Tips From a Newbie Blogger

Is your pen always at the ready?


What can a newbie blogger tell you? Are you expanding your practice of the Art & Science of Writing? Perhaps you’re thinking of beginning your own blog.  Recently I’ve received requests for tips on setting up a blog.  Before launching into how I’ve created and maintain this site, I must clarify that I’m not a techie and do not possess the mental acumen to write the code required to build any website from scratch.

If you are a professional writer, having a blog can be a key feature of your authoring strategies Regardless of whether you are an author, you may be thinking your greatest concern is what you’ll write about.  I suggest that if you feel the need to have a blog, the contents of it are already floating in your mind.  The quality of your output will, of course, depend on your skill set.

Setting up a blog demands many things beyond the writing of text.  Therefore, today I’ll focus on the mechanics of creating a blog. The first and recurring requirement for doing this is having the patience to accomplish the task.  Next on my list of requirements, is my favorite pairing of ingredients in most things I do:  Art and Science.  I place the issue of art at the fore, because without an artist’s inspiration, you’re less likely to create an appealing space that will capture and keep your readers’ attentionPlease note that I’m not suggesting that all of us are worthy of assuming the title of artist.  However, we can reach for the artist’s balance of mind and spirit in exploring color, shape, and overall composition—regardless of the style in which we create our memorable statements.

As to the element of science, whether or not you are a techie, there are sources to help you determine the appropriate building blocks for bringing your vision to fruition.  Your research can begin with querying your favorite search engines This will provide the technical terminology you need to be able to ask intelligent questions during online searches and efficient analysis of tech manuals.

Even if you decide you’re not qualified to build a blog site, this preparation will help you communicate effectively with specialists in building websites.  For by the time you’re ready to launch the building of a blog, you should have established a connection with a reliable techie or tech support company—online, if not in person.

Parallel to my June 2015 blog on Media Relations, I suggest you make the most of every contact you can develop.  How do you go about making friends with techies?  If you are able to move from online communication to meeting in person, take a page from your personal life.  Coffee, lunch, or drinks (not necessarily alcoholic) moves you into a social atmosphere in which you can explore commonalities and a potential working relationship with the person.  Regardless of how you connect, when it’s time to formalize a professional relationship, be specific about your needs and desires Ask the individual or company to clarify the services they will be performing for you and the fees you will pay.  Depending on the parameters of the work involved, a contract may be called for.  If that is so, you may want to consult colleagues as well as an attorney prior to signing a contract or making any payment.

Personally, although I’ve designed my own websites several times, I am now using website and blog templates provided by the company that hosts my online presence.  Regardless of the tools used, the design of a website or blog is a major commitment of energy and time.  This is especially true since search engines now expect a level of optimization that meets the standards of the latest electronic devices—and those standards never stop changing.  Fortunately, an international company providing templates should ensure that the products they offer their clients are state of the art.  They may also help you with a program of search engine optimization.

Before you feel I have failed to help you in your hour of need, let me tell you how I’ve modified the template for this blog.  Fortunately the templates provided by such a company usually offer varied features and levels of adaptability.  There are some limitations I’ve had to accept, since I chose to accept the parameters of a free template.  For example, while current posts offer my bio at the bottom, it does not appear in posts that have been archived.  Also, without utilizing an add-on menu, I cannot customize items in the contents list to the left of the page—nor can I modify their appearance.  And, although I’ve can choose the text colors of my posts, I am unable to do so for their titles.

Design features in the blog were drawn from my website. Harmonious in appearance, both feature:

My artwork includes a banner with my logo at the top of each page
~  Ivory colored backgrounds
~  Dark blue and plum colored fonts
Favicons with my logo to the left of the URLs

Color is a very important element in any visual project While there are many blues and golds to choose from, I selected colors for my logo that print well in gray scale.  The blue is deep enough to print as nearly black when printed in gray scale.  Conversely, the gold I work with is light enough that it prints as a light gray, allowing the lettering in the blue to be readable.  I should point out that the colors I tend to use are close to, but not exactly web safe colors.  This means that I provide subtleties that most visitors to my website or blog will view; but should a visitor’s monitor and software limit the range of visible colors, their default settings will be close to my design.

The operation and maintenance for a website or blog may rest on trial and error…at least initially.  When I first uploaded posts, I was not aware of choices I could make in visibility.  There were also instances where I failed to notice a typo or changed my mind about the wording of a section of text.  Eventually I recognized the value of choosing the preview option after inputting text.  This allows you to make sure that both the content and its appearance are pleasing.  As a final test, I read the text out loud, prior to hitting the publish button.

Determining the topics I explore in posts is purely personal and often a spur-of-the-moment decision In my weekly authors’ salon, areas of concern and new discoveries arise as we share materials we are reading and writing.  My commentary is also motivated by edits of text that reveal recurring flaws in my own work.  This particular post is in response to repeated questions from readers of this blog and visitors to my website.

When launching this blog, I was reviewing the first three books in a trilogy of murder mysteries set in Honolulu, where I lived for over two decades.  With the launch of Prospect For Murder, I am moving forward with seeking publication of the next two books in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery Series.  I’m sure that my personal issues with writing and editing will continue to encourage me to examine questions of authorship that may be occurring in your own work.

Finally, I want to thank a couple of readers who sent suggestions for improving the coding used within this blog, and for heightening its search engine optimization.  I’m just beginning to act upon your welcome response by changing the formatting of images for some online locales from JPEGs or GIFS to PNGs…

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, consultant, and motivational speaker

To learn more about the award-winning Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries, including Murders of Conveyance [Winner, Fiction Adventure-Drama, 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards] and other projects, please drop in at my author’s website You’ll even find Island Recipes that might inspire your culinary creativity.

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit: Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.

Follow Me On:
Amazon, Arizona Authors Association, Apple Books,
Audible, Authors Den, Barnes and Noble, Blogarama, Book Bub,
Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited, Facebook, Good Reads, Hometown Reads

Book sellers may contact book distributors such as:
Baker & Taylor, Follett, IPG, Ingram, Mackin, Midpoint, TitleWave

Author Design Dilemmas 3, Color

What visions dance in your dreams?An Author’s Inspiring Rainbows of Color

How many colors are in the rainbows you paint? There are many perspectives on the use of color in the art and science of writing.  But even if I were an expert, this short space wouldn’t allow a comprehensive discussion of color theory [the traditional theory for mixing three primary colors to derive all other colors] or colorimetry [analysis of human color perception]. 

Variables in Color PerceptionMost people can see three distinct ranges of color.  Due to genetics, some women [called tetrachromats] are able to see four ranges of color.   Sometimes a temporary inability to see some or all color is caused by illness, allergies, medication, or hormone replacement therapy.  Even sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] may notice a decrease in perception of color.  And, did you know that one out of twelve men and one out of two hundred women have color vision deficiencies? 

Choosing Color Palettes For Artwork to Accompany Text.   As discussed in my blog on engaging a reader’s senses, I believe that analysis of one’s genre provides the answer to many publishing questions and can help solidify authoring strategies.  Empowering your words as an author can take many forms.  One author I know brings a minimalist approach to her creative process in selecting art for a children’s book.  She believes that faint sketches without full form, shape, or color will encourage children listening to or reading her prose to bring images from their own minds to their reading experienceThis minimalist approach may be ideal for poetry and historical fiction.  However, it would be at odds with the hard-nosed writer’s voice usually employed in a police procedural and would lack clarity for many non-fiction projects.
Art and Science of Writing
While minimalism is a specific art movement, the term may be used generically to describe the overall expression of modern art in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Beyond an escape from classic realism, modern art focuses on the artist’s desire to interact with the minds and life experiences of his or her audience members.

Consider More Than Personal Preferences When Selecting Color.  If you are new to wordsmithing, you may not be thinking about branding But you might want to consider establishing the foundations of the brand for which your writing will be noted someday.  And just as an effective editorial process dictates that writers carefully select modifiers to create a scene rich in sensory images, a distinctive color palette can be one element in a design aesthetic that harmonizes with and even intensifies the impact of text.
Writers’ Guidelines
Beyond technical research you conduct regarding coloration, there are several issues to consider.  Does the style of your writing reflect your taste in art?  Do you like the detail of classism or the sharp clean lines of modern art?  Are you drawn to bright primary colors or muted subtle tones?  Do the peach and aqua tones of a sunset in the Southwest reflect your taste and your work? 

Regional Coloration Differences in regional color can be indicated by the dialect[s] of your characters, as well as the scenes you describe.  Growing up in Oregon, I was accustomed to the dark green of Douglas fir trees and the mosses that grow on them.  The palm trees in Hawai`i are pale in comparison.  In Arizona the array of green is mixed, depending on topography, season, and the amount of rainfall.  So which green would be most appropriate to your project?

The Juncture Of Style And Color.   In children’s books, hard-edged cartoon-like solid color images (like those a child might create) may be ideal.  But regardless of the style of art you select, the bright saturated colors associated with modern art are popular with and stimulating for young children.  Conversely, the sometimes dark tones of animè lend a sophisticated note to projects for both adults and older children.  For most genres, classic realism is appropriate.  To present images realistically, considerable detail and subtleties of color are usually required.

Articulating Your Artistic Vision is vital.  Since it is unlikely that you will be the artist shaping the images that will highlight your writing, you must be able to describe your desires to whoever is in charge of publication.  I suggest writing a paragraph outlining the specific elements you are seeking.  As with a journalistic endeavor, an inverted pyramid structure is useful.  Begin with an overview of the style you desire and then move on to specific issues like color.  If possible, use technical terms an artist or printer will understand.  For instance, consider specifying the tones and shades of colors you prefer. 

When viewed under varied lighting, a color’s tone [intensity of color] or shade [how bright a color is] will be perceived differently. Personally, I have found it challenging to use what I have termed a plum color in artwork for Prospect For Murder [the first book in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery series].  While my artist Yasamine June [view her work at] generated a wonderful color for the book jacket, subsequent applications for the audio book and some promotional materials have deviated from the color and/or tones she utilized.

Samples Of Your Preferred Palette and style will greatly aid the person executing your artistic vision.  These can be drawn from many sources:  websites; books and other printed material; fabric and clothing; pieces of art.  Consider offering the images of famous paintings.  Simply naming a type of art or an easily referenced artist will communicate your wishes.  Personally, I am drawn to the delicate images of classical Asian paintings, as well as the neo-classism of Maxfield Parish who was known for his use of saturated colorUnfortunately, since his work ended mid-twentieth century, a young artist may be wholly unaware of his work.

You can also provide numerical descriptions of colors.  Paint Stores offer samples of colors, with numerical coding as well as alphabetical names.  Printers can provide numbers for the Pantone® colors of ink used in most hardcopy printing.  And remember that you do not have to access a graphic art program to provide the color model numeration of computer font colors.  Simply mark a section of text within a word processing program and examine the ranges of colors available under the drop-down arrow for font color.

I should caution you that identifying a color is no guarantee of how a printed product will arrive at your doorstep.  Have you ever seen two editions of the same book, printed by the same company following the same instructions?  Even in hardcopy printing, variations in color can occur because of differences in batches of ink or toner, the moisture content of the paper used, and production executed on innumerable types and conditions of equipment.

A final consideration in our discussion of color printing is publication via downloading from the Internet.  If this is how your work will be published, you should consider using colors designated as “web safe.”  Again, there will be varied results in what is viewed by your readers.  If nothing else, variations in monitor settings can prevent uniformity in how myriad viewers will experience a color on your website or in your book. 

Before we leave the topic of color, let’s consider the historical and classical interpretations of color.  Some colors, like the royal purple from Tyre, Lebanon, were originally drawn from rare and precious sources.  To produce even small amounts of the Tyrian colorant, thousands of Mediterranean Sea mollusks [scientific name, murex brandaris] were needed for the dyes with which luxurious garments for ancient royals were fashioned.  Another historically rare color was the crimson worn by Roman legionnaires and wealthy matrons.  Traditionally associated with power and wealth, this color was obtained from the kermes vermilio planchon, an insect that grows on the kermes oak tree [quercus coccifera] of southern Europe.  Although the means for obtaining and utilizing dyes and paints have changed dramatically through history, their inner meanings have remained linked to aspects of nature.

Yellow and Orange – Associated with the sun and gold, these happy and bright colors are used for many attention-getting purposes.  Depending on their tone, they may be linked to base and deeply discounted items, or conversely, to the richest and most valued products.

Red – Traditionally linked to sunsets, fire, blood, Mars the planet and Mars the Roman god of war.  Red is now often associated with signature holidays like New Year’s, Christmas, and St. Valentine’s Day and certain nations like China.   This vibrant color calls attention to anything depicted in it.  It is sometimes associated with licentiousness and the concept of Satan.

Purple – Blending blue and red, this rich color is remains linked to the concepts and value of royalty, power and wealth.

Blue – In its deepest shades, blue speaks of clear waters and skies.  In many religious expressions, it is associated with holiness and purity.  This color is often utilized by financial and insurance institutions, as well as myriad industries dealing with healthcare that wish to be considered honest and dedicated to be well-being of their clients.

Green – Representative of health in nature, it is often used for health and environmental topics, products, and services.

White –  Reflects light and embodies the presence of all colors of light.  While many substances in nature are white, animals having pure white fur are rare, and therefore their pelts were historically associated with the power and wealth of royalty.  Once difficult to achieve in pure form, white colored clothing was often valuable regardless of the type of fabric.  The color is historically linked to purity, cleanliness, goodness, and perfection. 

Black – Absorbing all colors of light, it is actually the absence of color.  Obtained by the mixing of all primary colors, black is sometimes associated with darkness and evil in historical religious written materials.  It is an excellent background for both vibrant and subtle colors.

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, consultant, and motivational speaker

For examples of sample color palettes, please also visit:

Additional discussion of the nature of color is provided at:

Discussion of art is available at the following blogs:
Authors Design Dilemmas 1, April 2015
Confronted by a Fantasia of Fonts, May 2015
Rainbows of Color, May 2015
Winning Logos & Slogans, October 2015
Quality Book Production, February 2016
Harmonizing Branding Elements, August 2016
Book Promotion and Evolving Art, January 2017
Balancing Text and Space, February 2018
Successful Cover Art, December 2018

To learn more about the award-winning Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries, including Murders of Conveyance [Winner, Fiction Adventure-Drama, 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards] and other projects, please drop in at my author’s website You’ll even find Island Recipes that might inspire your culinary creativity.

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit: Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.

Follow Me On:
Amazon, Arizona Authors Association, Apple Books,
Audible, Authors Den, Barnes and Noble, Blogarama, Book Bub,
Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited, Facebook, Good Reads, Hometown Reads

Book sellers may contact book distributors such as:
Baker & Taylor, Follett, IPG, Ingram, Mackin, Midpoint, TitleWave