Tag Archives: blogging

This Blog Is on the Move

I’ve moved this blog from a self-hosted WordPress.org site to WordPress.com, which will require a whole lot less maintenance. I  also noticed what’s called a “high degree of latency” on my self-hosted site. That’s fancy talk for it was way too freaking slow. I’ll add a post later on the pros and cons of each approach to blogging. (I will seriously miss Google Analytics.) But just wanted to get a quick note up to say that regular posts shall resume shortly. WordPress.com allows me to keep my original domain, so it appears that none of the links to the blog have changed. It’s all just backend, boring stuff that’s different.

Oh, and there is a new blog theme for the new year too. Whadaya think? Kinda spiffy, ain’t it?

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2010 Webby Awards

The winners of this year’s Webby Awards were announced yesterday, May 4. The full list of nominees in nearly 70 categories is downright amazing, ranging from sites backed by mega corporations, through those bankrolled by celebrities, and then on down to those managed by one lone individual who probably doesn’t even scratching a living out of it.

With over 300 nominees on the page, there’s something there for everyone–fascinating browsing. I haven’t checked out the full list, but here’s a few picks worth a visit:

The Poppe Shoppe: This won in the Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics. I can’t quite figure out if it is or isn’t an ad, but in the end kind of don’t care. Scrolling up and down and clicking away causes the site to take on a life of its own, though it does get old kind of quick.

One in 8 Million: This site from the New York Times was a nominee in the Best Use of Photography category. I love how this seemingly stalwart paper has so thoroughly embraced online media. If they can do it, book publishers can too. It’s impossible to imagine this experience–crisp black and white photography notwithstanding–as anything other than a website.

Jim Carrey: Official Site: This won both the Webby and the People’s Voice awards in the Celebrity/Fan category. It’s a tad strange, but super cool. I’m not quite sure if it actually communicates anything other than how weird it is, but definitely an amazing site. Can I get me one of them Twitter birds?

Clouds 365 Project: This was a nominee in the Personal Blog/Website category. It’s a simple idea: one picture of clouds per day for an entire year. I love sites like this with clear concepts that are elegantly executed. All around, it’s an enticing site that makes May in Seattle (shouldn’t it be spring already?) not quite so lonely.

Selleck Waterfall Sandwich: This won in the Weird category. Not quite so simple a concept, but yup, exactly what it says it is. Had me laughing out loud. How does Mr. Selleck stay so slim with all them sandwiches around? Make sure you play the audio clip on the first page, it sums the site up nicely.

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Kirkus Discoveries and Vanity Reviews

With all the hubbub over Harlequin Horizons late last year, I’m surprised that more attention isn’t paid to Kirkus Discoveries. This service is a division of the established and formerly (by me, at least) respected Kirkus Reviews. For a mere $425 for 7 to 9 week turnaround or $575 for 3 to 4 week turnaround, self-published and independent authors can have their book reviewed by an “experienced” reviewer.

The site is filled with the same hollow claims that raised ire far and wide against Harlequin. They offer to publish the review on their website “which has a wide audience of librarians, major publishers, agents, rights representatives, booksellers and film and television producers.” They go on to say that their reviews help “many authors” boost sales on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, and that each month they include a lucky few in their Discoveries e-newsletter.

They also make great pains to indicate that while these reviews cost money, this doesn’t impact their content:

Though all our reviewers are experienced professionals, not all Discoveries reviews are glowing. Kirkus Discoveries is a caveat emptor service that gives honest, impartial evaluations of the titles we receive. The resulting reviews can be positive, negative or anywhere in between. By upholding Kirkus’ rigorous editorial standards, we ensure that an enthusiastic review is meaningful in the publishing community. Our long-standing editorial policy of anonymous reviews also applies to the Discoveries program.

Why would anyone commission a piece of writing and then not be able to dictate its content? This seems to be designed for the pure and simple purpose of separating writers from their money. Kirkus is preying on the same hopes that vanity presses are notorious for abusing, and they undoubtedly often add insult to injury once the review is delivered. One can only wonder what the reviewers must think who get these books. Are they the same reviewers who write the regular Kirkus reviews?

Kirkus defends the review-for-pay scheme with much of the same rhetoric that Harlequin used to defend Harlequin Horizons. As the world of publishing changes, they need to look for alternative revenue streams.

They’re right: the world of reviews has changed. We don’t need Kirkus anymore. Customer reviews written on sites like Amazon and the slew of great book bloggers that have emerged can quite nicely replace much of ye olde booke review guarde. These new venues review both traditionally and self-published books, and they charge nada. If a book–no matter who publishes it–is noteworthy enough to merit review, it should be reviewed. Period.

And whatever did happen with Harlequin Horizons? They yanked Harlequin from the name, relaunching the self-publishing imprint as DellArte Press. But it’s not clear if they’re still marketing self-publishing services when they reject a manuscript from the traditional Harlequin lines. They may not be, a search on the main Harlequin site did not bring up anything about DellArte.

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Lessons from Three Months of Blogging

This blog launched three months ago today. Not very long in the blogosphere, but long enough for my initial web-hosting package to expire. I first set it up on a whim. Saw the domain was available, click, I owned it.  I figured I’d give blogging a whirl and see where things stood in three months, half expecting that I’d have abandoned it by now and have one of those “oh yeah, that thing” moments when the renewal e-mail arrived.

So while a tad presumptuous for this baby blogger to offer blogging advice, here’s my thoughts:

Posts take some time to write. At first I planned on updating the blog once a day, then that fell to five days per week, and then to two days per week. This is manageable. I’m also working full time and writing short stories in the mornings before work, so any more blogging time would take away from writing time. Fiction comes first.

You can blog and write. On a related note, I’m also getting more writing done. The blog hasn’t taken away from the writing, but has cemented it to the rest of the world. Rather than scribbling in my back room, and having it all stay right here, at least some of it leaks out. I’m no longer writing entirely in a vacuum, and that inspires me to write more.

That “publish” button is awesome. My day job is with a major website. I own a handful of pages that get gabonker traffic. Every update is reviewed, every pixel debated, results reported, strategies justified. Which is all as it should be. It’s a business. I have a great job that more than pays the bills and leaves me with enough headspace to write. But I love owning this teensy site here from end to end, and publishing posts that take shape quickly and go live instantly… plus no meetings.

It’s called a “web” site. I just started tweeting, got six whole followers. Woohoo! Never would have done that without the blog. I also got over my perennial lurker status and started commenting on the blogs I visit, when I have something to add. My day job has conditioned me to see websites as destinations, this experience is all about… well, a web. Whether my thoughts are read here, on Twitter, or on someone else’s blog doesn’t matter. It’s that they’re getting read at all that does.

Stop tinkering, just post. At first I thought I should write about 20 posts before I put anything up so I had squirreled away some acorns. Then, once I started the blog I tried about a hundred different themes before picking this one (still not sure about it). Then I decided to play with the CSS to get the link colors just right. Not sure how much of that, if any, matters. And it can always change. Just post, then post again. Take care of all the window dressing as you have time.

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