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 – Step 3: Domain Name

Build Your Own Author Website: Step ThreeWhen you hear the word “domain,” you likely think of something you own or master like an estate or territory.

In most cases, your domain amounts to your home, to which you attach a name and address so that people can locate you.

When it comes to your website, you, too, need to claim ownership and mastery by giving your “domain” a name and unique address.

In other words, you need to purchase and register the DNS (domain name) portion of a URL (uniform resource locator) that people can type into their browser to get to your website. The URL is the full address to your webpage, which usually starts with http:// followed by www. and your domain name.

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5 Ways to Shape Your Success as a Writer

Success as a WriterWhile reading an article by Kathleen McCleary titled “5 Ways To Get Luckier,” it hit me that the very same strategies she listed for shaping the good fortune in your life could also be used to shape your success as a writer.

Take, for instance, McCleary’s first way to open yourself to good luck and serendipity.

Pay Attention

Bet you’ve heard that one before. Writers need to take in life’s details as though peering through the lens of an optical microscope at ten times magnification. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but observe we must. And one way to do so is to turn off that smart phone, step away from the computer, and look around. Who knows what opportunities might arise—yes, from out of nowhere, when we least expect them—while we’re paying attention.

I’ve finally reached the point where I understand the value of descriptive details in making my writing come alive. And in order to add descriptive detail to my writing, I’ve learned to focus on everyday objects and occurrences, zero in on the seemingly unimportant details, and write them down.

Open Your Calendar

Success as a WriterMcCleary’s second way to make it more likely for serendipity to strike in your life is to open your calendar to down time.

Down time? There aren’t enough hours in a day to complete our “must dos,” let alone make time for our “want to dos.” Right?

Funny thing is, serendipitous moments, those instances of happenstance when we make fortunate discoveries by accident and find something valuable or delightful when not looking for … Continue reading

Visionary Fiction Part Two: What Goes into the Bucket?

Let’s suppose, as projected in Part 1 of this series, “The Bucket,” that Visionary Fiction has become as prominent a genre label as Science Fiction or Mystery. Now let’s consider the ingredients writers must put into a work to have it qualify for the Visionary Fiction bucket and what experiences or benefits readers can expect in a work pulled out of that bucket. Continue reading

Interview with Dean Koontz: “Metaphysics are the ink in my pen.”

Genre is a subjective marketing category that often misleads rather than informs.

Some books defy classification, especially books by Dean Koontz.

How do you pin down stories that fit at least a dozen marketing labels, including: Action, Adventure, Crime, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Philosophical, Science Fiction, Speculative, Thriller, Urban, and, yes, Visionary Fiction?

Dean KoontzNo one could have been more surprised than I was at finding principles of quantum mechanics and elements of visionary fiction in the work of mega-popular author Dean Koontz.

On reading my first Koontz novel, titled Watchers, I was prepared for the kind of “rip-roaring, rattling-good story” that “keeps you so far out on the edge of your chair that you have butt bruises from repeatedly falling to the floor” (Dean’s words, not mine). However, it delivered much more. I found myself repeating “Wow!” over and over in reaction to the depth and meaning interwoven almost subliminally throughout the book.

In the afterword to Watchers, Dean Koontz said, “We have within us the ability to change for the better and to find dignity as individuals rather than as drones in one mass movement or another. We have the ability to love, the need to be loved, and the willingness to put our own lives on the line to protect those we love, and it is in these aspects of ourselves that we can glimpse the face of God; and through the exercise of these qualities, we come closest to a Godlike state.”

Yet, no matter how much I’d like to claim Watchers as a prime example of visionary fiction, it does NOT contain all the elements of VF. … Continue reading

Dean Koontz: That guy with “horror” tattooed on his forehead.

Dean KoontzDean Koontz prefers to avoid genre labels. By his own admission, he writes “cross-genre novels in a mainstream style, with elements of comedy and social commentary and philosophical speculation.”

That said, I hold firm to my conviction that much of Dean Koontz’s work contains elements of visionary fiction as detailed in the Wikipedia article written by our very own Victor E. Smith. I said as much in a post for Visionary Fiction Alliance back in 2012, titled Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?, to which Koontz responded via e-mail. We have kept up a correspondence since, during which he generously agreed to answer some interview questions for my post at the VFA.

I can think of no better way to introduce Dean Koontz and his work than through his own words in the first of a two part interview.

Dean Koontz Interview Part One:

“I might want to see how the label ‘visionary’ comes to be defined in the years ahead before allowing you to paste it on my forehead, but I suspect we agree on more than we disagree.” ~Dean Koontz

MARGARET DUARTE: Every time I read one of your novels, be it From the Corner of His Eye, One Door Away From Heaven, Odd Thomas, The Face, Watchers, Innocence, or the City, I’m more convinced that you write visionary fiction. For instance, if I whittle the definition of VF down to “fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences,” your stories fit. Or if I say that VF “brings forth universal wisdom in story form so readers can experience it from within,” your stories fit. Add to that the way writer/activist  Continue reading

Visionary Fiction on the Genre Shelf

Visionary FictionVisionary fiction is not metaphysical fiction.

Visionary fiction is not magical realism.

Visionary fiction is not religious fiction or sci-fi or fantasy.

What will it take for traditional publishers to make room on the shelf for fiction that “speaks the language of the soul and offers a vision of humanity as we dream it could be?”

In other words, what will it take for visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre?

Mystic Tea Finds a Genre

Though I don’t have a cup of mystic tea to help me see through time, I can come up with a simple – if not easy to accomplish – answer to the above question.

For visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre, it will take:

  • Visionary writers, such as Rea Nolan Martin, with the talent, perseverance, and willingness to write stories from the heart rather than cave to the dictates of what is currently selling.
  • Contests, such as the Independent Publisher Book Awards, that recognize visionary fiction as a category and award talented VF authors like Rea Nolan Martin awards for their superior work.
  • Reviewers, such as the impressive number that gave Rea Nolan Martin’s visionary novel Mystic Tea a five-star review.

Mystic Tea on Goodreads

I was first drawn to Rea Nolan Martin’s novel by the following blurb at Goodreads:

A community of quirky, mismatched, and endearing women struggle to find meaning and purpose on a ramshackle monastery in upstate New York. Having spent their lives in service to a church that seems to no longer serve them, they are confused about their own futures and … Continue reading

Visionary Flop to Best Seller

Visionary Flop to BestsellerWhat if I were to tell you that one of the best selling books in history is visionary fiction?

Say what?

Yep, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, one of the most widely read books in the world, is visionary fiction. And its rise from a flop in 1988 (with sales so dismal that the book was dropped by its publisher) to record-breaking best seller (sixty-five million copies sold and three hundred weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list) started before most readers had even heard of VF as a genre.

Seems genre doesn’t matter when it comes to bestsellerdom. Write a great story and readers won’t care. Anywhere.

Proof?

The Alchemist is one of the most translated books by a living author. In fifty-six different languages! How’s that for international?

Limpid Visionary Fable

So how does a limpid little fable, deemed “more self-help than literature” by The New York Times, become such a phenomenon?

I mean, what’s the secret? How’d Coelho do it?

Is The Alchemist’s unparalleled success due to Coelho’s guerrilla marketing and kick-ass blog tours? How about the draw of sex? It worked for Fifty Shades of Grey. Or horror as in Misery? Or violence  as in A Game of Thrones? Or maybe his accomplishment is due to celebrity support. We know that Oprah likes him, so that must be the answer.

Hold it. Not so fast.

Paulo Coelho says “no” to all of the above.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.

Visionary Readers and Writers Take Heart

Okay, if the word-of-mouth phenomenon worked for all writers, then every well-written book would be a best seller. Right? And, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have Oprah, Madonna, Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, and Pharrell Williams on … Continue reading

Synchronicity, Meaningful Coincidences

Visionary FictionBefore I became a serious writer, my powers of observation made me about as Sherlock Holmes-like as an open secret or plastic glasses.

In other words, I was a perfect antonym for the famous detective, who took such pains to notice subtle cues and details in the people and situations around him.

I didn’t need blinders. Mine were built in.

Beyond the Five Senses

To break into writing, I had to seriously change my ways. No self-respecting reader would make it past page one of my fiction without the vibrancy and richness of detailed and realistic descriptions — a combination of imagination and careful observation.

On top of that, I chose to write Visionary Fiction, which goes a step beyond what is observed through the five senses. I’m talking fiction that incorporates telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and ESP.

Visionary Fiction opened a new world of paying attention. I needed to receive and transmit information from the unconscious, the kind of stuff hidden below the tip of the iceberg that doesn’t surface unless the observer is in a receptive state.

So how does a Visionary Fiction writer go about tapping into the submerged?

One way is to pay attention to meaningful coincidences and pleasant surprises; in other words open up to synchronicity and serendipity.

Meaningful Coincidences and Pleasant Surprises.

In the simplest of terms, synchronicity is the experiencing of two or more events as meaningfully related.

Serendipity, on the other hand, is a pleasant surprise, such as the accidental discovery.

I can best explain by example.

Something interesting happened to me while writing down my soul, Janet Conner style.

First I asked my Inner Voice what I should call him or her. A crow cawed outside my living room door. Once. Then silence. I took this as a sign and addressed my Inner Voice … Continue reading