Fun Facts – Bamboo

Did you know…..

Bamboo is actually a grass.  Certain varieties can grow over 100 feet tall.

Some types of  Bamboo are extremely fast growing, and can shoot up more then three feet in one day.   The plant prepares the new cells underground, then soaks up water to expand itself upwards into the new growth!

Bamboo once covered the southeastern part of the Unites States in tangled dense forests.  Now there is less then five percent left.

Bamboo is wonderful for the environment, soil conservation, replacing oxygen and is used as a ‘green’ eco-friendly hardwood since it can be harvested in 3-5 years instead of 15-20 years for softwoods.  Because of it’s circular form, it’s also amazingly strong.

WordPress Multiple Site Management Part 2

How to setup a management Dashboard for all your Author Sites


Setting up a Management Dashboard

In Part 2, we’re installing  an administrative tool which sees and controls all your sites.

I tested a couple of plugins for WordPress, and the one I liked best for my purposes was MainWP.   There is a lot more capability then you need, and a pro version if you get into it, but for now the free version is just fine.  (There is a ‘comments’ extension where you can monitor all the comments, which might be worth looking into.)

The management site will have the MainWP Dashboard (or Parent) plugin, and each of your pen name sites will have a MainWP ‘Child’ plugin.  Full documentation is located on their site HERE and there are also tutorials and videos within the plugin once it’s installed , so I’ll just give you the basics. One of the reasons why I chose this was because their documentation is really good.

In general, the Steps are:

1 – In the main site, download the MainWP Dashboard plug in.  Install and Activate.

2 – In each ‘Child’ site, download the MainWP Child plugin.  Install and Activate.

3 – Add the Child to the MainWP Dashboard.   Under MainWP, Sites, Add New.

4 – From your MainWP Dashboard, you can monitor and check all your updates.  Scroll down this page, and you can check security, posts, etc.

Go back to Part 1 – Setting up a Dedicated Management Site
Go onto Part 3 – Creating a Content Hub to Push Content

The Whole Series

Part 0 – Overview
Part 1 – Setting up a Dedicated Management Site
Part 2 – Setting up a Management Dashboard
Part 3 – Creating a Content Hub to Push Content
Part 4 – Creating Category Trees
Part 5 – Creating and Using Tags
Part 6 – Adding an Editorial Calendar
Part 7 – Adding a Media Management System
Part 8 – Creating and Managing Content

Building a Amazing Blog Site (for Beginners)

As I’m finding information, I’m going to re-post it here so you can see the originals.  This was the best video tutorial I’ve found for understanding how to create a WordPress blog.   Although it’s dated 2013 (and there’s a 2014 version), the principles are the same, and most of t he screens are laid out exactly the same way.

This works even if you’re not doing a blog for your author sites, but just  creating fixed pages (rather than blog posts).

It covers all of the installation and blog principle basics, and setting up spaces for advertising, which you can use to advertise your own books by linking to your Amazon account as an Associate, creating twitter feeds, easy logos.  And it’s all so easy once you know how.

One thing he doesn’t cover is using Themes to change the look of your site.  After you’ve got the structure up and functional, there are bizillions of themes available for free, as well as ‘Pro’ versions which offer all kinds of options for changing the layout and look of your sites.

A post on Themeing is coming next week.

Fun Fact – Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a commonly used in cooking as a thickening agent, especially as a replacement for rue (flour and butter) for those who eat Paleo / Low Carb diets.

And interestingly, Arrowroot is native to India, and originally was used by indigenous people to draw out the poisons from an  arrow wound tipped with a terrible toxin!


Photo Credit:  David Whelan Public Domain, Flickr

WordPress Multiple Site Management Part 1

How to setup a dedicate management site for easier multiple site management

First, The Caveat

There are several ways to accomplish similar things. This series details the method which I personally found works best for my needs: A Parent/Child Management system, Push Syndication, and the Editorial Calendar.

Another avenue is this:   Create a MultiSite / Network structure.  A great article on how to do that is the  Ultimate Guide to MultiSite by WPMUDev and another great article on exactly why you shouldn’t is Don’t Use WordPress MultiSite.  The Free/Pro Plugin ‘ThreeWP‘ may help if you decide to go the MultiSite route.

Since I am pushing my content from one management site to all my Child Sites, I’m not using MultiSite.  True, my way isn’t perfect, but it’s darn workable and that works for me!  The only thing I found which is clunky is I have to reset Urls for my internal links within the ‘Child Site’ and Featured Images don’t push, so I have to go into the Child Site and add those.


Part 1 – Setting up a Dedicated Management Site

The first thing to do is to get a single site with a clean WordPress installation – hence my squeaky duck sketch above .  Hah!  I mis-spelt squeaky.   The duck knew…why didn’t he tell me?

This site will be the behind-the-scene site where you can easily manage your posts, run updates, fix security issues, and perform backups all in one neat dashboard.

Managing your sites in the manner means you’re not jumping from site to site to perform these functions, but making it easy on yourself and keeping up-to-date so you can concentrate on your writing.

Create a new WordPress site for your management site.

This can be a sub-domain of your existing main site, or a new domain.  I used my primary domain,, which is also a hosting site where I have all my domains parked.  Each of my domains has it’s own hosting package, size and bandwidth limits, and it’s own dedicated email.

It doesn’t  matter if you have your domains on GoDaddy, HostGator etc. You just want a clean place to put all your top level tools.   This will also store all the blogs for each site, where you can review them, and push out updates or delete posts, and you can manage all you images.  Nice, right?

If you’re just staring your first site, it’s an easy choice.  Your Management site will be the main site with your hosting package i.e. the Parent.   Each Pen Name Child can be a sub-domain under that umbrella.  Only one hosting package needed.

But if you want a top-level domain structure for each Pen Name with it’s own hosting, not a problem.  In Part 2, we’ll hook them all together.


Part 0 – Overview
Part 1 – Setting up a Dedicated Management Site
Part 2 – Setting up a Management Dashboard
Part 3 – Creating a Content Hub to Push Content
Part 4 – Creating Category Trees
Part 5 – Creating and Using Tags
Part 6 – Adding an Editorial Calendar
Part 7 – Adding a Media Management System
Part 8 – Creating and Managing Content

Sensible and Smart Web Hosting

As far as hosting, unless you are selling products directly from your site, or collecting membership information for a users’ forum, you don’t need anything fancy.  Just a basic site with some good space and bandwidth.  10 Gs is plenty of room, and you can always upgrade your package.

It shouldn’t cost you more than $10 for domain registration, and $100 for hosting per year, and there are always deals and coupons.  You can bring the price way down with a little smart shopping, down to about $50 a year.

Two Hosting sites to start with, but there are plenty.

HostGator has a Baby Plan with unlimited domains, unmetered storage and bandwidth for a really reasonable price.     With the regular web hosting (not their WordPress Hosting) you get a better interface in CPanel  so you can setup email accounts for every domain, and use the famous 5-Minute WordPress Install.

GoDaddy’s Economy Package has 100 Gs of storage and unlimited bandwidth.  One site so if you’re doing multiple sites, they should have to be subdomains.  Their WordPress Basic has 10 Gs, and 25,000 visitors.  Plenty!

Domain Privacy is a good option to hide your address and phone number on the Domain Registry from sales people.

Don’t get SiteLock, or any of the other add-ons such as SSL Certificates, unless you’re collecting Credit Card info.  Know that WordPress is a very secure platform.  You can set up backups with Plugins.  Emails with your domain address should come with the package.

Important: setup your own domain and hosting accounts

As a web designer, I’ve seen some really screwy things for people who  have someone else set up their domain and hosting.  Like setting the account as a re-seller, putting the client on auto-billing, and they set up multiple sites on the other persons’ dime.  Or redirecting the hosting, and tying in custom themes which break and the client has to pay big bucks to get their sites fixed.

It’s really easy.  Do it yourself.   These major companies list HostGator and GoDaddy  are doing everything they can to get your business, and have excellent support systems.

WordPress is EASY.  And tons of fun.

WordPress Multiple Site Management Part 0

The overview of How to set up an easy Multiple Site Management System 


Setting up a management site for your multiple web sites.

I started out very happily building individual sites for my pen names. But then I found I was running into problems managing all the blogs. I really wanted to keep a continual flow of news or handy information going for each pen name. This way both subscribers, and search engines would be engaged.

But with so many sites, I got bogged down, couldn’t remember what I’d said in one post on one blog, another post on another blog, and what images I used.  It was a nightmare, and I actually log jammed on creating content, something which definitely needed to be corrected and fast.

Luckily, after a lot of research (one of my favorite things), I developed a system to manage all my sites.   My background in IT System Architecture came in handy here.  Thanks also to all other other bloggers out there who put me on the track!  I’ll link to them throughout these posts.

If you have multiple sites as part of your strategy, one for each pen name, one for yourself as a writer, and publishing sites, there are ways to set up your system so you can update all your sites, and push content to your sites from one central site, with only tweaks needed on your other sites.

One site to rule them all.

Links to the entire series

Part 0 – Overview
Part 1 – Setting up a Dedicated Management Site
Part 2 – Setting up a Management Dashboard
Part 3 – Creating a Content Hub to Push Content
Part 4 – Creating Category Trees
Part 5 – Creating and Using Tags
Part 6 – Adding an Editorial Calendar
Part 7 – Adding a Media Management System
Part 8 – Creating and Managing ContentContent

Why write horror?

Why write horror?

Some people ask why a nice girl like me likes to write horror stories.  Why I like to lay awake at night, scaring myself with possibilities, afraid to get out of bed and put my foot on the floor, just in case.  What if a floating hand reaches out and tucks me in, or gently trails it’s finger around my face before ripping it off.

Well, it’s because I’m human, mostly.  There are dark and dangerous, horrible things happening in the world, and I’ve got to learn to deal with them.  What better way then to create them in my own mind first, as practice?  Then when it gets too horrible, I can write it down, or paint it out.  If something ever really happens, I’ll be more prepared, I hope.

And would I even want to feel only good?  I’d cut off half of my life if I pretended bad things didn’t exist.   I think life is a wave, not a flat line = death.  Like this:

And why do people read horror?

To feel part of themselves they don’t normally get to feel.  Hopefully everyone has a good and happy life, maybe some struggles, but nothing too awful.  We’re made to experience the whole human experience though, so what better way then to curl up with a scary book, shivering in pleasant anticipation, safe in the normal world once the book is closed.

So, it’s therapeutic and necessary!

A deeper reason to write Horror

Sure, the above sounds nice, and it’s all true. But the shivery reason I’m trying to avoid is that I’ve seen some things I cannot explain. Things which should not be real, but actually happen. What the?   I write a story about a ghost, and I start seeing ghosts around every corner, and weirdness happen.  Am I calling them in because I’m writing about them?  If I’m aware, they become aware of me and I’m suddenly visible to them?  And of interest because I’m talking about them.  Dangerous!


So maybe it’s also to explore and to evolve as humans.  What if there are these ghost realms, other dimensions, Dante’s infernos?  What if pushing on these boundaries with our stories and movies is actually increasing the part of our brain which can  leap between the shadows of reality?  What if space travel is actually part of consciousness, and aliens already ride in our third vertebra?  What if?

That’s why I write.  I want to know.

Fun Fact – Thistle Slower

The wild thistle is Scotland’s national flower, because hundreds of years ago, when the Vikings were attacking Scotland, the wild thistles slowed them down so much, the Scots escaped.

A second legend says the Vikings were trying to sneak up on sleeping Scotsmen, but the thorny thistle made them cry out in pain, waking the Scots.

Either way,  good job Thistles!

Milk Thistle is also used as an herb to treat liver issues, and  the delicious artichoke is a unopened blossom.

Photo Credits

Thistles in of Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow Scotland.  Public Domain, courtesy of Pete at Flicker Artichokes CC0 license