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administrivia

Site Updates

Testing Jetpack crossposting, test, test, test

Since I was just over on the WordPress.com testing its crossposting functionality via Publicize, I thought that was pretty nifty and have learned that that’s available to self-hosted sites like this one, via the Jetpack plugin.

So this is me testing that! This should be going out to my Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr accounts.

(I’m a little irritated that Jetpack apparently does not let you set up to crosspost to Facebook for both your personal timeline AND a page that you manage, which, y’know, is kinda what I need to do. So even if I decide to keep Jetpack around, I will still need Social. Not to mention the older functionality I’m using to throw posts over to Livejournal and Dreamwidth.)

Y’all please let me know if you notice anything weird about site functionality while Jetpack is active. When I turned it on, I suddenly got a huge wave of backlogged comment emails that Social should have sent me and didn’t. So there may be other unexpected side effects. Apologies in advance if anything breaks!

Site Updates

Launching a new backup site

So after yet ANOTHER power outage this past weekend–which makes nine since August 2015, and so far once a month since June of this year–I have reached the point where I’m really sick and tired of my website not being available whenever the power goes out.

This has bitten me twice now when I’ve tried to run ads during 99 cent sales, only, SURPRISE! POWER OUTAGE! So your ads are pointing off to a page readers can’t get to!

Our neighborhood association, of which Dara is a member, is actually going to have a meeting with Puget Sound Energy on the 28th of this month to express our collective frustration with this ongoing state of affairs. I am not expecting fast action on this. So in the meantime, I am taking the precaution of setting up a minimal backup website that will contain the most critical data about me and my books.

That site is going up at angelahighland.wordpress.com. Angelahighland.com should still be considered my canonical website and the official source of data about all of my works. However, y’all should keep angelahighland.wordpress.com bookmarked, just in case you need to look up something about any of my titles, or maybe even point someone at buying them, and find you can’t get to my main site because our power went out again. I will be updating information on this site accordingly.

Because it will. It’s mid-September now, which means the 2016 fall storm season is imminent. We’ll have at least one more power outage before the end of the year, and I won’t be surprised if we have more.

Any questions, let me know!

Site Updates

Update to my FAQ

Friend and reader userinfotechnoshaman wanted to know from me today if he could give Faerie Blood and Bone Walker as gifts, and if so, where the best place to buy them would be for that. First, thanks userinfotechnoshaman for the purchase! \0/ For the interested, he wound up buying the books directly from my Square store. (And if you’re not reading this post directly on angelahighland.com, that’s the link that says “Store” on the site’s main menu.)

And second, since I’ve been asked before about where the best place to buy my books from is, I just wanted to remind everybody that I do have an FAQ page. I have now updated that page with a revised version of the “Where should you buy my work from?” question. AND I have added a new question about how to give my books as gifts. Here’s the text of what I added, and you can find this as well as a bunch of other questions on my FAQ.

Is there a specific best place I should buy your work?

I get slightly higher royalties if people buy the Rebels of Adalonia books directly from Carina Press‘s own site. And certainly if you buy a book of mine from Amazon, that’ll bump my rankings up there, but that’s also true of any ebook vendor.

However, I encourage any potential readers to go ahead and buy the Rebels books via whatever channel you feel is appropriate. If you’re a Kindle user, go right ahead and buy them from Amazon. If you’re a Nook owner, from Barnes and Noble. Kobo, iBooks, Google Play–the same.

For my indie-published work, the very best way to make sure I get the most money is to just buy books from me directly–either via my Paypal.Me link, or via my Square store. In the case of Square, Square will still get a cut of the transaction, but it comes out slightly better than the cuts the ebook vendors take of transactions on those sites. But again, I encourage you to buy from wherever is most convenient for you. I make a point of deploying my indie titles out to a variety of platforms specifically so readers have a choice about where to buy them.

Trust me, I’ll be delighted that you buy them at all! As long as you buy them and enjoy the reads, that’s the important thing to me.

Is it possible to give your books as gifts?

Yes! For the print books, if you order them from me via my Square store, you can add an additional note to me if you want to purchase them as gifts, in case you want me to sign them for the recipient, or for me to send them somewhere besides your own address.

For the Rebels of Adalonia ebooks, Carina Press’s website does not have the ability to gift ebooks. But if you buy those books from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks, those vendors have the ability to give ebooks as gifts.

For the Free Court books, if you buy them directly from me, you are more than welcome to use the files you’ll receive from me as gifts. One recipient per purchased copy, please! But if you do buy a book for a friend or loved one, you are welcome to ask for multiple formats of the same book for a single recipient. For example, the EPUB, PDF, and MOBI of Faerie Blood would all count as a single purchase.

As with the Rebels books, you can also give the Free Court books as gifts on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks. And, since the Free Court books are available on Smashwords, you can buy them as gifts there as well.

Site Updates

Some site housekeeping notes

I’ve been in a mood to do some digital spring cleaning lately, particularly inspired by an episode of the DBSA podcast where SB Sarah interviewed Fay Wolf about her new book on how to declutter your life. Since they specifically talked about digital decluttering, I felt moved to take care of some overdue decluttering of mine.

Namely:

I’ve been juggling two Gmail addresses for a while and have grown to find this burdensome. So I am in the process of decommissioning my angela.korrati address on Gmail in favor of the annathepiper one. My Contact page has been updated appropriately.

The short stories “The Blood of the Land” and “The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen” have not been properly deploying out to iTunes from Smashwords. A fix for this is now in progress.

I have decommissioned the Kobo account I was using for Kobo Writing Life. I’d wound up with two different Kobo accounts when I’d had to open a second one to tie it to Third Place Books, and having two accounts was kind of stupid. Particularly given that I’d stopped deploying books directly via Writing Life, and have been trying to deploy to Kobo via Smashwords instead. So my original Kobo account, the one I’ve been using with Writing Life, has been deactivated. Right now this also means that Faerie Blood is not currently available on the Kobo site. I’m in the process of trying to fix that.

I have removed links to Oyster and to the Nook UK site from any of my titles that had them, since Oyster is pretty much dead, and since B&N has also shut down the Nook in the UK.

Meanwhile, I have done a bunch of updates to my Square store.

First, I realized that the store did not have the Cerridwen short on it. I have now corrected this problem.

The limited edition ebook bundle CD I have of both editions of Faerie Blood is now under the “Ebooks” category with the rest of the books. Also, I have set it so that each of the individual ebooks now includes in its description that I will ship copies electronically by email, AND you will be able to pick which format you want. Your options will be EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and a zip file of all three.

Also: since Square recently did an upgrade to its store system, there’s functionality now for donations. I have decided to use this to test out a Tip Jar on my Square store. The intent here is that for anyone who might have acquired a story of mine for free (such as when I ran “Cerridwen” for free on KDP or when I’ve had things set as Reader Sets Price on Smashwords), and who might want to pay for me something after the fact, this is a mechanism by which you can do that.

Last but not least: I have also now added a “Store” menu to the menu bar on the site. The “Store” link goes off to the Square store, but under that, I’ve also placed links to the Buying From Me page (which is the page for information on how to buy stuff from me directly vs. through any of the major ebook vendors), and to the Faerie Blood and Bone Walker pages on Bandcamp (which are the more useful places for non-US folks to go to order print copies of those books).

Any questions, please let me know!

Site Updates

Testing, testing, testing, is this thing on?

Well, that was certainly unpleasant!

To recap for those of you who don’t follow me directory on the social networks, or who might not have seen me reporting: this past weekend, Dara and I had to completely overhaul our web server. This was basically the same operation we had to do LAST month on the mail server: i.e., completely flatten the box and reinstall a fresh install of the operating system, and then rebuild all our data on it.

What brought this on? My trying to do a WordPress security update, and discovering that the server’s root password no longer worked. Pro tip: that’s bad.

So yeah. Cue emergency server maintenance and tearing my hair out trying to figure out the safest way to reconstruct both my WordPress sites: annathepiper.org and angelahighland.com. I THINK my sites are now both back up again, after I did a completely fresh install of WordPress AND a fresh install of necessary themes and plugins, and then restored the old tables out of the database and the old media to populate both sites.

So if y’all are reading this, do me a favor: please browse around on both annathepiper.org and angelahighland.com, and let me know if anything looks broken.

Known issues on annathepiper.org:

* Clicking on the flickr galleries on the GBS pictures I have there is borked, but that was borked before all this happened;
* The RP logs archive pages there aren’t working yet either

I am not currently aware of anything actively broken on angelahighland.com, but if you see something that looks wacky, please let me know immediately! Especially if it’s on any of the higher level pages for my various books.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, go talk to Dara and let her know too if anything looks wacky on crimeandtheforcesofevil.com.

Still to do: I need to reconstruct and restore the other WordPress blogs we host, most of which will be rolled together into a single WordPress install to minimize the number of access points onto our system. This impacts baconforbirds.com (which we WILL be bringing back online by Paul’s request even if he’s not actively working on the site right now), upcc.org, uplakekenmore.org, and emeraldforestfilk.org. I will also be looking into converting lexfa.org into a WordPress blog to add to the aforementioned single install.

Any questions, talk to me!

Site Updates

Some items of interest, including a crowdfund!

Some of y’all may have noticed that I’ve rearranged the look of the main book pages for Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, Valor of the Healer, Vengeance of the Hunter, and Victory of the Hawk–not only the individual novel pages, but also the overall Books and Rebels of Adalonia landing pages. This is to finally take advantage of some functionality I brought in with my current theme, but also some plugins I’ve installed to get some Bootstrap fun going on.

You’ll see this new functionality in the various buttons on these pages. This all lets me clean the pages up considerably, make them shorter and better organized, and less of a “huge collection of links”. Plus, I get to better emphasize the various blurbs and immediate calls to action at the tops of each page.

I also removed the sidebar from those pages, since the sidebar is something I wanted to keep specifically for the blog section of the site. This change is for two reasons: one, to make the book pages less busy, and two, to make them render more nicely on phone-sized screens.

I may continue to tweak the layouts of things, so if you see something suddenly start to look different, don’t be surprised by that! And if you see anything that actually looks broken, please let me know.

***

I’ve been working on an updated version of the short story “The Disenchanting of Princess Cerridwen”, since the version currently on the site is out of date now that the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy is complete. The new version will have an editing pass, and some tweaks to correct details that were specifically mentioned in Victory of the Hawk.

I’m hoping to do the same thing with this story that I did with “The Blood of the Land”, and release it as a standalone download to the various places I sell my titles. But first, I’ve got to get it some proper cover art. More bulletins on this as events warrant!

***

After seeing one of the best-selling Carina authors post results of a survey of her readers, and specifically noting how a bunch of them reported that Facebook is a source of data for them about finding new books, I’ve been doing an experiment this month. Namely, I’m running ads on Facebook to promote the Rebels books as well as Faerie Blood.

I know, I know–I wince at the idea of actually throwing money at Facebook, but it is important to note that I have had a significant uptick in daily traffic around here with these ads being live. And a notable, if small, uptick in sales as well. So far, this experiment does appear to be valuable. And if Facebook actually can result in me selling books to people who haven’t previously discovered me, hey, I’ll get over any willies about throwing money at them!

ALSO: if anyone reading this did in fact come over because of finding me at Facebook, hi there! Do please feel free to say hi.

***

Last but not least, I’ve just thrown a contribution to this IndieGogo campaign for an anthology to celebrate ten years of The Future Fire. I follow their Twitter account, and moreover, my pal Su J. Sokol, who I’ve featured on Boosting the Signal, will appear in this anthology.

So consider checking this out, won’t you? Thank you!

(Speaking of Su, I owe her book a review. I hope to get that posted soon, so keep an eye out for that!)

Site Updates

New theme on the site, WOO!

So y’all may notice* that things look a tad different around here. This is because I’ve activated a brand new theme on the site, namely, Florence by the folks at Solo Pine Designs. There are a few reasons for this!

One, AngelaHighland.com IS my professional writing site, and I wanted to step up its game for overall appearance. So I wanted to put out a little money to buy a professional theme that matched my overall personal preferences in how my site should look: i.e., minimal, mostly white, but with the proper font choices and other little accents to give the whole thing a unified look.

Two, something I’ve learned from the day job is that Google has started penalizing the search rankings of sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. By which I mean: sites that don’t have a mobile version loading for mobile devices that visit them, or, alternately, which do not have a theme that automatically adapts to a mobile device. Dara has recently done some work in the former area, i.e., setting up a separate page to serve as the landing point for mobile devices, and she’s already seen some interesting results in her Google numbers. Me, I am opting instead for a theme that’s responsive in design–i.e., which displays itself one way on desktops and tablets, and another way when viewed on phones.

Three, the Solo Pine folks are a Seattle-based couple who do web design, and hey, since they’re local, I was all the more happy to throw them a little bit of my money. So if you’re in the market for a theme for your site, you might go check out what they have to offer. They’ve got a system set up to do tech support for you too, if you need it.

Some other notes:

I particularly liked how the Florence theme handled displaying the site menu. If you look at the site on desktop or tablet, you should see the full menu bar. If you look at it on a phone, it should condense down to a nice little icon in the upper left corner that you can tap on to get to the menu.

Plus, the theme nicely handles interacting with my various social media presences. If you look up at the right hand corner, as well as down in the footer, you should see various icons pointing off to my main social network pages. Those aren’t all of them–I’ve left off YouTube, Soundcloud, and Vimeo, for example–but those are the ones of most importance.

And I’m not done yet with the various changes. I’m still working on various rearrangings of content on various pages on my dev site, and as I get things looking better there, I’ll be porting those changes over to here. I’ve already done this to the homepage, which you can now see no longer has a sidebar, and which is a little nicer in how it presents the covers of how it presents my books to you, too. Most importantly, the homepage SHOULD look good when viewed on a phone, too.

Be on the lookout for further changes to appear on the menu as I rearrange that, maybe delete some pages and move others. And I’ll definitely be updating the layout on the official book pages as well.

If you see anything that looks problematic or confusing, even if you thought it was problematic or confusing before I installed the new theme, talk to me! I may have already addressed the problem on the dev site. And if I haven’t, I want to know what confuses people so I can work on fixing it!

Hope y’all like the new look, anyway! I sure do.

* And if you didn’t notice because you’re reading this post on LJ or Dreamwidth, click on over to the site to see what I’m talking about!