Tag Archives: sidebar

Stirring things up

One of my goals while not drafting new material is to shake things up around here. It’s nothing drastic, just an attempt to sweep out the old and try some new things.

I need to change my banner, but with a couple of releases looming, I’ll probably just wait until one of the new books comes out. I can recycle the underwater scene when Lanternfish shows up in the Amazon store.

Start over there.

(Not liking this new editor. This should be centered. Probably fix it with the old editor)

In my sidebar, I always keep the two most recent publications available as quick ways to check out those books. I could put all of them over there, but that would be a busy mess. These images are about to be replaced by HMS Lanternfish and The Ballad of Mrs. Molony in the next couple of months.

You can always find everything on my Amazon page, but if you’d like to check out Serang or Grinders, the links are still there. I think they’re two of my better works. Serang is a great way to climb aboard the Lanternfish saga.

Up Top

All blogs have pages, but very few people check them out. I’m making some changes up there, too. If you were familiar with my layout, you’ll notice something missing. I have retired Lisa Burton Radio.

This regular feature was designed so I could pay back all the help others have given me along the way. I designed something a bit different that loaned out Lisa’s popularity as an interview of your fictional characters. They were labor intensive, but quite productive.

Honestly the interviews worked best when I promoted them. By doing that I kept a regular schedule of one per week for over two years. It was fun collaborating with my fellow authors, and we moved a few books along the way, too.

I wanted some of my time back, and quit pushing authors to try it out. They were available upon request, and there’s the rub. Nobody was requesting them. Most authors are introverted to a degree, but we have to promote our wares someplace. Good free options are drying up from lack of use, and Lisa Burton Radio is one of those casualties.

My door is still open to folks who want a place to promote their books, but you can write the darned things now.

Still up there

I’ve added a new page to check out. Music plays a big role in The Hat series. Lizzie and The Pythons play music as a way to get her out at night and travel around as they explore the supernatural world.

Some of my Story Empire friends suggested that playlists are popular and that I should consider sharing one. I’ve never tried anything like this before, and didn’t have a playbook, so I made my own up.

I have a huge playlist on my phone that goes along with these books. However, I limited this page to things that got mentioned in the books. Videos are bandwidth eaters, so I didn’t want a page of videos to clog up your processors. I went with links to most of them, but included a few videos from key moments in the stories.

I won’t publish The Ballad of Mrs. Molony until later this year, but I included the music up above. Maybe it will inspire some interest in that tale. When I have a link and cover I’ll make sure to update it. I threw in a couple of tiny Lisa Burton posters for flavor. As I get those for Mrs. Molony, I’ll add one for that book, too.

I’m looking for feedback on this page. If you think I need the artists, let me know. Some of the older tunes don’t have great videos available so I went with what I could find.

I should change the wallpaper from Frankie’s brindle coat to something more summery. My zucchini is trying to bloom, so maybe it’s time for some bright yellow flowers.

Let me know what you think, and if the pointers are centered when you visit, you’ll know I used the good editor to fix what this abomination thinks I need.

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Filed under Blogging, Lisa Burton Radio, Writing

Wednesday author chores

Today is my flex day again. I really want to be working on a couple of manuscripts, but I have other duties to attend to.

I started off with Lisa Burton Radio. I have two authors who are looking for a bit of promo, so I wanted to get their shticks out the door. I spent a couple of hours on those, then shipped them out. One of them already returned his, and while I’m tempted to work on it again, I’ll probably put it off for a couple of days.

Viral Blues got its first review, and it’s outstanding. Things like this make me glad to know that someone had a good time with the story.

I need to tour this book around, so I spent some time writing tour posts. I have a bunch more to write, but can only do so much in one sitting. Three of them were shipped out, and that’s a reasonable start.

Additionally, I received a post that I’m going to host, then assembled and scheduled it. This is part of the Something Wicked tour the Story Empire authors are going on. This is going to be a fun group event, so I hope you guys will come along. I’m including Something Wicked as part of the tour for Viral Blues.

As I catch up with the tour posts, I may put the touch of a few of you to host something. I’m a couple of weeks away from that, but working that direction.

I think the sidebar is up to date now.

Yak Guy has moved out of the spotlight. You can still find him by visiting my Amazon page, along with all my other books. I added Viral Blues to the carousel, and gave it Yak Guy’s premier real estate. If you click on the larger covers, they go directly to those books.

All in all, it was a productive day. No new fiction, but there are other tasks an author has to attend to.

Old What’s Her Face is home now, so productivity is coming to an end. It’s time to enjoy a few hours like other people do with a day off.

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Filed under Blogging, Writing

Polling the audience

I have a couple of things I've been stewing about lately, and maybe you can help me out. I know some of you have dealt with these issues, and I'm wondering how your decisions worked out.

First lets talk about themes. I've used the wonderful Pilcrow theme since the day I started blogging. It does a couple of things I really like. I change my background monthly. I get a lot of comments about the wallpaper, and want to keep doing this. I like the continuity of my mother's antique inkwell too. Finally, this theme allows for a decent sidebar.

My sidebar data is important, but also causing the problem. I like the top posts and pages, along with the categories. Readers can sample what was popular here, or play in a category that filters the content down to what they enjoy. I like the link to free readers, and the RSS data. This brings me to the linked book covers.

The covers and links are the reason this blog exists in the first place. I get daily action out of them. Today it all works, but I want to put two new titles out by the end of the year. Some of you have another page to promote your wares. I'd like to know how this works for you. I will always have some covers in my sidebar, but I can't have all of them. Should I move some of them over to a different page? Is this like a death sentence for the older works?

I scouted out a new theme that has a slider. It also had all the other options I wanted like changing backgrounds. The slider is like a bar that includes links. My covers could be links to the purchase sites. Just about the time I decided to make the plunge, WordPress stopped using this theme. I don't find themes to be really intuitive to set up. Other themes have a slider, but the instructions to set them up are limited and confusing. This is a WordPress.com site, so I need one of the free themes. Any suggestions? I'm not changing my theme if I wind up using a separate book page. I'm also terrified to lose all the work I've put into my site and would have to rebuild it from scratch if the new one disappointed me.

My next question isn't related to the first ones, but is on my mind. I'm really excited about my upcoming book of short stories and micro fiction. I have a hunch I'd like to do it again, and have a couple really fun ideas.

Last year, I ran a little event that I called Macabre Macaroni during October. I posted a micro fiction every Thursday in October that had a Halloween basis. It was a popular event, and this popularity is what led me to consider a book of shorts. So… Do I waste a few stories to do it again in 2015? This would force me to pick and choose what I hold back and what I post on the blog.

Should I just put myself out there and run Macabre Macaroni again? The risk is I would only feel comfortable adding one of these to the next book of shorts. It would probably be the first one in the book, so it could be served up as the free sample on Amazon.

Maybe I could invite others to send a Macabre Macaroni and run your stories. I could participate, but in a lesser fashion. It's not impossible to collaborate on some stories with other writers too. There is still time. What would you do? I can always continue business as usual, and hopefully I'll be pushing the book of shorts then. It was a fun event, but maybe it has to disappear during these growing pains.

This post is kind of revealing. I plan this stuff out. (Who knew?) October is months away, but it takes time to write these stories. I try hard to present an intriguing site that people enjoy. I still want people to sample my wares, and don't really want them buried on a second page. I'm at the point where I may have to put the newer works on top, and let enthusiastic folks find the older stories.

Growing pains were inevitable at some point. I'm at that point, and I'll bet some of you know an answer or two. I appreciate you guys, and really would like some input.

40 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Writing

Blogging just got a whole lot less important

I intended to say something about returning from camping. WordPress changed my mind about that. I have my doubts whether anyone will read this post, because I have my doubts about whether anyone will find it now. I have a cool photo from camping, and I'm not including it on purpose. I want to see how this post comes across.

WordPress changed its Reader design this afternoon. I don't like it, and wonder if WordPress continues to hold the value for me now. As of today, they are taking my (your) content and spreading it across a white page. If you decide to read this post it has all the appeal of a typewritten letter. Gone is a link to my site, the one I change the wallpaper on every month, the one that is as individual as I am, the one where my book covers are proudly displayed.

There is no point in coming to my site if you can get the content via reader. Those people will never see my cool covers, and their all important links. They will never see my free paper dolls either. I've never hidden the fact that I started this blog to connect with people who might want to actually buy my books. Future connections are going to be a lot harder to make.

The new Reader is designed around photos and images. I'm not a photographer, I'm a writer. I think a decent image can help out a post, but most of my posts are written words.

I tested my re-blog post of Mae Clair's announcement. The first click was a boring white sheet about my reblog. You have to click again to read more, in fact you have to click three times to get to Mae's site. People will never do this. This could mean the end of any value in reblogging something interesting. Reblogging shows support, but if I reblog something I kind of hope my fans will check it out. Now it's kind of similar to another like button.

The like button remains on the Reader. This means you can like a post without reading it. If you bother to read it, there is no like button. (But you can like comments from there.) You have to click all the way through to the original post before getting the option of showing your appreciation. (Or go back.) I sincerely doubt this will happen. I honestly read your posts before I click “like.”

I have a concern about stats too. If people view content in the Reader, but don't follow through to my site, will I be able to track my progress?

When I clicked through to my site, it was displayed as a single post. I like the fact that people could scroll down and read more, now they can't.

I like having my categories displayed in the sidebar. If someone enjoys one of my Idea Mill posts, maybe they want to open the category and read more of them. I honestly don't believe anybody is going to click four or five times to get there.

The value in WordPress was that I got an original site to display something about myself. WordPress just stripped me away and homogenized us all.

Like I said, I have my doubts whether anyone will find this post. If you're out there knock twice, or something. What do you think about the new Reader?

90 Comments

Filed under Blogging

A few random musings

I’m not completely ready to let go of Halloween. A few days ago I updated my wallpaper with a mad science motif. No apologies. I did my backgrounds by whatever month it was for a year. I’m going to go with things I like for now.

I gave the blog a bit of a facelift. I reduced the size of my book links. I may have taken them too far down. I thought they were starting to overwhelm the page. Let me know what you think. I may take them back up a notch.

I also added the link to the free Kindle apps. People don’t need to own a Kindle to read ebooks. They probably already own a suitable device. I encourage every independent author out there to do this. Let’s make it easy for our consumers to read our books.

I’m still toying with the idea of a new theme. I’d like to find one that would accommodate my linked book covers with a slider or rotating gallery. I found one called itheme, but the image orientation is horizontal, and I need vertical. I’m open to suggestions if you have any. (This is a free WordPress blog, and I’d like to keep it that way.)

Here’s the random musing part of this post. Why hasn’t anyone created computers, phones, iPads, Kindles, and Nooks that we can focus? See, the thing is that I wear glasses. When I’m using my iPad, like now, nobody else is using it, just me. Why can’t some creative soul allow me to focus the screen so I can take these Damned glasses off for an hour or two?

Chime in on my modifications or if you know of a theme I should check out.

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Filed under Blogging