Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Friday
Jun042010

Time management and focusing on the CONTENT

So it looks as if Inkygirl's been hacked again (if you missed reading about the first one, see this post). This time the hack is more subtle (no malware) and only noticeable in search engines. If you try entering "inkygirl" in Google right now, here's what you get as the top hit: Chris Pearson encountered the same hack and posted a solution, but it didn't work for me. I admit to being frustrated, especially after Jeff spent so long cleaning up after the first hack, and all the time I've been spending on repairs as well. And this has got me thinking more about time management issues. In the early days of the World Wide Web, I was as excited about the tweaking/design of my websites as I was about the content. I've always tried to have good content but I also admit to spending a ton of time tweaking templates, looking for useful plug-ins, playing around with different Wordpress features. As more and more people started using the Web, however, inevitable security and hacking issues have increased. This last incident (or incidents) has prompted me to seek another blogging platform. I would much MUCH rather spend more time writing and creating than tweaking and admin. Yes, I realize that any platform I choose will have its security issues. But whereas I used to want total control over my site's design and features, now I'd rather find a service that will do most of the behind-the-scenes work (including putting out security issue fires) so I can just focus on the content. Some of you have suggested Tumblr and Blogger. I've tried both sites and they're easy to use, but I have to confess I'm hesitant to commit to any free hosted service that doesn't have a clear business model, just in case they decide to start charging (like Ning just did) or worse, shut down without warning. Not as much of a problem if you only have one blog, but I maintain quite a few, not just for myself but for others as well. I plan to consolidate some of my blogs/sites and cut down on the number of domains I use. I'm thinking of reorganizing most of my own blogs under one personal site and one work site rather than have the scattered all over the place. I'm looking for a service that won't roll out new versions unless they're rock solid and thoroughly tested, will let me modify CSS if I want but also have templates so I don't have to do much appearance set-up, has as little downtime and glitches as possible, and good customer service. Right now I'm checking out Squarespace and Typepad. If any of you have had experience using either of these services, I'd love to hear about it.

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Wednesday
Jun022010

Writers: take this health challenge & increase your productivity

I find that whenever I start slacking off the daily exercise ("I have too much WORK to do..."), I inevitably start feeling more and more tired and uninspired. I'm trying to get in the habit of doing a power walk a day -- by "power walk," I mean a walk that is brisk enough to get me slightly out of breath and sweaty (though the latter's not hard to do in the recent Toronto heat wave, ugh). I used to run, but some knee problems scared me into a lower impact exercise. Some days, though, I get so wrapped up in my work that it's hard to drag myself away from the computer screen. I've briefly thought about doing my walk in the morning, but I'm currently trying to WRITE first thing in the morning. Anyway, I'm going to take Ami Spencer's June Fit 'n' Healthy Challenge For Writers, to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 or more days a week. I find that getting some exercise outdoors does wonders for getting creative inspiration flowing plus is good for de-stressing. Anyone else want to take the challenge with me?

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Wednesday
Jun022010

Book Signings: amusing video and some advice

Above: "Signing in the Waldenbooks by Parnell Hall," which I discovered via Moonrat at Editorial Ass. Moonrat also offers some great advice about How To Throw An Awesome Book Launch.

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Tuesday
Jun012010

Over-enthusiastic spam-blocker

Apologies to those who recently tried posting a comment and were accused of being a spambot by one of the Wordpress security plugins I was trying (Invisible Defender). I've deleted the plugin so you should be able to post normally. I have a policy of moderating the first comment anyone posts, but once you've had a comment approved you should be able to post without having your comments moderated first.

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Tuesday
Jun012010

Inkygirl is BACK...and some security tips for other bloggers

(Resource list updated: June 3, 2010, 11:06 AM) As some of you may already know, some of my sites were hacked on the weekend. If you notice some missing images and features from this site, that's why -- I still haven't finished the finetuning after major damage control had been done. Many thanks to those who e-mailed, tweeted and sent me Facebook messages about the problem, and to Cid of Cidwrites.com and others for their advice. Biggest thanks to my technonerdboy hubby, Jeff Ridpath, who spent pretty much the whole weekend helping me get things back to normal. For anyone else out there who uses Wordpress as their blogging platform, be aware that what happened to me could very easily happen to you. You might think you don't have to worry because you just have a small site or figure that you don't have any valuable info on your site anyway but trust me...it's worth taking a few precautions to avoid going through the hassle of having to scrub your site clean and have to reinstall everything. And if you get flagged by Google as a malware site, then you have the added embarrassment of the warning that comes up whenever someone tries to access your site. Even after you scrub your site, then you have to fill out an application to get Google to review your site. Here are some things I learned from the experience that you may find useful: - Make sure your passwords are strong. Read Protect Your Blog With A Solid Password. Don't use any words that can be found in the dictionary. Other BAD passwords: names spelled backwards, phone numbers, birthdays, qwerty, asdf, yourname1, default, letmein, password1, your car license, middle names. Don't use the same password for multiple sites. - Keep your versions of Wordpress updated. As Alex King says, "Upgrade immediately. Always. No exceptions." - Keep your versions of plugins updated. Remove any plugins you aren't using. Some older versions of plugins have security holes that hackers can use. - Don't use the default admin account (called "admin") that comes with every Wordpress installation. Create another admin account with a different name and then delete the "admin" account. - Take regular backups of your file directories as well as your database. One security tips post I found recommended WordPress Database Backup. - Be wary of letting an application have write access to your files. Keep your file permissions as restrictive as possible. - Limit your use of plugins. I try to do this anyway, because I was finding that having too many plugins really slowed down page loading on my site. - Turn off any features you don't use. And yes, I'm on the lookout for another blogging platform. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to post below! Anyway, here are some useful resources I found while researching Wordpress and security issues: Top 5 WordPress Security Tips You Most Likely Don't Follow Wordpress Security Tips and Hacks 20+ Powerful Security Plugins and Some Tips & Tricks Wordpress Security, Upgrades and Backups Wordpress Security Issues Lead To Mass Hacking. Is Your Blog Next? Hardening Wordpress Wordpress Security Whitepaper How To Diagnose and Remove the WordPress Pharma Hack Protect your Admin folder in Wordpress by limiting access in .htaccess Any other tips or suggestions? Feel free to share them below.

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Monday
May312010

Wordcount Challenge Check-In: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

For those who encountered the malware warning over the weekend, Inkygirl has now been scrubbed cleaned (HUGE thanks to my hubby). Will post about what happened later today but basically, Inkygirl got hacked late Friday night. Didn't get much writing done over the weekend. :-(

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

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Thursday
May272010

BuNoWriMo - write a novel in June

For those who missed NaNoWriMo or did NaNo but are keen for more punishment inspiration, checkout BuNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in June. There's also a BuNoWriMo Facebook group.

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Monday
May242010

Weekly wdcount check-in: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

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Tuesday
May182010

Reading magazines on the iPad

Monday
May172010

Weekly wordcount check-in: 250, 500, 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

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Saturday
May152010

New comic up on Writer Unboxed!

For those interested, I've posted a new comic on Writer Unboxed.

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Friday
May142010

Looking for a useful notetaking or writing app for the iPad?

I've been reviewing iPad apps that could be useful to writers on iPadGirl recently. Unfortunately Posterous doesn't have a good archiving index system, so I'm compiling a list of notetaking and writing iPad apps for writers on a separate page, with links to my reviews.

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Thursday
May132010

My reviews of writing & note-taking iPad apps

For those interested, here's a list of the writing and note-taking apps for the iPad that I've reviewed on iPadGirl so far. Some have iPhone versions!

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Tuesday
May112010

DRM, e-books, and Fictionwise/B&N Removing Access To Books *I Have Already Paid For*

CARTOON EMBED CODE: (Before embedding, see my cartoon licensing info.)

 


A while back, I mentioned that Fictionwise support had e-mailed me saying they were NOT developing a version of their e-reader for the iPad. Disappointed, I thought, "Oh well. At least I'll be able to read my e-books in small iPhone size on my iPad." But then I discovered that some of the e-books I purchased through Fictionwise (a Barnes & Noble company) were now unavailable because of "geographic restrictions." When I tried downloading them for my iPad, I got the error "Territory not authorized." Nearly a month ago, I wrote to Fictionwise support about the problem. Here's what they wrote back:
"Hi, We are currently working with our providers to resolve the download errors you are experiencing. Sorry for any inconvenience this may be causing and thank you for your patience as we attempt to resolve this issue. Best Regards, Ted Fictionwise Support Team"
Since then, some of the titles I couldn't access before can now be accessed, but there are still quite a few that remain unavailable. It's this sort of problem that makes it clear that the e-book industry still needs a lot of work before it has a hope of succeeding. I've already had at least one reader say, "See? This sort of thing is why I don't buy e-books." DRM, for those that don't know, stands for Digital Rights Management. It's a pretty broad term that's used to refer to techniques for restricting the free use and transfer of digital content. It's meant to control copying of digital files but from what I can tell, it only ends up ticking off the consumer while content thieves find ways around it. It only takes ONE person to crack the code, and all the effort/hassle that has gone into the DRM for a particular item (an e-book, for instance) becomes worthless. Less than worthless, actually, because of the problems encountered by a consumer who LEGITIMATELY BOUGHT the e-book. A quote from science fiction author Simon Haynes about DRM:
And now for DRM. When you sell someone an encrypted e-book, DVD or computer game, what you’re basically saying is: "Here’s the content you wanted, and by the way we think you’re a thief." The joke is that any thieves have already downloaded pirated copies of the same content, so you’re not inconveniencing them. No, the only people you’re annoying are your paying customers.
Whatever has changed at Fictionwise, whatever the current geographic restrictions placed on certain titles in their store, the fact remains: THESE ARE E-BOOKS I HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR. It has been nearly a month since I last wrote them, when their support staff said they were "working on it." I'm not the only Fictionwise customer in this situation. If I was running the company, I'd be sending at least one follow-up e-mail a week specifically addressing the issue, keeping my customers up-to-date about what was going on and offering the option of a membership/book refund. I hope someone at Barnes & Noble is paying attention. As the owner of Fictionwise, this reflects poorly on them as well. I've been trying to be patient but I've pretty much hit my limit. I've written to Fictionwise again today; let's see how/if they respond. Related resources: Why DRM Doesn't Work - an illustrated example SF author Simon Haynes’ case against DRM at Amazon and elsewhere (Teleread) Why DRM won't ever work (ZDNet) DRM Doesn't Work - Mark Shuttleworth How Doesn't DRM Work? - Cory Doctorow

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Monday
May102010

Weekly Wordcount Check-in: 250, 500 and 1000 wds/day

Do you need a wordcount challenge with some leeway? Check out the challenges below: 250 wds/day | 500 wds/day | 1000 wds/day
So how did you all do with your daily wordcount challenges since the last check-in?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May062010

Toronto MG/YA Writers' Group #torkidlit tweetup

One of the many reasons I'm glad I joined Twitter: the Toronto MG/YA Writers' Group. Claudia Osmond started the #torkidlit group, approaching Toronto area middle grade and young adult writers on Twitter and suggesting we get together in person. We meet once a month at a pub/restaurant in downtown Toronto. Although the focus of our group is on authors of MG and YA books, we are supportive of anyone who helps create children's literature in the Toronto area. For those that aren't familiar with the term "tweetup," here's a good explanation from SocialHat.com:

A tweetup is an event where people who Twitter come together to meet in person. Normally we connect with our friends online after we have met them. At a tweetup you meet the people you might only otherwise know virtually. Like finally putting a name to a face, a tweetup is a great opportunity to really connect with the people in your network and share just a little more than 140 characters at a time.
I enjoyed having dinner at Fresh with Cheryl Rainfield beforehand, catching up with all the recent excitement in her life. Cheryl's book launch for SCARS, for example, takes place on June 24th, 2010 at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape (519 Church St. Community Centre, Auditorium Room 206) at 6:30 pm. Great to see Stacy King, Deborah Kerbel, Megan Crewe, Andrew Tolson, Hélène Boudreau, Helaine Becker, Lena Coakley, Cheryl Rainfield, Patricia Storms, Jo Swartz and Nelsa Roberto again, and meet Suri Rosen and Ian Keeling. Hélène, by the way, has a book launch tomorrow for KEEP OUT: Friday, May 7th, 2010 3-4 pm EST Markham Village Library 6031 Highway 7, Markham (corner of Markham Road and Hwy 7) For more info: 905-513-7977 x4284 Helaine Becker: showed us the cover of one of her new book projects. I had met Lena Coakley while helping Cheryl Rainfield move, but it was great to see her at the tweetup. Nelsa Roberto: had photos from her recent book launch of ILLEGALLY BLONDE. I enjoyed meeting Suri Rosen and Ian Keeling, and 'twas fun to watch Jo Swartz and Patricia Storms draw on my iPad. You can find out more about the MG/YA writers who attend the tweetups at the Toronto MG/YA Writers' Group website. I'm in the midst of moving this blog, so pardon the construction dust! And if you're a Toronto area middle grade or young adult writer, please do check out #torkidlit on Twitter. For help with Twitter, please see my >Writers' Guide To Using Twitter.

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Thursday
May062010

Notetaking & writing on the iPad: First app review - Sketchpad HD

More writers have been asking me about what apps I'm finding useful on the iPad, so I'm going to start reviewing various notetaking and writing apps I've been trying out. I posted my first on iPadGirl today: Sketchbook HD - Great idea, but doesn't work properly in landscape mode

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Wednesday
May052010

iPad envy comic, drawn on my iPad

If you're curious about the steps I took to create the image above, see my iPadGirl post.

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Tuesday
May042010

Bluestocking Blog: Lessons Learned at a Writing Conference

I've always appreciated those who post about what they've learned at writing conferences. The author of Bluestocking Blog recently wrote about the main lessons she learned at the event, and her post includes some excellent advice.

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Tuesday
May042010

C.S. Lewis may NOT have been rejected 800 times

Last year, I posted that C.S. Lewis had been rejected 800 times after finding the info on several websites. Several readers have since questioned this data, including Mary Mueller, who said:

Who the heck is Inkygirl and where the heck did she get her data?? This is entirely undocumented (the 800 rejections) and shouldn’t be “published,” even on an amateur website, without meticulous documentation.
Mary is entirely correct that I don't provide meticulous documentation for the rejection stories I've been posting, so it's entirely possible that some of the stats may be inaccurate. Unfortunately I lack the time to search for the original documents to support each stat but do try to include my sources of info whenever possible, in case readers need to verify info themselves. I make very little income from this site, and provide the info mainly to help inspire and motivate writers. I'm hoping that the spirit behind my Writers & Rejection series is still helpful to some writers, despite the lack of detailed documentation. Thanks to Mary for her feedback, and I do apologize if any of you were misled by my C.S. Lewis info. [Later edit: I just want to clarify...I -do- think Mary had a point, as blunt as her comment may have been. As she pointed out to me in a follow-up e-mail, just because you read something on three websites (or more!) doesn't make it true. It's a good lesson for me, and I do intend on doing a better job at verifying my source info from now on. Again, however, sometimes I won't have time to provide as detailed documentation as I could, so please do feel free to challenge anything I post if you don't agree. :-)] Gary McGath comments:
Claims made on the Web do tend to be picked up by other people and repeated, which gets some people really frustrated. I’m a lot more concerned when major news outlets, which _should_ have the resources to obtain “meticulous documentation,” don’t bother. I try to avoid the trap of repeating someone else’s unsubstantiated claim, but I’ve been caught in it too many times myself. All I can do then is acknowledge it.

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