Thanet Creative: New name; new site

The sun is setting on this website – we are moving off to Author Buzz UK. Don’t worry, all the best bits of this website are coming with us.

Our new name, in case you have not guessed, is Thanet Creative which means our work for writers is now Thanet Creative: Writers. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In the year or so that the Thanet Creative Writers’ blog has been here, we have had a fantastic competition and I’ve written some really fun articles. As a charity, we have struggled with the fact that all the most relevant domain names were being cyber-squatted by mean people. We know who – they said something that told us without ever realising they did.

As a charity, we have struggled with the fact that all the most relevant domain names were being cyber-squatted by mean people. We know who – they said something that told us without ever realising they did. However, as a wonderful side effect of a recent simplification of our name, we have been able to snag much better domain names and can now set up a dedicated website.

I talk about that a bit here.

Meanwhile, we are in the process of moving over to Author Buzz UK and if you check out our new site, you will see it is a lot like this one. All of our projects are listed there already. WordPress.com has been a wonderful host and looked after us very well but it is time to spread our wings and play with more powerful toys.

I will continue to post updates here until we are fully settled in and then this website will be left as an archive to point people to our new site.

I hope that you will join us at our new home. See you there.

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How Author Buzz UK is helping writers

This post is all about a new project called Author Buzz UK it can be found at authorbuzz.co.uk and is designed to help writers, bookshops, authors, publishers, and agents connect with readers.

Author Buzz UK was designed to help authors create a solid platform without any more technical skill than is required to sign up for a free account. A fully customised Author Buzz account should definitely become part of your growing author platform.

All of this goodness is offered for free to anyone and all you need to get started is an easy to set up profile. Once you are set up with your profile you will have access to the following resources. If you have a wordpress.com account then you can log right in with that and start enjoying your profile right away.

Talking about running your own blogs, I already have a writer blog set up. The Matthew D. Brown (author) blog is where I post my stories as a serial. You should get over there and give them a read. If you subscribe to the blog you can get an update when I publish new story entries.

Later, as the admin team continue to expand the site’s capability, there will be even more great features open to you. These features are planned but are still being tested and improved.

  • Agents will be able to maintain a profile for their authors
  • Authors will be able to maintain a list of their books which readers can review and, quite importantly, purchase from major retailers.
  • Readers will be able to connect their account to GoodReads and show off the books they have read.
  • Read more about the vision for Author Buzz UK.

It has to be said that, as of writing this article, things are still being set up at Author Buzz. So there will be ongoing changes and improvements. Crucially, this is the stage of development where your input could radically alter the finished product. If your company or your needs as a writer are not being met anywhere else, then your input could help shape Author Buzz UK into exactly what you need.

I would highly recommend that anyone who writes, publishes, or promotes those that do, sign up for a free account and become a beta tester while your opinion has the power to shape the site.

The admin and development staff at Author Buzz are dedicated to the principles of transparency and open creativity. As such they have a dedicated development blog where they talk about both the success and failures that they encounter as they work towards bringing this dream to life. I know this because I am the lead developer in the team.

Thanet Creative Writers already have our own group on Author Buzz. Connect with us there if Facebook is not your thing.

Get on over to Author Buzz UK and create a free account.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

What stops me writing?

This week our competition hits the half way mark and comes with a twist in the tale. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

As with every week, there is a theme. As with every week, there will be three winners. This week, however, things change a little.

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, it is time for us to push ourselves and enhance the platform we have been building with our blogs. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good).

Additionally, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

But first the theme, this one is a sequal:

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 17th.

What stops me writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

A bonus will be awarded to any writer that manages to link back to their own “What gets me writing” post (week one) in a way that fits with the post and seems natural. If judging is as hard as it normally is, that bonus could help.

How to really win this week

In preparation to our big finish, you will need to step out of your comfort zone once more. This time, however, it is not such a big step. If you can sign up for Facebook, then you can do this too.

Have you ever used Reddit? You will need an account there. It is free to sign up and free to use (just like Facebook or Twitter).

On Reddit is a section called Thanet Blogs. I created it a few months ago and it has been mostly dormant for a while now. That makes it perfect for our new competition element.

Once you have published your blog post, you will need to post a link to the Reddit. WordPress users, that means making sure you post the public URL and not your private one.

The winner will be the post with the most up votes (down voting by competition entrants is not allowed). Aside from us, anyone who uses Reddit could come and vote. You could, for example, get your friends to come and vote for you. You might want to be sporting and vote for each other too.

If you use WordPress (or Google analytics on Blogger) you may see traffic (that is visitors) being sent to you from Reddit. This is good. Once you are comfortable posting on Reddit you might feel like extending out from the sandbox of this particular subreddit and finding larger communities. Writers of Thanet, for example, or the global Writers, if you are feeling brave. There is even a Thanet Creative Writers (which is just about Thanet Creative Writers).

Getting your links out into relevant places is part of establishing and growing your platform. (The opposite of getting your link in irrelevant places – which is spam).

The answer to the question “what stops me writing?” might now be “reading reddit”. You have been warned.

You will be needed your Reddit account for the total lack of grand prize and the Overall Winner selection at the end.

Everything you ever wated to know about sharing links

During the competition, I have had a lot of people direct questions to me on the subject of sharing links. I am going to try and explain everything I know in a way that I hope will be useful.

In my opening paragraph, you might have noticed some differently coloured clickable text. The word “competition” links to the competition overview from week 1 while the word “links” leads to the jargon buster (which tells you what a link is). Pretty nifty right?

You can also share links on Facebook. I have no doubt that you have seen friends sharing news and funny blog posts every single day. You can also share your own content too.

Sharing links on Facebook the easy way

Take a look at almost any blog or news site and you will see things that look something like this.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:27:44.png

That is from one of our competition entries.

Do you notice the button that says “Facebook”? This is what that link looks like on this blog.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:29:59.png

You can see that three shares have already been detected. Is that not awesome?

Give the “Facebook” button a click. And this happens.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:31:34.png

That box is all ready for me to share that link to my Facebook wall. There is even a box which invites me to “say something about this”. When I am done I can press “Post to Facebook” (bottom right).

That is all well and good but I want to share this link to our group. Do you see where it says “share on your own timeline”? Let’s click that and change it.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:32:45.png

I chose “share in group”. And then when the group box appeared I started typing until the group I wanted was in the list. Then I gave that a click.

Now I get to share the link to the group instead.

Sharing links to Facebook the advanced way

That was the easy way to share links. Now we are going to learn about an advanced way to share links that will also help you learn something about blogging.

It’s actually almost as easy. However, this link sharing method is just a touch more fiddly.

Look up right now. At the top of your screen – you can probably see a long bar. Something like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:34:19

Do you see the text inside the box? That is the address of the page you are looking at. As you did not have to log in or enter any magic passwords to see this post, if you were to give this link to someone else, they would see this article just the same as you would.

copy-url

Now, let us copy that. You can highlight the text, right-click, and press copy; or you can highlight the text and press control+C; on an android device long press and choose copy.

If you take that text and go over to the facebook group you can paste it into a message. You will see exactly the same stuff appear as when you shared it from the button.

However, there will be this big bit of ugly text. You can go ahead and remove that from your post – facebook is done with it now and understands that you want to share the link.

This technique allows you to share almost any page on Facebook. You can even use it to share the group, pages, and events too.

How to share links in a blog post

Links on blog posts are formatted using the a tag and the href attribute. Don’t worry – you don’t need to know about that if you are using WordPress. If you are interested you can check the HTML view of your post later and see what I mean.

WP-post

If you have posted on a blog before then you have probably seen something like this before. If you have yet to get that far check out this guide which will talk you through everything you need to know about getting started with posting on WordPress.

Take a close look at the toolbar. After the B for bold and I for italics, there are two links for bulleted and numbered lists. After that is an icon which is supposed to look like links in a chain. That’s for linking with.

First, you highlight your text that you want linked and then you press that link button. You should get a box like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:43:11

You will probably notice that there are a list of our blog posts in the big box. That’s a helpful tool to help you make links to your own stuff. Linking to related content that you have already posted is a great idea but that is a story for another time.

Right now we are interested in the first box that says URL. URL is another name for the link text that we copied before. Paste the link text in the URL box. Then press “Add Link”.

That is all there is to it. While you are getting used to adding links I highly recommend that you give your links a test click after you publish to check they are all working. If one has gone wrong you can always hit edit and have another go.

Using links for pings

If you link to the current competition post from the competition entry, you will ping our blog and (once we’ve checked it is a true ping) someone (probably me) will okay it. Then your link will appear in the list under the competition post.

On WordPress, you do not have to do anything special. It will take care of everything for you.

Over to you

I hope that this has proven to be a helpful tutorial. I did not expect to ever write a WordPress tutorial in my life and so far I have written three just for this blog. Please let me know if I was clear enough and if you could follow what I was saying – I am still quite new to writing introductory tutorials.

Do you have anything to add? What neat things have you found to do with links?

How to write the WORST blog post ever (in the whole world)!!!

This is a demonstration of bad blogging. Do not copy this. This is about the worst advice you could ever find in a blog post. I truly hope that you never follow any of this advice.

youth-active-jump-happy-40815To write the worst blog post for a Thanet blog evva in da world be sure to right with bad spelling and 4get to use any punctuation at all and use lots of conjunctions and keep the sentence going as loooong as possible and don’t stop and keep going and just annoy teh readerz with all the worst L3e7 speeks and spell things wrong and make it one big block of terrible text that is far too long and in need of a break or a full stop or some other silly thing like that and don’t get to the point and don’t ever fisnigh your thought or your

To really annoy readers try using a lot of different colours. Use colours that are low contrast. Also, try use blue and underline together to make it look like you have put in a link.

Additionally, you should definitely try to get some paragraphs that have unusual alignments because that really helps reduce readability. After all, hard to read posts are better, right? To really destroy readability use italics as well.

Use bold and at random intervals on words with no particular need for emphasis because saving italics and bold for emphasis is for wusses, right????

Brunglefargle!!

If you must use headings inside your post make sure that they have absolutely no connection to the text that comes under them. Remember to be utterly inconsistent with the way that you do that.

Exclamation marks are great!!!!

Use as many exclamation marks as humanly possible!!!!!!!

Whole sections of your blog post should be headings because headings are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

xmas-1Pictures you use should have no relation to your content ever. Who wants to look at pictures that relate to what you are saying??? That’s just crazy.

Also, question marks. You should question everything!!! So you do you double question marks right?? Because that means more if you use two, or even three. You know that right??? Look how arty I seem when using extra punctuation.It looks even cooler when I take out the space.Because a space and a full stop do the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


Lines are cool!!!


Use some lines at random.

When you link, don’t link text that has any connection to the text. Keep the reader guessing.

You have an indent function so use it whenever the inspiration takes you.

  1. Never let the conventions of good formatting hold you back.

Blockquotes are only used for quoting other people by snobs. True artists use it to look cool!!!!!!!!!!!

  • If you can use long tags and unrelated categories too, do so. Use all the tags!!!!



If you have not used all the formatting options then you have not tried hard enough to make your blog post truly terrible.

Full stops are good for spacing work

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see!!!!!

Now I know that some people try and claim that these cool art features are great in moderation. Moderation! I ask you, what use is moderation? We are artists and we KNOW THAT ALL CAPS and bright colours and lots of formatting are vital to good writing, right??

Ascii art is better than pictures

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Spell checkers are for the week?!?!?!

You should also go on and on about your book (or your product or whatever) and write for people that are not your audience. Who do those people think they are anyway. They should be glad to read your thoughts. People should pay to read this stuff. Yeah? Here are some more hints on how to write a very bad post.

++

Your blog post is not done until you have mentioned
  1. Bananas
  2. Goats
  3. Nazis

and also fish.

Go forth and write really bad blog posts.

Seriously though, please don’t. I am literally begging you not to make blog posts like this. Please format responsibly.

Week Two Winners

Late but arriving as fast as I can format text, are the winners for the Week Two competition. The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for

The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for Tea and Chat. The irony of getting a post out late during Time Travel week is not lost on me.

As always, there were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

I am aware that one or two of you are still tinkering with WordPress or trying to figure out how to get started. I have also learned that things that I take for granted like adding a link to something specific is not at all clear for everyone (yet). I promise to write about linking specifically as soon as I can. I put together a WordPress FAQ for those that need it.

Things that particularly impressed me

The quality of the work this week was really astounding. What was I thinking, imagining that I could pick out just a few winners?

Congratulations to everyone who was using WordPress and dealt with the sudden change to the editor this week.

Unexpected plot twists. I saw a real handbrake turn of a plot twist this week. It was so good that I felt it was worth a mention.

Everything I look for in a time travel story was found in one perfect short story. Despite a snafu with the linking making the text a bit hard to read (all blue from links and my dyslexia, not so fun) it was nevertheless perfectly told.

A poem that almost sets up a story not told was the tease we had this week. I want to read the story of good intentions derailed by temptation.

A very honest reflection. Ine of the best ways to write is to be brutally honest. This is a post that typifies that honesty perfectly.

A perfect insight into a writer’s mind. What more can you say? This was a fantastic reflection on the engine of writing. Asking “what if” and filling in the blanks of unknowns. Loved it.

A novel approach to an old topic. This read like some old school sci-fi, a bit rough around the edges, but what a story!

Sci-fi and comedy delivered with a comfortable ease. I liked the way the author self-inserted their own writer persona as the main protagonist. Also, coffee powered time travel.

Poetry with a plot twist. I love the way, in so few lines, this poet plays with several tropes of time travel.

Some constructive criticism

This is aimed at no one in particular but are just some observations that I hope will help you. To be honest, there was so much to praise about this week’s batch of entries that I struggled to find anything to write in this section.

Don’t forget to post

First, and most obviously, don’t do what I just did – promise a post and then utterly fail to get it published. I feel like I should still apologise some more for that. Such a silly mistake.

Centre aligned paragraphs

I saw a lot more centre align text this week than last. It is a topic I address to businesses fairly frequently. This is probably because I have something of a unique perspective on odd text. I am dyslexic and centred text (and a few other unusual formattings) plays merry hell with my ability to read it. (Don’t worry, I am a geek and can get my browser to correct my view for me).

Generally, people centre text when they want it to look balanced, appear to be different, or just want to make it stand out or look “nice”. It might look okay to you but if you raise the reading difficulty of the text by quite a bit.

WordPress users have the Block Quote option which looks like a pair of opening quote marks. That will definitely make the text appear to be different. Other options include italics, bold, a different colour, or full justify. Our WordPress FAQ has more details on how to use these features.

Links

Links are great. Links are how the Web works. Linking to something is like sharing love. It is a great way to build the community around you. I have promised to try and produce a guide to linking. I will be doing that soon.

If you can figure out linking then try to always link to what you are talking about. Some of you do – this is to your credit.

As a side note, links work best if they are added in after the text is written. Put them in at the end, is my advice. This can also help avoid situations where the editor tries to make everything one giant link.

Please note that I never knock off marks for not linking but you will not get as much out of the contest if you do not link out when it counts.

The Winners

Best Post: Ansteysp

OMG, you writers! I honestly had a good reason to give each and every last one of you the prize for “best” post. The batch of posts this week was amazing. Each one typified a great post in some way. It almost came down to my simply drawing names out of a hat – that’s how hard it was to pick a winner this week.

Best Comment: Kentish Rambler

There were several great comments to choose from this week. I spend ages go back and forth between them all trying to make up my mind. You have all really gotten into the whole constructive feedback groove this week. This was a hard call to make.

Post with most comments: Irving Benjamin

The runaway winner for most comments was Irving’s post. You all did a good job of picking up comments and commenting on each other’s work but this post just picked up a few more.

And Now: Week Three

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 10 themes left to go.

You can find out about the Week Three theme here.

WordPress Help for Thanet’s Writers

By Othmanhlallouch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Most of our competition participants have chosen WordPress.com to host their entries; a good idea I think. Here is a collection of, what I hope are, helpful resources.

However far along the path of learning about publishing your own content online, I hope this post can prove useful.

Getting fully setup on WordPress.com

Set Up Your Blog in Five Steps is a WordPress guide to the five steps that you will probably want to follow to get fully set up.

While most of you will have done at least four of those steps it might be worth looking at the section on widgets. Widgets are those elements that allow you to show custom text, links, social integration and other features.

The basics of WordPress.com

My problem is that, for me, it is all the basics. I’ve been blogging and doing web things for over thirteen years. Try as I might it is very hard for me to imagine myself as a person just getting started.

That’s why I’ve taken the time to find other people’s posts and videos that do a better job than I might.

As far as general overview videos go this one is pretty good.

How to use the make and edit blog posts

Blog posts (sometimes called blogs by people) and pages seem very similar on WordPress. Blog posts are the things you will post most often. Skip on down a bit if you want to learn about pages.

I watched a lot of how to videos on to make this post for you. This was the best video about creating blog posts on WordPress.com that I could find.

That said I strongly disagree with one of the things that she says in this WordPress video. Blockquote is not for making a paragraph “stand out”. It does do that but blockquote is a semantic tag which means that it means something when you use it; it means that you are quoting someone else.

I would also add that although you have a lot of formatting options the best thing to do is use them sparingly. Inline formats are like exclamation marks – they are most powerful when they are rare.

WordPress Pages: What are they?

So you want to know about pages on WordPress? Great, keep reading.

Pages are a great way to add sections to your site that do not change very often. You WordPress.com blog comes with a few already.

We here at Thanet Creative Writers have used pages for the many different types of forms that we have. Forms for reporting problems, forms for asking questions, forms for asking to join the Thanet Creative Writers charity, and so forth.

There is a page which carries our list of projects and another for the blog listing.

You get the idea.

Typical uses of a page on a writer’s blog might be:

  • About the author
  • For books they have published
  • Press coverage and positive mentions
  • Images and useful information for the press to use
  • Upcoming appearances and book signings
  • A booking form
  • Upcoming releases

Embedding a video in WordPress.com

If you search, you will find a lot of advice on how to embed a video in your post. They are almost all wrong!

The reason that most advice is wrong is that the self hosted WordPress and premium WordPress differ significantly from the free hosting WordPress.

The way to embed a video from YouTube that works with a free WordPress.com account is to copy the address (aka URL) of the video from the title bar of your browser.

If you look up, right now, you should see a thin box at the top which starts “https://thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com/” that text is the address of the page.

Paste the YouTube address, which begins “https://www.youtube.com/” on a line all by itself. When you publish (or save and preview) there will be a video there. Not just any video but the one you were just looking at on youtube.

I spend hours figuring that out and got very frustrated. I hope that tip saves you some tears.

WordPress Projects

This is a slightly more advanced part of WordPress. The chances are, you will not want to play with this yet. But if you do this is something you may find useful.

If this section is not for you, skip it.

Before you try WordPress Projects

Projects are best saved for when you have at least one book or article accepted by a publication.

That said, it never hurts to play with things.

If you feel ready to start

First dive into your settings and have a good look round. You will find that you can enable projects. I’ve deliberately not told you where because you will should have enough confidence in your own ability to find it by yourself if you are going to do this.

Now you will have a projects option under pages (which is under posts). Click add and add a project. Notice how much it is like adding a page or a post.

Use your projects to add your published books and stories. One per project.

Now create a page and use the shortcode (I did say this was advanced) to create a projects listing page. Now you have a page of your books (or whatever) that you can add new items to whenever you wish.

More advanced uses would be to set categories for books, short story and anthology, and speaking engagements. You could create a page for each one and show only that category on the page by editing the short code.

Over to you

I hope that something in this post was helpful. There is a lot more that I could explain about using WordPress.com but this blog, as a whole, was never meant to be the WordPress fan club and at some point you will want to get back to writing.

  • What tips or hints might you add?
  • What is your advice to WordPress using writers?
  • How have you been getting on with your blog?