Blog Archives

My life right now…


…with my fingertips glued, mostly, to the keyboard…

OR…

Why I’ve been going on and on and on and on about my graphic designs (for now) …

To Do List (CC)You folks who have been following my blog for a while know that I’ve gone through periods where I talked about dance and nothing but dance.

Then there were long periods where I talked about loosing weight, eating healthy and getting fit and pretty much nothing else.

In fact, there have been periods where just about any and every topic under the sun became the “topic dee jur” for several “jurs” where I talked about that thing a LOT… and nothing else but that for a while.  (my friends from France just probably had a heart attack at my butchering of their native tongue.  Sorry guys.  🙂

Why do you get stuck on the same topic for a while?  I hear the teeming multitudes (all fourteen of you) asking…????

Because well, I blog about my life.  And whatever is going on in my life at that moment.  And I’ve been working a LOT on these designs lately trying to get as many as possible online and ready for people to buy in time for the Christmas Season.

AND because I see the end of my 401k (on which I’ve been living) coming to an end in Feb,

AND sales from these designs are one possible replacement for that money and a way to remain self-employed, 

AND I hurt my left arm / shoulder about two months ago and it still hurts and working on the computer (and these designs) is something I can do that doesn’t make the arm/shoulder hurt worse

AND THOSE things, dearest readers, are topics for another blog post.  The topic “de jur” is:

How was that for wicked teasing?  Hmmm? (One must confess that I’m grinning like a bad boy at the moment)  Watch for an update on those other tantalizing tidbits later…

But I digress.  I do that you know…  😉

My latest design

I love booksYou fine folks reading this…

(didcha catch my witty pun?) look to the right at the design…  Get it?  *snort* *giggle*

I started off with “reading” in the sentence.  ROFL [slapping knee and grinning foolishly]  And my design  *guaff* *snort* *giggle*  is about BOOKS!  Woot!

I crack my self up sometimes….  See what happens when I do a blog entry with only three sips of coffee in me?  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  😉

Anyway…  long time readers of this blog may recall that I have a Masters Degree in Library Science.  And, until early last year, I worked as a Librarian.

I love to read.  Well, duh.  LOL

So here is a design with that in mind:   “I love books”  / “I ♥ books”

Since this is just the fourth post in this new series, here is a reminder about the format.  Each post will have three parts:

  1. A large image of the new design
  2. A bit of background on how the design came about (just below)
  3. A few of my favorite products with the new design (just below that)

I hope you are enjoying the “back story” on the designs as I create them.

Even if you don’t visit the store and do some shopping, please hit the share and like buttons so that others can find out about my designs.  Thanks!

Background on my latest design:

One of the things that I knew early on was that I actually have very little drawing skill.  I mean I have a good size chunk of creative talent, all modesty aside, but the mechanical skills involved in picking up a pencil or paintbrush are things that I just do not have in my toolbox.

I can envision what I want but I lack the skill to actually produce it in a traditional “artistic” sense.  Thankfully graphic design doesn’t really require 100% creation from a blank page, or in this case a blank screen.

You can build upon the works of others.  So part of what I do is look for photos or clip art which is CC 3.0 BY, CC 3.0 BY-SA, or Public Domain. (If you want to read more about it what those letters mean, check out the first article in this series)

I love books

I love books – original photo. Licensed under CC 3.0 BY jamarmstrong on flickr.com

I start with an idea, which is mine.  All mine, then I start scouring the Internet for images which are kinda sorta what I want and with work and modification in a graphics program will fit the idea I have in mind.

I wanted to do a “I love books” design.  And I found this photo.  I really loved the warmth of the colors but there were several problems from the standpoint of a “graphic” for shirts, mugs etc.  Here’s what I did to turn it into a more workable design:

  • Square fits more products than rectangle designs and are easier to work with
    — So I added extra background to the top and bottom
    — I smudged and blended the extra bits so they looked like part of the original photo
  • When using text in a design “Level” is best
    — so I rotated the image to level out the pages of the books
  • Clarity and focus are important
    — meaning that elements which muddle the picture have to be removed, so the red bookmark ribbon was removed
    — and since the “heart” created by the pages is definitely the focal point of the photo, I moved the book over, cropped one side, added borders on the sides (like I did for the top and bottom), smudged and blended so it looked like part of the original photo.
  • The letter "I" with a color gradient matching the original photo.

    The letter “I” with a color gradient matching the original photo.

    Big is better
    — (getcher mind outta tha gutter!)  *ahem*  Go ahead.  Laugh.  Get it out of your system.  *sigh*  Moving on… The small text in the original photo was removed
    — I looked for a “dramatic” font online (one which had commercial permission)
    — I then used the MAC Text Edit program to create a black version of the font; I did a screen grab to convert the “text” into “graphics” and imported the “I” and “books” into GIMP, the program I use for working on my designs.
    — I then reversed the colors making the text white and the background black.  I deleted the white, making it transparent.
    — Then, and here’s the cool part…  I pasted the now, transparent text onto the photo, moved it around until parts of the warm yellows and reds and golds showed through and when I found a spot I liked, I then took another screen shot, got rid of the “black” background, making it transparent, leaving the text in glowing warm colors which matched the photo.  Tah-Dah!
    — Then it was just a case of moving the text around until I liked the positioning.  Woot!

For the record, I am quite proud of myself.  Why?…  I hear the teeming masses (all three of you) asking…?

I love books 400x400 small TORNBecause, dearest readers, I had to LEARN to do all that flippin stuff.  Fiddlin’ and Finagalin’ with Fotos ain’t like makin’ coffee!   Sheesh!  Can we say “learning curve?”  OMG!  No wonder graphic designers / computer geeks get paid so much!   For the record, understanding layers for me was the hardest part.  It is finally starting to click but only in the most basic sense.

An-Knee-Ways….  I’ve come a long way.  And it is all self-taught.  Just little ole me (and lots of very helpful YouTube videos) learning how to do it.  And I’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible.  *grin*

In all seriousness, what makes me so proud of this design is that I had this picture in my head.  And the final design came out very much like what I had in mind.  Woot!

My favorite products with the new design…

As a reminder, since this is only the fourth announcement of designs using this new “standardized format”…  I’ll share with you a few of the products from the first batch on which I think the new design looks awesome.   If you want to see all the products with this design, then click on one of the many links scattered through this post and hop on over to the store…  Cheers!

Read the rest of this entry

Alas, my article has plateaued: “Books and Songs from the Rachel Maddow Show” is stuck in the mudd


Ok, I’m on my knees…

Books and Songs from the Rachel Maddow Show


One of the “fun” photos that are sprinkled throughout the article. This army major was one of Rachel’s escorts when she broadcast from Kandahar.

Getcher mind OUT of the gutter!  Not in that sense!  LOL

The article was going up and up and up.  But now has stalled and I need your help to get it going again.

There are almost 800 people following my posts, spread out among Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Feedburner.

All I need is each of you to follow the link to the article and let it load.

That would give me almost 800 hits on the lens.  That will take you about 10 seconds.

If you have 3 minutes to spare, I would love it if you could hit all the “like” and “share” buttons up at the top of the article after it loads.

If you have 5 minutes to spare, I would name my first born after you if you could scroll through the article and take all the polls and quizzes.

If you have 6 minutes to spare, I will dance naked in the rain in your honor, which since I live in Texas, and rain is generally accompanied by lightning and thunder and tornadoes, well…   nonetheless, when the guys in the white coats show up I’ll mention your name prominently.

Hmmmm… scratch that last bit.  LOL  Anyway, if you have six minutes to spare, then please leave a comment on the article in the Guestbook which is down at the bottom of the article

Here are the stats:

Visits

TRMS listing

Sample listing of the books and songs.  You can see that the article isn’t just a bibliography, there is info on the author, links to the band or author’s homepage or Wikipedia article and links to Amazon and iTunes if you decide you want to buy the book or song/album.

“Visits = the number of people to land on your lens.
Pageviews – the total number of times your lens has been viewed by visitors.

Visits this period: 235 visits
Pageviews this period: 390 pageviews
Pages/visit: 1.66   Lifetime visits: 235″

Note from lil ole me:  What this means is that of the 235 unique visitors, some of you folks have gone there more than once for a total of 390 visits!  Woot! 

THANK YOU —  THANK YOU — THANK YOU!!!!

Today’s Rank:

#18 — “Books, Poetry & Writing >> Books >> Reading Lists

#63 — “Books, Poetry & Writing >> Books

#99 — “Books, Poetry & Writing”

#4,536 — Overall (out of almost 3 million)

And this ranking is the result of only 390 visits from 235 people!  IMAGINE what the rank would be if I got almost 800 hits on the page today!  Swooon!  *pant*  *drool*

Here is a screen capture that shows how many folks have hit those like and share buttons.  The #141 count is for Facebook.  Which means the 235 folks who have gone to the page, 141 of them have hit at least one of the “like” buttons!   THANK YOU —  THANK YOU — THANK YOU!!!!

TMRS like buttons

Here is a graph from the “stats” area of the dashboard/management area for the article:

TRMS Chart

You can see that after steadily climbing in the ranks it has leveled off and now is basically flat.

So… there you have it.

TMRS Quiz

Sample of one of the “Fun Fact” Trivia Quizzes sprinkled throughout the article

I now return you to your regularly scheduled workday or house chores or random Internet surfing.

This is going to be my last push for visitors.  I’ve done all the things that one should in trying to maximize SEO…  I’ve blogged about it.  I’ve posted on Blogger, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.

I’ve gone to every Rachel Maddow Fan site and left messages and asked for cross linking.  The BIG spike in visits was the result of one of those fan sites Tweeting about my article.

THANK YOU —  THANK YOU — THANK YOU!!!!

But now that I’ve got all the books and songs listed back to Jan 1st it is time to put this article in maintenance mode, do the daily updates, and live with whatever level it comes to rest at.

But it sure would be nice to have a Tier 1 article (rank of 2,000 or less overall) because that is where the real money is *sigh*

Three “Top 100” rankings!!! — Books and Songs from the “Rachel Maddow Show”


Drumroll Please…  I broke into the Top 100 in the top level Subject Category!!!!

First…  THANK YOU to everyone who has visited my newest article on Squidoo:

“Books and Songs from the Rachel Maddow Show”

Here’s the current stats:

#4,456 Overall

c2013 TxCowboyDancer

#97 in “Books, Poetry & Writing”

This is the top level, broadest, subject category.

c2013 TxCowboyDancer

#64 in “Books, Poetry & Writing >> Books”

This is the “middle” level subject category

c2013 TxCowboyDancer

#19 in “Books, Poetry & Writing >> Books >> Reading Lists”

This is the “bottom” level, most narrow, precise subject category

c2013 TxCowboyDancer

If you have visited the article, then please visit again, if only to let the page load and then you can hit the back button.  Visits are reset daily so if you haven’t gone there today, then your “new” visit will count.

If you haven’t gone there yet… Read the rest of this entry

It Keeps Getting Better!! Woot! — Books and Songs from the “Rachel Maddow Show”


The Stats and nothing but the Stats… STAT!

How’d you like the pun?   (I crack myself up sometimes)

Anyway, I’ve got a lot on my plate today so I’ll be brief.

I have a big dance event this weekend and I’m teaching downtown at a hotel for a convention and I have to get a haircut and  I have forms to fax for… and I have laundry to do and packing and leaving after the gig and …. aaaaaaaiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

So… Uhmmm.. where was I?  Oh yes, I was saying that I’ll just report the numbers for my article Books and Songs from the “Rachel Maddow Show” without my usual drama and that I would be brief.

Not possible.  Too late.  LOL

Whoz da kitty#5,625 Overall

There are almost 3 MILLION articles on Squidoo.  Mine has gone from a raking of 263, 525 the day after I published it to under 10,00 which puts it in the Tier 2 category.  For it to make real money (as in I can use it to pay bills) rather than (I can use it to buy a pizza) I need it to be BELOW 2,000.  So keep sharing, keep visiting, and keep commenting!  Help a boy out!  😉

#130 in “Books & Poetry”

I broke into the top 200 in a BIG way today!!!!  Before today it wasn’t ranking in the top level category.  Woot!

#83 in “Books & Poetry >> Books”

It was at 99 yesterday!  Woot!

Squidoo has very broad subject categories sorted into sub-categories that go down three levels.  The longer the “category name” the deeper the level.

#19 in “Books & Poetry >> Books >> Reading Lists”

Books and Songs from the Rachel Maddow ShowIt was at 23 yesterday!!!   My article has been in the top 100 in the lowest level, most specific category for several days but TODAY  [drum roll please] It broke into the TOP 20!!!!!  Woot!

So there you have it.

Thanks again to all who have shared.  And if you haven’t shared, please do so.

See ya on the dance floor.

I broke the Top 100!!! in “Books” — Books and Songs from the “Rachel Maddow Show”


Folks, this is a BIG deal!  It is the TOP 100 in “BOOKS”

Cat Diva Kitty – I iz awesome! – with Watermark ©2012First…  THANK YOU to everyone who has visited my newest article on Squidoo:

“Books and Songs from the Rachel Maddow Show”

If you have visited it, then please visit again, if only to let the page load and then you can hit the back button.  Visits are reset daily so if you haven’t gone there today, then your “new” visit will count.

If you haven’t gone there yet…

Please visit the page.  (this takes about 10 seconds to let the page load completely)

Please click as many of those “Social Network Share” buttons at the top as you can (this takes about 1-2 minutes)

Please scroll through the article and take the two quizes and the one poll (this will take about 3-4 minutes)

Please leave a comment in the Guestbook at the bottom of the page.  (this will take about 5 minutes)

Why?

Because you’ll help out a struggling writer and dancer avoid going back to the 9-5 corporate grind.  And I’ll love you forever.  I’ll name my next cat after you.  I’ll erect monuments in your honor.  I’ll light incense and candles in your name and chant mantras praising your kindness and generosity.

Ok, ok, I’ll be grateful and you’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling because you helped me out.

And, it really is a cool, well crafted article.  I think so, anyway.

Today’s Stats:

Whoz da kitty#6,414 Overall

There are almost 3 MILLION articles on Squidoo.  Mine has gone from a raking of 263, 525 the day after I published it to under 10,00 which puts it in the Tier 2 category.  For it to make real money (as in I can use it to pay bills) rather than (I can use it to buy a pizza) I need it to be BELOW 2,000.

#99 in “Books & Poetry >> Books”

Squidoo has very broad subject categories sorted into sub-categories that go down three levels.  The longer the “category name” the deeper the level.  Until today, my lens (a.k.a. “article”) has only ranked in the Top 100 in the lowest and most narrow/specific category (see below).  TODAY HOWEVER, it showed up in the mid-level category for the first time!  Woot!  Uh-huh!  Uh-huh!  This is BIG DEAL!  (OMG!  I am typing in capital letters.  I should be ashamed.  I have sunk so low…  *sigh*)  OK, OK,  So, sue me LOL  I’m a little EXCITED here!  *grin*

#23 in “Books & Poetry >> Books >> Reading Lists”

Books and Songs from the Rachel Maddow ShowMy article has been in the top 100 in the lowest level, most specific category for several days but TODAY  [drum roll please] It broke into the TOP 25!!!!!  Woot!

So there you have it.

Thanks again to all who have shared.  And if you haven’t shared, please do so.

Hmmmmm…..

why do I suddenly feel as if I’m an announcer during a Public Radio or TV pledge drive?  LOL

See ya on the dance floor.

%d bloggers like this: