To Return to the Half-Elven Website, click picture. -- (Artwork: Igor Glushkin)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Half-Elven Blog News

Live and Learn:

Attended most of the promotion sessions at the Northern Colorado Writer's 2011 conference.  Major lesson learned:  I was diluting my social networking efforts by having two separate blogs.

Now the Far Isle Half-Elven blog is combined with Fiction Lessons from My Reading.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Critique Day Approaches

Took another step towards C-Day.   The make or break day.    The day I find out how well I did with the Half-Elven website.  I submitted it to 1st Turning Point for a critique.  

Got the site proof-read for the umpteenth time.  Didn't find any typos, but did smooth out a couple sentences.  Also added my writer's blog to the navigation list.  Home page loads quickly.  Check.  The links go to the right pages.  Check.  Don't know if the links back to the site work as smoothly as they should, but people can always use the back button. 

What needed done?  I needed a how-to-contact-me page.  As soon as the work week starts, I'll be calling Go-Daddy to see how their email system works.  Also, need to get a few glitches worked out -- like removing the second home page.  Don't want to confuse Google.

If I'm lucky, I'll get  a critique at 1st Turning Point, my favorite marketing/promotion site.  I'm hoping for three parrots, aka a gentleman's "C".  Then, hopefully, I can improve any problems from the critique before I really go public with the site.  It's taken me since August, 2010 to get this far.  

One thing won't change though.  According to my site analytics, my meta-tags aren't dense enough to get a top place on the search engines.  That won't change because if I mention Half-Elven one more time, the text starts to sound stupid.


So ... I did put up a publication page and a contact me page on the navigation bars.   Plus, added an email collector from ChimpMail, a service recommended by author Justine Musk in her blog "Tribal Writer".  -- Problem?  [There's always a problem.]  I don't know how to make it work pretty.  Maybe, don't know how to make it work at all.  If someone, who's not me, could try to use it I would be eternally grateful.

Dood it.
Now, I have to think about trailers.

New Yorkie daughter and I discussed time lines and learning curves.  Seems she won't learn to use the software in time to have it by publication time.  So, I have to go out and find a cheap book trailer maker.  Not the Microsoft bit since I'm not going to spend the next ten years of my life learning how to use it.  

While I don't have a publication date [or cover art] yet, I am now listed on the WolfSinger Promotion page.  You can read the blurb copy, if you want.

a writer's work is never done.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why Bother?

While not focused primarily on writing fantasy, I took a class on rewriting ... revising ... on learning what I need to do make a story work on the Saturday.  Always knew that getting an ending on the first draft was the beginning of writing a publishable book.  Now I know just how much hard work goes into making a story arc work, ie. keep a reader interested in the written word when visual equivalents are eager to hook your potential readers' attention.  'Twas enough to make you crawl back into your corner and cross your eyes.

All of which make me wonder why I submitted Dark Solstice, the story of Mariah and Linden's reconcilliation.  After learning all the things I didn't do properly in another manuscript, I wonder if I'm even ready to start submitting DS even if it's been rewritten upteen times.

Do have a good start on the next Renna's tale.  The ending is solidly in place.  The story itself sits at about a third of the way through when the big complication happens.  Oh, I've written notes to myself about where the story line is going, but these are just stepping stones to the end of the journey.  --  Yeah.  The pigs are still in the middle of things.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Isn't the New Picture Eye-Catching?

Things are kind of rolling even though I don't seem to be writing much -- in spite of punching computer keys a lot.

You can see the newly completed artwork.  I really like the implied act of creation within the picture.  More important, I wasn't the only one who's commented on it.

Doubt if I'll be getting any more new art soon.  Igor Glushkin is still busy with his personal life.  I really think he's done a great job on the illustrations ... by getting away from the cutesie pictures of elves. 

The trailer is moving along though it'll probably be June before we get a finished product.   One happy note.   Instant update: Glushkin has agreed to do another picture in spite of his busy schedule. 

I'm willing to accept amateurs take ten times as long.  My impatience sometimes wishes I could do stuff faster.  Whatever, I'll have non-conforming original harp music when it's done.

Oh, the Renna Half-Elven stories.  Didn't even break open the file this weekend.  But I did get a lot of garbage cleaned up after my computer crashed.  -- Seems it didn't like being hitched to a broken printer.  Fixed now ...  I think.  ... I hope.  --  With luck, I'll get personal emails caught up today ... after the gym ... fixing food ... running errands ... watching Castle ... etc.  etc.

Now, if my tail bone would stop throwing a pain-killer-sized tantrum  ...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Search Engine Consequences of Characters' Names

How my web pages and blogs appear on on search engine results never ceases to amaze me.  In short, be careful of the names you apply to your characters.  My web denseness has tangled me in a strange Google results.  Fortunately the spider's web hasn't caught this blog yet.  I've landed myself in interesting web territory two times now.

First was labeling my characters "half-elven".  When I started writing about the half-elven of the Far Isles ... I knew J. R. R. Tolkien had popularized the concept.  For years, I had reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy yearly.  On the other hand, I knew there are many kinds of elves in European folklore ... and figured they could breed with humans as well as any other elves.

What I didn't know was the gaming community [eg. Dungeons and Dragons players] has also made a huge mental and web investment in the abilities and quirks of beings resulting from human/elf matings.  The prime pages of the Google results are filled with their web listings.  I'm happy to appear on the third page.  Maybe ... some day ... I'll get enough smarts and energy to play with my meta tags to get the Half-Elven home page higher.

More recently, I bounced my head against another search engine problem when I started working on my free story blog ... site ... whatever. A new phenomena reared its presence when I tracked the statistics for this site.  I had visits from a huge number of TinyUrls that linked back to porn sites.

Seems there's an extreme sex character [web presense?] by the name of Renna.  So, while Renna remains one of my characters, I've been changing the emphasis of the site. Until the search engines change, I'm sure I'm disappointing a lot of people.

Bottom line:  You might check the names of your characters before you put them on the web.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Free Half-Elven Story Up

Guess I was having so much trouble writing something presentable was -- I didn't know what I was doing with the words I had written ... and they were many words.  Oh, I had a outline that sort of told a story ... but had no drama.  No action.  No investment on the part of the characters.

Hope "Catching the Dragon's Fire" puts those problems to rest, and I'll be able to get the next installment written sooner.  The biggest problem?  Renna is a side character with the drama focused on the conflict of the Half-Elven Triad -- Mariah, Ashton, and Linden -- against the Feld dynasty.  

I sort of already knew that.  [Think of "The Foiling of Gorsfeld].  But, the relationship swam around in the back of my mind.  Now, maybe it'll stick in the frontal lobes instead of the reptilian brain.

Actually, the story didn't take off until I realized that Martonsfeld, Gorsfeld's father, couldn't be the villain because, being human, he would have been dead by the time Renna started having problems with the Felds' pigs.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Slogging 'Round My Website

Thought I'd have a new short story up by last night.  I wasn't looking forward to all the formatting etc., but formating didn't delay me.  Revisions did.  All in all, the Half-Elven are taking entirely too much of my time.  Mostly because I don't know what I'm doing.

I put myself between a rock and a hard spot.  I need to promote and have a website since I have an e-publication coming out in 2011.  I need new material to keep my website interesting.  Since I'm not a sales machine, I decided on the free short story bit to create new content.  Only problem.  I'm lousy at writing short stories.  My ideas always have a long back story ... plus a forward story about what happens afterwards.  I think my anthropological background has doomed me to getting mired down in context.

So, I'm trying to give my stories a context.  I started out thinking that I'd do a few short "Renna's Tales" based on an old lady gossiping. ... Only the background events and people are complex ... and get more complex as my main Half-Elven characters live out their 400+ year lives.  My solution?  Renna's Tale is now the story of the days immediately after the Rebellion created the Marches, and the Half-Elven fought among themselves over who would rule.

Now, all I have to do is revise ... revise ..., and probably revise again.  Ugh.  Maybe next week?

An illustration note.  Mr. Glushkin is in the process of creating the last illustration for the site ... in between taking care of a new baby.  Would you believe babies take a lot of work?

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Taking Vengeance" Trailer Copy

Next promotion step: writing a trailer for the WolfSinger Half-Elven novelette, Taking Vengeance.  Pulling it out of my head turned out to be more laborious than pulling a boat along the Volga River.  [Yo. Ho. Heave. Ho.]  You don't want to know how many hours I've spent to come up with the words below. [ I spent less time editing/revising two 10 page short stories. ]

As things stand at the moment, here's the copy I've come up with:

Once, Mariah was a warrior hero who saved her Half-Elven people.
Now, she’s shunned … by the ruler, who was once her comrade-in-arms.
Abandoned … by her ring-mate, who disappears to spy on their southern enemies.
Alone … when pirates leave her daughter at death’s door.
Now, is the time for Mariah to belt on her sword again and seek vengeance.

Taking Vengeance by M. K. Theodoratus []
Available from WolfSinger Publications in May (?) 2011.
[list of where available to come later]

I'm sure the script is too long, but I could drop the first sentence.  Still, it's the best I can do from all the tips I've gleaned from the 1st Turning Point blog site, always your site for lots of tips on promoting your books.  I'm just glad my NYC daughter's Christmas present was doing the trailer for YouTube.

Hey.  If you have any suggestions on how I might improve the script, I'd appreciate hearing them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Platform Building for the Reluctant

The Far Isle Half-Elven just got another plank in their networking platform -- Facebook , thanks to the helpful people at writer site:  AW Water Cooler.  They have all sorts of information for writers on promoting their work, including ideas and technical.  In this case, one of the thread responses not only told me where to create a fan page, but the fan page told me how to link the Far Isle Half-Elven fan site to Twitter when WolfSinger Publications publishes my Half-Elven novelette: "Taking Vengeance".

Before you think this is going to do me a lot of good, remember I must promote the thing ... only I'm not going to bother all the people on my mailing lists with the news.  I'm just old enough to consider that spam.  Don't think it's a Pyrrhic victory though.  I do plan to do a little "pay per click" advertising on Facebook.

Traffic is something of a mystery to me.  I know the counters include the Search Engine bots, but I can't believe the search engines and I have visited the site over 400 times since November.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Them Dern Meta Tags

and other search engine optimization problems.

In the course of building a writer's website for my Half-Elven fantasy world -- because I sold something [ Taking Vengeance to WolfSinger Publications ] -- I learned why novices need expert help in building a website.  Bottom line:  If the search engines can't find you, you loose a great share of your potential audience.  Granted some search criteria [keywords people use] that show up in your statistics are just plain weird, but you need to have words that match your subject matter in both your blog ... and your url.

I didn't when I set of the Half-Elven website blog,
but hope I've now corrected it.

Writer's websites offer another unique search engine problem, though.  Meta tag word density.  I don't think I'll be able to correct my lack of meta tag density/frequency.  It's just not good style to mention your keyword in every sentence. 

On a happier note:
Have a joyous and productive 2011, all.
Also, congratulations to artist Igor Glushkin and his wife's on their first child -- Sasha.

So, what else is going on since I last blogged?  I've been writing in and out of the Half-Elven world, but have nothing to show yet.  I'm still struggling to get a new Renna tale up.  My first crit readers put their finger on my problem.  I introduce too much information in the first few pages.

Then, an editor, who recently rejected another Half-Elven story, validated their comments.  Too many characters make a short story too confusing and hard to follow.

Blech.  Guess I get the fun of trying to cure the problem.   So, back to the drawing board ... sorry, computer.  The editor suggest I lengthen the story -- which is what I have been doing for the non-Half-Elven story.  My critiquers wanted more back story.  Can you believe that?