I’ve been thinking…

No don’t panic, just yet. I was just thinking about my personal Blog Rules.


Something occurred to me that I should have thought about earlier…


Something involving time-zones…


See… most of my followers are from the US, which means that they/you are more than a few hours behind me. It made me think that I might have been a little stupid to post in the mornings. Because it means that my posts show up on readers at night. Between 1 am and 4/5 am, in fact. Not a great way to catch new readers. Or to stay fresh.


At the same time, I want to post at a time when my European readers can read as well… So… when, I wonder, will work best?


I’ll be experimenting over the next few days to see if changing post times will have an effect on my stats. Starting Monday.


Anyone want to shoot with your time-zones and times you prefer to read?


It would help me tremendously.

Blog Day: Scroll Bar Layout

Before we start off, I just want to remind you that there’s only one week left before the competition closes, so if you want The Story Book by David Baboulene, you better head over there fast.








Today is the second installment of Blog Day, my crash course on blogging. Last week, we dealt with the two rules: BE YOURSELF and THINK OF YOUR AUDIENCE.


Today, I’ll be pointing out how this extends to something as seemingly trivial as the Scroll Bar.


Silly, you think? Not really. See your blog is pretty much your own personal web-page. A web-page to some aspect of your life, you might say. An aspect of your life that you very much want people to explore (Why else would you blog?). Not to mention that you really really want them to come back.


So… knowing that you want your audience to come back it becomes obvious that you want to make interaction with your blog as easy as possible. And… importantly, as FAST as possible.


Think about yourself now. When you head over to other blogs (I will discuss why this is imperative next week), how much time do you spend? An hour? Two hours? Will three hours push the borders of your capacity? No matter how long you have, you want to hit as many blogs as possible. Thus, speed is of the essence. You need to be able to open the web-page, click follow, read and comment in as little time as possible.


Back to your own blog. Let’s say (because I tend to post longish blogs) that the cut-off point is ten minutes. Do you really want your reader to wait for five minutes before your blog actually loads? Do you really want your reader to spend another three minutes looking for a way to subscribe/follow?


DON’T tell me: “Go to Google Reader, click add subscriptions and copy/paste the address.” Have you any idea what a pain in the arse that is when I have to do it TWENTY times in one day? By twenty-one, I stop following blogs without working subscription/follow widgets. In fact, I think I deserve a medal for following the ones I did. Point is: Do you want to be number twenty-one for a hundred or so people?


Other questions to consider:


Wouldn’t you like for your reader to know what your blog (and you) are about? Once again, I have gotten people telling me that the reader should read previous blogs for an indication. Uhm… No. The reader has ten minutes and let’s face it, no one cares that much about someone they don’t know. You need a short introduction of some sort.


Wouldn’t you like for your reader to know when you post? After all, you can’t expect them to come back ever day to check, can you?


And finally, don’t you think that it would be great for the reader to have easy access to older posts, should they have fifteen minutes instead of ten?


So now that we have this down, we can look at our approach to layout.


Firstly, I believe in KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. It can be incredibly annoying if you have a slow Internet connection and the blog loading times out rather than completes loading. It gets more so when I hit the same blog with a faster connection and discover that the reason why it didn’t load was because there are a hundred thousand animations on the blog. So… if you want to add something, please think about why it is necessary. If it isn’t saying something about the blog and doesn’t suit the theme you’re going for, leave it ALONE. Think about that ten minutes. I don’t think all than many people spend their blog time feeding fish or stroking cats. But… if you feel that it MUST go on, revert to rule number one. BE YOURSELF. Just make sure that the animation isn’t ruining the reader’s experience.


That’s my say on that, now I’m going to use my own scroll-bar and explain why everything is where it is. Overall, I should mention something. When I started blogging, I decided that my scroll-bar should be aimed at helping the reader in every way possible. Knowing this, I think most of what I’m going to say makes sense.


Above all, people are going to come to this blog to read about me and my experiences/opinions. So… I go to the top with my personal profile to introduce myself. Then people want to know what the blog is about. So the About This Blog section is next. Follow button is next, because who wants to have to look for it way at the bottom of the page? After that, I help readers out with my blogging schedule. After that, I plug the blog-fests that I joined, because I know some readers would love to join in too. Then I plug my open dates for GPF slots, so that people can pick a date and contact me. Note that I also have my e-mail address (used solely for blogging and writing). Next is Write-on-Con, because everyone should want to be there. It’s going to be awesome. Then comes the posts most read in the past week, in the event that someone else finds those topics intriguing. Then the archive and labels, in case the above wasn’t enough. Then the writing/book/agent blogs I follow. The most recent ten out of every single one I follow. You can see all of them too. Finally I have some websites that I visit for various writing related reasons.


A place for everything and everything in its place.


One more thing to mention, if you want multiple scroll-bars, I suggest you keep the important stuff on the right. That’s where the eye falls first.


So… what are your pet-peeves and loves when it comes to scroll-bar lay-outs?

I’ve been tagged…

Finally! Sorry that I missed yesterday. My new post window refused to work. At all. >_< Grr… Sorry people, but I really found this stressful. Especially when I couldn't post my first post on my new blog. Sigh… aaaanyway. Don’t forget to enter the competition!


Now… to the point of this post. I’ve been tagged for the first time in my life, this time by Lydia Elizabeth Burnwell. So… here goes:


If you could go back in time and relive a moment, what would it be? 
The day I let someone talk me into studying that infernal Actuarial Science course. I would slap myself before clocking out that person.


If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? 
My university application letter. Instead of chosen courses reading 1) Actuarial Science 2) Chemical Engineering 3) Languages, I’d change it to 1) Drama 2) Languages 3) History or Art.


What Movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality? 
Hahaha I have no idea. Probably Sherlock Holmes crossed with the later versions of Elizabeth Swan…


If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would it be? 
…. Sorry, that question took me to my happy place. Uhm… name the dumbest politician in the world. I can think of a few, but I’m thinking of one that failed WOODWORK as a subject. My South African friends might recognise him.  Him… or Robert Mugabe. I wouldn’t be all that picky.


Name one habit that you want to change in yourself. 
I crack my knuckles. I hate that I do it, but sometimes do it without noticing. Trying to stop though, but that not noticing issue does put a wrinkle in my attempts.


Describe yourself in one word. 
One word? I can’t even describe myself in an essay! But… idiosyncratic is a nice word that fits.


Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
Interesting.


Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence. 
Interesting that the question is asked in two sentences while being nervy enough to demand a one sentence reply, but, I suppose I can just write a very wrong sentence to comment on this and to say that I have come to blog because I love making contact with people insane enough to read ALL of my long sentences because even I know how I can prattle along…


Name at least three people to send this meme to. And inform them. 
Rebecca
Golden
Rachel

I would love it if all of you answered at least one question in the comments section. Pretty please?

Dare to Dream–Even if it Means Writing a Musical

Hello all! Welcome to a new installment of GPF. Today, I have the honor of introducing you to Crystal, who is currently working very hard to get Immortal: The Musical on the boards. But I’m not going to say much more. All I’ll say is go check it out. The music is awesome. Take it away, Crystal!


Dare to Dream–Even if it Means Writing a Musical


Thank you for this opportunity Misha–and congrats on finishing your rewrite! 

When you’re young people tell you to dream big and reach high. One of those people for me was David Buckner who wanted to “own hotels”. He’s now a successful business advisor and professor at Columbia University who did end up owning hotels. He shared his story with me at the impressionable age of 15, emphasizing just one phrase: “Dare to Dream”. 

The idea remained so solidly that seven years later, when I woke from a literal dream, I ran to my piano (keyboard) and started plucking out the song which has changed my life. 

Dreams are tentative things. They take thought, effort, and even a few failures before they’re realized. Hard work and “belief” (as Shepherd Book of the Firefly series put it) is what makes our dreams a reality. You have to “believe hard”. To quote Wesley from Princess Bride, “Anyone who says differently is selling something.” 

(I LOVE Wesley.)

So this is my 8 year (and counting) dream:

After three centuries of bloodthirsty silence, Lucas has found hope. If he’s capable of love, is he capable of redemption? And will the hunter, her uncle, kill him before he has the chance to discover?

Immortal the Musical

For anyone who can catch the “vision”, the website is a rough representation with music recorded in the very early stages of development. It has recently entered into the negotiation stages of production on a new concept CD, including work shopping and staging. We hope to hold a concert series in the upcoming year as well as piloting a TV reality show, 365 Days to Broadway. 
Dare to dream, because dreams can become reality, but not without extreme ups and downs and an unwaivering belief. 

What is your dream? 





Thanks so much for this post, Crystal, I think everyone needs a reminder that they need to keep dreaming. 

One more thing to add. If you are interested in booking a GPF slot,  feel free to contact me. The available dates and my e-mail address is posted on the scroll bar.

This happens when you give characters too much say…

Two reminders today! Remember to drop by tomorrow for another installment of GPF and if you haven’t yet, please go check out the competition. 🙂


As you know, I’ve finished my rewrite, exactly ten days ago. I knew from the beginning of the year that I would have to take a break so that I could put some distance between me and the WiP, otherwise the edits aren’t going to work.


An excellent way to get distance is to start something else. Or work on something else.


Yes? Yes… Yeah… I can’t hear any other characters. Because I have one character who decided to take up permanent residence in my mind.


I thought he’d go once I actually finished the writing. But… no. This is an excerpt from our ongoing discussion.


Me: Why are you here?
Him: Because I want to.
Me: Funny. Look. I finished the story you wanted me to write.
Him: Not all of it.
Me: Well I can’t do all of it without editing. And for me to edit, you need to go somewhere else for a while.
Him: No.
Me: What do you mean no? I wasn’t giving you a choice.
Him: (smirking) Yeah… and how are you going to make me go? I might decide to not come back.
Me: Look. Can’t you just go visit with my muse or something?
Him: Aha nice try. No no. I gave you the idea. I pushed you to get it written. I’m the one doing the motivation since I took over from the muse. I want to see the story through.


Yeah… As I said. This is ongoing. At this rate, I’ll be going into edits with his voice as loud as the internal editor’s. That should make the process interesting.


Anyone else have characters who stick around when they shouldn’t?

Blog Day: The Rules

Hi all, just a reminder to go check out the competition!


So. During the A-Z Challenge, I’ve bumped into some very interesting blogs (over a thousand of them). Some I really enjoyed… Some, while they had something interesting to offer, just weren’t as fun to hit as others.  There were various reasons for this, but it got me wondering if I would be incredibly presumptuous to throw a few tips out there.


Well, that was the plan. As I thought about it some more, I realized that while the tips aren’t that numerous, the reasons behind them will take up space. So… I’m going to do my first ever blog series. Every Wednesday I will highlight some aspect to the blogging experience that requires some attention.


Today I will start with the rules. If you travel through the blogosphere, I’m sure you’ve found about fifty blogs with rule for blogging. Those rules might even differ. Are all those rules valid? Well… yes.


But don’t go giving up on me now. I know how impossible remembering all those rules and their applications will be, so I was nice and decided to give you precisely two. These two rules are the keys to every other blog rule in existence. The are:


BE YOURSELF.
and
THINK OF YOUR AUDIENCE!


Those two heavily influence each other, pretty much always vying for precedence. An example of this will be the background. Is it a representation of your tastes? Excellent. Will it drive away visitors? Not excellent. Unless you are planning to sift through visitors to attract a select few from a specific niche, change the background. If the aforementioned is the plan, by all means, keep it. But make a conscious decision about it. I’ll get back to decor later.


If you’ve never seriously blogged before (or are looking to freshen up and/or refocus your blog), close your eyes and think about how you want to represent yourself to the public. Then think about who you want to draw to your blog. Given those two, what will you focus on when you blog? How will you want your blog to come across?


When I started out, I wanted to attract writers and readers. I wanted to give an accurate depiction of me and my experiences while on my journey as a writer. The “me” portion of the goal meas that I’m honest. Really honest. I try my best to be honest to myself and to others about myself. This carries over to the “experience” aspect of it. I show my journey with all the bumps and doldrums along with the moments that I get to soar. Sometimes it’s scary to blog like this, but I try to find a way to write a post in such a way that I won’t cause the blog reader to chew off his/her pulse. Because while I am somewhat *snort* mercurial, I know that people won’t appreciate me ranting every day or moping around hopelessly and uselessly for too long.


The secret is to find the balance.


So… have a think about your blog (hypothetical or no) and if you like, please give me a short exploration (like the one I did) in the comments section. I’d love to see how you approach your blog. Also, if you have any blogging-related questions, feel free to ask. I will do my best to shoot with an answer, probably in a Blog Day post. 🙂

Today, we have a competition!

StoryCoverSMALL.jpg


As part of his blog tour (and by lots of luck and huge coincidence, soon after getting 500 follows), I get to give away The Story Book by David Baboulene. If you missed his guest-post, you can check it out over here.  Go ahead, clicking on the link won’t make this page go away.


Nifty, right?


Anyway, I’m going to hide my inner geek now.


The Story Book might just be a great writing tool for those of us that wish to master the aspects of a story. Any story.


So… sounds like an awesome read, right? I know I’d really want the book. But, once again, I opted against reviewing, so I can’t get it. But… YOU can.


All you have to do to enter is to be a follower and comment that you want the book. Old followers get 2 entries. New ones get one.


And yes, the competition is open to all of you. ^_^


The draw will take place on 18 May. So get commenting!

Looking Back on April


Thanks Elizabeth

Today is a public holiday, so I decided to be a bit lazy and do a look-back to last month… so here are some stats: 

Number of blogs visited (not counting repeat visits): 1020
Number of blogs followed: 690 (the rest I was following before the challenge)
Number of times I triggered Captcha: 4
Number of people who joined this blog: 191
Most blogs visited on one day: 80
Number of awards given: Not sure. I tried counting them, but they’re hiding too well. I will have to reread every single comment to find those informing me of awards. Lucky that I find your comments so fascinating. 
Post that took the longest to write: M-day (Maps) 
Favorite Posts: Maps and Conflict and Complications. Oh and I Interrupt Regular Posting… 
Highlight of April: Announcing the completion of my rewrite. 
Number of hits in April: 3722.
A to Z Post with most visitors: Energy

Overall, I really enjoyed the challenge. Meeting new people and finding awesome blogs were definitely highlights. Still, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m glad that it’s May. 
So what did you guys think of the A – Z Challenge? Any interesting stats to share? Who finished?