Tag Archives: Cool Tool

When Words Become a Work of Art

Writers love words.  We love reading words, writing words, and saying them out loud.  They are the food for our soul.

Words are writers’ swords,  band-aids, and  lullabies.

Words are our best friends, and some days, maybe our only friends, especially if you’re an introverted writer.

What if you had the power to turn your words into works of art?

With today’s COOL TOOL, I will grant you that power. Remember my quest to provide you free and easy-to-use tools to keep your blog from being boring?

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Drum-roll please…this is exciting….introducing…one more way to embellish a writer’s love of words.

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Wordle is an easy-to-use free online tool for making those cool graphics you see on other people’s blogs, in their dining rooms, or on their Pinterest boards. On the Wordle home page, click image and it brings you to this environment.

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See how easy it is? Type in your list of words, then click GO.  It creates the word cloud for you.

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These are all the options in the FONT dialogue box, but you probably could have figured that out on your own.  I want to encourage you to start clicking on all the  buttons when you enter a new environment. You have to Click to Conquer.  (I wrote this linked blog to encourage people to overcome fear and click!)

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The layout tab gives you these choices. 

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There’s an option to create your own custom palette, choosing your background color and four foreground colors.  (choose edit custom palette)

If you aren’t happy with the design, click the imagebutton on the bottom of the creating space until you’re satisfied with colors and shapes.

Another option was to enter the URL of a web page and they will automatically generate the word list for you.

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I typed in my blog address and this was created for me.

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It was eery how they picked out the important things in my life.  I recently blogged a four-part series about losing a friend, Kari,  to cancer at 36.  I had thyroid cancer for ten years, I have six kids I adore, I homeschool, and have had a few years with several funerals.  Can you see the themes?

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A revised version of the same Wordle. If you don’t want to eliminate a word, right click on it.  I removed Kari, the contractions that weren’t spelled right, and a few random words.  This is what I came up with.  But, no, my husband isn’t the cause of my grief as it appears in the upper left hand corner.

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Another variation of the same word cloud generated with the randomize button. Getting antsy to try it yourself?

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Two Wordles to describe my passion.

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One just for bloggers.

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A Wordle about my family.  Is that hyphen in dinner table bothering you?  Yea, me, too.

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John 3:16 in a slightly scrambled version. I chose background and word colors with edit color palette and the Mail Ray Stuff font.

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For this creation, I used the url for author Lesley Ann McDaniel’s website and tried to match her website colors. Lesley’s third book in the Montana Hearts series with Heartsong Presents, Rocky Mountain Romance, is ready for pre-order.  It was fun to see the names of her characters, the settings, and the descriptions pop up. This could be a fun author promotional tool, especially if you were more deliberate with the word list.

TIPS for using WORDLE:

  • Words typed twice are largest.  (ex. FAMILY)
  • Use hyphens or omit space in phrases. (blue-eyes) (NorthDakota)
  • Right click on a word to remove it from the word cloud.
  • Their SAVE button saves to a public gallery. To save for personal use, cut out with  Snipping Tool  and save in your picture file.

 

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I gave you the power to turn  words into works of art; use this art to turn words into works of power.

How will you  Wordle your life?

Making your home sing Mondays          WHWButton#2

Platform Building Ideas Presented on Pinterest

I was surprised to discover most writers are introverts.

Because I’m obnoxious an extrovert, I assumed all writers were. Surprise!  When I first started attending writers meetings  years ago, I met many quiet, well-behaved people.  I actually think writers are  so busy talking to their imaginary characters and creating scenes in their minds, they can forget to interact with the real characters around them.

When introverted writers are told they need a social media platform and a marketing plan for their books, they panic.  Wait, even extroverts panic, because we only daydream about writing our books.  We never daydream about selling them.

But, today’s market demands writers are more than great writers, they must be savvy marketers.

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Today’s Cool Tool is something I created  for writers. I wanted to inspire writers and remove some of the panic they feel when they hear the word platform. To many, it feels more like walking the plank than promoting their brilliance captured in print.

Introverts fear approaching someone and introducing themselves, and are even more uncomfortable when faced with having to  introduce themselves AND promote their book.

Imagine a bricklayer at work.  Brick by brick, they build a wall higher and higher and higher.  That’s how you build a platform – one brick of knowledge at a time.  You don’t have to do it all at once, focus on one aspect of social media, conquer it, then move onto the next area. Last spring I added a Facebook Author Page (fan page) and began utilizing that.

Then I moved onto PinterestIt’s so addicting, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pinterest Support Groups start popping up around the country.  I recently read that people are clicking to Pinterest  before Google, so if that’s where people are, that’s where writers need to be. 

This Pinterest board was created to help writers begin the brick by brick process of building their author platform.

 

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The bricks in this case are the pins on the board I named  Book Launch and Author Platform. I visited websites from some of the great thinkers in the industry and pinned them.  There are even some craft ideas sprinkled in for staging an author event.  I’ll decorating our annual writers conference,  Northwest Christian Writers Renewal with some of these projects. (Click on the graphic to take you to my Pinterest board.)

 

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These are a few of the individual pins to show the variety.  (click on any link to bring you to their web site.) The articles introduce you to the information, and to the people in the industry.  This board will constantly be growing and changing as I discover new skills I need to learn. It’s like in high school and I’m doing your homework for you, but this isn’t cheating. Smile  I love helping other writers.

If you are on Pinterest already, you can follow the board.  If you aren’t on Pinterest,  save it to your favorites. 

Grow your confidence and your platform by choosing and implementing one area of social media. C’mon, pick up one  brick from this Pinterest board.  When it’s solidly in place, pick up another one.  Before you know it, you’ll be standing on a sturdy Author Platform.

 

Previous blog posts about Pinterest:

Two bricks in my social media platform…

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Are ya’ PINNED yet?

 

In my mother’s teen years, if you got “pinned” you received a pin from your boyfriend and were going steady.  It might be from his frat house, one of his clubs, or a pin from his letterman’s jacket. The pin proved YOU were the one he chose above all the other girls and he was willing to publically display his commitment.

In “The Telephone Hour” in Bye Bye Birdie they sing about the teenage ritual of getting pinned.

Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?
Did they really get pinned?
Did she kiss him and cry?
Did he pin the pin on?
Or was he too shy?
Well, I heard they got pinned
Yeah! Yeah!
I was hopin’ they would!
Oho!
Now they’re livin’ at last,
Goin’ steady for good!

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Pinterest is the same thing, only different. It’s a Cool Tool that can improve your blogging.

Today getting pinned still means you were chosen – picked out of a crowd.  Someone liked your idea and displayed it in their inspirational corner of cyberspace – Pinterest.

If you’re not a crafty, kitcheny person, you might think it’s a waste of time. Think again. There’s an explosion of talent, ideas and inspiration useful to everyone.

I know, I know, one more thing to learn.  One more thing to take time away from everything else you don’t have time for. 

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One more thing to drive traffic to your blog.

In case you can’t read that little number, in the short time that I’ve limped along learning how to pin, 638 people have clicked to my blog from Pinterest.

I blogged for years before I added social media to my writing life.  My blog grew slowly. Followers were added one at a time by visiting blogs, leaving comments and creating relationships.  Some of these women became true friends and I’ve even met them in person. It’s been such a blessing! This is the best foundation for a blog, good internet relationships.

However, when you are trying to build a platform as a writer, you need to increase your audience.

I created a Facebook author page in February and started Pinterest in the spring. Prior to this,  I had been using my personal Facebook page to promote blog posts, so the stats aren’t just from this year.

The impact social media can have on your blog traffic can’t be denied.

 

You can create a board for the various topics areas you write about. When you pin from your blog, the title of the blog is in bold print and you can add a one-liner to entice the browsers to learn more. When people click on the image, it will lead them to your post.

If people like your visuals, they will pin them into their own Pinterest boards.  You get pinned and sometimes repinned. Being on Pinterest will also inspire you to have great visuals in your blog posts, visuals  worthy of being pinned.

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(Each icon is hyperlinked to a blog post.)

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MARRIAGE

 

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PARENTING

 

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INSPIRATION

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WRITING   INSPIRATION

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COOL TOOLS FORBLOGGING

There’s a lot of great bloggers out there, but having Pinterest-worthy visuals could give you an advantage in driving traffic your way.

Are ya’ PINNED yet?

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Upload Blog Photos Easily with Photo Gallery

If you’re already  blogging and uploading digital pictures for visuals, you might ignore this post.

DON’T DO THAT!

I mean, “Please, don’t do that.” I do have some manners.

A few free Microsoft programs have changed my blogging life.

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I used pictures, but they weren’t  enhanced, bordered, or watermarked. There were few options for fonts or headings.  My blogs were pretty boring.

I’ve already blogged about Staying a Live Writer, giving you 9 great reasons to blog with Live Writer, and Picture Your Blog with Live Writer, showing easy ways to enhance your pictures.

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You can Piece Together a Photo Panorama using the tutorial I gave you using Live Photo Gallery.

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Today’s Cool Tool will again focus on Live Photo Gallery.  I know it’s already Thursday and you were looking for my advice yesterday, but life happens.  Oh, you didn’t even notice I was off schedule?  Why am I such a Tryhard then?

Photo Gallery is a free photo organizer  to view, manage, share, and edit digital photos and videos.  The compatibility with Windows Live Writer will prove there is always a Happily Ever After.

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If you tag your pictures right after you upload them, it’s easy to find them.  I know, I keep nagging myself to do that, too. You can also retrieve according to person, location, subject.  It’s like tagging a blog post.

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Click on the pic to go to Microsoft website to download Photo Gallery.  Gotta’ love the FREE part.

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Start in My Pictures and decide which pictures you want to use in your blog post. Then click on image to open up Photo Gallery.

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I edit pics usually by adjusting detail, color and contrast. There are many fun options, click around and explore.

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When I was done, highlighted them all, CONTROL A.

They should all be blue, but you shouldn’t be blue in the face at this point, it’s that easy.

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Look for this little icon under the CREATE tab and click it. It opens a new draft in Live Writer and drops your photos in.

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You’re one click away from completion, choose if you want your pics in the post
or in an album.

Back in the day when I was uploading directly in Blogger or WordPress, I could only upload one at a time and then could barely move them around.  It was so frustrating.

Upload four pictures at a time?  Piece of cake!

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The new blog post was created with the four pictures dropped in order.

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Now you can jazz them up even more with the options in Live Writer.  I LOVE using  the watermark feature. It makes me feel like a Big Girl Blogger.

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I take so many pics, I can forget what I planned for a blog post.   It helps to edit pics and drop them into a draft after I dump the pics off my camera.

Microsoft’s Photo Gallery a free and simple way to store, edit, and upload your pictures.  This TOOL will make your life COOL.

Your New Best Friend: The Pin It Bookmarklet

 

I try to stay in tune with the social media trends, but get a little lost.  The world invented itself around me and I don’t see the landscape I grew up in of the 70’s,  console television sets with rabbit ears and 20 pound rotary phones with 20 foot curly cords.  I’m blessed to have friends that are not only great writers, they navigate the world of social media so well, they  make it recognizable and useful to me.

Today’s Cool Tool is brought to you by Kim, a friend with great talent and abilities.  She brings calm to my frantic, wings to my ideas and kindling to my flames of inspiration. After reading her post, I hope you have the same head-slapping reaction I did, “DUH? It’s that easy?!?” 

 

 

imageKim Vandel is a writer and voracious reader from the Seattle suburbs, and she’s the Public Relations Coordinator for Northwest Christian Writers Association. She recently became a finalist in the 2013 Cascades Writing Contest in the Unpublished Young Adult fiction category. You can find her at kimvandel.com.

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For writers, Pinterest is more than a virtual corkboard for recipes and DIY projects. It’s a fantastic way to gather research, collect writing ideas, and find inspiration for both writing and life. If you haven’t tried the Pin It Bookmarklet yet, then get ready to meet your new best friend. This handy little tool lets you pin from almost anywhere you go on the web, so no more despair when you can’t find a "Pin it" button on the page you’ve fallen in love with. You don’t have to bookmark a bunch of pages, and you don’t have to worry about "stealing" pictures or trying to remember where you saw the article you need. The bookmarklet automatically links your pin to the website where you found it.

To get started, go to the Pinterest Goodies page and scroll down to "The Pin It Button." You’ll have two options. If you’re using Google Chrome, select install now.

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For other web browsers, select the "Pinterest Bookmarklet" link.

Drag the red "Pin It" button to your toolbar to install the bookmarklet.

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When you get done, you’ll see the red Pinterest icon on your toolbar. That means you’re ready to pin!

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I’ll give you an example of how it works. I found a picture I wanted to add to my Visual Writing Prompts board, so I clicked on the icon. It gave me several picture options from the page. The "Pin it" button appeared when my cursor hovered over the picture.

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When I clicked on the button, a window popped up, and I was able to choose which board I wanted to pin the picture to. I also had the option of editing the description.

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I then clicked on the red "Pin it" button, and the picture was added to my board with a link back to the website.

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My Visual Writing Prompts board is one of my favorites. I’m a speculative writer (fantasy, science fiction, etc) and some pictures instantly spark a story idea for me. Other pictures, like the one in my example, provide inspiration for an idea I already have. It helps me visualize the futuristic world I want to create, and I’ll be able to come back to the image when it’s time to describe the setting. Studying the details—the sense of speed, the play of light against dark—will allow me to create a vivid picture in the reader’s imagination.

Maybe you don’t need to build a futuristic story world. That’s okay. (I won’t hold it against you.) Whatever you write—fiction or non-fiction, blog articles or epic novels—the Pin It Bookmarklet will give you the freedom to roam the web and gather inspiration and ideas wherever you find them. So get pinning already!

Repositioning Photos on Facebook

Sometimes, a simple skill brings great change and empowerment. I  used that word because I used it in my blog title yesterday and I have to prove I’m practicing what I preach. Can I hear an AMEN?  OK, maybe not…

So, people from the Midwest love to use this word to begin and end sentences, I put a photo on my Facebook author page with myself and two other women.

With the new double-column look of FB, the pics appear cropped and you don’t see the entire picture until you click on it.

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Stink! I didn’t show up in the picture on my own page.

But, I wanted it about me.  All about me. ‘Cuz we all know if Momma Mindy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Anyhoo, I clicked around because there’s always something new on Facebook. Maybe you don’t remember I blogged about my mantra,  Click Until You Conquer?  I don’t know if Facebook sneaks things in when I’m sleeping, or if I never notice them, but I clicked around until I found a Cool Tool, so…

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So, it’s called….drum roll please….

 

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Pardon my shaking mouse finger where I circled in red, but hover your mouse over the right hand corner of the photo status until image appears.  Click on the little Pencil until the dialogue box drops down, then click Reposition Photo.

Then grab your picture with your trusty left mouse button and move it where you want it.

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We have all learned the hard way what happens when you don’t click that magical little SAVE button, especially in the Olden Days before Word developed Document Recovery.

Talk about empowerment, I turned two Mindys into Cyclopses. But, at least it shows  there were three people in the picture and if anybody wants to see both my eyes, they can just click on the pic. (Just a side note, should the plural of Mindy be Mindies?  Ya’ know the change the y to i and add es thing? And is the plural of Cyclops Cyclopses? Just wondering….)

 

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The other option is to leave out one someone.  But, having one eye cropped out is better than having your whole body cropped out. Unless you wanna’ crop out someone, but I would never say anything about mother-in-laws or those not-really-friends in public, no sirree, I wouldn’t.

So, there ya’ have it.  A Cool Tool that empowers you to reposition people in and out of your pictures on Facebook.  Not applicable to personal lives.

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Making your home sing Mondays