Building An Author Website

So I wrote last week about wanting to make some changes over the weekend. I’ve considered launching a personal website for some time now, a place where the blog and my books could be displayed, and something that could give me a bit more of a presence as a writer. After much going back and forth, I finally decided I’d either host with WordPress or with Squarespace.

I asked for your opinion on what you thought: should I stay with WordPress and keep the following I’ve built here, or should I go with Squarespace and get the design and functionality that I want?

Several of you responded, and most encouraged me to stick with WordPress. Better to keep building the following I’ve earned than risk losing momentum. But a couple of you said the same thing:

Why not keep both?

So after exploring, I discovered that I could import my WordPress blog into the Squarespace platform. This morning’s blog is a test to see if I post on this blog and have it automatically update there. If I can do both, then I’m keeping both. If not, I’m really tempted to go with Squarespace. The picture below will show you why.


I’ll let you know what I decide. In the meantime, let me know what you think about the site design over at Squarespace. Do you like it? What are your thoughts?

Would You Follow Me?

I’m thinking of switching my blog to another service. I have a good friend who blogs over at and I have to admit – nothing against WordPress – I kind of like the way they have things set up. Granted, Kevin ( has a pro blog, whereas I’m only an amateur, but I like the different blog templates they offer, and they seem to be on par with WordPress in terms of what they offer the user.

I may just register the JasonMuses domain with them and mess around a bit, just to see if I like it.

But tell me – would you follow me if I moved platforms? Or would it be too big of a hassle?

Insomniac’s Internet Report

Welcome back, Dave. Hal has upgraded to wifi and is waiting to show you some new tricks...

I couldn’t sleep last night, a fact you might have guessed given the blog’s suddenly new appearance (Side Note: can I help it if WordPress finally produced a free theme almost exactly like I’ve been wanting? I saw this last night and got giddy). To pass the time, and to prevent my insomnia from infecting my beloved wife, I opted to hit the couch with the old laptop and see what the internet has to offer once the midnight oil is lit.

The quick summation: Jack Squat.

In a world of supposedly 24-hour information, I just so happened to pick the world’s most boring 24-hours in which to be wide awake. Baseball is on a break until the All-Star sham starts, the NFL and NBA are both locked out and moving at pace that makes glaciers seem impatient, and Facebook offers no one with whom to banter once the clock strikes one in the morning. CNN’s lead story was about Prince William and Duchess Kate wearing cowboy gear to commemorate their historic opening of the Calgary Stampeded (Brits in boots and bolos – there’s some stunning reading!), and the folks at Fox weren’t much better (I think it was all about nine ways to bring Casey Anthony to justice, “Old West” style).

Even TMZ was DOA, and I couldn’t even bring myself to Google the words “Perez Hilton”, just out of fear that my computer would catch a digital STD. I tried reading some online books, but without the tactile sensation of a page to turn, Wuthering Heights is even more dreadful than previously imagined. I tried to keep up with Twitter, but even their feed was pathetically slow – two tweets in twenty minutes…it’s like all of the smart alecks in the world fell into a coma at the exact same time.

Hulu was hopeless (I just can’t bring myself to watch anything other than Law & Order from NBC) and YouTube gets boring after the 254,302 video of some poor father being “accidentally” hit in the groin. I tried reading some of the classier content aggregators but all I got was aggravation.

So in the end I turned on a small lamp, grabbed a Raymond Chandler story collection, and read some tales about my favorite fictional detective of all time, Philip Marlowe. My brain slowed down, I got to read some great writing, and eventually I was able to close my eyes and drift off to sleep…for ten minutes. I woke up to the sounds of my wife making coffee and my daughter flitting around the house, upset because daddy was taking up the whole couch and she wanted her seat.

Now, I’m too tired to really post anything insightful or truly hilarious, my head kind of hurts, and I have the vague sensation of needing to keel over at any moment. I can already hear my bed calling my name.

Unless aliens land or Casey Anthony suddenly elopes with OJ, I doubt there’ll be anything happening online tonight that I’ll really want to be part of. And even if aliens land, that can wait til morning.

OJ and Casey…well, who cares?

A Taste of the Vox Populi (A Journey Through Blogging Advice)

The blogging process.

I started blogging because I am a writer and needed a creative way to express myself on a variety of subjects.

Actually, that’s horse pucky – I started blogging because I am a writer and I desperately want people to read what I write and think I’m the most talented thing to ever wear pants while typing. It’s a narcissistic ideal made complex by the large number of other narcissists out there who think they are the most talented thing to ever wear pants while typing. And some of them think they’re the most talented thing to NOT wear pants while typing. Whatever. Bottom line is, I had an ego to feed and nothing at my disposal to feed it. Thus, the idea of blogging appealed to me.

So I signed up for, found a design I liked, and started cranking out little missives. My very first blog was A Southern Gentleman, and I chose this handle because all of the articles I read (yes, I did research on how to become the World’s Most Famous Blogger and Earn $10 Billion a Year By Being a Smart-Aleck) suggested that, to become outrageously famous, you had to have a niche – a thing – that set you apart from other people. Those articles also recommended first-time bloggers “write what you know” and “use humor to lure readers.”

Thus, A Southern Gentleman was born with an inaugural post about sweet tea. I felt great – I was writing what I knew (being Southern), I had created a niche (filling the void left by Lewis Grizzard) and I was funny (never an issue for me). I sat back and waited for the blog hits to pile up. The returns were modest, about 15-20 people per day, a number that I found depressing.

I had followed the rules: niche, know, humor. Why weren’t more people coming to my site? I crashed Google searching for more articles on how to increase my blog traffic. I read about SEO, tags, keywords, and cross promotion. I learned that I needed to read 5,000 blogs a day and comment on every one of them and make sure to link to my URL every time. I became addicted to the Writers Market series of books via Writers Digest via the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum. I suddenly realized that what I wanted would require more hours than I could afford. I needed to dedicate myself to writing if I wanted to become the next Literary Genius.

So I dug in – I tried commenting, linking, tweeting, and everything else imaginable to get my name out there, hoping against hope that I would somehow be discovered and lavished with the praise my frail writer’s ego hungered after.

It didn’t work.

I ran out of steam with A Southern Gentleman. I love being Southern, but there’s only so much you can say on the subject and honestly, I found myself ripping off Lewis Grizzard the more I wrote. I also found myself becoming exceedingly negative about my writing; instead of writing what made me happy, I wrote what I thought would draw an audience. I let imaginary readers I didn’t have drive my voice and ignored the input of my actual readers because they were too few. So I did what all writers do. I quit.

I laid low for a while, but got the urge to write again. Since the non-fiction humor/essay route didn’t work with my first blog, I got the brilliant idea to start a blog dedicated to short fiction. I called it StorySouth (then later, The Southern Muse) and I decided to make things easier (and to increase potential traffic) I would solicit other writers I knew for stories. I would post them on the site, link to them via Facebook, etc., and the authors would in turn pimp the blog out via their social network. Great concept, right?

Except I learned the hard way that some writers are only interested in writing as a part-time gig. As in, they only write part of the time, or to be more accurate, they only write about 1/1,000,000th of their waking lives. This created a content vacuum that I tried to fill. And let me tell you – as easy as it sounds, making crap up out of thin air is HARD. Very hard. And it didn’t help that readership (my life’s breath as a writer) was only marginally better – around 25-30 views per day.

Having learned from my previous blog that when the going gets tough, real writers quit, I opted to take a bit of a break. I lamented. I wept. My ego suffocated, revived, then suffocated again. Finally, I opted to make another name change and start things all over again. Jason Muses was born. I decided that since I wrote both creative nonfiction and fiction, I would showcase those talents whenever I felt the mood (because I am like a cheap 70’s novelty – a mood writer) and wouldn’t worry about readership. I would write because that’s what makes me happy.

And things were fine. Readership about the same, though I did manage to increase little by little. I figured out how to use Facebook and Twitter appropriately (I think). I learned to be happy if I could make 2-3 people laugh or think or read per day. I still longed to be in print. I still hungered to be well known. But I was okay with the knowledge that, if it ever did happen, it would take years of faithful blogging.

That was about 2 years ago. Things finally clicked about two weeks ago when my wife went out of town to help her sister after surgery. I opted to blog about my experience as a parent without my wife. Readership went into the 150 range each day that I blogged about my kids and my own ineptitude in parenting them. I suddenly had a large audience – and was writing stuff that was genuinely fun to write. My blogging finally paid off.

Until this past Friday, that is.

I woke up and put in a movie for the kids. For some reason, I got inspired to write about my daughter’s singularly most annoying habit, so I posted a quick blog. My wife and I got the kids together and went to the gym. Normal morning.

But when I got home and checked my email, I had 84 new messages, all from Sixty-three of them were “likes” for my blog post, a phenomenon that had never happened before for any post. Twenty emails were pending comments on the blog post I’d written that morning (My Daughter, The Writer (I Hope)).

It was the last one that told me the story. “Jason Muses Post Promoted at” The email informed me that my post had been selected for Freshly Pressed and encouraged me to keep up the good work. That was all.

I soon discovered that Friday is a great day to get FP’d because you get to stay on the front page ALL WEEKEND LONG. I’ve averaged 2,250 people each of the last three days thanks to FP and

I may never see print. I may never be famous. I may never be able to fulfill my dream of walking into my local Barnes & Noble and having a signing for my latest book in front of my friends and family. But for one weekend I was utterly amazed as a writer to know that well over 6,000 people took the time to read what I wrote, and almost 300 took the time to either “like”, comment or tweet my post. My writer’s ego, as malnourished as it was, is now a fully gorged tick in danger of exploding. I have heard from the voice of the people, and it has been an overwhelming, “Good job. We like this!”

And on a Monday morning, that’s a really nice thing to have in your pocket. Thanks to all who’ve read. I hope you’ll come back.

So Let Me Get This Right…

Proof that, for one day, someone thought my writing was worth publishing!

Today has been an interesting one here at the old blog. For some reason, decided that my post from this morning (My Daughter, The Writer) was deserving of their Freshly Pressed designation, which means that my blog has been featured on the front page of all day.

The traffic has been unbelievable – over 1,250 visits to my blog today, and still climbing as of this evening. I’ve had over 45 comments on the featured article (almost as many as I had on the blog total) and people are liking the post left and right. As a frustrated writer (and who among us bloggers isn’t?) it’s been a very gratifying day. I even got a rejection email from an essay I’d submitted a while back and it didn’t phase me because the praise and kudos on the blog have been so wonderful.

Naturally, I had to share my excitement with my family, and in particular with the inspiration for today’s good vibes. I sat Ella down at lunch and told her how I had written a blog about her and that hundreds of people had read it (about 480 at the time I told her). Here’s how the conversation went:

Ella looked at me in her usual way, and then said, “So let me get this right…all of these people are going to give me a dollar?”

“No,” I replied, “it just means that a lot of people have read about you today.”

“Oh,” she said. “Will you give me a dollar?”

“No,” I said. “I just wanted to share with you that people are reading about you on daddy’s blog.”

“Are they in the house? Because I can’t see them.”

“No, they’re connected by the computer.”

She raised an eyebrow and then said, “I don’t understand that stuff anyway.”

And that’s how my daughter responded to her brief international fame – classic Ella. I love my kid, and am glad that I can blog about her and people not only read and laugh, but long to have a daughter just like her. She’s a special kid.

And I’m a lucky dad!