Tag Archives: KalinBooks.com

Kalinbooks redesign

So you may notice a new design to the site. I finally got rid of the old theme that I was using–it was a theme I thought was pretty good looking but I had modified it heavily and the original was developed before featured images and menus, so I finally decided to upgrade to WordPress’ own 2014 theme. It’s not perfect but I think it’s an improvement, for one, because it modifies itself for mobile use. I kinda like the way they did it, just moving things around based on window width.

So I’ve been debating over so many different aspects of link placement, what links should go where. I’ve got so many, I don’t know how anyone deals with a single-sidebar website. Should I list fiction above true stories? What all should I put in the About Kalinbooks page? Will people be confused by the fact that I have an anarchism page and an anarchism blog category? How do I portray the fact that I’m covering anarchism, atheism, web development, science fiction every once in a while BDSM and sex with a couple recipes thrown in for fun, without confusing the reader? How are people just looking for one subject supposed to find anything? Or is that not the best idea? Maybe I should put the overall site as a lower priority and focus on promoting individual articles and posts… in which case I would need to paying attention to promotion… blechh.

I read recently that to be a successful blogger you should spend %80 of your time promoting your blog and only %20 writing if you want to really make it. That seems so sad to me. We should have designed the internet and our social networks to bubble up the best content naturally. With all the bloggers focusing %80 of their time on promotion, they only have a fifth of the capacity to create quality blogs. So instead, I’ve just been focusing on the site all these years, telling myself that one day I’d start promoting it, when I have the time. I know no one’s really reading this site right now, but I’m sure that would change with some real work on promotion… because right now I do nearly none.

Kalin’s Next 9 Short Stories

Now that I’m done with my 27 chapters of Genesis, taking up the month of February 2011, the next thing I’m going to do with KalinBooks.com is post my next nine (or more) short true stories that I have ready. Every Friday I’m going to post a new true short story to go along with my current collection of 24 True Stories of things that have all actually happened to me. I have nine stories currently complete and ready to go. Here’s the list:

Intro to Capitalism – The time I got in trouble for taking a drink of water.

Drunk and Horny College Chicks – The night I went home with a very hot, drunk, crazy and horny genetic engineer.

Searching My Apartment For Dead Bodies – The time the police searched my apartment for dead bodies, but all they found was massive quantities of marijuana.

Just a Coincidence – The time every electrical object in my life broke at the exact same time.

The Flood – The time my friends and I flooded a greenhouse and had to race to save the plants.

Amtrak Weed – The time on an Amtrak ride when I unwittingly got between a knife wielding maniac and his prey, then smoothed the whole thing over with a  little marijuana.

The Sacred Rules of the Drive-thru – Two stories about how discriminatory fast-food drive-thru policies put everyone at risk.

Free Drugs – The time a mysterious person gave us some mysterious pills.

Field of Dead Bodies – The time God used bloody visions and mathematics to tell me  that capitalism is murderer.

By the time I get all these posted, I hope to have more ready. Hopefully I can keep writing fast enough to post a new short story every Friday for the next four or five months.

Currently the right sidebar navigation on this website is all hard-coded, since I like to totally customize the links. I can schedule the story to be posted automatically, but unfortunately I have to set a reminder for myself to change the navigation. Since these stories are going to be posted as pages rather than posts, you may see them show up in my RSS Feed before you find them in the menu.

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I know I promised to post my EVE Online short stories, but one of them was accepted into the latest issue of EON and another one, currently titled I Killed Him Daddy (the editor and I both agree the name needs to change) has also been accepted for some future issue… except for the problem that it’s double their maximum length. That’s pretty flattering that they’re willing to rearrange their magazine to fit my story. So I can’t post those stories on my site. I have a third story, which I’m almost certain won’t be accepted into the magazine because it’s even longer. However, I’m still going to wait to post it until I’m sure they’re not interested. I also want to post my Against A Rock sequel outline as well as a few sample chapters from another EVE novel that I’ve been playing around with in my mind. I’m going to log back into EVE before I post those, though, so no telling when it’s going to happen.

PDF Creation Station Test

Last night I updated my first WordPress plugin, Kalin’s PDF Creation Station on this site, and somehow it all worked wonderfully. Now the links you see to download my posts as PDF files are coming from my own plugin instead of the AS-PDF plugin I was using earlier.

I was able to figure out how to get a simple regular expression to find and remove the image caption code, so if you go to spirit animals sketch, for example, and click the PDF link, you’ll see that the image actually shows up without all the extra code garbage you would see when I was using AS-PDF. You’ll also notice that the PDF link does not show up on certain pages like table-of-contents pages or this post. In the old plugin it was all or nothing and I couldn’t turn it off for individual pages. AS-PDF also wasted server resources by creating a PDF every time the link was clicked. With my plugin, each file is created once, then cached.

That’s for the single-post feature of this plugin. What this plugin is primarily for is to create large PDF documents with many pages and posts. That functionality is ready to go, but I still need to go through and create a PDF file that contains all my True Stories, one that contains all my ‘Stories of New Beginnings’ stories, one for the Against A Rock bonus materials and possibly one for all my blog entries. Once that’s all done, I just need to wait a week or two and make sure nothing gets hacked or blows up, then I’ll post this baby to the WordPress plugin repository and see what the community thinks of my little project.

My First WordPress Plugin: Kalin’s PDF Creation Station

I just installed my first self-written WordPress plugin, called Kalin’s PDF Creation Station, which adds a page into my admin panel where I can select any combination of pages and posts, then export them to a PDF file which is saved in the plugin directory. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, to be able to parse through my writings and dynamically create PDF files so that I can distribute my collections as single books, and I’ve never been able to find a way to do it until now. There’s a few other PDF creation plugins out there for WordPress, but they’re all quite limited. I based this plugin off of Marcos Rezende’s Blog as PDF and basically took his code (one of the beauties of open source is the ability to “steal” and improve upon other people’s work) and added a bunch of cool features like the ability to add pages as well as posts, to select individual pages and posts, to insert a custom title page, page titles, page headers, font size and to automatically save it to the server instead of forcing a download. I also ajaxified it so that the page never needs to reload throughout creating and deleting PDFs and altering input fields.

I have not released this plugin to the WordPress community yet because I want to test it a little more, tweak my default data, and write a decent plugin page and instructions. Hopefully I’ll be able to actually have people downloading and using it in the next couple weeks.

In the future, I hope to add a feature where PDF files will be automatically updated when you update a post, and if I can think of a good user interface, when you add new posts or pages. Then I want to replace the per-page PDF generator plugin I’m currently using with something that can be configured for each individual page and post so I don’t have a link to a PDF for a page that’s only a few paragraphs long. Then I want to create a stripped down version of the Kalin’s PDF Creation Station and pop it in a widget so that blog readers can select only the pages and posts and get a personalized PDF file. But first I need to finish the ‘change page order’ feature I’m currently working on.

Kalin’s done with Violence Porn

So here’s what I’m up to with my fiction writing. (My true stories are a whole other story, but I am certainly working on those as well.)

Last Sunday I finished another story in my series of EVE Online themed violence porn. My first, of course, was my novel, Against A Rock. This one is titled Compensating for a Small Penis, 19,000 words, about two foul-mouthed battleship lieutenants who discover a spy and are thrown into a desperate struggle for survival, shooting their way through a brutal blood bath as they are forced to come face to face with their guilt over the fact that they have made a career out of death and suffering.

This was the last real EVE Online story that I intended to write. I still have two others that I still need to post.

One is a shorter one (5,000 words or so) called The Atrocity Planners (someone suggested that title at a writers group meeting I attend at the local sex club), about two small children from pirate/terrorist parents who awaken to a police raid and the murder of their mom and dad, then must take up arms and escape into the air ducts in an attempt to reach the escape pods. This one I have sent off to EON Magazine, the official magazine of EVE Online. I still haven’t heard back about it but I’m holding out hope that they’ll publish it, in which case I won’t be able to post it here and I’ll simply send you to buy the magazine 🙂

The third story I’m sitting on is my personal pride and joy as a writer. I normally don’t like to rate my own stories, but I think it might be the best I’ve ever written. It’s called I Killed Him Daddy, about a 12 year old girl who unleashes a whirlwind of hell after killing a cop with a cattle prod to protect her alcoholic father’s illegal hobby. It explores criminal behavior and I think gives a good view on why I’m an anarchist while portraying some intense action, violence and emotion.

I also have the 15,000 word outline that I’ve written for the next two, possibly three, sequels to Against A Rock, that, realistically, will probably never be written due to CCP’s lack of interest in the story. I will probably post that in the coming months as well so people can see what I had planned for the series.

And then I am half-heartedly working on a novel I’m tentatively calling I Kill For Money, A Love Story about Cyborg Assassins. I’ve written the prologue and a couple of the more important sections as samples, but I don’t think I’m going to go much further with it for the time being. I intend to post that as well and get some feedback to find out how interested people would be in the complete novel.

I need to run another couple edits of Compensating for a Small Penis, then I will break it into four or five chapters and start posting it here, one every couple weeks and linking to it from the EVE Fiction forums. After that I’ll post the I Kill For Money samples, and the Against A Rock sequel outline. Then if it doesn’t get accepted into EON, I’ll post The Atrocity Planners, and finally I’ll post I Killed Him Daddy, saving the best for last.

But after I run my final edits on these stories, I think I’m going to be done with writing Quentin Tarantino style violence porn for a while. I got kind of burned out on it with Compensating for a small Penis, with all the guns, blood, death, explosions, amputations, and the gouging of the small child’s eyeballs. After these edits I am going to try to go back to focusing on rewriting my second novel, which I’m still, unfortunately, calling, Rediscovering Communication, which is totally different than the Die-Hard in Space style that I’ve been doing for the last two years since Against A Rock. Rediscovering Communication is more in line with what I originally wanted to do as a writer, sort of a cross between the fantastical and wondrous science fiction of Robert Silverberg and the positive, peaceful nature of Star Trek that promotes communication, understanding and peace. This is the one that was noticed and read by (at least I’m pretty sure it was him) by Terry Brooks in it’s original form. He had a lot of good things to say about it and a lot of very real criticism, but I’m taking almost all of his advice and reworking it, removing the glaring and ridiculous error that I made when I killed off the main character two-thirds of the way through and giving it a nice, positive and uplifting conclusion. When I finish with that, hopefully I will have a shot at getting something published for real.

More WordPress theme stuff

I’m just going over my whole WordPress setup for this site in case anyone is interested or wants to give advice. If you know anything about WordPress and see me doing something stupid, please go ahead and write a “Hey dumbass” response to this post or my previous post about the wordpress plugins I use.

I use the Inanis Glass theme, basically because I couldn’t find anything better. Most of the free themes look like crap. I’m not a designer by any means, but I know enough to say that most of the wordpress themes I could find just don’t look good, especially for a science-fiction themed website. I did a search for “best SEO wordpress themes” and came up with this site: http://wphacks.com/best-search-engine-optimized-seo-wordpress-themes/ and this one: http://www.seohosting.com/blog/blogging-tips/5-free-seo-wordpress-themes/. Both sites list a bunch of wordpress themes that they claimed were well-optimized for search engine optimization (SEO), but only one or two of the ones listed actually existed when I searched for them in the theme listing in my dashboard.

However, based on their lists of criteria for a good SEO theme, Inanis Glass seemed decent. It’s got the content at the top and seems to come close to validating for properly formatted HTML, though I’m not sure why that’s relevant. I did make a couple changes though, like changing the <H1> tag at the top to show the name of the post instead of the blog title, since I’ve read that’s really important to SEO to have your keyword rich title at the top instead of the site title. I still need to figure out my tagline.

I also almost completely removed the footer where it had a little windows style start menu with search and login features and stuff, as well as some popup menus that didn’t look very good. The pages seem to load a little faster since getting rid of that.

If you have any suggestions for a better theme or other theme-alterations I could make (particularly SEO related), I would greatly appreciate it.

My WordPress SEO Plugins and stuff

I’ve been spending my evenings lately just working through all the ins and outs of this WordPress thing, studying Search Engine Optimization (SEO), link sharing and pouring through a multitude of WordPress plugins. I thought I would list off the plugins I have mostly decided on and describe some of my SEO strategies for this site in case anyone wanted to make some comments or give me advice, or if I happen to hire a WordPress SEO consultant to point out all the mistakes I’m making.

These are the plugins I use.

Add RSS – not totally sure what this does. I think it gives certain browsers some kind of access to my site’s RSS feeds, like if someone has their feed reader turned on within the browser.

AddToAny: Share/Bookmark/Email Button – the button in the upper right of the sidebar that gives the sharing menu

All in One SEO Pack – I use this to write my own descriptions, keywords and title tags, and because it has the feature of changing the link names in the sidebar because I don’t like multi-lined links but the real titles often need to be slightly longer than what will fit on  a line. SEO Ultimate, which I use for a few other things, doesn’t have this feature.

AWS Easy Page Link – adds a list of pages in the add link tool in the editor so I can easily make table of contents pages. I wish it added blog posts and scheduled pages/posts as well.

Breadcrumb NavXT – adds the breadcrumbs at the top of the posts, which is supposedly good if my content gets scraped (automatically plagairized) and suppedly helps search engines figure out my site architecture. I wonder if I should add them to the bottom of pages too, since some of my pages can be quite long.

cbnet Ping Optimizer – I tend to edit posts a lot so I needed a plugin that would make it only ping on the first post, so I don’t get marked as a spam. Also for the ping log so I can make sure they aren’t blocking me for whatever reason.

Contact Form 7 – just a simple email form on my contact page.

Contextual Related Posts – supposedly good for getting people back from scraped pages – adds a list of ‘related’ posts at the bottom of my posts and pages. Sometimes they don’t seem quite so ‘related’ so I named them ‘random pages’.

Full Text Feed – no idea what this does. I read that I need it to prevent the ‘more text’ thing coming up. I’ve never liked having to click on a more link when I go to blogs. Do I actually need this?

Global Translator – plugs into google translator and gives me the flag cloud in the sidebar – I wonder if the translated pages get indexed by search engines like my english pages do… I also wonder how accurate the translation is. Suppose I will never know since I only speak English 🙂

Google XML Sitemaps – supposedly helps search engines find their way around the site. I think I just turn this on and leave it. Don’t need to link to it or submit it or anything… at least, that’s my understanding.

JR_Compression – Apparantly pages can be zipped, then sent to the client and the browser automatically unzips and shows them, which decreases load times. I think I understand this correctly.

RSS Includes Pages – adds my pages (since the pages are the most important part of my site) into my RSS feeds.

SEO Ultimate – I use this for some of its peripheral features (canonicalizer, slug optimizer, 404 monitor) but use All In One SEO for the actual keyword/description stuff. Thankfully I can disable individual features of SEO Ultimate.

SexyBookmarks – creates the sharing functionity – similar to AddToAny button – to the bottom of every page and post. They claim that the pretty, animated nature encourages more interaction.

Simple Tags – I still need to figure out a good tagging strategy. Still need to explore this plugin a bit more. But since pages are more important on this site, I need pages to be included in the whole tagging system. Would like to be able to put pages into categories as well.

Ultimate Google Analytics – for my site statistics. Is this a good plugin for this? There sure are a lot to choose from.

WordPress Database Backup – absolutely necessary for those times when I do something stupid and overwrite my database.

WP Smush.it – to optimize my images without losing any quality. Not sure if this is necessary since most of my images I do myself through Photoshop or Gimp.

WP Super Cache – for server-side caching . How can I tell if this is working? Not all of my pages seem to be listed in the cached files and I always get a new file whenever I hit refresh.

Up to My Eyeballs in Website

Last week I finally decided to jump in and do what I’ve been thinking about for years and rekindle my online writing presence. I looked into a system called MovableType, a content management system (CMS) for running websites. I was attracted to it because it’s open source, which appeals to me since I’m an anarchist and want a system where I know if I see something I don’t like, I can dig into the actual code and change it, like I did for my Android phone when I discovered none of the music players could display my music files the way I wanted them to. Plus open-source is almost always free, which certainly doesn’t hurt.

After a failed installation of Movable Type I discovered that WordPress is also open-source. For some reason I thought it was a hosted solution with a programming interface (API) that you had to plug into. Instead it’s just a big package of files that you put on your server and then do whatever you want with.

I must say, I’ve been quite impressed with WordPress, especially the plugins and their ease of installation. The interface, while a little laggy (probably result of my host), is very straight-forward and easy to use compared to many systems, such as my host, GoDaddy which has the most convoluted website I know of.

I can’t get WordPress to do exactly what I want it to, but it seems I can always find a plugin to get it pretty darn close, and I know that if I have the time, I can improve my CSS and PHP skills and actually dig in and personalize it.

I spent all last weekend playing with WordPress and nearly falling in love with it. Web technology has certainly advanced quite a ways since my old successful days of isellpot.ws, and even though I build internet applications for a living, I’ve never actually worked with this kind of thing before.

Then Monday night I played with Facebook and was not nearly as impressed. I don’t really get Facebook… like what does it actually do? I’m gonna keep at it though.

Tuesday night I explored some website promotions options, specifically automated link submission tools. On their promotion page, Social Bookmarks Demon kept saying how it’s not a spam tool, but then went on and on with all this advice about how to avoid being marked as spam. Haha. I need to be really careful about how I use that kind of software, but if done reasonably and sparingly, I think it could work for me. I guess we’ll see.

Then Wednesday evening I went out around downtown Seattle and looked at Condos… “Gonna buy me a condo… gonna buy me a Cuisinart… get de wall-to-wall carpeting, and de wallet full of credit cards…”

But the night before I started working on this, I got an email from someone on the other side of the planet who remembered my website from years ago and decided to look me up. He said, “your former website, isellpot.ws, was a cornerstone of my teenage-hood.” He’s a professional writer now, which makes it even more flattering.

At the height of that website’s popularity, I had 10,000 visitors per week, until it was ripped out from under me by a domain-name stealing spam-bot. But maybe it was for the best. I just hadn’t been happy with it.

So tonight I read a wonderful story he wrote, then got into reading some of my stuff from my old anarchism/marijuana legalization website. I was surprised at how quickly I could move from a brilliant and moving paragraph into something completely ridiculous and off-putting. I still think there’s some salvageable stuff there and intend to cut it apart, do a little editing and post it in future blog posts, or, if it’s lucky, on a page in the sidebar 🙂

Oh, Lord it’s late… I need to get up for work in five hours. Then this weekend I’m back up to my eyeballs in website.