If Only I'd Known: Writing Lesson by Paty Jager

I'm happy to welcome Paty Jager, one of my friends from our group blog Smart Girls Read Romance.

About Paty Jager

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 32+ novels, a dozen novellas, and a passel of short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure.

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters.

This is what Mysteries Etc. says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

Visit Paty Jager Online

Paty's Blog, Writing into the Sunset  

Paty's Website 

Facebook * Goodreads * Twitter * Pinterest

Sign up for Paty's Newsletter 

If Only I’d Known: Don't Believe Everything You're Told
by Paty Jager

Thank you for inviting me to give my 2 cents on what I wished I’d known when starting out in the writing/publishing business.

When I first tried to break into publishing, I was writing a mystery book that had been inspired by Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. The books were told in first person--Kinsey Millhone’s point of view.

I used first person in my female protagonist’s point of view. I sent the manuscript to an agent who told me mysteries weren’t written in first person, but he saw promise in my writing. So, I rewrote the book, putting it in third person. He declined the book.

What I learned from that little episode was to not believe what everyone in the publishing business said. I knew it could be first person because Ms. Grafton had a whole series written that way and she was NYT author. But I let someone who I thought knew the business tell me to change my book.

Later, I was told you couldn’t write books with multiple subgenres.

Those were the books that called to me. So, I wrote them. And while the big publishers would say, “I like your book but I don’t know where to place it on the shelves,” my multi-genre books found a small press who liked them, and they were well received by readers.

It was suggested to me when my books were picked up by a small press that I should self-publish. I felt I didn’t know enough. And who would ever think I was a legitimate author if I self-published?

I wish I had started that journey when I was first approached. My friend who was self-publishing at that time is doing very well now, and because I waited, (went self-publish in 2011) I missed the first big flow of readers who could find your books in the smaller pool of books.

Now, I’m trying to find ways for those and other readers to find me in the sea of self-pub and traditionally pubbed books.

If only I'd known? Don't believe everything you're told by
so-called industry professionals!


Fatal Fall
Book 8: Shandra Higheagle Native American Mystery Series
by Paty Jager

Avarice…Family…Murder

When the doctor is a no-show for her appointment, Shandra Higheagle becomes wrapped up in another murder.

The death of the doctor’s elderly aunt has everyone questioning what happened and who’s to blame. Shandra’s dreams soon tell her she’s on the right path, but also suggests her best friend could be in grave danger.

Detective Ryan Greer knows not even an illness will keep Shandra from sneaking around, and he appreciates that. Her insight is invaluable.

When she becomes embroiled deeper in the investigation, he stakes out the crime scene and waits for the murder to make a tell-all mistake. But will he be able to act fast enough to keep Shandra or her friend from being the next victim?

Add Fatal Fall by Paty Jager to Your Library

 Takeaway Truth

Thanks, Paty, for sharing your wisdom with us. Readers, the weekend is here. Why not grab a great mystery like Fatal Fall for your weekend reading fun?

Carpe diem. Carpe librum! (Seize the day. Seize the book!)

Escape to the Country

Escape to the Country? Yes, that's what Darling Hubby and I did last night. We're finishing up the landscaping at our house in the country and praying we don't play unwilling host to another armadillo--ever!

Escape to the Country is also what I got sucked into this morning. The news was too depressing as I had my morning coffee. I turned that off and cruised Netflix for an interesting documentary.

I found Escape to the Country, a BBC series, that proved to be far too addictive. You can also see episodes on YouTube.

Instead of writing all day, as was my plan, I binge watched this series where real estate agents show country properties to English city dwellers wanting to escape the urban environment.

In watching, I visited Wales, Dorset, Leistershire, Devon, Shropshire, the Midlands, the Scottish Highlands, and so many other locales. It was like a scenic tour of England's countryside.

For a writer, this would be an amazing series for research and local flavor. For this writer, it game me lots of ideas.

If I ever win the lotto (yeah, I know I have to actually buy a ticket instead of just thinking about it), I plan to buy a thatched cottage in Dorset. (My husband's family is from Robert Ryves of Dorset. We even have the documentation to prove it.)

We'll be the weird Americans from Texas that everyone will gossip about. (I think I better buy a new western hat and some boots to fulfill the image.)

Takeaway Truth

I pried myself away from the television. Now I write.

Take 5 With Darcy Flynn

Good morning, Readers! Got your cup of coffee or tea or whatever your favorite morning beverage is?

Please welcome author Darcy Flynn who is joining us for some Book Chat. Her featured book today is Eagle Eye, and it has really great cover art.

Darcy will also be answering some fun questions about herself and her writing.

About Darcy Flynn

Darcy Flynn is known for her heartwarming, sweet contemporary romances. Her refreshing story lines, irritatingly handsome heroes, and feisty heroines will delight and entertain you from the first page to the last.


Miss Flynn’s heroes and heroines have a tangible chemistry that is entertaining, humorous and competitive.

Darcy lives with her husband and a menagerie of other living creatures on her horse farm in Franklin, Tennessee. She raises rare breed chickens, stargazes on warm summer nights, and indulges daily in afternoon tea.

Although published in the Christian non-fiction market under her real name, Joy Griffin Dent, it was the empty nest that turned her to writing romantic fiction. Proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Find Darcy Online

Website/Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Amazon Author Page * Goodreads * Pinterest * Google+ * Sign up for Darcy's Newsletter.

And now, let's get to know Darcy and have some fun!

Take 5 With Darcy Flynn

Q: What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to food and drink?

Darcy: Lemon squares! Admit it, you thought I was going to say chocolate, didn’t you. And yes, I do love chocolate, but lemon squares, with a hot cup of Starbucks Café Verona is my fave!

Q: What's the worst review you ever received?

Darcy: You had to bring that up! *LOL*

Q: What did you do, if anything, after reading that review?

Darcy: Like most authors, I bitched, moaned, screamed and cried…a lot, and ate... lots and lots of lemon squares!

Q: What's the best review you ever received and what did you do, if anything, after reading that review?

Darcy: I’d have to say it’s one I received for my first book, Keeper of My Heart! This reader/blogger loved it so much she included photos and music throughout the review! Then, I sent it with a note to my husband and said, “See. This is not a hobby!”

Q: If Eagle Eye were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters and why?

Darcy: I would cast Tom Mison as the hero. With his long hair and short beard as Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow, he’s perfect as the disheveled homeless man my heroine meets on the street corner. Later, as the clean-shaven, short haired, New York City journalist, one would have a hard time recognizing him as the same person.

I’d cast Emma Watson as my leading lady because like my heroine, she’s a petite brunette and has a wholesome, trusting appearance. Something about her makes me believe she could convince a homeless man to come inside a fine hotel for an hour of warmth and a hot meal.

About Eagle Eye by Darcy Flynn

Could one little mistake derail everything she’s worked for?

Undercover journalist, Cameron Phillips, is known for his forthright exposé articles uncovering scandals of New York City’s rich and famous. Using the pseudonym Eagle Eye to hide his identity, he is free to wield his finger pointing, no-holds-barred articles at leisure.

Jillian Jeffrey, teen fashion industry’s latest darling, has a heart for the less fortunate. Her goal is to raise enough money for fashion icon Anna Delany’s, Like No Other charity foundation. The donation will not only keep the charity afloat, but will place Jill in the running for a coveted position on LNO’s board of directors.

In a moment of weakness, at the charity gala, Jill reluctantly accepts a bet from her ex-boyfriend and uses a homeless man to raise twenty thousand dollars. Unknown to Jill, the homeless guy is the cynical, undercover journalist, and Jill has just become his latest exposé target.

In a twist of fate, Cameron is soon hired to shadow Jill as she volunteers with the charity. Shorthaired and clean-shaven, he looks nothing like the bearded, disheveled man Jill had encountered the night of the gala.

During their time together, he not only discovers the noble reason behind the bet, but witnesses first hand his article’s negative impact on her business. Faced with the prospect of losing her, will Cameron come up with an antidote for Eagle Eye’s toxic exposé before Jill loses everything she’s worked for?


Add Eagle Eye by Darcy Flynn to Your Library

You'll find this captivating romance at: Amazon * B&N * iBooks.

Takeaway Truth

Readers, this sounds like a fun romance. Why not get a copy today?

Movies I Wish Were Better

The remake of The Saint, starring Adam Rayner and Eliza Dushko who is so thin she looks like a cancer patient.

Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvie, both of whom also played The Saint, appear in cameo roles. I couldn't get past the first half of them movie.

Sadly, this remake misses. What should be lighthearted and witty is a paint-by-numbers cliché. What a shame to waste such talented actors.
Van Helsing borrows from popular vampire and zombie movies and TV shows. "Waking from a coma, Vanessa finds soldier Axel protecting her during a vampire apocalypse known as The Awakening." Yep, The Awakening was the first season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The twist? Vanessa now has supernatural powers.

I made it to the middle just to see if something compelling happened, but my time was not rewarded.


A Kind of Murder, a retro thriller, also suffered from poor pacing. Obsessed with an unsolved murder case, a crime novelist fantasizes about murdering his wife. Then she turns up dead.

Starring Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel. This was billed as a sixties film, but the vibe is more like mid-fifties.

Handsome, a Netflix Original, was a disappointment. I really wanted to like this take on the detective genre, but what should have been funny and/or quirky seemed forced and artificial rather than organic. Maybe they just tried too hard.

Takeaway Truth

Movies, like books, can sometimes fail despite a great cast, an interesting story, and good directing.

Sometimes all the elements just never come together in a compelling story.

Just Monday Musing

A friend sent me a funny email with graphic images that look like those motivational posters you see everywhere.

Some of them were funny enough to give me a chuckle so I thought I'd share a few with you.

1. Camping: where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person. (Too true. Have you seen the price of tents?!)

2. People my age are so much older than me. (I say this all the time!)

3. I want to grow my own food, but I can't find bacon seeds. (I dedicate this one to my Darling Husband.)

4. I have so many problems that if a new one comes along today, it will be at least two weeks before I can worry about it. (Ugh. Too true it seems.)

5. "I'm working as hard as I can to get my life and my cash to run out at the same time. If I can just die after lunch Tuesday, everything will be perfect." ~ Doug Sanders, Pro Golfer

Takeaway Truth

Laugh ten times every day, and you'll have a much better attitude about Life.

No Confidence? Then Grow It

Did you know you can actually grow your confidence? It's true. It's one of the those things that's simple but not easy.

3 Steps To Growing Confidence

1. It takes effort to do something when you don't think you can do it. So if you don't have confidence now, then fake it. Yes, that's right. Fake it till you make it.

Act as if you have all the confidence in the world. You'll do things and surprise yourself. Just doing it brings you to the second step.

2. Experience. The more you fake it till you make it; the more you will experience the upside of just doing it.

Experience it a few times, and you'll automatically look back and say, "I did this before, and it turned out okay. I can do it again." Just doing it gives you the third step.

3. Sense of Accomplishment. Oh, yeah, baby! There's nothing like the satisfaction of having done something you didn't think you could.

Wallow in that sense of accomplishment. Trot out the memory every time you're faced with something you must do that you don't think you can.
 

Takeaway Truth

Try this 3 step process the next time you find yourself thinking, "Oh, I can't do that!"

You'll surprise yourself.

You'll take on more tasks, try new things, and put forth the effort to learn something you thought was beyond your understanding.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 P. S. Want a free ebook? Just click here!

Latest on Diet Soda

Health Caution: Diet Soda
Did you see the latest news about Diet Soda? I caught it last week on one of the morning shows.

By now, I guess everyone knows that Diet Soda can actually cause you to gain weight, not lose it.

The bigger news is, according to the TV report, that drinking just 1 diet soda per day increases your risk of stroke and dementia.

Don't take my word for it. Here's an article about the findings from the New York Times.

Ironically, my dad had both heart disease and suffered a severe stroke. He also had Alzheimer's.

He drank nothing but diet sodas, and tea and coffee sweetened artificially for the last 10-15 years of his life because he was diabetic.

Takeaway Truth

Always keep abreast of the latest scientific research regarding health and nutrition. Alter your diet accordingly.

Codes and Ciphers

Oh, my, the things you learn when you write a book.

In Dead Heat, Book 2 of Outlaw Ridge, Texas, which I'm working on now, I knew I wanted to have Sabrina Snow, the heroine of the book, leave a coded message for John Galloway.

The message is to be something he'll understand by knowledge of their relationship, but also it's to have information encoded that a casual reader would not think twice about, but which John will realize is a code.

So I wrote the secret letter then went about encoding it.

To that end,  I watched Codebreakers: Science of Secrecy, a fascinating documentary series on Amazon Prime that's based on The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh.

 I'll confess. I was so taken with the documentary series that I bought Mr. Singh's book too.

I ended up using a combination of code and ciphers--there is a difference between the two. I used a simple Kama-sutra cipher and referenced it in the letter so John would know there was more to the letter than the words on the paper.

I did this by including the number 45 in the letter. In the context of the sentence that contains 45, John will know that the sentence is meaningless.

He'll also know that Number 45 is the Art of Secret Writing which the Kama-sutra recommends women should learn. (And you just thought the Kama-sutra was about sex positions!)

Why will John know this? Because he and Sabrina are spies!

Oh, writing this book is so much fun!

Takeaway Truth

Being a writer is a never-ending education--if you're lucky.

Books and Trends

The late author and renowned writing teacher Jack Bickham said: "Books don't follow trends; they establish them."

I shared this quote in one of my tweets this past week. I like to post something inspiring, humorous, or instructive each day.

That quote must have appealed to my friends in the Twitter world because I saw it retweeted a few times.

I thought I'd say a bit more about it because the wisdom behind it is of great importance to writers. 

Riding the Trends

Reality shows try to take advantage of pop culture trends. In the beginning when reality shows first hit TV, they were new and popular. One successful show beget another one until programming is glutted with them.

Each new season, networks try to guess what pop culture trend will be the next hot thing so they can exploit it with a reality show. That explains the new Candy Crush game show with host Mario Lopez.

What they don't realize is that by the time they get funding and jump through a gazillion hoops, their hot trend is old news. I mean, who hasn't heard of Candy Crush. Do you still play it? I don't. Not in years. There's also a Words With Friends coming to a TV near you. I no longer play that either.

By the time a trend is identifiable and acted upon, it's old news.

Book Trends

The same is true about book trends. Authors spend a lot of time trying to write to a trend. Hence all the vampire, shapeshifter, witch, urban reality, and you name it books that try to ride the wave of a popular trend.

Authors are constantly trying to guess what the next trend will be so they can jump on it first. In truth, authors are ahead of the game if they just write the book they want to write. Writing to a trend that isn't "you" will not serve you in the long run.

If you love vampire books, by all means write one. If you are writing one just because you heard, read, or think they sell well, stop.

The same goes for writing any genre or sub-genre. Writing what you love--and writing it well--is the key to selling well.

But What About...

You may counter with the argument that tons of authors who write for traditional publishers have said they don't like the genre in which they're published. So how does my advice apply to them?

Maybe the genre that earns them their bread and butter money isn't their first choice. Yet, they write compelling stories within that genre and the framework of the guidelines they may have to follow. They do this by creating a story that speaks to something in their own heart. That helps them write for that genre and fulfill their contract obligations.

Self-Published Indie Authors

By contrast, if you're aiming to publish your own work yourself, you have an easier time of it. You can write whatever you like as long as you do it skillfully and create a book readers like.

Choose wisely. Choose what you love, not what's trending unless that's exactly what you love. Write the book you'd like to read. Chances are very good there are many readers who'd like it too.

Takeaway Truth

Write the book, not the trend. Embrace this wisdom, and it will keep you sane and help you enjoy your writing life a lot more.

Seeded or Seedless Watermelons

Courtesy, pdpics.com/photo/2257-food-watermelon/
I thought I'd share something from my vast research into watermelons. I say vast because I buy a watermelon at least twice a month from May to September.

The quality of melons is inconsistent. That's my first observation.

Melons grown in your home state usually taste better than "imported" melons.

Seeded watermelons are consistently sweeter than seedless varieties.

What Exactly Is a Seedless Watermelon

It's a sterile hybrid of a traditional watermelon. That means it can't produce mature, aka fertile, black seeds. So any seeds you find in a seedless variety are only immature hollow shells--these are the small white seeds you see in these watermelons.

Seedless watermelons aren't GMO, but they're chemically modified to create a melon with 33 chromosomes instead of 44. Hmmm. That's seems GMO to me, but by strictest definition I guess it's not.

Which Is Better

Getting back to the seeded versus seedless question, the old-fashioned seeded variety always beats out the seedless when I've bought them. The seeded variety is pinker to brilliant red, juicy, and have a texture that's toothsome.

The seedless ones I've always had aren't nearly as juicy and they're often either mushy or too firm.

Takeaway Truth

If you consistently have had seedless melons that are superior to a seeded one, tell me about it in comments. I'd be interested to know the grower and geographic location. (That's usually on a sticker on the melon.)

Have a wonderful weekend--seeded or seedless!

If Only I'd Known: Writing Lesson by Diana Rubino

Today, popular author Diana Rubino shares some knowledge she learned the hard way: by experience.

About Diana Rubino: In Her Own Words

I'm a self-confessed history nut, my favorite eras being Medieval and Renaissance England, and all American history.

I've written several novels set in England and the U.S.: two time travel romances, a vampire romance, and an urban fantasy, Fakin’ It which received a Top Pick award from Romantic Times.

I'm a longtime member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society, and the Aaron Burr Association.

In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, and devour books of any genre.

My husband Chris and I own an engineering business, CostPro, and spend as much as time as possible living the dream on Cape Cod.

Find Diana Online: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Amazon Author Page * Authors Den * BookGoodies * LinkedIn.

Please give a warm welcome to Diana Rubino.

If Only I’d Known: Editing and Patience
by Diana Rubino

When I was a beginner, that is, up to my third or fourth novel, I didn’t grasp the crucial importance of editing. Editing is the general term that covers all the revising, polishing, and deleting that turns a draft into a marketable work.

By deleting I mean obliterating superfluous scenes that don’t push the story forward. I also mean superfluous words—adjectives and especially adverbs. Oh, the adverbs! Always remember, strong verbs make adverbs unnecessary.

Learning that simple fact took me the better part of two decades--I wrote the first draft of my first novel in 1982. Learning to chop, hack, cut and polish without feeling like I was cutting off my arm was difficult, but I learned to look at my work as if I were critiquing and editing someone else’s writing, not my own. Words and scenes fell to the cutting room floor and I didn’t even flinch.

The most valuable lesson I learned, which is related to all this cutting and polishing is: do not be in a hurry to send a manuscript out. I collected many rejections because my work wasn’t ready. I rushed it out way too soon.

I read an article a long time ago, it may have been in Writers Digest, where the author said your work is ready when you’re no longer editing, but merely tinkering—when all the cutting and chopping and slashing is done.

Learning patience was harder than the numerous rounds of cutting, chopping, slashing, hacking, and polishing.

With the help of a few trusted critique partners who write in your genre--family members and non-writer friends, despite their good intentions, are not qualified to critique your writing--and numerous rounds of editing and infinite patience, you'll achieve your goal of a publishable manuscript much faster than trying to rush the process!

The New York Saga by Diana Rubino

Poverty, prejudice and murder won’t stand in the way of true love.

The New York Saga is composed of 3 novels. The sage spans 3 generations of the McGlory family, starting in 1894 amidst the poverty and crime on New York’s Lower East Side, through the wild, boozy years of Prohibition, and ending in 1963 as the country mourned President Kennedy’s assassination.

Book 1, From Here to Fourteenth Street

It's 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. When Tom’s cousin is murdered, Vita’s father and brother languish in jail, charged with the crime. Can Vita and Tom’s love survive poverty, hatred, and corruption?


Book 2, Bootleg Broadway

It’s 1932. Prohibition rages, the Depression ravages, and Billy McGlory comes of age whether he wants to or not. Musical and adventurous, Billy dreams of having his own ritzy supper club and big band. On the eve of his marriage to the pregnant Prudence, the shifty “businessman” Rosario Ingovito offers him all that and more: fame, fortune, his own Broadway musical.

Can anything go wrong for Billy? Only when he gets in way over his head does he stop to wonder how his business partner really makes his millions, but by then it’s far too late…

Book 3, The End of Camelot

This book begins on the day Camelot truly ended—November 22, 1963. The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki sets out to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband.

Vikki falls in love with Aldobrandi Po, the bodyguard her godfather hired to protect her. But he's engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?

Add The New York Saga to your Library

You'll find this 3-book collection at: Amazon Kindle * The Wild Rose Press.

Takeaway Truth

I'm grateful to my published author friends for sharing their hard-won wisdom. If you get something from these posts, thank the guest author by buying one of her books.

Donna Fasano: Scorching Summer Sale

My pal Donna Fasano is having a Scorching Summer Sale!

It’s August and the temperatures are hot as fire. To celebrate, here’s a special sale just for you--plus one of Donna's great summer recipes.

You can get the first 3 books of Donna's Ocean City Boardwalk Series for just 99¢. That’s a $7.00 saving off the regular cover price!

About Ocean City Boardwalk Series

Sara, Heather, and Cathy are best friends. Through the years they’ve cheered each other on, celebrating each victory, and they’ve been supportive through every crisis.

Join them as they face love and loss… and learn to hold tight to the idea that friends are your chosen family.

The Ocean City Boardwalk series, where life isn’t just fun in the sun—love is waiting on those sandy shores!

Take advantage of this sale and get Books 1-3 of Ocean City Boardwalk for only 99¢. Don’t miss this scorching summer sale. Find the bundle at these ebook sellers:

US Kindle

UK Kindle

iBooks Store

Nook Book

Kobo

Google

Summer Coconut Peach Dessert

Donna's frozen summer dessert that’s sure to cool you down.

Ingredients

3 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 fresh peaches, peeled and thinly sliced

Preparation

1. Prepare cashews: Place nuts in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for several hours to soften, drain. Discard water.
2. Combine the cashews, lemon juice, coconut oil, coconut milk and agave in a food processor and process until smooth. This step may take a few minutes.
3. Line a greased sheet pan with wax paper. Allow paper to hang over the edges of the pan to make removing easy. Pour cashew mixture into pan, spreading evenly.
4. Place the pan in the freezer and chill for 20 minutes.
5. Remove from freezer and layer peach slices on top. Freeze for at least 2 additional hours.
6. To serve, remove from freezer and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing into squares. Place any leftover squares in a covered container or zip-top bag and store in the freezer. Keeps for about a week.

Takeaway Truth

So…what are you waiting for? Make this refreshing summer dessert and also take advantage of this scorching summer sale! You'll be glad you did.

Useful Website: Free App of the Day for Apple

I'm always looking for bargains.

I found this website called AppPicker that lists Free and On Sale Apps of the Day for iPhone and iPad.

They categorize them by device--iPhone and iPad--and by free or sale and by game and utility apps.

The website also has Promo Codes, Staff Reviews, Hot Apps List, and more. Check it out.

Takeaway Truth

I like Free. On Sale is the next best thing. Hope you find one that's useful or fun--maybe both.

Summer Thought

My thought for the day? It's hot. Yep. We've had triple digits for several days.

Here's a lyrical quotation about summer.

"I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips." ~Violette Leduc, Mad in Pursuit

I love the phrase burning cathedral. The whole passage just sings.

Takeaway Truth

I think I'll go fry an egg on the sidewalk. Happy August, everyone!

Review: Vectr Online Graphics Editor

Quite often, I review various websites whose services are helpful--especially to authors. Today, I'm reviewing one of these, Vectr.

Usually, when I review a website, I receive emails from team members at similar websites, asking me to tell my readers about their online services.

When I have time, I do explore and review those websites because I like to pass on information that will help others, and most people--not just authors--use graphic design software.

At the end of this post, you can see the other graphic design websites I've reviewed with links to each.

Something To Know About Graphic Images

Raster graphics that we commonly call by their file name extension are what most of us know.

Raster images are created using a fixed number of colored pixels. Raster images are stored as image files in varying formats such as JPG, PNG, BMP, etc. Nearly all the graphic images seen online or in print are raster images.

Vector graphics are created using mathematical formulas, not individual colored blocks. Vector images are stored as file types such as EPS, AI, and PDF. (Most PDF files are vectors if they have been saved with their individual layers intact.)

(For a definitive explanation about vector and raster images, read Understanding Image File Types on the MODassic Marketing website. On that website, you'll find they offer a downloadable Images and File Types Cheat Sheet.)

Why Choose One Type Over the Other

Raster images are created using a fixed number of colored pixels so resizing them compromises their resolution. That's why some of your images look fuzzy if you try to enlarge them beyond their originally created size.

Vector images offer more flexibility. If you create an image as a vector file, you can make it smaller or larger without affecting the resolution.

Best practice? Always create a Vector file as a master and from that create a Raster image file such as JPG or PNG. That gives you the flexibility you need to use your images in different ways.

The only problem is that most of us don't have the software to either create vector files or open them to save as a raster file. There are actually several online vector graphic websites. I've not tried any except Vectr.

Review: Vectr Graphics Editor

Most recently, I received a review request from Vectr Team Member Julia.

I've just finished working my way through Vectr which has a lot to like, especially the fact that you can use it online or download to your desktop, and it will automatically save and sync your work in real-time, across all platforms. (Currently, Firefox is not supported.)

To get started, take a look at the Home Page. At the top, you'll see Menu items. Let's explore those.

User's Guide gets you started fast in case you don't like the trial and error method of creating graphics. It's user friendly. You need to read it because working with vectors means working with layers which sound more complicated than it is. This guide explains it quickly and in a way you'll understand it immediately.

Unless you've worked with layers before, please read the User's Guide.

Tutorials are for those who want some step by step instructions before they get started.

Roadmap shows what the development team is working on. One of these additions to Vectr is Marketplace where you can buy and sell products. That might be of great interest to authors or artisans.

Blog offers some great lessons like how to embed images in your Facebook timeline as well as detailing "bug fixes."

Next I registered an account. It's free. That way you can have your saved projects appear on your Dashboard.

There are different fee structures from free--which is powerful--to professional 

I was impressed with Vectr. I made the image you see at left with the online version of Vectr.

I opened the User's Guide in one tab then opened another tab to Vectr and logged in to start a New File. That way I could go back and forth between the User's Guide.

This graphic teaser about my next book was easy to make. The resolution is really crisp. I closed Vectr, logged back in, and there was my file on my Dashboard.

I liked Vectr so much that I imagine I'll use it a lot. Rating: absolutely thumbs up.

Past Posts: Online Graphic Apps

7 Websites Like Canva
Review: FotoJet Graphic Design App
Canva Free Online Digital Illustration

Takeaway Truth

Check out Vectr and let me know how it works for you. I'll pass it on to Team Member Julia.

Summer Cold

Yuk. I woke up with a sore throat this past Wednesday. I know it was an allergy reaction. Unfortunately, the sore throat "grew," and the rest is the history of a summer cold.

To that allergic reaction, add a day at the hospital. Hospital waiting rooms are notorious germ zones I think. Even though I try not to touch public objects, it's rather difficult when you must sit in a chair. Who knows? Typhoid Mary may have been the previous occupant of said chair.

Today, a killer headache joined the party. So, I'm taking the weekend off. Have a good one!

Takeaway Truth

Not to worry. A summer cold like its winter cousin will pass in 2 weeks or 14 days. Whichever comes first.

6 EZ Ways to Improve a Website

Today is crazy busy, but I prepared a short post with big impact for you. All of these are based on pet peeves reporter by frequent internet users.

6 EZ Ways to Improve Your Blog

1. Remove auto-start music.

I'm a music lover, but that doesn't mean I want to hear the music you love.Especially when it comes on at full volume!

2. Change the background to white or a light color and the text to black.
Reading text on a black background with a white or fluorescent color tires the eye tremendously. People who are online all day, reading, don't need that kind of eyestrain.

3. Remove those jumping, hopping, blinking animated gifs.
Unless your purpose is to distract visitors from your content, get rid of those animated gifs.

4. Change font to an easily read serif font
Use a serif font online. It's crisper and easier to read than fonts commonly used for print like Times New Roman.

5. Use images to illustrate your posts.
There are many sources for free images. Use them to break up big blocks of text and make your posts more interesting.

6. Use sub-headings to break up the text.
Online readers scan text vertically, looking for the facts or the gist of the content. That's why it's good to break up big blocks of text.

Takeaway Truth

Remember, the way you format something to be read online is different from the way you format it for print.