In Which I Achieve Web Wizardry

Once upon a time, there was an author who suffered from a terrible curse.

To wit, her dread archfoe, the Technology Fiend, despised her with all passion. He got his kicks by tainting anything she touched requiring a battery, plug, or modem, and was particularly tickled by thwarting her attempts to become computer savvy.

Our poor author grew understandably fearful of treading in enemy territory. Every click of a button authorizing yet another account or threatening one more upgrade sent spasms of anticipatory horror through her heart. But much as she would have liked to stay far, far away from all terrors technological, she was, as I said, an author – and a self-publishing author, at that. In this day and age, an author is expected to blog, have a website, show her face on social media. And a mostly self-pubbing author with no other employment doesn’t have enough cash to hire someone else to do all the scary Internet stuff for her.

So when the day came that our author – who also happened to be something of a perfectionist – looked upon the “My Books” page of her website and thought, “I suppose this serves its purpose well enough, but it’s not all that I want it to be,” she had no recourse but to suck up her anxiety and figure out how to work a little web sorcery.

And that author… *solemn nods* …was me.

Time to put on my big girl wizard robe and get ‘er done.
Time to put on my big girl wizard robe and get ‘er done.

Opinions will vary on what’s needed to make a website look “professional” (which I feel is a kind of snotty term, in general, since when you’re good at what you do, you can do it your own way and make it amazing, never mind some arbitrary standard clung to by the masses. But I digress into artistic anarchy…). My personal minimum requirements/preferences are that it be clean (because I don’t deal well with clutter) and simple to navigate (because isn’t the whole point that visitors be able to find the information they’re looking for?).

What nagged at me about my site’s original “My Books” page is that it wasn’t immediate enough. You started at the top with the cover and info for my first published book (“The Swan Prince”), then scrolled down to get to my next book, and the next, and so on chronologically, through the whole of my Wilderhark Tales (to date), my first professional anthology (“One More Day”), and my debut novel (“Inspired”), until you reached the current position on my publishing road and the page’s end simultaneously. All very well, but why couldn’t I have that deal where the covers of all the available books are presented at once in a neat little gallery, and clicking on one will take you to another page dedicated to that one book (or perchance the whole of its series) only?

Because I didn’t know how to make it happen, that’s why. And I was scared to try to learn. But if being scared were enough to stop me from doing things, I wouldn’t have any published books to show off on a website in the first place.

So I went to my site’s dashboard thing. And I stared at it, looking for some kind of hint or guidepost. I’d seen other Weebly-powered sites pull the trick I wanted, so there had to be a way…

Website Dashboard
What am I even looking at, right now?…

Aha! Down there, what’d that say? “Tip: Drag pages up/down to reorder and left/right to create subpages.

Subpages! That sounded like exactly what I wanted!

Now came the true test of courage: Sacrificing the sure thing I had in order to reach for what I knew, if gained, would be better.

There’s a great, honking life metaphor, for you.

After much stressful experimentation, uploading pics, copy/pasting text, fiddling with format, and careful linkage, I had a brand new at-a-glance “My Books” page, complete with subpages for each and every title. Like. A. Boss.

It’s… *sniff* …beautiful.
It’s… *sniff* …beautiful.

Sure, I screwed up a bunch of times. Yes, I crashed the browser once. Never mind how many hours later it pushed my already ridiculously late breakfast. I got my heart set on a goal, put my mind to the task and came out with one more tally mark next to my name on the Danielle vs. Tech Fiend scoreboard.

And oh, hey, would you look at that: My new page’s gallery of covers includes the face of “Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions” – the Xchyler Publishing paranormal collection set to release on Wednesday (party over here!). If I do say so myself, it does look mighty fine. ^_^

In Which You Meet Yves (INSPIRED Countdown Q and A)

Only four days until the release of my first novel with J. Taylor Publishing! Un-stinking-real!

As a little warm-up to help get all of us into an INSPIRED mood, I decided to sit a few of the novel’s main characters down for a quickie Q&A in which we cover all the basic who, what where, when, and whys. We’ve introduced Abishan, Wilbur, and Uri. Fourth and finally, meet Yves!

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Who are you?

He shakes his head, whispering, “I cannot answer that. I’m sorry. It’s too soon.”

What one word do you think best describes you?

“Describes.” The corner of his mouth tugs up and down, as if in a failed reflex to smile. “Perhaps it’s not the same thing, but the word that I feel most defines me is ‘afraid’. It has been so long since I knew anything but fear.”

Yves Quote

Where do you feel most at home?

“Alone. Or at least, removed from others’ notice. Observing unobserved, I don’t mind.”

When is your favorite moment in “Inspired”?

“A moment in between endings. The moment when I’m first allowed to breathe.” He sighs. “A moment a long, painful time coming, I fear.”

Why do you want your story told?

“The only way to reach a story’s end is to begin it and tell it through. So let it begin. Let it be told. And let me be free of it.”

<<<>>>

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

INSPIRED (and Yves) – coming…on Monday!

“Prompted” or “Line Crossing”

I once read a friend’s blog post  in which she shared a prompt from A Year of Writing Dangerously” by Barbara Abercrombie: “What is your own metaphor for fear of writing that first line?”

Duly “moved to act; spurred; incited”/”inspired”, I wrote this (which took me forever to share here with you, but hey, it’s every bit as relevant now in the throes of NaNoWriMo as it was many moons ago).

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It’s not that first line that’s so hard. It’s the second.

~

A first line can go anywhere;

It’s the step that brings you to the crossroads, all paths spread out before you.

The second step is the commitment.

It’s the choosing; the saying, “This is the road I’ll follow, to whatever end.”

“The End” is the easiest line to write, and the hardest line to get to;

So many lines lie between the opening and close.

~

It’s the second line that requires determination; the third line, even more than that…

The starting is easy. Anyone can start a thing (though not all will),

But seeing it through? Continuing on? Walking step by step, writing line by line, no stopping, no excuses ‘til journey’s completion?

Far easier to amass a collection of beginnings, no endings in sight.

So much simpler to pen a quote than a novel.

A blank page intimidates less than the opening phrase followed by, “Now what?”

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and… and… shoot, give me a minute.” – Robert Frost, sort of
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and… and… shoot, give me a minute.” – Robert Frost, sort of

Now come the missteps. Now come the stumbles. Now the erased graphite and scratched-out scribbles of the pen.

Now we see the marks of our mistakes, and now we fear.

Now we know how little we know.

Now we wonder how much we have to give, and how much of this we can take.

It takes a lot to mar a pristine page beyond the words of which of you’re sure,

To creep and crawl, and trip and fall, and double back until you find your way.

~

To cross the starting line is easy.

Now for the finish line.

<<<>>>

Feeling prompted, anyone? I invite you to share your response!