

Someone sent me an email offering to help me with my display issues – for a fee. (I declined.) I made myself my trigger cup of tea and set the timer going, having allowed myself 2 Pomodoros for WHITEHORSE FARM today. But I couldn’t resist having a tinker with the website here and there. Eventually, I put the story to one side so that I could have a look at the problems I was having.

I must have sampled a hundred different themes to get all of my ducks in a row. I wanted:

  • a featured image that didn’t duplicate on the individual post page
  • a comment counter on the main page so I can quickly see if there’s someone I haven’t acknowledged
  • my name taking off all of the posts everywhere (we already know it’s my blog and that I’m the one who posts)
  • a grid layout
  • a right-hand sidebar
  • editable widgets in the sidebar
  • (what started it all) a nice ebook shop page (see below)
  • the news ticker (at the top of the page) is a bonus

Well, I don’t know how I found out, but I did find out that part of the reason my ebook shop wasn’t displaying correctly was because I was using the wrong page. I was using the default downloads page that comes with the plugin. But we’re supposed to create a new page and code it to see the downloads. It’s a really simple code (‘[ downloads ]’ – I kid you not – but without the spaces) and it worked a treat. And really, the techie could have told me that.

(EDIT: Ha ha ha ha – I originally wrote downloads in the square brackets without the spaces and it inserted all of the ebooks in here! D’uh!)

Anyway, in the end I bought the only theme I could find that did everything I wanted it to, just so I could edit it a lot more than the free version allows. And I think I’m happy with the result. I should be, I worked on it until midnight! And just look at the ebook shop now! Much better. Now I just need to see how the editor works…If this post makes it, then it worked just fine.

I was tired, aching and cold, and my eyes needed prying open with matchsticks. So I called it a day and crawled into bed. I think I’ll be having a very late start today.

2 thoughts on “Tuesday 20 February 2024: Burning the midnight oil

  1. The Books page looks good. The whole blog looks very different. The crawler on top looks like something from NASDAQ on Wall Street — I have to get used to it!

    Glad it’s all working for you.

    1. I must have deleted the ticker from a dozen or more themes, but in the end, after looking at so many and going back to my old theme, I decided I quite liked the dynamic. It’ll take some getting used to for me too!

      I’m really pleased now with how the book page looks. If he’d only told me that right at the start…

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