Jeff Parish Library Workshop – Author Websites

Jeff Parish Library Workshop – Author Websites

Jeff Parish Library Workshop, just before the meeting of the RWA chapter

jeff parish library workshop

Jeff Parish Library Workshop

I had the privilege of speaking at the Jefferson Parish Public Library (East Bank Regional Branch) this morning. This Jeff Parish Library workshop was titled, The Importance of Author Websites.

Author Websites

The top-level topics of the talk:

  • What is your goal? – you need to have an idea of where you’re going with this.
  • Domain names and hosting – get YourName dot com at a minimum.
  • Content Management with WordPress – It’s the easiest way to do this.
  • Design – logos, banners, book covers, images/art, specific fonts
  • Content – write! fire up the blogging!
  • eCommerce – It’s OK to punt sales to Amazon and your publisher. There are ways to sell your own stuff (books and book-related merchandise) from a WordPress site.
  • Connections – Start everything from your blog. Syndicate your blog to Amazon Author’s page and your Goodreads author page. Push your blog posts out to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr
  • Personal Networking – promote your friends who are writers, as well as local booksellers, podcasters, and others.
  • Search Engines – spread the word about your blog.
  • Have Fun!

We went a bit over the time Chris set for us, but the group had fun, and that’s what it’s all about.


You can download the PPT file of the presentation here. This was a good talk, so we’ll likely jump off into some specific blog posts about this stuff. If anyone wants to discuss something in detail, find me on Facebook, or email me.

Facebook live

We did the “live” thing again today. I’ve got it sorted out now. You can click through and watch the entire presentation on my Edward Branley’s Author Page on the Book of Zucker. I don’t know which of Facebook and YouTube is the “lesser evil,” but I’m good with using Facebook Live for now. Fewer crazies and such there. YouTube is such a sewer.


Several folks asked after the wallpaper on my computer. Here’s the story.


BuJo Weekly Layout – (Bullet Journaling Part 2)

BuJo Weekly Layout – (Bullet Journaling Part 2)

How I use my BuJo Weekly Layout (Part 2 of Bullet Journaling)

BuJo Weekly Layout

BuJo: my weekly layout format

BuJo Weekly Layout

In Part 1, y’all learned how I came to BuJo as a time management/organization system. “Minimalist” characterizes my approach. At first, I started the ABC/123 of Franklin-Covey, but gave up on it quickly. I wanted a to-do list. I wanted to prioritize it. If I didn’t sit down and set it up one day, I didn’t want my planner to shame me. BuJo gets me.

Thinking Weekly

A comfortable place for a daily to-do was a great start. Then I followed some of the BuJo groups on the Book of Zucker. Many members of these groups possess much more artistic ability than I. Their work challenged me to “do more” with my BuJo. I’m not the type to embellish my BuJo with drawings in the margins, etc. I do like color, though. So, I looked at layouts and spreads and templates.

Then my friend Grey posted a pic of her weekly template. I fell in love with it immediately. It offered structure and coordination beyond a daily list. Here’s the breakdown.

Monthly Calendar

BuJo Weekly Layout

Monthly calendar

I start the week on Monday, in the BuJo and on Gcal. I like to indicate the week of the year, because my European colleagues regularly refer to “Week X” or “Week Y” when discussing projects and milestones.

Color appeared in my monthly calendar early. I usually have four pens in my bag, with blue, black, purple, and red ink. Sometimes the blue gets switched out for green.  The calendar contained up to four colors: current month dates (black), current week dates (red), previous month (blue or green), next month (purple). This was before the Prismacolor set.

Weekly Schedule

Essentially traditional, Monday to Sunday. The idea here is to force me to sync up Gcal with the BuJo on a Monday morning. BuJo notes transform into Gcal events/appointments. The engagement starts on the BuJo, since it’s easy to jot something down. Note on daily becomes item on next week becomes Gcal.

Master Task List

One of the features of the Franklin-Covey system I’ve always appreciated is the “Master Task List.” The F-C idea is, you put down all your tasks/to-dos. Then you designate them A-B-C, and prioritize within those larger designations.

We kick tasks down the road. When we do, they fall to “C”, and low in that pecking order. F-C recognizes this. After kicking the can a few days, the task moves to the “master task list.” When you have fewer tasks on a particular day, pick up something from the master list.

The sections at the bottom of the weekly layout are a take on the Master Task List. Some of the items are time-sensitive (podcast production, for example). They receive a “M” or other day notation. Others are flexible. I might not right something for a particular project on Monday. Then Tuesday becomes a hot mess. The writing moves to Wednesday. Maybe. Things move to next week if they’re not done. I should expand this to a master task list at some point.


bujo weekly layout

Daily page from my BuJo

As mentioned earlier, the early BuJo presented in monochrome. I wrote a day/date in black, then to-dos kept going. Red joined in as emphasis for scheduled items and important tasks. Then tasks morphed into purple, notes later in the day in black.

Enter my Prismacolor pencil set. I occasionally color, part of the “adult coloring” fad. I extended that to the BuJo. Color is pure whimsy. Date numbers for the current week still appear in a shade of read, for the most part. Otherwise, it’s whatever mood strikes me!

Is BuJo right for you?

Give it a try for a week. Buy the book, if you’re inspired. Check out some of the Zuckerd00d groups. Let’s talk about it all!


Bullet Journaling – weekly layout – part 1

Bullet Journaling – weekly layout – part 1

Staying flexible with bullet journaling

Bullet Journaling

Ryder Carroll’s book

Bullet Journaling

I make attempts to keep organized. For the last couple of years, those attempts revolve around using a “bullet journal.” Bullet Journaling got its name and start from a blogger, Ryder Carroll. Carroll turned the concept into a book, The Bullet Journal Method.

How I came to BuJo

I’ve used a number of different systems, programs, websites, and apps for task and time management over the years. The one thing I got very serious (and consistent in its use) was the Franklin-Covey Method, using their Day Planners. Back in the late 1980s, I had the privilege of doing contract work at a local office of an oil/gas company. Their HR department brought in a Franklin Institute trainer to do a couple of professional development seminars. I was invited to attend. I bought into the Franklin Day Planner hook, line, and sinker, and used it for about fifteen years.

Reconciling paper and electronic

This was a huge challenge for me. I liked my Franklin Day Planner, but the company focused most of their electronic offerings and effort on add-ins for Microsoft Outlook. Since I use Linux more than I do Windows, this presented problems. I needed something to work on my Linux desktop. A number of companies offer open source planning/scheduling/task applications. Franklin-Covey created the “ABC/123” and combined it with the “7 Habits” philosophy. These are proprietary. So, using something that wasn’t Franklin-Covey created gaps.

Locked into the system

I’m not as organized as I could be. My day planner often had blanks for a week at a time. The Franklin-Covey systems offer the pre-printed packs, six months or a year at a time. But what if you need two or three pages for a single day? They offer blank pages, some even matching the pretty theme (I loved “Monticello”) you used in your binder.All that added up to some righteous dollars.

Something more flexible

Between the cost of “filler” packs, “expansion” pages, and subscriptions to on-line services, using Franklin-Covey becomes a commitment. That’s all fine and dandy, until you look at your binder and all those empty pages for the last two weeks. So, I drifted away from the company. Other apps offered to-do list function. Some even had web-based and mobile versions. This was good, right up until the app company got bought out by somebody bigger.

Enter Bullet Journaling (BuJo)

Bullet Journaling

“Minimalist” in a basic notebook

That’s where Bullet Journaling (BuJo) came in. I learned of the concept from the lovely and talented Lady Duchess of the Red Pen, Dara Rochlin. Dara is a list-maker. When we’re in the midst of a writing project (she edits my books), I’m on multiple lists. Bullet Journaling offered Dara a method to organize her prolific lists. It didn’t do all that much for me, at first. I mourned the loss of my “ABC/123” structure.

Adapting BuJo

I discovered that BuJo isn’t a “system” like Franklin-Covey, or Outlook, or any other commercial product. The primary principle of BuJo is that you can use any sort of notebook. You’ve sunk money into a Franklin-Covey binder? Buy blank pages that fit it and BuJo on them. You like basic, student, spiral notebooks? Do that. I like the Moleskine style notebooks. I use them for writing projects. An excuse to buy another notebook? I’m there.

So, I dedicated a Moleskine as a replacement for my day planner. At first, I didn’t do anything fancy, just put the date/day on the top of a page, list to-dos, then add notes on how things worked out. Phone call? Text? Note it below the to-do. Need more space? Keep going to the next page. Writing snippet? put it in the BuJo. Sometimes I’ll just take a pic of the snippet and post it to Instagram.

Expanding the concept

Dara found a number of Facebook groups where people share BuJo ideas. I looked into them. The “minimalist” concepts and designs offered me what I wanted. When my friend Grey posted a photo of her weekly planner layout, I was hooked. We’ll go into that layout in Part 2.

Pincord Dresses – Summer Fashion

Pincord dresses are classic New Orleans Summer

Elizabeth McKay Harriet Dress in Navy and White Pincord – Country Club Prep

Pincord Dresses

Every spring, there comes a warm day when Southern gentlemen and women head to the closet and pull out something seersucker. While Seersucker is considered classic “Old South”, I personally prefer pincord. There’s something about a pincord dress or suit that feels more New Orleans to me.

Pincord and the Uptown Girl

Brooks Stirling Sumner, “Silver” to her friends, is one of my characters in Trusted Talents, the second novel in the “Bayou Talents” series. Silver’s story is a fascinating one, and suffice to say, she’ll figure prominently as the series goes forward. Silver is a 28yo former queen of one of the “old-line” Carnival krewes. She comes from money and privilege.

Silver is a running-yoga-pilates person, She cycles when she can, leaving the car in the garage of her condo building. Her wardrobe is, for the most part, classic Preppy. So, pincord in the closet makes sense. Classic preppy pleases her mum and grand-mama. Silver’s wild streak conflicts with their ideas, however. Therefore, her pincord dress climbs up the knee. Mum thought she outgrew that stage after graduating from the Academy of the Sacred Heart, but Pilates creates nice legs!


Last week, I threw out a question to my Zuckerd00d friends: do you prefer flip flops or sandals with a back? The responses were mixed. The big knock on flips was the sound of the shoe hitting the foot.

It surprised me that there were no remarks about driving in flip-flops. In the UK, most women opt for sandals with a back, lest the flip get tangled with the pedals when driving. Not a consideration in last week’s thread.

So, I’m still unsure about footwear for Silver and her pincord dress. Flips? Maybe when going someplace very casual, like meeting friends for happy hour. Maybe a nicer sandal for a date. Possibly a wedge to boost height.

I’ll try a basic scene and see what happens.

That’s silver on the left


Revisiting Practical Armor for Fighting Women

Revisiting Practical Armor for Fighting Women

Revisiting Practical Armor, both Medieval and Futuristic.

revisiting practical armor

Valhallan Nebula

Revisiting Practical Armor

I came across an interesting piece on Teh Tumblrz last week. It’s called Valhallan Nebula. The source is, I’ve been interested in “practical armor” for a couple of years, after submitting a story on the subject to an anthology. The story didn’t get accepted, but my interest in the concept didn’t diminish.

“Bikini Armor” vs the practical sort

One of the most-used forms of “fan service” in fantasy fiction is “bikini armor”. Basically, put a woman in a bikini that’s plated with metal. Yes, if you poke a spear at her breasts or crotch, the metal protects those areas. Why bother, though? Just poke the spear at her thigh, let her bleed out from the femoral artery.

Of course, it’s about fan service. Nobody expects that woman to go into battle. She magically avoids thigh-poking when she does. She exists as an object of desire.

Practical Armor Problems

Women wore dresses in medieval times. They rarely wore pants, much less any sort of protective clothing. Expectations were different for them. Men fought, women maintained the household/homestead. Yes, there were exceptions, such as Joan of Arc. Remember what happened to her, though? So, the concept is problematic. Not much out there to go on.

Problematic doesn’t mean impossible, though. So, thinking through women taking up arms, protecting themselves like the men do, is interesting. Women fight well. They train hard. They prove themselves in modern forces daily. Given the opportunity in medieval times, they would have done the same. So, let’s consider that. Women want protection from battlefield threats. In modern times, that means flak jackets, helmets, good boots. Armies adapt equipment to support women. Suits of armor could have fit women, too.

Futuristic Armor

Future armor will fit women. So, why do artists insist on fan service? In this piece, the woman’s breasts don’t have to be advertised as they are. The entire chest area should be dark, non-reflective, and protective.

Patreon Story!

I’m releasing that story I wrote for the anthology as Patreon content. Got a dollar a month? Sign up and enjoy!


Screen Porch Houses harken back to before a/c

Screen Porch Houses harken back to before a/c

If you didn’t have air-condition or a lot of fans, you might have lived in screen porch houses growing up.

(cross-posted to NOLA History Guy)

screen porch houses

House with a screen porch on Iberville Street in #NOLAMidCity

Screen porch houses

Before central air-conditioning became part of everyday home life, screen porch houses lined the blocks of New Orleans neighborhoods. Residents escaped the heat of summer by going outside. There were two problems with being directly outside, though. First, most folks avoided direct sunlight and sunburn. Second, the mosquitoes! So, homeowners screened in their front porches. Screens allowed the breeze in, but not the bugs. The offered protection from the sun. The wood floor gave the rocking chair a smooth surface.

Nothing to fans to a/c

It’s hard to remember a time before so many homes in New Orleans had air-conditioning. By 2011, 88% of homes in the United States were built with central a/c. Prior to the suburban expansions of the late 1960s/early 1970s, homes lacked a/c. While many were retro-fitted with wall units in bedrooms, living spaces often were not. Families believed you should go outside. Sit on the porch. Talk to the neighbors. Many a writer and literary critic supports the notion that central air conditioning dramatically changed the genre of “Southern Literature”, because people just didn’t socialize like they used to. They holed up inside and stayed cool.

There’s a lot of merit to this concept, In New Orleans, we sit outside for a few weeks in the Spring and the Fall. The rainy season (what the northern parts of the US call, “Winter”) just doesn’t accommodate outside activity. The humidity of the Summer and early Fall drain us.

New Orleans homes

Not everyone has a Spanish Colonial courtyard to retreat to on a hot day. Shotgun homes offer good airflow, but privacy concerns often outweigh the breeze running through the house. That leaves the backyard. Thing is, the backyard isolates the family from the neighborhood. Porch-sitting brings folks together.

Check out Trusted Talents! 

Porsche 914 in Hidden Talents

Porsche 914 in Hidden Talents

Fr. Michael O’Donnell drives a Porsche 914 in the Talents Universe.

Porsche 914

1971 Porsche 914 advertisement

Porsche 914

Porsche introduced the 914 model in 1969. The automaker partnered with Volkswagen on the 914. Porsche wanted an upgrade/update to their model 912. Volkswagen wanted something new to replace their Karmann Ghia. Production of the 914 ran from its introduction until 1976.

The Karmann Ghia

Porsche 914

Karmann Ghia

Volkswagen introduced their Karmann Ghia coupe in 1955. They sought an update by the late 1960s. While their partnership with Porsche produced the 914 in 1969, Volkswagen continued production of the Karmann Ghia through 1974. Therefore, VW had (sort of) two coups in the 1970s

Personal experiences

I never rode in a Karmann Ghia, but my dad owned one for a brief time before I was born. So, he would see them go by later on and express his fondness for the sports car of his younger days. By the time I attended university, the Karmann Ghias were old news. They appealed to guys with an interest in older cars, but my friends with 2-seat sports cars opted for the Porsche, or the MGB. One friend even drove an Alfa Romeo

I had two direct encounters with the Porsche 914. The first was in my second and third years as an undergrad at University of New Orleans. A Student Government Association friend owned one. It was a fun little car. The center engine design took a bit of getting used to. As a kid, I found my dad’s rear-engine Beetle a curiosity. The vibration of the center-engine gave the 914 a different feel.

My second 914 encounter was as a student teacher in my fourth year at UNO. My supervising teacher at F. W. Gregory Junior High drove a Porsche 914. While I never got to drive either of those cars, the design, and the fun of riding in my friend’s car stayed with me.

After UNO, I bought a 1980 Plymouth Horizon, to get me to and from Redeemer High School. By all accounts, the Volkswagen transmission in that car behaved much like that of the Porsche 914.


Mike O’Donnell is a History professor. So, he naturally has an appreciation for older automobiles. While not an auto-repair type himself, Mike picked up the basic skills one needs when one owns an old car. He learned early on in his ownership of a 914 to network with people who can fix your old car. Mike’s Porsche 914 is white in Hidden Talents and Trusted Talents.

The Ad

This ad is from 1971. So, it’s a good representation of Mike’s car. I follow a number of folks on Tumblr who enjoy sharing older/vintage advertising. So, this one made me smile.

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019 Celebrating Blue Cypress Books

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019 Celebrating Blue Cypress Books

Celebrating 2019 on a gorgeous spring day in New Orleans.

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019

Authors Ryan Adam and Michael Murphy at an event at Blue Cypress Books on Oak Street.

Celebrating #IndependentBookstoreDay 2019

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019

Blue Cypress sign from last hear!

A big hello, thank you, and shout-out to Elizabeth Ahlquist and her band of merry booksellers at Blue Cyp0ress Books, uptown at 8126 Oak Street, New Orleans.Elizabeth’s wonderful store is a must-visit as you ride the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.

Blue Cypress Books

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019


If you’re coming from downtown, tell the operator you want to get off on Oak Street. You’ll see two big buildings, both of which were bank branches, once upon a time. Walk up Oak a block and you’ll see the Blue Cypress Books sign. The store offers a wonderful mixture of new and used books. I find interesting treasures on the shelves. The new books jump out at you! Elizabeth sold me a copy of Pete Souza’s book of photos from his time as White House Photographer for Barack Obama. My son loves that birthday present.

The local authors shelves feature old classics and new gems. Emma Fick’s “Snippets of New Orleans” sold like crazy at Blue Cypress. So, since Elizabeth offers Dragon’s Danger and Dragon’s Discovery to her customers, we hereby and forthwith dub her, “Lady Bookseller.” That’s a bit more formal than “hot mermaid in purple and green.” 🙂

At Da Fair Grounds

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019

Jazz Fest!

It’s fitting that Blue Cypress runs the Book Tent this year at Da Fest, on #IndependentBookstoreDay 2019. The selection there features history, music/music history books. Food is an important part of Da Fest, therefore the Book Tent usually has a good selection of cooking-related books and cookbooks. The book tent is a wonderful respite from the hustle bustle of the Fair Grounds infield. It’s worth checking it. So, since you’re going into the Book Tent, here’s a recommendation:

That’s my book, New Orleans Jazz, featuring the 1967 incarnation of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the cover!

#IndependentBookstoreDay 2019

All this, and a shop cat, too!