3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Blog Reader-Friendly

 

I’ve only published a few how-to posts before so bear with me. It’s short. And has three easy tips to increase your readership.

Okay, I can only promise it will increase readership by one.

That would be me.

Hopefully that one flower (that would be me, again) will become a garden of readers.

There are some of you (I won’t name names) who have the most sweetest blogs and the most loveliest things to say. And yet…

There are a few things I’d like to discuss with you. Three, actually. I’ll be quick. Promise.

I’d like to ask a favor, my bloggy friends. Could you do something for me? That is, if you don’t mind and I ask nicely? (I usually offer cookies or something as my “nice” may not be as nice as I think it is. So, cookies will be involved. Or cake. Your choice.)

When I read your post and there’s a link, it’s wonderful if that link is a word or two (or even five), not an enormously long URL.

And then, when you have your cute, little word that is now a link, it’s quite charming if it doesn’t kick me off your blog. I’m reading your blog because I like it. And I don’t want to leave. And you don’t want me to leave. There might be other posts I’d like to read on there.

Finally, when someone leaves a link in your comments, it often flies off the side of the page and makes your blog literally swim before my eyes. And not in a cute, “Aw, look, it’s a dolphin” sort of way. No. It moves and is difficult to read and (apologies) I often click off the post. I sometimes manage to finish reading if it’s short but I certainly don’t enjoy it as much as I would if it were, say, staying in place.

So, if you’re interested (and use WordPress), these are super-quick fixes:

 

Turning a long link into a short word or phrase:

  • Select and cut link from your post
  • Highlight word(s) you would like turned into a link
  • Click on link button in the toolbar (if you hover, it says ‘insert/edit link’)
  • Paste link into the space provided

 

Having a link open in a new tab:

After you have turned your long link into a short word or phrase, have it open into a new tab so I can stay on your blog. (Unless you want me to leave. I can take a hint.)

  • Keep box open where you just pasted your link
  • Click on gear icon (it will say ‘link options’ if you hover) Skip this step if using the Reader
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there

 

Adding/editing links in comment sections:

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Edit’
  • Click the ‘Link’ button
  • Cut and paste link into URL space
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there
  • Click ‘Update’

OR

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Quick Edit’
  • Cut and paste the following into the comment box:
  • <a href=”www.hello.com”>Hi</a>
  • Change “www.hello.com” to link in the comment
  • Change “Hi” to whatever text you want to display
  • NOTE: This will not open the comment link in a new tab

 

So long and thanks for all the links! 🐠

 

If you don’t do these things, is it by choice? If so, why? Does it bother you to have a link open in a new tab? Do you think it’s more likely people will click on longer (obvious) links?

 

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Book Launch: Fireworks or Fizzled-Out?

 

 

The other day, I got a tweet. It was like, ‘Hey, Lemon Shark. I feel all ARGH! Is this normal for a book launch?’ And I was like, ‘Hmm… I’ve never done one but, yeah, I’d say it is.’

The question was from Lucy over at BlondeWriteMore. She’s publishing her first book (finally…ahem). It’s a long-awaited romcom sure to be a smash hit. Anyway, the lovely blonde writer was wondering my way and it got me thinking.

Yes, I’ve released a book. Two, actually, but I’ve never had a launch. It was more of a whisper. I actually worked one of my releases into a post script on my blog here. Yup: ‘P.S. I’ve got a new book out.’ Shame on me, I know.

While a lot of people get a rocket launcher and have the crowd count down to blast off, I have a sparkler in my hand and run about the yard on a balmy summer’s evening alone.

If I’m honest, it’s probably more like a stick of incense. The faint aroma of ‘new book’ wafting in the air, smoke swirling and curling in beautiful patterns that go completely unnoticed (unless you happen to be passing by).

No street team, no online marketing, no book tour. I’m not blasting through the blogosphere with my new book. I’m relaxing, drinking a beer, and watching my sparkler burn down and fizzle out.

 

Where are you on the days (or months) leading up to your release date? How do you announce your new book? Fireworks? Sparkler? Smoke signals?

 

 

Beauty Is Not Enough

 

 

Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.

Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

It’s spring. Though it feels more like a distant cousin. A time of year in which we struggle to find our place during the uncertainty of seasons. When we throw off our jackets and listen to blue jays. Then huddle in our heavy coats and listen to howling winds. When we both turn our face to the sunshine and dance between raindrops.

It is that unpredictability we crave when the earth beneath our feet is frozen solid in winter or lush with summer greens. But the fickle springtime plays in quicksand, leaving us wishing for stability, making us wary.

Sometimes we know what we know, regardless of the beauty around us. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough to quiet us.

It is then we raise our voices. To communicate. To be heard. To say that we will not be lulled into silence with the unfurling bud and promise of a bright and beautiful thing.

We will not hush.

We will shout.

 

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Here’s to finding your voice, being heard, and speaking up for yourselves. Happy shouting, gentle readers. ❤

You can read the entire poem here: Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Stampeding Rhino

 

 

 

It’s the end of the month. The end of the mini WriMo I took part in. I’d love to say I crushed it but, in fact, it crushed me.

The way Diana set this challenge up, with all the choices and flexibility, there was kind of no way to fail. But I am spectacularly inept and managed to do it. Fail, that is.

So. I can beat myself up, as I’m wont to do, or I can move on. I can try again next month or wait a month and try again or never try again (ever) and realize this type of challenge is not for me. We’ll see.

Regardless, I don’t get a badge with a star. But I did get this adorable drawing from the fabulous Ree and I’m excited to have this sweet little Ninny Rhino to keep my cold keyboard company. Maybe she’ll inspire me to attempt this challenge again. Who could say no to that face?

 

My not-so-random thoughts in 200 words or less.

How did you do this month? Did you reach your writing goal? Did you write at all? What did you accomplish? I’d love to hear of your successes. Drop me a comment and let me know. ✍️ 🦏 

 

top photo source: pixabay (inspired by the dynamic D.Wallace Peach)

Ninny Rhino

 

 

 

I’ve posted before how I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo and how I’ve never had the slightest desire to and how I applaud those wacky writers who do.

But this is a rhino of a different color. Ninny can be any color I want him to be. He may even have polka dots or stripes. Who knows? Point is, Mini-Wri-Mo’s a different sort of challenge, as Ms. Amazingly Prolific Peach explains in her post.

March is looking like a difficult month for me but, eh, which one isn’t? And that clichéd quote “It’s never a good time for…” is cliché for a reason. (It’s true, people. That’s what I’m saying here.)

So off I go. Ready to take on this month-long writing challenge. Wish me luck, fellow writers. I’ll need it.

 

My not-so-random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Joining in Diana’s challenge? Why not, right? Set your own goals and celebrate your accomplishments. You get to create a Rhino that’s all yours. (And you get a badge. I mean, honestly, who can resist a badge? With a rhino. And a star.) ✍️ 🦏 

Starts today, March 1st, so figure out what you’re doing and get moving, my friends.

 

photo source: pixabay (inspired by the dynamic D.Wallace Peach)

My One Word for 2019 #OneWord2019

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Wow. So this is fun. I love reading posts from past years and seeing I’ve learned my lesson…

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

So, last year, my One Word for 2018 was: Self.

It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

The year before that, my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

And…here I go again. Another year, another word, another promise. Despite everything, I really do believe in the power of focus words (and in the power of me not failing). Success to me and my One Word!

It’s difficult choosing just one word when we writers love language the way we do, but, unlike past years, it wasn’t too bad this time. I’ll say right up front, I did shop around for synonyms because it’s not a pretty word but, eh, what the hell. Here it is, my friends:

MOVE

As I said, not the most beautiful word but, seriously, check this out:

 

move

/mo͞ov/

verb

  • go in a specified direction or manner; change position.

proceed, progress, advance

Proceed? Advance? Count me in.

  • change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.

change, shift one’s ground, change one’s tune

Changing opinion/activity as we speak (or, read, whatever). Already whistling another tune, my friends. Done.

  • take action, act, take steps, do something

inspire, prompt, motivate

“she was moved to act”

Dude, just reading this makes me want to DO SOMETHING. Watch me take action. I am motivated! I am moved to act!

  • provoke a strong feeling, especially of sorrow or sympathy, in.

stir up (an emotion) in someone

affect, touch, upset, disturb, make an impression on

“I was deeply moved by the story”

This. Yes. This is what I hope to accomplish with my writing so I’m keeping this one in here. I would love to provoke strong feelings in readers. Affect people. Even upset or disturb them with my stories. It’s all good as long as it makes an impression.

  • make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction.

make progress, advance, develop

I’m marching here. I am. Advancing. Stepping ALL OVER the enemies: self-doubt, imposter syndrome, procrastination, stress, overwhelm… I am making progress!

 

I’m moving. And 2019 will see another book from me. (Preferably two.) Here’s to moving, my friends! ❤

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2019.

 

Light & Hope at Midwinter

 

 

In many cultures, past and present, February 1st is a promise of release from the dreary darkness and bitter cold of winter. Beneath the frozen earth, life stirs. This midwinter celebration, halfway between the first day of winter and the first day of spring, gives us hope.

Like watching your children grow, you look up one morning and say, “When did you get so tall?” Those extra minutes of sunlight each day since the Winter Solstice have accumulated. Lift your eyes, look around, become aware of the light. The lengthening of days is a slow process—but the change is now noticeable.

The pressure to set goals, reflect on last year, or make resolutions to better ourselves is associated with the calendar New Year.

The first day of February offers a fresh start. It is about new beginnings. It brings knowledge that the seeds we planted are deep within—there is life underneath the frost and snow. These plants will soon break through the soil, reaching and growing.

Trust that there is life in the darkness and there you will find hope.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Health & happiness to you, my friends. ❤

 

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts from the Heart

 

holiday-charity-gifts

 

I love this post from 2016 so I’m publishing the ideas again this year. Donations help those in need as well as give your loved ones a gift from the heart.

If you’ve got a couple (or a ton) of last-minute gifts to get, these amazing organizations let you email/text the recipient or print your own card. No waiting, just giving.

Quick, easy, heartfelt. ❤ The perfect last-minute gifts:

 

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

arbor-day-post

Mission: “to improve water and air quality, slow climate change, and reduce poverty by planting trees.”

These Trees in Celebration certificates are lovely and every single dollar you spend plants a tree. They also offer “Give-A-Tree E-Cards” to send a holiday greeting with meaning. Because. Trees. Behold the beautiful trees! 🌲

 

Animals / Wildlife 

ASPCA

aspca-post

Mission: “animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected…”

Show your love for our four-legged friends. Give a holiday gift card in honor of a beloved furchild. I can’t stand the cuteness of that puppy. You know you want to help these little munchkins. Available in ecards.

 

Hunger / Poverty

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

heifer-post

Mission: “to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.”

Choose a donation and print it out, email, or text with a custom message to the gift recipient. Or you can give a gift card (to print out or send via email) so they can choose their own donation.

* My personal favorite gift to give is honeybees. They are awesome. Here are 2 reasons why:

“Food for Life: Honey is the only food that includes all the essential elements necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even water. Its unique chemical makeup also allows it to be preserved indefinitely.”

“Farmers’ Helpers: In the process of searching for nectar, bees pollinate plants. The placement of a single colony can potentially double local fruit and vegetable yields.”

Isn’t that incredible? It’s the bee’s knees. 🐝

 

KIVA

kiva-post

Mission: “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Print these out or email them to the gift recipient and they can start loaning right away. Change someone’s life, get paid back, help someone else… And on it goes. Making spirits bright.

 

Childhood Cancer/Childhood Diseases

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

st-judes-post

Mission: “Finding cures. Saving children. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

Please do check out the site if you don’t already know about St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And, if you do, well… ‘Nuff said.

Printable Christmas Cards

Ecards for Christmas

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Printable Hanukkah Cards

Ecards for Hanukkah

 

   ❄️ Have a beautiful holiday season! ❄️

 

At the Zoo (Times Two)

 

The 2nd Annual Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo announced the winners from contest #1.

From lead judge, Geoff Le Pard:

“We describe through setting, body language, and context. But strip that away and what do you have? Dialogue. … That’s what I want. Just dialogue. No descriptions.”

Yup. That was the challenge. Write a dialogue-only story in 99 words. To add a bit of fun, Geoff included a pretty tricky prompt picture from the London Zoo which you can see in the contest post.

 

So I got this:

And…er…this:

What?! I know. But as Geoff says, “So there you have it. The benefits of completely blind judging means our winner and our second placed entrant is one and the same…”

I was surprised to see my name at all, to be honest, so to see it twice was, well… I think I used the word ‘flabbergasted’. And I messed up the entry form—didn’t include the titles. *facepalm* Anyway, I won so…yay! 🎉

Many thanks to the judges: Geoff, Esther, and Chelsea. This must have been a tough job considering all the wonderful entries. (You can read the winning flash and other entries here.) Thanks to Charli for setting up the awesome Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. And congratulations to the winners and to all those who took on this challenge.

Happy flashing, my friends!

 

Hinting at Shadows ~ October Sale

 

Universal Link

 

It’s October, my bloggy friends! 🎃 👻

Colorful leaves, crisp air, cotton sweaters, kick-ass boots, apple cider, pumpkin spice, Halloween… You get the idea.

I love October. It’s a beautiful time of year and I’m celebrating with a sale. For all you Halloween fiends, this is a perfect time to enjoy some bite-sized morsels of delicious darkness.

 

Hinting at Shadows, my first collection of flash, will be just $0.99 / £0.99 for the entire month of October.

 

Here’s what some people are saying about Hinting at Shadows (I’m deliriously happy & grateful):

 

I just finished Hinting at Shadows and had to rave a little about this book of short fiction. Every story is a pearl. The writing is exquisite and full of pathos with a focus on the poignancy of the human condition.”

 

“beautifully and richly crafted. Brentyn has a skill with the written word that just leaves you breathless…
I was entranced right from the very first story”

 

The author’s haunting prose very cleverly invokes strong images with the minimum of words. Sarah Brentyn delivers something quite different, written beautifully with intuitive understanding and the ability to generate an emotional reaction.”

 

 

If you’d like to download a copy, here’s the link: Hinting at Shadows 🖤

 

Happy reading, all!