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Chapter 4: Seventh Circle of Hell

I hoisted one heavy box up the pull-down ladder and into the attic. Even for this time of year the attic was hot and stuffy. A nice change from chilly temps downstairs. Before I brought more boxes up, I thought I should look around for the box of Christmas decorations Grandma wanted me to schlep down. At first glance the attic looked neatly organized but when you took a closer look it was more of a warehouse. Boxes stacked on boxes, floor to roof, rows in front of rows. The the idea of spending the day searching for the decoration box made my head swim. If it wasn’t in the first wall of boxes, then it was in the next, or the next. Not hours of searching, we’re talking days. The aunties had put the boxes from my room at the base of the ladder making it an acrobatic feat to get down; I managed and went in search for Grandma.

“Um, Grandma, that box of decorations you want… where is it?”

“In the attic, silly,” she said rummaging through the top drawer of the antique secretary which stood in the corner.

“Grandma,” I sighed, “there are a thousand boxes in the attic. Can you be a little more specific?”

“Louisa Jane, don’t exaggerate. There most certainly are not a thousand boxes. My last count was two hundred and eighty-three. Phooey!” she slammed the drawer shut and started into the second drawer.

“Okay, of the two hundred and eighty-three boxes where might the decoration box be?

She closed the drawer and moved to the desk and began her search anew. “Christmas is when Santa comes. Santa lives in the North Pole. So, the Christmas decorations are on the north side of the house. Oh, I give up!”

“What are you looking for, Grandma?”

She straightened up and put her hands on her hips. “What dear?”

“What are you looking for, Grandma?”

“I can’t remember now. No matter, it’ll come to me.” I left her standing in the living room scratching her head and ascended into my seventh circle of hell.

The north side of the house had a wall of boxes that was four across and four high and, mercifully, only two deep. Still, moving and searching through thirty-two boxes was daunting. Not one of the boxes was labeled and I decided that I just might do Grandma and the Aunties a huge favor and label them. Eventually, someone and some point is going to have to go through all of it.

Starting on the top left I searched and labeled and replaced. Most of the stuff was old children’s toys and clothes. The toys were certainly collectors’ items and wouldn’t pass the safety standards for today’s children’s’ toys. I made a mental note to ask about them. Maybe Grandma and the aunts would be willing to part with them, sell them, and put aside the proceeds for future use. The Christmas decorations were not just one box; there were five of them. And all five were the last boxes I went through.

Once the boxes, and I were freed from the attic, it was another staircase down to get them all into the living room. I was happy to be done with that chore, happy that I was able to help Grandma, and angry that I had forgotten to put on my fitbit. I’m sure I completed my entire week’s scheduled workouts.

“Oh good!” Grandma beamed at the boxes. “Thank you dear. Now, let’s get started and cheer this place up.”

“Grandma, I was going to take a nap. I have to work tonight so…”

“Oh please, you can nap at work. The dead people won’t care. Now, where did I put the tape?” Grandma resumed her search through the drawers. I slipped out and went back to my room. I needed a little shut-eye. Believe it or not, the dead people do care.

To be continued….

 

 

Chapter 3: An Uncomfortable Conversation

“Crap, crap and more crap!” Myrt said, shoving a stack of old quilts into a cardboard box.

“Were you expecting buried treasure?” I asked as I taped a box full of old shoes shut. My cell phone buzzed inside my pocket. I pulled it out. Frowning, I silenced the phone and shoved it back into my pocket.

“That’s the third time that phone has rung in an hour,” Mart said as she rifled through the dresser next to the bed. “What’s his name?”

“What makes you think it’s a guy calling?” My love life was a constant source of gossip/disappointment for the aunts. All of my 25 cousins were either married or working on their third divorce.

“No reason.” Mart smirked.

“It’s interesting isn’t it, Sissy,” Myrt said as she packed up another box.

“What’s that?” Mart asked.

“I didn’t hear her deny that it was a fellow calling.” Myrt winked at me.

As much as I wanted Myrt and Mart to be wrong, they weren’t. And until this room was cleaned out with my belongings in place, the Old Bitties weren’t going anywhere. That meant I was either going to spend the next couple of hours avoiding their questions or I’d have to admit defeat and cave.

“His name is Stuart.” I caved. Stuart worked for one of the funeral homes that frequented my office. He was tall and thin with dark eyes. Not unattractive, per se, but he had long, alien-like fingers that gave me the chills. The thought of his fingers anywhere on my body was as pleasant as the thought of having a tarantula crawl all over me.

“Well. What’s wrong with him?” Mart asked.

“Nothing. I’m just not interested in him.” This fact made my encounters with Stuart awkward at best. I learned fast that subtlety was not something he picked up on. That left only one option: the “direct” option. I was forced down this road last week when he sent a message to my cell phone. The message was an animated heart-shaped emoji that blew kisses. Our uncomfortable conversation continued with me asking him a very direct question.

Even after this conversation he still continued pursuing me.

“Well if it’s not him,” Myrt said, “Then it must be you. What’s wrong with you? You’re not one of them…” Her voice trailed off as she fought to find the right word. “One of them….Mart?” she called to her sister. “What’s the word I’m looking for?”

“Fruit Pie,” Mart replied.

“No. That’s not it.”

“Fruit fly?” Mart tried again.

“No. That’s not it either. What is the word I’m looking for.” Myrt thought about it for another second. Her eyes lit up. “Sweet potato!” She said, snapping her fingers. “You’re not one of those sweet potatoes, are you?”

“Sweet potato?” I thought, stifling laughter. “How in the heck did she come up with that?” I turned toward Myrt. “I think the word you’re looking for is ‘lesbian,’ and….”

Mart slapped me on the back of my head. “Louisa Jane! You watch your language when you’re in this house.”

“That’s not a curse word,” I said, rubbing my injury. “And I’m also not a lesbian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But in this case, I’m just not interested in Stuart.”

“Well you better get interested in someone quick,” Myrt began, “before all of your lady parts shrivel up like a prune.”

“And on that note,” I said, taping the last box shot. “It seems we’ve packed everything up.” I stood up and stretched my legs out. “I’ll start moving these boxes up to the attic.”

“That’s fine,” Mart said. “We’ll just start unpacking your belongings. You don’t have any unmentionables you don’t want us to see, do you?”

“You mean besides my collection of Ben Wa balls and bullet vibrators?” I chuckled. 

The Old Bitties stared at me, burning a disapproving mark into my forehead.

I wasn’t sure what was more disturbing: the look they wore or the fact that they understood what I was talking about. Could it be the Old Bitties were actually wild and free back in their day?

“I don’t have anything that would require either of you to double up on your heart medication.” I grabbed a box and exited the room. As I rounded the corner, I heard the Old Bitties talking.

“She’ll never get a man with that sense of humor,” Mart said.

“Ain’t that the truth.”

To be continued……

Chapter 2: Breakfast

The kitchen was bright and the smell of coffee brought hope to my soul. Grandma was at the stove stirring something steamy and warm. The biddy aunts, Myrtle and Martha, occupied the two chairs that faced the entry into the kitchen – no escaping their observation. The two of them hovered over their mugs; they liked their coffee like they liked themselves – harsh and bitter.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” said the harsh one.

“You make a lot of noise coming in in the middle of the night. Not to mention all the clomping around upstairs this morning,” complained the bitter one.

Myrt and Mart were twins, the youngest of a total of six children, all girls. My mother was the child just eighteen months older than the twins. All the children came just eighteen months apart. They were, in birth order: Mary, Mabel, Maxine, Margaret (my mom), Myrtle and Martha.

“My you’re up early,” Grandma said with a smile and a wink. “I made you oatmeal. Keeps you regular.” And she plopped a bowl of thick porridge on the table with the spoon literally sticking straight up. I made a face.

“I eat oatmeal every day and haven’t missed a poop in eighty-six years. My doctor said after my last colonoscopy that I have the colon of a twenty-year old.”

“Mom!” Aunt Myrt chastised. Martha shook her head and pinched the bridge of her beak-like nose.

I poured a mug of coffee and wrapped my cold hands around the mug hoping to transfer the warmth into my body. The oatmeal released the spoon with a loud S-L-U-R-P. Both the oatmeal and coffee required shovels of sugar and gallons of milk to make them consumable.

“After your breakfast, I want you to take the empty boxes in the living room upstairs to your room and empty out the closet and drawers so you can unpack your suitcases. I know you want to find your own place, but you’re here for now so be here,” said Grandma.

“What should I do with all that stuff?” I asked thinking this would be an all day activity even with the head start I got this morning.

“Well, that was your mother’s and Maxine’s room. Most of the old stuff I think was your mother’s, it’s yours now. So do whatever you want with it. I want you to feel like this is your home and not that you have to live out of a suitcase,” Grandma wrapped me in her warm arms. “Besides, you may want to bring a man home some night and you don’t want him to see your room that way.” She kissed me on the top of my head.

The aunts just looked at me with that “we told you so face” and shook their heads in unison. I could see them taking mental notes about Grandma’s mental stability. She could be inappropriate but she wasn’t senile.

Myrtle and Martha followed me into the living room and watched me gather the boxes to take upstairs. “Before you throw anything out, let us look through it.”

To be continued…..

Chapter 1: Time of Death

Hurray! Hurray! Today is the first day of Pilcrow & Dagger’s round robin writing event! From now through October 16, 2017, LeeAnn and I are going to take turns telling a story that is related to our Nov/December theme: The Box. In case you missed it, we posted a poll to our Facebook and Instagram page asking our audience to pick the opening line for the story from three different options.

So now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, I present to you the first line that received the most votes!

“Time of Death”

The ticking was faint but incessant. A bright light penetrated my closed eyes. I was not ready for it to be morning. Not that it’s unusual. Most people who work at night aren’t ready for the morning. Fortunately I got off early, allowing for some sleep. But getting off early for me was also the same time Grandma woke up.

I rolled over, forcing the comforter over my head. I pulled too hard on it and it came untucked from the end of the bed and rested above my ankles. Now my feet were exposed to the chill in the air. 

“Rude.” I groaned, trying to cover my feet.

And then there was that ticking sound. Tick. Tick. Tick. It grew louder with every passing second.

I gave up trying to get back to sleep and crawled out of bed. My breath clouded the air in front of me. I rubbed my arms, shivering. Grandma was a bit conservative when it came to her electric bill.

“You kids don’t know what cold is,” she said, time and time again. “You think you’re cold now. Try using an outhouse in the middle of a snow storm. We had to take a pot of warm water with us to use in case our behinds froze to the seat.”

Grandma should’ve written a book on how to be a drama queen. She would’ve made a fortune.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I knelt down on the floor, searching for the source of that ticking sound. I have a high toleration when it comes to sounds. Nails on a chalkboard, cracking knuckles, nose sniffles: these are all noises that have no effect on me whatsoever. But ticking sounds make me crazy. No particular reason for it; they just do.

I went through all of the drawers in Grandma’s guest room. They were filled with quilted afghans and miscellaneous fabric pieces she used for a variety of projects. Not one of these drawers contained the source of that ticking sound.

“Ouch!” I yelled, cursing under my breath. I sat down and rubbed my large toe. It fell victim to a blunt encounter with my tactical bag. I pushed the bag into the corner of the room and turned my sight toward the only place I hadn’t search – the closet.

Cranky and injured I was now on an official seek and destroy mission. I’d find the source of that ticking and make it pay.

I swung open the closet door with such a force that the clothes swung back and forth on their hangers. 

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Oh yes. I was in the right place. The elusive source of this vexing sound was definitely in the closet.

“What in the hell?” There were no words to describe the horror at my feet.

The floor of the closet was covered in piles of old junk. Grandma wasn’t the most fastidious person when it came to good housekeeping but this was definitely not her style. I knelt down and dug through the clutter. Pushing my way through moth-eaten clothing and smelly old shoes, I came across a suspicious paper bag. I opened it up.

“Gross!” I turned my nose away and shut the bag.

I’d have to find a way to sneak the bag out later when my aunts weren’t around. A couple of greedy bitties, they were anxious to move Grandma out of her house so they could sell it and collect all the profits. Grandma made it very clear she wanted to remain in this house until the day she died. For the most part, she did quite well. But a bag of rotten, maggot-infested apple pies wouldn’t help her case.

I took a break from my quest and walked the damning evidence to the other side of the room. Opening up the tactical bag, I removed the body bag, digital camera and clipboard. Setting them off to one side, I placed the paper bag inside of it and zipped it shut. The beautiful part about being a death investigator is that – on occasion – my gear smells. My family has learned not to ask why and I hoped for Grandma’s sake, their curiosity would remain mute.

Back to the closet I went. I cleaned out the remaining crap on the floor until the only thing left was a checkered handkerchief that was covering something in the corner. I lifted up the precariously placed fabric. There it was. An old clock covered with a sticky note. I lifted the clock up so I could read the note.

“Seriously, Grandma?” I chuckled, crumpling up the sticky note. And to think my aunts think she’s demented. Demented, she’s definitely not. Devious is better used to describe her.

I shook my head as I examined the clock. It was a black, wind-up clock with Roman numerals on the face and two bells on the top. Either my ears were over-sensitive or Grandma put a hex on this clock. Either way, it was hard to imagine that something the size of my hand could be so loud.

I smashed the alarm clock against the dresser three times.

“Oops,” I said, looking down at the clock pieces scattered over the bedroom floor. “It was an accident, Grandma. I swear,” I rehearsed in front of the mirror.

I gathered up as much of the broken fragments as I could and dumped them into the trash can. I glanced at my watch.

“Time of death, 10:02 a.m.,” I said, giggling. It’s not everyday I get to pronounce time of death on a clock.

(To Be Continued)

How to Embed a Document on a Website or Blog – Part Two

Last week, I worked through the steps of embedding a PDF document into your FREE WordPress blog. While those same steps will also work for the paid version of WordPress, users who have self-hosted WordPress sites also have another option – free plugins. There are several different plugins available for FREE that will automatically embed a PDF document into your site. I picked one at random and found I liked it. Feel free to try out the many other plugins available.

From your WordPress site go to the toolbar on the left side of the screen and select Plugins → Add New.

In the search bar, located at the top, right side of the screen, type in “PDF Embedder.” This will bring up a bunch of different plugins you can try out. I picked “PDF Embedder” – the first option on the left side of the screen because it was compatible with my version of WordPress.

When choosing a plugin, make sure it’s compatible with your version of WordPress.  Plugins that are untested for your specific version of WordPress will either not work properly or they could cause your website to crash.

Once you find “PDF Embedder,” – or whatever plugin you choose to go with, click on “Install Now.” When it’s finished installing, select “Activate.”

Then open the blog post you want your PDF document to be in and select “Add Media.”  Upload your PDF document into WordPress. If you don’t know how to do that, follow the steps from last week’s blog. Otherwise, browse through your media library and then insert it into your post.

After you do this, you’ll see a weird, scrambled-looking mess on your screen just like the one above that’s highlighted in blue.  Don’t panic! That’s only what you see. Your audience, however, will see the image below. ↓

How to Watermark Your Word Document

Click on the preview button, located at the top right side of your screen, you will see what your audience will see when they visit your website. Hover over the image and a toolbar will appear on the bottom of the document that will allow your audience to scroll up and down through the pages and also zoom in. This particular plugin does not allow your audience to download or print the document. However, I believe there is a paid version that will. Do your homework and find a plugin that best suits your needs.

And that’s all there is to it! As always if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

 

The deadline for the October issue is only one day away! Get your submissions in for our “What Lies Beneath,” issue by Wednesday, August 30, 2017!

Join us on Thursday, August 31, 2017 as we begin our round robin story that will center around the Nov/Dec theme “The Box.” Tune into our blog on Monday and Thursday to find out what’s in our box. 

Beginning September 1, 2017, submissions for the Nov/Dec issue will open. As stated previously, the theme is “The Box.” Tell us what’s in your box! A holiday gift? Secret love letters? A body part? Get your submissions in by October 15, 2017!

Formatting for ebooks

When you’re done writing your story you’ll think about publishing it. That means you’ll need to think about appropriate formatting for the medium. For the most part, using Word and formatting the chapters and pages how you’d like them to look is fine. What you’ll have to do is save this Word document as a PDF and upload the PDF. You can do this for Kindle and even Smashwords. The document will look like a PDF and read just fine on most screens. This is also excellent if you are using special fonts, charts, graphs, artwork, pictures, advertising, and hyperlinks. PDFs keep those things and they get uploaded in true form.

You can also format your document specifically for ereaders using epub. Epub is great in that it allows the text to configure to whatever ereader you’re using. What it won’t do is accept charts, graphs, advertising, or hyperlinks. You can include art, but it has to be formatted per epub rules. What you can’t have is special fonts, special characters, different sized fonts, and so forth.

For epub, you cannot just set your Word parameters and type. You need to use a different process. You will have to use the Style menus.

Because ereaders show only straight text, epub likes to keep things as simple as possible. You’ll only need to use three Styles: Heading 1 for titles, Heading 2 for subtitles and/or chapter headings, and Normal for text. You can’t use fancy fonts so stick to Times New Roman, Garamond, or Arial. Most Epub converters will not recognize any other fonts. You can use inline formatting of your fonts such as italics or bold and you can also add first level bullet or number lists (second level bullets or outlines need to be done separately and inserted as a jpeg).

Formatting for the the Normal Style for body text is simple too. Set your text to be left justified, single spaced. You can either set the first line of a paragraph to be indented or block style paragraphs. Do not check the “don’t add space between paragraphs” box. you will need the automatically included extra space between paragraphs. Personally, for ereaders I prefer block style paragraphing.

The key to successful formatting for epub conversion is to NOT USE THE HARD RETURN AND NO EXTRA SPACES. This is difficult for some to do. Stop adding double spaces after closing punctuation. Stop hitting the enter key to add more space between paragraphs or at the end of a section looking for the page break to start a new chapter or section. Habits are hard.

First, extra spaces can skew the spacing in the text. Most extra hard returns will be stripped out anyway. To get your ebook to look like you want it to look, you have to use the style keys. To end a chapter: following you last sentence a single return. Then change your style to Heading 2 for a new chapter heading. During the Epub conversion a page break will be created before Headings.

These are the basics for epub conversion formatting. There are superb tutorials that include details on removing proofing instructions and auto defaults in Word. Lulu has one. You can see it here. Smashwords has one too. You can see that one here. Both are free and both are pretty easy to follow. Even I can get it and I’m not tech savvy.

AND finally, the clock is ticking down and you have just a few days left to submit for our October issue! The theme is “What Lies Beneath.” Do you have any deep, hidden secrets or fears? Write them down! Send them in!

The Pretty Way to Embed a PDF Document on Your Website or Blog – Part 1

Yesterday, I went through the steps on how to watermark documents in an effort to deter online thieves from stealing them. If you missed that post you can read it here. Today, I’m going to walk through the steps on how to embed a PDF document in a website or blog. The platform I use is WordPress.

Free WordPress

Today, I’ll work through the steps for embedding a PDF document in the Free version of WordPress (WordPress.com). This will also work for self-hosted WordPress sites (WordPress.org) but for self-hosted WordPress sites there is a better option. I’ll work through those steps on Tuesday, August 29th.

After saving the PDF document, you’ll need to upload it to your WordPress blog. Login to your blog/website and select “Add New Post.” Once inside the new post you can upload the PDF document by clicking on “Add Media.”

Then select “Upload File.”  

Find the PDF document you want to open. Select it and then click on “Open,” located on the lower right hand corner.

Then select “Insert into Post,” located in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Once you do that you’ll see the title of your PDF document will appear hyperlinked inside your blog. It will look similar to the one below:

How to Watermark Your Word Document

Technically, you could leave it just like this. But, it doesn’t look pretty and I believe all things on social media sites should look pretty. I recommend using a photograph as a cover for document. This is where authors who have a cover for their work-in-progress can make use of it.

Upload a photo into WordPress using the same steps we just did for uploading the PDF link. The image you select can be anything: a vacation photo from your own collection or one from a site like Pixabay or Pexels that has free to use photos that are both royalty free and free for commercial use. Try finding a photo with an image that relates to the content in your document. But if you can’t, don’t stress over it because following the same steps I demonstrated in the “How to Make Meme for Free” post, you’re going to put a title over the image. The photo below is an example.

Once you have a photo, insert it into the blog post and then select “Add Media” again. Find the PDF document and highlight it like the picture below.  DO NOT insert the PDF document into the post!

Look for its URL link located on the right side of the screen.

Copy the URL. Go back into your blog post and click on the image you’re going to use as the cover. When you click on it, a small toolbox should appear over the top of the image.

Click on the pencil inside of the toolbox. This will allow you to edit the photo.

Look near the bottom of the box for “Link To” and click on the down arrow.

Select Custom URL and in the box below, delete the current link and paste the link for your PDF file in it. Then scroll down and look for “Open Link in New Tab.” 

Make sure this box is checked so that when people click on the image a new tab will open up in the browser, allowing your readers to keep one window open to your web page. Anytime you place a link inside of your blog, you should select this option. The last thing you want is to take people away from your blog or website. Having the link open in a new tab allows people to tab back over to your site rather than hitting the back button on the browser.

Then click “Update.” After this step is complete, when your readers click on the image it will take them to the PDF file. Click on the image below to see my PDF document.

On Tuesday, I’ll show self-hosted WordPress users a super-spiffy way to embed a PDF document into their website.

That’s all for this week. As always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

The deadline for the October issue is only a few days away! The theme for the October issue is “What Lies Beneath.” Tell us what’s hiding under your feet! Be quick about it because the deadline for this issue is August 30, 2017.

Join us on August 31st for a round robin writing event. A. Marie will kick off this event by beginning a story that is tied to our Nov/Dec issue’s theme – “The Box.” Find out what’s in our box beginning August 31st!

How to Watermark a Document Using Microsoft Word

This discussion will help anyone who wants to share excerpts from their novels, deleted scenes, bonus material or short stories on their website or blog. Today I will show you how to watermark a document in Microsoft Word to deter other individuals from plagiarizing your work. Please keep in mind that nothing you share on the Internet is truly safe. And if someone really wants to steal your work, a watermark isn’t going to stop them.

On that note, please remember that the people most likely to have their work stolen are the Stephen Kings and J.K Rowlings of the world. Unknown writers are not likely to have their work stolen.

If you would like to create a watermark – as a form of some added protection – to a document that you’d like to post to your blog or website, today’s topic is for you.

Here is how to watermark a document using Word.

Open your document in Word:

Next, select “Design,” from the top of the screen. ***Update*** If you are using Word for Mac you might not have a “Design” option on your screen. If this is the case, click on “Insert” and look for the watermark option in the drop-down menu.

And then click on “Watermark,” located on the upper right side of the screen.

You can choose one of the watermark options available OR you can click on “Custom Watermark,” and make your own, which is what I did.

In the image above, you’ll see a few different options for watermark. One option is a picture watermark. The other option is a text watermark. If you want a picture watermark, select “Select Picture.”

Find a picture on your computer you want to use and select it. Make sure that “Washout” – on the right side of the box – is checked. Then click “Apply.” This is what my document looked like when I inserted Pilcrow & Dagger’s logo:

If you want to adjust where the image/text appears on your document, place your cursor at the top of the page – where a header would appear – and double click. When you do this a box should appear around the watermark.

You’ll be able to use the squares surrounding your image to adjust the image size, direction and position. These same steps apply for both images as well as a custom text watermark like the one below:

Once you have positioned your watermark where you like it, go to “File,”, “Save As,” and then select PDF to save your document.

If you’re not familiar with using PDF files – they save documents like an image – limiting the ability of other people to edit the file. However, please be aware that PDF files can easily be converted back to a Word document for editing. 

Now you have your watermarked document. The next thing you’ll need to do is embed it on your website or blog.  Tomorrow, I’ll take you through the steps for doing just that.

As always, if you have any questions regarding the material I covered today, please let me know in the comments!

Pilcrow & Dagger is currently accepting submissions for its October issue. The theme for this issue is “What Lies Beneath?” What’s under your kitchen sink? Your coffee table? Your area rug?” The deadline for this submission is August 30th! Get your poems, essays and short stories in today! 

Beginning September 1st, we will open submissions for our Nov/December issue. The theme for this issue is “The Box.” What’s in your box? A gift? Secret love letters? A body part? Please tell us! We’re dying to know! The deadline for this issue is October 15, 2017!

 

Totally Cool

Yesterday the US was treated to a transcontinental solar eclipse. It began in Oregon and crossed all the way to South Carolina. Living just outside the limits of totality, I experienced 99% coverage. It was pretty cool. It didn’t get completely dark like it did under the totality path, but it did get dark like twilight. What was the best was looking at the ground and seeing light waves, like flames almost, or shadows of flames. With the weirdness of it all it was easy to understand why animals get freaked out and how easy it would have been for primitive man to be terrified and even ans recent as Medieval times how people could think it would be a portent of doom.

In fact, eclipses are so important that they are used in language as both a noun (Hey, did you see the eclipse?) and as a verb (Her beauty eclipses all the other girls.). And as a verb, it’s a fairly strong one with a strong meaning. It’s interesting how a natural phenomenon became part of the vocabulary.

What other vocabulary words can you think of that come from the forces of nature?

AND don’t forget, we are accepting submissions for the October issue! The theme is What Lies Beneath. Have you been lying? Have you been lying in wait? Have you been lying underneath something? Send it in!!

How to Make a Watermark for Your Photos

It seems today that a successful author platform is comprised of both quality content as well as pretty pictures. But the last thing any photographer wants is to have their photos stolen and reused. One way of deterring Internet thefts is by putting a watermark on the photos used on the Internet. This week I’m going to go through the steps needed to make a watermark.  Just like the previous two weeks, the software I’m using is Pixlr.

First, open Pixlr on your Internet browser. Please remember that while Pixlr does offer an app, the features I’m using are not available in the app. You must be on the full website.

When you see the above screen, please select Pixlr Editor. The features I’m using today are not available on Pixlr Express.

After you click on “Launch the Web App,” select “File” and then “Open Image.” Find the image you want to make a watermark for and select it.

Today I’m working with a picture of my cat, Gwennie. As you can tell by her picture, she’s extremely cranky, she’s a very friendly cat.

The next step is to open up a text box. You’ll do this by clicking on the letter “A” located in the lower left hand corner.Select whichever font you want to use and whatever font color you want to use. I chose Impact and a black font for this example. Type whatever text you want to appear as your watermark. In this example I used my name however your watermark could also be your website, the name of your blog or your logo. After you type your watermark text, you can adjust the size of the text in one of two ways. The first is to select the font size within the text box. It will max out at 130. If you need the font size to be larger than that you will need to rasterize the layer (see below).

Next, you will need to go to “Edit,” and then “Free Transform.” A small box will appear around your text.  Place your cursor on one of the corners and drag it out until you have the size you want.

You can also hover over the top right corner of the box and, while holding the cursor down, place the text in a diagonal line.

The next step is to adjust the opacity of the text. This is done in the layers box located on the right side of the screen. Look for a small square with three lines (located at the bottom left of the “Layers” box.

If you look at the image above you’ll see I’ve adjusted the opacity to 45. Play with the opacity setting until you get your text to the desired appearance. 

This was my final product:

If you have any questions/difficulties with these steps, please let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help you.

Tune in next week to learn how to watermark your documents!

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for its October issue. The theme for this issue is “What Lies Beneath?” What’s underneath your cupboards? Your floorboards? That strange mound of dirt in your garden? Don’t delay! Get your submission in by August 30, 2017.

Join us on August 31st as we kick off our round robin blogging event. In our of our Nov/Dec theme “The Box,” LeeAnn and I are going to take turns telling a story that follows this theme. Find out what’s in our box!

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