April Poem-a-Day Challenge so far

I'm a little nervous to do this, but I thought I'd share a few of the poems I've written so far for Robert Lee Brewer's PAD Challenge at Poetic Asides.

Please be kind and remember these are first drafts. I (and you) have till May 5 to polish and submit up to five favorites from the month.

As I mentioned on Hobo Mama, I'm trying to write as many parenting-specific poems as I can this year. If all goes well, I thought it would be fun to compile my parenting poems from this and previous years into a poetry chapbook as one of my ideas for what to do with my CreateSpace proof. But I have so many ideas, who knows!

I'm nervous to share my parenting poems for many reasons. You might, for instance, think my poetry is bad. You might, for instance, think my parenting is bad. But I'm pretty happy with these poems, and they speak truth in their way, so I'll let that be what it is.

Without further introduction, here are a few of my parenting poems from this month, with a link to the prompt that inspired each:

Day 15: For today's prompt, write a deadline poem. You can interpret what a deadline poem is however you wish. Maybe it's a poem that laments the idea of deadlines. Maybe it's a poem about someone intentionally missing them or who never has problems with them (I wish I were that person).


People told me when you were due,
as if you were a term paper
and to turn in late would earn a failing grade.

We ignored them, didn't we?
Listening in the quiet days
for those first twinges to signal

you knew what time it was.

Day 4: For today's prompt, write a history poem. This could mean a poem about your country's history, the history of an event or a tool, or even your own personal history. Hey, you could even write about the history of a relationship. The history of everything is fair game. Have fun!


What can I learn in two years together
(almost three)?
What have you changed in me
except everything?

Did it start when they slid you up
onto my chest,
roughing you up with blankets
to remove the blood
my blood
our blood?

Or did it start when I felt your head
with my hand but also
with my whole body
my being concentrated
to one point,
the entrance
the exit
the start of our new history?

Or was it before
in the ache of my hips
in the slow creaking sinking of us
into the mattress
in the slow creaking walking of us
along the beach
your dancing bringing my hand to touch
a foot
a hand
a first hello?

I looked into your eyes
when they laid you on my chest
I cradled you the way they teach you
in postage stamps of Mary
and shadowed illustrations.
I became your mother
if I wasn't before.

The start of our story together,
your life expanding beyond
the gentle swimming and bobbing
no longer fed with blood.
You are dry now, with legs and hands
no longer wrinkled by fluids.
My life constricted, concentrated
upon this point,
upon you,
my breasts dripping milk
my spit cleaning your face
my palms accepting your chewed-up food.
I am wet
like seaweed
I am bound
like the tides
I wash ever closer to you
as you wash further away
to make your own history.

Day 3: For today's prompt, I want you to take the phrase "Partly (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make that the title of your poem, and then write the poem. For instance, your poem might be titled "Partly Cloudy," "Partly Crazy," "Partly Out of Touch," or whatever.

Partly resentful

It was my choice
(it's a child not a choice)
it was my choice, wasn't it?

to have you,
to reproduce,
to abandon myself

yet here my self resides,
partly resentful,
partly wistful
of those days

those days I could write poetry
and fly to London
and have sex on the bed
the blessed bed

the bed that brought you to me
that brought me here,
partly resentful

and wholly in love.

Day 7: For today's prompt, take the phrase "Until (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and write the poem. Possibilities include: "Until we meet again," "Until tomorrow," "Until monkeys fly out my butt," or even "Until blank" (why not?).

Until you move away

Pillow hog and space eater,
chubby legs kicking my thighs.
Starfish hands pushing my chest
and unh unh unh in the darkness
until I roll over and let you feed.
Dream interrupter, devourer of sleep,
you take while I wait
until you move away.

Lap hog and attention seeker,
sturdy body invading my space.
Starfish hand pulling my chin
to meet your gray-green eyes,
your chatter about octopi.
Poem interrupter, devourer of time,
you talk while I wait
until you move away.

Imagining a night with full sleep,
imagining a day with concentration,
uninterrupted, unrelenting,
Dreading the day
you move away.

Day 17: For today's prompt, write a science poem. Science encompasses a lot, so your poem doesn't have to be scientific to still be a science poem. For instance, you could have a poem titled something like "The Science of Love," and then examine a relationship. Voila! A science poem! Of course, it'll be interesting to see how many poets talk about volcanoes and single cell organisms, not to mention finding out how many "mad scientists" are out there.

Unchallenged theory

We quote the statistics
of lives saved and enhanced,

as we turn from the naysayers
in lab coats and with scalpels.

I scour Google Scholar
and laugh at the tagline.

"Stand on the shoulders of giants,"
I snicker, and click on my links.

I prove the way I parent is right
even as I know

I need no proof.

I've posted a couple bonus poems at Hobo Mama, too, if you're in the mood for more on this fine #poettues.

If you're sharing some of your PAD Challenge poems, be sure to let me know where so I can go check them out!

Photo courtesy Chris Greene on stock.xchng


Switch between Seller Central and Search Inside This Book on Amazon

Some time ago, I expressed my dismay over the apparent way Seller Central accounts and the Search Inside This Book feature on Amazon were linked. It seemed that signing up for Search Inside This Book had made my (defunct) Seller Central account disappear — when I logged in to Amazon Seller Central, it now defaulted to my publisher interface, and I couldn't figure out how to access my Amazon Marketplace account.

Well, they say a tax audit is the mother of figuring things out. Or something like that. We were audited by the state of Washington, and I had to get into my old Seller Central account to prove some income, and — wouldn't you know it — there is a way. It's just in teensy-tiny-font form.

Here are some screen shots, in case you're as near-sighted and unobservant as I am. You can click on any of the pictures to make them larger.

If you're in Amazon Seller Central, there's a little down arrow next to your seller name toward the top of the page. Yes, my seller name was Seller name. Ok, not really.

If you click on the little arrow or your seller name, down drops a little menu that lets you toggle between the two interfaces. Ah! Choose "Search Inside the Book PDF Submissions" to get to your publisher account. See how it says "Change Merchant" but only after you've clicked on the little arrow? So helpful.

This is the view from within the publisher interface, Amazon Vendor Tools and the Search Inside The Book PDF Submissions area. Up in the toppish left corner is the word "Vendor" (which apparently was supposed to mean something to me) next to a drop-down menu.

And that's how you get back to Seller Central, by clicking on your seller name again. Ta da!

To sum up, you can have both a Seller Central / Amazon Marketplace account and an Amazon Vendor Tools / Publisher / Search Inside This Book account. No worries, no problems — I just wish Amazon had made that drop-down menu a little more obvious!


Poetry: Why and how?

In the airy heights of hubris, I thought I'd bring you a post on what makes poetry poetry.

I know, I know. Who am I to say? I will be the first to admit: Nobody. I am a big fat no one at all when it comes to poetry.

Yes, I had one poem professionally published … when I was 15 … in a Sunday school newsletter … for $5, I believe the payment was. (Woot!)

I self-published a book of my own poetry, which was a gratifying thing, but not exactly affirmation of my incredible poetic skills, you know? The reviews on it were really good … albeit from my mom and dad.

Have I tried to submit poetry and failed? No. I've been afraid. Very very afraid. Poetry is part of my soul work, and to have it rejected — I don't know if I could stand it.

So, most of what I know of good current poetry I have gleaned from two sources:

  1. A girl I worked with on a literary journal in college.
  2. Contemporary poetry that's generally acknowledged to be da bomb.

As for #1, I didn't even like that chick. She was kind of snooty and airy-fairy and artsy-fartsy and critical and way beyond her years in self-confidence and maturity, which completely intimidated me. I was supposed to be above her in paygrade, and I felt beneath her in every which way. All that was, naturally, not her fault, and she did an outstanding job being the poetry editor for the journal.

The really good thing about working with her was I got to read every comment she wrote on every poem that was submitted. She never failed to write something. And what was the most common thread? "Why is this poetry? Show — don't tell!"

As I've read some of #2 (not a lot — I feel guilty about this, but it is what it is), I see what she means.

Poets like Li-Young Lee; Billy Collins; Gwendolyn Brooks; Rita Dove; the poets linked to by Paige of Baby Dust Diaries like Sharlee Mullins Glenn (can't get enough of that one) or the beautiful poetry in Mothering like this from Cheryl Gardner — even older ones like W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot — or even older still like Gerard Manley Hopkins or Emily Dickinson, poets with a modern sensibility ahead of their time — they all inspire and elucidate and help me see what sparks the current poetry reader's interest.

Because I love even older poets, too, but there is a definite fashion to poetry, and I've noticed what's acclaimed now is more along the lines of this:

  1. Show; don't tell.
  2. If you could say it the same in prose, why don't you?

Show; don't tell

Contemporary poetry has strong imagery. It likes to take visuals, tastes, sounds — often as comparisons — and present an experience to its readers.

Does contemporary poetry have a message? Oh, undoubtedly. But it doesn't just tell you the message. It hints at it. It shows you some clues. It lets you feel the message.

Take a look at Billy Collins' poem, which both talks about and demonstrates this precept:

Introduction To Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

The best poems make me sense something. They give me an emotional response that makes me go "Ahhh." Something in them makes sense, even if I don't have the time or inclination to dissect them line by line.

Take the lines "waterski / across the surface of a poem" — what does that even mean? Who cares! It gives you an idea, right? You get it, somewhere deep down. That's what good poetry does.

Some sniff at modern and/or contemporary poetry as being willfully obtuse. Maybe it is. Some say it's only for snobs who think they're so much smarter than everybody else. I don't know about that. I know poetry isn't everybody's cup of tea, and that's totally valid. But I think good contemporary poems are not trying to keep you from understanding them intellectually — they're just trying to bypass intellect altogether and go straight for the heart.

If you could say it the same in prose, why don't you?

In other words, why poetry? If you have an essay to write, write an essay. If you want to write a novel, write a novel. Don't make a poem carry more weight than it can. Don't try to cram every detail or fact into a poem. It's a fragile frame and easily weighed down. Poetry is more than prose with a lot of choppy line breaks. It's its own art form, and usually? It's pretty short.

Now, again — note that this is contemporary poetry I'm talking about. Homer, for instance, used poetry just like a novel. And there are plenty of more recent poets who've written long, epic verse.

It's just — well, it's not popular right now. It goes back to that in-fashion thing. Poems right now are considered best when they're brief. Take a look at magazines that (still) accept poetry submissions — they'll often have a line limit. Take a look at poetry competitions for buses (hey, I entered once) and see how short poetry must be when it's marketed to the masses (or mass transit).

If you have a definite point you just have to say — then say it. Maybe as an essay or a blog post. With poetry? You're going to have to allow a little leeway. Let the poem shape itself. Use your imagery; weave your metaphors; bring your theme back into itself. And let the message come through subtly in the framework.

Breaking the rules?

You don't like my guidelines? You won't be the first one. Do what you will, and see if you like what comes out. You absolutely might. Poetic styles are fluid and ever-changing, and maybe you're the voice of the next generation of poets.

But take it from this (mostly unpublished) poet: I like poetry that adheres to these rules. Poke around and see if you do, too. Then go try to write some.

Photo courtesy aurelio.asiain on flickr (cc)


How to schedule a post and get its permalink in WordPress

Dionna of Code Name: Mama and I are writing a few blogging tutorials of particular use for our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants. Today I would like to welcome Tom & Dionna, who have written a guest post about scheduling a post in Wordpress and figuring out what its URL will be, to help in posting to the carnival and emailing us the link. Tom is an IT guru, Dionna is a lawyer turned work-at-home mama, and together they form the natural parenting duo responsible for one amazing son. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler.

Here is a tutorial on how to schedule a post in Wordpress and figure out what its permalink (URL) will be (this post complements Lauren's earlier post for Blogger users on figuring out a post URL in advance and scheduling a post in Blogger).

*This tutorial assumes your permalinks are in date and/or title format.

These tips will come in handy if you want to:

  • have your carnival entry post at a certain time while you're not otherwise available
  • email us the post URL in advance (such as when using the carnival's monthly Google form)

How do I schedule a post?

Before you can determine what your permalink will be, you must schedule your post. If you try to get the permalink before scheduling the post, your permalink will be incorrect. Here are the steps to schedule your post:

1. Add a new post:


2. Edit scheduling.

This is the important step — to get your permalink with the correct date and title, you have to schedule this post for the date you want it to publish. Click "Edit" (next to "Publish immediately") to start this process.


3. Confirm the date.

Put the correct date/time in place for your post to publish, then click OK to confirm. For example, if you are scheduling a post for the Carnival of Natural Parenting, the Carnival is always live on the second Tuesday of each month.


How do I determine what my post's permalink will be?

4. Title the post.

Go ahead and title your post now. Your post title can be edited later if need be, but know that doing so will also change your permalink.


5. My permalink is wrong!

As you type, your permalink will auto-fill underneath the title window - but wait! That permalink has the wrong date! We'll fix this in Step 6...


6. Save the draft.

Saving the draft will update the permalink with the correct "date" and title embedded.


7. My permalink is now correct!

Check it out, the permalink updated with the "correct" date — the one you specified in your Scheduling window.


8. Overview screenshot.

At this point, here's a shot of my test post — notice the permalink is right, the "Schedule For" area shows the correct time, etc. Click this image for a full-size view.


We hope that was helpful! If you have any questions or need clarification, please leave a comment or contact Dionna and Tom directly at Code Name: Mama.


How to schedule a post in Blogger

UPDATE! Blogger has a new scheduling function and layout. See this updated post for more information and a how-to.

Dionna of Code Name: Mama and I are writing a few blogging tutorials of particular use for our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants. This one will help in scheduling your article to post on Carnival day!

Here's a little tutorial on how to schedule a post in Blogger (Blogspot) for a specific time and day.

This is useful if you want a post to go live at a certain time but will not be available to hit the publish button yourself (such as if you want your Carnival post to go live just after midnight but you'll be asleep by then).

It can also help your blog maintain a businesslike image if you schedule all or certain important posts to go live at a predictable time each day or week (such as a giveaway linky that readers can count on to show up at 9:00 a.m. each Thursday, for example).

(Note to my Carnival friends: You do not have to schedule your post; it's just a how-to in case you want to for your own convenience.)

1. Click on "Post Options" at the bottom of the posting box.

You can click on any of these pictures to see them bigger.

Before you schedule, make sure your post is exactly the way you want it to go live. Use the "Preview" function that's next to "Edit HTML" at the top of this box. There's more info on using "Preview" in this post on editing HTML in Blogger.

If everything looks good? Then click "Post Options" to expand the drop-down options menu.

2. Click on "Scheduled At" to show the schedule box.

The default is "Automatic," which posts at the date and time you click "Publish Post."

However, you can choose your own posting date and time by clicking "Scheduled At." It will drop down a new box.

3. Fill in your preferred date and time.

To schedule a post, fill in the date and time you want your post to go live — for instance, 12:01 AM on the carnival day as a suggestion!

For U.S. English(-language) settings, at least, the formatting is "(M)M/DD/YY" for the date and "(H)H:MM AM/PM" for the time. (Note: The time zone is whatever your settings are set at. You can change the time zone at Settings --> Formatting --> Time Zone.)

Then click "Publish Post." Now your post is scheduled! It will go live at the time you scheduled.

4. Receive a confirmation that your post is scheduled.

Once you click "Publish Post," you will be rerouted to the "Edit Posts" page.

There will be a highlighted confirmation at the top telling you your post will be published at the date and time you specified. Check that it's correct.

In the list of posts, your scheduled post will have "scheduled" next to the date. Again, make sure the date is correct.

If you need to make changes, click on "Edit Post" and repeat the steps. Make sure to click "Publish Post" again if you want to reschedule. If you click "Save as Draft," it will unschedule your post and save it instead.

5. My version of Blogger looks different!

If you have an older version of Blogger, it will look something like this instead:

It's actually just as easy or even easier to schedule in the older version. Once you click on "Post Options," you'll automatically see the date and time boxes. Just fill in your preferred date and time and click "Publish Post" to schedule.

(Note: You can switch to the Updated Editor under Settings --> Basic --> Select post editor.)

Warnings about scheduling your post

  • Be careful that your post is completely ready. Use the Preview function (at the top your post box next to "Edit HTML") to make sure everything will look the way you want it to when it goes live if you won't be around to check and make changes.
  • If you want to edit your post in any way before the scheduled date, you must click "Publish Post" again when you're done to reschedule the publishing. If you change your mind and don't want it to publish automatically, however, you can click "Save as Draft" instead. That will switch it to the usual draft form.

Convert your time zone for deadlines

Dionna of Code Name: Mama and I are writing a few blogging tutorials of particular use for our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants. This one will help in making sure you get your carnival submission in by the right time, no matter where in the world you live!

All right, this is probably one of the lighter tutorials for our carnival participants, but it does come up every month, and I might as well have a blog post to point people to.

All the writers outside of the Pacific time zone I set the deadline for want to know: When is the article due in their time?

This tutorial can also help anyone who's writing for an editor across time-zone lines or entering a contest with a firm deadline.

Submissions for the Carnival of Natural Parenting are due by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. Now, I'm not encouraging anyone to wait until the very last second to turn their entries in (although I generally do just that), but it's good to know the latest you can click "send" on the email, isn't it?

But if you live nowhere near Pacific time and can't do the math in your head:

You need a time zone converter.

Here's one:

World Time Server

The top line is showing you 11:45 p.m. (Daylight Saving Time) for Pacific time, the time zone I chose, because I live in Seattle. I wanted as much time as possible to turn in my article. I'm like that.

Find your own country, city, or state in the drop-down menu where it says "In."

Voila! Now you know what your actual deadline is.

Here's a cheat sheet for some of our most common entry time zones, adjusted for 11:59 p.m. PDT. If I say "next day," that means that time on the date after the stated carnival due date (for this carnival, then, April 7).

Time Zone Adjusted Time
Hawaii Time 8:59 p.m.
Alaska Aleutian Time 9:59 p.m.
Alaska Time 10:59 p.m.
Pacific Time 11:59 p.m.
Mountain Time 12:59 a.m. (next day)
Central Time 1:59 a.m. (next day)
Eastern Time 2:59 a.m. (next day)
Atlantic Time 3:59 a.m. (next day)
Western Africa Time 6:59 a.m. (next day)
Greenwich Mean Time 7:59 a.m. (next day)
Central European Time 8:59 a.m. (next day)
Eastern European Time 9:59 a.m. (next day)
India Standard Time 12:29 p.m. (next day)
Western Australia 2:59 p.m. (next day)
Japan Standard Time 3:59 p.m. (next day)
Australia New South Wales Time 4:59 p.m. (next day)
New Zealand Time 6:59 p.m. (next day)

What time zones am I forgetting? I'll add places if you leave a comment with a request.

Hope that helps you as you plan your procrastination!

April 11, ETA: I realized you might like a chart for Eastern time as well, since some of our Carnival day deadlines are in Eastern. Here you go, a conversion of noon EDT!

Time Zone Adjusted Time
Hawaii Time 6:00 a.m.
Alaska Aleutian Time 7:00 a.m.
Alaska Time 8:00 a.m.
Pacific Time 9:00 a.m.
Mountain Time 10:00 a.m.
Central Time 11:00 a.m.
Eastern Time 12:00 p.m.
Atlantic Time 1:00 p.m.
Western Africa Time 4:00 p.m.
Greenwich Mean Time 5:00 p.m.
Central European Time 6:00 p.m.
Eastern European Time 7:00 p.m.
India Standard Time 9:30 p.m.
Western Australia 12:00 a.m. (next day)
Japan Standard Time 1:00 a.m. (next day)
Australia New South Wales Time 2:00 a.m. (next day)
New Zealand Time 4:00 a.m. (next day)

P.S. A Facebook comment from mamamilkers said about this post: "I think you made have just taken nerd to the nth degree ;)" I'll take that as a compliment...

Photo copyright © Jenny Rollo, who lives on Australia NSW Time


How to edit HTML in Wordpress

Dionna of Code Name: Mama and I are writing a few blogging tutorials of particular use for our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants. Today I would like to welcome Tom & Dionna, who have written a guest post about editing HTML in Wordpress, to help in pasting the carnival code blurbs. Tom is an IT guru, Dionna is a lawyer turned work-at-home mama, and together they form the natural parenting duo responsible for one amazing son. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler.

When you are writing posts in Wordpress (for example, when you are preparing your entry for the Carnival of Natural Parenting), it is often helpful to know how to edit in HTML. This tutorial (like Lauren's earlier tutorial on editing HTML in Blogger) will show you how to:
  • add HTML code to a post and
  • copy your post's HTML for use elsewhere.

How do I add HTML code?

Most people probably use the Visual tab for writing blog posts in Wordpress (if you use the HTML tab exclusively, this mini-tutorial is stuff you already know). Let's look at the basic steps for adding HTML code to a post.

1. Identify "Visual" or "HTML":


You know you're in the Visual tab if you have all of these extra formatting options that work like Microsoft Word. The HTML tab has very few options available.


2. Write your post in the "Visual" tab. Once you've got your post written and saved, it's time to insert the HTML code.

3. Switch to the "HTML" tab:


4. Paste your HTML code.

This is the screen where you can add in HTML code. Simply navigate to the area of the post where you want to insert the code and paste it in.

Let's say, for example, that you have received the intro blurb for this month's Carnival of Natural Parenting from Dionna (at Code Name: Mama) and Lauren (at Hobo Mama). The intro blurb should go at the very top of your post, so copy the code from the Carnival email, position your cursor at the beginning of the post, and paste. Voila!

If you have the ending blurb (the list of all of the Carnival participants), you'd copy and paste that at the very end of your post. Easy peasy.

A helpful hint: if you are copying HTML code from a Word document, then you are also copying all of Word's weird styling and formatting code automatically. Instead of copying and pasting straight from Word, copy it, paste it first into Notepad, TextEdit, or a similar simple text editor, then copy and paste from Notepad into Wordpress. Notepad does not retain any styling/formatting code, and Wordpress will be happier.


5. Save the draft.

Before you switch back to the Visual tab to see how pretty everything looks, you should save your draft.

A word of warning: Wordpress doesn't always "work right" when you switch between Visual and HTML and go back-and-forth and switch it more and more. We don't know why. Our advice would be to switch between them, make your changes, and then "Save Draft" prior to switching back to the other tab. Without doing this (who knows why) Wordpress will "lose" the code you just typed/pasted in HTML, or it won't display your text the way it was formatted in Visual.


6. Preview before you Publish.

Once it's saved, feel free to check out the Visual tab, or "Preview" your post to see how it will look on your site.

How do I copy my post's HTML code for use elsewhere?

There are at least two instances that we can think of that it would be helpful to copy/paste a blog post.

First: if you have written a long post and want to split it into several smaller pieces, you are more likely to retain all of your formatting by copying and pasting from the HTML tab rather than from the Visual tab.
Second: if you are submitting a guest post to another site, it is customary to send your post in HTML format.

And it's really quite easy. Just write and save your post, switch to the HTML tab (see Step 3 above), hit "Control + A" ("Control" = "Command" in Mac) to select all of your text, "Control + C" to copy it, and then paste it (either into an email or a Notepad document).

We hope that was helpful! If you have any questions or need clarification, please leave a comment or contact Dionna and Tom directly at Code Name: Mama.


How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance

UPDATE! Blogger now allows users to view and edit their permalinks. See this updated post for more information and a how-to.

Dionna of Code Name: Mama and I are writing a few blogging tutorials of particular use for our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants. This one will help in determining your post URL in advance!

Here's a little tutorial on how to determine your post's link in Blogger (Blogspot) before you've published a post. This is useful if you want to figure out ahead of time what your URL will be once you've published. There's also a trick to choosing your own post URL, which I will share at the end.

(Note to my Carnival friends: You do not have to do this; it's just a how-to in case you want to — for instance, if you'll be busy on the morning of the Carnival and want to get sending us the post URL taken care of in advance.)

Let's take a look at how this works.

The title of this post is "How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance," but here's the post URL:

The post URL is the address of the specific post. It's what shows up in the address bar at the top of your browser when you've clicked on a post's title in a blog (not just on the blog's homepage, or the URL would look just like: http://www.laurenwayne.com).

In some blogging platforms, you can view your post URL in advance and edit it to be what you want. In Blogger so far, nuh-uh. It seems to be a change that's a-coming, but till then — we have to make do.

What you have to understand is the rules behind how Blogger creates the URL. Then you can:
  • know what your URL will be ahead of time
  • actually choose what your URL will be, if you so desire (say, to increase SEO)

How Blogger determines your URL

Blogger takes whatever you type into the Title box at the top of your post and creates the URL from that.

Your URL will have these parts:
http://[blog URL]/[year]/[month as two digits]/[post title up to 39 characters].html

See the parts again here:
http://[blog URL = www.laurenwayne.com]/2010 [year]/04 [month]/determine-blogger-post-url-in-advance [37 characters, including the hyphens] .html

Here is an online character counter to help you determine how many characters your title is:

Blogger's URL rules:

  • Blogger takes up to the first 39 characters.
  • The 39 characters includes spaces, which it changes into hyphens.
  • Blogger ignores the words "the," "a," and "an."
  • Blogger ignores punctuation, such as colons, commas, or dashes. (Hyphens, however, are retained as hyphens.)
  • If 39 characters would cut into the middle of a word, Blogger stops before that word.
  • If you've used the exact title before in that month, Blogger will follow the same rules for the post title but then append an underscore and a two-digit number to the end of the duplicate, such as "_07" or "_20" to distinguish them. This doesn't come up a whole lot, but I wanted to mention it since sometimes it does. For instance, if you do a Wordless Wednesday every week with the title "Wordless Wednesday" alone, Blogger will add an underscore and two-digit identifier to the subsequent posts with that same title. The underscore and numbers can go over the 39-character limit. (You can see an example here, from a post I double-imported by accident, but that's a tutorial for another day...)
So here are a couple other samples of how Blogger would create a post URL:
  • The post title of "How to determine your post URL in Blogger" would become http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/how-to-determine-your-post-url-in.html (The word "Blogger" makes it 41 characters, so the URL would stop beforehand.)
  • A post title of "The way to determine your Blogger post URL in advance" from November 2008 at laurenwayne.blogspot.com would become http://www.laurenwayne.blogspot.com/2008/11/way-to-determine-your-blogger-post-url.html ("The" is dropped, and "in advance" is over the character limit.)

(If you are a Carnival participant and just wanted to know how to determine your post URL in advance, you can stop here. Whatever title you've chosen, just count the number of characters, including spaces but leaving out "the" and "a," and stop when you get to 39. Then cobble together the other elements of the post URL, and you can email that to us. Again, you don't have to do this. I know it's complicated and messy, so don't feel obligated to figure it all out. I'm only putting the information out there in case you want to for your own reasons.)

Now, for anyone who likes this sort of thing — if you want a different post URL from your post title, as I have? Read on.

Choosing your own URL

Now, you'll note that the title of my post: "How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance" doesn't match my post URL: http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/determine-blogger-post-url-in-advance.html

That's because I've chosen to optimize my post title in this case to make it more attractive to search engines. (Or so I think...)

If I had let Blogger auto-create the post URL from my preferred title, it would have been http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/how-to-determine-your-blogger-post-url.html and I would have lost the "in advance" part. I decided that was more important than the "how to" or the "your."

To force Blogger to create the URL I want, I follow this process:

  1. I figure out what the best use of my 39 characters would be.
  2. I put those 39 characters into my post title box: Determine Blogger post URL in advance
  3. I publish the post and check that the URL worked as I'd hoped. (Cross your fingers!)
  4. If all is well, I quickly go back in to the edit the post and change the title to my preferred title: How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance
  5. I hit Publish again, and now I have the right title and my preferred URL.

Downsides of creating your own URL that doesn't match the post title?

You have to go back in and change the title to be what you want it, tout de suite.

Regardless, anyone who's signed up for an email subscription will automatically receive the "wrong" title. People who access your blog in readers or through your website will see the updated title as soon as you correct it. I like to put the correct title at the top of the post, both for ease in grabbing it to paste into the title box quickly, and so that email readers will get the right title somewhere.

If you have an automated service that, say, Tweets your RSS feed whenever something posts, it will likely also grab the wrong title unless you are really fast at updating the title.

So it's a little messy, but that's the price you pay (for Blogger's shortsightedness...). Let's hope Blogger will eventually catch up on this issue and let us view and edit our post URLs in a much more streamlined fashion!

(I read somewhere that it's supposed to be a feature of Blogger in Draft right now, but it's not working for me, and I've been working in Draft view for months. Sigh...)


Join me in the Poem-a-Day Challenge from Poetic Asides!

It's that time again!

April is National Poetry Month, which means...

Time for the Poem-a-Day Challenge at Poetic Asides!

Robert Lee Brewer posts a prompt every day, and you write a poem based on that prompt. It's very loose and fun, and everything is open to your interpretation, so don't let your poetic sensibilities get all in a twist.

And, remember, just like NaNoWriMothe point is quantity, not quality! Just do it. Just write. Every day.

By the end of the month, you'll have 30 poems. Not all of them will be great. Probably quite a number will suck. But you'll be 30 poems richer.

And as I've heard before, you can't edit nothing. You have to have written to have something to polish and perfect, so...get poem-ing!

I'll see you at the starting line. Full rules and guidelines are here at Poetic Asides.

P.S. No, this is not an April Fool's joke. Start writing!

Photo courtesy surrealmuse on flickr (cc)
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