Creating a Blog that is User-friendly

I’ve learned a lot about blogging since January 2011, when this blog came to life. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it and completed major renovations countless times. Sometimes I made these changes because I was bored with the site; other times I learnt how to improve the appearance and ‘saleability’ of it.

Along the way, I have strived to make the blog design user-friendly. After all, if visitors can’t find what they want and what I want them to find, it frustrates both parties. I’ve been on blogs and websites where information was difficult to locate. I usually give up and search for another site with the same information.

I hope my blog is user-friendly and things are easy to find, but I’m always looking for ways to improve the experience. So when D. Wallace Peach made a post entitled 7 Steps to a User-Friendly Blog, I had to see if there were any tips I could use.

There were, so if you have a blog, I suggest reading her post. Visually, it might not improve your page, but the behind-the-scenes technical stuff will improve a visitor’s experience.

El Camino

hiking shoesAfter watching the movie The Way, I’ve decided to walk El Camino in spirit first while I wait for the opportunity to go to Spain. My trek of 880 kilometres will be tracked on my El Camino page. I’ve been walking since the end of May, but I didn’t start keeping track of the distance until July 1st.

So far, I’ve walked 95 km. I just left Puente la Reina, and I am on my way to Mañeru. So far, my feet feel great–especially with the new hiking shoes. However, my tendinitis is not improving. On the bright side, it’s not getting any worse.

WordPress is Junk to New Users

If I was new on the scene and looking for a host for my first blog, I’d run from WordPress as fast as my feet would carry me. It’s junk today compared to what it was when I first started in January 2011. Back then, it was easy to navigate, everything was right there in the left margin and I could conveniently find my way with the drop-down menus.

If I had trouble performing a task, a quick google search for the information cleared the fog instantly.

My philosophy is, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. However, in this tech world, companies are always updating and changing things usually for the worse. It’s as if it’s a competition: how many things can I change this week?

Because I’m grandfathered into WordPress, I can use the old-style menu of 2011. So, I’ll stick around with WordPress for the unforeseeable future.

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Adding Twitter to Your Blog Posts

Throught of the DayIn the past few months, I’ve visited a lot of blogs, more so than usual. I’m trying to be more social because for a while there, I wasn’t getting out much.

When I read a good post, I like to inform the writer that I liked it. LIKE buttons allow me to do this with little effort.

Sometimes I like to comment on the post, so I do. But I’ll tell you, some blogs make me jump through hoops to get that comment added. A few make me do it twice. There’s one blog I never comment on anymore because I have no idea how to get it right the first time. It is frustrating to write a comment only to have it disappear without a trace while I am answering math questions or figuring out those wavy letters to let the host know I am not a robot.

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Don’t Get Burned with Copyright Misuse

New FlashDo you know where all the photos come from that you use to spice up your blogs?

Some of you may have noticed my sparse visits around blogtown and social media these past few days. That was because I’ve been a busy beaver, trying to protect myself from FURTHER copyright infringement. Yes, you read correctly – further.

We’ve all read enough articles on the perils of copyright infringement, but do we understand the rules completely when it comes to adding photos to our blogs?

Apparently, I thought I was adhering to the rules, but Thursday morning I woke up to an email sent to me from Creative Commons, telling me that I was being fined for unlawfully having used a photo which was posted on one of my blogs.

…to continue reading this post by D. G. Kaye, go to her post Listen Up! – #5 Tips to Protect Yourself from #Copyright #Infringement.

Monthly Roundup of Accomplishments

Monthly Roundup of AccomplishmentsAs I mentioned on the last day of January, at the end of each month I will make a note of everything I’ve accomplished during the previous four weeks. February held only 28 days as opposed to January’s awesome 31 days, so I had three less days to work with. Still, because of my Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days challenge, I feel I have accomplished a lot.

So what did I accomplish in February?

I wrote 17 posts for this blog; that’s 6 more than January. The majority of them—15 blogs—were written for the Publishing 101 challenge. In case you missed one, the list of posts with links can be found on the Publishing101 page.

One post in February was an off-the-cuff take on the philosophy of some English teachers that “Said is Dead?” Obviously said is not dead, but alive and well and should be thoroughly put through its paces.

The other post not involving Publishing 101 paid tribute to a wonder singer and song writer we lost in 2013: National Stompin’ Tom Connors Day. Every February 9th (Tom’s birthday), I’ll mark this special occasion.

I wrote and edited four Roots to the Past Genealogy columns. Besides the usual Tuesday snippet of the current week’s newspaper column, I added one post written by me to Roots to the Past Blog and reblogged a few posts written by others. My Diane Tibert blog kept me busy in February, so this blog was slightly neglected. Whoops, no negative remarks on the Monthly Roundup.

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My Other Venues…er interests

5x5duckinbucketlunes marzo 11, 2013

This blog—Diane Tibert, dreamer—doesn’t get updated as much as it used to. That doesn’t mean I’m not working behind the scenes, writing posts, reading, writing fiction and nonfiction or doing other things. It simply means this blog doesn’t get the attention it usually received, back when I was writing the marathon.

There was a time when I’d post two or three times a week to this blog, twice to my Roots to the Past blog and once each to Diane Lynn McGyver and Moon Meadow (the blog about my homestead).

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Making the Biggest Impact in the Shortest Amount of Time

Social networksA friend of mine is a little overwhelmed by all the things writers need to do to market a book in this ever-expanding, ever-changing publishing world. To be honest, I am too most days. It seems each month there is a new social media being toted as the next best place to…to find readers who will buy your book. Blogging, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Shelfari…and the list goes on

My advice to her was to choose two social media platforms and do a great job on them, instead of exhausting her time and energy promoting herself poorly through six different venues. Aim for quality not quantity. This is particularly important if you have never used a social medium before. Start small and slowly build a web presence.

When writers feel comfortable on two networks, they can branch out into a third if they feel it’s right for them.

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My Bags are Packed for Ath-o’Lea

Today begins my journey into Ath-o’Lea. That’s the name of the fantasy world where my characters of Shadows in the Stone dwell. This journey contains about 130,000 words and 42 chapters. It spans twelve years and about 300 miles. I’ll travel by foot, waggon, magic portal and horseback. Along the way I’ll see a child born, loyal men killed, a kidnapping and a chase.

I’ll witness heated arguments, passionate moments, sword fights, emotional turmoil and both innocent and evil magic. My path will cross that of honourable men, dutiful women, innocent children, humans, thieves, murderers, dwarfs, lords, hauflins, troglodytes, lost souls and stubborn ponies.

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Handing Over the Reins

More than ten years ago, I began research on the Veterans of Guysborough County project. My goal at the time was to identify all First and Second World War veterans who were born or had a distinct connection with the county and who served in Canada or overseas during the war years. I naively believed I could accomplish this goal within a few years and produce a book from the data. I was wrong on many levels.

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Sheila McDougall Has Completed Her First Novel

It’s easy to write a novel. Just ask anyone who hasn’t written one. They’ll tell you when they retire, they’ll write one and published it. They say this with such ease you’d think it was as simple as rising in the morning and dressing. After all, everyone who can put a few words on paper can write, so they’d be able to string together a few thousand words and write a novel. No problem.

And it isn’t a problem until they sit down to begin that first chapter.

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Thea Atkinson has a challenge for you.

Nova Scotia indie author Thea Atkinson has a challenge for blog readers. She wants to accumulate 100 followers by Christmas. With 68 already, it’s not an impossible number to reach for. She’s even offered an incentive: if the goal is reached, a random subscriber will receive one complete Thea ebook package. AND if she exceeds expectations and gains 200 followers of her blog by December 24th, a random subscriber wins the ebook package plus a $25 Amazon gift coupon.

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Can I blame it on my wild ass?

About a month ago, I decided the family needed a change. I wanted to shake things up a bit and in the process, stir up some inspiration dust. I also decided my kids needed pets to hang around, but it wasn’t going to be your standard guinea-pig-in-a-cage pet. It was at that time, I began to understand why some folks look at me and wonder about how many crayons are in my Crayola box.

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The Stylish Blogger Award and My Favourite Things

AwardI wasn’t aware there were awards for blogging – I’m that new to Blogland. So when Laura Best bestowed The Stylish Blogger Award on me, I was quite surprised. Thank you, Laura.

Upon receiving this award, I’m to share five of my most favourite things. I’m going to skip the obvious – family, friends, writing – and move into my other five favourite things, things I’d like to enjoy every day, but don’t always get the chance to.

1) Sunshine: Whether it’s pouring through the windows, dancing on the water, revealing magic dust on minute snowflakes, highlighting my children’s hair, dappling the forest floor or cascading on my skin, I love it.

2) Cranberries: Cranberry sandwiches every day for all my school years have not turned me against this wonderful berry. I still love it. I eat them as a sauce in a bowl or on bread, in loaves and muffins, squeezed into juice and when nothing else is available, from a can. But the best way to eat a cranberry is in the fall when they are ripe and ready to burst. I love to pick one, put it in my mouth and test the strength of the skin until it explodes with flavour.

3) Music: It makes me laugh, curse out loud, smile, cry, think and dance. In 3.20 minutes, a song can make me consider another way of thinking, give me ideas or make me happy. Life without music would be unbearable.Diane Lynn Tibert

4) My camera: My love for photography is as old as my love for writing. After all these years, I’m still fascinated by the fact that I can capture an image in a fraction of a second. My many thousands of photographs remind me of a life that has passed. Long after the day turns into history, I can look at the pictures and remember my children as they were when they were toddlers beneath the table covered in Jello powder or surrounded by their stuffed animals the first day they moved from a crib to a real bed.

5) My pencil: It records my imagination in words and images. My first novel was written in pencil in a coiled Diane Lynn Tibertnotebook. Pencils of various quality and abilities have a special spot on my desk for quick notes, entries into my day planner and to work out a scene in a novel. My pencil creates visuals of my characters, reminds me with a quick sketch that they have long hair, wear their sword on the left or are missing a finger. I will never master the pencil, but I certainly have fun trying.

Now I have the pleasure of passing on The Stylish Blogger Award to five bloggers.

  1. Sandra Phinney: Sandra is an amazing writer based in Nova Scotia. She’s published in many formats including book, newspaper and magazine. I was fortunate to meet Sandra in 1999, just when she was getting started and I was dreaming of getting started. She has always been an inspiration to me.
  2. Jodi DeLong: Jodi is a garden writer based in Nova Scotia, author of Plants for Atlantic Gardens. I’ve been reading her gardening articles for many years in different publications.
  3. Thea Atkinson: Author of The Secret Language of Crows, Pray for Reign and others. Thea is based in Nova Scotia.
  4. Tracy: I recently discovered Tracy’s blog. I find her posts interesting and make me stop and think about my own life.
  5. Genevieve Graham-Sawchyn: Genevieve is a historical fiction author and editor based in Nova Scotia. Her posts contain helpful editing tips among other things.

The First Step in Blogland

Diane Lynn Tibert
First steps can be scary . . . and wet.

Goals trigger actions. This year, one of my goals is to begin a blog. So here I am . . . my first step in Blogland. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll write about but many things come to mind. Although I am a writer in the heart, a dreamer in the soul, I’ve experienced many things over the years and held many positions in the workforce. All those floors I’ve mopped and seedlings I’ve planted seem necessary to create the characters in my stories.

But first, let me introduce myself.

I’m Diane Lynn Tibert, native of Cole Harbour, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, Canada. My roots have grown in this soil for more than 250 years and stretch across the Atlantic to Scotland, England, Ireland and Germany.

I’ve been a writer my entire life even when I didn’t know it. The earliest stories were created in grade one. I’d write about the adventures my friends and I enjoyed in the woods surrounding our homes. By the time I was in grade three, my friend, Beverley Davis, and I were writing plays in Campfire Notebooks. I’m not sure how many we filled, and I don’t know what happened to them, but for one day, I wish I could sit and read them.

High school was a mix of homework, hanging out with friends and writing novels. Back then, I dreamt of getting published but was terrified to share my writing with anyone. After graduation, physical work consumed my days, and years passed before I realised the many jobs that never satisfied me were simply keeping me from what I truly needed to do: write.

My first piece, an article about gardening, appeared in 1998. Since then, my by-line has appeared hundreds of times in newspapers and magazines. My interests have changed over the years but the nice thing about writing is that regardless of how I feel, what I’m doing or where I’m at in life, I can write about it. Just as I can’t remember when the spark of writing began in my life, neither can I see the spark fading. It is one constant in life I can always turn to.

My blog will be about writing, the writing world and whatever inspires me to do what I do within that world. The writing business is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Just when you think you know enough to get it right, you learn you need to know more. Then you learn you must unlearn things taught to you while in school – how crazy is that?

So here’s the newest blogget’s first footprint in Blogland. I hope the weather is . . . unpredictable.