Of course, I say, “planned slacking can be good,” though I’m not actually planning to slack. Much.

What I AM planning to do, though, is not blog this week. And, my Reading as a Writer and Iron Author classes are both taking a week off because the U is closed on Tuesday for Veteran’s day. And I had already been planning to take a one week break after the 12th episode of the podcast.

I’m going to write. I have several in-progress fiction pieces that need attention. I am hoping to have two chapbooks of short stories available in the next few weeks, and the only way to do that is to put some time in. Plus, I have stacks of hand-written draft pages that need to be added to the current fiction work-in-progress.

Oh, and there is some other “behind the scenes” stuff that needs to take place.

So this is the only blog post I plan on you seeing this week. There will be a special podcast of me reading one of my short stories from the Five Stories book, on Thursday, but otherwise, I will be a little quieter this week.

The writing calls.

A Word on Comments (Please Read)

Last week I sent an email to subscribers of my blog and email newsletter asking for some feedback on possible covers for one of the fiction chapbooks.

I had some good input on the covers, and also received feedback about the commenting system, Disqus.

I wanted to take a minute to explain three things:

  1. I have to have SOME kind of filtering software – When I first moved my blog to my own website (after years of being hosted on WordPress, directly) I found the comments were…infuriating. That’s because there were, on average, thirty or more SPAM comments every single day. I had to read every comment, decide what was legit, and delete all of those spam comments. It became clear I had to use SOME kind of filter to help. I just didn’t have time, or energy.
  2. The least intrusive way to filter SPAM was not free – And, I had to decide, based on my budget, if I wanted to filter comments on the blog or pay for hosting for my podcast. I chose the podcast. I decided paying for the podcast was more important, because there is another option available. Overall, I don’t make any money off of the website, blog, or podcast, directly. Each of those things costs more than I bring in with affiliate advertising or direct sales. I’m okay with that. It’s part of branding and being a service, but I can’t spend willy-nilly. I have to make choices. Mine was to use a free service which provides protection against SPAM, called Disqus. Disqus requires registration or some “proof” that you aren’t a robot before you can comment. If you have a Facebook or Google account, for example, you can log in using those same credentials, and that “proves” you aren’t just spamming a website with links to your miracle plant extract or get rich scheme. Or, you can register directly with Disqus and have your email identity validated through their automatic system.
  3. There are other benefits to using Disqus, but I’ve made some changes, in response to criticism – Disqus is actually quite good at generating conversation (which is why it is the same commenting system used by some of the largest news and information websites), but there are some limitations. One of those is that it is not playing well with mobile operating systems: so if you have a tablet or cell phone, you may not be able to leave a comment on the website using your iPad. There were some other limitations which were in place because I had set up the rules to work that way. For example, the first time you left a comment, it had to be approved by me before it would appear on the blog. I also had disabled “guest poster” options, which allow you to sign in with an email and leave a comment, without using your social media credentials OR creating a special Disqus log-in. I have changed BOTH of those options, to better accommodate YOU, the reader. I hope you will find that to be helpful.

The bottom line: I can’t go without SOME sort of SPAM filter, and Disqus is my best option, at this point. I hope the changes I’ve made will allow more of you to feel you have the freedom to comment, and I’m hopeful that the folks at Disqus will find a way to make the commenting system work better with mobile devices.

You need some Vitamin Sea...take a nature break. It can revive your creativity.
You need some Vitamin Sea…take a nature break. It can revive your creativity.

My Prescription

I saw a picture of a beach this week, and printed over the top of the photo were these words: I’m no doctor, but I think you need more Vitamin Sea in your diet.

I couldn’t agree more.

I hope each of you finds a few minutes to hit the beach. Or, if you aren’t lucky enough to live near some of the finest beaches in the world, like I am, then maybe you’ll find a nice spot with some colorful fall leaves, a view of the river, a peek of a waterfall, or even just a stroll through some spot you know where you can enjoy a few moments of natural beauty.

Have a great week.

Happy writing.

Take a break! Planned slacking can be good.
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