Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Taking a Sabbatical of Sorts

Hello all!

I'm facing some pretty hefty deadlines so for the next month, including getting ready for the Caliente Blog Hop hosted by the Four Seduced Muses. I'm participating in it with two of my blogs and on two others as my alter egos Lia Michaels and Stephanie Ryan. I'm also designing new logos, banners and buttons to go with all the blogs, designing the swag I'll take to RomCon in June, finishing up the 3rd and 4th books in the Now and Forever series as well as finishing up the first novels for Lia and Stephanie. One more project is to start soon as well. I'm publishing another book of poetry, but this time it's for one of my dear friends of nearly 30 years. 


So for the next three weeks, the WWoW and Furbaby Friday features will be on hold. I'm hoping to get back into the full weekly posts again by May 13th. That's if everything and everyone cooperates with me. We all know how that usually goes, but I'll do my best to meet this self imposed deadline as well.

In the meantime, check out the new features gaining popularity over at Behind Closed Doors, Sassy Vixen Publishing, The House of Taboo, and Through Stephanie's Eyes. If you wish to have a spot on one of those blogs, check out the guidelines and send in a request. We'd love to have you!

See you soon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

#WWoW!: Using Blog Static Pages to Your Advantage

Welcome back to Writer's Words of Wisdom here at Not Enough Time in the Day. Each week a Smart & Savvy Group of Authors write a feature for their blog each Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.

This week I thought I'd focus on using static pages for more than just a list of your favorite links or your book covers. Starting in May, I'm participating in a blog hop hosted by the Four Seduced Muses. The Caliente Blog Hop runs from May 6th through May 10th. That's Monday through Friday. Five days where my continuous blogs could be "occupied" daily for the hop, OR I could still have my regular features on all of them AND still have a dedicated spot where folks who are only interested in the hop can go without having to wade through five or six days worth of posts. This is where the static pages can be used to my advantage...and to yours.

Depending on what blog platform/host you use, the steps to set up the pages can be a little different than how I'm going to show you how to do today. Since I use both Wordpress and Blogger, those will be what I focus on in this post.

My main website and blog is Behind Closed Doors. It's on the free wordpress.com but I purchased my domain name so the official URL is www.authortammydenningsmaggy.com.  The following description and photos will apply to this particular blog. If you go to the site, you will be taken to my landing page, or HOME. I made this static page my website. There you can see the navigating tabs at the top where you can find the Blog, My Poetry, my other sister blogs, guidelines, etc. It's in that menu I'll put the tab for visitors to find the Caliente Blog Hop page.

To get started in wordpress, click on DASHBOARD, then APPEARANCE, then PAGES, then ADD NEW.
Now you get a template page very similar to what you would normally see when writing a general post for your blog. Set it up as you desire even with a scheduled date and time for it to go live. You can post it immediately if you wish, but for my purposes, I made it the first day of the hop.

Now go to DASHBOARD and then MENU. You'll see a page like the following.

Do you see the boxes next to the pages there in the middle of the screen shot? Those are where you can check off to choose what pages you wish to include in the menu. You can have many pages set up and not easily accessed with the menu tabs. These stay "hidden" until you provide the link for folks to access them. I did that with my Now and Forever Series tab. There you will find blurbs of my books and also links to the first chapter of each one. You can only access the first chapter pages by that link.

Now in the right column of the screen shot above, you see the list of items in my menu that will appear at the top of the Behind Closed Doors website/blog. I can move the order around with the idea of giving the Caliente Blog Hop tab greater visibility. I will have it at the end, so it will show up as the last tab and easily accessible. Now at any point during the blog hop, people can visit that page simply by clicking on the tab in the menu at the top. If they wish, they can also tour around my site and check out the other guests I'll have on my blog during the hop.

For Blogger, the steps are a little different but a bit easier than with Wordpress. Click on DESIGN at the top right of your blog, then PAGES, then ADD NEW.
Go ahead and create the page the way you want it to look. The photo above is taken from my alter ego Stephanie Ryan's blog. She's participating in the Caliente Blog Hop too. ;-)

After you have the page the way you want it, go ahead and publish it. Don't worry, you'll be able to change the status of it in a moment.

See how Stephanie's Caliente Hop page is listed in the page menu? Here is where you can change the status of the page by reverting it to draft. That way it keeps it "hidden" until you're ready for it to go live. You will have to go in there and publish it manually as blogger doesn't have a way to schedule the pages at specific dates and times like Wordpress does. Here's what the dashboard looks like when you revert the page to draft.

Why have a separate static page in order to participate in blog hops? Well, I used to do a new post every single day of the hop I was participating in and found that the first day or two got the best response, but then only a few folks came back daily. So I thought I would take that to heart, and just have one dedicated page to the hop and go about my regular blog business at the same time. Now that I have three pen names to manage, this is the best option for me. I can enjoy the hops and continue to promote myself, my pen names and fellow authors.  Also if you end up participating in hops that overlap or occur at the same time, this allows you to have a separate page for each one and still be able to keep the visitors and their contest entries separate from each other.

So go on. Set up pages for blog hops, your own contests, or even a store to sell your books. That's my next project for the Sassy Vixen Publishing website!

Next week I'll talk more about hosting your own blog hop, creating the buttons, linky lists and more. It seems daunting, but it's really not hard. That is as long as you stick with the KISS principle!

Until next time...

Make sure you stop in and say hello to the other authors participating this week.

Friday, April 5, 2013

#FurbabyFridays: Snail Bait Toxicity

Some parts of the United States see this toxicity more than others simply because of the climates in those specific areas. Southern US, Pacific Coast states and the Hawaiian Islands all have issues with the slippery, slimy garden creatures that are the reason for using this toxin.

A common ingredient in the baits used to kill off snails and slugs is metaldehyde. This is also found in some brands of solid fuel for camp stoves. If ingested, prompt veterinary intervention is needed to save these animals. The longer the delay in treatment, the worse the prognosis and the risk for death is ever so much higher.

Why is this attractive to domestic animals?

To make the baits appeal to the snails and slugs, bran and molasses are often added. These ingredients are very tasty and appeal to our furbabies as well as other wildlife. So if you live in an area where you have to battle the slippery creatures, it's best to find alternatives to the baits that are commonly used. If you rent, or are in a community that happens to hire a gardener/grounds keeper make sure you ask what they use to get rid of the pests. 

Why is it so toxic?

Metaldehyde is a neurotoxin, which means the primary symptoms tend to be associated with the nervous system such as tremors, hyperexcitability and seizures. Other symptoms include:
  1. anxiety
  2. vomiting
  3. diarrhea
  4. excessive drooling
  5. uncoordinated walking
  6. hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  7. tachypnea (increased respiratory rate)

How does it cause the neurotoxicity and why is it so deadly?

The exact mechanism of action is of course unknown, just like with many of the toxins we've discussed over the last few weeks. It's believed the acidity of the stomach enhances the affects but no studies have found this conclusively. Metaldehyde can cross the blood brain barrier easily, to it does interfere with the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. When this occurs, the overall effect is to lower the seizure threshold making it easier for a seizure to occur.

The tremors induced by metaldehyde interference with the neurotransmitters will ultimately cause the animal's body temperature to rise. Temperatures over 107 degrees will cause all organ systems to experience damage at the cellular level.  Metaldehyde also interferes with electrolyte and acid/base balance in the body which leads to CNS depression and tachypnea. Liver failure can occur in within 2 or 3 days of ingestion.

How is it treated?

There is NO antidote! Treatment is early, aggressive supportive care with your veterinarian or at an emergency veterinary hospital. If the ingestion took place less than 30 minutes prior to presentation to the vet, they can induce vomiting. After that point, your pet may already be experiencing some symptoms that would make vomiting contraindicated. The stomach will need to be decontaminated by a different route..stomach tube and lavage. This is basically what they do in hospitals when a human has to have it's "stomach pumped."

The rest of the therapy includes many of the same elements as with the other toxins. Activated charcoal is used in multiple doses to help bind the toxin and prevent it from resorbing as it passes through the intestines. Intravenous fluids are used to help keep the liver and kidneys happy during the decontamination process. Medications are given to control tremors, seizures and correct any electrolyte imbalances that may be evident based on blood work results.  It's imperative that the liver and kidney function tests are monitored closely with repeated lab tests.

Recovery depends on how much of the bait was ingested and how quickly therapy was initiated. The general health of the patient BEFORE the ingestion also plays a big role in how fast they recover. As little as one teaspoon of the pellet form for a 10 pound animal can be deadly. For some pets, just licking it off their paws after walking through areas where the baits have been distributed is enough to make them quite ill.

Do yourself a favor. If you have a snail or slug problem, look for alternatives to get rid of them. A few examples include
  1. pet and human hair
  2. egg shells
  3. salt
  4. beer
Here's some links to articles that are great resources for you. Check them out. You won't be sorry you did!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

#WWoW: Creating The Blog Navigation Bar that Suites Your Needs

Hello everyone! You didn't wake up on the wrong day. It is really Thursday. I had major Internet provider issues over the last few days and wasn't able to get my Wednesday post up in time. So here it is, a day late but hopefully filled with useful information. My contribution to Writer's Words of Wisdom this week is to continue on the same topic of setting up and personalizing your blogs. In fact, I'll be travelling down this road for the next several weeks and hopefully will cover some of the topics people have been asking me about over the last few months.

I've had more than a few requests to discuss a bit about setting up the layout of my blogs. Mainly, folks want to know how I did it. Well, there really isn't a right or wrong way to go about doing it. All of my blogs are fluid—constant works in progress. I'm always fiddling with the layouts and order of things to get all of them to be appealing to the eye. I like to change up the color schemes too. Right now, I'm only working with the free themes offered through Blogger and Wordpress so some of the layouts are restricted by the specific themes that I choose to work with at the time. This is most evident with Wordpress. The fonts, colors and layouts are all locked in with their free themes. However, I can choose at anytime to upgrade and pay to customize them. That's a future goal for me.

Blogger on the other hand does give you a lot more options to customize your themes. You can change the font's with each post, the time stamps, what color you want your links to be in the posts, what color or fonts to use for your blog title and subtitles. After you've chosen a theme, then you can alter the design by clicking on the "DESIGN" tab at the top of your blog. Go ahead and do that now. You will see a page that looks similar to this

Clicking on the "TEMPLATE" option on the menu on the left side will show the "CUSTOMIZE" button. Click on that to take you to the next step.

As you can see, I'm using this blog to help demonstrate what to do here. Of course your own blog won't have the same colors and layout as mine...or it could if you chose the same theme. LOL   On the left side you will see another menu list. Click on the last option "ADVANDED." This will take you to the window where you can change fonts sizes, colors and everything to give your page the look you wish to have. Here's what mine looks like at that step.

Notice the area I drew a circle around? That is the list of options you get to control. When you click on each one, the choices of fonts and colors open up for you on the right. Currently it's showing what I can do for my page text. Blogger gives you suggestions of what colors will go with your chosen theme or you can go completely in another direction. It's up to you. Go ahead and play around with all of the spots you wish to customize. Make sure you save your arrangements before you change screens to view the blog. If you don't like how it looks, or a font color isn't showing up the way you want it to, then change it.

Once you've played around with the theme and all it has to offer you, I'd like to touch on one more thing before I go for the week. This is how to set up your navigation tabs. Most folks have them at the top, like I have but some people like them as a side bar. It's up to you.

How do you get to add tabs? Well, those are called "PAGES." These can actually be stand alone/static pages you create or links to different blogs or websites. Click on "DESIGN" at the top of your blog again and then pick the "PAGES" option on the left side. It should take you to a page that looks like this.
 I've added a few notes in the photo above to let you know what each section does. First thing, just add the links and pages in any order. You can change that up at any point by clicking on the little light teal/blue colored shaded area of each entry and arranging them in the order you wish. This is just like on the layout page. We'll get to setting up the layout on another day.  For now, let's just concentrate on how you want your navigation tab bar to look like. What links do you want to put there?  One very important one would be  to your website if you have one.  What you put there is all up to you. There really aren't any rules here.

I hope this week's mini seminar was helpful. If you have any questions at all, or would like to see how to so do something else, let me know. I stuck with Blogger for this post, because it does have so many different ways to change things up and still for free. For those of us just starting out, free is definitely an added BONUS!

For more Words of Wisdom, please check out the other authors participating this week. Make sure you come back next Wednesday when I talk more about creating static pages and how to use them for hops, promotions and keeping your first chapters available only to those who click on the links you provide. Intrigued? Come back next week!

Coming soon is our own website to host our weekly Writer's Words of Wisdom. Stay tuned for details!

Wildfire Romance Series