The Crusie Website: It Needs Work, Part One

My plan for today is to go out and get food and drink and then return and finish up the next chunk of Act One and get it up here for you all to take apart. But other things are going on and one of them is that I have to clear up the website because it’s been awhile.

So three questions:

The Home Page: Is the text there too geeky? Too obscure? Too annoying? Too anything? It’s the first place people land so it’s supposed to be welcoming and establish my personality, but you know how that goes. No, I will not put my picture up there. (If the link doesn’t work, it’s at http://jennycrusie.com .)

The Everything Else Tab: The last tab is Everything Else, the stuff that doesn’t fit Anywhere Else. I cleared a lot of stuff out there the last time I revised the site, so now it’s down to Collages, Crochet, Food, Music, and Titles. I’m thinking of putting an avatar page up just because I’ve had so many and that way I can say, “See? Pictures,” but I think that might just be annoying.

Another question: Mollie would like to put the pix on the collage and crochet page into galleries instead of embedding them in the text (the text would go into the galleries with the pictures). I hate galleries. Opinions?

And again, we thank you for your feedback, even if it is “Wow, this sucks.” You know, as long you tell us WHY it sucks.

I swear, once I get back from the grocery, I will get that rewrite done, and then I’ll put the next Act One post up, probably tomorrow. Honest.

74 thoughts on “The Crusie Website: It Needs Work, Part One

        1. Well, so far he’s yelled at the Australian Prime Minister, said that Germany owes money to NATO (it doesnt), sent Spicer out to say that you guys helped Obama wiretap his microwave (which, if you had, I would have to applaud for sheer ingenuity), and based his campaign on building a wall to shut Mexico out that they will pay for (they won’t). And then there was that terrorist attack in Sweden . . . . I’m waiting for him to call Justin Trudeau a gay sissy and spit on the Eiffel Tower.

          I’m actually pretty cheerful about this. The intelligence committee had a meeting with James Comey, the FBI director last week, and came out of it looking shell-shocked and grim. And when one of them, Dianne Feinstein, bless her heart, was asked at another meeting when Congress was going to take Trump down, she said, “I think he’s going to take himself down.” Which is the best of all possible outcomes: if the Democrats go after him, it’s politics. If he implodes, there’s nobody to blame but Trump.

          What I’m hoping is that the rest of the world isn’t saying, “My god, American is a racist asshat moronic nation,” they’re saying, “My god, Trump is a racist moronic asshat, when is American going to step on his head?”

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          1. I need to get around to finishing that Donald Trump voodoo doll I started awhile back. It’s pretty elaborate though because I got an adorable book called AmiguruME and wanted to try it out. Right now he still doesn’t have finished pants.

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  1. While we’re talking about website stuff, there has to be a way to set things up so it’s easier to find a particular comment and respond to it. Thanks to my blindness, there’s a heading before the comments start and then the next one is to leave a reply to the main message. Adding lower headings to the responses, perhaps the person making the reply, would do a lot to make this orders of magnitude easier for me. And just as a rule of wrist, (movie reference) headings used to find major sections of a web setup are helpful to blind and VI folks, while using headings like Skittles all over the place isn’t. (and websites with a heading for every one of the page links are beyond annoying) This is far more important to me than collages, which should of course make perfect sense, and I can’t think of a way to describe a collage that’d be of use to me or other VI folks.

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    1. I know absolutely zilch about programming a website, but I’ve copied your comment to Mollie and we’ll talk about it. Frankly, most of it I didn’t quite understand, mainly because I’m fuzzy on headings, etc. But this is Mollie’s business, so we’ll get back to you, I promise.

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    2. Speaking of comments…can we, too, have the ability to edit what we post? I hate hitting post, and then realizing I misspelled or something.

      Of course, it could become difficult to keep track of the conversation, if everyone keeps changing their comments…

      So just a suggestion, instead of a request? 😀

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      1. Honestly, I don’t think so. I’ll ask Mollie, but so far we haven’t even gotten the like buttons back.

        When the website was redesigned years ago, we got a great designer and paid a lot of money for a Cadillac blog and website. But we didn’t do the upkeep and you have to do that if you don’t want to get hacked, and we got hacked (NOT the fault of the designer, who’s excellent). So Mollie took the site down and cleaned it up and put up a simpler version as a placeholder and I liked it so we’ve kept it like this. If Nita ever gets finished and ready for publication, we’ll probably do the website again, and I’ll come back in here and ask for suggestions, so remind me of this then and we’ll see if we can get it. But for right now, I’m thinking probably not.

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  2. I’ve read your home page, and it works really well, I think. Also read all the pages in ‘Everything Else’, and I think they’re just right too. I think positioning the pictures next to the text makes sense. When you click on them, there is a pop-up image gallery you can leaf through if you want. But your explanation of your process is the most important element; I wouldn’t prioritize the images over that.

    I don’t think I’d bother adding your avatars – but, of course, you’d probably make something fun and interesting out of them, so go for it if it’s pulling you.

    I’ve just realized I’ve spent far too much time this week trying to improve on a digital collage that already worked (I thought I should use more photographs and make several collages, or a bigger one). So I’m big on not fixing what isn’t broken at the moment.

    Coincidentally, I’d just realized that I’d be better off expanding my website to display the images I’m not going to print; and there really are some things that need fixing on my site – plus my neglected blog to relaunch.

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  3. I liked your home page – it is quirky and different and so not your Standard Author Page. The list of where to find things on your website was very helpful and encouraged me to explore.

    I’m using a laptop with a small screen, so maybe that was why the embedded pictures on the collage page were larger than the ‘click to enlarge’ versions. For that reason, I prefer the embedded version instead of a gallery. With my poor eyesight and tiny screen, the current version is much easier for me to read and enjoy.

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    1. I’ll pass that on to Mollie.
      When she gets the chance to talk this through to me, I’ll put up a post on it so everybody’s points are answered or at least discussed.

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    1. Actually, I never go to the website. I already know all of that stuff. It’s not about me, it’s about the people who go there.

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  4. I checked the site. It’s informative and clean, which are the two main points for any writer’s website. Everything I wanted to find I could. I like the pictures embedded in the posts. If I were you I would keep them there, not in galleries.
    I have a question though. Among the titles, I found one I never read (a surprise for me – I thought I read all your books) – Lavender’s Blue. GoodReads lists it as Audio only. Do you plan to publish it in a reading format? Maybe a selfie? I want to read it but I don’t do well with audio books.

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    1. It’s not in audio, either. It’s one of those books in the twilight zone that I put up as a WiP.
      What happens is that when the contracts are drawn up, the audio rights go out, too. And for some reason, the audio company lists it on Amazon. It’s not finished yet. I think they put it up and forgot about it.

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      1. Okay, since you brought it up, here are the books *not* available through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, or in other words, the JC books I haven’t been able to listen to. Of course many of the audio versions were done only for the NLS, so they’ll differ a bit from commercial versions when it comes to readers. But this should also account for ones that aren’t available to mainstream folks but that I’ve listened to. Are any of these available in audio formats so I can listen to them?
        Strange Bedpersons
        What the Lady Wants
        Charlie All Night
        Anyone But You
        Tell Me Lies
        Santa Baby (Anthology)

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        1. Makes me want to sit down and read them to you – except my accent would be all wrong. Do hope there’s some way you can access them: there’s some good stuff there.

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          1. Depends on the accent, but yeah, that’s a lot of work. More things for me to pester them about. (Along with the last two Longmire books, the last Wreck Diver book by Chris Rusch, Kathy Reichs’ “Virals” anthology, and a lot of other busted series runs)

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        2. All the novels are available in audio from Audible.
          Santa Baby doesn’t seem to be available in any form.
          The only part of Santa Baby that was mine is “Hot Toy,” a novella that is appallingly priced at $3.99 (for a novella? seriously?) available only on Kindle.
          It’s in another Christmas anthology, It Must Be Christmas, but again, no Audible.

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          1. Okay, and neither one is available through the NLS either, so not an option at all for blind/VI folks. Fie.

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          2. I can’t see Nicole’s list on Audible or Amazon as audio books, so I don’t think you can be right about Audible issuing all your novels. Even if (confusingly) you’re dismissing those originally published by Harlequin, ‘Tell Me Lies’ is a full-length novel. And there are other titles – ‘Bet Me’, for example – that aren’t on offer via Amazon UK at least, which I presume are the NLS audios she mentions.

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          3. Anyone But You
            The audio edition is available on Amazon US in three ways:
            You can get two books free with an Audible trial membership (which costs you $14.95 a month after the one month free trial).
            You can buy it for $14.95. (YIKES.)
            Or you can buy the paperback for $5.49 and get the (I’m assuming digital) audio for $3.49.

            Charlie All Night
            The audio edition is available on Amazon US in three ways:
            You can get two books free with an Audible trial membership (which costs you $14.95 a month after the one month free trial).
            You can buy it for $14.95. (YIKES.)
            Or you can buy the paperback for $5.49 and get the (I’m assuming digital) audio for $3.49.

            What the Lady Wants
            You can get two of them free with an Audible trial membership (which costs you $14.95 a month after the one month free trial).

            Strange Bedpersons
            The audio edition is available on Amazon US in three ways:
            You can get two books free with an Audible trial membership (which costs you $14.95 a month after the one month free trial).
            You can buy it for $15.95. (YIKES.)
            Or you can buy the paperback for $4.74 and get the (I’m assuming digital) audio for $3.49.

            Tell Me Lies
            The audio edition is available on Amazon US in two ways:
            You can get two books free with an Audible trial membership (which costs you $14.95 a month after the one month free trial).
            You can buy it for $14.95. (YIKES.)

            The discrepancies are because (a) the books are old and (b) they’re from two different publishers. The first two are HQ and now belong to another publisher, and the last one is the first book I did for SMP. It’s the newest of the bunch and it came out in 1998, so it’s a minor miracle any of them are available. That’s almost twenty years ago. The earliest one came out in 1995. I’m old.

            And this reminds me that I have to go fix all those pages, too. ARGH.

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          4. Oh, sorry: Amazon UK does list an audio edition of ‘Bet Me’; it’s just buried. But searching on Audible did throw up quite a short list of titles.

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  5. I like it all the way it is. The only trouble I have ever has with your website is trying to find some obscure post I read a long time previously. It would be lovely if there was a way to see every post that pertains to a particular book, but I am guessing the work would be prohibitive.

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    1. The posts are on here, not the website. I can do links to them here from there, once I get this place cleaned up, but that’s going to be awhile. I will definitely keep it in mind.
      This site got hacked and when we moved it over, all the posts became Uncategorized. And I’d been really sloppy about key words, so it’s really hard to find things on there. I can’t find stuff half the time. I’ve been making slow progress on it and then I stopped to write Nita, which really has to be done first. But slowly but surely, I’m sorting things out.
      The trouble is, I’m not sure how to do it. The smartest thing would be to put a post with, for example, a list of links to all the things I’ve posted about Nita’s book. But ye gods that would be a huge post. So I’ll have to think it through.
      In the meantime, the website is easier. It only has 123 pages. This thing has 1,725 posts. It’s gonna take awhile.

      Maybe next week I’ll put up a question about how to organize the mess of content on here. You all use it for research more than I do. But first, the website.

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  6. I went over to check out the website and wound up buying the Crazy for You stories. I’d look some more, but I don’t think I can afford it.

    So, I’d say it’s working.

    In other news, I finished my radiation treatments on Friday and except for having a Frankenboob (a 3-inch scar from the lumpectomy, a set of railroad tracks under my arm from the lymphectomy and a hole in the side of my breats from where they put in the balloon catheter for the radiation), I’m now whole and healthy again.

    Looks like I’ll have to give up on my dreams of becoming a porn star.

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  7. OK, your homepage is quirky and funny and reads like you, which I think is good as that gives the visitor a good taste of you. But I’m also a fan, so that’s a biased opinion, so take it whatever sized grain of salt it deserves.

    Everything Else stuff seems fine to me. My bigger problem is that it always takes me a second to find the WiP stuff. Usually when I go to an author’s site, it’s cause I want to know, “what’s next?” I always check the book tabs first, and About last.

    Speaking of the WiPs, I noticed some changes–GIVE IT UP, CLEA. Jeez. Though I laughed, and am so eager for those books.

    When we say “galleries,” I’m assuming we would see the pics as on Facebook? Where it’s one picture at a time with its blurb underneath, and you have to hit next to move on? If that is it, then “meh.” I hate clicking through, and the way you have it now, it reads as a story, or you just talking, and that’s nice. I think a gallery format would kill that.

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    1. Do you think there should be a separate tab for WiPs?

      I’m not sure about the way things are now, either, because you hit About and go down to WiPs,and the hit WiPs and go sideways to the major sections, and then hit a section to go sideways to the texts. That’s way too many nesting menus for me.

      OTOH, there are already too many tabs up there.

      ETA: I gave WiPs their own tab. It’s so crowded up there now, it’s not like anybody’s going to care. Well, Mollie.

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      1. I don’t know if WiPs deserve their own tab (maybe reorganize books totally, and stick it there? more below), but it’s not intuitive to look for them under “About.” I always assume “About” is personal-ish info on the author. I wouldn’t think to look for books there. Though, again, this might be my own thing???

        With the way the WiPs nest, I think if you were not already aware of the fact that there are WiPs other than Nita, you wouldn’t think to click on “WiP,” and would try to decide among the Nita options. For a hot second, I thought that was my choice, and then I was like, well that makes no sense, where did everything else go, and I clicked on the main WiPs tab, just to see what I got.

        The way I’ve seen other authors do them, books tend to be their own page/tab, and then you can go from there. Instead of many tabs, there are links on the page, one would send you to solos, others to collaboration, etc. [If I wasn’t typing this on my laptop, I’d insert the “shrug” emoji here, heh] #prolificwriterproblems 😉

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        1. So I put up a Novels page with links to Solo, Collaborations, and Category. And I gave WiPs their own tab.
          At least the banner looks better now.

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      2. Re: how crowded everything is–do the books really need to be spread out like that? What if all the fiction books were together? And then that tab gave you options (“solo,” “collaboration,”). It would save a LOT of space up top. And do you really need the nesting tab of book > book chapter one? Couldn’t the excerpt just be part of the page, or a link on the book page? How often do the chapter tabs get clicked on (is there a way to track that?). I could be wrong, but if someone is looking for info on the book, I think most people would look for the blurb first and then read the excerpt. So you don’t really need a shortcut to the excerpt. So, your tabs could be:
        Book > Solo/Collaboration/Category (what are category novels, btw?);
        Solo > Book 1/2/3/4/etc

        In other news, the WiP tab is only on the homepage and hasn’t traveled with the header to the other pages.

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        1. I think just keep the books in one list, in reverse order of publication, rather than subdividing them. Your subdivisions aren’t significant for readers: all I want to know is what you’ve written when, with the newest/forthcoming first. You could have an intro para explaining that you started off writing for Harlequin or whoever.

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          1. You’d be amazed. There are people who spit on any collaboration I do, and as for the categories . . .

            My fave story about that was from a librarian who said a patron came in and returned one of my hardcovers and said, “I want another book by her.” So she gave her a Harlequin. And the woman put her finger on the book and pushed it back to the librarian and said, “I don’t read those.” And the librarian put her finger on the book and pushed it back to her and said, “You do now.”

            People care.

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          2. I’d still just put the info in brackets after the title. It really isn’t the way most readers are going to be looking for things.

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          1. Hit refresh. It’s the new one on my Anne Rice page.
            Basically, it can’t be different on the Anne Rice page; the same banner loads in all of the pages. There’s no place to get the old banner now unless it’s in your cache.

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  8. I just arrived here today — on the recommendation of some Dear Reader of my own blog, — and I must say, your site blows the doors off all the other Author Sites I’ve ever experienced. I think your site is delicious, a chocolate box of tempting tabs, and so much more fun than the usual self-promoting/careerist/touch-me-not vibe I get from The Published (from cult, to mid-list, to best-seller . . . really, why are author site so damn duuuuuulllllll?). “Galleries” are for non-readers: my publisher and agent are all trying to convince me that Instagram and Pinterest is where I should be but I just don’t get it — Who, exactly, wants to scroll through images without context? People with nano-second attention spans, that’s who. So, damn it — make your site a haven for slow information. That is, write the w-o-r-d-s. Stay analog.

    I think your collages are amazing and I would not want to view them without commentary.

    And CONGRATULATIONS Jeanne! I don’t know who you are but you’re here, so you must be cool.

    Your newest fan,

    Vivian Swift

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    1. Hi, Vivian! ::waves:: Baby, your own blog is socks-blowing too. Especially the Champagne-o-meter. And the cats. And the art. And the photos. Oh, and all the pus.

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    2. Hi, Vivian! A bit of synchronicity – the two books closest to my bed right now are a Crusie (“Wild Ride”) and your “When Wanderers Cease to Roam,” both favorite re-reads.

      Thea, I bet you’d like “Gardens of Awe and Folly.”

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      1. Oh, I do. Have all three, and they’re an arm’s length away at this very moment. So happy she’s working on a next. (ooh, goes for both the authors of “Wild Ride” and “When Wanderers Cease to Roam”) Thank you for the recommendation.

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    3. Welcome Vivian, And what you said is exactly how I feel….so many authors don’t even try… Jenny, your site I dig! From main page to the “catch all” page.

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  9. My only comment is that trying to enlarge a picture on my 10″ tablet had mixed results. I could see the Bet Me collage, but the page for the Don’t Look Down collage just faded the page into the background without putting up the picture. Some of that could be because I’m working in a smaller format, but if you’re hoping for smartphone traffic, It might be something useful to know.

    I did think the bar across the top seemed pretty self-explanatory, but it’s probably good to explain it for the people who are less familiar with your work. It’s pretty unusual for an author to have a WiPs section. I like it, but it’s unusual.

    Looking forward to reading material in the next few days!

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  10. It is pretty terrific as is. I love the collages with the text and your process. Not sure about the galleries. It is an easy to navigate website. Tons of info and easy to access. Maybe create another header for a change up. Or not. You have a nod to important elements in your stories in the current one.

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    1. We’ll probably go back to the same designer if I ever finish Nita. She can incorporate the new book into the design, maybe change up the colors.

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  11. Just want to mention for anyone who doesn’t use them that a limited Google search can be helpful, as long as you have a couple key words. For instance, I was trying to remember how many bras Jenny found when cleaning her desk some time ago. I Googled this:

    bra desk site:arghink.com

    and found it was two – in 2007!! A limited Google search is often easier than using a website’s search function. The key is to type “site,” a colon, and the website you’re searching.

    You can also look for a general category of site. Like, if you want to search only government sites for something, you can use site:.gov and, if you want only nonprofit sites, enter site:org

    Okay, that’s your lecture for today.

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    1. Thank you for this.
      Also, you’re obsessing on how many bras I had on my desk in 2007? I worry about you, MJ.

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      1. Something in the comments reminded me of that desk-cleaning incident. I cannot believe it happened a decade ago!

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  12. If you type -site:www.pinterest.com it omits that site from searches.

    Never been so happy about searches in a long time. I’m not on pinterest and as an outsider landing on those pages means not being able tto see the sources.

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  13. I like it ok. But. From a graphics design standpoint,
    It is heavily weighted to the left, and the line of the broom/legs element 1.points down, and 2. leads you off the page to the left. Americans tend to read the other direction.
    And, from a personal standpoint, I miss the monkey. My grandmother had one on top of her fridge for decades. It was my favorite thing in the universe, and so beautifully expressed her personality. It disappeared when she died. I still miss it.

    I like all the elements, I’d just rearrange them a bit, and flip/reverse the image on the broomstick. She looks like she’s inviting you in; I’d rather have her closer to an edge, leading you in, rather than the center. And cant the broom slightly up. Seems more optimistic….and erect. : D
    Jennifer

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    1. I loved that monkey, too; it went when the website got hacked and we had to strip everything out. The only thing we kept was the header, so the current design is not the designer’s fault. When we cleaned the website after the hack, we kept the header and dumped everything else. That was a beautiful website.

      The header is a piece of artwork by the designer, it’s not a file we can alter. She’d do it for us, but at this point, we’re not messing with the site until I finish Nita and we redo it. Also, I really like it, especially the witch in the center. It’s my website, I wanna be in the center.

      I think the weighting to the left is balanced by the texture and the red on the right. I like assymmetry. Basically, I like the whole thing, but it’s the remnants of the old website by the designer, not the original.

      But if I ever finish this book and Jen decides to publish it, we’ll go back and get the whole thing rehabbed.

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  14. My comment isn’t so much about site content, but if you’re making changes be great if the type could be darker.

    I may be alone in this, but I find it hard to read such light type. With such good posts and the many many fab comments to read, it would be way easier on the eyes to have darker text.

    Overall, though, like the homepage format. Simple, organized, & easy to navigate.

    The main consideration I think is branding, and if it conveys that in a way that works for you. And that’s more your call. Not sure if you want the banner to convey more you or the types of books you write. Optimally, think most of us writers would think both, but having people in my life in the PR & branding games & trying to channel them, wonder if your current banner hits the “romance” note in writer of “contemporary romance with wit & humour” etc. way. But again, think that’s just one question someone doing a redesign may ask & that only you can answer.

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  15. “But if I ever finish this book and Jen decides to publish it” – the wheels in my brain shuddered to a halt at that.

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    1. Oh, start them up again. I have very aggressive agents. If Jen doesn’t want it, they’ll sell it someplace. And Jen is wonderful, so there’s that.

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  16. Nice simple site. Also, very you. So you don’t need to change anything really, unless you want to.

    If you tagged the blog posts more specifically (say with book titles or just project names) you could make some automated aggregations for people that want to read everything to do with one book/project. Don’t make yourself crazy by going over the old entries though.

    The grey in the blog navigation and search box particularly is a bit pale. You might want to turn that up a bit to make it more visible. Not as pretty I know, but it must be well below accessibility standards at the moment.

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  17. I don’t think you need all that text explaining the menu as the menu is pretty self-explanatory. I think the home page should answer the fundamental question: what’s in it for the reader? What will reading your site do for ME?

    Ex. Arghink is a fantastic resource for writers. You flush out the process, challenges, plotting issues, etc. It’s fascinating. Who would care about that? Professional writers, creative writers, NANOWRIMO peeps, etc. Loads of people.

    Your short essays are awesome. If the goal of the home page is to get people to engage in your site further tell them – why would anybody read these short essays? Who are they for? Buffy Fans. Pop culture aficionados. Spell it out.

    A better tagline would help too. I get that you’re a writer but again – who should be reading your site and what will they get out of it?

    I’m working on my own site redesign (SO OVERDUE). A tagline for me could be “Vermont Mom” but who cares? I answer questions about kids and sleep and THAT’S what readers care about.

    Anyhoo…you’ve gotten loads of great input already. Hope that helps – good luck!

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