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.

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.