New look because I got bored with the old look

My wife and I once had a friend who had a lot of free time on her hands after work and spent most of it giving the inside of her house a new look. Every time we went over there, the walls and ceilings were adorned with fresh paint and the shelves and tabletops and walls were freshly accessorized like the re-done homes on HGTV. She was constantly bored with the old look so consistenly that when her husband–who traveled on business–came home, he must have wondered if had drunkenly staggered into the wrong house.

When HGTV’s home and hearth designers swoop in and re-do a house, the finishing touch is decorating every thing with knicknacks which–while they give the rooms a high-end look on TV, probably end of in the attic within months because they aren’t the look and feel the homeowners are used to and, when it comes down to it, take up a lot of room.

I wonder if our decorating-oriented friend found a Knicknacks to go kind of business where she could swap out rooms filled with old clutter for brand new clutter.

I take that approach to my blog and website, but prefer that my house looks like my house from month to month and year to year. Writers are supposed to find a niche for every component of their online presence and stay there because, as the gurus tell us, doing that builds audiences. When readers arrive on a site, they know where they are rather than wondering if they typed the URL incorrectly or drunkenly staggered into the wrong online enclave.

If I thought one look and feel forever and ever on my website would sell books, I might keep it. And if I kept it and sold more books, I could afford professional designers to keep each place fresh, yet comforting to readers who like exciting stories in the novels they read while reading them on the same frayed old couch.

I guess I should put a warning on the homepage of my website that says: “Youve probably been here before though you won’t rememeber it because I got bored with the old look again and don’t even recognize this place myself. Get used to it.”

Malcolm

Click on my name to see what my website looks like today, but maybe not next week.

Constantly re-designing my website

My boredom with everything static drives me to constantly tinker with my web site.  It’s definitely eccentric because–so I have been told (or accused of)–I am eccentric. I suppose when it comes down to the why of the website, it’s a continuing attempt to find kindred spirits, those most likely to read my novels.

What I’ve done here is added two Tarot cards from the Swords suit in the Thoth deck, the ace and the Knight (called the king in other decks). Swords represent the various aspects of the Air element, and I am very partial to this. The ace is the beginning, the first thought/idea: as I look at the world (and magic) the ace comes before everything else. The knight is my “personal card” in the deck, representing the analytical trickster.

According to Biddy Tarot, “The Suit of Swords Tarot cards deal with the mental level of consciousness that is centered around the mind and the intellect. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.” I like this way of looking at swords.

Raven Tarot, a wonderful site for those who use the Thoth deck, says, “So the Swords represent the qualities of intellect and rationality, but also to every considerated achievement like culture, science, philosophy or any ongoing process that later ends up as ‘history’. This almost explains by itself why the Swords can be blessing and malediction the same time.” I also like this way of viewing the suit.

These symbols on the website obviously mean something to those who read or study Tarot cards and the associated Tree of Life. Like a tuning fork that causes a nearby tuning fork to vibrate at the same frequency, I believe these symbols are also a calling card to like-minded people who may have little or know knowledge of the Tarot. The images of the cards speak of magic, of course, and a way of seeing the world outside our consual view of reality. Those are the prospective readers of my books.

Does the site sell any books? Hard to say. If so, that’s good. If not, then my point of view is “out there” and (for me) that’s more important than the books.

Malcolm

What the heck’s on my website?

Chaos, usually. I tinker with the place until it becomes a mess and then I clean it up and start fresh again:

My home page tells people the kinds of books I write and has space, as needed, for the announcement of new books, book sales, and other promotions.

About: This is the obligatory about me schock that tells you who I am. It’s all fantastic lies, of course, but I try to make it sound humble.

Excerpts: Do I really need to tell you what’s on this page?

Books: This is a listing of my books and indicates how many editions (e-book, hardcover, paperback, audiobook) each one has. The links are generally to the books’ Amazon pages, yet I’m happy when people get them from Indie Bound or from their neighborhood bookstores.

Spotlight: Currently, this page talks about my latest release, Special Investigative Reporter.

Etc.: This page presents weird stuff I’ve done or subjects related to one of my books. Right now, there’s an article there about belladonna, something one’s favorite conjure woman doesn’t need on her shelf since it’s rather dangerous. It’s hard to believe women used to enhance their beauty with this member of the nightshade family.

I used to have my website on Homestead which has one of the best editors I’ve found for absolutely controlling the page. I switched over to GoDaddy which isn’t as costly but is missing some of the functionality I got used to having on Homestead.

GoDaddy has e-mail as an added feature, but since I’m not really in the market for doing speeches, appearing on panels, or teaching in MFA programs, I’m not using the feature. However, if you really need to contact me, you can send me an e-mail at grinnellglacier@yahoo.com. People who know me well, know that I’m hard of hearing, so that’s why I don’t do events.

The rumor that my conjure research allows me to put a hex on everyone who stops by the website without buying a book probably isn’t true. I’m really not sure.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tinkering with the blog and the website

One never knows for sure what works.

So, this weekend, I got rid of two of the pages on this blog and updated the “About Me” page. One new page will rotate through a series of excerpts from my novels. The other will have related pictures of all kinds. Right now, it’s showing examples of the page proofs for the dust jackets when we came out with the hardcover editions.

When I first came out with Conjure Woman’s Cat, my website included a page about conjure. I decided that after adding two more conjure novels to the series, I really didn’t need a “conjure page” per se. Initially, I thought such a page would attract people interested in conjure who would then discover the novels. I don’t think that happened.

That page is now a page for excerpts. There are three there now. I hope to remain organized enough to change them from time to time so that there’s always something new on the website.

My publisher tells me that Thomas-Jacob Publishing’s hardcover books are selling. That’s certainly good news. My colleagues at T-J and I thank you.

My website is always in a state of flux. Frankly, that’s because I never know what information there attracts readers and what doesn’t. I also debate (with myself) how long something should stay there. I want more people to see items, but I don’t want them to come out to the site a few weeks later and find the same stuff. I’m winging it on this but usually, try to include something new every week.

My blog posts and tweets have feeds on the website. I have no clue whether that’s bad or good. At the very least, those feeds represent “new material.”

Most days, I think that bookselling is more of a gamble than either an art or a science.

Malcolm

Is the blog on your website empty or out of date?

If the answer is “yes,” then why is “blog” a menu selection? I see out of date blogs a lot on writers’ sites, social service organization sites, and environmental group sites every week. Sure, they’re a lot of work even if they’re only updated once a month. Perhaps they were started when writers were less famous and had more time or when volunteer groups happened to have somebody on hand to write a blog who has since left the organization.

When I visit a social service or environmental group and see that the latest post is two or three years old, my first thought is, “Have you people done nothing since that post worth talking about?”

I realize that social service and environmental groups have to be more careful than other bloggers because they don’t have to luxury of posting rants or even reasonable debates because such things are construed as the voice of the organization rather than how the blogger happened to be feeling one day. So, most likely, blog posts have to be approved by upper management–or by the publicity department–and that can be time-consuming. However, I think an out-of-date blog creates about as much damage as any inadvertent post that headquarters may not like.

Much better to remove the “blog” menu selection than to leave it there and have people think you’re lazy and/or have nothing to say.

Writers get busy, especially those who are on the faculty of a college, on the board of one or more writers’ groups, or are charged with organizing writing workshops and conventions. The amusing thing is, many writers proclaim on their web sites that they write daily. That said, how long could it possibly take to add a hundred words to a blog? When a writer’s blog is empty, I feel cheated, especially if they haven’t come out with a new book in a while or been interviewed in a writer’s magazine. “What are you thinking about these days?” I want to ask. An out of date blog makes me think the answer to that question is “nothing.”

It may seem like a little thing, but that empty or abandoned blog on the writer’s or organization’s website is causing a lot more damage than most people realize.

–Malcolm