Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

New Newsletter Sign-Up From Success!

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Lo and behold, I have successfully updated my blog sidebar, including adding the new sign-up form for my fancy new newsletter, which is shinier and prettier and all-around way more amazing than it was before (hard to imagine, I know).

See it, see it? It’s in the upper right hand corner of my blog. (Hint, if you’re not reading this post on my blog, you can’t see the newsletter sign-up form, so maybe you should visit my blog right now and have a look).

See how you can choose whether you want the newsletter targeted to your regular ol’ email inbox or, yes, OR, optimized for your smartphone? Please, no applause. I don’t have a smartphone so I have no idea how my newsletter looks on one, although I did choose a simple layout to make it look better on a phone than it otherwise might. Plus, a couple of test bunnies have assured me the newsletter looks FANTABULOUS on their phones.

Go ahead and test out the form by inserting your email address, clicking the format of your choice, and clicking Subscribe. If you already belong to my newsletter, you’ll get a message telling you so. If you don’t already belong to my newsletter, you’ll probably get a chance to opt out via one of those newsletter sign-up confirmation emails. If that doesn’t happen, then you’ll have to suffer until the next edition of the newsletter appears, at which point you can click the unsub link at the bottom of said newsletter.

But why would you want to unsub? :::blinking innocently:::

Updating, Updating…and Newsletter Move

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

I’m spending the next couple of days updating my website and moving my newsletter from Yahoogroups to Mail Chimp. Everyone who was on my Yahoogroups newsletter list has been migrated to Mail Chimp, however, my website newsletter links and the subscribe box on this blog (upper right corner) still point to Yahoogroups.

That’s okay. If you use the newsletter sign-up box to sign up to my old Yahoogroups newsletter before I get a chance to update the blog style sheet, then Yahoo will send me notification that a new member has signed up and I’ll manually input the information on my new Mail Chimp newsletter.

In other words, feel free to continue using my current newsletter sign-up links, because I am cleverly not disbanding the Yahoogroups newsletter group until the Mail Chimp migration and first newsletter prove successful (well, I think it’s clever, at any rate).

Pardon My Dust!

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

I’m currently updating my website and blog to reflect the December release of WHERE SHE BELONGS (don’t worry, I’m not tampering with the style sheet, which is what led to the hacking two years ago). My blog design is based on a very old WordPress template to match my website, and until I needed to add a new book cover to the blogroll, everything was working fine. WordPress has made updates to the way the blogroll works, and there must be some glitch happening because once I opened the drop down window in the dashboard to look at the book covers and URL links under Cindy’s Books, my blogroll widget decided that if I’m going to show Link Names for categories other than Cindy’s Books, then Cindy’s Books needs to show Link Names, too. Yes, the blogroll decided this all on its own. It’s quite evil.

I can’t get my old blogroll to show only the book covers (Link Images) under Cindy’s Books while only showing Link Names under the Categories called Cindy’s Sites, Fav Author Blogs, etc., etc. I’m supposed to be able to, but the selections aren’t sticking. So, for now, Cindy’s Books shows only text links to Amazon. I figure the only way around this is to delete Cindy’s Books from the blogroll entirely and create a new Cindy’s Books in a text box that I am hoping I can link to images of my book covers.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t fear, neither do I. I’m completely winging this, so if the blogroll looks like a mess for the next couple of weeks, items keep disappearing or look like they’re repeating, don’t blame me. It’s the evil blogroll widget.

All will look pretty again…someday before my new book releases…I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m only working on the website and blog changes on the weekends, so it’ll be a bit messy around here.

And, if anyone knows the best way to insert book covers into the Text box widgets so they will look nice (example, take a look at the book covers on Alison Kent’s blog or HelenKay Dimon’s blog), please email me!

Small But Important Changes Coming

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

As some of you know, my website was hacked by a web bot looking for open security doors way back in October 2009. The problem was brought to my attention by Google alerts and then fixed by a professional web designer and blog coder in November 2009, but Trend Micro (an anti-virus program) has declared my blog and website “dangerous” ever since. Every once in a while I receive an email from someone saying they can’t visit my website or blog because their AV program is telling them not to. And every single time I ask which AV program they use, it’s Trend Micro.

This has been very disturbing to me, as over 18 months have passed, a professional website designer and coder fixed the problem for me, but because my site had a problem for one month in 2009 it seems like TM will make me pay forever. The feeling seems to be that if the blog ever had the problem, it might have the problem again. But I know the mistake I made when I updated my blog back in 2009 that led to the problem, and I don’t need to be taught the same lesson twice. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll go back to a professional to ensure I don’t make the same mistake.

At any rate, I am very happy to announce that my main website URL – – and my blog URL referrer – – have now both been declared safe by Trend Micro. I had to fill out some form a TM tech told me about and send it in for each of my three URLs.

People with Trend Micro, however, still can’t visit without getting the warning. So, in essence, they can’t visit either, because it will bring them to the URL Trend Micro doesn’t like. If they put my blog URL into their safe lists, then they don’t get the warning. I hosted several guest bloggers after the 2009 problem who had Trend Micro. All of them inputted my site names into their safe lists and had no problems. But, once a problem always a problem is the way I feel this situation is being treated by the AV software. And that is their right.

To try and fix the issue, I need to change the name of my blog link. I don’t know when I’ll get time to do that. A shoulder injury is limiting my computer time. But at least TM users should now be able to visit my home page and books pages without getting a warning. They just can’t click on my blog link.

Once  the changes are made and I receive assurance from TM that the blog tests as “safe”, you can bet I’ll be announcing it all over the place. I’ll have to. Because my blog URL will have changed.

Test My Audio Demo?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

I did some website updating over the Mother’s Day weekend. One thing I’m attempting to do is install audio demos for the audiobook versions of HEAD OVER HEELS and BORROWING ALEX. So far I’ve conquered HEAD OVER HEELS. A 2-minute audio demo, which features the second scene of the book (which is the heroine’s first point-of-view scene; the actual book opens with the hero’s first scene), can be found on the dedicated book page for HEAD OVER HEELS (clicking that link or either of the other two HOH links in this paragraph will take you there). Once I’ve worked through the kinks, I’ll also put the demos on my Books page and on the dedicated page for BORROWING ALEX.

But I need your help!

The easiest way for me to insert the demo was to create a text link to a new window that then launches (for me, anyway), QuickTime, and QuickTime plays the audio demo. The demo does not (or isn’t supposed to) start playing until you click the text link. As in it should definitely NOT start playing as soon as you visit the page. That would be ultra-annoying and something I want to avoid.

However, I don’t think it launches in QuickTime for everyone. A friend told me that it launches her Windows Media Player. So what program it launches seems to depend on your personal computer settings.

I have the volume as loud as I can make it using the text link to QuickTime thingmabobber inside my website program (Dreamweaver). But I don’t know if it’s loud enough for someone to hear on other computers without turning up their speakers.

If the text link thingie isn’t the best, my next plan would be to download a free audio player and embed it on the dedicated book pages on my website, much like my audio publisher has done here for BORROWING ALEX (visiting that link should take you to the BA page on the AudioLark website, and you’ll see a tiny media player you can click on to play the BA demo).

So I need to know if I can be lazy and stick with the text links I easily created within Dreamweaver or if I should download and install a free audio player program that would then ensure every browser is listening through the same device. Thereby providing me with a tad more control, as it were. But creating more work for moi (because you know I’d have to fiddle with the colors, etc., of the player to make it match my website. I’m bongo that way).

If you wouldn’t mind testing the HEAD OVER HEELS demo, pop on over to my HOH page and you’ll see the text link to the demo in two places: (1) underneath the book cover and below the “read excerpt” link, or (2) to the right of the book cover in very small print (the ISBN area), where it says, “Audiobook from AudioLark – Listen to Demo!” Clicking the link under Demo in that area should launch whatever player you have associated with your browser in a new window.

Then, please answer the following questions, either through the comments trail or by zipping me an email:

  1. What program launches on your computer and plays the demo for you?
  2. Is the volume loud enough, or do you have to turn it up?
  3. If you have to turn it up, do you have to do that within your media player or via your speakers?
  4. Does the demo begin playing as soon you visit the page WITHOUT YOU CLICKING THE TEXT LINK? Again, that shouldn’t happen, but I thought I should check.

If the text link proves substandard, then next time I have some time (what’s that?), I’ll attempt to embed the audio player instead.

I really appreciate this! Now, go forth and test!

Updated Links

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

I’ve updated my blogroll, as several URLs linked to broken addresses (like if the title of a blog changed, which happened with Leah Hultenschmidt’s blog and the Red Sage Authors blog) and still other links I realized I never visit anymore, for whatever reason. I didn’t check EVERY link. Just the ones most likely to have changed. Well, I checked about 80% of them. So if you notice a broken link, give me a shout.

Oh, and if your blog is listed under Fav Author Blogs but your site isn’t listed under Writer Buddies, that’s not because I don’t consider you a writer buddy. It’s because I’m listing you in either one place or the other. If you hate that I’ve listed your site and would rather I list your blog, let me know. And vice versa.

“Writer Buddies” is titled “Writer” instead of “Author Buddies” because my blogroll is alphabetical and if I titled that section Author Buddies, it would appear before Cindy’s Books. Which is wrong on so many levels I can’t name! So don’t get offended that I consider you a Writer instead of an Author (once you’re published, technically you’re an author, I guess). It’s purely a result of the limitations of my blogroll.

I’d like to make other changes to the blog, but between Christmas preparations, being sick for 3 weeks (2010 has been quite the year for me getting bugs, but I have better things in mind for 2011—get it, “better”?), and editing a manuscript for Penny between all the other goings-on, I just haven’t had the time. You’re lucky you’re getting an updated blogroll. You’re welcome.

P.S. I’ve also added a “Blog Legend,” which explains the nicknames used on this blog. Because of the alphabetical limitations of my blogroll links (which starts at the Newsletter Sign-Up and ends with Writer Buddies), the Blog Legend is way down the sidebar instead of being up where you can see it. I’ve noticed that WordPress now has a Custom Menus thingie. When I rework other elements of my blog, I’ll see if I can un-alphabeticalize the sidebar using a custom menu. Then I could move things around as much as I’d like (I believe that’s the idea anyway).

I know, technically “Newsletter sign-up” comes AFTER Cindy’s Books, but the Newsletter sign-up box is embedded in the sidebar in such a way that it can only go at the top or the bottom. And I have to edit the sidebar to change it to a script within a text box that I could move around. Which I plan to do. Someday. Ahem. It’s the fault of all those nasty books begging me to write them! It’s their fault, I tell you!

Web Thingies That Drive Me Nuts

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I love web design. That’s why I design my own websites. Well, also because I fervently believe in self-torture. It builds character. Everyone (as in most writers I talk to) has their own list of website design likes and dislikes. We need to think about such things so when we build our sites (or hire others to design them for us), we only drive our browsers nuts, not ourselves. Here are my website bugaboos:

  1. It should be spelled website. I don’t care that some dictionary says it’s Web site. I will never purposely spell Web site on my website (except I just did).
  2. I don’t understand tag clouds. What’s the purpose? To me, they look like someone threw up their vegetable soup. And the words that are bigger than the others? They look like they’re on an ego trip. I know tag clouds are (practically) the latest thing, but no way, no how, not ever (or at least until I change my mind) am I including a tag cloud on my blog.
  3. I can not abide moving navigation menus. You know, they hang on the side of a web page, and when you scroll down, the menu scrolls down, too? It’s a very clever idea. I liked it the first time I saw it. Then, as soon as I began scrolling, the moving menu creeped me out. The moving menu is far too Hitchcocky/Big Brother for me. It makes me feel like the computer screen’s alive, and we all know I have far too active an imagination to sleep comfortably after that. Honestly, moving menus can make me leave a website nearly as fast as…
  4. Music on websites. It drives me bonky. Whenever I vist a friend’s MySpace page, the first thing I do is shut off the music. I hereby vow that I will never ever ever install music on my MySpace page. I know the idea is that the song individualizes the page, but I find the songs make the pages take too long to load. And, well, I’m not one of those people who writes to music, so I don’t want to surf the ‘net to music, either. (Note, I rarely visit MySpace anymore, but when I did, the music most assuredly drove me nuts.) And music on real websites drives me nuts, too. I really, honestly don’t understand how browsers can focus on the words on the screen with music crowding up their brains.
  5. Animations… I can handle one or maybe two animations per page. Any more than that, and I start to get dizzy, no matter how cute or clever the animations are. I must say that I do like rollovers and remote rollovers and even animations that are somehow built into the web page banner and…this is very important…aren’t intrusive. However, give me more than one thing bouncing around, or, God forbid, following my cursor all over the page, and I don’t stick around very long. Especially when hearts or clover leafs or jack o’ lanterns start following my cursor around! I can’t get away from them! Drives me nuts!

I sometimes joke that I have adult ADD. I DO know I have HAWD (Hyper Active Website Disorder). Because there’s a commonality in my list of website don’ts. Too much visual or aural activity and I go nuts.

What are your website bugaboos? Oh, and “Writers Who Complain About Websites,” “Cindy’s Website,” and “Cindy” are not acceptable answers.

Cough, Cough, Hack, Hack

Monday, November 9th, 2009

No, I don’t have swine flu. Not even a cold. My computer’s been sick, however. More specifically, this blog. And it’s all my fault (I know, hard to believe). I got hacked!

Several weeks ago, I decided to edit my blog’s style sheet to make the blog titles smaller. For some reason, I can’t edit the style sheet from within the WordPress dashboard. It always says it’s not writable or something. I don’t know if this is because I installed the blog using Fantastico, or if it’s an idiosyncrasy of my website host. I have edited the style sheet previous to The Debacle. Successfully. However, this time, I missed a velly important step.

If you need to download your style sheet using a program like FileZilla (which is what I use – recommend it!), you need to change the permissions on your host. What are permissions, you ask? It’s a series of three numbers that essentially tells your host WHO (or, in the case of robots, WHAT) has access to your files. Who can tangle with them, so to speak. Who can screw them up. In other words, by changing the permissions so you can edit the file, you’re leaving yourself open to a security breach.

So…an intelligent person would change the permissions only as long as needed to edit the file and re-upload it. Then the intelligent person would change the permissions back to their previous state AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

Now, I’m not saying I lack intelligence (although it could be argued…). However, several weeks ago, due to brain drain or too-much-to-do-itis, or what-have-you, when I uploaded my edited style sheet, I forgot to change the permissions back to their original state.

It took awhile for the hacking robots to find me (maybe it was a human, but I think it was a robot). Around the middle of October my domain emails suddenly stopped forwarding to my private email address, because my Internet Server Provider has blocked my domain addresses. This has happened before, and my host’s support staff usually gets it fixed within a couple of days. But this time it wasn’t fixing. I couldn’t figure out why.

Then, about ten days ago, I checked my domain webmail and discovered several emails from Google informing me that my website appeared to be a forgery of a U.S. banking institution and was trying to get browsers to input financial information. Everything looked okay on the site. I couldn’t see this forgery page, so what the heck was up?

I contacted the web designer who coded my blog for me when I couldn’t do it myself. She reminded me of the permissions angle. Yikes! This is when I discovered my own stupidity. I went into my blog files on my web host and did some sleuthing. I discovered a WordPress theme on my server that I could not see from within the WordPress dashboard. I asked my web contact about it, and she determined that it was the phishing page. She removed it and quarantined it, and just the other day I contacted Google to let them know all was fixed, so could they please remove the phishing notice some browsers get when they try to visit my blog?

I have no idea how long it will take to get the notice taken down. Whether you see the notice or not when you visit my blog seems to depend on your operating system (Windows or Mac) and your virus protection program. If you can read this post, then you’re not having an issue! However, some Mac users are getting 404 errors (page not found) when they try to visit my blog. Windows users of Trend Micro are getting warnings not to visit my blog and/or my site. Users of AVG and Norton’s don’t seem to have a problem visiting the blog. I’ve had one report from a McAfee user who does have a problem, and AOL users might have problems.

At this point, there’s nothing else I can do but wait for Google to take down the phishing notice. Meanwhile, I personally contacted my ISP and explained what I think happened to lead to them blocking my domain emails. Unfortunately, because of the hacking, the problem was too entrenched to get fixed over a tech phone call. They told me to contact my web host again and ask the host to get in touch with them. I did that, but, again, it’s a waiting game.

So let this be a lesson to you! If you do your own blog tweaking, for Pete’s sake, return the permissions to their original state as soon as possible afterward. Don’t take after Cindy, no matter how great the urge!


Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I’m obsessed with fonts. One of the reasons I could never be a professional web designer is that I waste (um, invest?) hours and hours of time searching for just the right font for a site. I love fonts! Can you imagine how my obsession would reflect on an hourly-basis invoice? I’d have to charge a flat rate for font research.

Of course, I might not be as obsessive about choosing fonts for other people. Choosing for myself, though…it’s a sickness.

I can’t begin to describe how many fonts I browsed for my site re-design (accomplished in May 2008 or thereabouts). I narrowed down to about 20 over a period of 6 hours or so of browsing and testing (not kidding), then narrowed down again from there. I think I remember choosing my Cindy Procter-King name font from a short-short-short list of 3. I wound up buying 3-5 fonts and then kept playing with them until I made my decision.

One of the fonts I didn’t choose for this site, I wound up using on Penny’s site. But my work doesn’t stop there. Because I often like to have a secondary, complementary font (the font on my buttons, for instance). Choosing one font is bad enough. Choosing two = triple the obsession.

I’ve yet to use two of the fonts I purchased when I redesigned this site and built Penny’s. But I don’t mind. Sometimes I go into my Fonts folder and gaze at them longingly, spinning new web designs around them in my mind.

My favorite site for buying fonts is My Fonts (no, they didn’t pay or ask me to say this). The site is easy to navigate, and once you choose a font to test you can type your name or other wording into a window, click, then see what the font might look like on your site. Easy-peasy!

At Fontifier, you can upload a sample of your handwriting and create your own personalized font! I haven’t tried this myself. I have crappy handwriting and know better than to unleash it on the world. It’s the fault of the elementary school I attended. For reasons that are not clear to me, they decided not to teach a few grades of us cursive writing. Instead, we learned “script.” I do believe an exchange teacher from Australia foisted this experiment upon us. “Script” was supposed to look like beautiful calligraphy, but in the hands of 8- and 9-year-olds, it looks like printing with checkmarks on the end (serifs). The result was that, even as a teenager, I didn’t know how to write. I printed. I still mainly print (when I want someone to be able to read what I’m writing). And I’m all over the map. I do two different types of E’s (capital and lower case), depending on my mood. Same with S’s. And F’s (lower case only).

I did have to teach myself to cursive write when I opened a bank account as a teen and they wanted a signature. I remember going with a friend who “signed” her name like straight up and down printing with tick marks at the end of each letter—at the age of 15. Not for me!

I have the worst signature in the world. YOU try signing Cindy Procter-King over and over and over and over and see what it winds up looking like.

I could be a doctor.

I blame my two summers as a meter maid. I learned to sign Cindy Procter without really looking at the pad (I was too busy darting the glares of annoyed drivers).

I blame my children. Eldest Son was such a rambunctious toddler that I didn’t dare take my eyes off him while signing checks in the grocery store or the bank (young mothers don’t realize how easy they have it with debit cards—no signing!). So my cursive handwriting grew worse and worse.

Dare I say I’m the only one who can read it? (Curiously, my critique partners blame me).

If anyone tries the Fontifier, let me know how it turns out.

(Yes, I do believe they began teaching cursive writing at my elementary school again after I left…fat lot of good it did me).

If Things Look a Bit Odd…

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

…around the blog, you can blame me! For months now, I’ve been meaning to edit my blog’s style sheet so I wouldn’t have to manually left-justify the posts or worry about how long my titles are (they were full justifying, so I always had to shorten them so they wouldn’t go onto two lines and look all weird), and so I could make the font for the titles a bit smaller. I managed to do both, but when I saved my changes in Notepad, my nicely spaced style sheet scrunched itself into one huge paragraph, and now I’m terrified of making things worse by trying to fix it myself. This mess is all behind the scenes, thank God.

From your end, if you don’t look closely, you might not be able to tell that while the blog titles are smaller, the “Leave a Reply” font, etc. is not. They should match! And, with the smaller title font (which I like – the big pink always bugged me a bit), I’m wondering if the body font of the posts now looks a bit too big. Opinions?

I’d planned to make changes to the sidebar, like moving the Newsletter sign-up box below my book covers, which might have required installing a plug-in, and I’d also planned to experiment with my block quotes. But then I inadvertently screwed up the style sheet’s formatting.

I’ll figure it out sooner or later. In the meantime, if you find my goofs offensive, close your eyes!