Check Settings On Your WordPress Reader

If you have a WordPress site as I do, you might want to go into your WordPress Reader and check the settings on each of the sites you follow.

Earlier this week, I lost the ability to access any wordpress.com sites including my own. It took three days of frustrating attempts to figure out the problem before the ISP tech people isolated the problem to a “ping/no ping and track-back feature” that malfunctioned on my router. We were able to reset the router and that solved the problem.

I thought everything was back to normal but a quick check of my Reader revealed something else amiss.

Over half of the blogs I follow have been reset in the WordPress Reader to show both email and post settings for those sites had been turned off. I’m not sure if this problem has any relation to my router’s problem but it seems like a strange coincidence.

Did WordPress get hacked or did they just happen to have a ‘glitch’ the same time my router acted up? No idea, but I’m spending time today to check and reset each and every one of my followed sites. You may want to do the same.

Creating A Lovable Villain

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Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

On The Road Again

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Me at Iron Bridge Spillway Lake Fayetteville, AR

In June, doctors and specialists completed their blood-drawing, prodding, poking examinations. They decided prescribing a drug called TEGRETOL to help manage the pain until they could diagnose the exact problem was the right thing to do. It wasn’t. Side effects (among the many) include depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and death. Yes, death.

In whose world is death a side effect?

Maybe it’s the mystery writer in me or my sense of humor:

Doctor: “Yes, Mr. Cotner, we have a cure for what ails you: Death.”

Me: “Thanks, Doc, but I’ll pass if it’s all the same to you.”

Anyway, I’m not dead (yet) and now that the full body and brain CAT Scans are over and the results in, they’ve determined the problem causing pain and occasional paralysis in hands and feet is not a brain tumor as they first suspected but it is pinched nerves in my spine caused by deteriorating spinal discs.

I’ll live with the pain and have opted out of drugs and surgery (at least for the foreseeable future).

I’m back on the road again, a few pounds heavier than usual but that will soon be lost when I get my daily hiking and biking regime back in full swing. Managed to ride seventeen miles around Lake Fayetteville on the day these pictures were taken with no problem and little pain. It’s good to be out and about again. I’m cheering for the return of normal (whatever that is).

Good to be back blogging again, too.

 

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Taking a rest at Iron Bridge below spillway

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Bridge across the spillway on the lake’s bike trail

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Wildflower Meadow On The Fayetteville Bike Trail

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Taking A Water Break At Wildflower Meadow

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Wildflowers Lake Fayetteville Meadow North

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Bike Trail East Of Lake Fayetteville

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Winding Bike Trail East of Lake Fayetteville, AR

Creative Blogger Award

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A writer whose work I greatly admire nominated me for this award. As readers of this blog know, my creative pursuits run the gamut from painting and sculpting to poetry, short stories, and novels. I tend to take my time and linger over the written word, which is just another way of saying I’m not the fastest reader or writer on the block. In contrast, milliethomthe blogger who nominated me, is a frequent contributor to Word of the Week and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. I’d hardly call her “aspiring” as she’s published two seriously excellent books already. I reviewed her first book Shadow of the Raven in April (see that here)  and am currently reading her second book Pit Of Vipers. Her books are available on Amazon.

So, with thanks to milliethom for honoring me this way, I’ll share five facts about myself, and then nominate 15 bloggers whose blogs I enjoy.

1. Like the blogger who nominated me, I’m no fan of television shows, especially those of the American variety. On the other hand, I have a DVD collection of  British mysteries. At the light end of the scale there’s the Lovejoy Mysteries. When I want to study plot development, characterization, etc. I watch Poirot with David Suchet, Miss Marple (both Joan Hickson and Geraldine McEwan), and the Midsomer Murders time and again. I also enjoy Foyle’s War—exceptionally well written with characters you can love, villains you can loathe, and strong stories set against the backdrop of historical WWII Britain.

2. I grew up in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and spent a lot of time out in the woods—even when I didn’t want to be there. That was certainly the case one frigid December day while hunting deer with my father and grandfather. We’d had no luck despite being on the stand for a chance to make a kill; my grandfather’s dogs had already run past chasing deer—likely as far as Oklahoma and who knows where else, but it wasn’t anywhere near us. Wet, cold, and hungry (a common state of affairs), we tried to get a fire started as the snow fell. We managed a few sparks, a lot of smoke, and eventually a few flames. We’d resigned ourselves to making camp without fire when my grandfather took a long pull from a jug of moonshine, and spat it over the tiny fire, sending blue flames roaring up into the air. Moonshine. White lightning, some call it, and with good reason. Hot beans in a can cooked over that fire tasted better that day than any other I’ve had since.

3. One of my favorite places in the world is the library. From the tiniest community library I’ve visited (saluting St. Paul, Arkansas, population 163 at the last census) to the great libraries of the Smithsonian Institution (2 million volumes and counting), I could happily spend my days lost among the books. One of my more memorable library experiences came when I spent all my life (okay, twelve months) at a remote air base 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. I kept a list: 365 days, 350 books.

4. I come from a long line of storytellers and stone carvers. Visit the cemeteries around my hometown and you’ll see their work—tombstones expertly crafted by generations. As a young boy I walked past Cotner Monuments on a near-daily basis, and perhaps it was that which set me on a path of stone carving in my own way as part of my art career. I took up hammer and chisel to create garden decorations, mixed-media sculptures, and even some museum work.

5. I’m passing along my passion for books. My granddaughter loves libraries as much as I do, and she reads a book at least once a week (and often more). She’s got talent, too, and is already creating stories of her own.

Now For My Nominees:

  1. http://mctuggle.com
  2. https://nancyhartney.wordpress.com/
  3. http://ozarkmountainhiker.com/
  4. http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/
  5. https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/
  6. http://dogmysteries.com
  7. https://bobbushell.wordpress.com/
  8. http://daveastoronliterature.com/
  9. https://terriblywrite.wordpress.com/
  10. http://robertokaji.com/
  11. https://esmeraldamac.wordpress.com/
  12. https://jeanneowensauthor.wordpress.com/
  13. https://barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com/
  14. http://leannecolephotography.com/
  15. http://mythsofthemirror.com/

For my fifteen nominees: If you wish to participate in this exercise (it is optional) here are the guidelines:

  1. Acknowledge and thank the blogger who nominated you with name and URL (that’s me)
  2. Disclose 5 facts about yourself
  3. Further nominate 15 bloggers

Visit milliethom’s post for additional information if needed. If I’ve nominated anyone whose blog is award-free, please accept my apologies in advance.

I enjoy each of the blogs I’ve nominated, and hope you have time to visit some or all of them!