Saturday, January 20, 2007

Questions . . . Answers?

Okay, your turn.

I'm the one who writes every day (or nearly) and some people actually respond (thank you very much. You know who you are!) But today I'd like to ask a few more of you to help me out.

Before Christmas I said that I was hoping to get my website revamped by mid-February. I'm still hoping.

My webmistress and I have been batting around ideas, trying to come up with something that will do justice to the variety of things I write or have written. The current look is a little more "western" than most of my books have been in the past three or four years. But we developed it when I was still deep in the Code of the West books.

Of course now that I'm working on Flynn and Sara, I'm going back to characters from those books. But I've also been all over the map recently in other books -- the Caribbean, Montana, New York City, Santorini, Los Angeles, Fiji . . . And in a couple of weeks I'm off to Ireland.

So the website needs to reflect that breadth.

It also has to be a place where people can come and check out current titles and backlist. I want to make it helpful for people who discover my books for the first time and say, "What else has she written?" and "Am I interested in reading it?"

Those things are there now, but are they easy enough to get at? What else ought to be there?

If you've checked out my website anytime in the past, could you tell me what you think? If you haven't, and you'd like some input, could you check it out now and make comments?

I'd like to know what people who go there are hoping to find and how to make it easy for them to find it.

So tell me, do you get lost when you go there? Do you get too much information? Too little? What's missing? What would you like to see there that isn't there now? Would you arrange it differently? How?

If you particularly like any other writers' websites and visit them regularly, could you please let me know which sites and what you like about them?

The website is intended to be different from the blog. It's more static. It provides background. The blog -- crazy as it can be -- I want to continue to use for up-to-the-minute communication and connection with readers. It's here so we can connect in a more timely fashion.

But if you were redesigning my website, what would you do?

I'm tinkering with ideas while Theo and Martha have been busy re-connecting. I've spent the day prowling websites, noting down likes and dislikes, then trying to come up with a feel for what I want -- trying to describe "in three words or less" what it is that I do so my webmistress can come up with a concept that will reflect it.

Yikes. I am so not verbal when it comes to that stuff. I get totally tongue-tied.

I finally just managed today to come up with the single-sentence "what if" that is my focus for Flynn and Sara. In the end, of course, it was simple: What if you had a second chance with the person you'd once loved?

See? Simple. And pretty much universal.

And, to be honest, I stole it from Conversations With Other Women.

I bought a DVD of that film last week. It was directed by Hans Canosa, and starred Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, and it has dialogue and story and backstory and characters! All the things I love. It's really more like a two-person play than a film, though it couldn't be done as a play with quite the same effectiveness. Definitely worth watching.

I have -- so far -- watched it three times. And not only to watch Aaron Eckhart -- though I must admit to a certain, um, tendency to watch his half of the split screen more than I do Helena's.

But I digress.

The website. Right.

The thing is, I'm not analytical. I just write and let the stories develop on their own without conscious effort on my part. They do, through a slow process of accretion and some judicious head-banging on the wall on my part. And then, once I've got them, I go back and make sense out of them.

Unfortunately I can't help my webmistress put together a website the same way. She doesn't need a "rough draft." She needs words, concepts, ideas -- mental lumber, if you will.

And since this is not my forte, I'm hoping you might have ideas to share that will make it better and more useful.

Help. Please.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the music. It gets repetitive quickly and I had trouble figuring out how to turn it off! And ended up leaving the site quicker than I intended.

And as your books are wider than than just cowboys -- have you thought of having a map theme? Showing that your work is global in nature? you could even have a map pinpointing where all your books take place. Plus you like maps and I always think of you as a map person.

One thing that I have seen done (and forgive me, I haven't been your site lately) is a list of interelated characters and their books. A family tree if you will, for those bigger series and not just your one off books. Again another sort of map.


21 January, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...


Thanks for your reply and suggestions. Yes, the music was slated to go. I'm glad you agree.

The map theme is an intriguing possibility. I have done some "family tree" stuff with one of the Code of the West families, but the connections there almost defy "family trees!"

A genogram format might work, because that can show connections besides those of blood or adoption. I might try something like that to make it clearer to readers.

I appreciate your taking the time to answer. Every suggestion helps.


21 January, 2007  
Blogger christa said...

I agree that the music is a deterrent(sp?). I turn of my speaker.
How about Links to eharlequin or the Presents website and some authors. I noticed you have some on your blog. If you've done any online reads you could post them on you website.

21 January, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Thanks, Christa. I will add a links tab on the new website. And never fear, the music will be gone when the shift occurs!


21 January, 2007  
Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

I was gonna mention the same thing about the startled me the first time I visited your site because I wasn't expecting it...I quickly turned it off.

The weird thing is I was also thinking the same thing about a Map Theme and also having a list of connected books/characters. That way newbies to your work (like myself) can figure out which books I need to get if I have one of the series and how they all connect. I think you have a list now for each series, but maybe you could get creative with it.

Also, your site now is pretty easy to navigate, but you need to make sure the new one is as well no matter what theme or format you use. I like links to other pages on the site to be clearly marked and recognizable.

Sorry...I probably wasn't very helpful.

21 January, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Hi Jennifer

You were very helpful. Thank you. I just wrote my webmistress and asked her if she could turn the music off as soon as she gets back into the office, so we don't have to wait for that part!

I'm pretty keen on the map notion for a part of the site -- one angle of approach, as it were. I want it simple and straightforward and easily navigable.

I messed around with some of the linking books before, but could never exactly figure out how to do it so that it made sense to anyone else. Maybe I will post my timeline for all the books of the Code of the West series. It covered, I think, 48 years (starting from when the oldest hero was born) and ending when the last book ended. Pretty daunting.

It's something I'm going to be covering in a week of Q&A I'm doing on eharlequin in February -- creating fictional worlds. So I'd better get mine in order!

Thanks for your help!


21 January, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dint like the music too. tyhanks for taking the suggestions into consideration

21 January, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Thank YOU, Jessica! I have asked my webmistress to take it off as soon as she can. So that should be done even before the revamp.

The website is supposed to be there to help interested readers. The last thing I want is to drive them away! So I am very glad for the suggestions.

If you think of anything you'd like to see there, please let me know.


22 January, 2007  

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