09/2/13

No cats here….

I’m a member of two writing organizations, Romance Writers of America (RWA), and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). I’ve never questioned the value of SFWA. I do wonder about RWA though, mostly because I’m not sure my books are romances. Do people fall in love and have great sex? Sure. But that’s not the point of the story. The point is solving a mystery or catching a killer, and in general I spend more time on the supernatural than the sweet and sappy. Still, every once in a while RWA provides me with a gem like this one about social media for writers:

“Post pictures of your cats. Readers love cats. If you don’t have one, borrow one and take its picture.” (Teresa Medeiros quoted in ‘The Virtual Living Room’ by Shana Galen, Romance Writers Report, Sept. 2013)

I don’t have a cat. I have a house rabbit. House rabbits are a much different pet from cats. Cats may be funny, silly, or cute. Rabbits disapprove. A cat might cuddle at your feet while you write, purring his encouragement. My Rabbit Editor sits beside me and glares his disapproval. The list of things he dislikes is long: ‘be’ verbs, telling not showing, saying ‘I’ too much. Don’t worry, he doesn’t confine himself to disapproving about writing topics.

I have long hair, careful-you-don’t-shut-it-in-the-car-door, pull-it-out-of-the-way-so-you-don’t-sit-on-it long. Thus my house is littered with hair ties. Before I go running I put my hair into a braid, which requires two hair ties. If I’m about to cook it goes into a pony-tail, one hair tie. The Rabbit Editor prefers it when I cook. Something about the produce scraps he enjoys, I suppose. Thus you get a scene like this one:

death to hair ties cropped

I am prone to anthropomorphizing him. I admit this. It’s entirely possible he just happened to nibble one of the ties into uselessness. But with that expression I could just hear him saying,  “How sad that you can’t run today. Why don’t you go make me a nice apple pie instead?” Tragically for my angriest editor, I didn’t drop all my hair ties on the floor that morning. Rest assured, he got his nibble of apple pie and apple peels not too long after I got back.

02/6/12

Playing with Web page design

Forgive my self-aggrandizing but I’ve recently received word that my proposal for the Romance Writers of America Conference was accepted. I’ll be teaching a one hour session entitled “Develop a Free Author Website in 60 Minutes (or Less!).” Along with Jami Gold, a social media maven, I’ll cover creating a free website, setting up a blog, and various hosting options.

I started writing in HTML back in 1997. I worked for a defense firm, taking care of passel of wonderfully geeky mechanical and software engineers. They wanted a website. I had the most free time. The solution was obvious to them: I would learn HTML. I surprised myself by doing just that. Back then the language was rather intuitive, paragraphs were indicated with a p, if you wanted to make something bold, you labeled it ‘bold’, italics were indicated with an I, underline with a u and so on.
The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium, the Powers That Be when it comes to the web) ushered in a new changes and rules. HTML expanded to include XML and XHTML. It spun off the sections about format (fonts, color, text size) to a separate language called CSS. Databases driven websites came along, and ASP made them work. But the basic 10 pieces of my HTML vocabulary from that first website still work and I remain convinced that HTML is the simplest language in the world to learn. I’m a bit of an HTML zealot. I firmly believe that just about anyone can create & maintain a website. I’ve taught 63 year old Grandmothers and 40 year old technophobes.

 

I still design web pages in my day job, in fact, it’s the best part of my day. Web design is dependable like math, two plus two always equals four. I like the clean lines of code and how I can know that it will work. I love the intellectual puzzle of making the code do what I want. I can’t wait to introduce a roomful of writers to that fun. Until then, if anyone needs help with a tricky webpage drop me a note. I’m happy to play with it.