Blog Makeover!

Oh yes, The Wolfe’s (Writing) Den is getting a major revamp! After two and a half years of blogging, I decided it was high time for a makeover. If you’re one of my regular readers, you may have noticed some changes to my site this weekend. In case you’re wondering what this update is all about, here’s a quick rundown of what’s new.

New theme!

The biggest change to my blog is the addition of a new theme: Divi by Elegant Themes! While I was happy with my previous theme – the Scribble child theme for the Genesis Framework by StudioPress – it did have one fundamental flaw: it was not mobile-responsive. With at least half your potential audience wielding smartphones, accessibility through mobile devices is extremely important for blogs these days, so I felt the need to upgrade to a highly customizable and responsive new theme for a more professional look. Hopefully now my blog will be much more aesthetically appealing to you mobile readers out there!

New logo and banner

JCW-Round-Logo-02With a fresh theme comes a fresh image! Every serious website needs its own unique image, so I had a talented young artist I know design a logo and banner with a couple of new characters for my blog. Introducing Jay and Wolfe, my new “blog mascots”! You’ll see them on my homepage and in the headers of my social media profiles. I think they add a little more charm to my blog, don’t you?

(Coming soon!) Guest posts and Indie Writer Spotlight interviews

Since I started blogging, I’ve been terribly possessive of my content. Every single one of the 400+ posts that have been published here was written by me, and the closest I’ve ever come to letting another author create content for my site is sharing infographics and accepting submissions for “What If?” Writing Prompts.

Now that I’m ready to start taking blogging a little more seriously, I’m considering opening up submissions for guest posts in the near future. I’d also like to continue my Indie Writer Spotlight segment soon by interviewing more indie authors about their books. So if you’re a blogger looking to expand your network and/or an indie author hoping to gain more exposure for your book, be sure to keep an eye out for updates about guest post exchanges and author interview requests! Information will be available on my Contact page, so feel free to send me a message!

That’s it for this news update! Minor features will continue to roll out as I find my way around this new theme, so expect to see some changes around the site over at least the next few weeks. I hope you’ll enjoy this major update of my blog! Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Journal – What I’ve Learned in a Year of Blogging

This week is a very special time for my website: its first anniversary! That’s right: this Thursday marks one year since I started blogging! It’s been quite a journey so far, and I’d like to take this time to briefly reflect on everything I’ve learned in the past year. Enjoy!

One-Shaped Cake

Serious blogging requires discipline. A lot of it.

Blogging is definitely fun and a great way to express yourself, but if you really want to build your identity, you have to dedicate yourself to it. Before I started, I set a goal to post at least three times a week, and so far, I’ve stuck firmly to that schedule. Because of this, I’ve learned a lot about discipline and commitment, and now I’m able to run a blog that I can be truly proud to call mine.

Blogging is one part content, two parts networking.

It’s not enough to just write good content (although that’s always important). You also need to get out there and connect with other bloggers. Share your posts on social media networks. Comment on other blogs with content similar to yours. Follow writers on Twitter and interact with them often. About 90% of my following has come from building connections with fellow writers outside my blog. My posts are accessed daily through search engines, but my regular readers are the ones I actively connect with.

I’ve also noticed that blog events are very helpful for my site. Participating in Writers Reveal has brought in more traffic and sparked some creative ideas, and my most viewed post to date is an interview with Jennifer Zeiger for my Indie Writer Spotlight segment. Blogging and networking combined! What could be better?

Patience isn’t just a virtue; it’s a necessity.

Even if you write interesting content every week and actively promote your blog on social media, it will take a while to gain a substantial following. I didn’t get my first readers (outside my real-life circle, that is) until I’d been blogging for a couple of months. Yes, I was a little anxious in the beginning about getting my writing noticed, but I stuck to my commitment, and before I knew it, I had a handful of regular readers. The important thing is to not get discouraged. Keep working hard, and it will eventually pay off.

Writers are the most supportive people on the Internet.

I was pleasantly surprised when I joined the online community of writers. I already knew that good bloggers in general are supportive of each other’s work, but those involved in creative writing seem to take it to a whole other level. Writers frequently visit each other’s blogs. They actively network on writing community sites. They share their work and exchange critique. They retweet each other and constantly promote each other’s books. And they reassure each other that no one in the community is ever really alone. They’re all like one big family.

Maybe it’s because creative writing is different from other “businesses”. Compared to other fields of marketing, there’s significantly less competition among writers (that isn’t to say that there’s no competition at all, just that it isn’t quite as cutthroat as between traditional enterprises). In fact, the opposite seems to be true: the more you promote other writers, the better it is for you. In other words, you get back as much as you give. I can see the logic in that; there’s fierce competition to sell products that people only need one of, but stories never need to be enough. There’s really no reason why one can’t read stories from several different authors, because unlike products that take up space, stories are collected in the virtually limitless mind. Of course writers want to support each other; sharing our art makes it all the more enjoyable!

If you’re truly passionate about it, you’ll always love what you do!

To be honest, I have a tendency to lose interest in activities fairly quickly. That’s why when I started blogging, part of me was worried that after a few months, my excitement would fade and it would all start to feel like work. To my surprise, I’ve found that blogging is still as much fun as it was when I started. In fact, in some respects, it may actually be more fun, now that I have active readers and a better grasp of what I’m doing. After a year of blogging, I’m now confident that I can continue at this pace, and that I’ll keep on having fun with it.

So here’s to a whole year of blogging on The Wolfe’s Den! May there be many more to come! Thank you kindly, dear readers! Bless you all!

Journal – 100th Blog Post!

So I was sorting through my blog archive the other day when my eye was drawn to the post count at the top of the page. That’s when I noticed I was getting close to a milestone: one hundred posts! When I counted the ones I had already scheduled, I realized the hundredth would fall on a Monday, which fits perfectly into my Journal posting schedule. So here it is: my 100th blog post!

Wow, one hundred posts? Congratulations!

Thank you! I’m actually amazed that I’ve even made it this far. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep up blogging consistently for this long, but apparently I have, so yay me!

Now you’re probably wondering what I had planned for this special post. Honestly, I didn’t really intend to write anything long; I just wanted to acknowledge the milestone, and take the opportunity to thank all my regular readers for their support. Special thanks go out to those who have been reading my blog since Day One (you know who you are)! I’ve learned quite a bit since I started, my writing has been steadily evolving, and I’ve met some very interesting people in the blogosphere. But I’ll save the really special post for my blog’s first birthday. For now, I’d just like to say: thank you, dear readers! You’re all awesome!

Hooray for 100 blog posts! Here’s to another hundred, and many more!

100 Candles

Indie Writer Spotlight: Midnight Abyss / Interview with Jennifer M. Zeiger

Hello, dear readers! Today I’m sharing a special post, as it marks the beginning of a new segment on my blog: the Indie Writer Spotlight! Though it won’t be a regular segment, posts will be up on Fridays and will feature independent authors and their books in the world of self-publishing. With so many writers trying to get their work out there, it’s great when we can support each other!

Kicking off the Indie Writer Spotlight is an interview with Jennifer M. Zeiger, one of the authors of the upcoming short story anthology Midnight Abyss. Jennifer and I have been in touch for the past few weeks, and I sent her some questions about the new book. Here’s what she could tell me about Midnight Abyss. Enjoy!

Midnight Abyss

JMZeigerAbout Jennifer M. Zeiger

Jennifer M. Zeiger lives in the beautiful state of Colorado with her husband, dog and two cats. She graduated with her Bachelors in English in 2008 with minors in Accounting and Recreation. She loves writing fantasy in particular but will read just about anything.

Interview with Jennifer

Me: What can you tell me about the book itself?

Jennifer: The book’s titled Midnight Abyss. It’s a mix of horror and dark fantasy short stories with a few poems thrown in too (It’s Midnight in the Abyss. Do you know where your Darklings are?). If you can’t tell, we’re having a lot of fun with this. =)

Me: Who are the collaborating authors, and where are you all from?

Jennifer: Okay, this one’s going to take a minute. There are nine authors all told. We have Anisa A. Claire in Vancouver and Kelleigh in Seattle who are the masterminds of all of this.

Then there’s Doug Langille in Nova Scotia who, thankfully, knows the techie stuff.

Gregory K Shipman’s up in Alaska. He keeps us all laughing when we start taking things too seriously.

Shaun Adams charms us all with his British accent since he’s from the Isle of Wight in England.

Raymond Tabaygo’s a hero of mine. He’s in New Jersey and he’s 66 years old and still writing. I love it.

Matthew X. Gomez is in Maryland. Although we’ve all helped with the editing, he’s definitely the one willing to cut your writing to pieces. It’s great.

Then, to finish this all off, there’s Theresa Briscoe Tschetter and I in the old west. She’s in Wyoming and I’m in Colorado. Theresa, even though she’s had some trouble with internet since we’ve started working on this, has made a massive effort to stay involved and upbeat. As for myself, I feel like I’m along for the ride and it’s a great adventure. =)

Me: How did you all meet?

Jennifer: Except for Anisa and Kelleigh, I think all of us met on Writer’s Carnival, which is a workshop site for writers. We’ve never met face to face. It boggles my mind how, in this day and age, such collaboration can happen without actually meeting.

Me: What made you decide to write a short story anthology together?

Jennifer: I received a message from Anisa asking if I wanted to take part in writing this anthology. I think the idea came about because we were all familiar with each other’s writing off of Writer’s Carnival and we all liked what we saw.

Me: And why did you decide to write in the horror and dark fantasy genres?

Jennifer: Those are the two genres we all like to write in. Well, fantasy for me is the genre I prefer, so dark fantasy was a bit of a challenge, which was great. Plus, we decided to launch the book on Halloween, so those two genres fit the theme.

Me: How long did it take you all to put the book together?

Jennifer: I received the email at the end of July asking if I wanted to be a part of this. Honestly, we lagged during August. Then about mid September, we realized, ‘oh dear, our deadline’s fast approaching!’ So we all kicked it in gear and have been working furiously since the last couple weeks of September. So when all is said and done, we put in about six weeks to finalize the stories and put the book together, which is wicked fast but we’ve managed to come up with a book we all love.

Me: Was it difficult coordinating your efforts, since most of you live so far apart?

Jennifer: Yes and no. Sorry, that’s an awkward answer.

Yes, because we’re working through messages and the occasional Google Hangout. There’s a lot of information getting thrown around: slogans, covers, order of stories, editing details… I could go on for a very long time. Let me just say, Dropbox is awesome.

But when I really look at how much we’ve figured out in a very short period of time, I have to say the group’s fantastic. There could be a lot of bickering but there hasn’t been. We all want this book to be the best set of short stories that we can produce and we’ve worked really hard to make that happen.

Me: How did you feel while working on this book?

Jennifer: Oh Lordy, that’s a loaded question. Personally, I’ve never been published before, so I’m thrilled-out-of-my-mind excited, I’m scared so bad my hands shake if I think about it too long and I’m breathless trying to keep up with all the details. But overall, I’m blessed to be working with such great people and following my dream at the same time.

Me: And how do you feel now that it’s all done?

Jennifer: Wow, that was a wild ride! And still is. Unlike with traditional publishing, we don’t have a marketing team working with us, so we’re still working on getting the word out. That work won’t be done for a while, but having a finished product feels amazing. Holding a hard copy book with my name on it, indescribable.

Me: When can we expect a full release of the book?

Jennifer: Oct. 31st to coincide with Halloween.

Me: Where can we find out more about the book?

Jennifer: Facebook: Midnight Abyss

Twitter: @AbyssMidnight

Goodreads: Midnight Abyss (I believe we’re going to do some giveaways for reviews here, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.)


My blog: Jennifer M Zeiger

We’ve set the book up with Amazon’s CreateSpace. So if you’re looking for a copy, you can find it there after the 31st.

Thanks so much for the interview, Jennifer! And thanks to you readers for joining us in the Indie Writer Spotlight!

Midnight Abyss comes out October 31st. Be sure to check it out this Halloween! Thanks for reading!

Journal – Liebster Award

Liebster Award

Guess who just received her second blogging award? OK, it was actually given to me a couple of months ago, but I’ve really been looking forward to saying that. This one comes from Emily Morgan of Mama Going Solo and Emily Morgan Writes, who nominated me for the Liebster Award! Thank you so much, Emily! It’s really an honor!

The rules for this award are as follows:

  • answer 11 questions set by your nominee,
  • share 11 facts about yourself
  • write 11 new questions of your own, and
  • pass the award onto (up to) 11 other bloggers to answer your questions

So to start off, here are Emily’s questions for me:

1) What is your favorite thing to serve up a good friend for morning tea/afternoon tea?

Umm… cookies? I wouldn’t know; it’s never really come up.

2) If I gave you a $50,000 travel voucher and three weeks to spend it in, what would you do?

First, I would give you a big hug and thank you for the amazing gift! Then I would probably take that dream vacation I’ve always wanted across Europe with someone special.

3) If you could live someone else’s life for 24 hours, who would you choose?

Maybe one of my sisters. Sometimes their lives seem so much more exciting than mine!

4) If you could put someone else in your shoes for a day, who would you choose?

Probably my mom or dad, just because their lives are so much busier than mine, and they deserve a break.

5) What are you reading now, what have you just read and what are you going to read next (got three in one there!!)?

Well, that all depends on what counts…

Just read (again): Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Just read (for the first time): The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Am reading (fiction): The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl, Book 6) by Eoin Colfer

Am reading (non-fiction): Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems (4th ed.) by Michael Begon, Colin R. Townsend and John L. Harper

Going to read next: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

6) What is your favorite period of history and why?

I love the ancient periods, but Ancient Egypt is my favorite! The civilization was incredibly advanced for its time, and so rich in culture. I couldn’t get enough of learning about the ancient egyptians in school! Of course, I find Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome fascinating as well, also for the culture.

7) What profession would you never want to attempt (I’m channelling Inside the Actor’s Studio for this one!)?

I’ve always told myself that the last career path I would ever want to pursue is Law. A good lawyer is usually cunning, manipulative and indifferent to people’s opinions. I am none of these things, which is why I’m sure I would hate having that job. I’d take being a “starving artist” over being a rich lawyer any day!

8) Which would you rather do: travel to space with Virgin Galactic, or climb Mount Everest?

Travel to space with Virgin Galactic! I love space; there was even a time in my childhood when I wanted to be an astronaut! Plus, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it halfway up Mount Everest.

9) Which reality TV show would you participate in?

Do documentary-style shows count? If so, then probably Mythbusters or some BBC nature documentary. Or Top Gear (UK version, of course). I don’t care how much of that show is scripted; I love those three presenters! Besides, it might be fun to be a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.

Sorry, but I wouldn’t do actual reality shows.

10) What name would you give to a pet but never a kid?

I assume you mean besides the obvious pet names like Fluffy or Mittens. Well, off the top of my head, Sebastian. Good name for a cat (or a singing crab with a Jamaican accent), but I can’t see my (possible future) son pulling it off.

Oh, and Wolfgang. Too archaic for a person, but it might work for a dog. I could call him Wolf.

11) If you could go back and study any subject at all with no homework or exams, what would you study?

Japanese! I loved taking Japanese lessons in college, but I was only able to take the course for a year. I would have loved to stick with it long enough to become really proficient at it. Visiting Japan is one of my dreams; it would be great if I could understand enough of the language to get by!

Now for 11 facts about myself:

1) I’m very close with my family. I had the happiest childhood ever, and it’s been a major influence on my stories, which usually have well-rounded characters and happy endings.

2) I was once an avid fanfiction writer. I used to publish stories on FanFiction.Net, all of which were set in the worlds of video games. They were very well received, and some of my readers even suggested I pursue writing as a career. Naturally, I was way ahead of them…

3) I’m a total nerd, and proud of it. I’ve never been into fashion, I don’t care very much for the color pink, I’d rather spend a quiet evening at home than go out partying, and I was always into things that were considered “uncool” for people my age. As I like to say, I’d choose fantasy over reality any day.

4) I love mythology. My favorite mythical creatures are the phoenix and the dragon, though I’m also interested in legends of mermaids and any creature with the body of a horse.

5) Bugs fascinate me. While most people prefer to kill large insects and spiders in their home, I like to catch them and stare at them for a while before I release them outside. Sometimes I even take pictures before letting them go.

6) I’m one of those people who believes real beauty is on the inside. In fact, one of the reasons I became a writer was so people could get to know my mind before they could get to know my face. I don’t really care what people look like or what they wear as much as I care about personality. So you can be fat, skinny, tall, short, curvy or flat; if I think you’re a good person, you will be beautiful to me.

7) I love love. Romance is one of my favorite genres, love stories melt my heart, and my biggest guilty pleasure is that I can’t get enough of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I believe it’s a reflection of the love I grew up seeing every day; my parents are the living embodiment of “happily ever after”.

8) I’ve never had a boyfriend who wasn’t my friend first. I’ve also never had a boyfriend with whom I didn’t fall in love.

9) I love my brown eyes and dark hair, and I wouldn’t dream of trading them for any other colored features. I have nothing against light eyes and brighter hair colors, of course. I just think it’s sad when people wish they were born with different looks. That’s another reason my favorite Disney princess as a kid was Belle (after her love of reading); she showed girls that brown hair and brown eyes can be beautiful too!

10) Most of my favorite movies are animated. I’m a big fan of Pixar films, and I love watching movies from the Disney Renaissance – The Little Mermaid (1989) to Tarzan (1999) – just because they take me back to my childhood. I also watch How to Train Your Dragon every time I see it’s on TV.

11) I have “mixed blood”: half European, a quarter Asian, and a quarter South American. At the same time, I like to consider myself 100% American.

Next, here are my questions for my nominees:

1) What would you say first inspired you to become a writer?

2) If you could meet your idol face to face, what would you say to her/him?

3) If you could only watch one movie over and over during the course of a year, which movie would you choose and why?

4) What are your favorite genres to read and write in?

5) Did you ever have a crazy dream job as a kid?

6) With which character(s) in all the books you’ve read can you most identify?

7) What animal would you consider your animal spirit and why?

8) If someone at a party randomly handed you a microphone and told you to sing any song you wanted, what song would you choose?

9) Are there any books you would say changed your life, and if so, which one(s)?

10) What was your favorite subject in school?

11) If you could have three wishes granted – one for you, one for your family and one for the world – what would you wish for?

And finally, here is my list of nominees:

Jennifer M Zeiger

Vanessa Writes

Lilica’s Place

Writer B is me

Writers Challenge 2013

Inion N. Mathair

Thanks so much for inspiring, friends! And thanks again to Emily for the nomination! You’re all amazing!

Journal – Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Yes, I got another blogging award! Being my third so far (the second has yet to be posted), the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award was kindly given to me by the very sweet and inspiring Lily of Lilica’s Place. Be sure to check out her blog! She’s awesome!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers AwardThis award is shared among female bloggers who inspire each other through their writing. It’s an honor to have been considered for this award, especially since my blog is still only a few months old! Thank you so much!

The rules for this award are:

  1. Post the logo on your blog.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you.
  3. Choose 10-12 other ladies who blog as your nominees.
  4. Post the links to the nominees’ blogs and notify each of them on their blog.

Now here are my nominees, some really amazing women in the blogosphere:

1) Best Ever Easy Recipes

2) Jennifer M Zeiger

3) Emily Morgan Writes and Mama Going Solo (both run by the same blogger)

4) Vanessa Writes

5-9) Writers Challenge 2013 (This blog is run by five awesome female writers, so I’m counting them each individually here.)

10) Lilica’s Place (I know she’s the one who sent this award to me, but since I find her so inspiring, I feel she deserves another mention. No need to accept it all over again; it’s just a friendly gesture!)

Thanks for all your inspiration, ladies! And thank you again for the nomination, Lily! You’re amazing! Thanks for reading!

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