Monday, February 17, 2014

Clean Up Your Blog - A to Z Preparation

Updated repeat from a 2012 blog post:

I'm fine tuning my blog in preparation for the, hopefully, gazillion visitors I'll have during the month of April. Okay, so maybe not a gazillion, but a lot more than normal. I just read and implemented some of the tips on Sommer Leigh's blog post, Sommer’s Top Ten Tips for A-to-Zing it in April.

There was one tip that REALLY caught my attention since I recently vented about it: Blogger and Word Verification [rant] If you want people to comment, you really need to make it easy for them to do so. Check your blog to be sure, and while there check to be sure you allow anonymous commenters as well (as mentioned by Sommer).

One missing tip that helps keep your blog looking professional as well as identifying it once loaded. It's time to add a favicon to your blog. For years professionals have used favicons to identify their websites. For those with blogs hosted on their own domains, it's an easy enough process to create the .ico file and upload it to the home directory. I use the freeware program IrfanView to create .ico files from images. You can easily crop, resize and 'Save As' with this program (and much more).

But for those of us using Blogger, we were left out in the cold. Not any more! If you look at your browser tab, you will see the icon with my face (from my blog header). I use that for my blog as well as my website, DonnaMcNicol.com.

Blogger has made the process even simpler, you just need an image that will be quite clear (keep it simple) and square (you will get an error if you are even one pixel off). Then you upload it. Blogger will handle the conversion to a .ico file. If you don't like the result, just chose another image. HINT: Irfanview will let you resize and match dimensions so your image is square. Just uncheck the box "Preserve aspect ratio". 

Here is a blog that explains the process in more detail: How to Add or Change Your Favicon in Blogger and here is how it will look to you (the steps are the same). Click to enlarge.


Don't be afraid to try several images. Once loaded you will see the small image on your Blogger layout page. Don't like it? Not clear enough? Load a different one.

Here are a couple of place to search for icons: Find Icons and Icon Finder Think about what you want to represent your site. It could be as simple as your initials, a logo you already have or something connected to the purpose of your blog. For me that was easy....I am a writer, thus the pen. Happy icon hunting!

Want more good tips on cleaning up your blog? Check out Anne R. Allen's blog series:

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Putting myself on a deadline....UPDATE!

A month ago I wrote a post, Putting myself on a deadline..... Recently a reader asked me how I was doing on my self-imposed deadline. Hmmmm....tomorrow is Valentine's Day. D-day, so to speak.

Well, not sure things are as good as I had hoped. First of all, when I wrote that post I listed THREE major items that I needed to work on. Since then I have added ONE MORE! Oh no!

Yup, I signed up to do the 2014 April A to Z Challenge this year. Gulp! But I have worked on my post titles for the challenge, does that count towards tomorrow's deadline? LOL!

I sure am glad my goal is twenty hours A WEEK...while I will try the 4 hours x 5 days, I already have an issue. We have booked a 3 day mini-vacation on a resort several hours away. Candlelight, filet mignon, massages, waterfall pool...writing? What writing?

Say, can I count my blogging time in that twenty hours? Hmmmm.....


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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#IWSG for February - Motivation

As I posted in my December #IWSG post on perfectionism, 2013 was a very good year for me. I wrote a lot, published a lot and sold a lot (well, at least for me).

But the last quarter of 2013 was so filled with new personal adventures that writing was put on the back burner and even my blogs were neglected.

Now it's already the second month of 2014 and I still haven't written anything but a few blog posts. Where did my motivation go and will I find it again? I did
put myself on a deadline, promising myself and my readers that by Valentine's Day I would get back to writing. I also signed up for the 2014 April A to Z Challenge and have done a little prep work for that.

But serious writing? Sigh...nothing and I fear my motivation is lacking. What do you do when you just don't feel like writing, even though the stories are sitting in your head just waiting?

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014 April A to Z Challenge

I was first introduced to the April A to Z Challenge in 2012, my first year of fiction writing. I took my flash fiction stories and put them into a compilation now available on Amazon for $.99: From A to Z in 10 by 10
26 letters in the alphabet provide the start of 26 flash fiction stories. Each story was written based upon a word and a photo used for inspiration. That's the A to Z.

The 10 by 10 refers to the story length. Each story was written in no more than ten sentences but with a minimum of 100 words (10x10=100).

Some tell a sweet tale, some have unexpected twists, some leaving you wanting more and some, well that's up to you!
This year I will do something similar, still writing flash fiction but my word will be a Spanish word (a nod to my new homeland of Ecuador) starting with the letter of the day. Each word that I have chosen will have the English translation/word also start with the same letter.

Beyond that I'm still open...do I restrict the length? Do I base it in Ecuador? Do I use a photo prompt like I did last time? Hmmm, time will tell - be sure to leave your suggestions before I start writing!

Oh, and I sincerely hope you will tell your friends about this and then come back to enjoy the results.

#atozchallenge / @AprilA2Z

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