Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

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On Unplanned Breaks & Remembering to Let Go

kitchen-windowSo you may have noticed that I took a little break from blogging. Okay, more than a little break. It wasn’t something I’d planned to do, but things got a bit hectic and overwhelming and I was starting to feel a little too rushed, and when I started this blog I told myself that when things got that way I had permission to take it off of my To Do list for as long as I needed to. So that’s what I did.

That turned out to be a little harder than I thought it would be. See, I have this budding dream of writing Christian-friendly (if not Christian-centric) fiction and, maybe, even Christian non-fiction someday, and there’s a lot of pressure to be constantly building your platform and growing your audience. Not blogging, especially when you actually have a blog, is not generally thought to be a good way to do that. I had to remind myself that this is not why I started this blog in the first place. When I started here, my goal was simply to share my story of what God’s doing in my life in the hopes that it would encourage and inspire other women in their faith. I promised myself (and God) when I started that I wouldn’t worry about stats or visits or subscribers and just leave all of that up to Him, trusting that if someone needed to see a message I posted He would make sure it got in front of them.

So it’s probably a good thing I took that not-so-little impromptu break so I could be reminded of all of that and regain my focus.

At any rate, here’s a random look at what I’ve been up to since my last post:

  • I’ve been a lot more active on Instagram, which has turned into my favorite social media platform. I’ve even been doing some mini-blogging over there, which has been satisfying my desire to blog. Maybe a little too well. If you want to keep up with me even during my hectic not-actually-blogging times, that’s probably the best pace to do it.
  • I revised and re-launched an old novel (I’m currently in the middle of producing a paperback version), and I’ve been plugging away at my current WIP.
  • I had new author portraits done, and I couldn’t be happier with them.
  • Mother’s Day was hard, but I survived.
  • This happened. So did this. And this.

It’s getting to be about the time of month when freelance writing assignments start to come in, so it might be a little premature to say that I’ll be getting back to my semi-regular posting schedule. But I do hope to get back to it soon. Hopefully, this won’t require me to get better at juggling, although it might.

So what have y’all been up to in my absence?

Love,
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Here I Am

So here is my new blog home, complete with a new title and a new focus (although I’m still pulling the sidebar and pages together). It’s pretty basic, but getting back to basics is kind of a thing with me right now, so that works out. I’m hoping to move the rest of the content of JMB.com to WP.com soon (meanwhile, the blog is archived here), and put it in a configuration that puts the focus more on my books, but that might be a while yet as my freelance workload starts to pick back up.

I had a nice break, though it was longer than I’d planned. Before Memorial Day Weekend I was scrambling to meet deadlines so I could take a long weekend, but then I ended up getting the entire week off after the holiday. It was a wet vacation spent mainly indoors, where I used my time off to pray, plan and refocus my priorities.

This new blog is partly the result of that. God has been doing a major work in me lately and I wanted to create a space where I can talk about that, and although I’ve alluded to it here and there on the old blog, my “author blog” just didn’t seem like the appropriate place. For one thing, it was all about me — and that’s a big part of what God’s been working on: getting my eyes off of myself and my own ambitions and onto Him and His calling for me.

I’m still not sure exactly what that calling is, but I think this blog might turn out to be part of it. At any rate, I’m trying to keep myself flexible and open to where He wants to lead me.

I was tempted to add on an apology here for anyone who might be offended by all this God talk, and a reassurance that I’ll still post about other things and this won’t primarily be a faith-centered blog. But I’m going to resist the urge. You see, that’s another part of what God’s been dealing with me about. The Internet circles in which I’ve been traveling are primarily filled with agnostics and atheists, many of whom are writers I admire, and I’ve been too fixated on their good opinion and worried about offending them or driving them away and not nearly concerned enough with pleasing God in ALL areas of my life — including blogging — and putting Christ at the center of everything I do.

The truth is I don’t know where this blog is going with any real certainty. I only know that I have a story to share about the transformation God has done and is doing in me, and some people might be helped by that story. Some people might find healing in it. If you’re not one of those people, that’s okay. I’ve already steeled myself to lose some followers, but this isn’t about followers or numbers. It’s about ministering to weary and hurting hearts and giving glory to the One who healed my heart.

Not that I won’t still post updates about what I’ve been up to and how my writing projects are going, or talk about more frivolous stuff like crafting and iZombie and, oh yeah, how I’m trying to learn to play the guitar. Again. But you can expect things to be filtered through a God-shaped lens and lots of prayer and reflection.

… to blog, I guess.

I’ve been thinking and praying a lot over the question of whether to continue my blog, and suddenly I’ve been flooded with ideas for stuff I want to blog about. So I guess there’s my answer.

So instead of doing anything drastic like eliminating my author blog or putting it on indefinite hiatus, I’m just going to relax and give myself permission to only post when I have both the time and the energy as well as something to say that’s worth spending those resources on.

It’s the first two things that are the most difficult to come by, of course. Or rather, the problem is that when I think of something I want to write a post about–which actually occurs pretty frequently–I don’t have the time or the mental energy to do it at that moment. I’ve tried jotting down notes about what I want to say for times when I do have more free time, but that just hasn’t been working. By the time I finally sit down to write the post, I read over my notes and just can’t get back my train of thought. So I still need to figure out what to do about that. But it’s not something I’m going to stress myself out over.

There will still be greater changes coming. My web hosting account expires this year and I hate my current host, so I won’t be renewing with them. And since my past experiences with other inexpensive web hosts haven’t really been much better, and I can’t afford a better quality of hosting services, I’m just going to move my site to WordPress.com, which has everything I need at this point for free.

At that point I may probably will go ahead and separate out my blog from my author site. I think part of what I struggle with here is that much of what I want to write about isn’t the sort of things one might expect or want to read from a paranormal romance and dark fantasy author, and that’s hanging me up. So when the time comes I will probably cease having an “author blog” and just set up a static author website with a link to my personal blog, which is a separate entity.

Where to host this personal blog (which will really still be this here blog, just with a different name at a new location) is the big question. The simplest thing would just be to make my LiveJournal my main blog, seeing as how I’ve been cross-posting there this whole time and everything is already archived there, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about cross-posting from another platform. LJ has its drawbacks, though, not the least of which is the difficulty of commenting for non-members (or their willingness to do so).

I had long been a proponent of Blogger/Blogspot–that was the first blog engine I ever used, back when it was a wee startup run out of Ev Williams’ garage, and I stayed loyal to it for much longer than common sense dictated (I’m even at this moment wearing a Blogger hoodie I received as a reward for my loyalty after Google bought them out)–but the fact that Google treats it like a forgotten step-child and the customer service is terrible to non-existent has cured me of said loyalty. Still, I’ve already got this old blog archived there, so starting that up again is an option.

I think the most attractive option is moving it to its own url on WordPress.com. By now I’m used to the WordPress interface, they make commenting pretty easy for everybody, and they also make it really simple for other WP.com users to follow you, which would make it easier to build the community I long for. Of course, I would still have to work out the problem of cross-posting to LJ for the benefit of the small community I’ve already established there.

Also there’s the problem of LiveJournal constantly getting hacked by angry Russians who take the whole site down for long stretches of time. So….

At any rate, these are the things I will be pondering as I gear up to move this site. In the meantime, you can expect posting here to continue, albeit sporadically.

What about you guys? Do you have a vote as to where I should park my blog? This isn’t necessarily a democracy, but feedback will definitely help my decision, and I always love to hear from my readers. So leave a comment and give me your two cents!

Everything is fine. Also, here’s how to keep in touch.

I’ve got all of the malware rooted out of my websites, for now. My web host, iPage, was moderately helpful, as in they did the bare minimum necessary to help me (after first trying to scare me into purchasing a $200 emergency clean-up service), which is not exactly doing anything to inspire loyalty or make me want to recommend them. So I’m still considering my options as far as switching hosting providers or staying put until my current contract runs out.

At any rate, in the event that this (or something like it) happens again, this seems like a good time to highlight all of the best ways you can be kept in the loop if I need to relocate my blog in a hurry.

  1. My mailing list – This is always the best, most reliable way to make sure you don’t miss out on anything. You don’t have to worry about getting bombarded with spam — I only send out an update when I have major news or announcements relating to my books. Had this blog been suspended like iPage initially threatened, I would have sent out an update letting my subscribers know what’s up and where to find me. And hey, you get a free e-book just for signing up! Win!
  2. Facebook – I no longer maintain a fan page, but I regularly post public updates on my personal profile pertaining to my writing and publishing endeavors, as well as links to new blog posts and what not. Because I also post a lot of personal stuff on there meant for friends and family, I only accept friend requests from people of whom I have some idea how they know me, but if you follow me and subscribe to my public posts, you’ll see everything that would otherwise go on my fan page if I still had one.
  3. Livejournal – All of the posts from this blog get mirrored on my Livejournal. If this blog ever goes down, that’s a reliable place to check what’s going on and find where I’ve gone.
  4. Twitter – I also usually post updates about what’s going on here on my Twitter feed. If you simply follow me there, with the fast and sometimes overwhelming nature of the site, you might miss the relevant tweets, but you can always go right to my profile to see my latest tweets.

And the best part is, unlike the RSS feeds, all of these methods are independent of this website’s functionality. So if you already subscribe to this blog, it’s worth signing up to one of these other methods of staying in touch.

Stay of Execution

Well, the good news is that my web host agreed to give me more time to get everything fixed before they take my websites down. The bad news is that I don’t really know how to fix it. I deleted all of mine and Matt’s inactive blogs, save for A Sensible Wife, because that’s still getting hits from Pinterest and is redirecting traffic here, so I’m not too keen on taking it down. Bauhaus Online Creative is still up, too, although I’m not quite sure why I’m bothering to save that one since I can’t really do web dev anymore (I no longer have the necessary equipment and I’m WAY out of practice) and I haven’t updated that site’s blog in more than a year. As for my freelance writing portfolio site, the hackers managed to destroy that one.

At any rate, the one I started with was Bauhaus Online Creative, mainly because it’s the smallest. I backed up the database, uninstalled and reinstalled WordPress, then imported the content to the new database, and uploaded the custom CSS file. But none of the content or customizations are showing up, and I have no idea why. I’ve entered a support ticket on it, and if they can help me figure out where I went wrong and get me on the right track, then I’ll have a process for saving all three sites worked out.

If they can’t (or won’t) help, then I’m seriously considering just scrapping the other two websites altogether and moving this blog to WordPress.com. I’d probably have to do a free account there for now, and plan on upgrading when my writing is able to pay the premium fee, which kind of breaks my heart, considering I just got this site the way I wanted it. But, this would force me to focus on the one site and not let myself get spread too thin as I have been in the past. But really, the only reason I’d really need a self-hosted WordPress site is to run an e-commerce site, and I don’t really need Paypal buttons for my freelance services. As for selling books directly, I’d already ruled that out thanks to my state’s pain-in-the-butt sales tax rules.

I may move to WordPress.com even if my host does help me get things worked out. I’m getting really tired of having cheap web hosting crap out on me like this, and I can’t afford to pay for more secure or reliable hosting.

Welp, I keep praying for God to order my steps and supersede my plans with His, so maybe this is all His way of guiding my platform in a better direction. And goodness knows MY way of doing things has never gone all that swimmingly, so maybe it’s time to try something new. For now we’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

Do you have experience with WordPress.com? Are you happy with it? Does it do everything you need it to do? Oh, and does anyone know if it’s possible to mirror posts to Livejournal without doing it manually? I’d appreciate your feedback!

Nanowri-NOPE!

A few things…

  • Nanowrimo’s not happening for me. There’s just too much on my plate right now for me to be able to make it a priority.
  • Relatedly, I think I need to take a semi-hiatus from this blog until things settle down and I figure out exactly what I want to be doing with it. I’ll still post if there’s news, but for the time being I won’t be posting just for the sake of putting content out there.
  • Since my freelance writing resume page imploded, I FINALLY made time to reconstruct it. Except instead of a page on this blog I set up a whole website for it. If you happen to know anyone who could use a freelance writer or content development coach, you can point them to my credentials here: Jean Marie Bauhaus – Writer for Hire

  • I am really, really glad it’s Friday.

Kerplooie

That’s the sound I imagine my blog making on Friday when it imploded and all of the content disappeared. Although I suppose “kerplooie’ is more of an explosion than an implosion. At any rate, that happened.

The best part is that the site went down RIGHT after I sent out several freelance job applications with links to the freelance writing CV I’d spent two hours putting together on Thursday. For several hours after that, this blog, and every other WordPress site on our account, including our business blog and both of Matt’s websites, became completely inaccessible. When they finally came back up, all the other sites were fine, but this here blog?

Kerplooie.

No, wait: the ACTUAL best part was when I asked my web host’s tech support for help restoring the content, and they waited until the next day to respond, and their response was to tell me, basically, to buy their backup and restore tool and fix it myself. Funnily enough, after openly ranting at them about it on Twitter, suddenly they were able to get it restored post-haste. Never underestimate the power of airing your customer service grievances on Twitter. The name of my web host, by the by, is iPage, who offers dirt-cheap hosting, and let this be a lesson to all that with web hosting it’s especially true that you get what you pay for.

Okay, no, hold up. The really, REALLY best part is that, after all of that, the page with the freelance writing CV — you know, the one I’d spent two hours putting together the night before, the link to which I sent out to several job prospects on Friday right before the crash, and also the one of which I foolishly failed to make a backup copy — was not included in the site restore. So I’m going to have to track down all of those writing sample links and compile the whole thing all over again.

At any rate, I’m just grateful the site is finally back up and that I don’t have to restore everything myself. I’m also grateful that that would have been a possibility, and the one silver lining I kept clinging to was that if one of our sites had to get wiped, at least it was mine, since I mirror all of the posts to my Livejournal. Would restoring all of the content from LJ have been a pain? Yes. But at least it would have been doable, which is more than I could say for any of our other sites.

Oh, and here’s another lesson we can all learn from this: back up your websites and your WordPress databases regularly, folks. Don’t leave it up to your web host.

Meanwhile, In Real Life…

Sorry for the radio silence this week, folks. I’m buried in work right now, and I’ve got a couple of client projects that I’ve got to buckle down and get cleaned off of my plate ASAP. So this is just a quick note to let you know that the blog’s on another mini-hiatus until those are done.

Now you kids behave yourselves while I’m gone.

Some Things To Note

Firstly: I redid my main website, and my blog is now my homepage–you can go right to it at jeanmariebauhaus.com and BAM! Blog. If you’re on Livejournal, hopefully you’re actually able to read this and I set all of that up correctly.

Secondly: I started that podcast. The first episode is over here. It’s not too long, so you should listen to it and give me feedback. Or ask me some self-publishing or writing questions that I can answer in a future episode.

Thirdly: I had my first Book Wrangler consultation client today, and I think it went well, and will lead to more work, so YAY!

Fourthly: Peanut butter sure is delicious.

Fifthly: Seriously, you guys, every time I consider doing Paleo and I almost manage to convince myself that I could live without cheese, I remember that peanut butter’s not allowed and I’m like, “NOPE!”

Sixthly: I’m going to start a new Tumblr for random stuff like the above, and for re-blogging all of the geeky fandom stuff I’m always liking over there, and it will be the new Marzipan Pie Plate Bingo. I’ll let y’all know once I get around to that. No, wait–here it is!

On Too Much Pizza, Light Bulbs, and My Shiny New Blog Theme.

This week is getting away from me. It’s already more than halfway over and I’m just managing to get started. Of course, it’s my own dang fault. After we went to Gingrich’s speech on Monday, we were both tired and feeling a little down about the state of Life, the Universe and Everything, so we ordered pizza for dinner to cheer ourselves up. That led to a pizza, beer & ice cream binge, which led to a night of fitful sleep and insomnia, which led to a Tuesday that turned out to be a sick day as I caught up on sleep and recovered from an unplanned night of gluttony.

Which brings us to today, which was supposed to be a catching up day. But then shortly after I got up this morning Husband asked if we could please go to Target and pick up a handful of non-grocery items that we’ve been needing to get, including, but not limited to, a new floor lamp (necessary thanks to the incandescent bulb ban which means we can no longer buy the extra large three-way bulbs for our antique lamp; yes, they make extra large three-way CFL bulbs, but they all have a standard base, and our lamp has an extra-large socket. So now our beautiful antique lamp is a useless piece of landfill fodder, unless we can find a way to re-wire it. Way to save the planet there, incandescent bulb ban!) and a storage bin that will become a new and less cramped terrarium for Matilda the Turtle.

And of course, after we returned from Target I was rendered about as useless as our old lamp until I’d had a couple of hours to recover from the drain of Going Out Into The World. Which is always what happens whenever we go anywhere for any reason. Yay for introversion!

And tomorrow, Matt wants to spend the day going to Home Depot and stopping by some local businesses that have either crappy or non-existent web sites to say hi and drop off our business card. And then Friday is grocery shopping day. Really, I might as well just give up any plans I had to get anything done online this week that doesn’t involve Netflix or Hulu or staring at Pinterest going “Oooh, pretty!” I certainly haven’t managed to get any editing done.

Anyway, and speaking of getting things done online, before this sudden rush of eagerness to leave the house and interact with people on the part of my beloved, I managed to make some changes to this blog that you might have noticed if you’ve come here to read or comment instead of doing it on Livejournal or in a feed reader. I finally found the time to customize a theme to better coordinate with the rest of my web site, and I think it looks much more professional. I also added a “Shop” section, which is an Amazon store selling both my books and those of all of the indie authors that I’ve featured on this blog. Be sure to check out that section, because as I was adding the books I noticed that some of them are currently free to download. Hooray for free e-books!

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