The Making of a Web Site

Edith here, still waddling from all the delicious Thanksgiving food! apron

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway: I’m giving away an Author apron, plus one of my three 2017 books: Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth book in her Local Foods Mystery series, Called to Justice, Quaker Midwife Mystery #2, and When the Grits Hit the Fan, the third Country Store Mystery. Winner’s choice! Leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Today I want to share some great news, and some process. I recently hired a Digital Strategies expert to bring my author web site into the current era. Up to now, I’ve been doing my own web work. WordPress.com is pretty easy, has pre-made templates, and is free. Still, my web site was looking kind of clunky, kind of outdated. It didn’t have much security to speak of, and I am pretty clueless on search engine optimization (SEO) – which means people looking for me can find me. I’m a writer, not a web designer or a graphics person, and I have a lot to learn about marketing strategies.

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The old site

So I entered into conversations with Christine Green. She happens to be local and a friend. I knew she had managed social media for political campaigns and does great video editing (she filmed my book-launch walking tour last year and created a fabulous five-minute promo video). She creates all kinds of digital marketing strategies for  companies big and small. We met in downtown Amesbury and talked through the way she works and what she can provide — but we could have held our meeting on the phone, too. Being local is just a plus.

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Christine’s selfie of the two of us working at an outside table in downtown Amesbury.

I was sold. Together we decided to take my web site to the next level. A new design. A real events calendar. Much-improved content in all kinds of areas. Better usability on digital devices of all sizes. Great author photos. I thought the process was interesting so I’ll walk you through it before I let you peek at the new site.

First, I paid Christine to do an assessment of the current site. She pointed out all kinds of areas we could improve on. When I said, “Let’s go for it,” she jumped in. She started the process by giving my current site a deeper review. I agreed to move to WordPress. org, a paid application that provides much more flexibility and capabilities for a modern web site.

Not long after that, she had a draft site for me to look at — and lots of questions! We went back and forth (mostly on email or by phone) with decisions, photos, descriptions. I came up with better wording about the kinds of public speaking I do and the kinds of mysteries I write. She created a much improved About page, telling the story of my path to becoming a multi-published author. I sent along cover jpegs and author-event photos. She suggested tactics on how to bring in readers and add subscribers to my newsletter list. I offered edits and clarifications. She trained me on how I can do my own updates. We were a team in the best sense of the word.

Finally we launched, just a couple of weeks ago. Take a look!

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I’m so happy with the look and feel – it’s light and airy, and the colors all work nicely, as does the functionality. Behind the scenes I have much better security and better optimization for readers who search for my name or my books.

Christine has been a professional all the way along. I highly recommend her to anyone looking to update and renovate their web site and their digital strategies.

Readers:  Tell me your favorite part of my new site. How often do you visit author web sites? What do you look for? Writers: What platform do you use for your web site? Have you updated it lately? Everyone: Catch a typo and I’ll send you a free book separately from today’s giveaway!

Poetry & Literature – Mine!

PoetryMonthEdith here, still basking in yesterday’s wonderful afternoon celebration.

Here in Amesbury in the northeast corner of Massachusetts, we have a Poet Laureate. She is the multi-talented Lainie Senechal, a native of the town, who not only writes poetry and paints, but has worked tirelessly to spread poetry through the populace. April is National Poetry Month, and Lainie, with the help of Amesbury’s Cultural Council and the Whittier Home Museum, set up seven events. Poetry and Film. Poetry and Yoga. Poetry and History. You get the picture, and there were others, too. The list also included two poetry contests for young people in the area.

Yesterday was was reserved for Poetry and Literature, and the literature was my second Quaker Midwife Mystery, Called to Justice! I was delighted and honored when Lainie suggested the event, and I thought I’d share the highlights here.

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Me and Lainie Senechal. Photo courtesy Christine Green.

We held the gathering at a lovely crepe (and other delicacies) restaurant, The Noshery, so folks ordered food and drink to enjoy during the readings and discussion. Jon Mooers is the very generous and talented owner and chef, a keen supporter of Amesbury’s history.

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(Some years past he painted two fabulous murals on brick walls on Main Street that evoke the era when I set my books.)

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Jon suggested we set up an antique-look corner for my books, so I borrowed a table from the Friends Meetinghouse.

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As always, I reference a couple of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poems in the book, since he’s a supporting character in the series, so we interspersed portions of those works.  I shared the background of Called to Justice and read several short passages to introduce the poems. Our readers included Lainie, Chris Bryant (President of the Whittier Home Museum), and me. Whittier’s friend Lucy Larcom makes an appearance in the book, so Lainie read one poem about Larcom and another by the well-known New England author, a former mill girl herself.

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Chris Bryant reading Whittier’s  “One of the Signers,” quoted in the book

Poet Carla Panciera wrote a midwifery poem especially for me – “Midwife in the Barn” – and she came to read it herself!

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The questions were many and varied, and I sold and signed books afterward. It was a sweet way to launch my book in the town where it’s set (and where I live) and to celebrate poetry of all kinds at the same time. Thanks to fan Gerry Morenski who volunteered to take pictures while I was up front!

Readers: How do you feel about poetry? What’s your favorite one?