Tidying Up

So if you visit my site often, you may have noticed some major changes going on with the site. Not only has the side menu disappeared, but the menu is all different too. Here is why I made these changes and what’s been added.

We Have Incoming

I’ve got a lot of books about to be out soon. I have two physical books available now and next year will have both Broken and The Seeking published. That’s book 2 in the Stolen series and a brand new standalone novel. I’ve been posting on this site since 2009 or so, and just like at home, you can gather a lot of clutter on a website in 10 years time. My menu was starting to get pretty clunky and nested menus were starting to be hard to navigate on some devices.

My Maps and Trains of the 1880s post is still very popular, even though all the images were very broken. All fixed now!

Thank You, Cherie

So I went through and cleaned up a bunch of things. You’ll see a new Contact Info/Press Kit link that has not only my bios, but my email/PO box as well. I’ve also got author photos listed there along with hi-resolution photos of all the covers I’ve been published in. (Whew, there were a lot!) It’s probably pretty obvious why I had to make that, but basically I’ve been doing a bunch of shows, and it was starting to take too long to dig out my Word document to copy and paste when I could just link here. (It is SUPER similar to Cherie Priest’s Contact Info page because she is a goddess and I’ve looked up to her forever. So apologies, Cherie!)

For the Fans

I also realized that I have a ton of additional information I’ve been putting out for the Stolen series. About 6 months out I start posting weekly on Instagram with the #worldofstolen hashtag, and dole out little bites of information and peeks into what’s to come when release day hits. That’s a lot of worldbuilding that just gets lost in the ether if I don’t link it, so that’s what I did. There’s now a whole World of Stolen page that links to the hashtag on Instagram, gives my stance on fanart/fanfic, links to the original short story for Stolen, and even links to the release day video. When Broken comes out in April of next year, I’ll probably be adding even more to that page. For people who want to dig into the world after reading the book, it’s a gold mine of information.

Finally, I realized that I have a lot of channels specifically for readers and fans of my work that I don’t really explain. So that’s what the For Readers page does. It explains the difference between the Facebook group, the mailing list, and shows all of the different ways I can be reached. You’ll also notice I added a section to stub out pages for the World of Kanta and the World of Carra too. I don’t have anything yet for those places, but it’s coming.

The World of Carra is for The Seeking, and yes it is scheduled for Fall 2020. Really not that far away!

What’s Next

So you might still see a few tweaks around (like the new header image!) but generally I’m pretty pleased with this instance. When Broken‘s cover gets revealed later this month, you can expect to see the color palette change here and in my mailing list too.

Have you signed up for the Cover Reveal yet?

I’m super excited for all the new things coming this way, but I wanted to make sure the site was ready to handle it all.

I also wanted to give my followers and readers a heads up – these next two books are going to be intense.

I hope you’re buckled in!

The Woes of Re-theming

I wish I could say there was nothing better to do with my Saturday other than re-theming my WordPress site, but that would be a total lie. The truth is I had the Mistylook theme for a while, and although it suited my needs at the time, this site has grown much larger since I first started this blog up, oh five years ago. The theme was an older one and didn’t support all the cool features that are available in the current themes like Featured Images or gracefully handling sticky posts. Also my menu was too large to fit without causing some nasty design issues.

It was surprisingly difficult to find a decent theme that I liked. One that would be more text-focused (because let’s be honest, my photography isn’t exactly top notch), but would also fit my simple needs. I was looking for:

  • Quirky design features. Like social media links built-in and eye-catching designs bits.
  • Two-column support. I don’t like to overwhelm visitors with ten different columns. They might confuse my site with a browser plug-in.
  • Menu support for 6-7 items. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?
  • Headers would be nice, but not required.

My first attempt, I was going to go with the Quentin theme. It looks sophisticated but simple enough that I didn’t think it would be too difficult to get used to. Plus I liked the rustic quality that came with it. Of course when I activated it, my side-bar disappeared and I scrambled to recreate all the items I had on it. Luckily I screencapped them so I could create them again *just in case* everything broke on me. I was halfway through when I found a deal-breaker.

Quentin doesn’t support menus, of any kind.

That threw me for a loop. I guess I’ve just gotten used to themes automatically including them that I didn’t think to double-check before activating it. So I was scrambling again.

Here are a few themes that I almost went with:

  • Sketch – A little too image-focused for my needs, though I loved the minimalistic design.
  • Fictive – The stylistic choices were great here: the social media icons beneath the author info and the individualized post designs really stuck with me. However your menu that you include is expanded by default, and I wasn’t too keen on simplifying my menu structure down to three or four items.
  • Flounder – This one was also so tempting, but the expanded menu on the side was a big let-down. And you had limited color options which was a real bummer for me. That color scheme just didn’t allow me the flexibility to show horror & fantasy in the same arena unfortunately.
  • Writr – Another tempting one, but the blank area to the side leaves a lot of empty space on larger monitors.
  • Adelle – The structure/design was great, but the lack of customization for the pink details at the top really took away from its flexibility. Again I have to take my writing genres into account.
  • Balloons – I *love* the dynamic balloons on this page, but with very limited color options and the fact that the balloons occasionally obscure the text, it didn’t seem a right pick for me. (I think the Something Fishy theme handles this much better since the movement happens in the background. So cute!)

So I ultimately went with Reddle, which didn’t have all the features that I was looking for, but it has enough. Surely I’m not the only one who has gone through re-theming woes, either on a WordPress.com site or on a custom-built site. I can’t offer any wine to soothe the pain of redesigning, but I can offer my sympathy!