Blog Archive - June 2014

Congrats to Crissy M for winning the THIRDSHQ.COM giveaway!

A big thank you to the awesome Lex Chase for hosting me, and thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and left a comment. All the names were placed into the Magic Hat and at random, a winner was chosen.

Congrats Crissy M!

LexChase giveaway  

If you didn't win this time around, there's still plenty of time to enter the fab giveaway going on for the Hell & High Water Blog Tour. Again thank you so much for everyone who joined in!


The Hell & High Water Blog Tour has begun! Join me over at The Novel Approach!

CCHHWBlogTourBanner

Hello all! The Hell & High Water Blog Tour has officially begun and I'm kicking things off over at The Novel Approach! Each stop of the tour will give you inside info on the THIRDS world from the birth of Therians to the organization and its agents. There's also a giveaway!

Just 7 days until Hell & High Water is released! Woot!

To see all the stops on the tour, along with the other events, including an interview with Dex and Sloane, check out the blog tour page here.


Building Your Author Website - Part 4: Design

CCochetdesignHello all! Welcome to another installment of my series on building your author website. In this post we’re going to talk about the design aspect of your website. As an artist, the look of a website is one of the first things that jump out at me.  It’s also one of the most difficult parts to get right. But just because you can’t pay a designer (or aren’t one yourself), doesn’t mean you can’t have a snazzy looking site.

Now that you’ve decided on what pages to have and you’ve filled in your content, it’s time to dress up your site. Professional doesn’t have to mean boring, but you should keep in mind your website represents you. For some authors, meeting readers face to face isn’t always possible, so you want something that reflects who you are as an author, which brings me to:

Author Brand

The first thing I had to think about before creating my website was my brand. This is what will require the most thought and shouldn’t be rushed. As you come up with your author brand, you should ask yourself several questions. Who are you as an author? What can readers expect from you? What do want to be known for? What kind of feel are you going for? What do you write?

Your author brand is something that will grow with you. When choosing your brand, think about what you’re promoting. My brand reflects me as an author and my writing. I love vintage and retro. It shows in everything from my clothes to my home décor. I have historical romances set in the 1920s and 1930s—though it’s not the only genre I write in, which is why I didn’t go for a full on vintage look for my brand. My romance leans heavily on the sweet side and my fellas always get their happily ever after. I chose a style with both soft and bold retro colors and fonts, but made them flat to give them a more modern edge.

If you’re a historical romance writer and don’t intend on writing another genre any time soon, then by all means, make that your part of your brand. Remember, you don’t want to have to change the whole design of your site if you suddenly change your mind and decide to write a different genre. If you need more time to figure out your brand but have to get your website up, you can still design your site. Here are a few things you need to consider:

Theme | Template

Whether you use Wordpress or Blogger or any of the many website building platforms, it’s likely you’ll have to choose a theme or template. Depending on your needs and how much control you want, will determine the theme you choose. I like having as much control over my design as possible, especially things like fonts, colors, and layouts. You’ll want to choose a theme that will allow you color options. I have very specific colors I use for my sites, so I’ve chosen themes that have color pickers or where I can input color codes. Wordpress has some fantastic themes that give you complete control on everything from the width of your content to your fonts to the color of your links with easy to use tools. I chose themes that require little to no coding.

If you’re on shared hosting (Hostgator, GoDaddy, etc, you’ll want to be mindful of your theme and plugins, because if your website uses too many resources and causes spikes in CPU, your site will be temporarily suspended until the issue is fixed. Believe me, you don’t want that kind of hassle. Having twenty plugins, a huge slideshow on every page, loads of widgets, and large image files may not be a good idea, not to mention your loading time will suffer.

Color Theme: I love to coordinate, as many of you may already know. Once I knew my branding and the look I wanted to go for, I set out to find just the right color swatches. As you can see on my website, I have three main colors which I use across the board for all my branding: white, teal, and coral. Everything from my banners to my avatars and email signature uses those three colors. For the THIRDS website, it’s black, white, gray, and blue. You want to keep it uniform. Even if your color theme is rainbow, you’ll want to pick one specific shade of each color to use on everything from social media icons to text. This will give your brand a clean, uniformed look.

Headers: I recommend themes that allow you to add your own custom header and background. If you’re creating your own header, make sure to check the dimensions of your themes header. You should be able to find the image in either the theme’s information or in your dashboard. For example in Wordpress, it’s located in your Dashboard under Appearance > Header. It will give you the exact size your header should be for your theme. Your header image needs to be thought out carefully. Will it be something you can use on your business cards? Will it include a logo? Your author tagline? Make you’re your landing page or front page has your name somewhere, whether as part of your banner or above it or below. You want readers to know where they are the moment they arrive.

PatternBackground: If you choose a theme where the content area and sidebar(s) are transparent, you’ll need a solid colored background. Keep in mind your readers might not all have 20/20 vision. Tiny text might look just fine to you, but what about your readers? I never go below 14pt for my main content. If you really want to go for an image or pattern with a transparent content are a and sidebar(s), make sure the background image is subdued enough for your text to be easily read.

textText: If your content area is dark, I suggest not using white text as that’s very hard on the eyes. I’ve come across websites that were completely black with bright yellow text. Sure it stands out, but after a few seconds of reading, my eyes couldn’t take it and I have 20/20 vision. Use a light colored text instead of white. For example on the THIRDS website, it’s primarily dark colors. Since the content area is dark gray, I tried to avoid white text wherever possible, using a lighter gray instead, so there isn’t a sharp contrast between the content background and text. If it’s information that will be digested quickly, white on black isn’t too bad, but it’s different when you have whole blog posts.

If you’re going to have a busy header image with a lot going on or a large quantity of images throughout your website, go for a solid color background, a subtle texture, or somewhat faded pattern. You don’t want your background image to overpower your content because that’s what draws readers to your website to begin with.

Sidebars: Don’t fill your sidebar(s) with unnecessary widgets. Do those swimming goldfish really need to be there? Try and keep the sparkling to a minimal. It’s not to say you can’t have any sparkly gifs or fun widgets, but what purpose do they serve? It’s okay to stick some fun or quirky widgets, but again, don’t let it overshadow your content.

Images: What kind of images do you want to display? Again it comes down to your author brand and your writing. If you’re a romance author, do you want erotic images all over your website? Will your website be safe for work? Do you want it to be? Don’t forget copyright! Finding an image on Google does not make it safe to use on your website. There have been authors who’ve been sued for using photographs without permission.

I know this is a lot to take in, but once you start playing around with your websites design features, it will get a lot easier. I think this is enough info for one day. On July 14th we’ll have Building Your Author Website – Part 4: Creating a Header Banner using free online image editing tools.

rosedivider

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.


Weekly News Update

weeklynewsupdateHello all! I know today is supposed to be Book of the Week, but unfortunately I had a few things come up, so we'll be getting back to that July 18th **updated. This Saturday I'll be posting the third part of my author web building series: designing your website, since Monday we kick off the Hell & High Water Blog Tour! Woot! Come Monday it'll be just one week until Hell & High Water is released. 7 days! I'm so excited!

Don't forget you can get 25% off your eBook preorder of Hell & High Water until June 30th! Then on July 11th, Blood & Thunder will be available for preorder, and we're celebrating with a Cover Reveal Blitz & Giveaway! There's also still time to enter the THIRDS swag giveaway over at Lex Chase's blog. So many giveaways going on!

I just finished the galley to Blood & Thunder and second round of edits on A Rose By Any Other Name--which I have the final fabulous cover for!! I'll also be receiving edits on Rack & Ruin any day now.

Did you know I have a Cafe Press shop? It's got all kinds of cute merchandise and there will be plenty more added soon. You can check it out here: http://www.cafepress.com/catspajamasboutique If there's a particular series or book you'd love to see designs for, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Just drop a comment here, or send me a message. I think that's all the random news for this week. Have a great weekend!

THIRDS site badges!

Hello all! In preparation for the release of Hell & High Water and the official start of the THIRDS series, I'll be sharing all kinds of fun freebies. New to THIRDS HQ is web badges! Over at the THIRDS website, we've got a page full of fun badges that you can add to your blog or website. I know the team badges will have a whole new meaning once you get to know the agents of Destructive Delta, but until then, the badges are there for anyone who fancies displaying the love.

Check out all the badges here: http://thirdshq.com/badges/

Here are a couple of them (please note the coding might not show up on Goodreads):

Team Dex
Add Team Dex to your blog
THIRDS Logo
Add the THIRDS shield to your site
12 Days to go! Woot!

Hell & High Water Cover Reveal Giveaway Winner & Thanks!

Hello all! I'd like to give a big thank you to everyone who made this event such a success! To all the wonderful folks who hosted me, your support has been amazing and greatly appreciated. To everyone who stopped by and joined in on the giveaway, you're all awesome! Dex and I are in agreement. You all rock!

Dexthanks

And now on to the winner of the Hell & High Water Cover Reveal Giveaway!

Congrats Stephanie F! 

With just under two weeks to go until Hell & High Water is released, there's plenty more fun heading your way, so stay tuned!


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