The blog of D Kai Wilson-Viola

Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

10 must have plugins for my blog

10 must have plugins for my blog

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I’ve been emailed lately about my tech ‘stuff’ after I accidentally outed myself as a WordPress aficionado in a community that thought I was ‘only a writer’. Oooops 😉

I’ve got about 23 plugins on this blog now – some are because I’m looking to see if I can replace a plugin that’s not quite doing what I want. But I’ve got a set of ten plugins that I like to use, and in the coming weeks, I’m going to try to put up some in-depth tutorials at my WPwonderwoman site. For now though, the ten recommendations 😉

  1. All in One SEO – whether I’m using Thesis or another theme with built-in SEO or not, I prefer to use All in One SEO – because I’m fickle when it comes to themes, and like to mix them up as often as I can. This way, I’m not losing all of my SEO fun stuff because I’ve suddenly disabled the theme that’s using it. It’s also number 1 because though SEO isn’t my top priority on this blog, it is in other places, to make sure the information gets spread out as far as it goes (such as bi-polarbears)
  2. After the Deadline – I discovered this plugin recently and it’s been something I’ve been looking for, for a while. Basically, it’s your ‘word’ grammar and spelling check – on your blog.
  3. Akismet – don’t overlook it just because it’s pre-bundled into WordPress (conversely I drop ‘Hello Dolly’ as soon as I start adding plugins). This small, but mighty plugin takes care of all my spam problems for me.
  4. Contact Form 7 – One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered with contact forms is spam. Contact form 7 lets me work on my site and have a contact form, without worrying about waking up to a bazillion spam messages.
  5. To make contact form 7 work, you need ‘Really simple CAPTCHA‘. If you’re having problems with spam, you can add the CAPTCHA to your comments too – there are instructions bundled with the plugin.
  6. Instant weekly roundup – this is a lifesaver plugin when you’re having to run a roundup of what you’ve done on your blog – it’s something I’ve missed about my blog lately, but this plugin makes it a snap. Just a couple of clicks and et viola – a ’roundup’ of your posts, with links so people can see what they’ve missed. Deep linking for the win!
  7. Zemanta – You know all the images and links in my post? I don’t search for them – they’re provided automatically based on what I write by a really neat plugin called ‘Zemanta’. It pulls information and presents it to you – you can then choose to insert or use the bits you want. It’s fun to watch the images at the side update too 😉
  8. Google XML sitemaps – absolutely must have to go with any SEO effort, this gives google a machine readable ‘site map’ outlining how your site links to pages etc. Perfect for hands off automation.
  9. WordPress Editorial Calendar – Gotta have this, especially as my goal now is to get material set up and ready to post in advance. Was recommended right at the beginning of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge and it’s been so worthwhile.
  10. Anything that tracks stats – I like WordPress Statistics, which gives me the opportunity to make sure that I’m getting traffic, and what’s popular so I can adjust what I’m posting.

Head nod to Glennette who raised a great point on a Facebook discussion -backing up. It
s crucial that you install a backup plugin – there are several brilliant ones – and I mntion them and the rest of these plugins in my blog startup guide. If you’ve got any suggestions, chuck em in the comments 😉
If you need more ideas, keyword tracking, posting direct to Ezine articles and do follow plugins are a great place to start 🙂 One of the other ’30 Day blog challengers’ (Glennete) is also publishing overviews of each plugin, so you should check them out 🙂

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Toys and tools for writers – pt 1

Toys and tools for writers – pt 1

GEISHA IN SILHOUETTE WRITING A LETTER -- An Un...

Image by Okinawa Soba via Flickr

One of the things I’ve noticed is that writers are really into their tools.

I’m constantly looking for something to streamline how I write, when I write, where I write and how easy all the different iterations are to use.

Disclaimer
This assumes a couple of things – that you either own the ‘tech’ listed, can modify the tech you own to work for you – or in the ways I’ve listed, and have no compunction or issue with buying the software if you like what I’m describing.  To be fair, most of the things I use are free, to a point, so you can either try before you buy, they are totally free, or are almost instantly justifiable.  I apologise if my probably cavalier attitude to software is distressing, but in deference to sensibilities and the current economic climate, I’m not exactly rich myself and save for everything I own.  That said….

Advertising disclaimer
All links marked with a bold * are affiliate links.  They go towards supporting the site, but are only used when I can genuinely recommend the product.  In most cases there is a review on the product on one of my sites, or there is a review being moved to one of my sites in the near future.  I manage my affiliate links with a keyword plugin, which is why they aren’t plain text links like the other resources listed.

What you need:

A computer – laptop, desktop or netbook. Nothing I use needs much memory at its basics, but given the writing world is rapidly becoming an online resource system, so I’d be at least end of life specs (which I believe is XP for Windows and some sort of fuzzy Leopard for Mac  – I know the iPad won’t sync below Leopard).

The free computer stuff

Dropbox (http://dropbox.com)* – this is a great backup system, and if you click on the link I’ve provided, I get extra space to store my stuff.  And if you *do* sign up, let me know and I’ll give you access to my free ‘chapter samples’ folder – if you’re interested in my books that is 🙂

EvernoteEvernote is a free, always accessible notes system – a bit like Dropbox, you can share and allow others to have access to your notes what I adore about it is I can run it on my iPhone and take snaps, make notes, and store stuff so that I can use it later.  You can also pay a low monthly subscription and extend its features.
Ywriter (http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html) – no frills, very snazzy word-processing system that lets you work in ‘scenes’ instead of one document.  Saves all information in RTF as well, so it’s easy to access in other software.
If you’re selling work, a tracking system such as Sonar (http://www.spacejock.com/Sonar3.html) or
WinSAMM from http://www.sandbaggers.8m.com/samm.htm (please note, this site has been going since I started looking in 2001, and I don’t think the software has ever been updated – up until very recently it was also my manuscript tracking weapon of choice).
Rough Draft is also a great wordprocessing program, again free, again, I don’t know when the last update was, and the site is currently down  🙁
Oom is also free, but is so new to me I haven’t tested it – it’s linked in the resource links at the bottom 🙂

Not free software

I’ve got three pieces of software that I consider must have, for different reasons.  You can however choose just one – all three work well as a single writing program.

Word or Open Office (free) – the difference between Word and Open Office are now so negligible, that you can’t really tell which a document has been written in, at least till you start importing and exporting between them.  Word however, is not cheap, so if you’ve got a limited budget, I recommend Open Office – I’m listing it in the ‘not free’ however because you may need to procure templates, depending on what you’re writing.

Liquid Story Binder – this has an affiliate scheme, but I’m just posting this because it’s playing up, – http://www.blackobelisksoftware.com/this has been my must-have writing product for nearly five consecutive Nanowrimos, and is my favorite writing software when writing serials.
Scriviner – I love, love love this software. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/ (that’s the windows link).  Again, it’s not an affiliate link.  It’s great for stand alone stories.

I’ve also tested and enjoy Write-way – http://www.writewaypro.com/ – it’s good for either style, but I’m happier with Scriviner/LSB.

*please note*  Ywriter works equally well, just has less bells and whistles.

Not free tools

eBook reader or books – The  *Kindle and the *Apple iPad are the best two tools, IMO out there, but I’ve got nothing against the Nook, or the *Sony eBook Reader ,  having owned the latter and think the colour screen on the former kicks ass.   Alternatively, you can go paperbacks – libraries are a great way to read serious amounts and save money.  You need, as a writer, to read at least five books a month, in my opinion.  Opinions and mileage may vary, of course, but if you’re not devouring other perspectives, you’ll find it difficult on some occasions to express your own.  And this doesn’t include research books – I’m just talking ‘for fun, to stay on top of the trends of the genre you’re writing in.
BONUS – if you’re targeting a specific press, go all out and read their books – remember though, the goal isn’t to emulate these writers, but to make your writing as compelling as theirs.

Separate from this – Writing Books – like it or not, you’re not a perfect writer.  I’m not a perfect writer.  Getting books that help you perfect your writing style will allow you to be your editor’s and Agent’s darling in later life and give you a real sense of accomplishment.  I’ve been writing for…er…27 and a bit years now, at a guess, and I’m still learning.  I’ve probably done my 10k hours and then some.

Notepad, pens, diary – basically anything you need for organising yourself.
AND – a wall.  This last one I’ll have to explain in a final post.

Next article – the combinations for bloggers, writers, scriptwriters, poets and special uses.

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Stats and an overview of one week into the 30 day Blogging challenge

Stats and an overview of one week into the 30 day Blogging challenge

So, we’re one week into the V7N blogging challenge. Are you taking part? Yeah? I’m collecting the commenter links and keeping them in my blogroll – holler at me and I’ll add you to the links.

Anyway – yep – the overview.
This blog gets just shy of 1k unique hits a month – even when empty. Keeping a four year old blog means that lots of my links are still in place, which means I’ve got lots of links coming in and 404ing (which is why I’ve deliberately designed my 404 page to immerse people into the blog).
I’ll be able to tell what the difference is at the end of the month, but right now, my counts are:
24 comments on 22 unique blogs
142 Unique views this week – 299 unique views overall.
14 unique comments and another 14/15 comments from me in response.

This blog, famously, doesn’t get many comments – it’s syndicated to Livejournal, where most of my close freinds start conversations on it, and I’ve always struggled with getting comments on any of my blogs. Bipolarbears is my most ‘popular’ blog for comments, but I’m still seeing a great increase here.
So if you’re hesitating on joining in, don’t – I’m already seeing a difference!

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