Anatomy of A Website Crash

 

Sit back and grab a chair and allow me to spin you a tale of self caused cyber woe. It starts with, as most of these tales do, with an errant click of a mouse and misreading of two simple words: now or later.

 

All right enough of that. Seriously, I have issues. Big ones. Maybe it’s the Army running through my muscle memory, maybe it’s just my personality, but to say that I have control issues is, well, nothing short of exceedingly obvious. I’ve been griping about my hosting service for a while because I’m reasonably certain the hosting isn’t the fastest but again, could easily be my own lack of knowledge and pure stubbornness that probably contributed to this.

 

I am a signal officer. Trust me when I say the user is their own worst enemy when it comes to tech support. But, I digress. So a good friend of mine over at Friendly Web Consulting who does amazing website design and humors me when I get a wild hair to do something with my site (like crash it while deployed in Iraq) offered to help me move my hosting provider since I only had a few weeks left on my original plan. Cool. All I have to do is give her access to my FTP site and she’ll make sure nothing is royally destroyed.

 

Key task there: sit there and do nothing. Keep that in mind, it will be important later.

 

So I’m fiddling around with the account settings and I get an email from Godaddy saying my hosting plan is set to auto renew in a few days. So what does your intrepid do it yourselfer do? I mosey on into the Godaddy portal and go ahead and delete the hosting plan.
What I THOUGHT I’d done was delete the hosting plan on its expiration date. What I ACTUALLY did was delete the whole thing time now. And so here’s a lesson for all hosting companies out there: charging your customers an exorbitant fee to fix their mistakes may be good for your bottom line in the short term, but you will win no customer service awards in the long run. But again, more on that in a second.

 

So I deleted the entire database. I did this, albeit accidently. And since it’s two weeks after my release, I’ve still got a fair amount of traffic heading to my site. And now? Nothing. Cue oh shit moment.

Luckily, I had backed everything up recently and by recently, I mean last month. So I lost a few posts, but nothing major. I’d recently installed a bunch of plugins courtesy of Jane Friedmann’s blog on plugins so that data was actually salvaged. All in all, I lost about a day unscrewing all of my settings and widgets. Not bad, considering I completely erased my database.

 

The lesson learned in all of this is make a back up. Because some companies will soak you an insane amount of money to get your data back. The four or five blog posts I lost were not worth over $150 that Godaddy wanted to charge me to fix the database. But what if I had NO back up? Would I have paid them $150 to get back the last 3 years of blogs? Yeah, probably. I admit that it was my mistake. But soaking me for it does not engender me to them when I still had time left on my contract with them.

The Official Blog Tour for Because of You

So remember a few weeks ago when I was wondering how one coordinated a blog tour for a book launch? I was somewhat confused about where the process began, what I should be doing to promote my book and what I was going to screw up.

Twitter came to the rescue once again and a few folks who you’ll see below came to the rescue and offered up some spots to help promo my debut novel Because of You.

Not only do I have those amazing blogs lined up, I’ve got a blog post just about every day for a month, starting the week after next. And I’m triple booked for release day, which it just dawned on me was Veterans Day this year, which is somewhat appropriate, I guess, because Shane and Carponti and all the guys in Because of You are inspired by the guys around me that I serve with every single day.

So if you’re interested in checking out where I’ll be through the month of October and November, here’s the list so far. I’m trying to figure out how to put the links up on the sidebar of my blog, so I’ll get to that one of these days (probably after I fail the GRE but I digress).

I’m really, really excited about this. I love reading author blogs especially when they’re talking about something different. So luckily, some of these dates are interviews and other dates are me rambling on about various and sundry topics (seriously, give me some ideas about what you’re curious about, otherwise, you’re going to hear about my cats).

There’s more to follow but here’s the list so far!
10/24 – Pink Heart Society
11/2 – Riding With The Top Down
11/4 – The Book Pushers Debut Author Feature
11/5 – Shiloh Walker’s Blog
11/7- Kate Davies
11/9 – RT – Morgan Doremus
11/10 – SMEXYBOOKS
11/11 – BOOKBINGE
11/11 – BOOK LOVERS, INC
11/12 – FICTION VIXEN
11/13 – Interview on Romance At Random
11/14- USA Today’s-Happily Ever After Blog
11/14 – Fresh Fiction
11/14 – Plot Monkeys
11/15 – Mindy Klasky’s Blog
11/16 – The Bookpushers
11/17 – Vauxhall Vixens
11/20 – Read React Review
11/22 – Murder She Writes
11/25 – Ex Libiris

Guest Author Carly Phillips

Today, I’m honored to have Carly Phillips here to celebrate the release of her latest novel Serendipity. She’s the New York Times Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. Carly is a stay at home mom of 2 daughters (now almost old enough to read her books!), one soft coated wheaten terrier and a brand new Havanese puppy. She’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers.

Please join me in welcoming Carly to the site and if you haven’t checked out Serendipity, you’re missing out!

A Whole New World

Twitter changed my life. It’s amazing to me. 140 characters. So easy. So hard. It took me a very long time to comprehend how Twitter worked. I didn’t understand the @ any more than I understood the # sign. I mean Hashtag? What’s a Hashtag? Well, I’m definitely not here to give a Twitter lesson, so if you don’t know, let’s say I’m going to tell you all the reasons why you want to find out.

Twitter has broadened my world. As a writer, I live in my head. I stare at the computer screen, I write. I have email to link me to writer friends who don’t live nearby. There’s Facebook but that isn’t as immediate or as personal, at least for me. So when I started out on Twitter, I didn’t think it would be the thing that introduced me to new people. But it did! Thanks to Twitter, I “met”other writers whose names I knew, but who I never interacted with before. I even spent most of the RWA Conference meeting up with new Twitter friends in person, getting to know them better, and truly appreciating what Twitter has brought into my life.

Twitter has helped my writing! Writers on Twitter like to do something called “Sprint”. It’s writing in 30 minute increments without distraction, then checking in with each other and reporting word count. This has upped my productivity. Hah! And I bet you thought Twitter was a complete time suck that prevents you from getting work done. Wrong!

Twitter has led me to new books and authors! When I don’t know who or what to read next, I can ask people on Twitter what romances they’re reading and get an immediate answer, check out the books for myself and download them on my Kindle in seconds! I’ve delved into new genres, checked out new authors, and really expanded my reading horizons. It’s awesome!

Twitter lets me help promote authors I genuinely like. I can Retweet their posts, offer congratulations, or mention a book I loved, and as a result I’m introducing MY followers to new authors! Isn’t that fantastic?

Twitter brings me closer with my readers! I’ve been in contact with readers who I’ve then met at conferences, met readers via our mutual interest in ABC soap operas, shared books, etc.

Twitter introduced me to Jessica, who graciously invited me here to promote my new release, SERENDIPITY, a small town contemporary romance out now! For more information on SERENDIPITY, visit my website at www.carlyphillips.com.

So have I convinced you yet? Do you Tweet? I highly recommend it!

More information on Carly can be found at her website: www.carlyphillips.com.

Around the web you can also find Carly at:
Twitter: www.twitter.com/carlyphillips
Facebook: www.facebook.com/carlyphillipsfanpage
Blog: www.plotmonkeys.com

Guest Author Laura Griffin + Giveaway!

Today it’s my great pleasure to welcome back a good friend of mine who also happens to be one of my favorite authors. Laura Griffin is back, celebrating the release of her latest suspense novel SNAPPED. Laura’s giving away an autographed copy of SNAPPED today along with a 20$ gift card to B&N to one lucky winner. To add to the fun, I’m going to throw in Laura’s entire backlist, just because I love her books!

The other day I was chatting with Jess about the writer’s life and how it can change, seemingly overnight. I remember attending my first RWA conference in Dallas and meeting many authors I admire, and feeling a bit star-struck (not to mention intimidated!) by it all.

Fast-forward seven years, and so many things have changed. Writing fiction has gone from being my dream job to a very real occupation. I count myself lucky that I’m writing full time, unlike so many other authors I know who are juggling other demanding professions as well (Jess, I’m talking to you! No idea how you do it, but I’m in awe!)

Some things are harder now–such as tighter deadlines, higher editorial expectations, carving out time to participate in social media when what I’d really like to be doing is watching re-runs of “Man vs. Wild” or “Top Chef.” But there are a few things that are easier now, and one of those is research.

When I sit down to write, I love to have sharp, vivid details at my fingertips to make the story come to life. Where do I get these? Oftentimes, from research. If I’m writing about a place I’ve never been or about a character whose job is unfamiliar to me, I like to interview someone who can give me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of that aspect of my story.

With SNAPPED, for example, I interviewed a long list of people. The book opens with a sniper scene on a college campus and my hero is a member of the SWAT team called in to confront the shooter. Having never stormed a building and taken down an armed assailant, I decided to talk to a SWAT team member to understand what this is like. Let me tell you, those guys have a stressful job!

To get details about my heroine, who gets caught in the crossfire of this terrifying event, I needed to look no further than my mother. She was an eye-witness to Charles Whitman’s deadly rampage on the University of Texas campus back in 1966. Growing up, I heard about this event often. When we’d visit UT for football weekends, my mom would show me where she was standing when the shooting broke out. The day I began the book, SNAPPED, I trekked around the campus and tried to get myself in the mindset of the characters. Then I went to the student union with my laptop and sat down to write chapter one.

I feel a very personal connection to this story, and I hope readers will enjoy it.

Thanks for inviting me on the blog today, Jess. Happy reading, everyone!

Blog Tour? Where Do I Even Start?

Okay, need some advice for a newbie author. I suppose at some point I need to start a blog tour schedule. The problem is, how do I even begin? Is it something I just go around to my favorite blogs and ask someone if I can have a date on the calendar? Or is this something my publisher starts?

I honestly have no idea how to do this but I do know that I’m probably already behind the power curve if I’m less than 90 days until my book comes out and I don’t have anything scheduled yet, right?

What does a blog tour look like? How do you schedule it? And who do you contact?

Anyone with information, I’d appreciate advice, guidance and direction!

BECAUSE OF YOU Back Cover Copy

So this post was going to be very exciting for me because I have the back cover copy of Because of You. But this gets even better because now Because of You is available for preorder!!

This is kind of big for me. This feels like a moment where I feel like, yes, this has really, really happened. I am so freaking excited right now!!

buy from: B & N | Borders | Indiebound | Amazon | Powell’s


From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.

Author Pics: The Final 2

Ok gang, I’m down to the final 2 pics to choose from. I’ve used a bunch of the other pics in various locations but for the pic at the back of the book, I’m between these two.

So what do you think?

Author Pics: The Results

So for those of you who don’t check twitter or facebook, the big news from yesterday was that I got my author pics back. I’ve got to tell you, they came out better than I expected.

Buzz Covington, owner of Buzz Covington Photography did the honors and folks, he was so easy and fun to work with!

I’m thrilled with how well they came out and while you may notice that I’ve changed the header of my site here on the blog, I still have to figure out which picture I want in the back of my book.

So swing on over to http://covingtonphoto.com/jess to check out the pics. The password is “random”

Or check out some of the pics below!

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Mission Analysis: Copyedits

One of the things that drives my battalion commander nuts about me is that sometimes, not often mind you, but just sometimes, I have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. I know that in the past, when looking at revisions or changes to a story, I’ve defiantly done this and the result has been less than perfect.

So let’s talk about the publishing journey thus far since the wonder and woo of NYC and my first sale conference. There has been the requisite contract stuff wherein I read things and pretend I understand and my agent offers a long suffering sigh to reassure me that I have not signed away any children or pets or body parts. Twice. But let’s skip all that and talk about the writing process, not the publishing process (or rather, the writing part of the publishing process.) Because this is where I think things get interesting.

I remember having lots of conversations as I was struggling to find my voice and my format. People told me from the get go that I had that elusive voice but where I struggled – mightily – was in story format. I remember very clearly crying one night talking about I just need someone to tell me what to do with this story and I’ll do it but I just can’t see what’s wrong with it.

Here’s a little hint: no one is going to tell you what to do. At least, that’s not what my team has done for me. My team, and I hope they don’t mind me using that phrase because I really feel part of a team right now, has not said fix this, change this, delete this. When I received my revision notes, it wasn’t directive do x, y and z then move on to 1, 2 and 3. It was very much take a look at this, what about this character arc and are you willing to look at x. Maybe there are editors out there who do that but my team hasn’t done that with me. I think if it had gone that route, I might not have felt like I still had control over this book. So I made the revisions, forcing myself to go slow, chunk by chunk until I felt like I had a clean product.
Now let’s talk copyedits. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet my copyeditor while I was in NYC and we chatted for a while. I think it really helped me on my part because a, I’ve heard a lot of copyeditor war stories out there and to be honest, I’m used to red inking my LT’s stuff. But what I told her in NYC was be brutal. Be as rough as she thinks it needs to be to make the book stronger. So the fact that there’s blue all over the place doesn’t actually terrify me.

What terrifies me is that no matter what the team recommends or suggests, at the end of the day, it’s my book. And they’ve stressed that to me time and again. We want you to be comfortable with this. If anything doesn’t make sense, talk to us. Seriously, how does it get better than that? Cause it’s not like I don’t have control issues and all that, right?

So copyedits, for those of you who don’t know, are basically an overarching story consistency check as well as textual check making sure sentences are clear, are there different ways of saying things or on page 6 your hero is blond but on page 125 he’s bald. I received 4 major overarching story elements that should be looked at along with lots of clean up on the sentences.

Instead of diving right in and going hell bent for leather, I read the story issues notes. Then read it again. Then finally opened the file. What I decided was I could go through and clean up a lot of the little stuff. The sentences. The clarification. Little things. As I ‘m doing that, I’ll look at the overarching story issues, thereby giving myself a chance to read through everything first before I start cutting and chopping.

In forcing myself to slow down and do the mundane first, I think I’m giving myself a better picture of the whole story and the issues I need to fix. By reading through, I can then assess what I need to change and where as opposed to fixing it on the fly and worrying about adding confusion to the mix.

So once more, I find myself having to slow down. To do my very best at getting my process cleaned up. To have a plan before going off half cocked. To ask questions, before I start shooting or in this case, typing.

And on that note, I’m diving back into copy edits before I crash tonight. Busy day again tomorrow.

The Year of The Twittah at RWA

So I was holding off on blogging any more until after Sherry’s backlist giveaway was complete.

So this was the year of Twitter. Everywhere I turned, people were talking to me and the introduction went something like this: “I’m so and so, from twitter.” And yes, names and usernames rang a bell. Conversations that had occurred over the last year or so transitioned to real life. It felt like meeting old friends rather than completely awkward strangers stalking you in the hall. I almost put my twitter name on my badge but didn’t b/c I wasn’t sure it was the thing to do and b/c my name is really close to my twitter name. But other people did and it helped, a lot, especially when names and usernames don’t match.

It used to be that online relationships were a joke. Something to be mocked. But if the people that you chat with on twitter are warmer and funnier in real life than online, is it really a joke? I mean, I follow Victoria Dahl online and she is flipping hysterical on twitter. But she’s truly funny in person, as well as gracious and nice and full of awesome (I’m not sucking up, either. She’s really funny). I enjoy being around people who are funny and make me laugh, so it would make sense that people who are funny online are funny in person. But without that connection, would you get the jokes in the real world if you didn’t have that background from teh interweb?

I was also somewhat awed when people who I really looked up to and admired said they either a, wanted to meet me b/c of twitter or b, said they followed me on twitter. And again, not awkward because twitter, if you’re doing it right, is about the conversation. It’s basically a giant chat room and from what I can tell, you really can get a read on people from their online presence. Twitter, for me, is perfect because I don’t have time to flip through Facebook updates or blog incessantly. 140 characters takes about 20 seconds, tops, and allows me to stay connected. As a writer, I need to stay connected to other writers and fellow book people. I don’t get out often enough to get real life connections. Online fills a critical need for me to be tied into the writing world.

RWA fills the need for me to physically be in the writing world. There was nothing more cool than sitting with fellow lovers of books. Knowing the conversations didn’t have to end with a Saturday morning flight made RWA and twitter all that much more connected. And the other really neat part about twitter is that it really does bring your favorite writers to a place where you can just chat with them. I swear this helps with some of the awestruck moments I may have had otherwise. It was like a reunion in real life rather than meeting for the first time.

I didn’t get to meet everyone I wanted to from twitter. But I think I met people this year that I missed last year. I connected with friends who supported me from Iraq. I reconnected with friends I found myself hanging out with last year. And mostly, it brought me face to face with people who keep me laughing, keep me informed and most importantly, keep me grounded. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at RWA and at publishing in general. But joining in the conversation is a great way to connect and keep things down to earth.

I said it a million times at RWA but tweeting from Iraq was the smartest thing I ever did. Thank you, to everyone who ever followed me or commented on my blog or best, talked to me while I was deployed and kept me connected to the outside world. It still keeps me connected but this time, to life outside the army.