2015-07-05

Websites

There are 3 basic ways to build a website:

  1. Create your site on a host that uses a proprietary site builder (Webs.com).
  2. Host your site with a company that supports WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or any of the other easy-to-use open-source CMS (Content Management System) platforms.
  3. Build your own using site creation or site design software.
There are so many options that it's difficult to choose a single path to success. I started off using Webs.com and their proprietary site-building software. Recently, I've been reading up on WordPress (I learn a lot just by reading the manuals and then playing around) and so far I'm impressed. In researching the content of this post, I've learned there are many more alternatives, far to many for me to list here.

I am far from an expert in this field! I picked WordPress because that is what powers the Launch Pad site and I've made a commitment to help keep that site updated. But, I won't be comfortable doing so until I've had some practice at using WordPress. But WordPress is not the only popular CMS out there. I searched for "WordPress Competitors" and found a huge world of software I didn't even know existed. For a good review check out this article: wpbeginner.

I will continue to read up on WordPress and then I might look into some of the alternatives. My goal is to help Professor Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready keep the Launch Pad website up-to-date and also to move my own website off of Webs.com to a platform where I have more control. Webs.com is a good choice if you are just starting out. Their SiteBuilder software makes creating and maintaining a website relatively easy. But if you want to do anything fancy, you'll have to move it to a different host. Because Webs.com uses a proprietary interface and they do not allow FTP into their servers, you cannot migrate your site from them. You must build it fresh. This is something I am seriously considering doing.

Before you decide to build an author website of your own, do some research. Spend a lot of time researching because moving your site is not easy. Find a host that's been around for awhile and has a good reputation and then pick your website design philosophy. I might choose WordPress and then again I might go another route. I'm still researching.

Dragonverse Origins now stands at 51,225 words. Even though last week was challenging, I managed to get in quite a bit of writing. I also wrote a short story - something I haven't done in 3 years. I have not decided what to do with it yet. I'm considering submitting it to the science fiction magazines to see what happens. Who knows, it might be accepted.

My apologies to those who read my blog via my mailing list. The link I sent out was active for only a few hours. I talked about saying goodbye to my mother-in-law who passed away on June 29th and was buried on July 2nd. The rest of the family did not want the news to be distributed too soon so I pulled the post and reposted with a different heading. I was off work last week helping make the arrangements. If you're interested in the process (and it can get complicated) send me a private email and I will get back to you. Funerals can quickly become ridiculously expensive and the funeral homes love to use a person's grief to extract more money from their pockets. But, done right, a funeral homes services are indispensable.

Next week's post will most likely be late. I'm going on vacation and writing a post while driving is probably not recommended.

2015-06-28

Content

It has been a busy week at our house. Despite all my other activities, I've been continuing to write. Dragonverse Origins now stands at 47,152 words out of a projected 85,000. I've been dividing my free time between reading up on WordPress, reading a very well-written book titled why does E=mc^2, and writing. My copy of Showing & Telling is at work and I read it during lunch and bathroom breaks.

I've been thinking about the content of this blog. The subjects have always focused on writing and keeping you posted on my progress. I have not settled on a single main theme because writing requires a broad set of skills and knowledge. But, I'm wondering if I should narrow my focus a bit. If you are a regular reader of this blog please comment if you have any suggestions along these lines.

As an indie author who is doing well with book sales (note I did not include the word "very") I have been invited to sit on several panels at this year's WorldCon. The panels I've accepted are:

  • Self Publishing - How to do it; Finance for Writers
  • The Future of "Back to the Future" or, Just Where is my flying skateboard?
  • The New Space Opera
  • Self Publishing - How to Market Your Work.
The official schedule will be released toward the end of July.

I read an interesting tweet yesterday with a link to another writer's blog concerning the formatting of books. The types of books I write don't require a great deal of formatting because virtually all of my sales are in the form of e-books. I do, however, have printed versions of my books. I have often thought about going back and redoing the formatting of all my books. Createspace has quite a bit of information on their site. If you search, you can find all sorts of information. Formatting a book is not an easy process. For myself, I'm not too concerned. Perhaps I will reformat if sales pick up and I start selling more hard-copies.

One more thing before I close this week's post. If you find yourself in Northern Ohio in the Cleveland area or East of that city, drop me a line if you would like to meet. I'm always interested in getting to know the people who read my books and I would like to hear your feedback. I prefer if you are open and honest about your comments as well -- that's how I learn.

2015-06-21

In the Zone

If you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about--that floating feeling you get when you're 'in the zone'. It happens to me when I write code as well. Being interrupted when you're in the zone is like stopping a race-car driver in the middle of the final lap to ask him for an interview. I had been at an impasse and pretty well stuck all week. Following my own advice, I let the story sit but I continually brought it up in my head. This alerted my subconscious to the fact that this was important and needed to be solved.

Yesterday morning I was still unsure of how to proceed but I sat down to write anyway. I re-read the last couple of pages, came to the end and- - -nothing. I deleted the hanging paragraph I'd started then went back and edited a few paragraphs I'd written a few weeks ago to fix an issue I knew wouldn't work. When I went back to where I left off, I stared at the screen, fingers poised over the keyboard but nothing happened. I walked away, ate breakfast, caught up on Twitter, fed the cats and sat back down. This time, an idea popped into my head and I started typing.

At first, it was a bit rough. I went back and fixed a few things, deleted several paragraphs, and moved on. By the time my wife got up, the problem was solved and I was hammering away at the keyboard. I added a few more lines and hit save. We went to Barnes & Noble and after playing a round of Scrabble I popped open the laptop. Dividing my time between my wife and my writing I managed to squeak out another 278 words. Later that evening, my wife went to visit her mother and sister leaving me alone in the house. Not wanting to waste any time I opened the netbook and started typing away. The zone formed and I banged out 748 words in just over an hour.

Dragonverse Origins now stands at 45,647 words which is over the half-way point. I believe I have a clear path from here to the end.

I did, however, get my first comments back from Lee Dilkie, my content-editor and overall fan-based adviser. He honestly pointed out the fact that the first chapter started out great but the next 3 or 4 were boring. I'm not sure if I can fix this or not because I need to do a lot of set-up at the start of this book. I'll noodle on it and see what happens. No matter what though, I will be doing some massive editing once the first draft is done. Having someone who isn't afraid to tell you the truth is like having a stack of gold bullion in your safe deposit box.

I have created a test website hosted by biz.nfhttp://www.biz.nf/free-wordpress-hosting.php. I've started along the path of learning WordPress. So far, I've not spent much time at it but it does not appear to be too difficult. I will have to be learning PHP, HTML, CSS, and a few other internet technologies. I did look into night or weekend classes offered at our local community college but didn't find anything. So, for now, I'm on my own.

Now comes the hard part: what do I do this morning? Do I write more, learn about WordPress, or read a fascinating book I picked up at B&N called "Why Does E=MC^2"? I want to read, but I need to write and learn WordPress. Time for breakfast so the subconscious can decide for me.