Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It Takes a Lot of Chocolate to Build a Website

I finally launched my author website. The process was grueling, even though my website is small. The site will continue to change, and perhaps I’ll add a photography portfolio. 

For me, the learning curve was steep. Here are a few tips. 

Start with Darcy Pattison’s 30 Days to a Stronger Author Website. Darcy provides step-by-step instructions to setting up a website. Thank you, Darcy! 

Learn to use Photoshop – at least Photoshop Elements. Photographs all need to be specific sizes and shapes to fit a website template. (I’ve only just scratched the surface of this program and look forward to figuring out its other features.) 

Pick a WordPress theme, any theme. If it doesn’t work out, change it. I spent a long time first choosing a theme, then trying to make it fit my vision. When I abandoned the first theme, the Live Preview function let me see how my pages would look on new themes. The sidebar options allowed me to experiment with layouts and colors before I activated the theme. 

Get a little help from your friends. I wish to thank Tim Bogar for his advice on picture sizing. Deb Pilutti generously helped with many aspects of this site, including figuring out plugins. She also was unfailingly encouraging. My critique group, as always, offered wise and thoughtful suggestions.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Overheard #280

"If I’m determined, I can figure it out, but I’m not that determined yet."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring in Michigan

bee fly on the blue chionodoxa (The deer got the pink ones.)
scilla buds
Chionodoxa are also known as glory-of-the-snow.
The daffs perked up when the snow melted.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I don't have many crocuses because the squirrels love the bulbs, and the rabbits love the flowers. I like the way this camera angle makes it look like the flower bed goes on forever. 

gold dust
the first anemone
as always, light through petals

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Don't Hit the Reset Button

Last night I watched a serialized drama on TV, and it got me thinking about pushing the plot forward. 

In this episode, four characters tried to solve their problems. Character A volunteered to accept new challenges and was denied the opportunity. Character B failed to meet her changing responsibilities and yet was honored at the end of the episode. Character C was given new tasks, performed brilliantly, then was demoted to her previous position – which she accepted cheerfully. Character D made a half-hearted attempt to accept happiness then returned to her previous hopelessness. Every character finished the episode in the same emotional, intellectual and physical state as she started it.

To have a story, characters must have problems and strive to overcome them. Success must be hard won. Emotions must run high. At the end of the scene, chapter or episode, the situation must either worsen or improve. Change is interesting. Static is boring.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Overheard #279

"Can you give us an example we can understand … or at least an example?"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Third Amaryllis

Because I would rather photograph flowers than work on my website.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Overheard #278

"Wisdom doesn’t always flow that smoothly"

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Red Amaryllis

The red amaryllis of my bulb trio has started to bloom. 

I liked the light and shadows.
I take a lot of pictures of light through petals, sepals and leaves.
Here's another one.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I was given a writing exercise that involved counting the concrete and abstract nouns. The idea was that concrete nouns make more compelling writing. First, I discovered that I use abstract nouns more frequently than I’d suspected. Upon further analysis, I decided they made my passage stronger. Here are some of the abstract nouns I used and the reasons why I kept them. 

Everything: This word suffers from a lack of specificity, but my story is written for teens in (hopefully) the voice of a teen. High school students tend to think they are the center of their universe. When my character says, “Everything changed,” she means it. 

Energy: This is a concrete noun when it equals mass times the square of the speed of light, but is an abstract noun when referring to a person’s work ethic or personality. To me, the sentence, “Only Matt was immune to her energy,” communicates important ideas about two characters. 

Unease, Mystery & Magic: These abstract nouns are essential for the hook. I used them to stimulate curiosity in the reader. 

My conclusions are:
  1. Voice trumps all. 
  2. Be specific. 
  3. Use powerful words.  
  4. Don’t neglect the hook.