Where Do Stories Come From?

“Mommy, where do stories come from?”
“Ask your Father, dear.”

Perhaps the most common question people ask writers is where do they get their ideas. It seems like no two authors use the same source. “Walk in a graveyard.” “From my own life.” “Going to art exhibits.” “Watch people and imagine their lives.” “Take long car rides.” “Listen to your family stories.” “Reimagine Greek and Norse mythology.” “Study the masters.” “Visit yard sales.” “Watch the news.” “Hang out in cafes, or bars.” “Watch movies.” “Get drunk.”

Those are just a sample of the answers.

Continue reading “Where Do Stories Come From?”

Markdown Test

Markdown Test

This is a test of using Markdown to create a blog post. This was originally written in Scrivener, using a blog post template that defaults the font to Courier and uses Markdown codes for indicating Headings, Lists, Links, and Bold/Italic formatting. Let’s see how it looks on the website.

Note: The original editing was done in Scrivener. On the website I used the WP Githuber MD plugin to convert from the Markdown format to HTML for display.

You can use this area for plain text writing, or you can use multimarkdown.

This is how to write an H2 subheading in multimarkdown

If you want to write a list using multimarkdown, just do this:

  • List item
  • List item
  • List item

You can create a lower-level H3 subheading like this

You can use multimarkdown to create ordered lists too. Just number each item as shown below. When your content is converted to HTML it will automatically created an ordered list which will be styled by your blog theme’s stylesheet.

  1. List item.
  2. List item.
  3. List item.

If you’d like to create a link using multimarkdown, just do this: anchor text

That will create a link to http://yourlink.com using the text “anchor text.”

Some other things you can do using multimarkdown are making text bold or using italics. You can even create a blockquote like this:

Your blockquote text would go here.

Close out your article by clicking the Compile button above, or go to File>Compile. Click the downward-pointing arrow to expand your compile options.

Check only the blog post you want to compile. From the upper drop-down, choose Format as: Original. From the lower drop-down menu, choose Compile for: MultiMarkdown to Web Page.

Click the Compile button to create the HTML version of your blog post. You can then copy and paste this HTML into your blog platform’s HTML or plain text editor.

Rising from the ashes, again.

It’s been a couple years. Much life has happened in that time, to me and probably to you. It’s time for me to resume an active presence on the Web.

I have been doing a lot of writing of late — over 250,000 words this year alone. I confess they aren’t all good words, but some of them are. In fact some of them are ready to share with my fans, or at least the people who drop by my website. I intend to resume posting my fiction on this website. The best of it will be protected by a “paywall” via Patreon. I hate to do this to you, but I have to eat, too. Plus I intend to offer some unique opportunities to people who have pledged to support me, at least a little.

This post is mostly an effort to get my feet wet at using Patreon. Hey! We all have to start somewhere!

As Bartles & Jaymes used to say, “We thank you for your support.”

Printer Woes

I have this little 140 page document I want to print, so I finally decided to set up my “print server”, a Dell PC running Windows Vista with a HP C4180 all-in-one and a Dell laser printer connected. I spent the morning vacuuming the grills and trying to find cables to connect everything. I’m using my TV as the monitor (I can almost read it without my glasses!) and everything is stuffed into my “entertainment center”.

I couldn’t find a VGA and a USB cable, so I bought replacements. $35. Oh, and while I have lots of paper I want to print this on postcards, so I had to buy more of those. $56. Combine these with some other stuff I got for this project and I’m already $132 in the hole.

The computer works fine, but is painfully slow. Not really an issue, but … Continue reading “Printer Woes”

Content is King: How to Take It to the Next Level

The article 5 Secrets to Take Your Content to the Next Level at Inc.com reminds us that Content is King and offers five suggestions to help amplify your content and move your website higher in search engine rankings. As a writer I’m most in favor of their first tip Tell a Story:

One way to amplify your content is to tell a story that engages readers. Content is designed to start a conversation or develop a relationship with a current or potential customer. The ultimate goal is to turn a prospect into a customer or to encourage a current customer to purchase from you again.

Check it out and see if these tips make sense to you.

Embedding Tweets in Your Posts

I realize I haven’t posted anything here for a while. Part of this is due to NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, which is a contest that occurs every November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days of the month. Quality isn’t important, only the number of words, yet it’s still difficult to do. This was my fourth attempt, and the first time I successfully wrote the required number of words. Yay me!

Anyway, after focusing so hard on so much writing for so long, I’ve been casting about for something different. I’ve recently gotten into discussions about using Twitter for promotional purposes. I’ve done this rather successfully, primarily by creating Random Writing Prompts (based on the algorithm mentioned here) and quotes from famous authors, like this one:

The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas! – Anonymous

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for some time is combine the work on my website with my Twitter activities. I’d like to have quotes like the one above available for readers to share by simply clicking on them. This is where the Inline Tweet Sharer comes in. It’s a WordPress plugin that allows you to place shortcodes in your posts that turn into clickable links. Visitors can click on the link and immediately tweet the text. Try it!

I’ve installed it here, and it seems to work well. The installation is fairly simple, with one gotcha: It uses bit.ly for link shortening and links back to your website. You need to have a bit.ly account, and then there’s a procedure you need to walk through to hook your website up to bit.ly so it can do its stuff. The instructions are included on the settings page, so it’s not too bad, but it’s not quite plug-n-play.

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Fixed, Fluid, Elastic, Responsive, or Adaptive Layout?

[A question came up recently in a discussion group on Facebook about the differences between fixed, fluid, elastic, responsive, and adaptive website design. Here’s my response.]

A fixed design is where the layout uses absolute values (usually pixels) for everything. Sites used to be designed for minimum screen widths of 640px, then 1024px, and so on. A common convention today is to set up a grid that’s 960px wide, configure it to center within the browser window, and design the layout within that grid. And hope that a goofy browser doesn’t break it.

Continue reading “Fixed, Fluid, Elastic, Responsive, or Adaptive Layout?”