Murder Blog Is Moving – Yay!

Though I’m biting my nails to the quick, I’m very excited to announce that Murder Blog is moving to a self-hosted site. The new site, if all goes according to plan, will be the same domain: http://www.suecoletta.com. I’m adding the upgrade to redirect http://www.crimewriterblog.com to the new site too, so, God willing, I won’t lose all of you in the process.

Why am I chancing this right before Marred is set for pre-release?

Because I’m a glutton for punishment I want to do so many things that WordPress.com won’t allow. As many of you know, we’re at the mercy of WordPress.com to tell us what we can and cannot do.

That’s not okay with me anymore. Also, I can only go so far with WordPress.com. I’d need to add images to the sidebar to sell books, I can’t use a Hello Bar, or any HTML coding. With the move I can also get better SEO ratings because I’ll able to track what works and what doesn’t. The reasons are endless.

WordPress.com was my home for so long it’s still kind of sad to leave. But I’m a firm believer in looking forward, not back. In order for me to achieve my new goals I must make a change. So, I’m jumping in with both feet and hoping for the best (after hours and hours of research).

The only con that I can see is the ability to reblog, which you cannot do on WordPress.org. However, if anyone wishes to republish a post, contact me using my email or contact form, both of which can be found here.

In this post, as well as notifying you of the change I figured I’d share the new features in case anyone else is thinking of moving. If you are, here are simple step-by-step instructions on how to do it: Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

The best part of moving to a self-hosted are plugins. Here’s a list of some of the ones I’m going to use and what they do:

Comment Luv

I love this plugin. It’s sharing to the fullest degree. If you’re not familiar with this plugin, I’ll explain. When you comment on a post a link will appear next to your name with your latest post. So if you have a new book release, a kickass post, or even just a recent post you’re especially proud of, come by and leave me a comment. All my readers will see your link and you could get new readers. How cool is that?

Shareaholic or Easy Social Share (haven’t decided yet)

I already have share buttons, but these plugins allow for sharing buttons on the sidebar, big or small, you have more flexibility and more options. Plus, you can track your shares. Very cool.

Dig Dig

Allows a floating share bar. Not sure if the others do as well. Need to research more.

Google Analytics by Yoast

This plugin tracks your site and gives lots of information about your stats.

Yoast SEO

I just took a webinar from Mary at Write to Done about using SEO to optimize posts for first page ranking on Google. Stay tuned for an eye-opening post about how to best optimize your posts. She recommended this plugin.

Akismet

Ban that spam!

Front End Editor

Checks for typos and grammatical errors. A must, in my book!

Copyright Proof

So no one can steal your content and post as their own. I’m really not worried about it, but I might as well include it.

Mail Chimp for WordPress

No brainer. It intergrades Mail Chimp with the site so I can use an actual opt-in box rather than the hassle of using an image and having readers click a million times to get to the sign-up page.

Mail Poet

This is cool. It will send you guys an email of my new posts and when I reply to your comments. Because I don’t think I’ll be in your readers anymore, I needed a way to reach you guys. You should have the option of choosing whether you receive a “digest” or “instant”. Digest would be a weekly roundup and instant is self-explanatory.

Facebook and Twitter Widgets

Post directly to FB from the site. Or add Facebook Feed to show your custom feed for your author page. There’s also a Facebook Like Box widget. Show your latest Twitter timeline.

Hello Bar

Instead of those annoying pop-ups a Hello Bar gives a call-to-action discreetly at the top of each post and page.

Social Media Widget

Posts automatically to all my social media sites.

Goodreads

This is really cool. You can ask your readers to add your book to their To-Read List, which raises your rank on Goodreads. All you authors want one of these, huh? Squee!

Subscribe to Comments

Allows non-followers to subscribe to comments so when I reply they’ll get a notification.

Easy Digital Download and WooCommerce

To sell books directly from site, with shopping cart, discount options, and user data. Turn your site into an online store on the sidebar. How cool is that?

Love It Pro

Because WordPress.org does not use “likes,” this plugin puts a tiny heart at the bottom of a post so you can “love it.” Awesomely adorable!

Jet Pack

This is a beast of a plugin with all kinds of features, including a social sharing. I need this in order to switch, but there are tons of other things to do with this plugin. I can hardly wait to see what they are.

WP Touch 3

To make your content mobile-friendly.

Super Cache

This plugin has more users than there are people in Costa Rico. Why? Because it streamlines your site for super fast uploading and allows you to use a static page, like I do now, turning your blog into a website as well.

Notification Bar

Because WordPress.org does not have one, I’ll have to install this plugin in order to see my notifications.

Contact Form 7

I get so many people using my contact form on the front page that I’d be remiss not to include one on my new site.

BackUp WordPress

This is really cool. You never know when problems can arise. So with this, you back up every time you publish and if anything goes wrong…voila. You’re up and running in minutes. Incidentally, you can get your backups emailed to you so they don’t take up space on your hard drive. Cool, right?

Uber Menu (premium feature)

This only costs $19., but I think it’s important to have. With this menu option you can create drop down menus, layered menus, all kinds of different menus to make navigation easy for your users.

Security Ninja

There are two. The Lite, which is free, and the regular. This protects your site from hackers. Very important. Wouldn’t you agree?

Pretty Pink Lite

This is cool, too. You know how bitly.com shortens links but turns them generic? Well, Pretty Pink allows you to customize short links for sharing, using your domain name, or anything else you want, and tracks that link wherever it goes. You can see how well a post is doing on Twitter, or any other SM site, by using this feature.

WP Google Fonts

No more paying for the custom fonts that have a limited supply and you can only use one font for certain things, like header, site title, post font. With WP Google Fonts you can choose from 600 fonts and use them wherever and whenever you want in your theme.

Font

And this free plugin allows you to change the font in portions of your posts and pages, and/or change the color too.

YARPP

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin allows readers to see related content, like you get with WordPress.com. I get many click-throughs to other posts this way, so I’d be remiss not to have this plugin.

Automattic (yup, two “t’s)

If you’re thinking of switching, you should add this plugin to ensure your WP site stays up-to-date and working properly. With one click you’re all set, and safe from hackers, too.

Plugin Performance Plugin

You can install 50 good plugins and if you install 1 bad one, your site will crawl to a stop. By utilizing this plugin, it will test your plugins to make sure they’re working for you instead of against.

There are so many other plugins that I haven’t listed here. Honestly, there’s a plugin for every need imaginable. If you’re thinking of switching to a self-hosted site, you need to be careful when choosing plugins. Like anything else, there are people looking to infect your site with malware, and they do it by offering free plugins. I’ve stuck to WordPress recommendations and ones I know others use and love.

So, I’m off to pack up and move. I’m told my site (this one) should not go down or become temporarily available while I’m implementing the switch.

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side!

A Glorious Summer Day…Not

I hate the heat. More specifically, the humidity. Today is 90 degrees and about as humid as you can get. Blistering heat. Nauseating heat. Pick your adjective and it fits.

So I’m trying my best to ignore this scorching, miserable heat, sweat dripping down my body in buckets, reading glasses slipping off my nose, when my husband enters the sunroom modeling swim trunks he’s had since the Regan administration.

“Wanna go swimming?” he says.

“Umm…you going like that?”

“Yeah. Why? You don’t like this suit?”

My gaze sidles. “Where would we go?”

We live in a vacationer’s paradise. Each week Newfound Lake gives itself a blood transfusion with seven underground springs. Which makes it perfect swimming water. Hence, why our area floods with people in the warm weather.

“I dunno. The lake?” he says.

Now I’m envisioning being on the beach with hundreds of people, each having a towel-width of space. Men wearing black knee socks and sandals. Don’t laugh. It happens more than you’d think around here. But I’m gazing into Bob’s eyes and I can’t crush his eager spirit. “The lake?” Involuntarily my upper lip twitches. “Haven’t you found a private inlet somewhere yet?”

He hangs his head. “No.”

“I would, but I don’t have a suit. I haven’t bought one since we moved here.” I probably have one somewhere, but if I’m going out in public I’ll be damned if I’m going in a suit from the 90’s.

“Isn’t that a bathing suit top?”

Men. “No. It’s a sports bra. Big difference.”

“No one’s gonna know. C’mon. It’ll be fun.”

This, I didn’t need. I’m sweating– No. My mother always said: horse’s sweat, men perspire, women glow. So, I’m glowing like a firefly in July, a puddle of glow? under my chair and my husband wants me to slap on a happy face and parade down the beach in my sports bra and shorts. Help me, Jesus!

A ball skids across the room and our dog cries, breaking Bob’s concentration and reverting his attention away from the lake idea.

panicked

For once my dog does me a favor. Normally, he’s a jerk. I don’t often admit this, but it’s true. I had seven–count ’em, seven!–sweet, loving babies and him…the troublemaker. Guess who’s still with us? The one who allows us to pet him–when HE feels like it. Who doesn’t like company. Who refuses to share the fan. And to top it off, he now suffers from separation anxiety. If he is more than three feet away he cries until we move closer. Because God forbid HE move. Not in this lifetime. He’s a playful boy, too, for nine years old. One his favorite activities is bouncing a ball–off my face. He rolls it down my leg, over my arms, across my keyboard. Because I’m not paying attention to him.

Yeah. You know the kind. If he were human he’d be the bully in school. Yup, that’s my kid…the jerk. Still, we love him with all our hearts, buy him anything his little–and I mean little–heart desires. For instance, because of the heat Bob brought him home Frosty Paws. He devoured it in seconds, glanced over his shoulder and threw us the stink eye. “You gonna put another one in here, or do I have to beg? Bitches.”

Between the swimsuit auditions, the ball bashing me in the face, and the heat, I needed a few moments of peace. I decided to take a shower. You know, cool off a bit. I just get my hair shampooed and…CRACK. Lightning shakes the house.

Oh, great. Now I’m gonna die…in the shower no less. Then something else occurs to me. If I do die, would Bob release my trunk novels? I tiptoe in between the drops, praying to God that a lightening bolt doesn’t shoot out of the faucet and strike me dead before I have a chance to tell Bob, “Under no circumstances are those books to be released. Ever!”

After that relaxing time away, I rejoin my family. It’s getting late now so the lake is off the table…for today. I get back to work on my latest manuscript that I’m tearing to shreds and Bob wants to chitchat. About nothing. Just ramble on and on and on and on. It is Sunday, after all, so I stop what I’m doing and smile. “Uh-ha. Wow. Really?” I have no idea what I’m saying, but it’s going over well so I must be close.

He strolls into the kitchen, presumably to go upstairs and change out of that suit he’s owned since Moby Dick was a guppy. “Oh…my…God!” he says. “What IS that?”

Now, he has my full attention. “What is it?”

“I don’t know. It’s a…a…I don’t know. It’s big, though.” He gives the hardwood the lightest tap I’ve ever heard. Like his big toe barely swept over the floor.

Now, if I saw something as gigantic as he made it out to be, you can be sure I’d be stomping my foot. But no.

Tap.

“That’s it? Tap? How big could it be if all you’re going to do is…tap?”

“What? I got it.”

“Well, what was it?”

“A bumble bee…I think.”

“And a tap like that killed it? A bumble bee. Come on.”

“Seriously.”

“Then it obviously wasn’t that big. Men, always making things out to be larger than they really are. Typical.”

“I’ll prove it.” He swipes a paper towel and marches into the living room. Gently scoops it up and carries it over. “Actually, it’s a spider. Wow. It’s got big sacks of babies on its back too. This thing’s enormous.”

“A spider? The size of bumble bee?”

“Yeah. It’s huge. Look.” He unfurls the towel, and I peer over his shoulder expecting to witness a grotesque spider.

Drama queen.

I sigh, and open the fridge. “What do you want for supper?”

“Whatever. I’m easy.”

“How about ice cream?”

“For supper?”

“Yeah, Mr. Easy. That a problem?”

He ignores me.

“Fine. I’ll throw a steak on the grill.” Forgetting that we’re expecting torrential thunderstorms any second and have already been experiencing lightening galore.

I throw the steak on the grill and…CRACK. Within seconds, sheets of rain fall from the sky. The electricity flickers. Goes out. Flickers.

I’m not wasting twenty bucks worth of steaks, so if you don’t hear from me again you’ll know why. I’m face-up on my deck, dead or in a coma, holding a metal grill fork with long, dark scorch marks running up and down my body.

I hate the heat.

777 Challenge

This is a fun blog challenge. It’s called the 777 Challenge. The rules are simple. Go to page 7 of your WIP, scroll down to line 7, and share the next 7 sentences in a blog post. After the excerpt tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

Susan Nicholls tagged me. If you have a chance, stop by her blog and read the excerpt from her new paranormal thriller.

This is from A Deadly Yearning. Because you get thrown into the story later, I’ll give you a little context… Aubrey and her husband Lee were just involved in a car crash. Their SUV smashed through the side of a covered bridge and landed in a wooded field, below. Aubrey wakes alone. It’s dark. Lee is nowhere in sight. The SUV landed upside-down, and the headlights blaze a slash of yellow across the snow.

Am I dead?

Incredulous, she touched her cheek, lips, forehead, and then raised her palm in front of her eyes. Warm blood leaked down her fingers, snaked across her wrist and the soft underbelly of her forearm. The unknown toyed with her thoughts. Her mind went on high alert, sounds amplified in a hauntingly quiet forest.

A faint knocking sound reverted her attention, and she shifted her eyes to the left. A baby’s car seat wobbled…back and forth…the backrest striking a rock protruding from the snow, like a demon escaping hell.

Now it’s time for me to tag 7 others, though I’ll be hard pressed to find 7 writers who haven’t done this challenge, and like this sort of thing. But here goes…

Lucy Mitchell

Stuart Aken

Garry Rodgers

Marcia Meara

Molly Greene

Colette Sartor

Sarah Zama

Searching for a way to commit fictional murder? Sign up for my FREE booklet 50 Ways To Murder Your Fictional Characters.

Three Day Quote Challenge

I was tagged for the Three Day Quote Challenge by Craig Boyack, Entertaining Stories and S.K. Nicholls.

Here’s how it works:

1.  Thank the person who nominated you, link back to their blog. (Thank you, Craig and Sue!)
2.  Post your quote.
3.  Pass it on to three others.

Here’s the quote I chose…

write to scare

And I nominate:

Fran, Fran Writes Stuff

Kevin Hotter

Wendy Anne Darliing

Have fun, guys!

 

Searching for a way to commit murder? Sample my 50 Ways To Murder Your Fictional Characters, and receive your FREE copy.

 

It’s Official… I Did It!

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement, fear, anxiety, angst, and overwhelming joy all rolled into one enormous feeling of upheaval. Why? Because I landed a publishing deal for my novel MARRED!!!

happydance

Now that the legal issues are out-of-the-way, the contract signed and sent back, I can finally share the news. MARRED will be released this fall.

And it terrifies me.

The world will see my words, experience my story.

What if no one likes it? What if readers shred me in reviews? What if it doesn’t sell?

These are real fears, albeit probably foolish ones. I have to wonder if other authors feel this way, too. Not many talk about this aspect of publishing. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want potential readers to know. Whatever the reason, I believe admitting that I’m human with real fears about failure is just being honest. How can that be a bad thing? Actually, I feel a little better saying it out loud writing it.

victims

When I started taking my writing seriously I had one specific goal in mind, to find an agent and get traditionally published by a large house. I stuck to that goal until it blinded me. Because when you have your heart set on one specific way to get published you tend to shut out other opportunities. Looking back, I realize how one-sided this line of thinking was. In today’s publishing world there are many ways to turn your dreams into reality. Don’t be like me and waste years on only one path. Branch out, consider your options.

Which is exactly what I did this year. Instead of querying agents I decided to go direct to publishers, a frightening venture indeed. I sent my manuscript to four publishers. If you decide to go this route here’s what you need to keep in mind: agents do NOT want a manuscript that’s been “shopped around”. Meaning, if you send your manuscript to every small and medium press and then get rejected, you’ve effectively tied their hands. Very few debuts get picked up by one of the Big Five. I think the statistics show 1% out of 100. You have a better shot of winning the lottery. Which is why agents look at these small to medium presses as great alternatives.

Does this mean you shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. Just don’t close your eyes to other options, like I did.

I sent my manuscript to my top three choices and to one imprint I’d never heard of (still don’t know who they are). And then — BAM, an offer. By email. As I read and reread the email I kept waiting for the word “unfortunately” to pop up, certain I had missed it along the way.

Hearing about a team of editors who LOVED my story nearly knocked me off my chair.

I glanced up at my husband, Bob, who was on his way upstairs. “Honey, I think I just scored a publishing deal.”

200

He twirled back to me. “What? How?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Remember when I told you I was sending out a few submissions to test the waters? Well, one of them already wrote back. They said they loved my story. A whole team of editors loved my story.”

“What do we do? Ask for a contract?”

“It’s here. Now. Along with all kinds of other stuff, including a sheet for the Cover Art Department asking me for my input; how I want the cover to look.”

Bob didn’t move, shock registering on his face. A pause. And then his brow furrowed with confusion. “But I thought you’d get a call.”

“Me too. And fireworks, a marching band, a plane skywriting the news above our house.”

“Maybe you should read the contract before we get too excited.”

He was right. And so I did.

Moments later, an unintentional shriek escaped from somewhere deep inside me. “It’s true! I’m officially a published author!”

Hooping and hollering ensued.

Next, came the writing of emails to ask advice from other authors I respect who’ve been through this process, followed by running outside to tell the neighbors (we live on a mountain with two other houses so we’re all extremely close).

I then buckled down, went over all the material my new publisher sent and wrote letters to the other houses thanking them for their time. I was now committed. This was it. My dream was becoming a reality right before my eyes.

Sue Coletta, Published Author.

It seemed too good to be true. Something must be wrong… that little bugger self-doubt creeping in, again.

Now came the hard part… I couldn’t tell anyone. Not until I had signed the contract, the deal official. Although, if someone happened to cross paths with me during that period, virtually or in person, I felt compelled to share my news, but swore them to secrecy. A few friends who’d been fighting along with me, down this road called “the traditional path into publishing”, got an email too.

awesome

A release this fall is extremely quick, even for a small press. For some reason, that I am trying very hard not to question, the publisher had a few spots open for their fall release and want to include MARRED. To complete everything in time will be a lot of hard work, but hey, that’s nothing new. I worked three straight years without ever taking time off, even a half-day. That’s how focused I was in achieving my dream; it meant everything to me. Still does.

Without missing a beat, I set a new goal, a new dream, one I will work just as hard for, if not harder. In my opinion, this is one of the many aspects that’s so great about this whole writing gig. You never know everything; there’s always more to learn, strive for, look forward to, a focal point to zero in on. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it a gazillion more times. Set a goal and then rejoice when you accomplish it. The more small goals you achieve along the way to your big dream the more confidence you build. In theory.

This is a huge win for me. Now it’s time to work toward my next goal, and the next, and the next. It’s a never-ending cycle that ebbs and flows as your craft reaches new heights.

No other business that I’m aware of can say that, just as no other group is as supportive as the writing community. Without all of you, I could never have made it this far. You’ve been my rock when rejections stung, my cheering section when I achieved small successes, and my inspiration when I felt like I should hang up my keyboard. Writers are the most caring, generous people in the world, and I feel blessed to be part of this community.

brill

Before I let you go enjoy the rest of your weekend, I wanted to also let you know that I bought a new domain for this site: http://www.suecoletta.com. Crimewriterblog.com will still work too. I’ve heard horror stories about successful authors who couldn’t buy their own name because others bought all the sites to profit on their success, writing posts, selling books, basically posing as that author. So before I ever sell one book I wanted to make sure this could never happen to me.

I’m sure I’ll share what I learn as I work with the editors, artists, etc., and show you my cover once it’s available. This is such an exciting time in my life. I never thought I’d be so happy to do the little things, like updating my PayPal to a business account to sell books at signings, conferences, and the like. If you haven’t experienced it yet — it’s awesome!

I’m riding this high for as long as possible. I even took most of the day off yesterday. It felt so weird being away from my keyboard.

happy ny

Ready or not, here I come!