A Blogger’s Little Toolbook™ — First Content Resources Book in New Series


I’ve just published the first book in planned series of content resources books.  It’s titled  A Blogger’s Little Toolbook™: Content Boxes for WP Posts. You can get it at https://www.amazon.com/Bloggers-Little-Toolbook-Content-Boxes/dp/198111663X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511824305&sr=1-1&keywords=blogger%27s+little+toolbook

This particular series, A Blogger’s Little Toolbook™, is obviously for bloggers.  The first volume offers reusable cut and paste content box templates.  I plan to do more books in this series, with a variety of content types.  And I plan to do more than one content resources book series.

But wait! What’s a content resources book?

A content resources book provides reusable content such as clip art, advertising swipe files, quotations, “how to say it” phrases and paragraphs, illustrations, layouts, music, story plots, non-fiction outlines, templates for both design and writing, and just about any other elements that you can imagine being useful in creating your own publications.

One good example of reusable artistic content is the Dover series of books.

The assets in a content resources book may be licensed for use as royalty-free with some
restrictions or may be free to use in any way you like, simply for the price of the book. Some content books may include instructions on how to use the content. Others may simply provide the content.

I’ve long planned to make content resources books.  Finally, I’ve got one done.  It’s much shorter than I planned originally.  I was going to make a greater number of templates available as an add-on to a blog post I made.

You see, as a kind of proof of concept, not long ago I made a long blog post of 26 templates for creating content boxes in individual WP posts.  If you’ve got the right theme or plugin, you can do this easily with WP pages, but it’s really difficult with just one post.  Unless you can code it yourself.  And have the right WP editor.

So, I created pre-coded templates for such content boxes as well as simple instructions on how to use them.  It was just cut and paste.  The post I made was entirely written in the code.  To prove that it worked.  None of the images of content boxes were actually images. They were just code.  All the user had to do was cut the code written on the post and paste it into a WP editor.

I’ve removed the post because I’ve used it to create a book.  And a free pdf version to go with it that makes it possible to cut and paste without having to scan the book or type it in.  I have colleagues who suggested that since it’s difficult to get pre-coded content boxes (except included in a theme) for love or money, I should stop messing around and start publishing with the ones I already had.  I know they’re right.  The reason I wrote my own is that I couldn’t just buy some already made.  So I followed the advice.

But even better than getting out a book, I now have at least a year’s worth of blog ideas about the trials and tribulations of self-publishing on CreateSpace.  That’s in addition to the experiences I’ve had publishing on Kindle. (Just kidding. I learned a lot and had some fun.)

Productivity Product Recommendation: Comic Life 3

4444_jungle_animalsComic Life 3 is a productivity tool.

Yeah, I know it’s kind of fun and kids like to use the iOS app version to convert pics to comics to send to their friends.  Sure, you can use it to create comic strips and comic books.

But really, it’s a serious desktop application for entrepreneurs.  And ebook writers.  And bloggers.  And graphics artists.  And makers of infographics.  And marketers.  And, well, once you “get it,” you’ll think of more.

Don’t be fooled by its intuitive interface and ease of use.  Don’t be seduced by the fact you’ll actually enjoy what you’re doing.

Illustrated EBooks for Kindle.

This little program will help you make illustrated children’s books and graphic novels for the Kindle.  With its layout templates and drag-and-drop simplicity, it becomes a snap.  See?  Productivity tool.

It’s not just that you have templates that you can remodel and remix as you choose.  It’s also that you have built-in filters to convert photos to comics or illustrations.  So you don’t even have to do your own illustrations or hire an illustrator.

Graphics for Blogs

And what about bloggers?  You know you need to have photos and graphics to illustrate your posts and articles.  It communicates better and makes your points considerably clearer.  Adding a light touch or even some humor by including a comic strip now and then might be just the ticket.

Infographics and Posters

Then there are the possibilities of adapting the templates to a wide variety of layouts.  Of creating several different infographic style “pages” that you hook together in a longer document using a program like Photoshop (or Elements) or GIMP to make an awesome infographic.

Think about the posters you could create using this.

An Example

Now, just to “illustrate” what I’m talking about, the following graphic is something I created in less that 20 minutes using Comic Life 3 and a couple of illustrations I already had on hand.

(If you don’t get the spoof in the comic, it’s a play on a decades-long running commercial in the U.S. about a rabbit who wants to eat Trix cereal and is constantly thwarted by kids who tell him, “silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.”  You can see reruns of the commercials on YouTube.  It’s quite iconic.)

celia rabbit comic shopping

You can get Comic Life 3 for Windows or Mac at http://plasq.com.  (Not an affiliate link.) There’s a free trial.  And what do you have to lose?  It’s good for several hours of fun before you decide you have to get it and get down to business.  Oh, by the way, it only costs $29.00.

Luck Is More Than Just A Four-Letter Word

Recently, a friend quipped: “Luck is a four-letter word.” I started thinking about writing about luck and chance.  About randomness. About what we control and what we don’t.

What’s Your Belief About Luck?

First, I’d like you to think for a moment about what your attitude is toward luck.  What do you believe about luck.  What do you think luck is?  Or do you even think there is any such thing as luck?  Perhaps you hold with those who say you make your own luck.  Maybe you have a few superstitions about luck.  But one thing is fairly probable — you’ve thought about luck and you have opinions on it.

Attitudes about luck have a wide range, as is proven by the various sayings we have about it.  They seem to vary from “Curse the luck!” to “Bless my lucky stars!”

How about these expressions: “Just lucky, I guess”…”Good luck and God bless”…”Having any luck with that?”…”Of all the luck!”…”Just my luck”…”As luck would have it”…”Luck smiled on me.”

Although I’ve heard it many times before, I particularly was struck by the poignancy of hearing the expression “You can’t beat luck” in an episode of the short-lived TV-show “Dr. Vegas.”

The gambling-addicted physician was doing a masterful job of winning game after game in a poker tournament.   At the end, the odds were so stacked in his favor that even his opponent believed it was impossible to beat him.  It came down to the turn of one card.  And in a millions-to-one shot, the one card that could beat him turned up in his opponent’s hand.  They were both astonished. And that’s when she said, “You can’t beat luck.” (She may have said “just plain luck.”  I don’t remember the exact words, and I’m not going to try to find that episode online and watch it again just to be accurate.)

Defining Luck

I agree that you can’t beat “luck” — if you are defining luck as random chance, an event completely out of your control and almost impossible to predict.  However, some who write about luck and chance from the scientist’s point of view will tell you that you need to use your words more strictly if you want to understand luck and how to control it.  You need to realize that there’s a difference between luck and chance.

Chance is random occurrences.  Luck is “being in the right place at the right time for useful probable occurrences.”  Luck is also “making the most of chance occurrences by being alert to them and their possibilities.

If you are careful about your definition of luck, you’ll appreciate the literature that explains how you control it and how you make your own luck.  You’ll also react better to harmful and disappointing chance events, accepting that they are out of your control.  But your reaction to those chance events is in your control and you can use that control to recover.  You can even use your control to transform unfortunate chance events into opportunities for growth and profit.

Learning To Control Luck And Make Your Own Luck

In my research, I came across an excellent article by Daniel Pink, on the FastCompany website, “How To Make Your Own Luck.”   If you want an outstanding and brief outline of how to change and control your luck, this is the article to read.

In this 2003 article, Pink interviews Richard Wiseman about the ideas in Wiseman’s book “The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles.”  It’s a good, long interview and the four essential principles are revealed.

So much of the article, as well as the name of the book, sounded familiar.  I researched further and found that there was an earlier book called “The Luck Factor” by Max Gunter.  I was sure I had read the book and a search of my bookshelves turned it up.  Re-reading it, I discovered that both books seemed to have many of the same ideas.  Different stories.  Different approaches to studying the ideas.  But pretty similar conclusion and advice.

The Wiseman book is difficult to get in the U.S.  I had to order a used copy and wait about a week.  But Pink’s article intrigued me, so I wanted to know more.  Especially since the writer is a fellow psychologist.  The article tells the basics you need to know, but the book is good reading if you want to go to the trouble of trying to get a copy.

Gunther’s book The Luck Factor: Why Some People Are Luckier Than Others and How You Can Become One of Them is easily available here in new and used editions as well as on Kindle.

I’ll be back in a later article with more on luck and chance.  Meanwhile, take a look at Pink’s article.  (And, by the way, you may have noticed that this article was the result of luck.  A friend made an observation by chance that I recognized as a good topic for an article, and luckily, I had already read and kept a good book on it.  So, my research was made easier.  Funny how that works out.)