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

Tag: state of the blog

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to step back.

I’m back from my summer blog break and ready for a fresh start… and also kind of feeling like I forgot how to write a blog post. But before I talk about the fresh start, let me talk about the break. What did I do with six whole weeks of no blogging?

Well, mainly I worked on my book, although I didn’t make as much progress as I wanted or needed to (and it’s still going to have to come first until it’s done). And I didn’t take a break from my freelance work. But between those things, without the blog to worry about I had a lot of time for reading and the slow processing of ideas. And let me tell you, I read a lot.

I kind of surprised myself, actually. As much as I love to read, I also really like TV, so I thought I’d spend a lot of my downtime during the break catching up on at least one Netflix series. But other than dipping my toes into The Great British Baking Show while working on a (slow) embroidery project (and also other than the hour a night my husband and I spend watching a show together–right now we’re catching up on Better Call Saul and it is crazy good) I haven’t watched anything. What’s even more surprising is how much of my reading has been non-fiction instead of fiction (although there has been quite a lot of fiction in the mix, too).

At any rate, I was grateful for the time to just process and fill the well, and also to pray and plan. One of the things I prayed a lot and spent a lot of time journaling about was this blog. Because the truth is that I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t sure what the point of it was anymore, or if it should even continue to be something I put my time and energy into. It was feeling more like a chore than a passion, and I knew it was time to stop, if only temporarily.

So I stopped. And I prayed a lot about whether I should stop for good or just take a break. And I prayed about the purpose and mission of this blog, which turned into examining MY purpose and mission on this earth and how that can be expressed through this blog.

Which brings me to the fresh start.

If you’re reading this post at the actual blog, you probably noticed the new layout and a new logo (if you’re reading this somewhere else, you can click here to check them out). The new logo also includes a new tag line: “Standing at the intersection of faith, creativity, simplicity and knowing what matters most.” Those are pretty much the four pillars of my life (the fifth is home and family, but that tag line was already feeling overstuffed and those things are pretty well covered under “what matters most”). And I’ve realized that not only am I all about figuring out how these things intersect and interact together, I’m also all about helping you figure out what that looks like in your own life.

I also want to inspire you, encourage you and build up your faith–not only in God but in believing the truth about who you are and what you’re capable of in Christ. And I want to help you give yourself permission to relax, to lay hold of grace and let go of what doesn’t matter that’s getting in the way of what does, to stop emulating Martha so much and start emulating her sister Mary more.

As to what that’s going to look like… we’ll see. I think this is a “learn as you go” type of thing, and there’s going to be a period of transition as I learn to navigate my mission and settle into my new blog skin. I’m hereby giving myself permission to experiment and try out different things, and I’m giving you permission to tell me how those things sit with you.

But for now, I think it will look like this: Shorter blog posts about lighter topics such as what I’m reading or listening to or using and how I’m fitting these concepts into my life, as well as more practical posts about doing life and adulting and being faithful stewards of what we’re given. And I’ll save the deeper, more theological stuff for the newsletter, which will go out once a month, in order to give me plenty of time to process these bigger ideas and do them justice.

There are also some other fun things coming. Like a shop that will sell graphic inspirational prints and other merchandise like mugs and tee-shirts created to inspire and encourage you. And an online course or two, or at the very least some workbooks aimed at helping you sort some of these things out in your own life. The print shop is coming as soon as I can get the shop set up–hopefully some time in the next week or two. The classes and/or workbooks will have to remain in the idea stage until my book is finished, which will be a while yet.

Here’s a peek at what will be in the shop:


And I’ll be giving away free printables of each of these designs to subscribers of my monthly newsletter, Daydreamer Dispatch. So if you would like to delve deeper with me each month about how faith intersects with creativity and doing life in a way that puts first things first, click here to sign up, and you’ll be given a link to download print quality PDFs of the above graphics. I’m kicking around the idea of sending out a new printable in each issue of the newsletter, but that will depend on whether I have time to create a new graphic each month.

In light of all of that, I can genuinely say I’m happy to be back, and I’m excited about moving forward!

What about you guys? Does my new tag line and its four pillars stir up any issues or questions in your heart that you’d like to see addressed here? Do you have a favorite quote or verse you’d like to see turned into a graphic print and added to the shop? I’d love to hear your ideas, as well as what you’ve been up to this summer! Let’s chat in the comments. ♥

… 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!

To blog or not to blog?

Well, when I said I was going to get back to a regular blogging pattern this month, I guess I kind of underestimated how many other demands would be placed on my time. It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks. On the bright side, things are starting to settle down, and it’s looking like I’ll get to take that long Memorial Day weekend like I was hoping.

Of course, when you’re a freelancer, “things settling down” usually is code for “I have no more work lined up so I’d better start hustling to find some before this latest infusion of money runs out.” Incidentally, if you need to have a book critiqued, edited or formatted, my schedule’s wide open after the holiday.

Sooooo…

I’m kind of at a crossroads as far as this blog goes. I’m writing this book about self-publishing, and yesterday I was writing about author platforms and how all you really need is a mailing list and a website where you can have people sign up to it. You don’t really need a blog, although it does have certain advantages, the biggest of which are that it gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site and it keeps your website relevant to the search engines.

And I stopped and asked myself: do I really need this blog?

And then I answered myself: I’m not sure.

Really, those last two reasons I mentioned are the main reasons I’ve been concerned about carving out time to update this space. But really, the only things I’m getting out of it at this point are guilt and stress. I’m certainly not getting a ton of traffic or a grounded community of loyal readers. I get a little interaction, but only from people I already interact with regularly on Facebook. For that matter, anyone who really cares about what’s going on in my life follows me on Facebook or Twitter and are kept fully abreast of how things are going, and anyone who cares about my writing and when I will finally get around to finishing and publishing another book is presumably signed up to my mailing list.

So exactly what purpose is this here blog serving in my life at this point?

I’m going to be pondering that question over the next few days, and what the alternatives are. I’m pretty sure I don’t actually know how not to be a blogger, at least long-term, so we’re probably not looking at a complete shut-down. At the very least, I may leave a link to the archives on a static author website, and update it sporadically when I’ve got news or just need to get something off my chest. But as far as spending the time and energy to blog on a regular basis, that time and energy would probably be better spent on my writing and publishing blog, where it’s a little more crucial to get some traffic flowing.

So, that’s on my mind. What say you, readers? If there’s anyone who would really miss it if I stopped blogging here regularly, now’s your time to speak up.

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.