Friday 30 January 2009

The Treasures of Luxor

I found this photo of a statue in Luxor Temple at Wikimedia Commons. It was taken by Hajor.

I am researching Luxor in Egypt. This time it’s not just to write about it. In about six weeks time we’ll be there. I can’t wait. But it’s supposed to be a treat for my hubby for his birthday. I’m hoping that on the day itself I can arrange a trip to the Valley of the Kings, the one place left that he really wants to see. Anyway, I want to find out as much as I can before we go. We won’t miss out on any of the treasures of Luxor if I can help it.

I’ll be taking lots of photos of my own while we are there. And no doubt I shall be writing about it when we get back.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

More Awards

A couple of weeks ago I received this wonderful triple award from Geri’s World. Thank you Geri; I am really honoured that you thought of me.

The rules for the awards, if they are accepted (I hope I haven’t chosen anyone who doesn’t accept awards) are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate at least 10 blogs ( if you haven't got 10 on your list, it really doesn't matter)which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Since one of these awards is about sisterhood, I’d like to pass them on to the following sisters.

1. Joanne at Poetic Shutterbug, who writes beautiful poems inspired by amazing photos, and is generous with comments.

2. Yolander at Adventures in Freelancing, a very brave freelancer who has recently set up a new website as a resource for writers – Freelance Writerville.

3. Reverend Maitri who lives to serve animals and people in need. She set up The Maitri Ministry blog recently after she was ordained, and it deserves our support.

4. Catherine at Sharp Words, who is kind enough every so often to give links to stuff she likes on the internet, and made me very happy by picking one of my articles.

5. Katy at Trapped in the Office, who shares her blog with partner, Ryan. They’ve been having a difficult moving home experience recently and I hope this will cheer them.

6. Rebecca at Writers Roundabout, who is so generous to other writers, and offered to pay me to guest blog several times.

7. Kim at Healthnut Wannabee Mom, who passes on so much that we all need to know.

8. Jude at Mature Not Senile for all her ‘down to earth’ and ‘say it like it is’ posts that often make me chuckle.

9. Susan Gregg, who always has lovely and loving messages to impart.

10. Stacey at Behind the Bit because she writes a wonderful blog about horses, and although they are no longer a focus in my life, I am still fascinated and in love with these gorgeous creatures.

If you don’t already know them, do take a moment to check out their posts. They are all well worth a visit.

Monday 26 January 2009

Canal Walk

Yesterday we went for a canal walk and saw lots of moored narrow boats and one on the move.

I took a picture of some oil on the water, and later played about with the colour on Phtoshop Elements.

After our walk we thought we'd have hot drinks to warm up, and guess what our little one wanted.

Friday 23 January 2009

Day with a Grandchild

My grandaughter, aged five, has been here since 11.30 am. It's now nearly nine and I've just got her to bed. I still have my kitchen to clean up and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Hubby's gone off to bed too, since he was up as usual at 4.30 this morning.

Before he went upstairs, he noticed I looked tired and asked why. He doesn't know what we've packed in while he was sitting around in his taxi waiting for a fare. Here's the list.

Tomato soup for lunch and leave the kitchen in a mess.

Drive to Shaftesbury to spend some Xmas money she had left. Visit a couple of charity shops and W H Smith. End up with 2 reading books and a colouring book. Also went to Boots for some child's toothpaste as directed by her mother, who is taking the weekend off to live it up with a friend in Bristol.

Head back to the car but check out Gold Hill on the way. (It's famous, very steep and cobbled, and has appeared in a UK TV ad for Hovis bread.) Decide we have to walk down to the bottom, she careering down the centre and me stepping gingerly at the side next to a handrail.

Go along the bottom road to a zig zag path back up to where the car is parked. It just happens to be next to a swing park, so we detoured there before climbing.

Drive home and get her scooter out of the car. Visit local shop to buy more milk. I walk, she scoots.

She entertains herself while I clear up the kitchen. Then we get out my chocolate brownie cake mix and make it up together.

While it is baking, we put on The Wizard of Oz DVD she has brought. I go and clear up the kitchen again, while she watches, at the same time as playing a game on her Nitendo DS and doing some colouring in the book we bought.

I come back in and sit down for two minutes before the cooker timer pings and I get up again. Cake removed from oven and left to cool for 5 minutes. I sit for that period. Get up and cut the cake into 16 squares and put it onto a cooling grill. Put the tin to soak and sit down. she goes to see if it's cool enough. It is, get up and find plates and eat one each.

Look at the clock and find it's time to cook her supper. Get that on the go and do some more kitchen cleaning up.

Eat with her and put up a meal for hubby. Clean up again.

Get out one of the reading books we bought. It's called Penny, The Pony Fairy. We sit together on the couch and she decides to read to me. She's improved no end in the last month, but it still takes for ever to get through a page. She reaches the word "whole", says "hoolee" and dissolves into giggles. That sets me off. Now she finds the silliest way to say any word she doesn't recognise and we are in stitches. After a while we get into trouble from hubby for making so much noise while he's trying to concentrate on soemthing else. It's hard but we manage to cool it and I take over the reading. I stop at the end of chapter 1, insisting she gets ready for bed.

I've just tidied the lounge, but there are still pots and pans to clean in the kitchen. Will the day never end? And how on earth did I manage to bring up two of my own?

Sorry, no EC dropping for me today. I have to preserve my energy to take her to see the local Amdram panto tomorrow.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Wordless Wednesday - The Sea Again.

If I can't see it for real, I just have to have photos.
Meanwhile I am busy sorting out who will receive the awards I have to pass on in my next post. Don't forget to come back and find out who they are.

Monday 19 January 2009

The EC Drop Police

This image is from Wikimedia Commons.

I didn’t get all my return EC drops done yesterday.. I’d been having a rare day of feeling unwell and in pain. (Think, hope, it’s just age and IBS and nothing more serious). I tried to soldier on, but when hubby said, “Don’t worry about cooking anything. If you don’t want to eat, I’ll get a takeaway”, I took myself off to bed. I felt chilled to the bone and wrapped myself up in rather more than my usual sleeveless jammy top and knickers, adding jammy trousers and a short summer dressing gown before burrowing under the duvet.

I slept a bit and woke a few times. Around 11 pm I woke again and found hubby beside me. I realised I was feeling warm and cosy and with pain considerably subsided, but with my body clock telling me I’ve had my seven hours and it’s time to be awake. Then I remembered my dream.

It was about soldier bloggers with rifles, except for one who had no weapon and was hiding behind a kindly one who was trying to shelter him from the others. They were gesticulating dangerously with the rifles and muttering about the one who was hiding. The muttering got louder and one of them shouted, “Come out and do your EC dropping, you lazy blighter”. It was very frightening.

So what would you have done? I went to the loo, got a drink of water and headed for the office to carry on dropping. I got through all my favourites before I felt sleepy again.

Now I’m thinking about one of those ‘what if’ scenarios. What if Entrecard has recruited drop police to find the people who haven’t finished their daily drops and send threatening messages into their dreams?

Friday 16 January 2009

Constant Content

I have quite a lot of catching up to do today because I was out of the office for a while yesterday, and when I got back, to my shame, I was too tired even to read posts when I did my EC dropping. So far, I’m two thirds I into dropping and reading in my favourite blogs and have yet to get to my inbox to return yesterday’s drops from others.

I didn’t get started early because this morning there was a public request at Constant Content that seemed to have my name on it, so I set to and wrote for it immediately. Still I had promised one of my readers to explain a bit about that site, so here goes.

Constant Content is a site where authors showcase articles, and where webmasters and editors search and buy the work that they want. It is different from other article sites in that it has exacting standards and every piece submitted is carefully reviewed, so that only work that meets the standards is accepted. Every piece is also checked for plagiarism via Copyscape as well. Customers trust the quality and originality of the writing they are buying.

The site also has sections to showcase and sell photographs, illustrations and videos as well, though these are in their infancy and have not yet taken off properly. A few months ago the site changed ownership and is gradually been made over. All the changes so far have been welcomed by authors and customers alike.

When you register with the site, you are first of all encouraged to read the guidelines and the rest of the authors’ help section carefully and then browse through the forums, where newbies can ask questions and receive replies. The community of authors is always helpful and someone will try to respond quickly.

Before submitting your work, you need to get a handle on how to price and what licenses you can offer. They are one-off usage rights, unique rights and full rights. In the article submission form you’ll find a link to some guidelines for pricing each of the options. Of course, if your piece has been previously published, or you want to place it elsewhere as well, you can only offer it for usage. You provide a sample of the piece for display, which must be at least one third of the complete article. Most authors provide a lot more, however much they think will tempt someone to buy. You attach your document which is what is supplied to the customer after payment has been received. It must be in one of the site’s accepted formats, not for example docx.

Each author has a profile on the site listing all the articles they have showcased and giving statistics on their sales. Once you have sold a few pieces, your author name will be included in the long list of authors. A click on your name will take anyone to your profile.

The site has a section called Requested Content, which displays public requests from buyers seeking particular articles, as well as what they are prepared to pay for them. You have to be quick off the mark with a response as there is plenty of competition, and the customer may choose to buy quickly. But if it’s not chosen, your article will remain showcased so, unless you decide to withdraw it, someone else may find it and buy it. You can also submit pieces on subjects of your choice, that haven’t been requested, because other customers just search the site to find what they want.

Once you are established and buyers get to know your work, you may even get private requests and can expect higher rewards. Customers can request articles from specific authors, but they will still only buy if the work fits what they need.

Your quota of the sale is 65%, the other 35% going to Constant Content. There is also a system of payment of 5% for work by referred writers, which is take from the site’s part of the commission. Authors set their prices bearing in mind that they will only receive 65% of them, and many find that the system, which allows them to spend far more time writing, rather than marketing their work, easily makes up for the 35% of fees that they sacrifice.

If you are reasonably confident about your writing and your use of the English language, I recommend it. There’s nothing that beats waking up to news of yet another sale at Constant Content. The unexpected ones, of items that have been showcased some months earlier, are just as good as the ones that have been targeted to a public request and sell overnight.

Do contact me if you’d like to register through my referral link.

Painting of woman writing by artist, Gerard ter Borch d. J.

Painting of Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, thought to be by eiher Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier

Both pics sourced at Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday 14 January 2009


This pic is of a rooftop decoration on Shaftesbury Abbey. I'm afraid it's a bit unfocused but I took it a few years ago with my old compact camera. And I guess my pic taking skills are not that good.

Shaftesbury is only a few miles from where I now live, and the Abbey is a great place to visit. It's mostly a garden planted over the ruins of the former buildings. The ones that still have a roof form a museum and some storage areas.

I took this roof photo from the pathway outside, which is called Park Walk and has the most wonderful views if you look away from the Abbey. Cue for another pic, I think.

At some point, I must write about the Abbey and its history. There are fascinating connections to a couple of Britain's monarchs. When I get to it, I'll report here. In the meantime enjoy some of the scenes of summer that keep us going through the bleak winter months.

Monday 12 January 2009

A Waste of Time or a Winning Article?

This great pic of Elena Dementieva, winning a Master Series at Los Angeles, is by Rafael Amado Deras at Wikimedia Commons.

I have something to celebrate too. My two-month hiatus in sales at Constant Content has ended. This particular sale was not anticipated, although I am expecting more at CC this month. But as they have recently changed their payment threshold policy, I can now expect a payout even if I don’t sell any more before the end of January.

What sold was the third and final article I submitted to the site last week. The other two were for public requests, and at least one of them should sell. This one was rather different. The idea for it came from something I did on Amazon Mechanical Turk, where you can get paid for different types of work that they call ‘hits’.

I came across Mech Turk via another blog, and thought I’d give it a go. I accepted a few hits and earnt a few cents, but I soon realised that it wasn’t a good use of my time because of the pathetic level of recompense. However, I might as well continue until I could get to the payout threshold (there’s that dreaded phrase again. The words ‘payment threshold’ must be the bane of many a person’s life).

Anyway, a week or so ago I found a hit that appeared to pay $4 for a short article rewrite. I accepted it and did the rewrite, but when I went to submit it, I found that it required a second rewrite of the same piece. I’d been so excited at the thought of earning $4 for half an hour’s work that I’d misread the instructions. It would take much longer to rework the same article to the precise spec, in which each paragraph had to mean exactly the same as the original, but using different words. I decided it wasn’t worth spending another hour or so to put that much cash in my account.

So I’d been wasting my time. Or had I? I had one original article in my own words. Surely I could do something with that. And I did.

A few days later I did a little research and then spent less than an hour turning that basic piece into a longer and much more comprehensive article. It was called Who Benefits from Affiliate Marketing?, and you can no longer read it at Constant Content because it sold for full rights over the weekend, netting me $30, less commission. A lot better than $4, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Oh, Christmas Tree

I decided on a small tree for Christmas this year and bought one growing in a pot. During the time it was decorated and indoors, I watered it a few times and it didn’t drop any needles as they do when they are cut.

On January 5th, before twelth night, all the decorations were packed away and my little tree was put outside into its natural environment. That’s when I noticed how much it had enjoyed the warmth of indoors. Look at the pictures and you’ll see that it has grown and developed. All those light green extensions were not there when I bought it.

I’m feeling some maternal affection for my little tree and am planning to look after it. Rather than plant it in the ground, I’ll repot it into a giant container to give it more room to develop. Then it can easily go with us when we move this year. (Notice I said when, not if.)

Hopefully it should survive the extremes of temperature it has experienced. I took the photos on an afternoon when we’d had a little sun to chase the frost away, but it has been bitterly cold here.
And we won’t have to fork out cash for another Christmas tree next year.

Friday 9 January 2009

A Sweet Goodnight

It's Friday and I should be posting something scintillating here. I even went out and took some photos for it yesterday. But last night I couldn't sleep and today I've been feeling exhausted and rough. I finished one article and submitted it to Constant Content, I've done my site rounds and returned all the card drops from yesterday. Now all I feel like doing is getting under the duvet. I'll try and make up for it tomorrow. Hopefully a good sleep will do the trick and it's not the start of some dreaded lergy.

Monday 5 January 2009

The Handbell Fraternity

When I was doing some research for an article about handbell ringing, I came across this gem of a verse with its nuggets of golden wisdom.

A bell is no bell till you ring it,
a song is no song till you sing it,
and love in your heart wasn't put there to stay;
love isn't love till you give it away.

This pic is by Miya at Wikimedia Commons

From my research and the experience of some good friends, it seems there’s a lot of love going around the handbell fraternity. From joining their national handbell organisations – The Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB) or the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, (AGEHR) for example – ringers get to know and support each other.

When my own friends found out about some bells that were for sale several hundreds of miles away, they mentioned their interest at a HRGB meeting. Within a week, the bells had been passed from hand to hand between members until they reached them. They were asked to send the money back the same way. My friends were amazed and delighted at the amount of trust within this new community they had discovered.

They had started their handbell team for their local church, thinking at first that it might be something for the youngsters to do. But they soon found that the idea attracted the adults too. And many of the large bells were too heavy for the children to manage. They ended up with a set of light hand chimes for a children’s team, as well as a full handbell team. They soon learnt how to accompany hymns in services, and held many fundraising concerts in the church as well.

My first handbell article was published in the Church Times about twenty years ago, and since I renewed my research, I’ve been fascinated by how much the international handbell community has developed since then. In 2008, the AGEHR hosted the 13th International Handbell Symposium in Orlando, Florida. In previous years these have also taken place in Australia, Japan and Korea, as well as in Canada and the UK.

Friday 2 January 2009

Photo Inspiration

Some days, when I am scheduled to post here, I can't think what to write about. To avoid an absolute panic, I go to the photos I have on my computer and look for inspiration. Today was one of those days. And just look what I found.

Sam was a wonderful dog. I still tear up when I see this picture, though we lost him to cancer about 14 years ago. We've never tried to replace him as we found the ending just too painful to invite it voluntarily again. Maybe when we finally get to move to the seaside will be the time.

Meanwhile, I just try to remember all the really good times we had together. When he first arrived, he fitted easily in my cupped hands. He lived with our family, which included a cat, for eight years.

He tried to play with the cat and my daughter was horrified one day when she saw him with her head in his mouth. He was gentle though and didn't hurt her, but she was older and she knew how to put him in his place. Once I watched her walk along his back from one arm of the armchair he was lying in to the other. He just opened one eye, cocked an ear and whispered a growl. Hubby said he often came down early in the morning and found them snuggled together for warmth. They used then to jump apart as though they were illicit lovers and didn't want us to know.

Sam also liked to sit on my lap when we were relaxing. Often the cat would come and sit above him on my stomach and gradually he'd be pushed further towards my knees until he fell off and she had pride of place. It was quite comical. There is nothing quite as stress busting as relaxing with pets.

Isn't he just beautiful?

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