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Check This Out

Karen over at My Train of Thoughts On, and In a Small Compass  invited me to her blog today.

She has this cool series for writers she calls Ten Statements. I had to give a brief bio, a motto, and finish the ten statements about myself. Here’s the link to my Ten Statements.

She also had some nice preliminary things to say about Wild Concept.

I’d appreciate it if you’d all go visit Karen’s blogs and give her a follow. Just do it, she’s nice.

Now it’s time to pay attention to Old What’s Her Face. It’s our 21st wedding anniversary tonight.

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Updates All Around

Last night I combined cover art and manuscript and headed for Amazon.com. I added a promotion page for Wild Concept at the back of my Panama manuscript. I made a similar page for the back of Wild Concept at the same time, but needed an URL. I uploaded Panama and went to bed. It takes about a dozen hours before the URL is available.

Today, Panama is live on the Kindle store. You can download it here: Panama.

***

I headed for the writing cabin to finish my upgrading. The first part involved adding the promotional page to Wild Concept so folks might easily find Panama. It wasn’t terribly hard, and it’s in review once more. I used a page break for the promotional pages, but the preview doesn’t display like it should. I’m interested in any feedback readers have on the end pages.

Bento* poached a couple eggs and made me some coffee. “So that’s it? The book is for sale?”

“Yeah, not too glamorous. Just a bunch of computer work,” I said. “Now I have to update the blog with an image link so people can find your story easily.”

I used the WordPress Image widget and set it up. “Link to the Amazon page, check. Minor word copy, check. Load the image — What the hell?”

I opened my image library, copied the URL, and it refused to load.

The rumble of a Harley Davidson sounded down the valley. We stepped outside and saw Lisa** winding toward the cabin along the gravel road.

“She will know what to do,” Bento said. He took out his Bull Durham and rolled a smoke.

“I hope so.”

Lisa rolled to a stop out front. When she stepped off her bike her hair was brunette. She lifted Bunny’s flight kennel from the sidecar and untied her suitcase from the rack on back of the sidecar. “Hi guys; miss me?”

“Welcome home,” Bento said.

“What have you done with your hair?” I asked.

“I had to make some changes in Las Vegas. I’m kind of known at the casinos there. I really cleaned up though. You boys grab my stuff while I park. I’ll meet you inside.”

We carried Bunny and the suitcase into the living room/lobby. Lisa pulled around the hill and parked in the basement. When she walked in the cabin, she had her boots slung over her shoulder. She knew Bento’s rules about shoes inside.

After she settled in, I told her about my predicament with the WordPress widget.

She found the enchanted beer horns and filled them up. “It’s actual Romulan Ale. The Romulans showed up at one of the comic conventions and I thought of you.” She set the horns on the counter and they ran to Bento and I.

“You need to know when to celebrate. Getting Panama online is a big deal. All the other stuff can wait.”

I took a swig of my beer and said, “It’s just so damned frustrating. I know what I want, and it won’t accept the link.”

“Do you want me to do it for you? It won’t take a sec–

“No. I want to know how to do it myself. I did it for your story, and should be able to do it this time too.”

She padded across the kitchen on bare feet and stopped at the refrigerator. She bent down and opened the freezer drawer.

“What are you doing?” Bento asked. “I’ve already sat out steak to thaw.”

“It isn’t dinner,” she said. “Craig’s going to need his left brain.” She sat a frozen bundle on the counter. It was covered in butcher paper and looked a little freezer burnt.

She set the microwave to ‘thaw’ and turned back around with a flip of her hair. I hadn’t noticed before, but her eyes were brown again. She removed her eye units and changed out the brown caps for her normal green ones. “The hair will wash out in a few days to a week.”

Coughing and sputtering came from the microwave. “Somebody get me out of here.”

Lisa opened the door and my left brain stumbled against the side of the oven. “That rotisserie setting makes a guy dizzy,” he said.

“This is the most screwed up place I’ve ever been,” Bento said. “You’ve been working all this time with half a brain?”

“Some people don’t give me credit for even that much.” I grabbed the left brain and carried him to my office.

After I explained the problem, Lefty had me try a complete reboot of my system. It didn’t work.

“Try this,” Lefty said. “Open the cover image in a new window. Copy the link over there and paste it in.”

I did what he said, but it didn’t work. “You’d think there would just be a button or a browse for image thingie.”

“Thingie? Is that how you talk without me?” Lefty asked. “I think I prefer the deep freeze.”

Lisa polished her nails against her blouse and raised and eyebrow.

“I get it. You’re a robot. It’s probably nothing to you, but I have to learn this stuff.”

Lefty took a swig of my ale and said. “The URL under the Wild Concept image looks different than the one you’re trying to get for Panama. We need to find out where that URL came from and use that one.”

We clicked around for several more hours. Finally, Lefty said, “Look at this. When I edit the image there are actually two links. One above the image, and a different one near the save button. It runs off the edge, but it looks the same as the Wild Concept link.”

I copied that link and pasted it in. It had references to Helvetia font, all kinds of braces, slashes and brackets. I uploaded it anyway. It failed.

“Here’s the deal,” Lefty said. “I still think it looks right. Paste the link into a document so I can see the whole thing.”

I did as told, using my Notes app. It took up a quarter page.

Lefty leaned forward and squinted. “The part you want is in there. I want you to delete every thing that’s either side of http and jpg. Just keep that part.”

Again, I followed orders.

“Now copy all that’s left and paste it into your widget,” Lefty said.

Copy – Paste – submit. “It didn’t fail. Better reload my blog page and see how it displays,” I said.

“Yay,” Lisa said while clapping.

“Perhaps you should click on it to make sure it goes to the Amazon page,” Bento said.

I clicked the image, it went to Amazon, all is well.

“That was kind of a cowboy fix, but it worked,” Lisa said.

“Sometimes you just have to think logically,” Lefty said. He pointed to his half of the cerebral cortex. “I think you need me more than you know.”

“Sorry Bub,” I said. “It’s back to the freezer for you. I remember all those fights you and righty got into. You have your moments, but writing isn’t your strong suit.

He wrapped a skinny arm, that looked more like an artery around my beer horn. “One for the road?”

“Why not,” I said. Lisa topped off our beer.

* Bento is a supporting character in Panama. He’d appreciate a reader or two.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’d appreciate a reader just as much.

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Thinking Ahead

I’m blogging about this today as a way of making notes to myself. I have some things to do after I get cover art for Panama.

I’ll have to edit Wild Concept¬†and add a download link to Panama. I found a couple of typos in there that I’ve already repaired. I intend to reload the whole text to accomplish this. If I’m making a mistake, someone warn me.

When the Panama text is ready, I need to add a link to Wild Concept. If someone enjoys one of my books, I might as well make it easy to find the other one.

I’ll probably procrastinate and write the Panama blurb last.

I need to look at my “About Me” page on this blog and see how I can warn tell people about Panama. This page gets more traffic than all the rest.

I need to find a new way to add the book covers as a link on the sidebar. I’m not too fond of the widget I used the first time. I’m open to a recommendation for a new one. The Wild Concept image is just too big. I used the Image widget for Wild Concept. I know I can have more than one, but they’re huge.

I read somewhere that I can copy the whole thing from the image widget, and paste it into a link; thereby, making a roster of image links. This might work well, but I’d imagine there is some photo resizing required.

I’m planning to play around with the Kindle Select options when Panama goes live. I may give away Wild Concept for three days to provide a little fanfare. Popular opinion is that this works. I’m considering giving Wild Concept a permanent lower price too. It will be the old story now.

It might be time to revisit my Gravitar too. I might be able to get it working for me somehow.

I anticipate a week or thereabouts before I get the cover art. If I’m lucky this can be next weekend’s work.

I’ve already got an idea for some May wallpaper to keep the blog fresh. I’m going to be super busy with my real world job for the next two weeks. I may update the wallpaper before May officially arrives.

Does anyone have any other suggestions to set up my blog for the new arrival? I’m open to Amazon suggestions too if you have them.

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Blogging Tips (so far)

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time now. At (almost) six months of blogging, I didn’t feel like I had the standing to post any blogging tips. Then I realized that many blogs fall by the wayside. In this respect, I’m already a veteran, so here it goes.

We’re all here for a reason. Some of us are building a platform to market a product. (Like this blog) Some are here to interact with the world. Admit that you had a reason for starting a blog. It doesn’t matter why – you’re here now. Focus on your reason and put some thought into what you want out of this.

After you have some focus, remember that every post should not be about that reason. I hate the word “followers”, but I’ll use it since everyone knows what I mean. Followers like people first and foremost in the blogosphere. Once they are interested in you as a person, they may become interested in following you.

Here’s an example: Many authors post a chapter of a story every week. This is certainly generous, but if the first time I cruise past it’s chapter 26, I’m probably not interested. When there is no other content, I’m gone, and I’ll bet many of you are too.

I get turned off by those who say buy my product, buy my product with every post. I assume others do too. I try to limit the posts about what I have available. I’m not afraid to include a link when I mention my first self published book, Wild Concept. See how it comes out in blue letters. You can read right through it if you’re more interested in my post than my product. I’ll go full tilt at “buy my book” once in a great while, but not every post.

Regular readers will recall tales about my pets, sourdough cooking, craft beer, chicken under a rock, and even a dream about cast netting for shrimp. Put some of yourself into your posts. We connect with people first and foremost. While this is a writing blog, you can bet there will be a post the next time I make sauerkraut.

Write original content. My focus is on writing and I want to connect with readers and other writers both. I appreciate some of the re-blogs I find and check many of them out. On the other hand, I’ve unfollowed several who don’t do anything but re-blog other people’s work. You need some original content. More than 60% I’d say.

My mother taught me, “if you would have a friend, be one.” This means you have to be a good blog citizen. This is a huge part of blogging. Read other blogs, make comments, answer the comments you receive. I spend at least an hour every day reading blogs. (Sometimes much more time.) When I like something, I say so. If I have something to say, I comment. This brings about the best part of blogging. You’ll make friends.

Let’s talk about Gravitars. This is the little calling card you place when you like someone’s post. You need one. Don’t be the guy with the little quilted pattern for more than a couple days. Use a graphic that catches the eye. I find myself drawn to faces and cartoons. Maybe that’s just me, but there it is. Cartoons are simple and show up in the fingernail sized image you place. This may come across wrong, but I’m drawn to pretty faces too. I’m not pretty, so I use a cool old inkwell that has turned purple over the years. It’s against a simple background so it shows up in the tiny graphic.

You need to have your blog site in the Gravitar link. People will click on your Gravitar, with the intention of visiting your blog. If the link is missing, you’ve just missed a reader and potential follower.

Post frequently. This doesn’t mean your blog should devolve into Twitter. I don’t need a picture of every meal you eat. You ought to be posting at least weekly. Three or more times a week is even better. I was really worried about over posting when I started, but my gauge is different than the world at large. I tend to get more views and followers when I’m here regularly.

I didn’t intend to touch upon tags and categories, because others have done this so well. Why you need them and how they drive traffic. I’m going to talk about categories anyway, but from a different point of view. I post about a variety of things. I use categories to break it all up. This is for the convenience of my followers.

I’ll use my Muse category as an example. Some people like the stories about my Muse and story characters. This is where I post word counts, new writing things I’ve learned, writing struggles, etc. All of these posts go in the Muse category so people can find them. A new reader might not care about making chicken under a rock, or my old pit bull. On the other hand, if that’s what they want, the Muse category keeps those filtered out of the other categories.

This is one I still struggle with, but I’ll put it out there anyway. Use an interesting, but accurate, title. I follow so many blogs that I have to browse. If the title is kind of mediocre, I may surf on past. A good title tells me when to stop by, and when to surf past too. Here’s an example: I’m not a poet. I don’t have that gene, and I usually don’t get it. Now I follow a lot of poets, and sometimes I’m in the right mood and try to get onboard. Poets are very creative folks, that’s why I follow them, and I click on every non-poetry post they make. Therefore; in a round about way … a good non-poetry post will hook me and reel me in. This also goes back to posting about more than your core intent.

Don’t make me click on something to read the rest of your post. This comes up rarely, but I get hooked and open the post. If I only get three lines and “click here to read the rest of this post” – I don’t.

The lifespan of a posting is about eight hours. There’s not much you can do about it, so if it doesn’t get a lot of love, just move on to your next post

If you want feed back or comments, ask for them. Even that doesn’t always work. (Like my post yesterday) Just post something else and move on. If nobody was into it, its lifespan was only about eight hours anyway.

We are almost all bloggers. I’ll bet 90% of your readers are bloggers themselves. We all have one thing in common, and it’s a good idea to post about it on occasion. A post about blogging is usually pretty popular.

I don’t worry as much about length as I used to. Short posts are almost always good. We have short attention spans in the 21st century. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid longer posts. You just have to write about something interesting. I follow Joe Konrath, because he’s very prominent in the self publishing world. I like his posts, but he couldn’t limit himself to 500 words if his life depended upon it. I find myself skimming his posts for the good stuff. This is a long post, and I’ll bet many readers skimmed over stuff they already knew. (Admit it, some of you did.)

This post has gone on long enough, and I don’t want your eyes to glaze over. I hope it helps some of you, and these things have worked for me. I owe my regulars a couple of short posts, and I’ll deliver.

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Blog updates

I’m at Old Chicago adding numbers to my World Beer Tour. This is my first time using the iPhone app.

I changed my “About Me” page. Now that I’ve posted a few times, I’ve got a better feel for things. I explained the categories I’m using to make it easier for readers. I may add links, but I’m still thinking about it.

Today brought me readers from France and the Philippines. Welcome to them.

My haircut goal was achieved, so I won’t look like a slob at a big meeting next week. I also bought some craft beer at the Boise Co-Op. That way I can have some tomorrow too. I wound up with a couple doppelbocks, a scotch ale, and a couple porters. Not hard to guess my preferences.

Tomorrow I’m editing the story about the dwarves within an inch of its life. Tonight is all about beer and calzone.

Just a quick edit for anyone who cares. Leinenkugel Big Eddy is outstanding.

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Weekend Wrapup

I remain terrified of blowing up your timelines. I want people to enjoy these posts, but I don’t want to become a pain. I’m getting less concerned. Some very successful bloggers post several times per day. I write in fits and starts, why would my blogging be any different?

I got a visitor from Finland, rock on Finland. I get pretty excited whenever a new country checks in.

I’ve decided the lifespan of a post is about eight hours, tops. Posts that are older don’t get a lot of love. I’m perfectly fine with that. Blogs provide the same kind of immediacy that the evening news does. If anyone wants to read about Lorelei and the unique characters, I placed them all in a “Muse” category that will filter them down.

Doubt, the raven, caused me to rewrite a section of my work in progress. I think it’s better than it was before, and it may improve further in the rewrite phase. My word count is down a bit, but it was time well spent. As of today, I’m at 9375 words.

Will ‘O the Wisp, is looking like it might be suitable for a younger crowd. I’m fine with that, personally. Not every book needs, or benefits from blood, gore, and sex. I’m not afraid of those things, they were all in my last one, “The Cock of the South”.

I think adult issues are tools to be used when it suits the story. I want to use the right tool for the job at hand. Will ‘O the Wisp is not that job.

This is a question for the fellow writers out there. I write about my personal journey using fictitious characters. Since this could be considered fiction, does it count toward my weekly word count? I’m not really keeping score, it’s just a topic for debate. This little blog could use some debate.

I’m discovering a ton of new blogs. Some of you are awfully talented and professional. When I check out the Gravitars, I keep seeing the same people. We’re obviously the cool kids, come join us.

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