Friday, March 24, 2017

Sweet Success Celebrates Cynthia Kuhn's Second Release

By: Ann S. Hill 

The Art of Vanishing (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #2). Henery Press, 2017.

When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'd Like a Website -- Now What (Part Two)

Editor's Note: This is a continuation of Patrick Hester's column on websites from Monday, March 20. 


By Patrick Hester

Registering a Domain  

There are a lot of places where you can register your domain name that can be independent of where you host your website – remember how I said the two are different? These places are called ‘Registrars’.

Here are some examples of where you can search for and register your domain and the cost as of this writing (presented in no particular order of preference):

·       Go Daddy: https://www.godaddy.com/
o   $2.99 – $11.99 per year depending on what you want
·       BlueHost https://www.bluehost.com/
o   FREE domain registration when you sign up for webhosting
§  BlueHost says in the fine print you retain ownership of your domain name until/unless it expires and you choose not to renew it
·       Register.com https://www.register.com//
o   $5 per year or more based on the services you choose
·       Google Domains https://domains.google
o   $12 per year or more based on the services you choose

This is a simple cross section of some of the options out there. There are A LOT more. Many of these companies offer to bundle your domain registration with the hosting of your website, enticing you with discounts and deals if you do so. Before you sign up for one of these, consider how you are going to build your website and the software you’re going to use. More on that in a moment.

Your domain registration is usually good for one year, but you can purchase more than one year at a time in order to enjoy various discounts being offered. PPW’s fearless leader, JT Evans, went ahead and registered his domain for 10 years!

It’s important to note that you will have to renew your domain name eventually or your website will vanish from the Internet (even though your hosting with all your pages, posts, etc. is still there). There’s a grace period offered by most registrars that allows you to renew your domain name and turn everything back on should it expire. At the end of that grace period, your domain name will come up for grabs and anyone can purchase it.

NOTE: At this point, it can become very difficult and costly to you to get your domain name back. Make a point to remind yourself of when your domain name expires – put it on your electronic calendar, write it on a post-it, whatever works best for you. The registrar will also email you months in advance of the expiration date, so make sure email from them doesn’t go directly into your spam or junk folders.

ANOTHER NOTE: When it comes to registering domains, the registrar will require personal information about you like your real name, address, phone number, etc. There are some international laws (ICANN) governing how domain names work that require them to gather this information. Unfortunately, that information also goes into a public record archive about domain names. If you don’t want any Joe or Jane to be able to find that information about you, you can do an add-on to your registration to add a privacy layer. This will hide your information from public view, but keep it associated with your domain per the international laws to allow rapid resolution of technical problems and to permit enforcement of consumer protection, trademark, and other laws.

Web Hosting

Once you have your domain name registered, you need web hosting for everything that makes up the site itself. Companies charge a monthly fee for this and usually will give deep discounts if you pay in advance quarterly or yearly. I’ve seen hosting for as little as $2.99 a month, and as much as $300 a month, depending on what you want.

Think of hosting as the space where everything that makes your website up will live. Most of the discount hosting out there is what we call ‘shared hosting’. The host has a giant space and has cut it up into sections and rents out those sections to each person who wants a website. The sections have walls between them so you can’t see their stuff and they can’t see yours. But if someone else gets a sudden influx of traffic to their area, yours can suffer and your website might become slow or even not show up when people come to it. This is rare, but it can happen and is worth mentioning.

Dedicated hosting is expensive, and most everyone ends up using the shared hosting until or unless they become famous and have a lot of traffic coming to their website.

Some examples of web hosting companies and the cost as of this writing (presented in no particular order of preference):

·       BlueHost - https://www.bluehost.com/shared
o   Starting around $3.95 a month with discounts for pre-purchasing for set terms
·       HostGator - http://www.hostgator.com/web-hosting
o   Starting around $3.95 a month with discounts for pre-purchasing for set terms
o   Starting around $3.99 a month with discounts for pre-purchasing for set terms

Your webhost will give you a set of numbers and/or letters, sometimes more than one – these are called ‘named servers’. You take them to the site where you registered your domain, login to your account, and type that into a specific spot. Boom. Your website and domain name are connected, and your site will appear when you go to your domain name in a web browser.

Usually, your webhost also has an area where you can setup email addresses and then access that email through your phone, desktop client and web interface.

CMS – Content Management Software

Every web hosting company worth their snuff will include access to software you can use to build your website and/or blog. Some, like Blue Host listed above, specialize and offer support and services dedicated to specific CMS. For Blue Host, it’s Wordpress. Now, I talked about Wordpress.com above, but in this case, I’m talking about Wordpress.org.

When looking at CMS software, the leader comes from Wordpress.org. Wordpress is split into two projects - .com and .org. The .com is the paid side where you can setup a blog using their domain and pay for extras as I described above. The .org is where you can download Wordpress – the blogging software – for free and install it on your webhost. You then have access to everything that is out there and being developed for Wordpress, including tens of thousands (if not millions) of design templates, plugins and widgets. These come in free and paid versions, and are designed to make it easy for you to setup your site quickly and easily.

Blue Host features a ‘one click’ install of Wordpress, taking away all of the heavy lifting. Other webhosts have adopted this approach and usually have some sort of quick and easy installation of Wordpress that doesn’t require you to do much more than click a link – which is great.

I’m an unabashed fan of Wordpress, which you’ve probably figured out by now. I think it’s easy to install, easy to use and maintain. It comes very search engine friendly out of the box, and with a plugin like the free version of Yoast, you can amp of how easily your site works with the search engines by answering some questions and filling in the blanks.

That doesn’t mean Wordpress is the only horse in town. There are plenty of others. Some are more complicated than others.

Here’s a quick list of some of the options out there you can install and use for free:

·       Wordpress.org - https://wordpress.org/
·       Drupal - https://www.drupal.org/
·       Joomla - https://www.joomla.org/

If you have published works out there, you need a website. When someone reads your stuff, more likely than not they’re going to want to look you up online and see what else of yours is out there. Not finding you is bad, and can turn readers – especially young readers – off and make them look elsewhere.

Having a website is much easier today than ever before. If you’re at the point where you think you need a website but aren’t sure – maybe you don’t have anything published yet – sit down and figure out why you think you’re ready and what you think you need from a website. Make a list. Then take a look at what it’ll cost you not only in money, but time and effort. If the benefits outweigh the costs, then it’s time to take the plunge.


About the Author: Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and two-time Hugo Award Winner. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed - @atfmb. His novel, SAMANTHA KANE: INTO THE FIRE is available at all major retailers. His short fiction can be found in the anthologies Space Battles: Full-Throttle Space Tales #6 and An Uncommon Collection, as well as the eBooks Conversations with my Cat, Witchcraft & Satyrs, Consumption, Cahill's Homecoming and Cahill's Unfinished Business. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. His Scrivener Quick Tips articles exploded on social media and the web in 2012, and he’s been teaching writers how to use the software ever since.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I'd Like a Website -- Now What? (Part One)

Editor's Note: I received a question from a new author who was confused about websites. Rather than answer from my limited scope, I consulted one of Pikes Peak Writers' resident experts and asked him for advice on the topic. Am I glad I did. This article is part one of a two-part series. Because it's lengthy and chock-full of information, we've broken it in two. Part two will run on Wed. March 22. 

By: Patrick Hester

When it comes to websites, most writers agree – it can be a confusing mess. I hope to cut through that today and make it as simple as possible for you.

Having a website is important for every writer. Nearly 60 percent of searches are now from mobile devices – and when someone is in a bookstore and searches for you, or your stories, or something similar to you and your stories, you want them to find you. And you want them to find the right you with plenty of mentions of what you write and anything you’ve had published and where they can buy or read those stories.

How to make this happen? A website.

What is a website?  


This may sound very basic, but I wanted to talk for a second about what a website is. For our purposes today, a website is a domain name you have registered, and some sort of coded file structure hosted somewhere that resolves into a visually pleasing display people can interact with. The two are very different and I want you to understand that right off the bat.

A lot of places will offer you a website for $X a month and ‘take care of all the heavy lifting’. Not all of these sites are altruistic, and I’m going to caution you against them. I’ve encountered plenty of businesses who make this offer and in the fine print say that they own the domain name, website and all of its content. This means if you decide they’re charging you too much, or if you just have issues with them, they’ll hold onto the website name – like www.YourName.com – unless you pay some fee to break it away from them.

Domain Names  

The domain name is what people type into the web browser to go directly to your site, or what pops up when they do a search. It could be your name, the name of your book if you’re creating a promotional website, or the name of your series or world. It could also be what we call a subdomain, which I’ll get into a little further down this post.

There are two kinds of websites you could have as an author, and each has pros and cons associated with them.

Blogs  


Blogs are great for authors who like to write a lot, update their fans and readers on what’s going on, any events where they’re going to be making an appearance, news, etc. They’re also great for keeping your name out there in the search engines when people search for things. Search engines love blogs because they tend to be updated a lot and offer useful information. A search engine will ‘crawl’ every website on the Internet in order to provide results for people who are searching for things. The more often your website has new information on it, the more often those search engines will come back to look at your site again. This is called ‘indexing’.

With a blog, you can have ongoing and updated content with your Posts, and static content with Pages. You can tie posts together using Categories and offer up a pretty user friendly experience for anyone visiting your website.

That’s the pro of a blog. The cons are in writing new content for it. If you’re in the right mindset, spending an hour a week or more writing out blog content and scheduling it might be perfect for you and not a burden. It’s when you’re not that kind of writer that things can become more difficult. Maintaining a blog means writing posts often enough to keep people and the search engines coming back.

I always advise writers to start off slow when it comes to blogging. If you write a post a day, every day, for three months straight, you are creating a ton of content which is great. But you’re also setting an expectation with your readers that you’ll always give them a post a day. If that becomes burdensome, you can turn off some readers who come to the site only to find you haven’t posted anything in a week or two.

Start slow and find a good balance, then maintain it.

Static Website

Static websites are what I would call ‘old school’. These are pages created by programming code – either by hand or using some sort of Content Management System which is a fancy way of saying ‘website software’. The pages don’t change often, which means search engines don’t come by very often to see if anything has changed. The direct effect of this is that your website can appear to be ‘stale’ in the eyes of Google or Yahoo, or the other search engines out there. A well put together static website can look great and be a resource the search engines use, but not come back to for another six months or even a year. Any changes you make in that time won’t show up anywhere. You can tell the search engines you’ve made a change, but it’s an extra step you have to take, and for every search engine out there – which means research and time.

A good use for a static website is as a landing page or site. As an example, you could build one to promote your new book and leave it there forever (or as forever as you can get on the Internet). The page would only contain information about your book, images of the cover, and links where to buy. You can also do this on a blog as a static page. If you run ads on Facebook, you could direct all the traffic to this page/site to determine how well the ad did.  

Sub-Domains

I feel the need to add that there is a third option. But really more of a sub-option of the first – Blogs. I mentioned above something called Sub-Domains. Probably the fastest way to have a website RIGHT NOW is to sign up with a blog platform like Wordpress.com, Blogger.com, or LiveJournal.com, to name just a few.

Why?

These sites offer quick blogs, a lot of times for free, but with some limited functionality. It can get you up and running in a matter of minutes, but your domain name – the name of your website – would be what we call a sub-domain of their website name.

Using Wordpress.com as an example, you could sign up with them and have a domain name of yourname.wordpress.com. You could use a limited version of the wordpress software to build and maintain your site, but they would take care of things like hosting and you wouldn’t really have a fee to renew. They offer more bells and whistles if you pay for them, but you could totally have a ‘free’ website up and running right the heck now.

Having said that, I don’t recommend doing this.

If you’re a writer (or business) and you want to project a professional appearance, having a dedicated domain name like www.YourName.com is a must have. You can put it on your business cards or bookmarks or whatever else you hand out at conventions, book signings, etc. Adding to that an email address like firstname@yourname.com is even better. It’s absolutely a perception thing, but one most people expect of a professional. You went that extra step. With a sub-domain you can’t really do that.

Many of the sites I mentioned above will offer a custom domain name as part of their services, which means you can register a domain and use it with their software. That’s a way to go if you’re interested and it does work. There are usually fees associated with doing it this way, and you should always check the fine print to make sure you’re not signing anything away by setting something like that up with them.

Another way to go would be to register your domain name, then setup hosting and email somewhere and install CMS software to manage it all, which is what I want to talk about on Wednesday.  Stay tuned. 

About the Author: Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and two-time Hugo Award Winner. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed - @atfmb. His novel, SAMANTHA KANE: INTO THE FIRE is available at all major retailers. His short fiction can be found in the anthologies Space Battles: Full-Throttle Space Tales #6 and An Uncommon Collection, as well as the eBooks Conversations with my Cat, Witchcraft & Satyrs, Consumption, Cahill's Homecoming and Cahill's Unfinished Business. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. His Scrivener Quick Tips articles exploded on social media and the web in 2012, and he’s been teaching writers how to use the software ever since.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” ~ Cyril Connolly


Cyril Connelly Source: Wikipedia

Cyril Vernon Connolly (10 September 1903 – 26 November 1974) was an English literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon (1940–49) and wrote Enemies of Promise (1938), which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth.


This Week on Writing from the Peak:


March 20      I’d Like a Website – Now What? Pt. 1 by Patrick Hester



March 22      I’d Like a Website – Now What? Pt. 2 by Patrick Hester



March 24      Sweet Success Celebrates Cynthia Kuhn

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sweet Success Celebrates LS Hawker's New Release

By Ann S. Hill 

End of the Road

Great minds can change the world . . . or leave it in ruins


When tech prodigy Jade Veverka creates a program to communicate with her autistic sister, she's tapped by a startup to explore the potential applications of her technology. But Jade quickly begins to notice some strange things about the small Kansas town just beyond the company's campus--why are there no children anywhere to be seen, and for that matter, anyone over the age of forty? Why do all the people living here act uncomfortable and jumpy?

On the way home one night, Jade and her co-worker are run off the road, and their lab and living spaces are suddenly overrun with armed guards, purportedly for their safety. Confined to the compound and questioning what her employers might be hiding from her, Jade fears she's losing control not only of her invention, but of her very life. It soon becomes clear that the threat reaches far beyond Jade and her family, and the real danger is much closer than she'd ever imagined.

Paperback: 264 pages
Sold by Harper Collins Publishers
Publisher: Harper Collins Witness Impulse (March 21, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062435248
ISBN-13: 978-0062435248

www.LSHawker.com 








Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Prequel to the 2017 PIkes Peak Writers Conference

By: Patrick Hester 

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference is fast approaching, and with it comes the Thursday 
Prequel on Thursday, April 27th. Prequel is an add-on event featuring the 3-hour morning and afternoon workshop of your choice with lunch to boot and all for only $90 when you add it onto your PPWC Registration through March 16th. Not planning to attend Conference this year? Great news - you can attend the Prequel as a stand-alone event for just $150 through March 16th! After March 16th, the prices will go up - so be sure to register asap!

If you’re still on the fence about Prequel, let’s talk a little about the fantastic presenters and workshops for writers of every level we’re offering!

You’ve got a really difficult decision ahead of you… Which morning and afternoon sessions will you pair together? Maybe I can help with that.

Chris Mandeville
For the beginner looking for the tools to take an idea from concept to finished manuscript, consider Christine Mandeville’s Everything You Need To Know To Write A Novel. This workshop provides a comprehensive overview of novel writing including plotting, planning, story structure, editing and revision. Consider pairing this with Scrivener Bootcamp so you can take everything you learn from Chris and setup your Scrivener to maximize your writing time.

For the writer who is further along, consider Make your own Middle Earth: Worldbuilding - presented by Mike Braff & Kevin Hearne. In this three-hour long workshop you will learn the fundamentals of worldbuilding from New York Times Bestselling author Kevin Hearne and Del Rey editor Mike Braff. This is certain to be a fun, interactive workshop as participants will be given the tools needed to write a short piece set in a shared world the whole class will read, critique, and discuss as a group. Be prepared for a fun and enlightening workshop!

Pair this class with Be an Agent for a Day - presented by Kristin Nelson, and learn how to take your world and present it to an agent or editor for publication.

For the thriller or mystery writers out there, consider a double-barreled workshop pair with Squared Away: How to Accurately Write Military Characters - presented by Kevin Ikenberry and Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the truth from a Criminal Lawyer and Private Eye - presented by Colleen Collins & Shaun Kaufman. These two reality tracks will help you get your crime, military and law enforcement stories and characters into shape!

Remember, the Pikes Peak Writers Prequel Thursday are in-depth, 3-hour workshops on a variety of topics and range of skill levels. You can pair any morning workshop with any afternoon workshop to suit your individual needs. Lunch is included with your ticket! We strongly encourage you to register today and take advantage of the discounted pricing before March 16th rolls around!

About the Author: Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and two-time Hugo Award Winner. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed - @atfmb. His novel, SAMANTHA KANE: INTO THE FIRE is available at all major retailers. His short fiction can be found in the anthologies Space Battles: Full-Throttle Space Tales #6 and An Uncommon Collection, as well as the eBooks Conversations with my CatWitchcraft & SatyrsConsumptionCahill's Homecoming and Cahill's Unfinished BusinessHis Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Hugo Award. His Scrivener Quick Tips articles exploded on social media and the web in 2012, and he’s been teaching writers how to use the software ever since.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Action Cures Fear


By:  Stacy S. Jensen

Fear did not help me write this post, complete a book project, or meet my monthly submission goals last month.

Fear is not my friend. It feels more like my frenemy when ...
... the fear of a blank page stops me from writing.
... the fear of rejection stops me from submitting.
... the fear of criticism stops me from sharing my work.

The truth is ....Action cures fear.

I've heard that quote multiple times. I did my fair share of procrastinating to verify the source of the quote too. Goodreads attributes the quote to David J. Schwartz, Magic of Thinking Big.

Action cures fear. Those three words sums it up. It doesn't clear up the problem I have sometimes as a writer.

I know in my heart that ...
... Putting words on the page gives you a draft.
... Submitting your work won't kill you.
... Sharing your work may give you new ideas to shape, change, or improve your story.

We know these things, right?

How many times have we cheered on our fellow writers on social media?
Write that shitty draft. Just do it!
Congratulations on pushing send.
Be brave. Share your work.
Don't worry. You've got this!

But, the truth is sometimes it is easier to encourage another person to overcome his or her writing fears than deal with your own. Or maybe that's just me?

I keep telling myself that my draft is a beginning. It's not permanent. It can be changed or deleted. I need to write to be a writer.

I know, as I get ready for conference, that publishers, editors, agents, and other writers are human like me. I know it will be fun to be together for a weekend and talk about our work, our stories, and our goals.

I also know that someone will offer a dose of inspiration that will enough to remove fears about writing, submitting, or creating new stories. For those inspiring moments, I can deal with a little fear and my frenemy. I'll be repeating "action cures fear" over and over.

I would love to hear what helps you overcome your fear in your writing world. And, see you at conference!

About the Author: Stacy S.Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and son.