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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Series Bible Follow Up

I bought a third Notion template. This one is specifically a series bible template. The other two were not. One was for the business side of being an author and the other was more for one book only.

As I was searching, looking for some kind of series bible that didn't have a ridiculous price tag ($45, really? For a template? Gah!), I stumbled across one from the same person from whom I bought the author biz template and they'd sent me a coupon!

So I picked up their series bible and took it for a test drive.

I mostly like it. It's helpful and the layout is good. Transferring over four books of data is not working for me, so I'm working from my spreadsheet, OneNote, and Notion.

Of course, the template isn't perfect and I want to tweak it. My problem? I don't know Notion well enough to mess around too much.

I did duplicate the template so if I mess up, I still have the original in pristine condition, but I've been playing around with my copy. I'm learning some things. Watching videos on my down time. Trying things out and undoing them when they don't work. I've looked for something like Notion for Dummies, but there aren't many books available.

The videos I've found have been helpful to a degree, but not exactly what I need to figure things out. I'm sure if I keep watching, things will eventually start becoming clearer and I've always been good with computers.

But this is a hell of a lot of work to go through. I can see the potential Notion has to be an awesome resource for a wide variety of things, but very little feels intuitive to me. We'll see where this goes, but wow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Lunch Bag Quest Follow-Up

When I blogged about my quest for a lunch bag that didn't take up tons of space in the refrigerator, I added at the bottom that I'd chosen the snack box.

It wasn't a bad choice, not exactly.

It's good on days when I bring those egg cups you can buy in the dairy section of the supermarket. When I add a cup of yogurt, it's tight, but it still works. So I can squeeze in an egg cup, a yogurt, a wrap, a baggie of lettuce, and a baggie of deli chicken.

The problem? There is no way this snack box is wide enough to accommodate overnight oats, which is what I normally take for breakfast. Even if I switch containers to something narrower, I don't think it will fit. Not if I want to bring everything I need.

Here's a shot of the snack box from the side, so you can see just how little width there actually is.


I'm definitely still going to use this on the days where I bring eggs for breakfast, but I had to try a second option for oats day. It's supposed to be delivered today. Fingers crossed that this next option isn't too big and bulky.

Right now, all I can think is please don't make me have to learn to sew my own lunch bag. I'm this close to having to make my own tote bag, but that's another online shopping saga.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Paladin League Series Bible

I've always had trouble creating my own series bibles because I've always been at a loss for what kind of information I'd want. At least until several books in and I'm rereading like crazy, trying to find the factoid I'd forgotten. That's why I bought an Excel spreadsheet series bible created by another author to use.

I actually really liked it. I tweaked it to fit what I needed, but overall, I was so happy with it. I was even able to include it with the manuscript when I sent it for copy edits.

For the first three books of the Paladin League series, I was elated at how well it worked. And then I hit the fourth book.

It wasn't that the spreadsheet suddenly stopped working. It was more like it was so full of information that it became clunky to locate what I needed. The All Characters and Settings sheets were particular nightmares for me.

And then I started working on Wicked Persuasion, the fifth book in the series. All the problems I struggled with in Wicked Deception were there and now it was compounded by there being another full book's worth of data. OMG.

I'd played around with a free website/software called Notion in the past and I circled back to it again after doing some online searches. My original problem remains--there is a steep learning curve and I don't have time to go through enough tutorials.

I purchased two different templates and downloaded a few free ones. And while someone else did the heavy lifting, I still need to figure out how to use what they provided.

For example, one of the templates has a countdown for release day. Cool. I enter the release date for Wicked Persuasion, but the timer doesn't change. After much clicking, I get a widget page on another website that says it's been deleted. I surmise that I must create my own account here and my own countdown widget. Now the information about the release date and the countdown timer are misaligned and it's driving me insane. Not that I'm obsessive or anything.

It would have been nice if the template had come with instructions like: You will need to create your own countdown timer and insert the code in this box. I didn't see anything to explain what to do and the entire template is like this. Can I figure it out? Of course, I can. Do I have time to do this for section after section after section? Absolutely not.

So of course, I went looking for more Notion templates, hoping one of them would do what I needed it to do and have enough instructions that I could just use it. Not having much luck yet. Maybe I need to do more searches for how to do a series bible.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Say What?

After Christmas, I needed to return something to Amazon.

It was a cute pink rug that I thought would be awesome only when I received it, the color was more muted than I expected. That I could live with. What I couldn't live with was how slippery it was. My elderly father lives with me and the last thing I need is for him to slip and fall. So the rug had to go back.

Their return system is mostly slick. You click on return, get a QR code and bring the item to a UPS store to get shipped back for free.

What I don't like about this system? The receipt you get doesn't have the actual tracking number used for the package when it's returned. And secondly, once you hand it over to the UPS Store, it is completely out of your control.

Which is why the email from Amazon with the warning in it just gets me all mad. The warning? If they do not receive this product back, I will be charged for it.

My dudes, once I hand it over to the UPS Store and they scan that QR code, it should be considered 100% returned. I have zero control from that point on. If UPS doesn't return it, it's on them, not on me. Don't be sending me warnings and threats about charging me for an item that I returned following your instructions. For real.

I almost never return anything. I even thought about not returning this rug, but then I was like, what am I going to do with something this potentially dangerous?

Also, while I'm complaining about Amazon returns, what is with their drop down menu for why I'm returning the item? DID NOT LIKE was not one of my options. It should have been available. I had to pick some random reason that wasn't particularly accurate.

The thing that's crazy about this rug? It has tons of reviews, mostly 5 Star. And while I know some sellers game the system, it was several thousand reviews. I figured the rug would be fine. Not one person mentioned how slippery it was. I can't imagine that some kid hasn't been running and taken a header after losing traction on it, so huh?

Anyway, FYI Amazon, I did not appreciate your warning. Thank you very much.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

2023 Tasks

Changing to a new year can be exciting, but it also takes some work. Not only do I have to get my new planner ready with birthdays, anniversaries, etc, but I also have to get my spreadsheets ready for the year.

Instead of keeping a paper check register, I have an Excel spreadsheet with a sort-by-date function. But the person who created it suggested not keeping years of data on one sheet because of potential issues. What I've done to keep things simple is start a new workbook at the first of each year. So far, so good.

I also have a register of credit card charges I make. That way, I can look at the total and look at my bill and know in a glance if everything matches. Or not. This is a free spreadsheet I found on Vertex 42 and updated to work for me. I have a tab for each month and I have all my regular auto-charges on the sheets when I start the year.

I'm trying a different budget spreadsheet for 2023 because the one I was using took too much work and I lost steam in September. I'm hoping this one is easier, but I'm still setting it up. Oops!

The bill tracker for 2023 is ready to go. This is another new spreadsheet I bought because there were things I didn't like about the other ones I tried. Third time's the charm? But I want a bill tracker because I don't want to be surprised when I get the car insurance bill...like I was in 2022.

My final year-specific spreadsheet is one I created myself and used for the first time in 2022. It's where I keep track of my business expenses. I had a different spreadsheet that I created, but it was extremely simple and very difficult to print out for the tax guy. This one is more condensed and sharper in appearance.

I have a small spreadsheet addiction, but it's how I keep myself on track. I even have my Paladin League series bible in a spreadsheet!