This section consists of responses to bulletin board posts or e-mail. Not all relate specifically to writing, but all relate to ideas or ideals found in my work. None have been edited or changed in any way except for deletion of names of those to whom it was addressed, and in one case the pertinent piece was excerpted from the midst of a personal 'chatty' piece. You may find spelling or grammar errors that will prove it.
Each is titled just as I saved it in my files. This page is the current year. 1997 and 1998 are on Opined One.
January 1, 1999 It's the act of creation which is important.
I think that's an element I misplaced a bit in the last year. The desire to share our visions can become defined by the term 'sale' too easily. It's hard to separate it. That term carries the connotation of 'validation' of the work we do. I find it especially difficult because my work is 'experimental' in many ways, and based on my analysis of current cultural trends and prediction of their development within a specific group. I'm extremely impatient for the statistical proof my vision is correct. That proof is currently defined as quarterly royalty checks.
I'm working on that definition now. Marketing itself is not difficult for me. However, I may be skipping a basic step in preparing the market for my work. My web site averages about 200 visitors a week. I need to increase the 'reload' statistic and interaction with those who visit it. I won't do 'guestbook.' Too many dislike them. Chat doesn't make sense on a personal site like mine. No scheduled event really does. I'm going to try a 'listserve' specifically for distribution of a free book to start.
There's so much 'free' work on the web, it's difficult to differentiate professional from amateur and show WHY it's worth paying for books. There's also an attitude that 'all creative work on the internet should be free' to overcome. Graphic artists, midi composers and programmers are all aware of just how little the term copyright means to most people. Writers are struggling to defend theirs against publishers who are selling their work in huge blocks to electronic archives, and not successfully.
The decision in Tasini vs New York Times was a blow to our right to benefit from our labor that has NO equivalent in modern history. Suits on behalf of writers against various archives selling their work for profit have been only marginally successful. Now non-fiction writers are are suddenly liable for any misinformation in any articles they write, even if the source of it was information released BY the company or group bring suit. The Union is now offering a group insurance plan to cover the eventuality.
Our profession is under attack on all fronts. Genre book publishers want contracts with no royalty clauses which basically place the writer in the 'work for hire' category and give them the right to produce the book in all formats forever without ever paying the author another dime. On demand printing has reduced the size of initial print runs, lowering the advance paid authors and NO book will ever 'go out of print,' so they can't get the right to their work back.
Especially in the Romance genre, there's an implied threat, "If you don't take what we offer, you'll never sell anything." 'Shelf life' of books is going down and the practice of not paying invoices until covers are ripped off and returned for credit is driving small publishers out of business. 'Sweet deals' between large publishing houses, the two large book distributors and the two major bookstore chains are damaging the independent book sellers and small presses badly. Advertising dollars which keep both magazines and web sites in business are assuring reviews are of books the large publishers and booksellers will profit by.
Editors are being paid less and proofreaders are almost non-existent. 'Readers' without any qualifications except they can read and want to 'make money at home reading books' are proliferating as the first judges of submitted manuscripts. Restrictions on length, style, subject matter and content are becoming more formulaic daily. 'Mass market appeal' is the catch phrase and the marketing department is making the decision on what will sell and which books are 'pushed' by advertising dollars.
The art of creative writing isn't dying. It's being murdered, strangled by the multimedia corporations with 'bottom line' as their only basis of judgement, and 15% profit in an industry with a history of 7% as their goal.
Now those multimedia giants are turning their eyes to electronic publishing. The first step was proprietary rights to the 'electronic readers' that were developed. They won't stay high priced long. Someone will build and begin selling one at a much lower price and there will be an advertising blitz of 'You can trust us. We've been giving you good books for decades and now you can afford OUR reader for OUR books.' If you check the reports of the convention for electronic publishing that took place last year, you'll see they've already started it. The whole program is laid out in the 'official' interviews of media giant executives that attended.
This has been a long rant and terribly negative, but it's the truth of the situation we face. Creative writers are in about the same situation as the hog farmers in Iowa. The cost to produce our work is more than the sale price. The 'midlists' that were the foundation of 'stable income' for professional fiction writers, and the achievable goal for those with talent that worked hard, are disappearing fast. The ASJA Contract Watch and the warnings to members isn't 'but that's only non-fiction.' The NWU suit Tasini vs New York Times isn't either. Journalism and creative writing can't be separated in that fashion. They are indicators of the publishing industry view of writers as producers of 'raw material' to be purchased at the lowest possible price, assurance that the 'raw material' market is glutted and that people will buy anything with a pretty cover with a name they've heard on it.
Everything from my stories to my writing style was specifically developed for my chosen audience. Frankly stated, I write complex masturbation fantasies for smart middle age married women, many of them male/male homoerotic, some of those have a 'leading' female character with several males.
The characters must be MUCH better known than when writing for men. In general, women are more interested in the seduction than the mechanics. One has to know the characters well to understand the seduction. Therefore, more story is necessary. A lot more story.
The books are stuffed with action. All are intended to be read several times, all contain several adventures and all fade to black at the point a book in the hands is a distraction and imagination has PLENTY of material to work with.
No dialog tags. They remind readers they're reading. I want them to hear the story I'm telling. I want them to be voyeurs, the focus is always on the characters. 'Set' desciption is brief. The background is unimportant unless it has an emotional impact on the characters. The curtains in the bedroom are only important if someone is hiding behind them.
Societies are well defined. They're essential to understanding the characters. Some are extremely healthy, and some are abusive and self-destructive and the actual antagonist. I've got one true 'slash' bondage fantasy out there now. I'm sure someone is going to think I'm really sick to even imagine the society, but it's a VERY good book and I keep hoping all those other quite healthy women who like a good fantasy will find it. It's sort of out there to see how much trouble it causes.
Every book is intended to be a good time several times. The better you know the characters, the more fun the fantasy. The information is all there, but you won't 'absorb' it all the first time through. It's totally unnecessary. The books aren't intended to be 'understood and savored.' They're intended to be read fast for entertainment and then reread for the same reason another time, and another.
It always bothers me to say I'm a writer or author because it doestn't tell people my tales are as much an 'auditory' experience as I can make them. I want to qualify it with 'talespinner.' I tell a story around the interaction, dialog, of the characters. It's radio plays and Anime; pretty slave boys, demigods in chains in futuristic societies. Absolutely outrageous and all for fun.
Every story has a happy ending. Every story an underlying philosophical concept. Every story teaches something. Every story is filled bits of ingenuity and philosophy. They absolutely brim with love. One person said the heroes are rather Tom Swift-ish. I thought "McGyver-ish" (OK, I look at that and think 'that name doesn't look right, but I don't know why.') Either way, the rest of the opinion was I make it work and the books are addictive. Yes, they're all geniuses and a lot of them are real rich geniuses. Unless, of course, they're owned. Then the person that owns them is loved friend and a real rich genius. Well, they sometimes have to hunt awhile to find that person. Survival to that point can be real tricky.
February 11, 1999
I expect a lot of women in their forties and fifties to see the truths under my books clearly and use the wisdom and words I give them to help teach it. Destiny's Consort, like all of my books, points out the victim has NO choice and cannot be blamed. Destiny's Consort was written to say "Don't live DOWN to expectations." Working moms of young men need words to tell them more than a reminder, so I give them words and understanding so they can find words of their own. Not conforming to expectations, is contrary to the fact we're a social species.
The heroes of my books are outRAGeous fantasy. They're all brilliant beautiful and perfect. NO one is going to confuse them with anyone real, but middle age, primarily long-time married, women want fantasy men in their fantasies. They have the real men they want to share their real lives. My dialog and logic are good enough to make the characters in the book 'real.'
I'm a raving idealist and I understand history. My books don't end with 'the overthrow of the empire.' I stay after the rally to pick up litter, then make sure garbage pickup is on time in the morning. The heroes not only take apart the sick society, they reassemble it, and protect it if it needs it. I build great societies and I do it in book, after book, after book... See, only a complete society can function as the basis of a hero arising to fulfill a prophecy.
Empress, Alchemy and Djinn is an absolute romp. It's got a talking ship, a living world, an empress in hiding, an oracle, an elder race, a mage prince, an invisible sword, a financial wizard, a genie, a leprechaun, immortals, a cat...
The second book of that pair has pirates, a circus, a symphony, a ballet, an executioner and a leprechaun's wish to be a real boy is granted.
It's difficult not to keep the events in my books in context. The society is completely 'real' and very different. That's one reason slash is still primarily fan fiction of the 'hurt/comfort' type. The societies are well known and well known to be fantasy. 'Hurt/comfort' is the most probable reason within the parameters of established characters. That really limits the possibilities of seduction.
There's no graphic description of any act of violence in my books. The effect on the characters is important. The details are not. I don't imagine them and don't encourage the reader to do so. I do encourage them to imagine acts of love and passion. I'm very good at both. Oh, in Destiny's Consort, Louis accepted the judgment of the court that made him a slave. However, he didn't accept that court had the right to make judgment.
"Why do you write this?"
I get this question a lot. People tell me I could write 'what editors want' easily and get print published. Yes, I could. I could have gotten all my work published about the same time as Paradox Equation (Visit General Audience for news about this ten novel series!) first came out electronically if I wrote what everyone else does. The following is excerpted from a long response to an e-mail.
One of the reasons I write 'slash' is it's 'unacceptable.' It's perfectly healthy for men to fantasize two women together, sexy stuff, but women fantasizing about men together is 'sick.'
In 1992, I won two awards for fan fiction, the 'big ones.' There were near a thousand highly intelligent, often extremely successful, middle-age women attending the convention where the awards were presented. A group of women were congratulating me and one held up a copy of the volume of work which had won the awards, looked me in the eye and said, "Write for us. You can."
I spent the rest of the con learning who "us" was. I saw I was at the ONLY place most of those women could ADMIT they liked a certain type of erotic adventure fantasy. Beautiful, erect women with silver highlights in their hair filled suitcases with cheaply produced, but expensive in production, amateur work. I write what I do because I can take the heat. The internet let off a lot of the steam or I couldn't have, but I foresaw that it would.
No one made any money on that fiction, except office supply stores, copy shops and the US Post Office. In seven years, the electronic media would be on the brink of being a commercially viable publishing medium. I had seven years to prepare. I worked about seventeen hours a day, seven days a week, and took off an afternoon a few times a year.
Electronic publishing is cheap. Any book of mine priced at $6 is going to be an outrageous, heroic bondage fantasy for women who read John Norman and Gordon R. Dickson. And who know the definition of slash. The publisher and I deserve a bit more for the hassle we'll get. Most of the books are also 'polyamorous.' That means a familial group that has more than two adults. It's a relationship based on love and trust. Of course, it's outrageous heroic fiction so that trust is going to be manifested by handing over the power to destroy the universe. Well, sometimes it wouldn't destroy more than a solar system or two. And every story has a happy ending.
Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, the extremely heroic heroes become even more sensitive and heroic in the stories written by women. To be honest, there are stories in fan fiction that are better than what's on the shelf in the bookstores. When one on the internet is, the companies which have sold the rights to book publishers to produce stories about those characters move to protect their contracts with them. They shut the website down. Building a reputation using someone else's copyrighted characters is also 'profiting' by them and that's not allowed. It's a professional playing in an amateur league, a ringer.
If someone asked you to write for a specific audience, to fulfill a need for a type of art, because you can, and you realized you didn't know anyone else who could, would you refuse?
Most of my books are quite long. It takes a season for the audience to truly get to know the characters in an ensemble cast in a TV series. It takes the writers, actors, directors and producers that long to develop them. The larger the cast, the longer it takes.
Don't you tire of graphic violence in every genre but romance? I understand it's even becoming common there. At best, it bores me. At worst, it disgusts me. That seems to be much more common among women than men.
I write heroic action fantasy for the woman who asked me to write for 'us' at Mediawest in 1992. I knew no other who could blaze this trail, in the only form of publishing that could make writing for a niche audience at professional level possible. Read fast, and for fun. That's the intent.
Addendum March 4, 1999:
It took two years to find a publisher for most of the books which were written as heroic science fiction fantasies for women. Ken Sheets of Crossroads Publishing is a very open-minded man. "Crossroads chooses books for quality of writing, style and plot development, not content. Content is the choice of the writer and the reader." Thank you, Ken, for choosing to publish my unusual and controversial work, before I had to rewrite the all the dates of the concert tour in Destiny's Consort again!
March 27, 1999
*giggle* The 'main' character list for Paradox Equation is two pages long. Of course it IS ten books. Pentad has 28 major characters, but it would be over a thousand pages in paperback format and spans two generations. Lone Ranger Legacy and Destiny's Consort are about the same length, but only have five and three. I'll soon have twenty-two books published. I love all the main characters in all of them. It shows in the books, just as I'm sure it shows how much you love your characters in yours. It shows here and in your sketches.
Recently, I've been thinking about my male characters and realizing they're a 'grown up' reflection of the 'big boy' imaginary friend I had when I was a small child. He could do anything. The women are very real. Lura the captain, Taber the physician, Addison the major, Dance the trader, Shaena the matriarch, Butch the big sister and 'Mother' Mike, Prenna the construction boss, Ardith the seventy years young retiree are all 'women you've known.' The juxtaposition of the total fantasy men and very real women works well. Without the women, the men wouldn't live for the reader. It's Lois Lane who makes Superman 'real.'
I think that 'real' person is what gives most fantasy characters life. It's not always a woman, but there's always one there; Albert in Batman, Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes. A few specified faults and foibles help a lot too. Is that why there's kryptonite? Probably. It's very hard to identify with perfection.
April 5, 1999
E-publishing includes downloadable, audio, floppy and CD. The third you mentioned is Print-On-Demand, POD, self publishing.
If you pay ANYthing for the publishing itself, editing, formatting, website hosting or printing, it's either subsidy or self publishing. Professional electronic publishers invest THEIR time and money in publishing YOUR book. If they don't feel it's worth their investment and will make you both money, they don't publish it.
They have first readers, editors, proofreaders and everything else good publishers have. The difference is those people are usually all 'partners' in the publication of your books, not salaried employees, and all have a personal investment in the success of your book. Now, those people may be actual partners or 'shareholders' in the publishing business, or they may work on a commission basis, receiving a percentage of the retail or net sales from your book which is based on how much work they did on it.
One more separation needs to be made. There are professional book promotion services. Most of those charge a fee to prepare and present your book to agents and publishers. The good ones work hard to 'sell' your book to major agents and publishers, usually in the print publishing industry. You can also hire someone to promote an e-published book. That's, basically, hiring an advertising agency.
No matter how your book is published, you're going to have to do some promotion or it's not going to sell well. Whether that promotion is traveling around to do book store signings, going to conventions and doing panels and readings, or spending many hours on the net submitting links to search engines and book or subject related websites, it's essential. Today, a personal website and links are important promotional tools that will aid in selling your book, whether it's in print or pixels.
April 12, 1999
I just spent quite some time on the art history site looking at the incredible fantasy artwork and sighing. There are thousands of terrific artists out there and they're all trying to sell a book cover to imprints that don't need, or really want, any new artists. They nearly give away prints of their work at convention art shows and very few remember their names.
Electronic book publishing offers them the same type of opportunity to establish themselves as it does writers, but they don't see it, or more likely they don't even THINK of it as a way to do that. They don't think of working with writers and getting paid by the copy sold at all. That's the way it was once done, but mass production and distribution of print media changed that, just as it changed the way writers were paid for their work. So, they continue to put their work up in covention art shows and hope 'someone' notices them. They build websites and hope someone links to them. They send portfolios to publishers and hope someone looks at them. They do 'fan art' on which they CAN'T make money because it's illegal, but maybe someone will remember their names and pay them to do a cover for a series spinoff book, if they can get 'Data' just right.
I could give an artist the opportunity to REALLY establish a reputation, but I 'build' my book covers out of clip art and sigh. I have one book that's going to be illustrated. The publisher said the artists were 'stunned by the incredible imagery and trying to decide which scenes they aren't going to illustrate.' I knew if I could get a good artist to READ something... Of course, I also know how difficult it is to do males well (That's the real reason most fantasy art features females.) and that's really necessary for the 'right' covers for most of my books.
And so, I dream and wonderful artists hope for a contract from a 'big' publisher. It will come for very few, far fewer than writers, but it's the only way they know and the covers of e-books don't tell them, or readers, there's a great story inside. Now, print book covers aren't the great art they once were because print publishers don't want to pay what they once did and simple covers are cheaper to print. A bit of digital scenery done by the art deparment and an embossed glossy title are much cheaper than a work of art. Great artists are selling prints from their websites because publishers aren't buying their work for book covers.
Artists put their work 'on consignment' in galleries and hang it in restaurants in hopes of a sale, or 'give it away' to e-zines, but they don't see how many prints they could sell of a great book cover on an e-publisher's website. They look at the stack of prints they paid so much to have made, matte one more and send it to another science fiction/fantasy convention art show.
When's the last time you saw a Vallejo, Hildebrandt or Rowena book cover? Do you think that there are no young artists out there with that type of talent? But they do 'fan art' or 'game cards' and sell prints one at a time for $20 at conventions.
Yes, I write science fiction, but speak of fantasy artists. My science fiction is heroic fantasy. It's the blend women told me they wanted. But how do I tell them that's what I've written for them without a book cover that shows it? I dream of heroes with a sword in one hand, a blaster in the other and spaceships instead of dragons. I dream of a partnership with a terrific artist that would make us both a lot of money.
I'm finally getting people to read and do reviews. I had to give away some books to do it. They're so surprised the books are good. They're so surprised they've never read anything like them before. But readers don't know the 'restrictions' placed on writers. Why would artists?
It would only take one artist to change it, but how do I find that one? The millennium comes. How do I find one ready to step into the next century? Why is creative art in all forms 'hanging onto the past with both hands?' Why aren't the really good artists combining the traditional with the digital to create something totally new? The only people who seem to be doing so are those who use the great fantasy art of the past to create graphics for their websites. And like me, they're really just doing 'clip art construction.'
Oh well, I've been 'ten years ahead of my time' since I learned to talk. I haven't learned patience, but I've learned to practice it, and that I'm going to get a lot of practice at it.
Inscriptions, May 1999
And Confusion Reigns
Recently, The New York Times reported the Authors Guild had sent its members a warning about e-book contracts. In the next line, they said e-book manufacturers and 'unfair to authors and publishers.' What are they talking about? It's probable they're talking about the contracts to produce books formatted for handheld electronic book 'readers' and, if that's the actuality, they're quite correct, but the piece is confusing, shows a lack of understanding and research, and damages good electronic publishers.
Most professional electronic book publishing contracts are extremely fair. There are no costs to the author, other than obtaining their own copyright. The author royalty is 25-50% of the sale price per book sold, royalties are paid frequently, the contract is for only electronic rights and for a specific term, usually a year and thereafter renewable.
Do note the use of the word professional in the preceding paragraph. What defines a 'professional' e-book publisher? In one word, editing.
Every professional e-book publisher doesn't have a 'great' editor, but all have the best they can find and afford. It's not easy to find 'great' editors who will work for a share in the company or of the proceeds per book sold, but there are many good ones willing to aid in the building of this new industry, and some e-published authors are quite sure the editor they worked with is more than just good.
In many ways, e-publishing is a return to the days before print publishing companies became huge corporations, before the advent of mass distribution to bookstore chains. Before mass market demographics and 'bottom line' economics made 'formulas' for every genre the norm. In those times, one chose books by publisher and editor as well as by author.
Some publishers and editors were known for their encouragement of bold experiments in style and content. Some were known for publishing books of fast paced action. Some were known for books which explored philosophical concepts. Some were known for devotion to beauty of prose. As professional e-book publishing has begun to be acknowledged as a legitimate form of book publishing, e-book publishers and their editors have begun to be known for the style and tone of the books they publish, as well as emphasis on particular genres.
Still, confusion reigns, as exhibited by the article in The New York Times which confused e-book contracts with contracts to provide e-books for electronic book readers. Contracts which all professional publishers of new books, not previously print published and often out of copyright books, consider unfair.
I will NOT join any that require they be on the front page or that require the page URL I list for the ring be the one on which I place the ring. I don't want people coming in the exit. I want them coming in the front door. That front door is a work of art and I don't put anything on it. Rings which require either are NOT interested in increasing traffic to your site, just in THEIR webring. There's a link to my webrings section in the navigation table on every page but the 'front door.' If people want to leave from there, they can back up. I don't like rings that take up a huge part of the page either. If a ring sounds right, but it's huge, I ask to edit it. If I get a no, I don't join the ring for the same reason as above.
In general, I don't join large webrings. If there are three hundred sites in a ring, unless your site just happens to be listed on the first two pages or just a few DOWN from one on which someone noticed the ring, you won't get enough traffic from the ring for it to be worth the space and maintenance it requires. I'm in Dream Weavers and PWOTW because I've been in them since they were new on the web. I'm in Web Guard because it's a statement of my position on copyright infringement. If I get traffic from any of them, it's a surprise. Once in awhile I get a bit from Bad Girls and I've been in that one since the start too.
I do get traffic from the Crescendo ring, but it's totally unmaintained, you have to find another member to put you in and my site is on the front page of the list. There are a couple hundred sites in the queue, but I'm REAL good at picking who'll do a quick favor, and will still know their password.
Look for rings that 'fit' your site that are in bold letters on the Webring Index and have fewer than 150 sites, and that's a bit high for most types. Choose unusual rings if any of them fit. I get quite a few hits from The New Beat Generation ring, but I've been in that one since there were five sites. I've been in several others since they started as well. I get more traffic from fantasy webrings than science fiction webrings. Fantasy sites are usually very well built and have great graphics, so a lot of people choose those rings to surf. However, all the other webrings total don't bring me the traffic in a month that any ONE of the erotic fiction rings do in a week.
My own ring brings more than they do and there are only forty-one sites in it. It's a very heavily traveled small ring because it's a specialty ring with very tight criteria, and I'm REAL good at writing enticing descriptions and chose the name carefully to assure it was high on the Webring Index and sounded interesting. Placement is important.
Keywords and site description are also very important. A lot of people do keyword searches in the Webring index. Almost all read site descriptions. Webring does NOT mention those descriptions have a character limit. A lovely long description of your site does more harm than good if Webring cuts it off in the middle of a word. Check it and change it with some frequency and, if you can write one short enough that's still interesting (every character including a space is counted), link a graphic if not totally inappropriate for the ring and you've got a good one.
Don't use the same description for every ring. Tailor each for the people who are most likely to explore that ring. One of my site descriptions is 'Turn up the speakers and take along a snack, Baby.' Another is a carefully constructed very short 'educated' dissertation.
Check your webring links often, up and down at least five and don't forget to check the ring homepage. Sometimes they have nice new graphics for their rings. Make sure all graphics are in YOUR directory, not being pulled in from somewhere else. That way, no one will get a little red x instead of a graphic. If your directory isn't accessible, your page isn't.
Now, this is where site statistics come in. I pay for the most comprehensive site statistics available for a reasonable price. I pay 'up to x0,000 hits,' not for a specific number of pages. I have seventy-four pages on my web site and there's a little bit of code on every one of them that gathers info on where 'surfers' came from, and when, what browser, what operating system, what resolution, how many colors, what words were seached if they came from a search engine, and how many times pages were reloaded. Those are totals, not personal information per visitor, but I don't want or need that. If someone comes from a page to which I know I'm not linked to a page within my website, that's a bookmark and I don't need a cookie on their computer to tell me. I also get a summary for the whole site. And I have one little visible counter that I make sure always has the actual number of people who came through the front door, even if it's not on that page.
Building A Good Path
Far too many websites have very complete navigation tables, but they're just lists. A navigation table is your tool to lead people through your website in the order you prefer it viewed. People won't always follow that order, but most who aren't looking for something specific will, and a well designed table will actually increase the number who do. Make sure the path you build is pleasant to follow. Just chopping down the brush with a machete doesn't encourage 'tourists' to stroll along the path and explore.
The visual: Website reviewers often suggest people use the same backgrounds, borders, etc. on every page of a site. Why? If you think about this a moment, you'll know the answer. It's because going from a cute light blue page with little green dragons running around on it to a page with a Victorian floral motif makes you wonder if you're on the same site. I prefer every page not be the same, but I want them to follow a visual 'theme', at least in each section of a site.
The audio: This will be a big one because very few people talk about it. They just say 'don't do it' or 'I don't like it.' Why? I love music on websites, but far too often that music is chosen just for THAT page and doesn't 'fit' with the song before or after in any fashion. Think of every section of your website, or the whole site, as an album. Choose music for the 'album' as well as the page. This is especially important for visitors who have plug-ins like Crescendo, which 'collects' the midi files and plays them in order.
If the page is long and the music short, specify how many times it should play through with LOOP="2", or the number of times you believe right for the length of the page, in your code. Otherwise, especially if the music has a 'firm' ending, put LOOP="FALSE" in the code. I've 'slammed' many a window that had a piece of music infinitely looping, which I might have otherwise left open to refer back to, or as a start for further exploration of a site, after I did something else.
There's no point in creating links to open in a second window if the music on the page is going to annoy people so they shut it down. If a page is very text heavy, you should not loop the music at all, even if it ends far before all the text could be read. Reduce the volume level on text heavy pages with Volume="50%", or other percentage, to assure it's not a distraction. You should also set volume percentages so a visitor going from one page to another doesn't need to dive to lower the volume because one midi was created at low volume and another high.
The content: What do you want your visitors to read first? What on your site is most important to you? In my Table of Contents at the beginning of my website, Intro is listed first, but I expect 80% of my visitors to skip it. It's got a great deal of information on it, but anything I believe is truly important is restated on another page in a different manner, in some cases on three other pages. However, that's on a hundred, not twenty, page website.
The Table of Contents is the only place I use bullets. They're color coded, but just two colors. Most people will see that a red star means a section is writing related, just by reading the section titles. Titles are very important in nav tables. If they're too general, or boringly common, they won't attract your visitors to that section. If they're well done, they're an aid in arousing interest and guiding people through the site.
PROOFREAD! Copy and paste text on your web page into a word processing program and run a spell check on it. Read it aloud and listen for places you 'say' a comma that isn't there in the text. If you need to take a breath in the middle of a sentence, find somewhere to put a comma or make it two sentences. Watch for 'your' instead of 'you're', 'their' instead of 'there' and 'lead' instead of 'led'. Your is a possessive pronoun. You're means you are. (Your website is great. You're really putting work into it.) Their is a possessive promoun. There is an idicator of place or 'state of being.' (I went to their house. It's over there. There aren't any.) L E A D is only pronounced led if you're talking about the metal. Otherwise, it's pronounced leed. (It felt like it was made of lead. The nav table led me through the site well. I built my nav table to lead people through it.)
Think of your website as a 'production' that reflects your personal style and tastes. Mine is very logically organized. A friend's is an absolute maze, but that maze was constructed and quite intentional, not the result of sticking pages on the site and adding a link at the end of the nav table. His site is fascinating to explore and the nav table and internal links will lead one through the maze no matter where one decides to start. Build your navigation table to be a path through your website, not just a list of pages on it.
The Old Order Shall Not Go Easily
The recent decision by the Romance Writers of America, not to include electronically published novels in the new release listings in the Romance Writers Report, devastated the hopes of hundreds of electronically published writers that they were slowly gaining in acceptance in at least one professional organization. Several writers resigned in fury and frustration. Several more stated the only way to change the organization was from within and called for increased efforts to promote understanding.
Would that it were so simple as misunderstanding to be corrected. There's a fear here that no words can really assuage. It's not truly financial, nor even professional, it's social. It was all very clear exactly what one had to do to become a member of the elite, so clear that the criteria was known to structure of the story and the word count range. If one could write a good book to that exact formula, then submit it in precisely this format, to exactly these people, watching carefully what they wanted right now, and be persistent enough, one would eventually become an initiate in the elite order, obtain master status in the guild.
Electronic publishing appeared on the scene and suddenly large numbers who had not followed the ritual form for initiates were demanding guild master status and acceptance to the elite order. The work they crafted didn't have to follow the rules. They didn't spend years submitting it to the 'traditional judges'. They didn't receive the monetary prize that confirmed they had followed the form for initiation into that elite. They didn't even have their work 'exhibited' in the traditional places. Suddenly the work of those people was in competition for the awards and recognition available to the guild masters who had followed the traditional path to status. And elite status was suddenly in danger. And every new writer who chose electronic publishing and every new book published in that form increased the danger of that elite status becoming far too common to be perceived as elite.
There are a great many print published writers who don't feel threatened by electronic publishing. They're delighted there's a new market for writers. They're delighted there are wonderful new books to be read. They view being published as a career accomplishment, not a mark of status. But they can't ease the fear of those to whom it is a threat. No amount of rhetoric of tolerance can change the fact it will/it is/it has overturned the social order. It's change that can't be stopped, but it's not surprising many are battling to slow it.