Some of you may remember the hack that brought down the website and the blog. Mollie scoured both the site and the blog clean and put them back up in their temporary minimalist state. The thing is, we both like the minimalist state, so at least until I have another novel coming out and we decide if we want to do another redesign, we’re sticking with clean and simple.
Which does not mean we’re not still working on it.
The thing about this website is that I started it almost twenty years ago, built on a software program I got cheap as a grad student at OSU. I built it before I’d ever seen a website, so as I planned it, it had thirty pages. Then I logged on and went to look at other writers’ sites and realized I had possibly overdone things. But what the hell, I uploaded it and never looked back. A couple of years later, after I’d continued to add things, Mollie looked at it and said, “This is really bad, Mom,” and took over (she knows things like code) and it became much cleaner but still full of Stuff. More years passed, more stuff got added, and when the whole thing belly-flopped, Mollie and I looked at it and said, “Maybe this should be simpler.”
So she did more revamping, this time to make it phone-and-tablet friendly, and I’ve spent tonight going through the main pages and giving her notes (and let’s have a moment of sympathy for my daughter who has to work with me). I like the simple menu across the top of the page, but I think “About” should be the first thing, and it should only have the bio on it. No pull down menu. I HATE pull down menus, especially when I’m browsing a site. Then I’m good with Novels and Short Fiction. Not sure if Non-Fiction and Essays should be separate. I think Works in Progress should be spelled out because a lot of people don’t know what WiP means, and I think I’d like a Blogs menu (I can deal with a two item pull down menu), and then the last thing should be “Everything Else” because that’s what it is. So like this:
ABOUT • NOVELS • SHORT FICTION • NON FICTION • WORKS IN PROGRESS • BLOGS • EVERYTHING ELSE
What do you think?
We’re just starting on the page content, so a lot of that is going to change. I’m thinking about cutting about half the content in Everything Else and just leaving the FAQs, the collage stuff, the recipes, and the page about titles there. What do you think?
But I did get the Works in Progress page rewritten and sent to her this morning. The rewrite that probably isn’t up yet is below, and that’s a lot of text. Do you think putting up collages in progress would help?
The page reads:
Works In Progress
“In progress” means that it could be years until these stories done. Could be never. Could be next year. The important thing is, progress is being made.
An homage to Agatha Christie, You Again is the story of how Zelda Banks gets bamboozled into spending Christmas week in a snowbound house full of ruthless people jockeying for money, power, sex, and chocolate covered cherries. The population includes her reality-challenged foster sister, Scylla; James, the boy she tried hard not to love when she was seventeen; and Rose, the matriarch who is up to no good at all. Rose has invited a medium to hold a séance because what this family really needs is people digging up their past, and the medium has brought a teenager named Alice who thinks she can talk to the dead, which comes in handy as the family starts dropping like flies. Food, sex, death, dogs, ghosts, and Christmas carols, Zelda has it all, and wants none of it. Well, Scylla can stay. And the dog. And maybe James. And the chocolate covered cherries, but that’s it.
The Liz Danger Mysteries
Liz Danger ran away from her hometown of Birney at eighteen and never went back. Now thirty-three, she’s a ghostwriter trying to get to Chicago to finish the autobiography of her current client, the five-times-married-to-famous-men Anemone Patterson, but on the way she gets stranded in Birney and has to face all the things she ran away from. Trouble ensues.
Liz’s car breaks down on the highway outside Birney and she’s sucked back into the town’s dysfunctional social life, including a wedding where the bride is marrying Liz’s first love and a family dispute that brings up a lot more ugly than Liz is ready for. One plus: the new cop in town, the only thing there that doesn’t have a lot of bad memories attached to him. Vince is a former big city cop, and he really likes Birney: nobody’s been murdered there since 1954. And then . . .
Rest in Pink – Anemone finally buckles down to help Liz finish that autobiography, but she likes Birney, so Liz is still stuck in her hometown. Then somebody decides that Anemone’s past should stay buried and tries to bury her along with it. Liz draws the line at somebody taking pot shots at her clients, so she’s back at work thwarting another killer. Good thing she’s dating a cop.
Peaches and Screams ~ Anemone decides to write a romance novel and that Liz will write it for her in Birney, which means Liz is stuck again. Plus it’s county-fair time, so Liz is trying to help one of her pals with a pie contest while dealing with a cop who’s making faint noises about commitment, the last thing Liz wants. Then a rival ghostwriter shows up to cause trouble, which ensues, and shortly after that there’s another dead body.
Yellow Brick Roadkill ~ Liz’s best friend Molly is directing Birney High’s production of The Wiz and sends out a call for help. Liz thought that meant just helping with the tech, but it turns out that the Wicked Witch of the East isn’t the only one to get a house dropped on her. As Vince says, “Birney goes seventy-four years without a murder and then you show up . . .”
The Goodnights and The Archers
The Goodnights run a formerly crooked art gallery in Columbus, Ohio. Really, aside from the sixty or so faked paintings in their basement, they’re completely honest now. Just ask Nadine, who runs the place with the help of her magician not-a-boyfriend, Ethan.
The Archers are a dynasty of completely aboveboard lawyers in Columbus, Ohio. Well, completely except for Alice and Carter who can communicate with the dead. And the ghost in the reception room.
Needless to say, they meet . . .
Alice (from Maybe This Time) is now a thirty-something, lepidopterist by day and a reluctant ghost expert at night, at least the night the book opens when her attempts to dissuade a credulous client into holding a séance with her old friend, Isolde, are hampered by a guy named Ethan who stops by to protect the old lady from the probably-crooked mediums. If that’s not enough, a parapsychologist wants to buy Archer House, Alice’s ancestral home, which Alice is against because ye gods that house is evil, but everybody else is for. Alice goes back to Archer House to find out what’s going on, hampered once more by Ethan at the request of her brother, Carter, and finds it’s not as deserted as she thought it was. As the house fills up again with nefarious parapsychologists, desperate TV reporters, her brother Carter and the flaky gallery chick he’s falling for (name’s Nadine), and the ever-present Ethan, trouble ensues. Also ghosts.
Nadine (from Faking It) is now a thirty-something gallery manager, running the Goodnight Gallery by day and painting furniture and canvases by night. When a stranger named Carter shows up at the Gallery looking for a room to rent and a place to show his drawings, Nadine is suspicious. Good call, Nadine: Carter investigates art fraud for the FBI, and the Goodnight Gallery has been flagged by some senator’s wife named Clea. Nadine knows something’s up and the family will lose everything unless she does some fast thinking and even faster theft. Unfortunately, her best friend and partner-in-crime, Ethan, is off on some wild ghost chase with some woman who thinks she can talk to ghosts, so Nadine’s going to have juggle forgeries, her family (remember them?) and Carter if she’s going to save the day. (OF COURSE, she’s going to save the day).
The Riven Stories
The world of Riven is an alternate (extremely alternate) reality in which magic and science don’t so much co-exist as mate behind the barn when nobody’s watching.
Zo White’s living a precarious life in New Riven City in the early twentieth century, trying to keep out of trouble the five orphaned children she was put in charge of when they were evicted from the Mothers of Mercy orphanage for being dangerously strange, and she was asked to leave the Mothers of Mercy for not being maternal or merciful. When the Orphants break into a powerful politician’s house, Zo meets Xavier Fenris (call him Ecks), a cop with a heart of steel, which seems to be melting at the edges when he’s around her. Then there’s Ecks’s partner Wyland (call him Wy), who runs into trouble when he investigates a woman named Petal who turns men into frogs when they kiss her. Add in Ylva, the stepmother trying to kill Zo; the secret cult taking out princesses like Pet; Eck’s nephew Harry, a brand new copper who hasn’t learned not to hit the bad guys yet; a house haunted by steampunk beasts who are NOT HAPPY; and the Orphants being the Orphants—Doc, Roseret, Owl, Gleep, and Kinzie—and you have Paradise Park, two love stories with magic, murder, and mechanical bats.
Monday Street (with Toni McGee Causey)
Six years have passed since the events of Paradise Park, and Zo and the others are still living in the bad part of New Riven City, but Cat Gilchrist lives on Monday Street, the bad part of the bad part of New Riven City, surrounded by murderers and thieves (she’s the second-best pickpocket in New Riven). She runs the restaurant, Maggie’s Ear, for her foster mother as she tries to save the various and sundry people who are part of her life. That does not include Harry, the local crime boss’s newest thug, even though he’s kind of attractive if you like them big and murderous, which Cat does not, and besides she has her own problems because some idiot is digging up the crypt in the abandoned church where she’s living and the magic that was trapped down there is rising, and now she has to deal with air fish and her pet raven, Edwin, talking to her. Add in the newest waitress at the Ear, the slightly surly, definitely magic Keely; and the head of the Department of Extraordinary Complaints, the slight sinister, definitely suspicious Rafe, and Cat has her hands full. Then something besides magic begins to rise in the church . . .
So that’s it so far. Any feedback is appreciated.
And now back to sorting through three thousand You Again files . . .