Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

What’s Whitelisting, Anyway?

Friday, June 15th, 2018

I can’t claim to have a lot of knowledge about techy stuff, but recently I learned about whitelisting or “always approving” (which sounds better, IMO) emails from David Gaughran’s weekly email newsletter for authors. Basically, whitelisting is a way for email users to put you (or me, in this case) on an Approved list so your (er, my) emails don’t wind up in the Spam or Promotions or Junk or dratted Cyber-Goop folders.

Cyber-Goop is sticky, icky stuff. Although, it sounds cute. It should. I just made it up. So don’t go trademarking it on me now.

As it so happens, I want my readers to receive my emails. You know, the ones they signed up for. So today I sent out a stripped-to-the-bones plain Jane email about how to “Always Approve” my email address. If you’re pretty sure you’ve signed up for my email newsletter but have never received it, feel free to hop on over to my brand new handy-dandy Whitelist Instructions page. It opens in a new window but lacks a link back to my website (how did I let that happen?).

The page does have a link to the developers at the bottom, so if you’re an author who would like Whitelist Instructions for your own site, click through and scroll to the bottom for the developer’s link.

No, I’m not writing my email address in this blog post. Whenever I do that, I wind up with robots trying to get jiggy with me. And that just won’t do.

If you want to sign up for my email newsletter, I’d love to have you! But you gotta work just a little bit for it. You have to visit my Contact page (oh, the horror!) and fill out the form that is handily-dandily perched right up top.

If you really, really, really want to email me, there’s an email form on the Contact page right below the Newsletter Signup. Yes, I know, I’m aggravating. Someday, like within the next 8 – 16 months, I’ll bust a move away from my HTML site and onto designing something more mobile-friendly, but for now we’re stuck here.

Other new things around the site:

Why don’t I post the new covers on the blog? Well, I will. I promise. Just not today. (Although you can glimpse them in the sidebar).

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!