Hey!! Upgrade to Wordpress!

Of Mountains & Printing Presses

Very cool!

You see, the whole idea of “blocks” (“divs” in coder speak) is that they “degrade gracefully” in older or smaller browsers (such as, your mobile phone).  Ingenious!   Why didn’t I think of this?

  Here I was, breaking my head over how to make P’kaboo, a neat website on a wide screen, nicer for mini screens such as mobiles.  I’ve already made it “squishable” – so you see a teeensy weensy little drop-down menu if you (with pixie fingertips) click on the microscopic little button saying “Submit manuscript” (if you could find the button in the first place, and read it).  But that was exactly the problem.  I didn’t really want the words to shrink to point-size 0.1.  I wanted them to stay legible and clickable (with a clumsy index finger on mobile phones, think Shrek), retain their functionality without the site losing its beauty.  (It has been complimented on its beauty, quite a bit.)

This sorts it!  How amazingly convenient!

Haha – and the feature is still in beta. Found the glitch.

Once you press “publish”, the wordpress text paragraphs stick seamlessly onto each other. I had to go into the html and manually insert line breaks. Okay, peeps, it’s a really nice idea but not yet fully matured. I’m sure they’ll fix this little glitch the second they see the first beta-tests. (That’s us, trying out the new editor.)



Ideas Friday: Some Resources

Seen on a T-shirt:

“AD/HD!!  Highway to…

Oh look, there goes a butterfly!”

I’ve come across an interesting piece of research recently, in my relentless hunt for FOCUS.

This research points out that we are hard-wired to be “distractible”.  Our brain responds to outside information coming in, by forcibly overriding whatever we are doing, and paying instant attention to the new information.

On a Caveman-Brain level this makes a lot of sense:  There’s no point in deeply focusing on crafting a bone flute if there’s a tiger creeping up on you.

My first violin teacher, during violin lessons when I was very young, taught me that focus is if the house can burn down around you and you don’t notice because you are practising.  It was an extreme image, but it did burn home the message.

So we are hard-wired to be instantly distractible. Here’s the complication.  If you have 1000 things to do and think of, how do you cope?

Over the past month or two I’ve learnt new tricks. I’ll bring them here as resources – maybe they’ll prove as useful to you as they do for me:

  • One of them is a little time tracking app, that I use to track down what I spend my time on.  It’s an eye-opener.
  • Another is of course the time-tested list.  A little notepad item on my desktop, listing tasks that have to happen today, and those that should ideally also happen today but can be delayed.
  • One of the best devices I use, is to spend the minimum required time on each task, and then move on That means, quit thinking about it.  This last trick is incredibly liberating.  If a task takes half an hour but you stew about it for five hours, it interferes with all subsequent or concurrent tasks.  So, do what is necessary (and if that includes thinking about it for half an hour before executing it, then focus on thinking about it and do nothing else while you think), and then free your mind.  I’ve won back already about 60% of the “RAM” space in my brain just doing that.
  • One last trick I’ve discovered:  Frustration.

You wouldn’t think of frustration as a resource, would you?  And yet it is.  It is action energy looped in on itself, all strangled up and spinning inside you because it needs to be LET OUT!  So the logical thing is to let it out!  Do the actions that will bring you closer to your results, until the frustration is dissipated.  Energy, according to popular physics, can never be lost, only transformed.

Peace of mind:

There’s one extra thing I do these days.  I meditate.  Even if it’s only for 3 minutes after waking up in the mornings; it makes a difference and sets the tone for the day.

So, hope these help!  🙂






Thinktank Friday? :)

Hi Peeps.  I know I had a Friday Fairytale thing running and it fell apart with the death of my soulmate.  It may come back but I’m actually not ready yet to retake writing.  (Many reasons, the most obvious being that so much of him is in those stories, and I have a commitment to complete the Solar Wind / Shooting Star saga before getting fully stuck into something else.)

So I thought, to start a new blog tradition for this site, why not discuss an idea every Friday?  Fridays are interesting, traditionally they were my homeschool holidays (we always finished all the work in the first 4 days of the week); they also have a special meaning to the Studio, I didn’t teach on Fridays because people missed their lessons too often – instead I made Saturdays a solid teaching day.  This split weekend has been working for us for years.

The idea I’d like to bring to the table today:

Privacy online, a data company’s interesting take on it – and my take on that  😀

My regular blogfriends know that debates are always welcomed here.  I’m inviting you to pepper this concept with everything that comes to mind.  It’s like an open discussion group.

But first:

Little P’kaboo Update:

After the beautiful love story “The Blue Between” is now in print in Durban, it is in the process of being processed to Amazon and Smashwords.  I would love to ask for a round of applause for our wonderful associate in SA, Les, who pulled off the entire paper publishing route of this book alone.  And how beautiful it is!  Annemarie Luck is a super writer, the story is one of those who sparkle their way into a heart.  Her cover artist did a fantastic job too, and between her and Les we now have this:

Blank bookcover with clipping path

Congratulations, Annemarie Luck, and well done TEAM!!

And now our Thinktank topic.

Privacy online

…sounds like a contradiction in terms.

Ten years back we all understood this.  “Online” is a public platform.  Privacy consisted of taking a pseudonym / pen name, and only saying online what you wouldn’t hesitate to say out loud to a crowd in a market square.

Like, for instance, “I’m an author and I’ve written a series that’s all about pirates in a futuristic setting.  Any takers?”  That’s perfectly good.  You wouldn’t dream of posting something like “my boss seduced his secretary last night”.   Of course not!

We were naturally suspicious of anyone who wanted to take our personal details.  What does some stranger want with my phone number?  Rob me or stalk me?

Ten years have gone and defenses have been dropped.  Facebook spread the vibe that “I have nothing to hide so I can post my entire private life on Facebook”, and “honest people don’t need to hide behind a ‘fake’ account or alias”.

Actually honest people do need to.  What are they hiding their data from?  Criminals.  I have to think of Kaa from the Jungle Book, singing “Trust in Me” to Mowgli, when Facebook calls on people to delete ‘fake’ accounts or insists on them using the name on their birth certificate.  By what right, anyway?  Who are they?  The law allows me to take as many pen and artist pseudonyms as I like; I could even legally change my name from what it was on my birth certificate.  These days, you can even sign contracts legally as an alias!  (https://www.quora.com/What-is-a-non-disclosure-agreement-Can-I-sign-one-with-a-pen-name-pseudonym-if-I-wish-to-protect-my-identity)

But fast-forward, and through countless channels all the data a thorough crook would need on you is all available online.  Remember that all data, all programming is really 0’s an 1’s on a very fundamental level; a criminal capable of machine code can override any program that exists, and break into the data servers of any company.  There is only one operating system that is resistant to that (literally, “unhackable”), but it is not commercially available.  So how to protect billions of people from the massive data heists and smaller hacking, stalking and targeting crimes?

GDPR is Europe’s way of trying to unscramble that egg.  The data are already online.  Everybody’s personal data.  Who put them there?  You did yourself!  So now we need laws. (Not that laws ever stopped real criminals.  They just keep the bored teenagers out.)

There’s a company that came up with a protective app, called “digi.me”.

Here is how they explain how they plan to protect you (even from themselves) :

It’s a cool vision.

Better even, that someone cares enough to write a whole program to try and protect people from data mining (by, ironically, data-mining first).

My 3pence worth (there was inflation) :

What if…

… someone wrote an option into that program, that wherever it finds the data online, it first pulls it to your personal computer (not “private cloud”, another oxymoron), and then permanently deletes it where it found it?

What if every private internet user, every person like you, or me, were to use this program do delete their entire internet history and personal data?

We’ve had a bit more than a decade (ok I know the internet has been around longer, but the social mass media only started up around then) to get used to what the internet does with our valuable data.  That a criminal can track my child to her school or home or friend via her own smartphone.  Wouldn’t it be a great idea for everyone to have a second shot, this time be judicious what to share, because we already know how deep the corruption can run?  What would happen to the internet if…?

People would actually deal with humans again instead of programs.  Corruption would become traceable again.  One could learn again who is trustworthy.  Old-fashioned concepts.  Worked for centuries.

And everybody’s private network of connections is everyone’s private network of connections.  Not everybody’s shared connections with everyone else.  Sharing is nice – if you are sharing your lunch with your friend.  Not if you’re sharing out your friend to advertising companies for eBay.  Without even knowing it or having any choice.

How would the internet have to adjust?  Who’s up for discussing this a little?  😉

Worth reposting: Windmills of the Mind

From an ooooold movie…



Dusty Springfield – The Windmills Of Your Mind Lyrics

Artist: Dusty Springfield

Album: Dusty In Memphis


Round like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel

Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turnin’
Running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweepin’
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone

Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweepin’
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that you said?

Lovers walk along a shore
And leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?

Pictures hangin’ in a hallway
And the fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong?

When you knew that it was over
You were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the color of his hair

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/dusty-springfield/the-windmills-of-your-mind-lyrics/#WjVAc9DRtKyF6gSm.99

The Return of Immy

So I’m sitting in Cobh, the weather has finally turned “Irish” again (cool and cloudy).  I have been assured by people who have lived here all their lives, that the last summer Ireland had such fine weather, such a long uninterrupted dry and sunny streak, was in 1976.

But we love this weather.  Cool is energizing; if it starts drizzling, that puts us into a creative mood.  I’ve always loved writing when it is rainy, even as a teenager.

The bottomless sadness still strikes, at random, and often.  I do realize it will keep doing that, and I will stop blogging about it except on very rare occasions.  I will continue including Iain in the conversation, because he is here with us.

Remember Immy?

She was unavailable for the longest time on our site.

Originally a delightful series of stories by Leslie Hyla Winton Noble, illustrated by Amanda Fieldgate, and released in a very special multimedia pack – which frankly I thought was unabridged genius.

It came as 1) a CD with booklet insert; 2) the CD contained a Power-Point presentation where one could opt to have the booklet read to the child on audio only (with sound-effects and Peter-And-The-Wolf-style theme tunes, composed by the brilliant Les Noble); alternatively one could watch the entire 5-booklet series on Power-Point, soundtrack and all.

You begin to understand how special the Immy series is when you consider:

  1. Story.  A charming, child-focused set of stories about a feisty little girl who makes courageous decisions whenever she is face-to-face with bone-chilling danger.  Wow.
  2. Illustrations.  These are artworks by Amanda Fieldgate, on canvas.
  3. Music!  A whole, composed-through soundtrack of theme tunes interacting with each other.  If Les could have a tame orchestra at his fingertips, he would gladly have done the full symphonic orchestral performance.
  4. Power-point.  The concept of having an audiobook for young children, with page-through option or power-point option, is so complete!
  5. Lightweight, exquisite presentation – highly professional, as a glossy booklet insert into a CD.

Here is great news:

The Immy series will be available in an A5 print, standard children’s book; as a box set as well as a collective in a single volume.

The improvement of having hard-cover versions available, is simply an added delight.  The Immy series explores multimedia books on every level.  There are only one or two unexplored options left…

Am I looking forward to these hard-covers!


What else is new in P’kaboo:

  • We’ve placed Carmen Capuano’s “Split Decision” on Smashwords.
  • I’m gradually updating our website; however I haven’t yet started tackling the problem of making it compatible with smartphones.  It needs an entire redesign for the little hand-held machines.
  • In Durban, beautiful print runs are happening.  I’m watching this with high excitement.  Well done to Les!
  • We are putting the foundations in place for setting up shop here in Ireland. Hopefully, before the year is out, we will be trading.
  • There are some brand new books reaching completion; one brand new author to be launched.  Details will be released later.
  • We are step-wise catching up on our backlog from the coma of the past 18 months.  Without our team we would not have managed.

So, Go Team!!


Smashing developments with Split Decision

Split Decision goes on Smashwords

As part of our program towards convenience and ease of access, we now have a version of Split Decision available on Smashwords

Easy to download; beautifully clean ebook available in just about every imaginable format; and at only $4.95. For those of you who are really curious to peek into this fast-moving, emotion-packed book, there is a preview available.

Here is the link:


The Smashwords edition precedes a very exciting development – the launch of the first South African print of the book.
Go read and enjoy.

Deep discounts on books in Smashwords Summer-Winter Sale

Smashwords has periodic site-wide promotions.  One of these is running right now, until the 31st of July:  The Smashwords Summer/Winter sale.

The way these work:

Select the book you wish to buy.  In the “Checkout” window, look for the “Apply Coupon” field.  Enter the following coupon codes:

SSW50 for every Solar Wind sequel:

  1. The Mystery of the Solar Wind
  2. The Assassin
  3. Freedom Fighter
  4. Raider!
  5. The Morrigan
  6. Nix Romipen
  7. The Glossary for Solar Wind & Shooting Star

SSW25 for all other books / short-stories:

  1. Fanta Claus
  2. How To Become A Professional Ghostwriter
  3. Suzie
  4. A Friday Fairytale
  5. The Family Pool
  6. The Racing Finn
  7. Arcana

Some of these discounts will cause some of the books and short-stories to come in completely FREE.  Have fun checking it out.

Ebooks Vs Paperbooks

Of course all books on Smashwords are ebooks.  I have discovered that Millennials enjoy reading ebooks off their hand-held tablets or smart phones.  I have also discovered that Millennials will order anything online, and spend fortunes on it – and these books consistently cost less than a cup of coffee now, in exchange for gripping and heart-warming stories.  It is an interesting milieu here in Millennial-land.

For those of you who still prefer paper books (I know I do), go to www.pkaboo.net to browse all our books. Our subset on Smashwords does not yet contain any of our authors except Lyz Russo and gipsika.  All our other books are also available on Amazon, but the fastest way to find them is via www.pkaboo.net/bookshop.html.

Go gettem, and enjoy your summer reads!



Gandhi and the Resting Bitch Face

The following story is told of Gandhi, but it could have happened to any luminary of his kind of elevation.

A mother brought her little boy to Gandhi and begged him to tell the child to stop eating sugar.  She explained that her child would respect him more.  Gandhi looked at the boy and told the mother to come back in a month.

A month later, the mother was at his door again with the same request.  Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “You must stop eating sugar.  It’s bad for you.”  The little boy nodded, impressed.

The mother challenged Gandhi:  “That was easy!  Why did I have to wait for a month?”

“Ah,” replied Gandhi with a smile.  “A month ago, I was still eating sugar myself.”


… and the one thing we are usually not aware of when nobody points it out, is our “resting bitch face”.

Quick, take a selfie.  But with your face relaxed, without making any effort to make it a “profile pic”.  Then take a good look.


That is what you look like most of the time!  (Scary, right?)

When I was writing the Solar Wind series, at one point my 8-year-old son came to me and asked, “Mommy, why are you so angry?”  I looked up in surprise.  Angry?  I wasn’t angry at all!  I had only been concentrating.  Turns out I have a terrible resting bitch face.  I’m sorry for all the people who thought I’m angry, or a superbitch, or basically just a scary, nasty woman.  Maybe one ought to exercise one’s face.  Because after a year and a half of dreadful mourning, my face looks even worse than before… older, more lined, more intimidating.  With a face like this, I could become the most hated world dictator.

Actually, what an opportunity!


But I suppose, the best antidote to this is to smile instantly whenever someone enters the room.  Do this consciously until it becomes a subconscious habit.  Maybe I can recover my friendly face before I die.