5 REASONS I LOVE MY WEBSITE
Today I want to share a secret with you –
I love my website.
I love writing it, promoting it and planning for it’s future and here are five reasons why.
I wanted to start a blog for years before I launched my website. The problem was I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. I absolutely love to cook, but I really didn’t want to devote my blog to cooking because what if I didn’t make anything interesting enough to post for a while? My blog would sit there static. I didn’t want that.
I also enjoy crafting. However, it is not like I make a project every week. Don’t get me wrong, if I could I would. But who has the time or the money to do a new project once or twice a week? You might, but I don’t. Plus I don’t have the space to display a bunch of random projects around my home.
So I came up with the idea of a newspaper.
Like other papers, my newspaper has sections. There is Home and Garden, On the Town, Breaking News and The Publisher’s Pen. By having the Home and Garden section I can put recipes, crafty things and decorating ideas on my site and since my paper comes out every other week I only have to do one or two post on the subject. Breaking News allows me to write the kind of mysteries I enjoy and I get to put them on the site in one posting or several. I get to develop the setting where my characters live in On the Town. I also get to post my thoughts on the process of writing under The Publisher’s Pen.
Yep, a fictional newspaper gives me the diversity I crave.
Writing my newspaper was the most creative way I could think of to introduce my characters to the ‘real’ world and for the ‘real’ world to meet my characters. As an added bonus, along the way I have gotten to know my characters better.
Including a few stand alone works in progress, I have two series: RACHEL SHORTE and REESE MILLRIDGE.
In the novels REESE is a food stylist and caterer. She is rather domineering and can be a bit condesending. When I planned her personality I didn’t see her as the friendly approachable recipe writer for the New Grace News. Balancing this duality is a challenge I welcome.
RACHEL is an attorney in private practice. As of today she hasn’t contributed to the paper, but she has been mentioned in articles. I know she will have more of a presence, I’m just not sure how yet.
Not all the characters in my stories are part of my website. Not every character on my website appears in my novels. Lizzie Linton, the New Grace News food critic, hasn’t appeared in any of my novels, so far. However, her sister Miriam Linton is a partner in the same law firm as RACHEL and has made minor appearances in two restaurant reviews. I am enjoying getting to know Miriam from a different perspective, that of her sister’s.
I have to admit I love learning new things, I’m sort of a junkie that way. Unfortunately for me I am no expert when it comes to the internet. I have never been one to surf the net. Sure if I needed to research something for a story I was writing or wanted to know how much something would cost before I went to the store to buy it I would open up my computer, but to generally sit in front of the machine just to see what was out there was not me.
Starting a website gave me a fantastic opportunity. I had to learn how to go about designing a site. And terms, there are a gazillion terms that go along with having a website and what they meant was foreign to me.
Plus I had to learn how to promote my website across social media – okay, still learning that one.
When I first started designing my site I had heard of a few ‘build your own website’ sites. I looked over the ones I knew of, but I didn’t know what I was looking for. One thing I did know was that I wanted to design and play with my site, get the bugs out, before I actually launched it on the net. In trying to figure out how to do that I came across software that allowed me to build my own server on my computer, the only problem with it was I had to use a website builder I had never heard of – WordPress.
I checked it out and fell in love with it.
Not only were there too many website themes to choose from, it took me a week to pick mine, they had these great things called plugin which are add on to your site. So far every things I have thought of doing with or to my site has been available right there.
I was able to find a plugin – Weather Underground – that allowed me to put the weather in New Grace up and its accurate – (well as accurate as you can get for a fictional location). At first I had the forecast for the week, with weather alerts, but it really took up too much space in my sidebar.
Since many of the news articles and short stories continue from one edition to another I wanted a way that a reader could easily follow a series – and there it was, a great plugin – Organize Series – that not only links the reader to previous postings at the top of a post, but also has a list of series to follow in the sidebar.
Recently I began posting recipes on the site. I also started a Yummly page. And sure enough there is a plugin – Yummly Rich Recipes – for my site that allows my readers to easily add my recipes to their Yummly page.
There are other plugins in use on my site and others that I have loaded to the site but haven’t activated for future plans I have for my website. Boy, do I have some future plans.
CHERYL, MATTIAS AND PATRICIA
Who are Cheryl, Mattias and Patricia? Three great friends. The kind of friends who are there to support you when you come up with a crazy idea, for example – a fictional newspaper about fictional people living in a fictional setting.
Even though they had no idea what I was talking about, they graciously listened to me ramble on and on about what I learned about website development and what I wanted to implement on my site when I finally got it launched. And then they didn’t complain when after I launched it I went nuts worrying about what to do with it.
But they didn’t just offer moral support, they got involved. They write for the New Grace News.
Patricia is Lizzie Linton – restaurant critic. It amazes me that she can come up with so many ideas about places and their food. And when I told her about a ‘great’ idea I had for something ‘we’ could do in the future she didn’t hang up on me – now that’s a true friend.
Mattias is Shawn Erickson – a freelance reporter who has graced the New Grace News with excerpts from the memoir his is writing for retired Detective Alfonso Swanson of the New Grace Police Department. Mattias is a mystery writer I met about two years ago on a website (for writers). I was thrilled when he said he wanted to contribute to the paper. He told me he wanted to report as Shawn Erickson, a character in his novel. When I reminded him that Shawn lives in San Diego (where his novel takes place) he told me, “Yeah, but he got his start in New Grace.”
Cheryl is both Colin Featherly and Rosalie Hernandez, She will also be writing for a character who has been mentioned on the site. I am looking forward to her first article. No one can be more supportive than Cheryl. If I told her I wanted to train alligators she would be right there cheering me on – granted she’d be standing behind me – supportive only goes so far.
So tell me, do you love your website? Why? If not, what would make you love it and what are you waiting for?