Category Archives: Articles

Special Blogger Award

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Special Blogger Award

Thank you to Jillian of Feed My Family for nominating me for the Special Blogger Award. Jillian’s son and husband are sensitive to sulphites in food, so they’ve been on a journey of finding foods that nourish without harm. But she’s also interested in nourishing the mind, heart, and soul. Check out her blog!

Usually I turn down awards like this one, but I decided to make an exception in this case because I can direct my readers to other creative blogs they might be interested in following, so please read on to the end.

Award Rules:

1 Thank the blogger who nominated you (as above ).

2 Answer the questions you are asked (if you’re comfortable doing so!).

3 Create 10 questions for the bloggers you’ve nominated.

4 Nominate at least 3 bloggers for the Special Blogger Award.

5 Comment on your nominees’ most recent blog post to let them know you’ve nominated them.

6 Have fun!

Answers to the questions I was given:

  1. What’s your favourite main meal? Oh, dear. I’m an omnivore. I love all food. But a particular favorite is shrimp scampi.
  2. What’s your favourite dessert? There’s almost no dessert I’ll turn down. I love a good vanilla ice cream.
  3. What sort of exercise do you do? I love to dance, particularly international folk dancing. I’m a member of Phoenix International Folk Dancers, and I’ve been charged with preparing the dance list for our next Folk Dance Festival, coming up on March 21. I also love to walk in the neighborhood and hike in the many desert parks in the Phoenix area. April through September you can find me in my pool. And if the weather is wet, I may be at the gym.
  4. What’s a great book that you’ve read lately? Echo’s Sister by Paul Mosier. It’s a Middle Grades book, but that doesn’t mean older people can’t benefit from reading it. It’s about a family dealing with the cancer diagnosis of their youngest daughter and how it impacts every member of the family and also their community.
  5. What’s your favourite boardgame? The game I play most often is Full Deck Solitaire on the computer.
  6. What’s a must see movie that you’d recommend? I love the Hunger Games franchise, about resistance to a dystopian government. I watch all four every chance I get. They always seem to be on TV. The most recent movie I’ve seen was A Star is Born, which was so worth it to see Lady Gaga without outlandish makeup and costumes. She’s so beautiful and talented. And the chemistry between her and Bradley Cooper had everybody talking.
  7. What do you like to do in your spare time? Quilting, playing piano, drawing, painting, Zentangle, reading, writing, taking photographs, crocheting.
  8. How do you let others know that you care about them? I tell them I love them.
  9. What do you do to take care of your soul? I read scripture and pray everyday.
  10. What is something your grateful for, right now? I am thankful for my husband. We recently celebrated our 46th anniversary.

10 Questions for my nominees:Palette bing free commercial

Because my nominees are creatives, I want to ask them about their art.

  1. What is your favorite kind of art to make?
  2. When did you begin creating?
  3. Whose art (of any kind) do you most admire?
  4. How would you characterize your art?
  5. Which piece that you’ve made are you most proud of?
  6. What is a medium you’ve never tried, but would like to?
  7. What future project are you most looking forward to?
  8. How would you define beauty?
  9. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
  10. If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would you choose, and why?

My Nominees:

Judith of Artistcoveries

I discovered Judith’s blog about four years ago, as she was beginning her journey as a painter. It’s been interesting and encouraging to watch her grow–she’s been faithfully documenting her goofs as well as her triumphs.

Kathy Reeves of Sewing Etc.profile

I’ve followed Kathy’s blog for a long time. I stumbled onto it when I was looking for quilting posts, but she’s quite a polymath. I recently interviewed her for ARHtistic License. (I hope she’s not tired of answering my questions. . .)

Stephanie Finnell of Katy Trail Creations

Stephanie FinnellI also interviewed Stephanie last fall. She’s another quilter whose blog I found and fell in love with because of the quilts. She also sells lots of handmade items in her Etsy Shop.

10 Commandments of Writing

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For most writers, the path to publication is full of obstacles, detours, and potholes. Tenacity and resilience are required to reach your destination. Observe these commandments:

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  1. Write every day. The quickest way to become a published writer is to exercise your writing muscles. The more you write, the better you get.
  2. Write for the joy of it. Don’t worry about trends—write your fresh, unique vision. The problem with trends is that by the time your piece is published, the trend may well have passed.
  3. Turn off your inner editor during the initial draft. Get all those good ideas down.
  4. When you think your first draft is complete, put it aside. Make a note on your calendar to read it again in 6 weeks. Start a new project.
  5. Have more than one project in the works at any given time. This gives you options when you’re stuck or just tired of a particular piece.
  6. When you read your previous draft again after 6 weeks, it probably won’t seem as good as you thought it was. Don’t despair—now you get to rewrite it. Identify what’s good about it. Cross out everything that doesn’t belong. Highlight what needs to change. Write yourself notes. Read it out loud. Fill in any holes.
  7. When you think it’s the best it can be, let someone you trust read it (but maybe not your mom) and ask for feedback.
  8. Consider the feedback and make improvements. If the critique hurts, put it aside for two weeks and then look at it again. There may be an excellent suggestion in there. Don’t take it personally—it’s about the work, not about you. All writers refine their work.
  9. Send it out when it’s good. Don’t wait until it’s perfect—it’s never perfect. While you’re waiting to hear, work on something else. But if your submission is rejected, you may want to revisit commandments 7 and 8 (or maybe number 6) and submit it again to a different publication/editor/agency. Do some market research to find out who represents/publishes work like yours.
  10. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

If you keep these ten commandments, you will ultimately succeed. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else—some of us have a steeper learning curve than others, and that’s okay. And when you get a positive response, celebrate and start or finish another project. Don’t let your genius languish.

Review of Dream Work by Mary Oliver

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Review of Dream Work by Mary Oliver

I recently read the Kindle edition of this book through Prime. I read it twice, first on my vintage Kindle, then on the Kindle app on my vintage iPad. I make the font large so I don’t have to wear my reading glasses; on the iPad the formatting stayed truer.

I especially love Oliver’s nature poems, and there are many here—Wild Geese, which is one of her most famous, and lots of others which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Actually, whatever the poem is really about, she seems to put some flora and fauna in it.

At first I wasn’t sure the poems resonated with me, but as I progressed, I liked them better and better. I suspect that I will love them all better through repeated readings.Dream Work

The book is divided into two sections, and I haven’t figured out why yet.

One sinister poem titled “Rage” seems to refer to a father raping a child. It felt autobiographical, so I googled “Was Mary Oliver raped?” and found out she indeed was raped as a child. Another poem, “A Visitor,” describes a visit from a father who was once feared and avoided, but who is now “pathetic and hollow. . . I saw what love might have done/ had we loved in time.”

 

Another poem references Beethoven; another, Schumann. Several reference native Americans.

“Members of the Tribe” seems to be about suicide.

My favorite poem in the book is “Banyan,” a fantasy poem:

Something screamed
from the fringes of the swamp.
It was Banyan,
the old merchant.

It was the hundred-legged
tree, walking again.

The cattle egrets
flew out into the sunlight
like so many pieces of white ribbon.

The watersnakes slipped down the banks
like green hooks and floated away.

Banyan groaned.
A knee in the east corner buckled,

a gray shin rose, and the root,
wet and hairy,
sank back in, a little closer.

Then a voice like a howling wind deep in the leaves said:
I’ll tell you a story
about a seed.

About a seed flying into a tree and eating it
little by little.
About a small tree that becomes a huge tree
and wants to travel.

Listen, said the voice.
This is your dream.

I’m only stopping here for a little while.
Don’t be afraid.

I love “the hundred-legged tree” and the description of the egrets flying and the watersnakes slipping down like green hooks. Why is the banyan a merchant?

I like this book, but not as much as Devotions.

Want to learn more about Mary Oliver? Read Maria Shriver’s interview.

Interview with Jenifer Tull-Gauger, Karate Instructor, Author, and Illustrator

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Interview with Jenifer Tull-Gauger, Karate Instructor, Author, and Illustrator

Jenifer Tull-Gauger and her husband, Kirk Gauger, run East Valley Martial Arts in Mesa, Arizona. Tull-Gauger has also been writing and drawing since childhood. Her most recent book, The Two True Karate Kids: A Dojo Kun Character Book on Battling Dishonesty, was released December 1, 2019. I met Jenifer through folk dancing, and reconnected with her in November at the Tempe Book Festival. I’m thrilled that she consented to be interviewed for ARHtistic License.

ARHtistic License: Have you always lived in Arizona? What are the pros and cons of living in a desert area?

Jenifer Tull-Gauger: I grew up in southern California and our young family moved to Arizona over 22 years ago. Arizona has provided opportunities that California couldn’t. We love the people here, and are so happy to be here now. A huge perk is the weather most months out of the year. And for me, a huge drawback is gardening in an arid climate. I don’t like working with cactus, so I must contend with big water bills.

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AL: You and your husband have been practicing karate for twenty years. How do children benefit from karate training?

JTG: Karate is great for people of all ages, but children especially stand to benefit from karate training because it helps them form values, inner strength and the knowledge of their power, in their formative years. For our children, we have seen improvements in self-confidence, self-defense, respect, and character-building in addition to the fitness it provides.

AL: I know a dojo is a karate school, but what is dojo kun?

JTG: A kun is an oath, so the dojo kun is the oath of a traditional karate school. Our Dojo Kun lists our most important rules and values that we uphold. Each student is expected to work on using them in daily life – both in and outside of our classes. For me as an instructor, I teach people how to fight or harm others for self defense, and these rules teach them how not to fight, or at least how to have a moral code for the use of force. Our Dojo Kun is the traditional one created by Shungo “Tode” Sakugawa around 200 years ago. It is translated as: 1) Strive for a good moral character. 2) Keep an honest and sincere way. 3) Cultivate perseverance or a will for striving. 4) Develop a respectful attitude. 5) Restrain my physical abilities through spiritual attainment.

AL: You’ve been drawing since you were a child. What sort of art training have you had? What advice do you have for budding artists?

JTG: I took as many art classes as I could in junior high and high school. Other than that, I have practiced a lot on my own, including learning Sumi-e, Japanese brush painting, from a book. That was fun. My advice for budding artists is to just do it! Practice with different styles and media. Sketch as much as you can (or would like to) and regularly. Youtube is also a great source for techniques, ideas and inspiration.

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AL: How is illustrating a book different from drawing pictures? What did you have to keep in mind as you created your accompanying illustrations? 

JTG: For me, the biggest difference (and thorn in my side) in illustrating a book is the editing process. In fine art, I create a piece and when it’s done, it’s done. In illustration, I receive feedback from my art editors and then make revisions to make sure the pictures are supporting the story I want to tell. With book illustration, there is also the use of left-to-right action and awareness of where the eye is led in order to encourage the turning of the page.

AL: Do you draw your illustrations by hand, or do you use graphic software? Tell us about your process.

JTG: I use a mostly traditional process, but with the help and support of technology. My process for the Dojo Kun Character book series is to do a rough layout sketch or book dummy, then create real-size pencil sketches. After input from my art editors, I go over the outlines in black ink. All of that is done by hand. Then I scan the line art into digital files, print it all out, and fill in the colors by hand with brush pens. After another round of editing thanks to other artists’ eyes, I’ll make additional edits. Then I layout the pictures and text in Microsoft Publisher before consideration of final adjustments. If images need more digital manipulation than Publisher allows (such as removing backgrounds or parts of pictures), I’ll use GIMP.

AL: How do you find time to write and work on illustrations?

JTG: It is tricky finding the time to do both. This tripped me up for years. Then I implemented two things that help me make this doable. One is prioritizing. I have one project at the top of my list that I work on regularly. I put most of my focus and energy into that project. (I’ll put things of secondary importance in my to-do list where I anticipate having a break in my primary project, such as when waiting on input from editors or “beta-readers.”) The second is I commit to working on my books daily, even if it’s only for a short block of time. And when my day allows, I spend more time. Using a to-do list helps. As did figuring out which one series of books I want to work on at this point and having one area of focus. It is true that my other stories, my poetry, and my personal journal writing are on the back burner as I’m focusing on my karate picture books at this time. But it’s worth it to see the progress of these Dojo Kun Character Books as they come into being.

Two True

AL: You’re a member of SCBWI and you have critique partners. How did that help you on your journey to publication?

JTG: Both of these have helped me immensely. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has helped with my professional development and with teaching me the nuts and bolts of the trade. Through them, I’ve also met people who have helped guide me on my path to publication. I have found a lot of moral support and help in both the SCBWI and my critique partners. Plus, it’s awesome and inspiring just to be around other creative types. Additionally, it is invaluable how good critique partners can help you “see” the writing and illustrations through other people’s eyes or from other perspectives.

AL: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JTG: I’m a mix of both, and depending on the story, I may lean more toward plotting it out beforehand, or flying by the seat of my pants and making it up as I go along. I actually enjoy both. When left to my own devices, I will usually have a solid idea plotted out in my head of what I’m going to write. But I try to stay open to inspiration and go with the flow of creativity while writing. I did a longer work, a children’s chapter book for NANOWRIMO a couple years ago, and was amazed and delighted at how some parts of the story took twists and turns that I hadn’t expected when plotting it out. There were times that I was writing my characters into trouble and had no idea how they were going to get out of it.

AL: What was the most difficult part of writing your books? What is the most fun part of writing your books?

JTG: The most difficult part of writing my first book was the uncertainty of what to do with the story and when to do it. I actually had the idea and wrote the first draft years ago. After I took it to my writer’s support group for feedback, it sat, going nowhere, for years. (That is the purgatory where most of my stories and poems sit.) The most fun part of writing and illustrating my book is just overall the adventure of it all. Some of the high points of the adventure are getting lost in the creative process, and learning of new (or previously unknown) helpful resources such as the Biteable app which eases the process of book trailer creation. I enjoy meeting new people at writers’ events or even on social media. It’s fun to encourage other writers and artists to find that spark within them and follow where it leads. And I love bringing my art and writing to the table in karate training, as well as bringing the most important lessons of traditional karate out into the world to help children, even those who may not train, improve their lives for now and for their futures.

Jenifer Tull-Gauger reading to students

AL: What types of books do you like to read? Which authors do you admire?

JTG: I like to read all types of children’s books. It’s important to keep up with the industry. I admire Tomie dePaola for continuing to support and encourage younger writer-illustrators in the SCBWI even though he doesn’t need to. And I admire many authors I have met who have helped and encouraged me, including Pat Curren who once won a Tomie dePaola DVD on the craft of picture books and gave it to me because she writes for teens. As far as my personal reading, I’m open to trying out any book from any author, but I will put it down if it doesn’t hook me within two pages. Dean Koontz is my favorite author to read.

AL: What is your favorite book about writing?

JTG: There are so many great books about writing! I would have to say my favorite is Natalie Goldberg’ Writing Down the Bones. It contains so much great advice and sharing of knowledge and writing experience. I also really like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which inspired me to get to know her better through her writing.

AL: Your book The Can-Do Karate Kid: A Dojo Kun Character Book on Defeating Laziness & Procrastination came out in May 2019, its companion coloring book came out in November 2019, and The Two True Karate Kids: A Dojo Kun Character Book on Battling Dishonesty came out in December 2019. What’s next?

JTG: My third Dojo Kun Character Book, about wrestling with quitting, is at the top of my writing and illustrating priority list. I’m also working on a companion coloring book to go along with the second book in the series. These will be released in the first half of 2020. And I’m looking forward to my book launch party for The Two True Karate Kids on February 15th, 2020. It will include a Karate with Your Dog Class!

Jenifer Tull-Gauger

AL: Do you have a funny story about any of your books or about the writing process?

JTG: Maybe not really laugh-out-loud funny for most people. But I enjoy a dry sense of humor, and I find many of the “little things” in life hilarious. My picture book adventure has so many little funny things like that. Such as a five-year-old calling both the snail and slug monster in my first book “snails” (he’s from Arizona). Or his mom giving Procrastination (the snail monster) a voice, “Don’t do it now, you can do it later.” Or the response from a teen “beta reader” when she saw that I made the adult female karate teacher bald. (She was not on board with this idea.) I got to see her face as I was there in person: priceless.

AL: What is something about your books or about yourself that you wish your readers knew?

JTG: Hmm, I feel like I put all of these things out there in my weekly writer-illustrator and karate blogs. So this is a tricky question for me. But there is one thing that I may not get out there enough. I wish that all adults with elementary school aged kids in their lives knew I aim to make my books educational yet fun, character-building conversation starters with enough weirdness to make kids want to talk about them (and a can-do attitude, honesty, perseverance, etc.).

To learn more about Jenifer Tull-Gauger, check out her author website. And if you’ll be near Mesa, Arizona on February 15, you’re invited to the launch party for The Two True Karate Kids. Since the plot includes karate and the adoption of a dog, the book’s publication will be celebrated with a karate class that’s going to the dogs. The party will take place 9:45 a.m.—11:30 a.m. on Saturday February 15, 2020, outside East Valley Martial Arts, 1829 S. Horne, Suite 8, in Mesa. It will include book signings, a book reading, pictures with your dog and the author, and a Karate with your Dog Class. Participants in the class are invited to bring their dogs to go alongside them through a martial arts influenced obstacle course. Donations will be accepted for the Arizona Humane Society. Sounds like lots of fun, doesn’t it?

ARHtistic License: 2019 in Review

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ARHtistic License: 2019 in Review

Last year at this time, ARHtistic License had almost 600 subscribers. As of this writing, readership has grown to 807. (I was hoping for 1,000—serves me right to set a goal over which I have absolutely no control.) If you occasionally read ARHtistic License and like what you see, please sign up to subscribe in the sidebar on the right. You will get email notifications whenever a new post drops, or, if you are also a WordPress blogger, ARHtistic License will show up in your Reader feed.

My Top Ten Most-Read Posts of 2019:

  1. NaPoWriMo 2019 #13 I participated in National Poetry Writing Month in April. This poem, What If, was featured on the official website.
  2. Phoenix Folk Dance Festival Photographs and videos of the annual festival my folk dance group puts on. We get participants from all over the country (and even some from Canada).
  3. Interview with Author Paul Mosier Fabulous Young Adult author, whose fourth book, Summer and July, is coming out July 2020.
  4. #DC383: Ratoon Three posts in the top 10 are my responses to the Diva Challenge, a zentangle challenge that is on a long-term hiatus due to a hand injury to the Certified Zentangle Teacher who ran it.
  5. Ugly Fabric Quilt Challenge This post is an examination of a phenomena that occurs in quilting groups.
  6. #DC385: Valentangle Another Diva Challenge response.
  7. Hiking in South Mountain Park, Phoenix Full of photos taken on my first hike in this beautiful desert park.
  8. An Interview with Quilter Stephanie Finnell I’ve been following Stephanie’s blog for years, and I love her quilts.
  9. Interview with Author Kathie McMahon Kathie is a former teacher and musician who has written several children’s musicals. Her first children’s book recently came out.
  10. #DC386: Drawings and Dewd Another Diva Challenge response.
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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Interspersed among the top most-read posts of 2019 are earlier posts which still receive lots of visits. Here are The Top Ten Older Posts Most Read in 2019:

  1. Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted By a Committee This 2016 article explores the painters’ workshops and apprentice programs of the Renaissance.
  2. How to Make a Meme on a Mac Step-by-step instructions, first published in 2017.
  3. Escaping the Khmer Rouge: Review of Beautiful Hero by Jennifer H. Lau This review was written in 2016. The book went on to win at least 5 big awards.
  4. How to Practice Piano: Doh! Dohnányi The unplayable exercise book that is the bane of every pianist’s existence.
  5. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web I wrote this in 2018. I need to write a sequel to this article, because I’ve discovered so many other good websites.
  6. Ballet Feet They’re not cute and dainty. Ballet dancers literally suffer for their art. This article was written in 2016.
  7. Hawaiian Quilting with Pat Gorelangton If you don’t know about Hawaiian quilts, you need to read this article, posted last year.
  8. U is for Unicorn Quilt Patterns During last year’s A-to-Z blogging challenge, I combined two of my obsessions—quilts and unicorns—for the letter U.
  9. 20 Tools Every Writer Needs Last year I posted this list of writer’s essentials.
  10. Review of The Accidental Tourist, or Why I’d Rather Read the Book than See the Movie I wrote this in 2016.

Interestingly, all of the above posts had more views than my second most-viewed post of 2019. Does that mean I’m not as good a writer as I used to be, or did those posts just have better SEO (something I rarely consider)?

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Another way to gauge a post’s popularity is the number of “likes” it garners. Here are My Top Ten Most Liked Posts of 2019:

  1. Hiking in the Arboretum Beautiful Boyce-Thompson Arboretum.
  2. Hiking in South Mountain Park, Phoenix Also made the most-read list.
  3. NaPoWriMo #13 Also made the most-read list.
  4. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Assorted Vincas Wordless Wednesday and Flower of the Day are two popular photography challenges. Sometimes I combine my offerings into one post.
  5. Creative Juice #159 Creative Juice is a weekly feature. Every Friday I post links to 12 artistic articles I find on the web. It has its own following.
  6. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Red Bird of Paradise
  7. OctPoWriMo Day 1 A poem during October Poetry Writing Month.
  8. Flower of the Day: African Daisies
  9. Creative Juice #156
  10. OctPoWriMo Day 17 (5-way tie with the following:)
  11. Wordless Wednesday: Desert Path
  12. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Bloomin’ Barrel Cactus
  13. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Lantana
  14. Creative Juice #123

The saddest thing about this list is that these posts only received 19-32 likes. NaPoWriMo #13 had 260 views, but only 24 likes. I did the math—it’s only 9.23%. What does that mean? Did 90.77% of my readers hate it? Should I just give up blogging? It would free up a lot of my time if I did . . . I know this is a serious character flaw on my part, but I am so jealous of bloggers who get 100 likes on every post.

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I also contribute to A Writer’s Path. Here are My Guest Posts for 2019:

  1. How to Do an Author School Visit
  2. Recycling for Writers
  3. Why Do Authors Need a Newsletter?
  4. How to Choose a Writer’s Conference to Attend
  5. How to Attend a Writer’s Conference: Before, During, and After
  6. How to Keep On Blogging
  7. Thinking About Theme When Writing
  8. Elements of Fiction
  9. Where Do You Write?

My Other Writing:

  • I rewrote The God of Paradox and gave it to my pastor to read. She identified two aspects she thought needed further study, and I’m rewriting again, almost halfway through.
  • The Unicornologist is at a standstill. I don’t know how to fix the manuscript the way it is. I’ve decided I need to start from the beginning and write it all over again, since I know the story from beginning to end.
  • I’m still submitting my poetry chapbook to every contest. As soon as I lose one, I do some tweaking and enter another. I was going to stop entering contests, but then I read one of the winning chapbooks and realized mine is comparable in quality.
  • I’m writing poems and drawing zentangles. I also joined a photography group at my church so I can improve my picture-taking.
  • I started a short story that is a retelling of The Nutcracker, but I’m stuck. I know where I want to go, but not sure how to get there from where I am.

My Goals for 2020:

  • I’ve said it for years, but I want to finish The God of Paradox and The Unicornologist and submit them.
  • I also want to find a home for my poetry chapbook.
  • I want to finish my other projects, like my children’s poetry book and the Nutcracker
  • I’ve done very little practicing of piano, guitar, and recorder. Greg and I have had health issues, and we’re on the “medical merry-go-round” with constant doctor appointments, test, blood draws, surgeries, etc. I hope we’ll get off the carousel soon so we can pick up some of the activities that have fallen by the wayside.
  • I need to decide whether to continue blogging, cut down on it, or give it up entirely.

Now it’s your turn:

  • How have you done with your creative endeavors this year? What are your creative goals for 2020? Share in the comments below. If you’ve posted about it on your blog, feel free to share the link.
  • Have you read all of my most popular posts this year? No? Make my day and choose, say, three of the ones listed above and let me know what you think.
  • If you read a post on any blog, not just mine, that you find well worth your while, please “like” it if you’re given the option. Or leave a brief comment. It gives us bloggers such a lift. Feel free to click the “like” button below, and share the article on all your social media. Build some good blogging karma for yourself. Or if you don’t blog yourself, wouldn’t it be a shame if your favorite bloggers quit and took up skydiving instead?

Guest Post: 5 Mistakes Writer Make on Their Author Websites (And the Easy Fixes)

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

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Did you know that every website needs regular care and housekeeping? So unless you have a fairy godmother or can sing well enough to inspire woodland creatures to assist you with your chores, you should keep a virtual broom and wrench handy. Even the most meticulous author website design may experience issues that arise over time: Links break, information becomes obsolete, plugins stop working, etc. Thankfully, the most common mistakes writers make on their author websites have easy fixes!

Check out these website blunders and Web Design Relief’s tips on how to fix them without IT support intervention.

5 Easy-To-Fix Common Website Mistakes

Broken images: Uh-oh, has your beautiful photo been replaced by a sad face or what looks like a torn piece of paper? This means that the file containing the image may have been corrupted. But this can be fixed simply by re-uploading your photo to your author website or installing a handy plugin to solve the problem for you!

Typos: Some of the most damaging mistakes on an author website are typos, grammar mishaps, and incorrect punctuation. After all, you’re a writer—you’re held to a higher standard of web content than your online neighbors. Typos and grammar gaffes on your website may cause visitors to question your writing skills in general.

And you can’t count on website building elements to alert you to typos; they don’t feature spellcheck like word processing programs do. Thorough, expert proofreading is the solution to this common mistake and can ensure that your author website is up to professional standards.

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Dead Links: Is there anything more frustrating than a link that leads nowhere? If the hyperlinks you have included on your website are no longer active, your site will look abandoned and poorly maintained. Worst-case scenario—improper use of links can even get your site banned.

Fortunately, reviving dead links is easy! If a website has a new web address, simply update your link with the new URL. If the site you are linking to no longer exists, remove the link altogether or find another source. And remember to check your hyperlinks often to make sure you aren’t letting dead links lurk on your website!

Slow Response Times: Does your website take a long time to load? Having too many elements running can cause lagging. Download time is an overlooked issue on many author websites. And if your website is taking too long to load, visitors will bounce off your site.

To fix a lagging website, reevaluate what you really need on your web pages and what is simply clogging up response times. For example: There is no need to have images larger than 1500px, so you may want to resize large photos so that they do not take up so much space. However, don’t lose the resolution—make sure your photos have at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Another tip: Instead of uploading videos directly to your website, upload them to an external website like YouTube and then embed them on your site to save space!

Design Is Not Mobile-Friendly: Your author website may look perfect on your desktop computer, but nowadays more and more people visit sites using their cell phones and tablets. So it’s important that your website looks great on mobile devices too! The key is sizing. Make certain that your buttons are big enough to be seen on smaller screens, but that your photos and graphics aren’t so big that they are cut off.

Our pro tip: Test, test, test! View your author website on as many devices as possible and adjust your design elements accordingly.

Check out these 7 tips for a more mobile-friendly author website!

BONUS TIP: While most mistakes on your author website can be easily fixed, there will be glitches that require more complicated intervention. But don’t panic! Regular website backups can still save you lots of grief. Backing up your website frequently gives you the option to revert back to an earlier version (before the error kicked in!).

 

QUESTION: What are some overlooked mistakes you’ve found on websites you’ve visited?

Wordy Wednesday: Good News

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In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the tie came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:1-20 NIV).