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When I bought my (stupid) little laptop it came with Microsoft Office but much to my surprise each component could only be used ten times and although I could continue using Word, for instance to open and read a word document, all other functionality was locked out. I had a copy of Office but it was on a CD and my (stupid) laptop didn’t have the capacity for a CD so what to do, what to do? I didn’t feel I should have to buy another copy when my copy was licensed for 2 computers. (If it sounds like I am whining – I was) and then a friend told me about Open Office. I use Open Office most of the time for my writing even though my new computer came with a full version of MS Office.

ENTER – Open Office which is a free software with everything I possibly needed for carrying on writing and functioning. Documents can be saved in any format. It is easy to use with a very similar format to Word except a whole lot easier to navigate. Tah Dah! No more excuses!


When I decided it would be a good idea to buy a copy of PhotoShop for the sake of creativity I was halted by the hefty price tag of about $700. I did download a trial version and found it very complex. I later downloaded a give-away older version from their site so now have a copy and still find it quite complex. So, ENTER – IRFANVIEW which is a Free download that offers:

  • Many supported file formats
  • Multi language support
  • Thumbnail/preview option
  • Paint option – to draw lines, circles, arrows, straighten image etc.
  • Toolbar skins option
  • Slideshow (save slideshow as EXE/SCR or burn it to CD)
  • Show EXIF/IPTC/Comment text in Slideshow/Fullscreen etc.
  • Support for Adobe Photoshop Filters
  • Fast directory view (moving through directory)
  • Batch conversion (with advanced image processing)
  • Multipage TIF editing
  • File search
  • Email option
  • Multimedia player
  • Print option
  • Support for embedded color profiles in JPG/TIF
  • Change color depth
  • Scan (batch scan) support
  • Cut/crop
  • Add overlay text/image (watermark)
  • IPTC editing
  • Effects (Sharpen, Blur, Adobe 8BF, Filter Factory, Filters Unlimited, etc.)

and a lot more. Perfect for photographers and graphic designers.

With this software I was able to create some book covers and spruce up some of my artwork, do cropping for the images for my book, 5 Pillars of the Gypsy. Actually, I use it all the time and although I am not familiar with all of the functions, I find it pretty easy to navigate and great fun to work with.

crime scene death of an angel

In a Word: Murder

When Margot Kinberg asked me to design a book cover for her upcoming anthology I agreed in a heartbeat as all of the proceeds from the collection’s sale go to the Princess Alice Hospice in honour of a crime writer (Maxine Clarke) who passed away. If you click on the cover it will lead to Amazon where this great collection can be purchased for $2.99 – a hard copy will be available in early 2014. Other fine authors include Jane Risdon, Martin Edwards, Pamela Griffiths, and Paula K.Randall, Elizabeth S. Craig and Sarah Ward.

As you can see, I used a piece of my art, did a cut out, changed the colour, matched the colour change to the background but in a darker shade, picked up the ‘blood’ shade to use for the word Murder and for the trim. In all, it took a few tries at different designs but each one took about as long as it is taking for this post. I believe I am a quicker artist then I am a writer, hands down!

Well, that’s all for now. I do have a few more tricks here and there but can’t bring them to mind at the moment. IrfanView is enough to keep anyone busy for a long, long time!

Oh, and for those of you who know Len Carver, I designed 3 covers for her as well. The first and second are from my art and the 3rd from a FREE source for photography ENTER Morguefile (guess I wasn’t finished after all). She ended up loving #1 and told me not to do any others but I did offer three and ask her to sit on them for a while. She ended up choosing #3 – the daisies because it really suited her work to a ‘T’. I agree, completely and wish her great success with the project of putting together her first book.

#1 len#2 lennumber 3

… And yet I wonder where my time goes? Have a wonderful weekend all – Lesley is outta here 🙂


Lesley Fletcher is a writer (freelance, books, content, lyrics,stage plays) as well as a visual artist specializing in monoprinting. To learn more about her please visit the tabs here on WordPress or her website at http://www.LesleyFletcher.com

Art is an Emotion

Art is an Emotion