Thought about becoming more beholding

Just when I thought that I was only beholding to a handful of my folks (family), I got involved in a brainstorming session with friends Jan and John at the Business Success Center. We were looking at a new design for Jan’s website and one thing led to another and I suddenly realized that I wanted to have a business making real  money not a hobby which yielded petty cash.

Aside
It may be dawning on you that I may not have been paying complete attention to the problem at hand. I could say that I was multitasking but the truth is, humans don’t multitask. They don’t. However rapidly you switch from one focussed intent to another, you are still only doing one thing at a time. For a discussion more erudite than I can present, look at this NPR discussion.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I had been doing a quick inventory of my interests, skills, and desires. I like to learn. I like to teach. I have taught in the past. At the University of Texas. At Austin Community College. At the then Texas Department of Health. At Cadence Systems. And at numerous meetups.

I have taught HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Javascript, Java, Paintshop Pro, Photoshop, WordPress, podcasting, video casting, Dreamweaver, and once upon a time, God help me, Microsoft FrontPage.

Since much of my time these days is consumed with most of the skills associated with these previously taught topics in addition to my new interest in writing, I had an epiphany brought about some already developing ideas about what Lindsey is going to be when he grows up.

I have written in these blogs about an idea Jan and I are referring to as Lindsey’s Tools. Since the Business Success Center is a Macintosh shop and I’m also a Macintosh aficionado, I like to share with them when I learn Mac-related findings. Jan wants me to present some of these ideas at some of the meetups she holds. After discussing it, we decided that it would be interesting if I created blog posts about singular topics. As I began mind-mapping this idea, I thought that it would also be fun to create an eBook called Lindsey’s Tools with short chapters regarding single topics of interest.

With this as a basis, my epiphany revealed itself. Let’s teach this stuff again. Only, let’s teach it as it applies today not as I taught it a few years ago. The immediate topic that came to my mind was a class on the process of creating a WordPress site, all the way from registering a domain name, getting a web host, connecting them via name servers, installing Genesis Framework and a Genesis Framework child theme called Dynamik and creating the first blog and page. I could use my affiliate web hosting site to create individual sites for students. What has just been described would give a new or evolving web developer a nice leg up in the business.

I’d want to teach this class in person because of the need for focused and immediate attention to the process that could not be accomplished via GoToMeeting or similar programs.

I would want to create a simultaneous but more advanced class to teach some of the basic intricacies of configuring and using the Dynamik theme.  It’s not really that hard. It’s just cumbersome to learn for the first time. That would be a nice follow on from the basic class.

This post contains my first thoughts of creating the first of a series of classes – 10 people or less learning a graduated way to blogs, podcasting, video casts, etc.

 

BTW: I have written about 2,000 words today. My running total is almost 270,o00.

Monday Thoughts About Writing

It is Monday, April 14, 2014, the first day in the rest of my life as they say. Indeed, it is my next opportunity to do anything with my life. How will I use my week to come? I used the words “not beholding to anyone” in yesterday’s post. That is not exactly correct. I do have strong responsibility to my wife of many years. I try to always make her happy. I have the responsibility for picking my grandson, Thomas, up from daycare on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and keeping him entertained until one of his parents retrieve him a couple of hours later.

Those are my major “beholdings”. After that, the choice of what to do is hidden somewhere between my ears, between my nose and the back of my head, between my chin and the top of my head. I shall call this area “Lindsey’s Brain”. Electrical impulses spark and jump with vigor offering me thousands of choices each second. It is my distinct pleasure to choose the impulse du jour. I say “du jour” because I like variety. I may not want to do today what seemed to be very interesting and a lot of fun yesterday.

But today, I choose to return to my thoughts and findings about one facet of Lindsey’s Tools – creating a writer’s platform, a place where I can journal about and share my current writing efforts. Writing is the major branch of my concept of Lindsey’s Tools. After all, without writing, how could I blog like this or create the content of websites, or send email to friends, family, vendors, clients, etc. Writing is the right hand of my literacy while Reading is its left hand. Or is it vice versa? It’ nice to have a good grasp on both.

My writing has taken on new directions since September 2013 when I accepted and began participating in Ed Dale’s Challenge 2013. Ed has presented a yearly free challenge for nine years. This year’s challenge was to make a single dollar – one dollar. I won’t go into detail about the entire challenge but here is a brief podcast from Ed mentioning the event. You have a few months to think about Challenge 2014, which I’m pretty sure will be the next event. After all Ed has been doing this event so well and monetizing it by offering more detailed material, that I’m sure he will not neglect this cash cow.
It’s fun. It’s thought provoking. It’s challenging. You will need to do something every day for 30 days. But it usually takes no more than half an hour per day. BTW, I am not getting anything for these comments. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

But I digress, as usual. Ask me what time it is and I end up telling you have to build a watch.

My writing took a new direction on day 8 of the Challenge 2013 when the day’s exercise called for execution of a concept called free writing. Free writing is done by getting into position with your writing “instruments” – pen and paper, computer or chalk and sidewalk – whatever you feel comfortable using to get thoughts from your brain to some physical or digital destination. And then you write.

In this case we were asked to write for 5 minutes without pause. We were not told what to write about. We were just told to set a timer for 5 minutes and write until it dinged. We were also told that if we didn’t know what to write next, write the word “blah” until the moment passed then continue writing. I’m happy to say that I only had one such “duh” moment where I wrote “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” then resumed writing until the timer sounded. I had gotten so much into the zone that I was annoyed when I realized that I had met the time goal but was not mentally done with the current project.

Soon after this occasion, I discovered the 750words.com site and set my writing goal to writing 750 words or more every day. I continue with this goal today and am happy to say that I have only missed one day in the last 7 months. And that was an oversight. I had written more than the required number of words but had neglected to post the results. So that’s why I now say I’ve written 750 words or more every day in 217 of 218 days.  <Today and I added 890 more words for a total of 267,339.

I double dipped in November when I signed up for and wrote 51,547 words against a 50,000 word, 30 day goal in the National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) event. I didn’t write a novel but I intend to in 2014. That’s the purpose of the writer’s platform – to create a place where I can document my progress and share small chunks of my emerging novel.

I realize that although I created a website called http://MiningMyMind.com, I have not fully described how I have designed it so far. That description would be far to complex to describe in a usual (for me) 750 or so word post. I think I want to create a detailed description of the website inception through a full up developed writer’s platform website. But I’ll save that for another day.

Arrivederci.

Just Writing and Writing Some More

I decided not to write about my Writer’s Platform web design today just because I didn’t want to. Isn’t it nice to be able to make such a decision? It has an upside and a downside. The upside is the independence to do pretty much what you want to because you are retired and not beholding to anyone. The downside is that you are retired and are not being paid for that which you have decided not to do. LOL. Well, I understand what I just said.

Today has been a nice, quiet day for me. Sundays are usually days of introspection and study. This one has been no different. I had 2 projects that I wanted to do and that I do each day. I wanted to write my 750 plus words for the day which I’m doing. I wanted to react to a writing prompt and I did.

=============================================================
Day 4 Writing Prompt – Sent to the Wrong Printer
You’re at work and you print something personal (and sensitive). Unfortunately, you’ve sent it to the wrong printer and, by the time you realize it, somebody has already scooped it up.
==============================================================

While working on the current article I got to thinking about what was involved in creating and using the MiningMyMind writer’s platform. I have not written the first word of my fictional novel yet. I did sign up for a creative writing course that starts on April 24 and runs for 12 weeks. According to several sources I’ve been following, this is the correct track – create a place to promote your book before you write it or as you write it.

One of the authors I follow, Nina Amir, has a book called, “How to Blog a Book” that is informative and very readable. When I first got it, I scanned it and put it aside for a year or so. Then one restless night I picked it back up and read it through. Shortly thereafter, I resumed posting on this blog with the recurring topic of “writing”. And I kicked up the frequency of my blogs and was gratified to see that some people revisit my website although hardly anyone comments. What’s up with that? Then I took a look at how I respond to blogs and I understood. I read them. Maybe praise them in my mind and then move on. As of today, I plan to continue following blogs and podcasts and videocasts and I WILL comment on at least one of them a day.

So that’s it for a Sunday. I’m finishing up rather late in the day. I like to write early in the morning or at oh dark o’clock as we used to say in the military. I feel that I write better and faster then. But I’ve been lazy about getting up lately. I’m just going to let it flow and do whatever it takes to meets my goals.

Creating Writer’s Platform – Day 4

header-1140-by-300-bigpicMy writing for the day has been handled differently than what is customary for me. I am finding that I look so forward to working with my writing prompt of the day that I’m not getting to my writing about creating my writer’s platform until later. For instance I did my third writing prompted piece before daylight and it is now 7:20PM as I get around to my daily writing. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I get uneasy when I haven’t finished my daily writing before noon. But times (and activities) change. Perhaps I’m creating new habits. The ultimate goal is to write 750 words or more each day. I’m doing that and then some.

Today’s writing prompt from the WritersDigest PDF, The Writing Prompt Boot Camp, Two Weeks of Craft, Creativity, and Discipline was:
Mystery Cookie.


My header aheader-1140-by-300t MiningMyMind.com is coming along nicely. I ended up using my iPad to take the picture of me partially hidden behind some books while I sat in front one of my bookcases. While cropping the picture down to 1160 pixels by 300 pixels I found that I could get a good picture but that the books I was exhibiting got lost because of the image ratio. But good fortune arose and I believe that I captured a better picture than I had expected.

Changed Header Title Font to Type: Amaranth, size: 60 pixels, color: black
Changed Header Tagline Font to Type: Amaranth, size: 20 pixels, color: black
Changed Header Text Tile Paddig to top-padding: 40 pixels and left padding to 40 pixels.
This display is not yet satisfactory since some of the text is obscured by the background. I will be back to work on it later. I’m not entirely happy with the photo so I’ll have to wait and see what challenges it brings to the emerging design.

My next change to the website is the inclusion of a pattern for the background. As it stands now, everything outside the Wrap area is gray. I think that some unobstrusive pattern would be nice. I’ll take advice from Pamela Wilson and Wendy Cholbi once again and get a pattern from subtlepatterns.com. Since I’m using Fixed Design, I really don’t need to get a pattern for fill in but just for thoroughness, I downloaded a pattern and installed it thusly.

I used Dynamic Design > Images , browser for and uploaded the file.
I then chose Dynamic Design > Wrap > Wrap Background. I changed type to Horizontal & Vertical  and image to the uploaded file name. Since I didn’t use Fluid Design, there was no change to my background. But just to test it, I temporarily chose Fluid Design and the subtle pattern design showed up under the header and surrounding the body content area. I changed back to Fixed Design with a smile and a dusting of my hands.

As I examined my site, I saw that the footer contained the words “Copyright (c) 2014 . Dynamik Website Builder . Genesis Framework by StudioPress . WordPress . Log out”. That is not what I want displayed at the bottom of my pages. So what could I do without resorting to CSS or PHP? Remember those Genesis plugins I installed yesterday? One of them was named Genesis Simple Edits and it allows you to change difficult to reach elements like Post and Footer information. I want to change Footer info to indicate that it was I who created / developed / designed this website.
So, in the Dashboard under Genesis, and Simple Edits, I changed the contents of the Footer Credits Text from
Copyright © 2014 ·Prose Theme · Genesis Framework by StudioPress · WordPress · Log in
to
Copyright © 2014 Exploring New Media· lindsey@exploringnewmedia

And that is it for day 4 of web design for my writer’s platform at MiningMyMind.com

Creating Writer’s Platform – Day 3

IMG_0965I had a nice start today. I wrote from a writing prompt for the second time of my life and for the second day in a row. The writing prompt was the second prompt from the WritersDigest PDF, The Writing Prompt Boot Camp, Two Weeks of Craft, Creativity, and Discipline.

Writing Prompt 2  The One that Got Away
You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day – the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?
I wrote 305 words based on this prompt.
My writing platform at http://miningmymind.com has the basic infrastructure in place: WordPress, Genesis Framework, Dynamik – a child theme for use with Genesis Framework, and several Genesis Framework plugins.

Today, still discussing website design, I’d like to address the header. The header is the part of the website that typically is at the very top of each web page on a website. It can be solely text or it can be an image or images with or without text.

The header for MiningMyMind will be an image stretching across a fixed page width with some text.

Before I create the header image, I will need to check on the Dynamik page width settings for this site. The default full layout width is 1060px/1140px.

I also need to decide whether I want a fixed design or a fluid design.  I will start with a fixed design and change it to fluid later on if I feel it necessary.

At this point, it should be noted that use of the Dynamik child theme automatically creates a responsive website which may be satisfactorily viewed on most devices – desktops, laptops, smart phones, and tablets. I really like this feature.

So, now I’ve determined that my header width will be at least 1060 pixels wide but no wider than 1140 pixels. It’s height can be pretty variable. I’m thinking that the width will be dependent on the included image. I want enough of the image to show so that it is recognizable.

I think I want a picture of me looking over and around a stack of books. I want to show only my head from the eyes up. I want to be peeping over the books. I want to have an out of focus background with my bookcase as the background.

I’m not yet ready to take that photo. More decisions about getting the image. I can use my iPhone, my iPad, my Sony A65 camera or my Nikon Coolpix 9300. I believe that with enough light, any of these cameras will be suitable. Since I’ll be taking a selfie, I will need to use a tripod and the camera’s timer. I have an iPad device that will allow me to use it with my tripod. I don’t have a like device for the iPhone. I will try to find one locally today. If not,  I will order one from the Caddie Buddy where I got the iPad tripod accessory.

Until I get the picture(s) taken, I will use Photoshop to create a dummy header image. I will make two images – one will be 1060 pixels wide by 300 pixels high and the other will be 1140 pixels wide by 300 pixels high.

NOTE: If I were to do the fluid design, I’d want to create a header of about 2500 pixels wide. Pamela Wilson and Wendy Cholbi used this width in one of their lessons on the SiteSetupKit course and I rather liked it.

For these place holder images, I will create a red background with text stating the dimensions of the image. The words in white are “Image header 1140 pixels by 300 pixels” and “Image header 1060 pixels by 300 pixels” as applicable. These words show up in the upper left and lower right of the image for reasons that I can’t remember at the moment but that seemed right the last time I created a header image.

Under the Dynamik Design, I will choose the Images menu item and upload the two header images just created.

Under the Dynamik Design, I will choose the Header menu item, then configure the Header Dimensions to change from 400 by 100 to 1140 by 300, and Header Background item for Type: No-repeat image (Center) and then choose the images one at a time to see which one fits best.

The text that appears in the header is just text. All else is an image. The text comes from within WordPress and is the title and tagline.
This text slightly overlaps the graphic text inside the header and will have to be adjusted by changing the Header Text Title Padding from 12 pixels to 40 pixels.

I am done with this part of the exercise until I take the necessary photos. I now have a prototype for header placement.

Creating Writer’s Platform – Day 2

IMG_0517Mining My Mind Milestone 2

One of the products I downloaded from WritersDigest.com was a PDF entitled The Writing Prompt Boot Camp, a two-week boot camp of creative writing prompts purported to help boost your creativity and help you get in the habit of writing every day.

I haven’t been having problems writing each day. In fact, today will be day 213 of 214 days of writing 750 or more daily words at 750words.com. But – and there always seems to be a but – I have not been consistently picking a single topic to write about. I’ve mostly written what now appears to me to be a journal of Lindsey stuff.

My intent with the two weeks worth of prompts is to do each one in order. I will write around 250 words per prompt. That should be enough to “prime the writer’s pump.”

Here is today’s 300-word result, “Breaking Up with Writer’s Block“ on the Mining My Mind website.  Or you can read it right here. [Read more...]

Mining My Mind Milestone 2

My idea for a book may be loosely compared to a single spermatozoon in a crowd of millions who wants to be a human someday. There’s a long unknown journey ahead of me. It’s dark. There is no map. I’m being crowded at every step by other spermatozoas who want the same thing. The spermie continues its headlong flight with an infinitesimal chance of success.

Here is where my analogy breaks down. I know where I can go.

The path to accomplishment has been documented by thousands of authors. The results are in front of me in my library, in public libraries, on the Internet, in bookstores, in friends’ libraries. All I have to do is define my direction and strike out. I need not fear failure. I need to take action. Any action. Like the spermie, I need to continuously swim upstream

Yesterday, as step 1 of my journey of 1,000 miles to write a book, I joined WritersDigest.com as a VIP member. I downloaded The Writing Prompt Boot Camp and signed up for their free email newsletter. I also got their Author Platform Premium Collection. Now I have more things that I don’t have time to read. So priority time.

The following is a priority chunk that will fit somewhere in my life. [Read more...]

MY Writing Foundation Bedrock

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote about building my writing foundation on stone. I even quoted the Bible. At that time, I thought my foundation was going to be a course on Creative Writing from writersdigest.com but the more I thought about the $550 price tag and the 12-week commitment, the more I became thoughtful.

I have signed up for high dollar courses in the recent past and have not completed them. In all cases, I had not committed myself to successfully completing these courses. I could have stood on my back porch and tossed hands full of dollars over the fence with the same return. Well, maybe not. My neighbors would have a much different opinion of me and would keep a wary eye out for another occurrence of the Dollars from the Sky event.

This time I’d like to do things differently. Yesterday one of my last comments had to do with starting with the basics. A 12-week, high-dollar course is probably not the basics. But the Writer’s Digest does seem like a good place to start looking.

[Read more...]

My Writing Foundation

IMG_0507cFor the last 211 days, I’ve seated myself in front of my iMac 27 (big honking screen) and have written at least 750 words each day. Most of those days, I’ve started with no topic in mind. I’ve written about several things in each session. When I typed the first sentence, I had no idea what the last sentence would be. I just knew that I wanted to write.

That was fun but I’m transitioning – from “what the heck am I going to write about today” to “today I will write 3 pages (750 words) about how Billy learned to use his unusual gifts”. This will be difficult for me. It will be akin to breaking a young horse to the saddle. Or training a puppy to the leash. For too long, I’ve gone in whatever direction appealed to me at the moment. Without a plan. Without an outline. It’s time to focus, Focus, FOCUS.

How do I do that? How do I focus my efforts into creating something that I can’t even define beyond: [Read more...]

My Writing (and Reading) Discovery Paths

As I sat down to write my 750 words for Sunday, April 6th, 2014, I discovered that while I didn’t know what I wanted to WRITE about today, I did know what I wanted to READ about. I want to read about reading. I keep seeing comments like “You can’t really be an effective writer if you are not an effective reader.” And I believe that.

I received a message from LinkedIn a few days ago with some recommended groups that I might be interested in joining. I usually scoot right on past things like this but I’ve been pretty interested in reading about authors and writing and books so here was a group called Books and Writers. Sounded good to me so I joined.

Let the deluge begin! [Read more...]