Huh? Can’t Hear Ya

Okay, audio probably isn’t that important when it comes to a blog post—but then it depends on what your blog’s about, doesn’t it?

I got so stoked about succeeding with video embedding last time, I felt a need to attempt the audio counterpart . . . and now sweat beads are beginning to trickle.

One day, when The Triple Threat Investigation Agency series becomes a full-time blogging-writing-promoting venture, the plan is to utilize auditory effects.  The crucial phrase: one day.  <LOL>  Everything in its time.

The reasoning behind the plan to use audio: to make my private-eye gals come alive . . . share Hawaiian sounds (coz JJ, Rey and Linda would love for you to hear “aloha” as much as see it) . . . for me to talk to you as a blogger/writer.  Maybe I’ll even include a P.I. playlist.  The sky’s the limit.  It’s easy to envision; it’s merely a question of finding the time.  That crucial phrase again: one day.

Evidently, adding an audio file or music to a blog post is super easy.  They’d said that about video, and they were right (relatively).  I won’t list the steps here, but there’s a quick vid at the end of the post on how to accomplish this [another pat on back to moi].

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So, that doesn’t look too appealing, does it?  Poop.   . . . Ah, okay.  Looks fine in Preview.  Whew.  Awesome!  Yeah, the sky’s the limit.  I’m loving this.

Ya know . . . maybe I’m not so technically challenged, after all.

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If a Picture Paints a 1000 Words, then a Vid Must Paint a Mill

Eye candy’s everything when it comes to viewers/followers sticking with a post and site.  If it ain’t pretty or “fetching”, you’ll likely lose that potential follower.

A Writer’s Grab-Bag aims to be neat and organized, but from a purely personal perspective, I’d bet dollars to donuts many would claim it’s not overly professional.  That’s okay.  Blogs are often personal spaces—spheres filled with subjective thoughts or objective info, or maybe a combination of both, depending on the blogger’s focus/purpose.

Without repeating that photos, fonts, whitespace and other types of visuals make for an appealing site—oopsy, guess I just did—another effective tool to utilize is a video.  I’ve seen a few blogs that use them well—professionally, instructionally, and humorously (as it roll-on-the-floor funny).  It’s one thing I’ve longed to do, but haven’t yet [don’t ask].

For those of you who are new to blogging or technically challenged [intimidated] like me, Google “how to embed a video”.  The steps sound easy enough.  Let’s see if they indeedy-do are.

In my how-to-embed-a-vid voyage through the Google cosmos, I discovered that it’s not a great idea to host your own video.  Hey, I’m pleased as punch to get someone else’s uploaded.  I don’t need to attempt my own; that would mean I’d have to create one.  Yikes!  <LOL>  But if you’re interested in doing so, go for it: instructions abound.  As an FYI: Blogger, powered by our friend Google, is a handy tool for doing this.

Given the focus of this post is embedding a video and I’ve proven successful (it’s unfortunate you can’t see me doing cartwheels as I continue to shriek for joy) here’s a video on how to do just that.

Happy embedding.

About Me, Us, You, Whatever – by Reynalda-Fonne Werde (Post Writer Extraordinaire)

Hey there.  I’m back for another post.  Last time, I gave some advice re professional email addresses.  JJ and Linda said I’d done a pretty decent job for someone who’s not a fan of writing.  But as I may have mentioned, I’m kinda getting to like it.  (And, between you and me, I think I’m better than “decent”.)

We’re updating The Triple Threat Investigation Agency website and blog to look and read more professional.  Linda’s gotten agency emails in motion and JJ’s revamping the “About Us” page.  It’s nice enough, but not great.  So this post’s about doing a dynamite one based on what we learned from fellow P.I.s and successful local business folks.

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Have some strategically placed photos relevant to your business; this will break up and balance the “About” page.  The word back when: eye candy.  You want that page to be visually appealing and you don’t want word overload.

Tell visitors what you do and what makes you qualified to do it.  Cite a success or two.  You don’t have to write an essay.  Be short and sweet.  A paragraph is fine.

Communicate enthusiasm for what you do and why you do it.  Ditto re the short and sweet.

Mention professional (and possibly personal, depending on what you’re “about”) successes.  Success for the Triple Threat Investigation Agency: solving a murder case and, on a more everyday note, locating a lost pooch.

Disclose what it is you want to (can) do.  For the agency: handle all types of investigations with utmost discretion.

Have a sentence or phrase or two expressing the spirit and/or purpose of your business.  Place them, like your photos, strategically on the “About Me” / “About Us” page.  Grab attention.  This one I’m just throwing out and it’s probably not too original, but given we’re a P.I. agency, we might state something like: “No Case Too Big or Too Small.”  You got the idea.

Contact info in a corner (in addition to an actual Contact Page) is something worth adding.  Make it super easy (accessible) for people to contact you.

You could also provide a personal message.  Again, keep it brief.

Feel free to include links—to articles, posts, reviews, your email address.  Determine what’s important/relevant and do it.

A couple of additional things to consider when you’re putting it together is how you’re going to write it (first person or third) and what type of tone you’ll use (humorous versus serious).  Make sure it reflects you / your business.

Hopefully, I’ve given some solid advice for that “About” page.  The Boss is back next week, as an FYI.  And I’m off to the spa now (nothing better than a facial and massage to get yourself feeling like a million dollars).

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Aloha!

Here a Script, There a Script

Continuing with the theme of scriptwriting, set by a previous post, let’s touch upon a few “must know” / “must do” notes.  The dry yawny stuff.  But totally relevant and required.

Here are some quick [painless] facts:

Fact:  Scripts/screenplays are typed on 8 ½” X 11” white paper.  Who knew it’s supposed to be 3-holed (obviously not me, LOL).  As I’m assuming you’re simplifying your life by using software like Final Draft, I’ll refrain from margin dimensions and page numbering (zzzzzzz).

Fact:  Courier 12 is the font of choice in the great U.S. of A.  Why?  Interestingly enough, it’s all about timing.  One script page with this font = 1 minute of on-screen time.

Fact:  The average feature film script is between 95 and 125 pages long, (with an average of 114).  Dramas are generally longer than comedies.

Fact:  Scripts are written in three acts.  (If you’re really curious, go on-line to check the actual number of pages per act in relation to a given genre.)  The first introduces characters and situation(s) and sets up the plot.  The second provides challenges and obstacles, and character development.  The third presents resolution.

Fact:  Action is written in present tense, active voice.  (Tom watches furtively from behind a curtain as Cecilia takes aim.)

This circles back to editing (something I thoroughly enjoy, though there can be some agonizing this-really-needs-to-go moments).  Check for dull dialog, nonsensical actions or reactions, flat characters.  Watch the number of scenes—is each one moving the story/plot forward?  If not, delete it.  You want a clean, crisp script . . . just as you want clean, crisp writing (be it a novel, article, or post).

All the dos and don’ts truly comprise a [big, fat] book.  But if you use scriptwriting software, you’re halfway on your exciting quest.  The rest comes from doing due diligence and practice.  Get feedback, too; don’t be scared to show your work to friends and colleagues.

Happy scriptwriting.

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(Note: this was previously posted, but live and learn—if you use the classic version of a certain photo editor, the pics don’t anchor.  A wee bit of advice: “review” your blog now and again; you never know what you might discover.)

Proofreading = Checking = Correcting . . . or Bloopers & Blunders Begone

Let’s continue with the topic of editing, but shift a wee bit.  What about proofreading (or proofing)?  Or copy-editing and line-editing?  There are actually quite a few, but for all intents and purposes, let’s stick to proofing and editing.

Although they’re often used interchangeably, yes my friends, there is a difference.

Proofing basically entails reviewing a completed document to locate and fix typos, grammar and style mistakes—what I jokingly call bloopers and blunders.  The emphasis is on correcting superficial errors in spelling, grammar, composition, punctuation, and formatting.  Think of it as a “quality check”.

Editing includes proofing, but it’s more intensive.  In addition to the above, you’re taking into account how facts and details, and ideas are organized.  Editing isn’t a one-time action, by the way; you really need to edit several times.

Whether proofing or editing, set aside your work for a while after writing (a half hour, a day, week, or longer if you’re not in a rush).  This allows for “fresh eyes”.  You don’t always see the mistakes (those silly little oopsies) when you’re proofing or editing as you’re composing.

Between you and me, I find it best to proof and edit from a printed page.  But that’s l’il ol’ me (I’m still kinda old-school).  Some peeps do fine eyeballing documents on screen.  Whatever works.

I’ve heard it said you should read your work out loud to “hear” the off bits.  I’ve never done that once in my life.  But if you’re new to proofing and editing, it might prove a worthwhile endeavor.

Feel free to use a spell checker, but bear in mind it won’t catch correctly spelled words that have been erroneously utilized.  A simple example: “its” versus “it’s”.

There are also some fantastic on-line proofreaders.  I hear Grammarly is one of the best and you can use certain components for free.  If you plan to use one, do your due diligence and determine which is best for you.

Happy proofing!

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(Note: this was previously posted, but I’m forever living and learning—if you uses the “classic” version of a certain photo editor, pics don’t anchor.)

When the Post, Page and/or Mind Proves Blank

Literally.

. . . I’d touched upon this way back when but, you know, it never hurts to re-address an issue or snag.  For those of you who are bloggers and writers, you’ve all experienced it—yup, the dreaded writer’s block.

The Free Dictionary (my personal fave) defines that annoying little impediment as “a usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing”.

In truth, I’m not so sure if it’s this that I’m experiencing—it’s more like hmm, what do I really want to post about today?  Blog promotion (something I desperately need to do)?  Ads and selling (something I urgently need to do)?  Attracting more followers (something I seriously need to do)?  Ensuring the Triple Threat Investigation Agency gals don’t fall to the wayside (something I must continue to do)?  Venting about my personal life, like the <bleeping> full-time job I wish I could ditch, because blogging and writing full-time would be a dream come true!?  The possibilities are truly endless.

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If there’s an overabundance of ideas, it probably wouldn’t hurt to put them in a hat and pick one.  It’d be like a game, a challenge: here’s the topic, now run with it!  Yeah, I like that.  Works for me.  <LOL>

If there’s a big blank canvas where the old gray matter usually sits, then one or more of the following options are doable (a few quick ideas touched upon in past):

  • take a walk or go to the gym (both which I very much enjoy)
  • read a book or mag
  • be creative (draw or paint, knit or sew, or do something equally imaginative/productive)
  • pop into a corner coffee shop for a boost of caffeine and change of venue
  • call or email a friend; talk about where and why you’re stuck or exchange inventive ideas
  • listen to music
  • turn on the telly, but don’t get caught up in marathon viewing
  • jot down one-liner ideas/storylines (anything that pops to mind), and/or
  • write out a few of your favorite writer’s passages to get inspired.

So which one(s) am I going to do?  Take a walk, even if it is bone-chilling cold outside (knew those on-sale boots would eventually prove useful).  Finally pick up the latest Stephanie Plum from the to-read tray where, sadly, dust bunnies have morphed into bovines.

And if both fail, maybe I’ll just go smack my head against a wall (figuratively speaking, of course).

Happy writing, my friends.

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The Cover or A Cover-Up: Doing Indispensable Due Diligence

Continuing on the topic of book covers . . . as previously mentioned, you can employ a designer (spend a few dollar$) or do it gratis.  Your choice.

In the last post, I’d commented upon one site that had caught my eye and that if it was as awesome as I thought it might be, I’d share.  So return I did, with the intention of downloading constructive info and items to promote my next Triple Threat Investigation Agency novel, “Forever Poi”.

The first thing you see on the site is a variety of e-book cover templates.  Pick whichever one you like and continue.  Provide a little personal information and then select your cover image by uploading a file.  You receive a mock-up in your Inbox.  Easy-peasy.  Love it.

And what’s not to love about (and get excited over) the loads of complimentary stuff like tips and templates, and even an impressive-sounding media kit?  Everything appears to be—yes, can you spell it?  F-r-e-e.  Splendid!  But how can this be!?

It can’t.  <LMAO>  After browsing a wee while and requesting one of the free items, I was swept into a vid requesting $$ (not a lot, not a little) to acquire additional “valuable” material.  The actual download, once I managed to locate it (don’t ask), provided maybe one or two useful tips.  Maybe.

If you’re seeking to do a no-cost cover, or in quest of free author/writer assistance, please do that due diligence I constantly refer to.

Yes, most definitely, you can get a free cover—and a truly awesome one at that—but first get to know who and what you’re dealing.  Read reviews and appraisals.  Check out sites thoroughly.

Be(come) informed.  Learning doesn’t have to be a trial, so have some fun doing so.  The site that promised so much, but delivered very little, certainly provided me with a few chuckles.  <still LMAO>

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Do I or Don’t I . . . Create my Own Book Cover?

I believe we’re in agreement that people do judge books by their covers.  A crappy one’s not going to catch a potential purchaser’s eye, much less make a sale—unless the name on it is recognizable and has a solid following.

A vibrant, eye-catching cover is a must.  Do you pay someone to do it?  A good cover designer doesn’t have to cost much; there are definitely some out there.  You only need do your due diligence.  Ask around.  Get feedback.

Or maybe you do it yourself first, to get a feel for it—to acquire a creative [critical] eye, as it were—before you shell out a few $ to a professional.

. . . Or maybe you do it yourself, period.  A lot have—and successfully.  The cover for Odd Woman Out on Wattpad was designed by yours truly.  It was super simple to do with Canva and, quite frankly, I really like it (that I’ve seen it on another novel is quite beside the point).

Go to a few book cover design sites—many are free—and nose around.  Play a little.  Create a cover for the fun of it or a current project.  Design one that fits your genre and style.  Tweak it until you get it “just right”.

Elements to consider re your cover:

  • format (do you go with conventional or do you customize?)
  • genre or subject matter
  • artwork and photos (stock items or your own, or a combination?)
  • font and text
  • layout, and
  • colors/filters.

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The great thing about designing your own cover, particularly if you use “free” software, is that you can put the money you saved toward promotion and marketing/ads.

There are several amazing sites out there, too many to list in one post.  Nor do I want it to appear that I’m endorsing one over the other.  (There’s one, though, that caught my eye and I have to go back.  If I’m as impressed as I believe I’ll be, I may share that one with you in another post.)

In the meanwhile, snoop around.  Google “best e-book cover designers”, “free e-book covers”, “professional book covers”, and so forth.  Sure, it will take time, but consider it a viable investment in your future [sales].

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Judging a Book by Its Cover

“Forever Poi” should be completed in the New Year.  Fingers crossed.  So while I’m writing and rewriting—and huffing and puffing because I want to be there like yesterday—I’ve gotten the cover going.  (Katrina Joyner as an FYI does all my art.  She’s awesome, but that’s another post.)

So that brings me to this week’s Wednesday post: book covers.  What makes for a winning one?  Do you even need to have a good one (which can cost $$ if you’re not artistically inclined or aren’t sure who to hire or where to go)?

Let’s start with the obvious.  Yes, you really do need a dynamic cover—it’s what draws a potential reader (buyer).  A so-so/blah one isn’t going to convince someone your book is worth reading, much less purchasing . . . unless you have a name and following.  A so-so/blah one might also give the impression that the content is, well, equally so.  You don’t want to turn off the “shopper” before he/she even gets to the sample stage.

You’ve heard that expression: don’t judge a book by its cover.  Unfortunately, many do.  Bear that in [serious] mind.  Be professional—not only in your writing, but with the accompanying artwork.

Make sure your cover reflects your content.  If your “product” is a cozy mystery, you probably don’t want sexpots pirouetting with leather whips.  A vibrant appropriate cover will not only appeal to potential purchasers, but to those who might consider doing reviews or passing on recommendations.

Before you commit to making that cover “the” cover, get feedback.  Friends and family are fine, but you might want to ask others in the industry.  Join a supportive writing group like Facebook’s fantastic SPF Community.  I’ve seen many an author post their cover and ask for opinions—and receive valuable feedback.

Lastly, have that cover display a bit of you / your voice.  Think: branding.

Book cover software does have merit, so this weekend’s post will look at some “makers”.  Until then, have an awesome creative rest of the week.