Welcome to the official author's blog for Pico Triano. From this site you can find links to most of my online writing. The menu below will bring you to some of my more popular work and allow you to navigate the site. In the sidebar you will find feeds listing the latest articles on all my websites. Relax take you time and enjoy your visit.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Proud Of My Daughter's Latest Accomplishment

My daughter Mieke won first place for June in Writing.com's monthly "What a Character" contest. She enters this contest regularly because it is the premier contest on that site. It is a challenge and the competition is always excellent. She previously finished second in this same contest on two other occasions. This is her first win.

This month's prompt was: Write a story about a character whose best friend is something other than another human being. It can be a pet, robot, inanimate object, imaginary friend, or anything else you can come up with!

Her is the link to her winning entry: http://p15.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2086966-Rhakanirs-Raven . It is restricted to writing.com members.

As a writer and her father, I'm especially proud of her writing accomplishments. She is hoping to catch on at some point with one of the bigger more prestigious publishing houses. I think she has the talent and the work ethic to achieve that someday.

Congratulations Mieke!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Writing Taking a Backseat

Courtesy Pixabay

I'm sure this is already obvious to my readers, but it is worth an explanation at this point. This year has since January already, amped up pressure on the family finances. I'm spending a great deal of time trying to get things on a solid footing. Every time I think we've made progress something else happens to make it worse again. I want to write a lot but too much of my focus is on other issues.

Will it get better? I'm not even sure. So much is up in the air at this point. I'm hoping that my hours at work increase back up to sustainable levels or a workable alternative can be found. If there was a stable nearby alternative I'd be after it in a heartbeat.

Something else has come up which will also eat into my writing time. Apparently there is a nearby house that is going to be demolished to make way for a new one. I may be given access to all the materials from the old house. That would be awesome but a lot of work and I'm not sure I have the tools to make it all happen. This would give me everything I need to build a real wood shop. It would also allow me to make extensive additions/renovations to our existing abode. There might even be material for a few other things. We came to New Brunswick to start a woodworking business before being derailed and if everything goes right this might put us close to back on track. I'd have a hard time passing that opportunity up even if it cost me a lot of writing time.

I've once again shifted my writing focus as well. I'm more interested in working on writing that will potentially give me some kind of financial return. I am working on preparing “Rat in the Shadows” for the next step. I made significant progress during the week and expect to continue that work.

I hope to break through all these distractions before the end of June. Something has to give. What I'm dealing with right now can't last. This status quo is not sustainable.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Back On Track

Courtesy Pixabay

My writing efforts had a rough month in April. I've decided to work at it with a different approach. There were aspects of the task that were getting shunted aside – like editing. What was getting me stuck the worst though was my at times one track mind. I got my mind on things that were not appropriate to share publicly and had trouble shifting to something else.

Without going into detail, I've established a private daily journal where I will not only write things that I don't feel I can safely share but also track my progress. There are other things like review work and editing that I've made part of my schedule. In theory the world may hear less from me on a daily basis but I will be accomplishing more. I'll still be doing blog posts and articles but it will be different. Busy at work already.

Several of my sites are approaching milestones. Pico's Cycling – Tales of the Road recently surpassed 19,000 views all time. Not sure when I can get that restarted. At least I have a new chain for the bike and will soon be riding again. Close to one hundred entries on my writing practice blog and close to 5,000 views there. Looking forward to seeing those going past those marks.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Current Plan

Courtesy Pixabay
My article/blogpost/story per day came crashing to an end about two and half three weeks ago. Part of me feels bad about it, but another part of me realizes that the approach was imperfect.  I've spent quite a bit of time rethinking how I want to proceed from here. Kudos to me for keeping it up for three straight months.

Reasons that it wasn't working are fairly straightforward. I have a one track mind and there were a few thing dominating my thoughts that I couldn't publicly write about. Generally I don't discuss employment problems or confidential issues with the whole world. I'll leave it at that because I don't want to give any additions clues as to what I'm referring to.

New plan isn't fully developed yet. I want to base it on a minimum daily word count but it can't just that without dooming it all to failure. There will be days when circumstances will not allow me to write at all. Something along the lines of 4000 words per week with an understood minimum of five hundred words per day. Getting ahead on the count would allow me the occasional missed day. To overcome the one track mind, I intend to establish a private journal where I have the freedom to write some of those things. Should have a workable plan within the week.

In the meantime, I haven't been just spinning my wheels doing nothing the past couple weeks. I have learned how to create publishable ebooks from scratch without spending a dime.  I will be adding that skill to my freelancing website. I have access to additional tools for that purpose so I'm still learning. I do have the capability right now to load a professional looking ebook onto the Amazon site. We'll see where that leads me.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Quickie Update

Just writing something quick before starting my shift at work today. Whole family is feeling under the weather including your's truly. Brandon wanted to come to work even though he isn't sure he'll make it through his shift. I don't know if I feel better or worse than he does. If he hadn't decided to try and tough it out, I'm not sure I would have come in myself.

Twitter campaign has been paused because I debate its effectiveness. I think the strategy needs some tweaks. My intention is to make some improvements, set things up so the family can send the tweets even when I'm doing other things. The work load is too much for me for what I'm getting back out of it. It'll be back better than ever.

I'm having a tough month with writing.  Still at minus one for the month but on the plus side for the year. Things are better than they were and there is hope that I'll be on the plus side for the month again.

Hopefully in a few days everyone will be healthy again and I'll be feeling more positive. Nicer weather would sure make a difference. It's been really cold or really wet or both.

Inspiration will come again and then I'll have dozens of stories and articles to work on.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Dug a Writing Hole

Courtesy Pixabay

First time I've been in this position this year. My goal of writing something each day is mired at minus two for the month. I fell behind by one early in the month and then caught it back up. Unfortunately I used up a lot of writing energy if you can call it that doing so. Missed the first one upset over something unrelated. I have a hard time writing anything other than a rant about the issue at hand in those situations and I this wasn't something I cared to share with the world. The following day I had my work hours extended and I didn't have much time or energy left by the time I got home.

Being ahead by one or two is far different than being behind. No pressure. Being behind is worse than it looks. Writing this today allows my to hold the line and keep things from getting worse but it doesn't make up any of the lost ground. It is hard to be happy with that. There is a lot of month to regain the lost ground but for the next few days my schedule is not going to help me.

Part of me is feeling out of ideas, but that is probably just a mood thing. There are times when I have more ideas than I could ever write. That just isn't the case right now though. I have to sit down and generate a new list of writing ideas. That might be more useful than trying to force things right now. Friday is a mostly free day and if all goes well I will catch up then and hopefully put myself ahead. That will kill all the perceived writing pressure again.

Got a few other things on my plate to take care of before I go to bed. Betting tomorrow I'll be feeling more positive.

Friday, 11 March 2016

March Progress Report

March Progress Report

May seem to be a little odd for me to be making a progress report this early in the month. There is progress though and besides that I'm stranded at work for a few hours and really don't have much else to do.

At the beginning of the month, I started a Twitter campaign. It's taken a week and a half but it is finally in full swing. This is the point where I wanted to start but couldn't quite get it all together that fast. I have created four sets of tweets that I post from twice per day rotating through. I needs serious refinement but I'm happy with how it is progressing.

I don't know what all this work is translating into but there are statistics that I can look to and at least feel like I'm accomplishing something. Twitter impressions have skyrocketed. I'm doing in a day what used to take me a whole month and the numbers are still going up. There is an increase in views on the websites I'm advertising so it is translating that far. I don't know if my book has been experiencing increased sales or not. I have no way of knowing. I'll keep plugging away. At least I know I'm not doing any harm.

I am minus one on the month for articles produced. Still on the plus side for the year but I have work to do. No excuses for this right now. Might catch up before the day is out.

My freelance work is still mired near the beginning. Been slow to add work to Francine's art site. It's moving forward but I'd like to see more happening. I may break down and try to pick up some lower paying work from some of the freelancing sites. Staying patient isn't an easy task for me.

I need to be more disciplined with my time and be more aggressive in pursuing my goals. Don't need to be too hard on myself though. Progress is being made. My writing goals are moving forward.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

An Obvious Issue

Courtesy Pixabay

Twitter campaign is in progress and right at the start I have an issue that I would like to resolve. I started small with rotating tweets for just my book and my wife's artwork. The tweets for my book are doing about as well as I could possibly have hoped. The tweets for my wife aren't generating much, which I find very disappointing.

I think if we keep plugging away, the problem will eventually sort itself out. I'd like to see results faster than that though.

The problem is probably a combination of things. Number one is the fact that she really doesn't have a lot of followers. That is something that will have to be addressed slowly. I don't have a huge following myself but the difference is very noticeable. I don't know if the content is an issue. I can see that writers might do better in the Twittersphere than artists in other mediums. I'm just not sure. I'm learning as I go but I would like to see her work gain popularity. The fact that she doesn't spend much time on it directly herself probably isn't helping either.

I will try to draw more interest with how I retweet. This running experiment will tell me how much difference things make. The fact that there is an issue is obvious. How to fix it quickly is not so obvious.

I will continue to expand this effort. I added a campaign for Inknbeans Press in general. I intend to put together campaigns aimed at increasing the readership of all my blogs to add to this. Maybe by the end of the month I will achieve the level of promotion that was my grand plan from the beginning.

At this point if you look at my rate of impressions on Twitter, I'm getting as much attention in twenty-four hours as I was getting in a month two or three weeks ago. Just have to be patient with myself and allow myself to be human.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Mini Twitter Campaign Starts Today

Courtesy Pixabay

I had envisioned a grand assault on the Twitterverse but I just haven't had the time or energy to put it all together that way. So I made a compromise with myself. I made five tweets for my novel and five tweets for my wife's artist's website to tweet on a rotating basis for the entire month of March. I started today.

Part of this is an experiment. I want to see if it increases the number of people following me. I also want to see if it increases the number of views on my wife's website. I will be adding similar pre-written tweets for my blogs and some of my web pages. I will be doing that as I have time. Unfortunately I'm still human and there is only so much I can get done in a day.

For my friends and anyone else who cares. If you're on Twitter, my account there is under @PicoTriano. Please follow me and if and when the urge strikes you, likes and shares are always appreciated. That activity just might make a huge impact on this campaign.

Final note. My efforts have not been in vain to this point. The work I did for my wife's artist's website is paying off. For the month of February we have had three small sales. Three sales in four weeks after her work generated no sales in three years is definitely a step forward. We are hoping to increase the rate to at least one sale per week in short order.

Big sigh and then back to work.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Looks Like a Winner

Courtesy Pixabay

Well I entered a grand total of one writing contest so far this year and unless something changes before midnight tomorrow I'm going to win it. Not really the way I want though. At this point I'm the only entry. That fact really flabbers me gast. I thought a contest like this one would have gotten a lot of entries. The monthly contest is call “Try Something New” and the prompt for it was just Valentines Day. I would have ignored the contest because I don't observe the day in any way, but the intro also mentioned writing things like, bad dates, old flames and on and on. It really was wide open. There must be dozens of romance writers on the site who would have been able to write something. How could a contest like that not end up with at least two dozen entries?

I'm trying to give this a positive spin in my little brain. I entered the contest way early. As soon as it popped up in my notifications, I went ahead and cooked up a story for it. This story must be so good that everyone thinking about entering read it, got intimidated and decided to wait for the prompt for next month.

A general announcement has been made that unless there were other entries, I would be awarded the winners prize. I will likely return the points to the contest pool. In my mind it isn't really a win. I will post a link to the story in March if this actually plays out tomorrow or not. I've legitimately won this particular contest before. We'll see what the next prompt will be in March.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Only Need One

Courtesy Pixabay

I only need to write one post to finish the month and this is it. Not a garbage post though. More of a month end wrap up.

My goal of writing a blog post, article or story is completely intact. Started more than two months ago now and have been keeping pace with that no problem. The goal at this point is to keep this up for the entire year.

My intention to start and maintain a Twitter campaign has been falling flat though. I have composed tweets but they haven't been properly set up yet. I think I'm trying to hit too hard to start. I'm spending too much time preparing and not enough time doing. There is a lot I want to accomplish with it. With that thought I will approach this differently in March. I'm going to take a section of what I was hoping to do and start with that.

I did get my freelancing site set up this month. Getting it started is only the first hurdle. Next thing is to figure out how to find and keep paying clients. I can do the work. I will be focusing on preparing more professional looking work to showcase what I can do. I already have some potential subjects in mind. I feel I have to push this aspect of my writing because our income needs a little boost to make me feel stable. I'm just reluctant to try to get work through some of the freelancing communities. Working for fifty cents an hour or less isn't going to cut it. I get that I have to make a name for myself but there are limits to the sacrifices I can make.

I had plans to get the ball rolling tomorrow on my readjusted focus but I've been called in to work. Bill is sick and I'm the main back up for maintenance. I should still have time in the afternoon to work at it. No complaint here by the way. This call in solves a number of problems for the week. Number one I have an appointment on Wednesday with the dentist in Moncton. This business allowed me to negotiate a schedule adjustment to accommodate that. It also boosts my hours for the week back up to where they need to be. Happy about that. Tomorrow should be tame. It's Wednesday that is going to be a wild one.

Hope to get more done this evening while I have a chance. Look out March. Here I come.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Cleared My Plate For Tomorrow

Courtesy Pixabay

I had a scheduled day off on Sunday and had planned to get a couple of writing projects completed. Ended up being called in to work and given some much needed work hours. As a result virtually none of that writing even got looked at. Tomorrow I get another shot at it all.

Before getting to that though there were a couple bits of work that had to be done first. We have a storm on its way and our firewood pile was getting depleted. This storm is supposed to bring a mix of rain and snow, a terrible combination for bringing in firewood. Went crazy on it this afternoon though. I cut down three very dry dead trees and with the help of the boys hauled it all under cover. This will keep us warm well into March. That means tomorrow, I don't even have to think about it.

Tomorrow I'm going to punch my writing clock in the morning and get after that freelance writing bio. I need to get that done. After the bio, I have to put together a basic price list for my services and make the site public. I am hoping to begin making a small side income through that type of work.

Once I'm done with all that I have a project my wife and I have been working on for her website. On her America Fine Arts account it is possible to get her work on I-phone cases. For some reason the prices ended up all over the place. We've fixed most of them. Tomorrow we get to do the rest and then promote them. Some of her artwork looks exceptionally good on those products.

It is going to be a big day at the keyboard. Hopefully my writing endeavors with continue to develop and move forward.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Writing a Freelancer Bio

Courtesy Pixabay

This project is testing me severely. It isn't that I can't write a decent bio in a big hurry. The challenge is to create something that will potentially lead to paying clients. I went online to check out articles on the subject, which made things clear as mud. Then I looked at other freelancer sites for examples and that didn't seem to help much either. This has been bugging me intensely for days and not so intensely for a couple months. My subconscious hasn't failed me yet though and I have cobbled together what I think is a workable framework to hang everything on.

First thing a prospective client wants to know about me is what I am as a writer. That will be the first section of the bio. After that they likely want to know more about my background and education and finally my miscellaneous experiences outside of writing. Every section is important but needs to be in a resume order rather than what I would usually write for a bio. It also means headings and sub-headings, things that I don't normally associate with short biographies.

This is a good experience for me. Pushes me outside of my writing comfort zone. I don't doubt my abilities. I think I'll end up with something excellent when I'm finished. I expect to be putting it out there for my friends to critique within a week or so, depending on time and inspiration. I want to get this right.

Once that's done and I've put together a basic price list for my services, I will be going live with the site. Another step forward.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

First Miss of the Year

Yesterday, I wrote nothing. First day I've missed so far this year. I still have more blog post, articles and other published pieces than I have days of the year. Incidentally I'm planning to catch this miss up before the day is out today. This is not a disaster. The problem isn't a problem until it happens all the time.

This is a miss I could have avoided by writing something when I had the time earlier in the day. Because I didn't, then plans changed on the fly and then finally I had a worry thrown on my plate. No one to blame. Everything was voluntary. Even the worry part. It isn't my problem. Just my heart hasn't turned completely to stone quite yet. That's my excuses at any rate.

Today's schedule got flipped around as well but I can make it work to my favour. Shake machine at work broke yesterday and has to be fixed this morning. The guy who fixes and cleans that machine wasn't supposed to be on early so we were asked to trade shifts. Works better for me. Especially since I can write this now and a background type post for my wife's artist's site when I get home. Spreads everything out.

So a couple cliché lessons for the day. If you suffer a set back, get right back up. If life serves you lemons, make lemonade. Works for me.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A Hoped For Step Forward

We have started February with a very encouraging success. My wife Francine opened her Fine Arts America account and site in 2012 and had not sold a single copy of any of her paintings and drawings during the ensuing years. Someone did buy a copy of a photograph once but that was it. I felt the issue had a lot more to do with our marketing than the quality of her work.

Several weeks ago we thought it would be a good idea to put together an artist's blog for her highlighting her work. The project is on going. We divided her work up into logical galleries and made links back to her original site for the purposes of sales. Fine Arts America does that part very well. Biweekly I'm am adding a background story blog entry for her existing paintings. I ghost write for her while she continues her artwork.

After the first week, Francine has sold two greeting card images. That is exactly the type of success we were hoping for. We aren't hoping to get rich from the site, in fact at this point if she earned enough to pay for all her art supplies we'll be delighted. Long term we are hoping she can gain a modest income from her work.

This isn't just a big success for Francine but also a win for me. In the background I've been slowly working at launching myself as a freelance writer on the world. I already have demonstrated that I am a pro at writing forum content and related work. This site is ample evidence that I can ghost write blog content as well. I am working at a dedicated site for this work. Once I've established appropriate pricing for my skills and the basics are ready there, I will be launching that as well. The process has been a slow one, but good progress is being made. I think it is only a matter of time before I'm making a side income writing, independent of content mills and other extremely low paying options.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

My Brain is Misfiring

Courtesy Pixabay

Due to a scheduling quirk, I'm at work way early and have time to write before my shift begins. Only problem is the writing idea portion of my brain has shut down. It's a little frustrating because yesterday while I was working the grill, I had several really good ones bouncing around between my ears. Once I'm there again, I'm certain all those wonderful ideas will come flooding back. Problem is that I have the time now.

Now before someone drops the wonderful idea that I need to write down my ideas before they vanish, it's hard to do while I'm working. I've tried keeping a pen and paper on my person even at work but you would not believe how many pens I've lost doing that. I can't afford to keep buying them.

Nearest pen and paper is in my backpack on top of the employee lockers. If I can hang onto an idea until break or the end of my shift, I will capture it.  Sometimes I get distracted though and yesterday I got big time distracted. I finished my shift quite concerned about the incident. After work, my wife, one of my sons and myself followed up, did what we could but are still concerned. Won't write about that either because it's better left confidential. Life happens, everytthing will be just fine.

The ideas will come back and the beauty of writing practice is you can always write something even if your brain isn't quite all there.

Funny thing is that this'll wind up on my author's blog not my writing practice because this is all about writing. Going to be a great day. Maybe I'll write something else before the day is out. For daily writing I'm a plus two on the year and making it plus three would be nice.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Writing Pulse Check

Courtesy Pixabay

Tomorrow is the last day of January. I've had an excellent month of consistent writing. I continue to produce daily. My numbers when it comes to readership look encouraging. I'm hoping to build on this as a foundation.

My blog Pico's Writing Practice has validated my reason for making it all public. Last I looked it had 994 views for January. Even if I don't post anything else before February, it'll top a thousand views.

My author's blog here will be close to five hundred page views, while Pico's Cycling – Tales of the Road which isn't even active has picked up close to three hundred. With views on my other blogs, I'm declaring my base total for the month 1800.

Sometime this month I will begin my Twitter campaign. That base total will be my yardstick for measuring how successful the campaign is. Expecting to have another great month.

Besides the Twitter campaign, the coming month will see continued work on my wife's artist's site. There is a lot of material to ghost write for her. Not only will that help her out but it will provide me with an excellent example of what I'm capable of as a freelance writer. I plan to show it to potential clients.

Before spring gets here, I still expect myself to polish “Rat in the Shadows”. I would love to have my second novel published before too much of this year passes.

Ambitious writing year, but I believe I can make it all happen. So far I'm on track.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

First Mission Accomplished

Courtesy Pixabay

My first writing challenge of 2016 was to complete thirty articles or blog posts in thirty days. I started the challenge on December 24. After thirty days I have completed 32 articles and blog posts. I'm not planning to stop there, hoping to maintain the momentum.

With that challenge completed I was planning to move on to my Twitter campaign but it isn't ready yet. I'm still working on prewriting the needed tweets. I'm kind of rushing those because everything I've come up with so far is off the top of my head. Maybe not the best strategy but that's what I've had time for. Maybe another week before I start that. The intention is to run it for twenty-eight days and see what it accomplishes.

If any of my readers have suggestions on making it better while it is running, I'm all ears. Feedback on something like this is useful. The hope is that the campaign will yield more readers. That goes for any of my writing challenges. Just remember the suggestion to spend lots of money is not welcome. I don't have that to throw into the game.

In the spring, I hope to resurrect my cycling webzine. In the, meantime. I have one other in between project. I need to edit the two rough draft manuscripts I have written. They'll never get published if I don't get that done. More goals to come. I want to make 2016 the best writing year ever for me.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Critiquing a Critique

Courtesy Pixabay

Normally I'm happy to get any kind of peer feedback in the form of reviews but sometimes I get something that is disappointing. I recently requested feedback on a piece on a site I post on and got two reviews back. I debate whether I will get anything useful out of them. I will think hard on the subject but it doesn't look promising to me.

Both of them followed a similar format to the point where I suspect they learned this from the same source. Either both of them failed to understand it in the same dysfunctional way or they should learn from someone else. Most of the advice given was vague to the point of being useless. It's great to say you see problems with grammar without citing a single example. They both suggested I read it out loud to find the choppy parts without indicating where I might find them. Kind of funny since I did read the whole thing out loud to my daughter before posting it and now she's as baffled as I am.

Reviewing is important between writers and there is one thing you have to do to have any hope of being helpful. BE CONCRETE! I might disagree with your point of view but at least I'll know what you're talking about and exactly what you're referring to.

The most important part of writing is successfully conveying your meaning. That goes for reviews as well. I don't care if you have a degree in the subject.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Entering Writing Contests

Courtesy Pixabay

Paid a visit to WDC (writing.com) today and entered my second writing contest for the year. I do it partly for the prizes and partly just to push myself as a writer. I've done well in most of them and have actually won a few. That doesn't make me an expert on any winning formula. Sometimes I'm as baffled by the results as anyone. I have learned a few things, though.

Who the judges are can make a world of difference. No matter how good your writing skills are, if a judge does not like your writing style or genre you're doomed.

My daughter has run into that once and honestly I think I had more trouble getting over the results than she did. She got a note from one of the judges telling her that they detested fantasy. There were no genre restrictions on the contest but it was very obviously the reason she didn't place. I read her entry and was intimidated out of putting in an entry myself. I also read the other entries including the eventual winners. They weren't that good. If this happens to you, don't let it bug you. It happens and rarely can you do anything about it.

The fact is everyone has different tastes. I've entered a comedy writing contest and got honourable mention. One of the winning entries was slapsticky. Some people like that and some find it stoopid. What the judges like matters. Don't let it discourage you. If your stuff is good, keep writing, your audience will eventually find you.

The other thing I learned to improve your chance of winning is to submit just a few days before the deadline. This especially helps when writing comedy pieces. My theory is that if you give the judges too long to think about it, they become less enamoured with your work with time. Don't give the entry time to get stale in the eyes of the judges or something fresher will finish ahead of you.

Entering contests is good for your writing just don't be too competitive about it. That can lead to unjustified discouragement when you should have won but didn't, being intimidated by the competition by reading what you're up against and then not bothering to try, or getting angry with the process because you feel slighted. If you want to be a better writer don't ignore entering contests, there's more to gain than the prizes.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Planning a Twitter Campaign

My thirty day writing challenge is winding down and I'm succeeding well. The objective is and was to try and establish the daily habit of writing. It's great to succeed at that goal but writers need readers and I'm hoping to do better in that department.

With that in mind, I'm planning to put together a Twitter campaign. Objective of this is to attract more attention to my already written novel, increase the readership of my existing blogs and maybe see a little more action over at Hubpages as well.

For my novel I hope to put together a short list of five different tweets with appropriate hashtags and at least a cover image. I can rotate tweeting those daily along with some other tweets focusing on drawing attention to my publisher and fellow beans. I need to email Boss Bean and see if there aren't some images available for doing that. Images make tweets so much more effective that just text.

My current writing has increased traffic on my blogs but I'm hoping to take that a step further. Like I plan to do for the book, I will make some repeatable tweets with hashtags and images directing readers to certain pages within my blogs. As an example I could see people to my humour page or to the blog in general instead of just the latest article. I might divide up some of my other material and make pages highlighting groups of related blog entries. If all goes well this could boost my readership substantially.

The overall plan is to put out five different tweets each morning and five others each evening and run them for few weeks and see what happens. If it works well I'm prepared to run with the concept longer term. As long as I can avoid making it all too labour intensive, I can keep it up for quite a time.

I want to implement this as soon as reasonably possible. Once the tweets and images are organized and I've touched bases with a few people, I'll be ready to roll with it.

Sunday, 10 January 2016


Right now my youngest son is pacing back and forth behind me. If he doesn't stop, it's only a matter of time before I say something unkind to him. In his defense, this place is small. It might be nice for a couple but not for a family of seven. He stopped. Whew. Now let's hope my oldest doesn't start. Pacing is something they inherited from me.

I would like to have a quiet little writer's lair. Some place where I can write (and maybe pace) without being in anyone's way or having someone else bug me. I'd have a bigger desk and some handy shelves to store stuff on or maybe some drawers instead. I do have a window with a view. I'd keep that. It's dark out right now. During my writing time I would be conveniently unavailable except for real emergencies. I can dream can't I?

If you're a writer and you don't have that wonderful little writing space, do the best you can. Maybe someday you'll strike a modest payday that will give you that writing spot. Until then write anyway.

By the way the two of them elected to have a spat I had to break up as I finished this.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Adding a Picture to Your Writing

Courtesy Pixabay

Glad to see that Twitter confirmed my own experience as not being a fluke. Add an appropriate photo to your tweets and you'll see a thirty-five percent increase in response. I've noticed improvement on any social media site I've posted on by adding pictures. The difference is huge and nothing else adds that kind of increase, not even video clips.

I consider our camera to be one of my most important writing tools. The fact that there is a camera on my tablet is a bonus although I prefer the quality of our dedicated camera. I can't always take the picture I want though so I use some of the free use image sites online. My favorite would have to be Pixabay. There are others that I've used but Pixabay is the one I keep going back to. Simplicity of use would have to be the main reason.

If you read my writing regularly, you will notice that each post or article is usually accompanied by a photo or picture of some kind. When I advertise that article or post on social media I make a point of displaying the photo along with the link to my work. This increase in views has always been quite dramatic. Even if the picture is my own ugly mug.

Originally, on my articles on Pico's Cycling, I credited all photos along with the author at the beginning of the piece. It's important to credit any work that is not your own by the way. I am changing the way I do that. I find it better to put the credit with the picture in the caption. When an article has photos from several different sources that is less confusing.

Best advice I could give another online writer is never forget the pictures.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Even Small Successes Are Invigorating

Did some updating on my websites this morning and am really pleased with the results on my author's blog: From Pico's Pen. With a little help online from someone named Ro Little, I managed to configure the site navigation module into something that I like and that there is some hope that visitors will see. I didn't fare so well on Pico's Cycling – Tales of the Road. That one will be a whole lot more complex. It will require a foray into HTML coding but after the initial success I have confidence that Ms. Little will take me there with her tutorials. I just haven't enough time for that this morning.

I did some additional clean up on the right sidebar and added feeds from my writing practice and book reviews. That enhances what a see as the vision of the site and to top it all off I'm pleased with the look. It doesn't stop at the home page either. I think my comedy page looks just about perfect. Hopefully my readers will find it easier to navigate and will appreciate the look as much as I do.

The real work of course is fixing the navigation on the cycling site. I want that done before I consider relauching with new issues. I just feel it's possible. I'm sure anyone my age trying to master some of the “new” technology will understand how frustrating it can be. There are only a few things I'm not happy with as far a the look goes. My header takes up too much room on the right side and doesn't look balanced. Fixing that and the navigation bar will make it just the way I want it. With the extra space on the right side then I can implement a few other good ideas.

Have some real world stuff on my plate though and I'm not sure I'll have time to mess with that further today. Next day off work is Wednesday so this could prove to be a really good week.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Calling It All Research

Courtesy Pixabay

I have joked many times that as a writer I can do anything and excuse it as research. That is in part true but it hurts me when I use it to fritter away valuable time.

With any writing, research can make it better. When I'm writing fiction, details can make it more real to the reader. That has led to some out of left field searches on Google. I remember working on a scene where penetentiary inmates were having a discussion over supper and I realized I had no idea what American prisoners eat at their meals. Yes you can find stuff like that out on Google. I think the references to the food here and there in the conversation gave it a more realistic feel. The best fiction isn't going to seem like fiction to your reader. I mention that example because it's tame enough not to upset most people who read this. I will research whatever I think I need to, to make my writing work.

That being said, research can go off the rails. I've been researching and started out fine but went from interesting point to interesting point until I was way off topic just spinning my wheels accomplishing nothing. Research is great as long as you don't lose focus on what you're trying to accomplish.

Aimless wandering online or off can be called research in the sense that you might just stumble across something that might help somewhere in your writing. That is really just an excuse to fritter away a lot of time. I'm not saying that behaviour never has any value, it just might be better to find another term for it – maybe experience or entertainment would fit better. Watching a Youtube video review of helium infused beer was definitely entertaining but I really doubt I'll ever use that “research” in one of my novels.

For me the clearest way to differentiate real research from the other kind is ask myself if my research has an end goal. No identifiable goal and it ain't really research.