About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In December 2015, Margaret launched BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.

Build Your Own Author Website Header

I can’t begin to tell you how many frustrating hours, days, and months I worked to create the website header for my original author website. I went as far as to purchase a program called Photo Shop Elements 10 and then spent months learning how to use the program in order to come up with an image that worked for me.

For one thing, it’s hard to find images that are not protected by copyright. For another, size matters. Stretching images to fit the required header dimensions often distorts them. Cropping doesn’t always work either. And then comes the issue of fonts and font placement.

Don’t get me started.

Since then I discovered a website called Canva (Thanks, Jane Friedman) that saved the day when it came to creating the website banner for my Book-Snapper theme.

And that’s what I want to share with you today.

Assuming that you’ve purchased and installed Book-Snapper (or an equivalent) author theme for your website, let’s get started.

First, go to the Appearance menu on the vertical panel below the Dashboard to your Book-Snapper author website. On the pop-out that appears, click Theme Options. There you will see a screen that looks like this:

Book-Snapper Theme Options

From there click Banner. Under the Banner image, notice that it says “Enter your 960px x 400px banner image here. Yikes! That’s one big banner.

No problem. Let’s head to Canva.

Once there, create a free account and log in.

In the right upper corner under your account name and profile, you’ll see “Use Custom Dimensions” in small letters.

Click on it and two boxes will pop up for width and height. Enter … Continue reading

Build Your Own Author Website—Step 11: Theme Installation

In Build Your Own Author Website–Step 5Book-Snapper Author Theme Installation, I showed you how to check the WordPress Theme Directory for free author themes via your Administration Panel  Dashboard>Appearance>Themes.

In Build Your Own Author Website–Step 9 and Build Your Own Author Website–Step 10, I introduced you to the Book-Snapper author theme.

Now, it’s time to execute the theme installation of your choice.

Did the word “execute” get your attention? Good, because with this step, you start claiming your website as your own.

For demonstration purposes, I’ll assume that you purchased the Book-Snapper author theme (at half price for $18.95). If you purchased a different WordPress theme, the setup steps will differ from what I’ll be sharing with you here, so feel free to skip this post and head on to another or follow along to see what parts may apply to you.

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Build Your Own Author Website – Step 10: Book-Snapper Author Theme

Book-Snapper Author WebsiteIt seems with each post I write in the Build Your Own Author Website series, the road parts like Robert Frost’s two roads diverging in a yellow wood. And, believe me, when it comes to the selecting the theme for your author website, the road you choose will make all the difference.

There are many excellent author themes available. Maybe you’ve already picked one you like. I happened to select the Book-Snapper theme for my author website and will, therefore, use it to demonstrate the next steps in the series.

In addition to what I shared in Step Nine about the Book-Snapper, here are some of the reasons its creators suggest you consider their theme.

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Build Your Author Website – Step 9: Your WordPress Theme

WordPress ThemeChanging the WordPress theme once you’ve invested valuable time and energy into building and customizing your author website is not advisable. I know because, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I learn things the hard way.

When I set up my original author website, I used the Twenty-Eleven WordPress default theme, only to discover later that there were themes available built especially for authors.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of author themes to choose from, and, for the technologically disadvantaged like me, a lot of choice is not always a good thing. I threw up my arms and called it a day after viewing only a fraction of them.

Also, not all themes are created equal. Some, if uploaded from outside the official WordPress Theme Directory, are actually unsafe.

Add to that, the fact that website themes involve customizations that aren’t easily transferable if you decide to switch to another theme later.

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Build Your Own Author Website: Maintenance Mode

It’s time to show you how to put your new website in maintenance mode, in case you don’t want anyone to see it while you’re still in the process of tweaking it.

Let me introduce three WordPress Plugins that do the job for you.

Ultimate Maintenance Mode

Build Your Own Author Website: Maintenance ModeThis plugin displays a screenshot of your website with an over-lay window and the reason your site is down.

Features:

  • Works with any WordPress theme
  • Allows you to work on your site while non-logged-in visitors see the Maintenance Mode page
  • Automatically Creates a Screenshot of your Website and uses it as the background for your maintenance mode page
  • Ability to add a Custom Headline, Message & Background Image
  • Returns a 503 http status and retry header so search engines know your site is down
  • Simple and Easy to Use
  • Multisite Support
  • Translation Ready – i18n Support

Here’s a live demo.

Build Your Own Author Website: Maintenance ModeComing Soon And Maintenance Mode

This plugin adds some great features to your coming soon page.

Features:

  • Easy install and use
  • Works perfectly with all versions of WordPress
  • Fully Responsive Coming Soon page
  • Ability to disable Coming Soon page for specific IPs
  • Highly customizable Coming Soon page
  • Ability to set Coming Soon page background image
  • Ability to set Coming Soon page background color
  • Custom Logo for Coming Soon page
  • Ability to use WordPress post editor for Coming … Continue reading

Karan Bajaj and The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

Karan BajajA big welcome to Karan Bajaj, #1 bestselling novelist in India of KEEP OFF THE GRASS (HarperCollins: 2008) and JOHNNY GONE DOWN (HarperCollins: 2010) with more than 200,000 copies of his novels in print. He was selected as one of the “Top 35 Under 35 Indian” by India Today and was nominated for all of India’s top literary awards—the Crossword Book of the Year, Indiaplaza Golden Quill and Teacher’s Indian Achievers Awards (Arts).

I first met Karan in April 2016 when he sent me an email requesting a review of his book, THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT, which was to be published by Penguin Random House worldwide in May.

After reading the book’s synopsis, I realized that it fit the genre of visionary fiction. So I agreed to do a review. I also took the opportunity to ask Karan to participate in a Q&A for the Visionary Fiction Alliance.

Imagine my surprise, when THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT turned out to be a #1 New Release on Amazon in the Metaphysical and Visionary Fiction category.

As of this writing, THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT has the Amazon Best Sellers Rank of #22 in the Kindle Store for Metaphysical/Visionary Fiction category. It also has 243 reviews, 90% of them 5-star.

Good going, Karan!

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Build Your Own Author Website—Step 8: Playing with Plugins

Building an Author Website, Playing with PluginsOne of the most rewarding things about Self-Hosting with WordPress.org is the ability to install powerful plugins to extend your website’s functionality. Compare it to accessorizing your home with all the latest gadgets and fashions to make it uniquely your own.

Plugins are little programs that interact with your WordPress software in all kinds of fun and useful ways. There are thousands of plugins to choose from, they’re easy to use, and, best of all, most are free.

Before I list the plugins I believe every website should include, let’s check out the Manage Plugins page in your Administration panel.

Plugin Management

From your Dashboard, scroll down to the Plugins menu and click “Installed Plugins.”

This is the page where you manage all the plugins installed in your site.

Currently, three plugins come pre-packaged with your WordPress installation file: Hello Dolly, Akismet, and Jetpack.

Hello Dolly is a fun but not necessary plugin. Basically, it adds a random lyric from the song “Hello, Dolly!” in the upper right of your administration screen each time you log into your site.

Akismet is one of the most important plugins you’ll ever need. It’s a real headache saver in that it helps eliminate comment and trackback spam.

Jetpack adds powerful features previously only available to WordPress.com users including customization, traffic, mobile, content, and performance tools.

Of the three plugins above, Askimet is definitely a keeper. Hello Dolly, not so.

Activation and Deactivation 

Just for practice, click on “Deactivate” below Hello Dolly and the plugin becomes inactive. Regrets? Simply click “Activate,” and you’re back in business. Or to uninstall the plugin altogether, place a checkmark in the box … Continue reading

Build Your Own Author Website—Step 7: Administration Panel

Administration PanelBefore we get to the fun part of decorating your new cyber home, let’s take care of some general housekeeping tasks via the navigation menu on the left side of your WordPress Administration panel.

Hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the very bottom of the vertical menu below your Dashboard and a submenu pops out to the side that contains the following links:

  • General
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Discussion
  • Media
  • Permalinks

The only settings we will concern ourselves with for now are: General and Permalinks.

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Build Your Own Author Website—Step 6: Video Review

Build Your Own Author Website : Video ReviewFor a super quick review of what we’ve covered so far in “Build Your Own Author Website” steps one through five, here’s a video created by Daniel Piechnick, a professional web designer and trainer.

In less than ten minutes, he’ll explain

  • Domain Name
  • Web Hosting
  • WordPress

He’ll then take you step-by-step from purchasing your domain name through installing and logging in to your WordPress website.

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Build Your Own Author Website—Step 5: Administration Panel

Build your Author Website: Administrative PanelThis is the day you log into your WordPress.org Administration Panel.

For those of you who’d prefer instead to stick with WordPress.com, we part ways here, and I leave you with the following message: WordPress.com is a hosted service, which means that you don’t have to deal with finding a web host or downloading and installing the WordPress software. All is done for you. So I don’t blame you if you choose to start with a casual blog through WordPress.com rather than self-host a complete management system (CMS) through WordPress.org.

If you choose to go with WordPress.com, as I initially did, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the service it provides as you familiarize yourself with the world of blogging. Perhaps you’ll be so happy that you’ll never feel the need to expand your reach—or your control. I wish you the best.

For help in getting started with WordPress.com, I again urge you to purchase WordPress for Dummies, which covers all you need to know. I have also written posts about blogging (developed through the publishing platform Blogger), starting here: Setting Up a Blog, Part 1. Or you may choose to follow some of the excellent videos and information online. As I mentioned in a previous post, creating a hosted blog on WordPress.com (or Blogger) is amazingly easy. So go for it! And have a ball!

If you’re still undecided about which version of WordPress to use, here is yet another site offering an unbiased, well-researched comparison between the two: WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide for 2015.

For those of you who have decided to plunge ahead with WordPress.org and have successfully installed its software onto your preferred hosting server, as … Continue reading