12.31.2011

NaNoProgMo: Ready to make some more progress on your novel?

NaNoProgMo: National Novel Progress Month
Hosted by Lauren from LaurenWayne.com / Hobo Mama
and Teresa from Write On, Mom! / Mom Grooves

Well, I don't know about you, but December for me went into a big black hole of holiday festivities. But it's almost the New Year, and you know what that means: time to resolve to start working on your writing again!

I'd like to celebrate what our NaNoProgMos did in November, and invite you to continue making progress with us in January!

Impressive November progress

Here are the writerly participants who joined us for our November journey and their respective daily goals:
1.
Lauren @ LaurenWayne. com / Hobo Mama = 2 hrs per dayVisit
2.
Tree @ Mom Grooves . com / Write On! Mom = 1 hr. per day finishing novelVisit
3.
Stephen @ Poptrope . net = 1 hr. per day finishing novelVisit
4.
Zoie @ TouchstoneZ - 30 minutes per dayVisit
5.
Moorea@ Mamalady- 30per dayVisit
6.
From My Mind to the Page: 1 hr per dayVisit
7.
Lisa @ My World Edenwild = 15 min/day or moreVisit
8.
Renae - 1 hour per dayVisit

 



Here are some results and updates from all of us, as I could find them, in order as above:

Lauren @ LaurenWayne. com / Hobo Mama = 2 hrs per day: 60.25 hours. I made it! I can hardly believe it, but I worked over 60 hours on my mystery novel and the NPN cloth diapering book in November. Here are some posts I wrote about the experience:
  • Progress on NaNoProgMo: Halfway or two-thirds? — what I learned about faling headlong into the world of my novel, the dearth of description, and the fear of failure
  • #NaNoProgMo: Stop talking and do it:
    I'm 2 hours from the end of my goal on this last day, so barring major malfunctions (pray not), I'm confident I'll complete my 60-hour editing goal for November. It wasn't glamorous, but every day I sat at my computer, and I did it. I put in my time, and I made progress.

    So, wherever you are in your progress today, I encourage you to figure out what you want — what you really, really want, right now — and do it. One foot in front of the other, in as little or as much time as you can commit, make tangible progress toward your goal.

This is mine, and I'm owning it:
NaNoProgMo with Write On, Mom! and LaurenWayne.com


Tree @ Mom Grooves.com / Write On! Mom = 1 hr. per day finishing novel: 6.5 hours. Woot!
  • NaNoProgMo…. How’s your “Prog”?:
    I want to encourage everyone participating with us for NaNoProgMo (or anyone who wants to start now!) to pick up your proverbial pen and finish the month writing. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or have not done so far. I doubt anyone can be as far behind as I am, so let’s bring up the rear together!
  • NaNoProgMo and Beyond!:
    I came nowhere near my goal, and that bums me out. However, I’m not one to dwell on the negative and I’m really good at praising the tiniest victory in myself, so I give this month a huge thumbs up. I’ve re-connected with my novel and we’d been estranged for oh so long.

    What’s pertinent is this. Progress will continue. My novel lives, my writer self lives. Time to settle into the long term care and feeding of both.
I love that last thought! That's what progress is all about — nurturing the writer that you are.

Here's your certificate, Tree!
NaNoProgMo with Write On, Mom! and LaurenWayne.com


12.24.2011

How to support bloggers



Want to make your favorite bloggers happy? There are many ways you can support your must-read bloggers and show you value their writing that won't cost you a penny. There are other ways that cost you some money but are cents well spent.

Is this a self-serving post? Well, as much as I appreciate any support for little ol' me, I also use the techniques below to support my own favorite bloggers! I hope this can be a resource for all of us to spread the love around to the writers we admire.

I'll also include three linkies for anyone who's interested in linking up or supporting those who do:
  • One for blogs on Kindle
  • One for blogger-run businesses
  • One for affiliate links from relevant bloggers
Read on for the linkies and more information!

Comment

This is probably the most important way to show you care — and one of the most natural. If you read a post that resonates with you, say so! If you have a follow-up question, ask it. If you have a different perspective to offer, do so gently. If you have advice to share, most bloggers will appreciate it. There are commenting challenges, such as at Adventures in Mommyhood and IComLeavWe, which makes it fun to join the crowd in commenting. But even apart from those, you can make it your own little mission to spread some comment bliss. Writers love to know there are readers out there.

Email

Even more direct than a comment, sending a note of encouragement and appreciation can mean so much to a blogger.

Promote blogs on your blog

If you have a website, put other bloggers' buttons in your sidebar or on a special page. Add their URLs to your blogroll.

Connect

Follow your favorite bloggers on Facebook, Networked Blogs, Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr … wherever you are that they are, too. Interact with them on the sites that are meaningful to you. This is beneficial for you in that you get to build more connections with the writers you like, and it makes your beloved bloggers feel the warmth of your presence.

Social media-ify posts

Pass around the posts you enjoy. Share them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, etc. — whatever will get some more eyes on the article. (This can help build your own community of like-minded folk as well!)

Link back

Write posts building off what someone wrote that interested you. Participate in link-love pursuits like blogging carnivals. Share relevant articles in a link round-up like Sunday Surf. If a subject comes up in a post and you know someone else who wrote about it, link away. Bloggers always appreciate good linkage!

Link up

If bloggers offer a linky for Wordless Wednesday, giveaways, or bloghops, join in! Fill up those linkies and make a blogger feel popular.

Click on their ads

Only if you're interested, of course, but if you see an interesting ad in their sidebar or in their feed, click through and check it out. Those clicks are being tracked by someone, and it can help boost their revenue (as with Adsense) or their reputation with the advertiser.

Review their blogs or products — with Kindle linky!

If bloggers have products online (like a poetry book) or have
their blogs on Kindle, a lovely thing to do is write a nice review (if you like it and it's in a reviewable place). This goes for Etsy and eBay sellers as well, or even places like Yelp or Facebook place reviews if it's a local business. It can take a little time to write something up, but it makes a big difference in alerting other people to what you love about this blog or its related products, and it gives a huge boost to the blogger you're reviewing.

Is your blog on Kindle? I'm making my way through reviewing the blogs I love, and I'm sure others would like to do the same. Link up if you have a blog on Kindle. Put the link directly to your Kindle blog page. (I reserve the right to delete from the linky blogs that would not be of interest to my readers here or at Hobo Mama.)



12.04.2011

Sunday Surf: Mystery plotting, indexing, & Google nonsense

Links I've read, from Writing Tidbits:

Yea, I’ve gone up in page rank!

I don’t know where else (or why, but whatever) to brag about this. I just got an email from a possibly suspect ad company telling me “because you’re PR 4, we’ll give you this rate, blah blah blah,” and I was like, I’m PR 3 (for www.HoboMama.com). But I went to check — herehttp://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.phpwww.HoboMama.com). But I went to check — here http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php — and I am 4 now! Woohoo!
Yes, this is out of 10, but 4’s pretty good for a blog. Most blogs I read (Hobo Mama included till just recently) are 1-3, and there’s no shame in that. (LaurenWayne.com is a 2, and NaturalParentsNetwork.com is a 3.) It’s just kind of fun to have moved up a notch!
In case you were wondering, Google, which sets the PR algorithms, ranks 10/10. ;)
There’s a PR checker I usually prefer, by the way, because it doesn’t have captcha, but it wasn’t working today so I’m not sure if it’s defunct. In case it works later, it’s here: http://www.page-rank-calculator.com/ A little easier to deal with.
google page rank blogging

Occupy Google Reader: Changes to the RSS feed irk the ‘sharebros’ - Arts Post - The Washington Post

The protest, organized throughFacebook, brought Google Reader fans — or “sharebros,” as they’re sometimes called — together with signs like “Google: Don’t Mark All as Read,” and “We are the 1000+.” There were 10 protesters total, if you count one protester’s daughter, a toddler.
Funniest & aptest protest ever. ;)
5 DAYS AGO
google reader google rss feeds

So You Want to Write a Book With MS Word

Comprehensive resource of links and tutorials for laying out a book in Word. Doing so is one of the most frustrating experiences, but at least here are some tips.
5 DAYS AGO
publishing self-publishing design layout Word

Official Google Blog: More spring cleaning out of season

Google Friend Connect—Friend Connect allows webmasters to add social features to their sites by embedding a few snippets of code. We’re retiring the service for all non-Blogger sites on March 1, 2012. We encourage affected sites to create a Google page and place a Google badge on their site so they can bring their community of followers to Google and use new features like Circles and Hangouts to keep in touch.
On the one hand, what do I care about GFC? It’s just used to boost giveaway sites now as far as I can tell. 
On the other hand, how in the world does Google equate GFC with Google+? They’re entirely different models. It’s like saying, “Twitter’s shutting down; go use Facebook instead.” GFC is primarily for public followers on public blogs. G+ is all about using your real name and having circles of friends. I don’t doubt that people are figuring how to use G+ for business, but if you want to keep a separation between your professional & personal life, right now G+ doesn’t offer many options.
Why does Google keep fixing what ain’t broke? And why do they do that to the exclusion of things that are broke, like the Blogger commenting system that users have been complaining about for years? Huh?
5 DAYS AGO
google google friend connect google+ blogging

Index a Book Using Word and Excel

Sounds like a decent way to work on an index. I need one for the cloth diapering book and am hoping the actual indexing feature in Word will help me out. But if not, this sounds like the way to go.
6 DAYS AGO
index nonfiction writing writing tutorials

How to Make Your WordPress or Blogger Blog DoFollow | DoFollow Blog Directory & Compendium

How to make links in comments “dofollow” on Blogger and WordPress. This can help add comment love to your site; however, it can also open you up to more spam comments.
6 DAYS AGO
blogger wordpress tutorials blogging blogger tutorials wordpress tutorials

Online Stopwatch

In case you’re curious, this is what I use to time my NaNoProgMo hours.
6 DAYS AGO
writing time

Sandra Parshall: Writing — Clues Drive the Mystery Plot

Tips on cluing in readers.
1 WEEK AGO
novel writing mystery novels plotting writing

KILLER HOBBIES: How to Plot a Mystery

Good tips on mystery management, including not naming your characters all the same, keeping the cast down to seven (whoops!), and starting the plotting with the “Let me explain” bit and working backwards. I should have read this a long time ago!
1 WEEK AGO
mystery novels novel writing writing plotting

12.02.2011

FeedBurner feed too big? How to fix it

My recent FeedBurner woe:


Click any image to embiggen.


The past few days, I noticed signs that my RSS feed for Hobo Mama wasn't updating, though it took me awhile to believe it.

I caught glimpses first in CommentLuv entries when I commented on other sites. It kept pulling up my "Gratitude Challenge" post from Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, even though I subsequently posted on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I didn't really think much of it the first few times, or the first couple days — I just used Ping-o-Matic to give my feed a little boost and figured it would fix itself.

But after it had been a week, I noticed the delay wasn't just in CommentLuv. It was in the sidebar widgets on my other sites; it was in Google Reader; and — most obviously, now that I looked for it — the delay was on my feed's page itself.

I went to FeedBurner, through which I burn all my feeds, for the answer. I clicked right through to the humorously named "Troubleshootize" tab, hoping the humor didn't mean they wouldn't take this plight seriously.

11.30.2011

#NaNoProgMo: Stop talking and do it

Recently my husband was talking with a friend about a direction he wants to take, and the friend said, "If you wanted to do it, you'd be doing it. You wouldn't be talking about it."

This has stuck with me. I might not be properly transcribing the words and tone intended, but this is how it's reverberated in my brain. Applied toward other people, it might come off as a bit harsh, but applied to myself: It's so, so true.

For years, I said, I want to write a novel…someday. When the stars aligned. When I had oodles of free time. When an editor called out of the blue and gave me a contract and an advance, work unseen.

I talked about writing a novel. I wrote plot notes. I brainstormed character names and traits with friends. I subscribed to Writer's Digest
for years and absorbed all the articles. I checked Writer's Market out of the library, repeatedly. I even took a leisurely nine months while Sam concentrated on earning money to try my hand at being a professional novel writer. I did not complete a novel in that time, not even a first draft.

One year, I heard about National Novel Writing Month from a friend's Facebook status update. It was already several days into November, but I was intrigued. Could I do it? I'd give it a shot.

I was cautious about sharing what I was doing. I told people, but not too much. I was afraid to jinx it.

In some ways, this was the worst time to try, finally, to write a novel. I had a young baby and a home business I was heavily involved in and a blog to keep up.

But I wrote that novel, my first to be completed. I stopped talking, and I did it.

In some ways, I feel guilty that I haven't written much about my NaNoProgMo-ing as I've gone through it. In other ways, it feels completely natural now to hold off on bragging about progress until I'm sure I'll make good on my promise. I'm 2 hours from the end of my goal on this last day, so barring major malfunctions (pray not), I'm confident I'll complete my 60-hour editing goal for November. It wasn't glamorous, but every day I sat at my computer, and I did it. I put in my time, and I made progress.

I'm still not done with either project (I'm waiting on a second read-through from Sam of my mystery novel, which incidentally is that first NaNoWriMo one), and I have lots to do still as editor of the NPN cloth diapering book. But I'm feeling more confident that I can continue to do instead of just promise to do.

So, wherever you are in your progress today, I encourage you to figure out what you want — what you really, really want, right now — and do it. One foot in front of the other, in as little or as much time as you can commit, make tangible progress toward your goal. It might be writing a novel. It might be querying magazines, or ramping up your blog. It might be unrelated to writing: pursuing a new relationship, or calling your parents more, or cleaning out the garage, or learning to run.

11.29.2011

How to take a blogging break … but keep your blog going

Today I would like to welcome Dionna from Code Name: Mama, who has written a guest post about taking a rest from your blog while keeping up your readership.



Lauren's note: When I was expecting Alrik, I was brainstorming ways to continue my blog for the sake of my readers and my advertisers while taking a highly valued babymoon. Now Dionna's in the same boat! For you it might be a vacation or family trip or just some needed time to disconnect from the screen. These are Dionna's ideas for stepping away from the blog but keeping up a basic amount of posting.

New babies, vacations, outside obligations, blogging burn-out. All bloggers need a break sometimes — it can even be healthy to plan a regular break into your annual blogging schedule. If you're worried about losing readers and subscribers during your absence, here are some tips that might help ease your mind.

1. Republish your own guest posts.

Have you had guest posts published at other sites? Run those! Unless you made a deal to the contrary, you still retain the copyright. Just be sure to check the other site's guest post policy to make sure you're within its exclusivity terms.1 Include a note that it's been republished from a post previously seen on the host blog, with the appropriate link.

2. Repost old posts.

Readership changes from month to month, year to year. If you've been blogging awhile, surely there are old posts you can rerun. If you republish posts from when you were a beginning blogger with less of a following, you may be pleasantly surprised by the increased response to old posts. Include a note again mentioning that it's been republished (and possibly edited) for any hardcore archive delvers among your readers.

3. Book guest posters who will promote their own posts.

If you're going to be AWOL from your blog, you'll likely also be taking a hiatus from social media. Call on guest posters you trust to promote their own posts on their blog, Twitter, and Facebook and to respond to commenters. Don't hesitate to tell them that part of the deal is they need to interact, since you'll be taking a break.

4. Skip regularly scheduled posts.

Do you have a habitual post you put up every week (Wordless Wednesday, recipes on Friday, Sunday Surf)? Skip it, and don't feel guilty AT ALL.

5. Schedule some quick shots.

Try to schedule a few posts ahead, but don't make them be ambitious. There's something to be said for short, 1-2 paragraph posts — think of them as the blogging equivalent to a witty or insightful status update.

6. Warn your readers.

Let your readers know in advance you will be taking a break. Turn it into a post asking for guest posters! Your readers will understand, and they will welcome you back when you return.

Dionna is a lawyer turned work-at-home mama of an amazing son and an incredible new daughter. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting, consensual living, eclectic learning, and compassionate advocacy.

Photo courtesy sylvie szafranski on flickr (cc)



1 For example, here is the guest post "exclusivity" policy for Natural Parents Network: "While contributors to Natural Parents Network maintain the copyright to all their work, we ask that you not post your submission anywhere else (including your own blog) whether paid or unpaid, for 90 days after publication on Natural Parents Network. This exclusivity adds value for our readers without our asking you to give us copyright on your work. Similarly, we will wait 90 days to republish any previously published article."

11.27.2011

Sunday Surf: Introducing Writing Tidbits

As with my Sunday Surfs at Hobo Mama, I thought I'd bring you a taste over here. I've been collecting somewhat extravagantly all the writing-relevant links I use and enjoy in a new Tumblr commonplace book: Writing Tidbits: Shared Items on Blogging & Writing.

I often will follow blogging tutorials or use writing resources and then later struggle to remember just where or just what it all was. This is my new attempt at keeping them all cataloged, and searchable by tags.

And here I will disseminate them for you, so far. You might be able to guess the themes of this week's research: securing my passwords and backing up my email, writing a novel synopsis for NaNoProgMo, and, well, figuring out Tumblr!

11.20.2011

Progress on NaNoProgMo: Halfway or two-thirds?

pen on yellow paper

Here are some things I've learned through National Novel Progress Month:

  • I have less time to write blogposts.

    I seem to be able to do either intense blogging or intense editing, but not both. I'd hoped to do more of a play-by-play as I was going through NaNoProgMo, but all my free time is going toward editing instead. Well, that's as it is.


  • I don't need to edit two hours a day.

    What Zoie of TouchstoneZ wrote in a comment really resonated with me. I'll quote her here, if I may:

    Okay, I'm very happy to see we're all behind. Setting the bar high and happy with how we balance it! I love L'Engle's quote about putting two things first. YES! I've learned this month that I do not want to blog every day and I'll be glad when NaBloPoMo is over. And I abhor editing every day, which is partially what I'm doing with the book. But, I must haveto needto write every day. I'm driven to do it and I'm incomplete without it.

    I have yet to figure out the balance of writing and the rest of life. I'm failing at it on purpose this month.

    Part of this month's experiment has been to go completely off-balance-to dive into my writing so hard that I can never look back and regret not giving myself enough license or time to write. I can point to this month and see what it really is like. And I can know that I'm not happy this way either. There are days when I wish I were choosing something else. It's a huge lesson and if I learn nothing else, it will have been worth it.

    I'm realizing that editing two hours a day is more than I need to — if only I hadn't procrastinated the rest of the year (or more). In other words, I could get by and get a novel done rather speedily (on my terms) by editing only 15 minutes a day, as long as I consistently did so. And it would be nice to do things other than edit, such as write blog posts. Which brings me to my next point:

11.16.2011

NaNoProgMo…How's your "prog"?

Today I bring you an inspirational guest post from Teresa from Write On, Mom! / Mom Grooves who encourages all us NaNoProgMos to keep on keeping on.

NaNoProgMo: National Novel Progress Month
Hosted by Lauren from LaurenWayne.com / Hobo Mama
and Teresa from Write On, Mom! / Mom Grooves

Okay! Time to get serious here. I have barely completed three days of my goal for the past 14 days. The good news is that there are still TWO full weeks left in this wonderful month.

I want to encourage everyone participating with us for NaNoProgMo (or anyone who wants to start now!) to pick up your proverbial pen and finish the month writing. It doesn't matter what you've done or have not done so far. I doubt anyone can be as far behind as I am, so let's bring up the rear together!

I also want to send each of you who are NaNoProgMo-ing a little gift. I don't want to wait until the end of the month. I believe in rewarding artists for the process. So, send me your address and your gift will be in the mail. I'd love for you to have it while there's still at least a week left. Even if you just join up now or if you haven't completed a minute of your goal yet, send me your address and get in on this. Send info to: tree@momgrooves.com

This is about Progress, after all. There is no finish line necessary, no word count to define success or failure. Just progress (which I, personally, will re-define to accomodate exactly as far as I get.)

I do still want to get somewhere.

I could list some pretty fancy "reasons" why I haven't been writing every day. Extremely valid. Extraordinarily compelling. Yes, I have reasons not to write. But I also have one simple, vital reason to write. I'm a writer. It's stamped on my ticket to this incarnation. Writer. Whatever else I might be or do will not change that. It is a "Prime Directive" for my soul.

Honestly, I'm afraid to start. I'm afraid to try and get into it. There's no time. I have no brain anymore. I'm so foggy. Why didn't I write before I had a child?!!!!

Breathe...

Today I will read what I have written so far. Just read it and find my way back into the rhythms of this particular story. There's already a vibration all its own that exists in the pages I have. Every word I write, every chapter, every character I snatch from the ethers and bring into existence creates this almost unbearable joy in me. Sometimes I start and get so excited I have to get up and walk around. Then I tend to eat, probably to try and ground myself. But after that I usually get tired and just stop.

Two weeks left and I will resist the urge to increase my daily goal to 2 hours just to catch up. I'm still aiming for an hour a day.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes and anecdotes from For Writers Only by Sophy Burnham (the book that has been in every bathroom I've had for the past 15 years.)

11.15.2011

Customize your Facebook links in status updates

Here's a nice, simple tutorial for how to make the links you put into your Facebook status box look the way you want them to.

I believe it was Kelly of KellyNaturally.com who first clued me in to changing the descriptive text, and she's actually someone I've been talking with recently about frustrating Facebook changes that have restricted our customizations. That said, I hope most or some of the following still work for you (or will in the future)!


(Click images to see them larger.)

screenshot for edit custom text in Facebook status links

When you paste or type a link into the status box, Facebook will try to pull up a title, URL, description, and thumbnail for you. Sometimes this is helpful. Sometimes this is a big bucket of fail.

Randomly, Facebook used to pull the post description from my first comment. I believe this is some weird Blogger–Facebook glitch. It was not ideal.

Since adding my meta keywords and blog description, Facebook now draws from that — in this case, A blog about natural parenting — which is marginally preferable though still off.


screenshot for edit custom text in Facebook status links

But I can change it to be what I want.

Hover your mouse over the description, and you'll see it highlights.

screenshot for edit custom text in Facebook status links

Click it, and now it's editable.

11.02.2011

Help me choose a Facebook username!

I'm so excited that I'm officially over 25 "likes" on my LaurenWayne.com Facebook page. That means … drumroll … I get to choose a custom username!

What I can't figure out is … what should my new URL be?

If you're unfamiliar with usernames for pages, it's the little tag after http://www.facebook.com/ — so, for instance, my Hobo Mama page is http://www.facebook.com/HoboMamaBlog, whereas my Lauren Wayne, author page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lauren-Wayne-author/104277789602502. (Not so pretty.)

LaurenWayne is taken, of course. As is LWayne or anything else intuitive.

So I made a little poll on my page with some other options, and right now it's neck and neck between AuthorLaurenWayne and LaurenWayneOfficial. Unless we count Amanda's contribution…


If you believe in democracy, head on over and cast your vote!

10.31.2011

Join us for NaNoProgMo: National Novel Progress Month!

old typewriter with hands typing


Introducing National Novel Progress Month, or NaNoProgMo in cool-people terms! This is a joint undertaking of encouragement and motivation by Teresa from Write On, Mom! / Mom Grooves and Lauren from LaurenWayne.com / Hobo Mama.

Maybe you're like us — inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but unable or unwilling to participate this year in writing a novel from scratch in November.

We'd like to offer you some support as you work on your novel writing in November, in whatever form it takes!

10.20.2011

National Novel Writing Month starts soon!

NaNoWriMo 2011 supporter badge with typewriterWho's doing NaNoWriMo this year?

If you want to join the nonsense of writing a whole novel (50,000 words) in November, you can start preparing now if you'd like by working on an outline and research. (No prose must be included in your November word count, but you can do a little work ahead if you're in the mood.)

Here's my news: After three years in a row of writing a novel in a month, I'm going to sit this November out.

I've officially written too many novels now — but have yet to finish the dang things!

So my November is going to be dedicated to my own private NaNoEdMo, National Novel Editing Month. If you want to join me, we could make it a bit more, um, national.

10.18.2011

Meta description + meta keyword for Blogger templates

Jorje had a good blogging question today. I thought I'd post the answer for anyone else looking to improve SEO (search engine optimization).

For those on Blogger, … they posted this this morning:

Please recheck your XML template, and fill meta description + meta keyword with your blog description and keyword, it's very important to promote your blog :)

Jorje wanted to know where to find the meta tags.

Head to your template!


(Click on any image to see it larger.)

screenshot for edit html of blogger template


Go to Design --> Edit HTML.

Before working on your template, Download Full Template to save a backup. That way, you can revert to your previous version if something goes horribly wrong.

You make your changes in the big text box, and click Save Template when you're done.

Here's where to go if you're in the new Blogger interface:


blogger screenshot for edit template in new interface


Go to Template --> Edit HTML.

You will now get a warning that you should do no such thing:


blogger screenshot of warning for edit template in new interface


Again, back up your template before proceeding.

Then you'll be in the same sort of window:


blogger screenshot of edit html for template in new interface


Now that you know where to go, here's what you do once you get there.

8.22.2011

How to create footnotes in Blogger

By popular demand …

footnote screenshot for LaurenWayne.com in Blogger


Even though there's no built-in way to create footnotes in Blogger, it's easy enough to code linked footnotes into a post in HTML view. Here's how I do it.

What it looks like for readers


This is my post text with a linked footnote at the end.1

When readers click on the footnote number, it jumps them down to the footnote. Clicking an arrow after the footnote conveniently jumps them back up to where they left off.

Footnotes are a great solution for tangential or additional text, such as caveats, resource citations, or pointless jokes. (I especially prefer the latter.) Readers can choose whether to continue reading the main text, or be delightfully distracted down to your bonus offerings, and then back up again when they're ready to resume.

The HTML code for you

You must enter this code in "Edit HTML" view in Blogger. (I have a tutorial explaining the difference between Edit HTML and Compose if you're not familiar with the two.)

WARNING: NEVER switch back to Compose view once you've inserted the footnote code in Edit HTML!

Code to put in the text where you want the footnote's number to appear:

<a href="#1" name="top1"><sup>1</sup></a>

All right, which is easier for you? I pasted it above so you can see it easily, but here's the same code in a grab box for easier copying/pasting. Take your pick!


Code to place at the bottom of your post:

<hr width="80%">
<p>
<span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: x-small;">
<a name="1"><b>1 </b></a>FOOTNOTE<a href="#top1"><sup>↩</sup></a>
</span>



Obviously, replace "FOOTNOTE" with the actual footnote!

Explanation of the codes

These footnotes work through a simplistic process of "name" URLs that reference each other. You tag each part of the footnote with a name. The footnote number in the text is named "top1," and the footnote number at the bottom of the post is named "1."

Then the paired URLs send readers back and forth between these "names" through the href codes. Telling the URL to go to href="#1" sends it to the post's URL but with #1 appended. That # sign tells the code to look for a name that matches what's after the #, and it finds it in our footnote named "1."

Multiple footnotes

If you want multiple footnotes, you simply need to paste the following parts of the codes again, substituting the numbers you need for the word "NUMBER."

Code to put in the text where you want another footnote's number to appear:

<a href="#NUMBER" name="topNUMBER"><sup>NUMBER</sup></a>


That's three replacements at the top, if you're counting.

Code to place at the bottom of your post for multiple footnotes:

You want to add in this line after your first footnote line as many times as you need it.

<a name="NUMBER"><b>NUMBER </b></a>FOOTNOTE<a href="#topNUMBER"><sup>↩</sup></a>

Again, replace the three instances of "NUMBER" with the number you're on.

Here's a grab code for 5 footnotes:


Styling your footnotes

Obviously, you can feel free to alter these codes cosmetically to suit your blog. This is just what I came up with. The basic structure is the "name" links, and the rest is decoration.

I used a "sup" command to make the footnote numbers superscript in the text, added an "hr" line at the bottom to separate the footnotes from the post's text, made the footnote font "x-small" in size, and used a little superscripted ↩ symbol for returning to the text location. Any of those elements could be changed as you wish. For instance, you could have your footnotes appear in a different font face or color, or change how you separate off your footnote area. If you want to copy mine as is, I don't mind, though I'd love any shout-outs to this post you'd care to give!

4.25.2011

Writing contest for NPN cloth diapering book! The deadline approaches.

4-bumkins-6wks


Are you a writer who also happens to love cloth diapers? Woot!

We need your high-quality and informative writing for the upcoming Natural Parents Network book, The Natural Parent's Guide to Cloth Diapering!

Submissions are due April 30.

We hope this book will be like a Cloth Diapers 101 class for anyone interested in finding out more about the subject — as well as an advanced course for those with particular questions and troubleshooting needs.

We invite you to submit one or more chapters having to do with any aspect of cloth diapering.

Please, as you're submitting, remember that this will be a chapter in a printed book. We want your best writing — please edit any blog posts to fit into a book's format and style, and please be thorough in what information you give. We want NPN's guide to be the "last word" in cloth diapering, and we will be judging submissions based on quality of writing and completeness of information.

Available Chapters

4.14.2011

Blogging and taxes



Well, it's that time of year for U.S. citizens — tax time! Bloggers are kind of a special lot when it comes to taxes, which can make figuring out how to file tricky.

I've recently read some good articles about bloggers and taxes:
I'm combining what I've read there with my own experience doing our family's taxes (currently an online sales business as well as my income, such as it is, from blogging), and managing the Natural Parents Network finances, to write about some of the special situations affecting bloggers:

Please, please take what I'm about to say seriously: I am not a tax expert. I am not an accountant or tax professional of any kind. I was an English major, for crying out loud. Please use the information in this article solely as a springboard for you to do your own research regarding your specific tax situation. If you're fortunate enough to have a CPA or other expert to turn to, perfect. If you don't, you can call the IRS directly to ask any specific questions or go in person to a local Taxpayer Assistance Center. You can also use IRS.gov to find specific tax forms, publications, and regulations.

4.04.2011

The most important tasks for bloggers — and what is not important?

I've been reading Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging, an ebook by Rachel Meeks of Small Notebook (and — full warning — I went ahead and signed up for the affiliate account, because I am an affiliate junky).

Even before downloading it, I had started thinking about what's essential for bloggers to do, and what can be trimmed. Part of this is in preparation for nesting and my babymoon period. Part of this is my general drive to simplify clutter out of my life. Part of this is my knowledge that sabbath rests are necessary to my wellbeing. Part of this is a long time coming, just because I've been feeling overwhelmed by how much time blogging takes up for me.

This article by Melodie — "My Kids Have Taught Me That It’s Time To Stop Blogging" — when she reluctantly yet joyfully decided to step away from Breastfeeding Moms Unite! was also a catalyst. Blogging is not a job for me in the sense that I earn much money from it. For the amount of time I put into it, I've calculated that I'm earning about 40 cents an hour. Hmm. Forty cents for an hour I could be spending writing my novels, caring for my home, helping my husband in our family business (which makes considerably more per hour), or, not to be all maudlin about it, enjoying my kid's (and, soon, kids') fleeting and precious childhood.

Now, blogging has become a passion of mine, and I recognize that the point of blogging does not have to rest on earnings. I so very much enjoy the community that has surrounded me in this blogging journey, and a lot of what I do as a blogger is with the intent of giving back to that community, and that makes me happy. That said, when I'm feeling stressed and on edge and staying up till 5 in the morning to finish linking up Wordless Wednesday posts for two sites or beating myself up because I have yet to finish a product review I've had three months to write and still don't really feel like doing or hiding fitfully from the overflowing email inbox that's overwhelming me with Tasks To Do, I have to ask myself: Is this what I'm actually passionate about?

So I thought I'd ask YOU — fellow blog readers, fellow blog authors — what you consider to be the essentials of blogging, and what a blogger can let slide.

I put together a little poll to select and then rank and then compare basic blogging tasks:

4.01.2011

Poem-a-Day Challenge begins, no April Fooling!

poetry magnets


Oh, me, oh, my! How did I forget that this is the first day of the 2011 PAD Challenge?

Who's with me?

The object of the game is to write a poem each day in the month of April. Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides will provide a daily prompt to put you in the mood.

3.14.2011

How to purge your email inbox



I am NOT an expert on reducing email clutter and controlling what comes in each day. Best to start with a caveat. That said, I recently cleared my personal Gmail account from over 2,000 unread messages (you read that correctly) to 42.



Here are a few of the tips and tricks that I sometimes follow to help me keep a handle on inbox overload (some of which I should really attend to more often!).

2.11.2011

How to add "Read More" jump tags in Blogger

My new favorite thing in Blogger? Adding "read more" tags to posts. I'd seen this feature on WordPress and other blogs before but hadn't realized it was a Blogger feature, too. I think it's been here for donkey's years, but I was slow to catch on to the benefits!

Here's a little tutorial that will explain "read more" links and let you know why and how you should add them!

What's a "read more" tag?

First things first! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, take a look at my Hobo Mama homepage (for I have not performed the same editing wonders on this site yet!).

(Click on images to see them larger.)

The "read more" link is at the bottom of the post that's been truncated. When you click on it, it links to the original article URL plus the #more tag at the end — in this case, this link: http://www.hobomama.com/2011/02/fat-and-pregnant-heartbeat-video.html#more. So if you're reading from a page and choose to "read more," you will get popped into the article at the point where you left off. On the other hand, if you click on the URL as a whole from another source (in a blog reader or from a Tweet, for instance), you'll see that the "more" tag is undetectable when the post is expanded (try it here: http://www.hobomama.com/2011/02/fat-and-pregnant-heartbeat-video.html). Then it simply shows you the post as a whole, and the "more" coding is invisible.

Other examples of a "read more" link at work can be seen in non-Blogger applications such as our WordPress-based Natural Parents Network homepage, which has a sort of magazine/excerpt vibe to it. You get a digest version of all the current posts and can click on the "Read More…" links if you're interested to, well, read more.

Why do I want "read more" tags?

Scanning and searching is easier

The biggest reason is to make pages that encompass a lot of posts less cumbersome for readers to scroll through and find what they want. This is true for your home page as well as any category/label search pages.

For instance, I've recently gone back and added in "more" tags on all my posts tagged with Elimination Communication on Hobo Mama. If you look at the category page for elimination communication now

http://www.hobomama.com/search/label/elimination%20communication

— you can easily scroll through 19 partial posts on the subject and decide whether each article is really what you're looking for. (I'm guilty of popping labels onto posts that are only distantly related in some convoluted way in my mind….)

By contrast, I went to a label where I hadn't yet added jump tags, and only six posts loaded, in their entirety. That makes it a lot harder for readers looking for a particular article to comb through your category tags, particularly if you have a lot of articles shuffled into a particular category. They have to keep clicking on "Older Posts" at the bottom of the page, again and again and again, in the hopes of finding the one article they're looking for.

I was going to show you the difference between the two ("read more" tags vs. no "read more" tags), but I plan to change all mine over as I have time. The best method I can think of, if you don't have "read more" tags yourself and you're on Blogger, is to load your own homepage or a category page and see how clunky it is to wade through it all.

More information, less space

The other benefit, and it's related, is that you can show highlights from more articles on a single page. For instance, I used to have to keep my Hobo Mama homepage at a maximum of four posts (under Settings --> Formatting --> "Show at most X posts on the main page"). My posts tend to be long and have a lot of images, so it took too long to load more than that and sometimes the multiple javascripts would interfere with certain browsers.

With the "read more" jump tags, however, I can keep each individual post down to a manageable excerpt size and therefore safely and conveniently show more total posts on a page at once, making it more likely that a visitor will see something enticing.


How do I get me some of that sweet "read more" action?

So you're convinced! Now, how to add in those "read more" tags to your own posts? Fortunately, it's easy!

(Click on images to see them larger.)

It's easiest to do in "Compose" mode1, because there's a little icon right there to press! As you can see in the top row of this screenshot, the icon looks like a page that's been ripped in half, symbolizing that a portion of the post is before the jump and a portion after.

Once you click the icon, this gray-with-black-dotted line pops into your post to show you where the jump will fall. You can delete it or copy and paste it elsewhere if you change your mind.


Alternatively, if you're in Edit HTML mode1 (I tend to write in HTML view, so I think that's why I didn't notice the "read more" icon for so long!), you can type in the HTML code for a jump yourself:

<!--more-->


Just copy and paste that HTML coding tidbit wherever you want your jump link to appear.

To make things easier on me, I actually created a draft post with just that code in it that I saved with a date in the future so it's always at the top of my drafts list. Then, whenever I need the "read more" code, I can just open the draft and copy and paste. Another option I just thought of is to add it to your Post Template box, which makes things even easier in the long run as you're composing new posts in Edit HTML view. Simply go to Settings --> Formatting --> Post Template, paste it in and save your settings. I pasted in <br><br><br><br><!--more--> so it wouldn't be at the very top. Then the coding will show up in every new post — just make sure to move it where you want to before you publish a post!

Jump around!

A couple final notes:

I've heard that some older or nonstandard Blogger templates don't work automatically with the "read more" tags, so you might have to update or tweak your template in that case. My Hobo Mama template was automatically outfitted with the functionality and worked with no further fiddling on my part, but this template is not working. However, I want to upgrade my template here, anyway, so I'll deal with that later. If you're also having problems, let me know and I'll try to help you out!

Since you can't conveniently add custom excerpts yet for articles in Blogger the way you can in WordPress (see this link as an example of a string of posts in WordPress that mostly have handcrafted excerpts along with selected featured images), you might want to hone your skills at writing opening paragraphs that can function as an overarching preview for the article to come. I know I'm guilty of rambling on for awhile at the beginning of my posts (it's fun!) before getting to the point. But if you know that your before-the-jump paragraphs are all readers will see to choose whether or not to click and read further, you might find yourself making sure those opening paragraphs are concise and tempting enough to lure readers in further. Along the same lines, you might want any opening images to be pertinent, since whatever is up at the top is what will show. (Of course, you choose where the jump goes, so you can ultimately arrange it however you'd like!)

Rest assured, too, that anyone clicking on a URL from another source (such as Twitter or Facebook) or following your feed in a reader or email subscription will see the full post. These "read more" tags don't affect anyone clicking on a regular post link, only people browsing your home site or a category search page. To my point of view, those are exactly the times you want readers exposed to a wide variety of articles, so that's perfect for my needs.

If you want to make sure that the "read more" tag doesn't put extra spaces and line breaks into your post, simply don't add them in! You can smush the "read more" coding right up against any other words or html, without any extra spaces or line breaks around it, and the break will happen there as planned.

Enjoy your "read more" tags — your readers will!



1 If you need a simple mini-course on the difference between Compose and Edit HTML view in Blogger, see my tutorial "How to edit HTML in Blogger."

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