Thursday, September 24, 2015

Authors and Web Sites and Platform, Oh My!

As I mentioned earlier (Dehosted and Rehosted), I had to find a new virtual home for my small amount of personal web site content. The move has given me the opportunity to rethink the content of that site. Up until now, it's been a haphazard collection of widgets and links to my haphazard collection of (so-called) social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Goodreads and BlogSpot (but not yet Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr and Google+), along with a sort of personal profile in bullet-list form.

It turns out, I had already been thinking about what I should be doing with my web site to prepare for promoting my authorly activities, assuming I would buckle down and turn one of my projects into something publishable in the not too distant future. I wanted to at least polish up my bio and weed out the less pertinent tidbits and links.

That still leaves some questions to answer. How does someone who has not published a book create an 'author' web site? What should a writer who has written at least eight unfinished novels (for National Novel Writing Month and in-between) say about their creations? Should I list them? Describe them? Should I be teasing about projects that are in-progress or the worlds I have created for them? Or just wait until I have something finished and at least submitted before doing that? I know I should (and want to) spend more time writing and finishing the stories than producing 'extra' content about them.

Of course, there are plenty of folks out there with opinions on what such a web site should include. I found this one on Creating a Website as an Unpublished Author by Amanda Luedeke pretty insightful. I guess I'll keep it focused on who I am and what might make my work interesting. I'll leave a few clues about the sort of stories I've been writing (maybe super short blurbs about my NaNoWriMo work). Keep the social media links intact. And work harder to keep the blogs active.

Meanwhile, until I get my site settled and a book published, have a look at the web sites (and books!) of some my favorite authors. They give me something to aim at and I'm amazed to actually call several of them friends.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dehosted and Rehosted

I haven't put much effort into my personal web site in quite a while. There was not much point. I'm not selling anything. I'm horrible at blogging (I have a couple of infrequently updated channels). It was fun to play around with HTML and some layouts and graphics, back in the day. But it was easy to just ignore it. There were plenty of other ways to spend my time and effort (or not).

Then Comcast forced my hand.

Since I use them as my Internet provider, I have been hosting what little content I did have on their free service. It had a somewhat ugly URL (, but that was easily dealt with by simply forwarding my much easier to type domain ( there. They recently decided to discontinue the free hosting. I had to find a new place to host my stuff.

My options:
  1. As a consolation for discontinuing the web hosting service, Comcast gave their subscribers two years of a Pro subscription to Weebly offers drag-and-drop web site construction and a spectrum of features and services.
  2. Add hosting to one of my GoDaddy domain registrations. This would allow me to either upload my existing, but lame, web content or use their web site constructor to create something more interesting. Either way would cost me a little more each month.
  3. Research and find another way to get free, or almost free, hosting. Been there, done that. I'd probably wind up and someplace like (a Weebly competitor) or back at GoDaddy.
For now, I'm going with option #1. Why not? It's paid for (for two years). The functionality seems fairly reasonable. It even takes care of making the site compatible with the smartphone form factor and I can use one of my existing domains for it. The only thing is, I can't just upload my existing site content (just a bunch of HTML). I need to recreate it. I might as well take the opportunity to update what I have and make it more attractive.

More on that in a subsequent post. For now, you can find my new web site (in progress, under construction and all that) at

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

read: Of Noble Family (3 stars)

Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've mostly enjoyed this series of novels. A couple of them were very fun and all have been fascinating glimpses into this period of history (knowing full well that the magic changes things up a bit). The big draw that this episode has for me are the intrigues and details about plantation life when slavery was still quite active. The author does a good job of balancing the fine line between historical accuracy and modern sensibilities.

I did knock off a couple of stars. The first one has more to do with me than the book: I'm not in the target audience for the book. This volume swung the pendulum far into the Romance (with a capital R to the 10th power) genre and I cringed at every breathy breath, silently clenched muscle, faint, archaic euphemism and throat clearing.

The second star gets knocked off for the audio performance. While Mary does her usual excellent job. The other actors, while bringing in the island accents that were needed, always seemed insert too ... many ... pauses ... in ... unnecessary ... places. I had to put the Audible player into 1.25x playback mode to avoid losing my sanity.

If you've followed the adventures of Jane and Vincent thus far, you will want to read this closing volume of the series. Otherwise, read one of the other stories (I recommend Glamour in Glass or Valour and Vanity).

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

read: THE Star Wars (3 stars)

The Star WarsThe Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a mess. As such, it is an interesting take on one of the early drafts of what eventually became the Star Wars we all know and love (it took years and many revisions of the story and script to make that film). It's pretty amazing that the author and artists were able to make this into something as semi-coherent as it is. You should only read this if you are a giant Star Wars fan and your little fan-boy heart won't be broken when you see the names of your favorite characters attached to almost unrecognizable new characterizations. I had fun reading it.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

read: The Girl on the Train (4 stars)

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very unsettling and suspenseful story. Written in first-person from the point of view of three female characters, all unreliable narrators, the reader is never certain what is fact and what is a made up. The three men they interact with are also not very reliable. By the middle of the book, it's clear that everyone is a psychological mess and anyone could be responsible for the unfortunate event. In that way, the comparisons with Gone Girl could be fair (I've only seen the film). But thankfully, this book has a completely different twist.

Ultimately, this is a familiar tale. It's just told in a compelling way.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

read: Empire State (2 stars)

Empire State (Empire State, #1)Empire State by Adam Christopher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was not the book I thought I was going to get. The reviews and cover blurb advertised alternate history, dimensional rifts, super heroes, gangsters and detectives. It had all those, but the story felt like they'd all been put into a food-processor and roughly chopped together. Nothing fit. There was very little cause and effect and zero character motivation (other than simple survival). It felt a lot like an old comic book or television show where stuff happens because the story needs it to happen. There is no 'why'. Disappointing.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

read: Before Tomorrowland (3 stars)

Before TomorrowlandBefore Tomorrowland by Jeff Jensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second half of this book is pretty darn fun. It's full of action and robots and alternate history and fantastic other worlds. It's good setup for the motion picture without giving away anything about that story.

The problem is that the reader is misled into believing they must wade through the first half of the book to get there. And the first half of the book pretty much sucks. One could argue that the first half helps us understand the characters better. Except it doesn't. All it does is bog the reader down with angst, tragedy and opaque mysteries. Better to hit the ground running and invite the reader to tag along. At least let them actually care about the characters. I completely understand folks who gave up.

I'm glad I didn't though. Knowing a bit more back story for the world of Tomorrowland helped me enjoy the film just a little bit more.

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