Playing with the New WordPress Block Editor

WordPress is planning on getting rid of their classic editor box, the one I used from the first time I posted a blog. It was easy for a neophyte-blogger me to learn because it was so much like an email editor box, with everything right there that I would need.

I’ve been hesitant about using the new block editor, which is what they call the new blog editor, because it’s based on various blocks or boxes, for example, a box for images, one for text, one that combines both, one that uses a collage format for images, an embedded calendar, and all sorts of other “blocks” I will probably never use. The new format isn’t as intuitive as the old way, so I thought for the first few days of blogging with the new editor, all I’d be able to post is a few words with bizarre formatting, especially since, like most new applications and programs, the directions leave a lot to be desired. To be honest, even the original editor didn’t explain things very well, so I had developed my own tutorial to teach people how to blog.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been playing around with the new format, trying to figure out how to do things so I can keep my current and future blogs more or less in line with my previous posts. There’s virtually no help from any site that claims to explain how to do things (mostly they just say that the block editor is easy to use, all you have to do is pick the block you want to use), but that didn’t work for my basic needs.

But yay! I figured it out, as you can see from my past few posts. Today, I even learned how to use a couple of the blocks, such as this tiled image gallery:

And this block for recent posts:

Latest Posts

For the Birds

Once upon a time, I set out to learn bird names, but when it dawned on me that these are the names humans gave them, not what the birds call themselves, and that the names don’t tell the inner truth of birdness, I lost interest. Still, yesterday when I noticed a distinctive bird fighting for […]

Snow Day

It snowed last night, so much so that the entire town is closed down. And so am I. I’m not going anywhere. I would have preferred to stay inside, too, but as a homeowner I am now responsible for keeping my sidewalks shoveled. I doubt anyone would have hurt themselves if I hadn’t shoveled, because […]

After We Said Good-bye

I was looking through some of my old poems to see if I could find inspiration for a peace blog for November 4th, the day thousands people all over the world blog for peace, when I came across a poem I had written shortly after I met Jeff. you turned aroundand waved to meafter we […]

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I would have preferred smaller images, but the gallery is dependent on the width of the blog itself, and apparently, I have a wider blog than most. (For now. I dread the day when they retire this theme, which they do occasionally.)

As fun as all this learning was, the new way seems too distracting for a simple blog post.

Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll find this new blog experience as satisfying as the old one, but for now, it feels clunky. Even worse, it feels as if my words don’t count — that the look of the thing is more important than what is said. But that seems to be the way of the world.

Still, it’s something new for me to play with, so that has to count for something!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Upgrading My Blog

When I started this blog eleven years ago, there weren’t any ads at all on the WordPress site, or at least none that I or my readers ever saw. Gradually, as WordPress grew bigger, ads began appearing at the bottom of individual posts. People who had a WP blog and were logged in never saw those ads, nor did I, but I did always see a WP ad about paying to have the ads removed. Ironic, right?

I never thought anything of it. I liked the free aspect of the blog, and since people are used to seeing ads, I didn’t think it made much difference. And anyway, no ads ever appeared on my blog itself (the home page), only the individual articles. Until recently. When I was in Seattle recently, I used my sister’s computer, and before I logged into my blog, I noticed that ads were appearing on the home page.

So I finally gave in and paid for an upgrade to have the ads removed. This also gave me a domain, so if you are the sort who happens to notice such things, you will see that this blog now displays the URL “bertramsblog.com”, though the original URL” ptbertram.wordpress.com” and any links or bookmarks you see or have saved will still get you here.

Will this make any difference to anyone or anything besides my bank account? I don’t know, but I do know I have to start getting more professional (at least to a certain extent) about my writing career. The rights to most of my published works will soon revert to me, and I will have to figure out what to do with those books. I might have to self-publish, though I really hate the idea of giving Amazon so much of my fiscal information. I also not want the expense or the task of re-republishing the books especially since they’ve already been published and republished. On the other hand, I really love being a published author.

But that is a quandary for another day.

For now, this one big step to make Bertram’s Blog more professional is about all I want to deal with.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Magic of Blogging by Email

I’ve been practicing posting by email to make it easier to blog when my only access to the internet will be my phone. It wasn’t as difficult to post by email as I thought it would be.

The first thing I needed to do was to get a special email address. To do this, go to your dashboard and click on “my blogs.” The easiest way to find “my blogs” is to go to your blog, hover your cursor over “my site” on the left navigation strip, then click on “WP Admin.” You should see “My blogs” on the left sidebar close to the top.

Click “enable email” for the blog you wish to post to via email. That will give you a special email address. I input the email address in my phone so I don’t have to ever think about it again, and now it’s ready whenever I need it.

To post by email, go to your email on your phone and open a new message. The recipient, of course, is that secret email address WordPress assigned to you. The subject line is the title of the blog. The body of the email is the blog itself. An attached photo will show up on the bottom of the email. Apparently, as of now, there isn’t a way to align the image via email. If you want to realign it — to add it to the top of the blog or to wrap text around it — you have to edit the post on your computer.

There are some really cool aspects of email blogging, for example, the shortcodes. [category a,b,c] will post categories. The categories must already be ones you use on your blog. The brackets are part of the shortcode, and there can be no space before the word “category” or after the last category you use. (In this case, the letter c.) You don’t even have to use the whole word, just the first few letters, but I haven’t yet tried out that tip.

For tags, use the shortcode [tags a,b,c]. Again, no space before the word “tags” and after the last tag. Be sure to separate tags with commas. New tags will be automatically generated; they don’t already need to be in use on your blog.

If you attach more than one photo, they will show up as a gallery. If you want each one posted individually, use the shortcode [nogallery].

These three shortcodes can be placed anywhere in the email and it won’t affect the text of your post.

Magic!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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Yesterday I tried out the post by email feature on WordPress but forgot to add tags and categories. so today I need to try to do that too. I’m disappointed that the photos appear at the end of the post rather than at the beginning or in line with text, but I’m pleased that I can post at all. The main problem is that the photo appeared after my signature line, so I’m experimenting with putting the signature line first. If it’s too annoying let me know and in future posts by email I’ll just leave it off or just not worry that the photo is tacked on as an afterthought.

I’m also trying to do this without wifi because obviously if I’m out in the middle of nowhere I’ll be lucky to have a signal of any kind and definitely no wifi.

I took my last walk in the neighborhood today, and then ended out in the desert. I’ll miss that easy access to the wilds, but there will be more wilds in the future. This is an interesting time in my life, that’s for sure.

Going Ad Free on WordPress?

When I first started my blog with WordPress, their policy was that they would try to be as ad-free as possible, but that to keep the site a free service for bloggers, they would occasionally and unobtrusively add ads. At the beginning, I never noticed the ads, but as the number of blogs and the cost of doing business has increased, so has the number of ads. (At least it seems that way.)

I can go ad-frimagesee for $30 a year, but I don’t know if this is a necessary expense. The ads, including videos, generally appear at the bottom of individual blog posts. Sometimes the ads seem disruptive and not at all in keeping with my posts, but I don’t know if this makes a difference to readers. Many readers are also WordPress users, so they understand about the ads, and I’m not sure it matters about people who stop by accidentally, hoping for . . . whatever it is they were hoping for.

So, is it important to go ad-free, or do people simply take the ads as a matter of course?

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Is Blogging Dead? Do You Care?

RIPLately I’ve been seeing a lot of articles that talk about blogging being dead. These are blog articles, mind you, which seems to prove the point that blogging is not dead. I don’t even know what that means: “blogging is dead.” I have a hunch it refers to long form blogging, since Twittering and Facebook status updating are short form blogging, and posting photos or videos is visual blogging. Maintaining a web log is all about making a presence on the internet, keeping a record of one’s progress or ideas or everyday life. The form the log takes is constantly changing, but the need people have to tell the world “I am here and I matter” will always find a voice.

People do seem to be losing interest in reading long form blogs. Supposedly they don’t have the attention span it takes to read five hundred or so words. Supposedly they prefer snippets of information they can scan, photos they can glance at, videos they can watch, especially if those posts are funny. The sort of thing that goes viral is not a lengthy dissertation on why blogging is dead but a short video of cats trying to figure out the meaning of a treadmill, or a humorous caption on a photo of a singing dog.

Me? I have no interest in such things. I don’t like videos — it’s much easier for me to scan an article to pick out the salient points than to watch one or two people discussing something for five minutes only to find the relevant issue buried in bantering, small talk, or hype. I don’t particularly like photos, either, partly because I am verbally rather than visually oriented, and partly because . . . (dare I admit it?) . . . I have no interest in sappy pet photos or photos of people I don’t know doing things I don’t care about.

Perhaps the sky-is-falling attitude about blogging stems from the way mobile devices are changing how people connect with others and the internet. It’s easier on a phone to send in a tweet or a comment on a Facebook status than to write a blog or even to leave a comment on a blog. (Or so people say. The only web-related activity I do on my phone is checking my email, and I want to get out of the habit of doing that.)

I started blogging as a way of promoting my books, and even after I found out how little effect blogging has on my sales, I continued. For me, blogging is a discipline, a way of writing when I don’t have the focus to write a novel, a means of helping me think. It’s possible I’d get more views if I posted silly photos, but views are not all I want. I tend to be a thinker (or maybe “brooder” would be a better description) with a need to talk about the important issues of life and death and finding a place in the world, a need to connect with people on a deeper, truer, and more fundamental way than the simple exchanges that usually take place online. And often, I do find that here in my own corner of the blogosphere.

So, is blogging dead? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care (as long as WordPress is around, that is. If WordPress becomes defunct, then blogging really would be dead). What’s important to me is that this blog is very much alive, that it continues to satisfy my need for expression, and that sometimes people respond to what I have to say.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

2102 Year in Blogging Annual Review

I received my 2102 Year in Blogging Annual Review from WordPress today. According to WordPress:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 77,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 365 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1,099 posts. There were 358 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 53 MB. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 3rd with 1,683 views. The most popular post that day was Thirty-Two Months of Grief.

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012 (Some of your most popular posts were written before 2012. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again):

  1. Sex With Sister Tips. Um…Yeah (July 2009)
  2. Describing a Winter Scene (February 2008)
  3. How Many Books Are Going to be Published in 2012? (Prepare for a Shock) (April 2012)
  4. Describing a Scene in an Interesting Way (November 2007)
  5. Meaningful Names (December 2008)

The top referring sites in 2012 were:

  1. wordpress.com
  2. facebook.com
  3. dsync.blogspot.com
  4. twitter.com
  5. 36ohk6dgmcd1n-c.c.yom

The top commenters were:

  1. Rami Ungar The Writer
  2. Joylene
  3. Rod Marsden

Visitors:

stats

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

I am a Victim of Content Scraping

I’d never even heard of content scraping until yesterday when I found my article Why I Write About My Grief posted on two other blogs. The other blogs did not quote the article, nor did they reblog it. (When an article is reblogged, only the first paragraph or so shows up on another blog, with a link back to the original blog.) They stole the entire thing. One of the blogs was hosted by WordPress, so WordPress suspended the blog for violation of services. The other blog was not hosted by WordPress (it’s a self-hosted blog powered by WordPress, which is a completely different matter) so I have no recourse except legal means. Sometimes courts will take action against a “scraper,” but more often than not, if it is an automated theft by special programs rather than copy and paste by humans, there’s not much that can be done since the site will simply disappear and reappear under another name.

Apparently, search engines cannot distinguish between scraped content and original content, so the plagiarized content (let’s call it by it’s real name) shows up first in search results since it is the newer content, which makes the theft even more of a problem. If you are the victim of scrapers, there are some things you can do to fight back. First, take the steps outlined in this article from WordPress Support: Content Theft – What to Do. Second, you can follow the suggestions in this article: Content Scrapers – How to Find Out Who is Stealing Your Content & What to Do About It. Third, ignore the situation but take steps to make sure you get the credit.

If you decide on the third option, the easiest way to get at least partial credit for future plagiarized material is to use a link to your own site in your content, such as the link to my grief in article in the first sentence of this blog. Even better, add a promo to the bottom of the blog so that no matter where the article appears, information about you as the author will go along with it. That’s what I decided to do: add a promo to the bottom of my blogs. Regular readers will forgive the intrusion (I hope), new readers will learn a bit about me, and any bot that steals my content will also spread the word about me and my books.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free. Print books can also be ordered from your favorite bookstore.

I’ve Been Freshly Pressed and You Can Be, Too

On Monday, I got an email from WordPress:

Hi there Pat Bertram,

Congrats! We’ve picked your post ( https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/a-perfect-grasp-of-storytelling/ ) to appear on Freshly Pressed on the WordPress home page.

We really enjoyed your well-written, sharp, and succinct take on perfect characters, unbalanced worlds, and good storytelling in general, and we know the rest of the WordPress community will too. Your post will appear on the site in the next day or two, so get ready to welcome your new readers.

Once your post goes live, shout it from the rooftops! Tell your family, friends, and readers to check out the WordPress home page, and share the good news with your social networks (we’ll do the same).

Most importantly, keep up the great work. To boost your blogging prowess even more, check out “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed” ( http://en.support.wordpress.com/freshly-pressed/ ) for tips on everything from enhancing your theme to becoming a grammar guru, and visit The Daily Post ( http://dailypost.wordpress.com/ ) for pro tips, blogging challenges and more.

Thanks for making the internet a more interesting place!

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The post appeared on Tuesday evening. This was the third time I’ve been Freshly Pressed. The other two articles that made the WordPress front page were I Am a Three-Month Grief Survivor and I Am a Six-Month Grief Survivor.

All three times, the honor came as a surprise, but the truth is, I had prepared for such an eventuality by following the guidelines in “So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.” Until I read that article, I’d never used photos in my posts. I’d also over-tagged and over-categorized (though that doesn’t seem to be something they care so much about now). On the off chance that the WordPress editors would notice my little corner of the blogosphere, I cut down to no more than ten tags and categories combined, and I started adding an image to my posts. (That became an art in itself, taking the perfect photo to accompany my words.)

I’ve always aimed for typo-free text and eye-catching headlines, but I don’t always have a strong point of view. (I don’t much like contention.) Apparently, though, I’ve managed to strike the right chord with the WordPress editors three times, and you can, too. Just keep blogging. If you write it, they will come.

Three Simple Ways to Increase Views on Your WordPress Blog

In my travels around the internet, I see a lot of blogs. There is nothing more annoying than to stop at an interesting article, want to see more by the writer, and have no other articles available to see. Many people use the standard archives widget, which is nothing more than a listing by date. What good does that do anyone? A date is not exactly a compelling reason to check out more of the blog.

In case anyone is curious what I wrote on a particular day, I do have the date widget, as you can see toward the bottom of my right sidebar, but I use a drop down box in place of a long list of dates. I also have “categories” toward the bottom of my left sidebar, but that is almost as useless. “Grief” and “writing” and “life” are almost as dull as a date. However, if you will look toward the top of my left side bar, you will see “Recent Posts” and “Top Posts.” Recent posts, obviously, are the most recent posts, and top posts are the ones that got the most views for the past forty-eight hours. This gives anyone who is interested in reading more of my articles a sampling of my writing. If you don’t use such widgets on your WordPress blog, why not? It takes only a few minutes to add the widgets.  Here’s how:

Rest the mouse cursor on the name of your blog in the top left hand corner until you get a dropdown box. Click on “widgets.” On the widget page, find “Recent Posts” and “Top Posts and Pages,” and drag them to your sidebar. If you have more than one sidebar, as I do, drag them to the sidebar where you’d like to see them featured. Title the widget if you want, or leave the title WordPress gives them, choose the number of posts you’d like to display, and click “save.” That’s it. Simple, right?

What’s even simpler is creating a page with an archive of all your posts. Supposing you have a lot of posts you are proud of and you want people to be able to see all your titles at a glance — it will take forever to list them, won’t it? Nope. Won’t take but a minute.  Here’s how:

Rest the mouse cursor on the name of your blog in the top left hand corner until you get a dropdown box.  Let the cursor rest on “new” then click “page.” Add a title to the page, then in the body of the post, write [a r c h i v e s]. Use the brackets, and don’t put spaces between the letters. I had to add spaces, otherwise you wouldn’t see the shortcode, you would only see the list of all my blog posts.

Now, the next time I visit your blog, I’ll have a reason to stay and read awhile.