Jeanne: How to Test Your Website Like a Professional Software Developer

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Image by Shahid Abdullah from Pixabay

A few weeks ago, Eight Lady Jilly debuted her new website. Because my previous life was in software development, before it went live I offered to create a test plan and test the site for her. Being British, she’s very polite, so she accepted.

It’s a beautiful site and was delivered in very good working order. Even so, there was some value in creating a test plan that laid out all the things she wanted the site to do and how each of those things gets triggered.

My own site, in contrast, was a little buggy when I got it, so my (very similar) test plan was very useful both in nailing down how I wanted the site to work and in communicating the problems with my developer. The plan allowed me to tell my developer both how I expected the site to work and how it was actually working, and it let me keep track of what had been fixed.  All of this cut down on the time required to get the site cleaned up and ready to go live.

Since some of our readers may have reason to want to build a website, I thought I’d share a bit of the the plan so you can see how to put one together. Continue reading

Michaeline: A Writer’s Statement of Policy and Aims

Mucha lady holding a quill pen with a serious look on her face

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I write for myself.

What I write may resonate with people of my gender, race, ability and sexual preference, and it may resonate with people beyond those narrow boundaries, but that’s not my business. My business is to write so that my soul rings with the truth, beauty and sheer bliss or agony of what I write.

I feed my writing soul with stories that cross the boundaries that confine my narrow life experience, and I pay attention when something resonates with me, and I won’t feel guilty if I try to incorporate those truths into my own work. I also feed my writing soul with stories that live within my narrow life experience, but dig deeper or reach higher than I have ever dreamed. If something resonates, I have permission to transform it and use it in my own writing.

I will explore my feelings when I write something that makes me anxious or sad or unhappy. I will not feel burdened to publish anything that makes me feel bad. On the other hand, I will not sugarcoat my writing simply because it might have the power to make someone else feel anxious or sad or unhappy.

I want to write joy, but I also recognize that joy is heightened when contrasted with pain. I will not write pain for the sole purpose of pulling some reader’s heartstrings, but I will not be afraid of writing the pain, either.

I will pay attention to my readers and trusted critics, but ultimately, what I publish has my name on it, and I will write for myself.

I am a writer, and I write for myself.

(A statement in progress, to be updated as needed.)

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I can’t believe some kids have already started back to school this week.  Didn’t summer just start?

Next thing you know there will be winter clothes in the stores and holiday decorations on the shelves at Costco.

*checks ad for local store*

Oh . . . never mind.

Regardless of what season it may be, I’m sipping iced coffee and trying to decide which book will make it off the TBR pile and into the active-reading stage this weekend.

Sure there is yard-work to do, groceries to buy, and writing to do, but both the TBR pile and I could use a little slimming down.  For my part, I blame the donuts and root-beer float that were necessary to make it through this week at work.  The TRB pile, on the other hand, owes its growth to the recent RWA conference.

Before I get lost in a book (and forget about the yard-work and groceries), I’m going to make sure to get in some focused writing time.  I think I’ll start things off with today’s story prompt and random words.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michille: Chakra Yoga for Creativity

Chakras_mapFor the second year in a row, I’ve taken a seven-week sunrise chakra yoga class (6 a.m. – this morning, it truly was sunrise). Each week focuses on a different chakra, starting at the root and ending at the crown. We work through each one, trying to find it, connect with it, and make it function better to enhance overall health, well-being, and for me, creativity.

Here are the seven chakras with their associated body positions: attributes: color: and element.

  • Sahasrara: Crown: Spirituality, Universe: Violet: Thought, Ether
  • Ajna: Third Eye: Awareness, Intuition: Indigo: Light
  • Vishuddha: Throat: Communication, Articulation: Blue: Sound
  • Anahata: Heart: Love, Healing: Green: Air
  • Manipura: Solar Plexus: Wisdom, Power: Yellow: Fire
  • Svadhisthana: Sacral: Sexuality, Creativity: Orange: Water
  • Muladhara: Root: Grounding, Basic Trust: Red: Earth

Continue reading

Elizabeth: Ch-ch-changes

Apologies for the delay in today’s post, but the Girls in the Basement made a rare appearance last evening and I didn’t have the heart to tell them to go away because I was too busy.

The reason for the arrival of the Girls requires a little background.

Years ago, when my son was just a toddler, I saw a picture in some magazine of a child-sized gazebo.  I thought it was adorable and would provide the perfect amount of shade for a backyard sandbox or maybe a wading pool.

In the typical way of things, however, I lost the magazine.  A Google search did not turn up any simple building instructions, so I reached out to a guaranteed source for help – my dad, who I grew up believing could build anything (he could).

He said he’d look through his woodworking books for some plans.  Life went on and I didn’t hear anything for a while, but then one day he turned up with a piece of wood, which turned out to be a carved finial for the top of my yet-non-existent gazebo.  Over the following weeks, additional pieces arrived until one Saturday afternoon, with the “help” of my son and his little Fisher-Price tools, a child-sized gazebo came to life in the backyard.

It was, indeed, adorable. Continue reading

Jeanne: Anatomy of a Newsletter

On Friday I sent out my seventh newsletter.

When I started sending out newsletters last summer, just before releasing The Demon Always Wins, I planned on once a quarter. Current marketing wisdom says weekly, but who has something to say that often? Even book-factory authors who spit out books like they’re running an assembly line take six weeks or so to write and release a book. Also, I personally loathe getting author newsletters that frequently. And anything more often than once a week I consider spam and quickly unsubscribe.

Still, over the last few months, I’ve fallen into a monthly pattern because I have had news to share—contest finals, new covers, good stuff.! And now that I have a few newsletters under my belt, I feel like I have some useful ideas on what works.

  1. A header/template that reflects your brand. Here’s mine:

Header

2. News. This goes back to what I was grumbling about earlier. It’s only a newsletter if it contains news. In this case, it was the news that The Demon Always Wins won Best Paranormal Romance and Best First Book in the Detroit RWA Booksellers’ Best contest. It included a picture of my (very hard to photograph) awards: Continue reading

Justine: A Bit About Audiobooks, for Authors

Microphone in recording studioWell, another RWA conference down and lots of great stuff learned. It seemed that this year, many folks were focused on audio books (myself included). The platform has seen double-digit growth over the last seven years and some authors, like my critique partner Jenn Windrow, say that they’re seeing higher royalties with audiobooks than with their KDP page reads/book sales.

Many people may wonder whether they need to hire a professional narrator/sound company to do an audiobook, and my answer (based on my active listening experience…I’m an audiophile) is Continue reading