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Not Enough Coffee in Hotels?

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The two cups of complimentary hotel coffee often falls short of my caffeine needs at writing or gaming conventions.Violent battles for the limited coffee resource can ensue if I share a room with another coffee drinker.

To reduce this issue, I buy single serve coffee filters and a bag coffee grounds. I stay well caffeinated at conventions now, perhaps to the dismay of people staying with me.

The picture below shows what the grounds look like compared to the pods.


Record It, Don’t Just Read It

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I often hear the advice to read my stories aloud. Taking that advice two steps further, I record the story and listen to the recording,  a technique I discovered accidentally when recording a speech to memorize it.

I turned to Google looking for tricks to help me with the daunting task of memorizing a speech twenty minutes in length. There I found a technique of recording the speech and breaking up the recording into chunks roughly a minute in length. The subsequent step was to commit the chunks to memory sequentially.

While recording the speech, I found myself stumbling in places where the sentence construction was not correct. I read the whole speech through once making corrections on the paper. The next recording included those corrections.

When listening to the speech to break it up, I noticed paragraphs that didn’t make sense. It struck me that I caught different types of errors in listening to the speech than I had when reading it for the recording.

After a nervous, but successful speech, I realized this technique contained potential to improve my writing as well.

Try recording and listening to your work to see how both acts illuminate different problems.

The first step is to select a recording method. I used two free pieces of software:  Audacity for Windows and GarageBand for Macs. I also tried a USB flash drive recorder but found the poor sound quality distracting.

Steps in the process:

  1. Read the story aloud completely through making corrections to the draft
  2. Record the corrected version
  3. Listen to the recording
  4. Make corrections to the draft
  5. Repeat if desired

Edits: At 4th Street Fantasy 2017, a couple of other authors said they couldn’t listen to a recording they created because they didn’t like the sound of their voice.

An episode of Writing Excuses also talked about using text to speech for novels because reading a full length novel can be cumbersome.

If you don’t like the sound of your voice, or your work is too long, listening to text to speech conversions could fulfill the same purpose as listening to self-recorded stories.

Share Facebook Photo Albums

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Facebook makes it extremely easy to share individual photos, but sharing entire photo albums isn’t as intuitive.

Be on a Desktop or Laptop

I tried a couple of phones and tablets and only found the full sharing functionality on the computer version of Facebook.

Create a Public Link

  1. Open the album
  2. Click the gear in the top right-hand of the album
  3. Click Get Link

Following the steps above creates a direct link to your photo album that anyone can open. The link displays as text. It doesn’t generate a preview like sharing a photo album in Facebook normally does.

Share on Facebook

The first step is to make the album public. If you don’t do this step, only your friends will see the album.

What’s the problem with this? Most of the time we want to share photo albums to groups. Not everyone in the group will be your friend.  The group members who are not your friend receive a message stating they are unable to view the content.

Bear in mind; this means everyone on the internet that can find the album can view it. The album will also display for everyone on your Facebook profile page. If either of these scenarios does not appeal to you, consider using a public link or posting individual photos directly to a location instead of sharing photos or albums.

Steps to make an album public

  1. Open the album
  2. The privacy setting drop-down is underneath the album title.
  3. Select Public


The share button for the album is at the bottom of the album underneath all of the photos. Any share buttons above the album relate to the whole page, not the album specifically.


“Share on your own Timeline” appears in the upper left-hand corner of the sharing dialog box.


The following drop-down options appear after the sharing dialog opens on a desktop or laptop.


After clicking one of the options, another dialog opens allowing you to select places of that option type you have permission to share.

The dialog completed this way enables you to share Facebook albums.

Record Memos Almost Anywhere

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Ideas for stories often come at inconvenient times. Writers risk losing precious ideas when they are in the middle of other tasks and don’t have the tools to record them.

Four ideas came to me one right after another on a long road trip. There weren’t any exits ramps. I couldn’t get off the interstate and record them.

In a moment of inspiration, I called my Google Voice number using my car’s hands-free dialing feature. I left myself a long voicemail on my Google Voice number. After the road trip, I reviewed a text to speech transcription and audio recording of the voicemail.

I still take notebooks when I am going to writing events and seminars, but I can relax in knowing that as long as I have cellular or Internet service, I can record ideas that come while preoccupied with other tasks.

Set Up a Google Voice Phone Number

Budget Conscious SEO

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When thinking about my web presence, I imagine Agent Smith speaking to me.  He says, “What good is a website … if you are unable to be found?” I know enough about search engine optimization (SEO) to hurt myself. My dangerous amount of knowledge tells me, “get your site on the first page of search results for major search engines Sloane!”

Search engines look for specific page elements, external links to your site, and natural use of keywords. A large industry surrounds optimizing web presence for search engines, but most of us starting out don’t have deep pockets to pay for technical or marketing wizards.

What does natural use of keywords mean? It means the way you use words needs to make sense for the content of your page and sites. If the word author is on a page ten times because I want search engines to identify me as an author, search engines might lower my page’s ranking because of keyword stuffing.

Backlinks are links from other sites to your site. They tell search engines, hey; other people care about this page too, maybe it’s important!

Link all of your sites together. Link your social sites to your main site and your main site to all of your social sites. Imagine your social sites are siblings that will only talk to the parent instead of each other.

Get other sites to link to yours. As with keywords, links to your site should make sense. Gratuitous directory listings can lower your sites search rankings. Don’t submit to the great, big, old list of all science fiction and fantasy writers for example.

Consider getting a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. Twitter has an agreement with Google. My Twitter page showed up on Google well before they finished processing my request to have my primary site added. Conversely, my Twitter page didn’t show up on Bing until after Bing indexed and crawled my primary site.

The WordPress Business Plan allows you to configure elements that search engines scan. At $25 a month, the price is out of reach for some of us. The settings below offer some customization for search engine optimization.

  1. Select Settings.
  2. Put words in Site Title and Tagline with search engines in mind.
  3. Click on the Writing tab
  4. Add Categories that make sense for your content.
  5. Add Tags that make sense for your content.
  6. Click on the SEO tab.
  7. Note the XML Sitemap link at the bottom. You will need this later for submitting to search engines.

When writing blog posts, use Categories & Tags from the left to add categories and tags that match your post.

Facebook Page
Facebook populates most page elements with your page username. One of the elements does take the first 85 characters from your page’s About field. Make those first 85 characters be able to stand on their own. My Facebook page didn’t start showing on results until after search engines indexed my main site. If you can’t afford to spend money on ads and SEO, don’t use Facebook as your only web presence.

Submit URL to Search Engines
If you have an active site or a lot of links to your site, you don’t need to submit your site to search engines. They will find you eventually. For small, new sites with few links to the site, I still like submitting my URLs.  Submitting is free, but does require a login account.

Submit URL to Bing – same day turn around
Submit URL to Google – four days to four-week turnaround