Spreadsheets and Fantasy don’t mix!

It’s been a while since I last posted and it’s mainly due to me having to spend time away from my writing.

Something that I already knew, but has painfully returned to remind me, is that spreadsheets and fantasy do not mix. Sure, I’ve been dealing with magic(?) formulae, cells and keys but not the ones that I enjoy reading about. To top it all off, the service that I operate has been down a few times this past week or so and that has just eaten away all of my time, and energy. There’s nothing like a three hour meeting with managers telling you what to do to drain whatever creativity you have in you.

I’ve taken solace in my reading but I’m getting annoyed that I’m spending so much time in someone else’s world, when I should be getting my hands dirty building my own world – a set of half a dozen Dungeon & Dragons manuals mock me from my bookshelf as they remind me of all the world-building that has been achieved by others. Even reading The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin over the weekend left me bruised – and that’s just about a single maze underground!

The website is still unfinished, my novel doesn’t seem to be moving on and I have magazines I should be reading.  My presence on forums has been lacking, my involvement in WordPress has been almost non-existent.

So, I’m going to have to shirk a few responsibilities this week; work and reading. I have to if I’m going to be committed to my writing. There are things that I need to put right, especially if I’m going to be studying for the MA in Creative Writing in September.

It will have to still be a juggling act but sometimes it’s better to juggle and let a few of the balls drop, than to not pick them up at all.

 

Wednesday Website Update #6

So, I’m still working on getting my website ready for publishing. It’s a funny period at the moment, I’ve gotten over the exciting design part, but am not yet ready for the final reveal in terms of completing it. If it were being populated in the form of the Three Act structure, then I would definitely be toward the end of Act 2; I’m certainly stuck up a tree and just waiting for someone to start throwing rocks at me.

My website is a collection of topics (and accompanying information) that I’ve picked up on my journey to writing my own first novel. It isn’t perfect, nor is it commanding (I hope). After all, I’ve not even finished my own novel’s first draft yet, let alone got it ready for editing / revising etc.

I’ve split the site into sections, such as My Writing, the Writing Craft, Map Making and World-building and within each section will be a number of general pages where I cover the aims and potential content. In addition, I’ll build up a set of posts / links that I find throughout my journey and use these to embed my knowledge in that particular section.

At present I’m still working through each of these ‘header’ pages and putting down my own views and information about what the reader can expect to see. I’m not finding this particularly difficult but I am wary that some pages are a little light on text, and others have given me cause to increase the size of the page.

I’m about half-way through these ‘header’ pages and only after those are completed will I be in a position to start the actual process of populating the website with the kind of discussions and insights that I’ve planned – of those, I’ve barely got a handful but I do have pages of notes / links and ideas.

At the moment, the thought of getting it ready for publishing on April 30th is looking a bit optimistic, but I’ll soldier on.

Roll on Act 3!

Wednesday Website Update #5

With last week being Easter, and me being away from home (and the PC) this week there hasn’t been a lot done on the website recently.

On the plus side, I’ve gotten a lot of the main pages updated with the templates needed to hold the information that I want to present.  I’ve also began to put links and notes in each page to remind me what needs to go in here and where I can find it.

On the negative side, it is slowly dawning on me just exactly how much information that I’m going to be adding to the website over the next few weeks, especially if I’m going to be sticking to my end of April deadline.  A rough guess is a good four hour’s work needed on each page, and I have over 60 pages.  It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out how far off my current deadline I am at the moment.

Much of what I’m putting on the website is going to be around what I learn on my journey to finish my novel to draft format, so I can’t expect everything to be there at first – I just need to make sure there’s enough there to keep things ticking over until the rest of the content appears.

Still, every journey begins with a single step.

Older updates can be found on the website project page here.

Wednesday Website Update #4

Last week I reached the point where it was time to begin adding the content to the website – this week, I’m still working through it.  Similar to this blog, my website will contain descriptive elements from many of the writing books / courses that I find, as well as a catalogue of my journey as I complete the first draft of my novel. 

Well, even though I have quite a backlog of information to use as an update now, I’m beginning to realise that a lot more of this content will have to be trickle-fed to my website on a periodic basis – basically as it’s developed.

With that in mind, I figured that I should at least work toward getting the bare-bone content / description up on each page (of which there are now sixty-six) by the end of this week before I take the plunge and start to beef up the detail.  This should give me the whole month of April to get the site ready for a May 1st release.

In terms of pages, I’ve begun to develop a new section on map-making.  Why?  Well, I’m heavily invested in the Fantasy genre and just felt that this is a topic that should be covered.  Also, I’ve been working on a map for my own world of Monecia in my downtime and thought it may be worthwhile cataloguing the research that I’ve been doing as I bring this world to life, especially as I’ll be covering so many other elements of world-building.

The work that I need to put in over the next few weeks is quite daunting and I know that it’s going to take time away from actually writing the first draft itself.  However, I can’t keep juggling things and never completing any of them so it has to be time to start ticking things off the lists instead of adding to them.

That’s it for this week!

Older updates can be found on the website project page here

Wednesday Website Update #3

This week saw me finally completing the quotes on each page that I wanted.  I had initially thought of putting a particularly relevant quote on each page but acted against it.  It’s the fine tuning at such an early stage that is costing me time.  I’m a believer in the old 80/20 split (it takes 80% of your time to do the last 20% of the work and vice versa) so didn’t feel the need to make things even worse.

As I see it, a quote on writing is sufficient regardless of what page you are on.

Next I tackled the outstanding images for my site which wasn’t as easy as you would expect.

Firstly, I’ve tended to use somewhat abstract images for my pages which means I can find myself searching for upto an hour for that one image. 

Secondly, I’ve read horror stories of people being sued for copyright infringment so am only using free image, or those with CC rights.  It’s certainly safer although the number of images (and variety) completely drops away from the searches once you apply those filters.

I’ve also removed a few pages as I began to struggle to think of what to put on them; and if I’m struggling as the author, then there’s a good chance the reader will struggle also.

So, I’m now down to 62 pages split across the following topics;

  • Me / My writing
  • The craft of writing
  • Worldbuilding

All quotes are in, all images are in, now it’s time to work on the content….

Older updates can be found on the website project page here

 

Wednesday Website Update #2

Following all the problems that I managed to hit on update #1, I decided to keep a weekly log of all my progress on getting my website up and running, if anything it’ll be something that forces me to keep at it.

At present I’m still working through the images that I’ve got planned for each page, as well as a quote for each page.  The content for many of these pages is still some way off yet – I’ve got a lot of reading, writing and listening to do before I can even attempt some of them.

So, I’ve got 65 pages of content, each requiring 3 parts to it (quote, image, content) giving me a total of 195 separate updates that I need to get completed.

As of today, I’m still missing;

  • 19 quotes
  • 15 images
  • 56 content pages

It’s probably obvious that it’s the content pages that hold the actual ‘meat’ of the website so I’d say that I’m currently only 15% complete.

Sobering…

But, if there is a silver lining to this particular cloud, it’s this; I finally got the blog page working on the website – it seems I needed to use /?feed=rss rather than just /feed.

 

Website Woes

I’ve hit problems with my website quite a few times now and it’s not even published yet. If I were to compare it to a fantasy analogy, I’d say it’s the equivalent of our hero taking his first steps on his adventure, having his trousers fall down causing him to trip and then having someone steal his sword!

The company in question which will remain anonymous (but is similar to StopMommy) have managed to inflict the following upon me;

  • Sell me a product that wasn’t fit for purpose (I ended up with a package that gave me a 10 page website – not enough pages so had to upgrade to business size, and costs).
  • Selling me a tool that wasn’t future-proof (I used Website Builder v6 – when choosing the option to move to v7, I lost all my content and was told by their tech support that I had to start from scratch)
  • Technical support giving me poor advice (I was advised to cancel my current annual subscription with 3 months to go so I could take up the cheaper promotional price. Upon doing so, I was informed I didn’t qualify for the promotional price and, when I asked for my previous annual subscription to be re-instated, I was told I’d cancelled it and would have to pay to take on a new subscription – even though I had 3 months still to run on it).
  • Did I mention that Website Builder v7 won’t run in Firefox? So I had to install chrome to use it.

That was all in 2014 and I thought I’d seen the last of the issues. But no. This week, I’ve hit something different.

For reasons unbeknown to me, their Website Builder development team have decided that images placed on your website need to be locked so that they scale in ratio. That’s a good thing for those who wanted it, but they’ve not included an option to remove this if you don’t want it.

What does that mean for me?

It means that the first 40 pages of my website have 689 x 350 size images (my own custom ratio) on them but all future pages lock the ratio, so I’m locked into using 689 x 459.33 images. Technical support were no help – they suggested I cropped the image first to the correct size via another graphic package before uploaded, which I did – but they’re tool still adds it to the website in the ‘default’ size whic means that I’m then locked into the same ratio issue. Fortunately, I have the option to ‘copy’ a previous page so I can still continue to add pages with my custom size images, but it isn’t ideal as it copies all the page content as well which I then have to remove.

I don’t really know what to do at this point – I’ve invested a fair few weeks of real-time over the past year on this website and, although I’ve managed to come with workarounds for this unwieldy, more-expensive option, I’m concerned the next ‘feature’ will just bring me back to square one! As it stands, I’ve got 51 pages of images and links, and I’m slowly building up the content offline with Word just incase it all goes belly-up again.

Anyone out there had any good experiences with other hosting / website design companies?

amuteforamuse website coming to an interweb near you!!

 Coming_Soon

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on getting a website up and running as a way to help get my writing out to a wider audience and I’ve got to the point where I can see the bare bones coming together (even if the rest of it doesn’t seem to be ready yet).

I’ve ‘had’ the website for almost 2 years but had done little with it having planned to get it online much sooner but work / study prevented me from doing so. Ironically, a break whilst I wait for my MA to start and a requirement to have a ‘portfolio’ ahead of the MA application has pretty much pushed this all to the fore now.

The website will mirror the blog in a lot of ways but, whereas the blog will usually be regular updates, the website will be the place of choice for a lot of my upcoming content; especially my world-building projects and information about the Cerement Trilogy that I am working on. Other areas, such as short stories and flash fiction are still undecided.  Whatever I end up doing, there will always be reasons to visit either blog or website.

So, over the next few weeks I’ll be providing regular updates on the trials and tribulations of getting the website up-to an acceptable state before I finally release it onto the unsuspecting public.

Cumulative updates are on this page.