Tag Archives: gravitar

Easter Eggs and the saga of Wednesday

I really wanted to do a facelift on my blog. My regulars will remember me asking if I should go even deeper down the wormhole I've created using Lisa Burton as my spokesmodel. Popular consensus was not to do that, and keep a piece of it for myself.

One of the things I really wanted to do from my very first blog post was to include Easter eggs here somewhere. Not the kind you get at Easter, but the kind that show up in video games and such. Fun little things that will change from time to time.

My thought process went like this. Easter eggs, Easter, Easter Island… How do I keep a bit of myself in this and make it about me?

Dear Sean Harrington, I need a new banner. Here's what I have in mind… It involves leaving an open area where I can place whatever I like.

I got my new banner yesterday and assumed I'd be working on it today. That was before the disaster of italicized words showed up.

I woke up at 7:00 this morning. That's sleeping in for three hours by my work schedule. I ran out and checked my email first thing. Nothing from Amazon, lots of blog comments. Then I heated up some coffee and got some breakfast. This should give you an idea of my mindset over the italics fiasco.

Sat down with my coffee, and responded to blog comments. All combined, an idea was starting to form in my brain. Mae Clair was the one who pushed it over the top. Something had to be wrong with the way my word processor was closing the HTML command to close the italics out.

Apple Pages won't let me look at the HTML code. If it does, I haven't been able to figure it out.

Checked email. Nothing from Amazon.

Decided to get all artsy while waiting for Amazon. (Patiently, because that's how I am.) Used my Apple Pencil to modify my groovy new banner and include the Easter Egg. Right now it's Clovis' car and the dog from The Playground. This also comes with a bit of a learning curve, and some trial and error. It involves using something called masques, then layers, then making the background of the Easter Egg opaque. Turns out there is a vocabulary to this stuff too.

I'm 55 years old, I shouldn't have to learn new things. Why do I have to learn new things?

Check email. Nothing from Amazon. Look at that, Apple released a standard sized iPad Pro, and it has its own keyboard available and supports the Apple Pencil. Should I be mad? Am I mad? No, I like the larger amount of real estate, and the larger keyboard.

Delve deep into the inner workings of WordPress to change my banner. Stop, check email, nothing from Amazon.

Load my groovy new banner. Admire my handiwork.

Check email, nothing from Amazon. (I am so proud of how patient I'm being.)

Decide to change my Gravitar. Delve back into the inner workings of WordPress. Make appropriate changes. Like one of my own posts. It didn't work. Unlike that post.

Check email, nothing from Amazon.

Click on unchanged Gravitar, and attempt modifications through that system. Test by liking one of my own posts. It works.

Check email, nothing from Amazon.

We're burning daylight here people. I have Wednesday off, but I don't have Thursday off. I have to get up at 4:00 tomorrow.

Decided that it had to be something with the HTML code. Maybe if I typed and changed the font to italics when I typed, then changed back, the coding would be correct. The important part is manually changing it back.

Checked email, nothing from Amazon.

Made changes to a future Lisa Burton Radio episode. Emailed the author back. Check email… You know the drill by now.

Worked up the initial shtick for an even more future episode of Lisa Burton Radio, forwarded it to the author. Check email etc.

Open up The Playground in Apple Pages. Modify the italics sections line by line. As an example, if I write, “But you are stupid,” I deleted 'you' 'are' and 'stupid.' Then I retyped those words using “Courier – Courier italics – Courier.”

Checked email, etc. Fill in the blank.

Checked Facebook, accepted a friend request.

Checked email, (all together now) still nothing from Amazon.

Created an ePub version of The Playground.

Maybe I should check email one more time. Nothing.

Upload the new and improved version of The Playground to Amazon and wait for the document to process.

While I'm waiting, I can check email using my phone. Nothing.

Check The Playground using Amazon's previewer Kindle thingie. Everything looks great now. Am I good at this? I could be good at this.

Tap fingers, tug at beard.

Upload a new version of The Playground. Begin waiting 24 hours to see it go live. Then I can grab a review copy and check it line by line. (Looks like someone is going to be up past bedtime tomorrow.)

What the heck, check email. Amazon has answered. The guy was a total professional, and asked for more information including screen captures. I thanked him for his efforts, told him what I'm trying, and promised to get back with him either way.

Checked other forms of social media. John Howell left me an awesome 5 star review on Goodreads. I liked that puppy to get it into my timeline for my friends to see. Ran to Amazon and saw it was there too. Feel like a million bucks now. Probably ought to figure out how to share that on Facebook. New things, I swear I shouldn't have to learn new things.

I'm still uptight about things not working like they should, but I feel much better about it now.

If this all works, I have a dozen short stories to go through using the same process, and then there's the 35000 or so words in The Yak Guy Project. My attempt at an epistolary style short story is going to be a mother with the italics issue. Will that stop me? Noooo, but it may require some complaining.

Here are the takeaways. I have a cool new banner, and the ability to include Easter eggs. I have a new Gravitar image coming soon to a blog near you.

If you already bought The Playground, there may be a decent repair job available tomorrow for you to get. If you haven't, what are you waiting for. Read John's review and let him convince you.

I confess that I didn't get to read all the blogs today. I usually browse the 1000 or so that I follow and read the ones when something catches my eye. I finally made a list of must read blogs and put everyone who interacts with me in there. Today, I managed my list but that's about all. (Bonus takeaway: Those who interact are more likely to get read.)

I have a full growler of Old Chub Scotch Ale by Oskar Brewing, in Colorado. This is one of my favorite beers. I may start early today. I missed my nap, but beer is its own reward.

I hope it all works now. I won't have another chance to pull my beard and work in panic mode until Saturday.

By the way, Lisa Burton Radio is going to be fun tomorrow.

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The work part of self publishing

Sound the trumpets! The Cock of the South is officially available on the Amazon store. The cover on my sidebar is a link if you’re interested. They make great Christmas gifts, yada, yada.

This is an epic fantasy set in a Greco Roman environment. It includes dwarves, centaurs, cyclops, fairies, a nymph, and more. TCOS is my first fantasy, and I’m pretty darned excited about it.

Now the work continues. As soon as Amazon emailed me the link I modified my “About Me” page. I added a link to my Gravitar, and used the image widget to make sure the book was findable from my blog.

Amazon doesn’t add new books to my author page automatically. I just went there and told it to add TCOS. It should show up in 24 hours.

I added links to all my previous books. Who knows, if someone liked one of them they might like TCOS.

If anyone finds something that doesn’t work correctly, I’d appreciate a heads up.

I got up early today and intended to write. I learned the hard way that all battery chargers are not created equal. When I flew home, I packed my chargers in my suitcase. The huge layover caused me to use my battery up, so I bought a charger in Phoenix.

My daughter needed a charger so I gave it to her when I got home. I just plugged my regular stuff in and didn’t worry about it.

Last night I plugged my iPad in whilst reading. The power continued to drop. I figured a full night would remedy everything, and left it to charge when I went to bed.

This morning, my battery was croaked. I went to my shaving kit and retrieved my old ghetto style charger. The iPad is taking on juice like a Marvel superhero now. It seems like an iPhone charger is not the same as an iPad charger. I had no idea.

So I didn’t get to add new words to my current story. Maybe tomorrow? I think I’m all set up for people to find The Cock of the South. Go get ’em you fantasy fanatics, and let me know what you think. It’s free to Amazon Unlimited members and through the Kindle lending library.

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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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Filed under Blogging, Writing

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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Blogging Progress

I’m working on my second hundred subscribers for the blog. Does anyone else hate the term ‘Followers’, or is that just me? I’m not starting a cult here. It’s going well, and my map is expanding too.

I’ve been going back through my old posts and doing the occasional edit. I see something I wrote and it drives me crazy. It’s hard not to start every line with ‘I’ when writing first person. Then I catch myself saying I saw something, when I ought to just see it.

I’m not going through all of them, but when they jump out at me I fix them. It’s free writing for a blog, so it isn’t a huge sin, but I want readers to enjoy the posts. Any other blog editors out there?

I’ve been following a lot more blogs. I might follow more if the Gravitars all included links.

The new thing I need to work on is titles. When I read blogs, a good headline will catch me every time. It’s possible that readers skip my post if it doesn’t have a catchy title.

I find my stats are higher when I blog frequently. I’m always going to write in chunks, but I know this is true. I’ll try to post regularly, but I’m always going to miss the occasional day.

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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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I learned something

I know I promised blog silence, but this was too good not to share.

When we post something, we have about two seconds to catch a reader’s attention. If I click on an interesting article, and I get ⏳. I’m gone to something else. This is usually caused by all the ads that have to load. I feel the same way about top ten lists. If I have to open a new page for each item, I’m gone. My blog allows you to scroll down, and top ten lists can too. It’s all about making me open a new page to log another view, and load more ads.

Take this logic and consider what I was up to yesterday, before we drove away. I was searching for blogs to read, and maybe follow. My logic was that if I liked an article, others who liked it might be interesting too.

Enter the Gravitar. I started clicking on them. Only about one in ten provided the ability to open the blog site from the Gravitar. When I opened the Gravitar and it was a dead end, how much effort do you think I put in typing a possible URL to visit the site?

I set my Gravitar up through WordPress. It must have included a link to the site? Right? I remembered liking something on Jade’s Jungle I went there, found my own Gravitar, and clicked on it. Well, this is embarrassing. There was no way to link to my blog from the Gravitar.

I spent some time figuring it out, but now someone can find my blog using my Gravitar. Without this link, the Gravitar is useless. It’s an interesting photo of Mom’s old purpling inkwell, but it wasn’t working for me. Now it is. My calling card now contains something useful, and may gain me a few readers.

Based upon the number of Gravitars I tried, yours may need some attention too. It’s one of those things that you make and forget about. Here’s to hoping we can all gain a few readers with this trick.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Filed under Blogging, Uncategorized

Blogging fun

Entertaining Stories has been around for a little over a month now. My goal has always been to produce entertaining stories, that aren’t going to change the world. This blog documents my journey toward self publishing, and improving my own writing.

Since I started, I’ve gained 40 followers. I’ve been told this is an impressive number for the time frame. Thanks to everyone who followed, and those to come.

I’ve noticed some international views and follows. This really turns me on, because some of my stories are set outside the USA. Panama is pretty obvious, but The Cock of the South is set in an alternate Roman world, and encompasses parts of Europe. I even have one called Arson that is mostly outside our solar system, any readers from other planets are welcome too.

When I finally get them ready for Amazon, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.

There is a learning curve, but it isn’t too hard. The WordPress app makes it easier to put up something new. The online version just isn’t very iPad friendly. I prefer to write with the app, then edit online.

I’ve learned how to change my background, and put up a new header image. I’ll probably change the background every month to reflect something about that month or season.

I learned about Gravitars, and some of you might see my inkwell on your blogs.

I like the ability to add images to my posts, and it isn’t real difficult. Adding links is pretty cool too. This allows me to share stuff with the world, even if I’m inviting you to leave my corner of cyberspace. I’m not selfish, check them out.

The WordPress programming is pretty cool. I added a few widgets, and am pretty impressed at how easy it all is. My most popular posts are noted, and I finally broke them all into categories. It looks like Lorelei is going to stick around, so I even made a Muse category for her input.

I added a list of writing blogs to one widget. These are places I’ve found that are incredibly helpful. Any writers out there should visit them all.

Comments are coming sporadically. Most of them are from my mother, thanks Mom. It’s my understanding comments usually don’t increase until the blog gets more popular. I’m patient, but I’d love to hear from you.

All in all, blogging is a blast. WordPress is a win, and I intend to keep going.

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