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WordPress’s Gutenberg

WordPress’s Gutenberg

The other day WordPress had an upgrade. Along with the upgrade was the notice that Gutenberg would be implemented in its next big release. Basically, Gutenberg is a new operating system for WordPress. It changes everything, from the way you write a blog to inserting pictures.  

Segue here: most people don’t like change. It forces them out of their comfort zones. Sometimes, change makes us reevaluate thoughts that were once unshakable.

There has been a lot of grousing about the change to Gutenberg, mainly from developers. I don’t know enough about developing on WordPress to be intelligent about this, but I’m guessing that developers feel their ox is being gored. If you announce a new operating system that doesn’t need so much tinkering in the background, will you need developers? Or maybe it’s just the opposite. Maybe the developers know that there will be oodles of extra work because of the change.

Either way, I’m writing this post using Gutenberg and it’s not appreciably different from other software I’ve used. MailChimp is my newsletter vendor and they use the same block technique. Actually, I like it a bunch. It puts everything you need to know within one page. If you’re running a WordPress website, check it out. It might not be as scary as everyone thinks. 

Of course, I don’t know if it’s going to clash with the theme I’m currently running on WordPress. I could go belly up whenever they go live. 

Ah, technology. Ain’t it grand? 

Brain Vacation

Brain Vacation


This past weekend I did something I’ve never done before.

I disconnected from the internet for two whole days.

Okay, I didn’t totally disconnect because I stream my television viewing, but I didn’t go online. I didn’t look at my email. I only answered calls from my son.

I was unplugged.

The effect was amazing. I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t worried. I was extremely mellow.

I’m one of those sponge type people. You put me in a room of depressed, whiny people and within an hour I’ve got a low grade headache and I want to burst into tears. My surroundings affect me.

What I ingest as incoming information affects me, too, and I’d forgotten that. I got so caught up with keeping up that I was overlooking what all that input was doing to me. Sometimes, you just don’t have to see the latest opinion/newsfeed/writer flash mob/Amazon problem. If I don’t learn something for a month, that’s okay.

I think that’s why I’m also one of those writers who cope with issues in my personal life by writing. Hurricane? I’m writing on a legal pad by candlelight. Flood? The laptop is above my head as I’m wading out of my house. Really bad relationship? I’m spending hours at the computer focused on something else. It’s a way of deadening the world and keeping it at arm’s length.

So is unplugging.

Have you ever unplugged from the world? Do you feel less stress when you do so? 


Looking for Someone to Adopt My iPad Pro

Looking for Someone to Adopt My iPad Pro

About eight years ago I converted to an iMac. I loved it, so I bought some more Apple products. I currently have two 27″ iMacs, an iPhone (doesn’t everyone?), a MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro (that is being retired soon) and an iPad Pro.

Lately, the only time I touch the iPad Pro is to charge it.

In other words, I have more computers than I need. My son has everything he needs, too. So, I wondered if someone out there could use a really good iPad. Yes, I could sell it or even donate it, but I’d rather it find a good home with one of you.

I bought a Logitech hard case with a keyboard so I wouldn’t go nuts typing on the screen. You can open it and use the keyboard or swing the case around and use it as a tablet.

The iPad Pro is as heavy as a laptop. I weighed it on my mail scale and it’s 4 pounds. Since it’s 12.9″ it’s not one of those iPads you stick in your purse. It really is more of a homebound machine.

It also has a 128GB hard drive.

There are some great drawing programs you can download from the Apple store and use with the Apple Pencil. (Or online coloring books, if you prefer.) You can use this iPad as a computer because it can do almost anything a computer can do. I’ve annotated pdf files on it, worked on Scrivener on it, and used it like a laptop.

I wanted to see if it was possible to buy the same unit and it is. Here’s Apple’s price:

The iPad Pro cost over $1200 new, and I feel tacky telling you that. I’m only mentioning it to demonstrate that it’s a good, solid piece of electronics.

Although the iPad is 2.5 years old it works perfectly. Apple products last a lot longer than most manufacturers and this iPad is still eligible for all the updates and upgrades from Apple.

So, to reiterate, here’s what you’ll get:

  • 12.9 inch Wi-Fi iPad Pro (gold) 128GB hard drive (Please note, it doesn’t have cellular connectivity, only Wi-Fi.)
  • Logitech hard case with keyboard (red and gold) (One small inkspot on the front.)
  • Charger
  • 2 – Apple Pencils
  • Apple Pencil leatherette carrying case
  • Apple Pencil desk stand
  • Apple Pencil charger

So if you’re interested in adopting my iPad Pro, send me an email to karen@karenranney.net with IPAD as the subject line. If more than one of you is interested, I’ll draw a name on Friday, August 3rd. Tuesday, July 31st. 

I’ve ordered a special shipping box which won’t be here until August 6th, so I won’t be sending it via UPS until then. EDITED TO ADD: I got the shipping box a week early, so I’ll be drawing a name tomorrow, July 31.

The hard drive has been wiped and is back to factory reset, so when you get it you’ll complete the installation, input all your personal information, and sign on with your Apple ID. To pair the Apple Pencil, you charge it, then plug it into the charging port on the iPad. The iPad recognizes it and asks if you wish to pair the Pencil. (Love the Pencil. Wish it worked with my laptop.)

Of course, there is no charge. I just want it to go to someone who could use it.




I read something once that said psychologists say that Tuesday is the most forgettable day of the week. Poor Tuesday, so maligned.

My Tuesday, on the other hand, has been delightfully piquant. Droll, with a hint of panic, mixed with a soupçon of pure terror.

Y’all, there’s a lot of sarcasm in the above sentence.

My hosting service announced that they were merging with another company. All I had to do was migrate my website over to the new company. Easy, right? Nope. I didn’t like the company they merged with because of previous dealings, so off I went to do a search of hosting providers.

Not as easy as it looks.

I called. I asked questions. I immediately nixed any company that didn’t have customer service phone ability. I don’t do email or instant messenger well when it comes to technical problems.

So, I found a company that sounded good, called, asked questions, signed up for their annual service, and wrote a service ticket to have my website migrated to them.

Not as easy as it looks.

I got an email response to the service ticket. There’s a problem. We can sign on to your FTP, but can’t transfer any of your data.

I contacted my existing host provider. Here’s the problem, can you help? (I’ve written about their technical support before. If they CAN be snarky, they will be. I will not miss that aspect of their service.)

They finally answer. We’ve assigned ownership of your FTP file to you. Huh? You mean MY file wasn’t MY file after all? Never mind. Just fix it.

I went back to the new hosting service. It should be fixed.

In the middle of the night I received the information that the site had been transferred. Now all I had to do was go into the terminal on my Mac, enter the new IP address so that it could create a temporary record, save the terminal settings, clear the browser’s cache and check to see if the site is working.


I then had to go to the company that maintains my domain name and change where the DNS pointed (and worry about the MX records for my email). I swear, I don’t know what I would have done without a certain gentleman by the name of Ken who absolutely saved me, ensured that my karenranney.net domain was forwarded to my karenranney.com domain, and how to troubleshoot my email.

Incredibly easy, thanks to Ken. Everything works.

Add in a little extra drama thanks to Lord Stanley. He hadn’t gone potty since 3:00 PM yesterday. He didn’t go out last night. He didn’t go out this morning. I even put his food in a dish and put it on the ground. He wouldn’t go and get it. Finally, at 9:00 AM I was ready for bear (and agitated because of all the web mess) and he must have seen that glint in my eyes. I’m delighted to say the dog has done his thing. (Please, God, I know the farmers and ranchers need the rain, but can you make it dry up really fast here?).

Stanley wouldn’t use the puppy pads I got him, but I had a brilliant idea I’m going to implement. (Brilliant being in the eye of the beholder, you understand.) I’m going to save some cardboard to put on the ground next time it rains. He can jolly well go on the cardboard. I will  be a happy camper.

Okay, back to web stuff. If you’ve had an issue reaching my site, or you got an unsecured warning before I attached SSL to the site, not to worry. All is well now. (SSL changes the address from http to https://karenranney.com  – and stands for Secure Socket Layer. Basically, it means there’s an encrypted link between my web server and your browser and therefore extra security.)

I sincerely hope your Tuesday is calm, uneventful, and downright fun.

What I’m Doing

What I’m Doing

I thought I’d let you know what I’m doing lately, since it’s mostly behind the scenes for now.

Audio Studio

I’m in the process of setting up a mini-audio studio, which is a lot more complicated than I imagined it to be. It requires a converter box, cables, a reading stand, the proper microphone and shock mount, plus a pop screen, headphones, and outrageously expensive audio software. I’m using a corner of my gym since I’m only in there for an hour a day and to brush Stanley and otherwise it’s wasted space.

Why, you ask?


I’ve decided to make audio books of all my reverted backlist. In other words, the books I own that haven’t been licensed to HarperCollins. That’s about 15 books, some of which haven’t been published. I won’t be performing the books (which drives me crazy anyway), but only reading them. Since I dictate the first draft of all my books I should feel right at home.


I’ve also played around with podcasts before, but I thought I’d do one periodically.

New Books

I’m finishing up the edits for Murder Among Neighbors, Book 2 of the Murder Club Murders.

I’m also starting what will essentially be Book 4 of the Furry Chronicles (I left a lot of loose ends dangling) and the beginning of the Fishy Chronicles.

I figured out that – even with “issues” I finished the first draft of my last two books in two months and the second draft in one month, plus an additional two weeks for final Kindle reads. Let’s say 3.5 months per book in the 100,000 word range. The above books aren’t that long, so I should be able to finish all of them before I’m due to start the next book in the All for Love trilogy.  I have October pegged as the start date.


I was toying with the idea of selling my books on my website. I may still do that if I can find a service that will ship and collect sales taxes. It’s the sales tax liability that has me buffaloed. Since I have an LLC I do not want to get stuck with having any sales tax issues. (However, Amazon is doing some very strange things to authors that I haven’t figured out yet. They’ve deleted some of my 5-star reviews and I don’t know why. They don’t answer questions of that nature. They’ve also done some other odd things that make me glad that I sell to other distributors as well. Be careful of putting all your eggs in one basket.)

I am also toying with the idea of a new design for the website, but the only thing holding me up is the new WordPress integration of their Gutenberg program. Synthesis is my host site, primarily because of their emphasis on security. I’ve been hacked once. I decided it would never happen again. Plus, I use Genesis framework on WordPress.org, which means that when Gutenberg arrives (which might be in the next month or so) Genesis might have to change. I think it would be wiser to wait until after Gutenberg for a major re-design. (Gutenberg is an incredibly easy system. If you’ve ever used MailChimp or one of those services, you’ve already used the “block” form of design. There’s a lot of fussing from developers, but I’m not a developer. I’m just a website owner who does everything herself. If I can’t do it, I don’t mess with it, and coding is one of those things I can’t do.)

Social Media

As you know, I gave up Facebook and Twitter an eon ago and I have no intention of ever going back. I do have an account on minds.com and gab.ai and I may become more active on those.


I’ve always liked Murder by Mortgage and What About Alice? but I’ve always thought the titles sucked. So, I’ve re-released the books as Murder Among Friends and Echoes of Murder. I think the new titles fit the books better. The main character of Murder Among Friends is featured in Murder Among Neighbors, too. She’s the protagonist in the series.



That’s it, other than being Stanley’s mom and getting a new floor in the kitchen and the master bath (not looking forward to that process).

Quick, Not Smart

Quick, Not Smart

Seth Godin said something the other day that I thought was brilliant:

Your smartphone makes you quick, not smart.

He went on to explain his comment in a marketing sense, but I did a mental segue to more personal examples.

It’s so “easy” to look something up on the web. (However, I’d say that a good 30% of stuff out there is just plain wrong, so be careful.)

I’ve gotten lazy and would much rather use a calculator than do multiplication in my head.

Instead of searching my own memory for how to spell a word, I’ll look it up. In other words, I’ve gotten into the habit of second guessing myself.

Maybe the internet makes us less willing to trust ourselves and, frankly, more stupid.

So I think he’s right. We’ve gotten quick, but not smart.