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 960 and 400 px … 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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Self-Publishing: Print, E-book or Both? (Part 1)

Modern technology thrives by improving upon itself, and nowhere is the blizzard of innovation more overwhelming than in the publishing industry. The self-publishing author must be on constant alert for change.
Self-publishing and using the services of a self-publishing company can be vastly different in cost, time, and skill required. The goal is to deliver the book to the reader in a pleasing format at a reasonable price that adequately compensates the writer. Continue reading

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

The Metaphysics of Lucid Dreaming – Visionary Fiction for Kids, Part 2

The Metaphysics of Lucid Dreaming – Visionary Fiction for Kids
by Brandon Bosse

The Dreams of Phillip AislingPart 2

First, I want to wholeheartedly thank the VFA for the opportunity to share my story and ideas. I am grateful to be able to share my passion. Thank you to my fellow VFA members for the kind words in response to Part 1 of this blog post. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, I recommend starting there.

Visionary Fiction for Kids

Kids are naturally curious about the world. With the Internet at their fingertips, they are even more informed about the way the world works than any generation before. I think that teens crave new ideas and a deeper understanding of the world around us. That is why I think that young readers are up to the challenge of understanding such complex concepts presented in The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. I hope that I’ve been successful at taking these concepts and presenting them in an entertaining way.

The VFA is transforming human consciousness, one book at a time, and this transformation is most effective if it starts earlier in life. I think it is important to introduce younger audiences to the ideas in visionary fiction before they become stubborn old adults, set in their ways. This book was a middle-grade/young-adult novel from the onset. Even though it is written for younger readers, it is not over simplified. I think kids are smarter than they are often given credit for. The book presents the metaphysics of dreaming not directly to the … Continue reading

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

The Metaphysics of Lucid Dreaming – Visionary Fiction for Kids, Part 1

The Metaphysics of Lucid Dreaming – Visionary Fiction for Kids
by Brandon Bosse

The Dreams of Phillip AislingPart 1

There are plenty of books written about lucid dreaming, but most of them are written for the adult reader a]nd aren’t intended for children or young adults. Many younger readers aren’t interested in reading dry, philosophical, non-fiction books and easily get bored. Yet, young readers are nonetheless (often indirectly) exposed to the underlying morality and metaphysical aspects of the fictional stories they read. Taking inspiration from stories like Harry Potter, Matilda, Alice in Wonderland, and Wizard of Oz, I began writing The Dreams of Phillip Aisling in 2007. It is a story designed to introduce younger readers to safe and confident exploration of the rich and exciting world of lucid dreaming. It is told from the perspective of a 13 year old boy who is struggling to understand what his dreams mean. I wanted to present lucid dreaming in an entertaining way that kids would enjoy. Readers of all ages are invited to join Phillip in learning to take control of their dreams. The book also explains, from a kid’s point of view, possible theories about the metaphysics of dreams and how they can be interpreted as glimpses into alternate realities within Hugh Everett’s multiverse.

Lucid dreamingWhat is “Lucid Dreaming” Again?

Before we delve into the metaphysics of dreaming, you may be wondering “what is 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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