It’s… Alive!

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, by Universal Studios (Dr. Macro) Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons

My website, that is. Like some mad scientist tinkering in the workings of things which should probably left alone, I have been wasting spending my time this past month or two upgrading the site’s form and function. Eventually, I have settled on this–Supernatural Suspense 2.0. It’s actually an interim step as I solidify my plans for a completely custom theme, but it’s going to work for now.

Some of the changes are apparent, others not so much. I believe that, in the end, everything’s going to work more smoothly for both you and me.

If you’re geek enough to handle it, here are some of the details of my quest for a better monster:

Heart transplant

At the core of the change is a switch from the Joomla! CMS to WordPress. The main reason for this is that WordPress is just far better at what I want to do with this site, which is maintaining an interaction with my readers. It’s a blogging platform first and foremost, and for all of Joomla’s power and elegance, it just doesn’t offer the tools to make this kind of communication easy. Even with EasyBlog, the blogging component that I had installed, it all had a secondary feel to it. WordPress is going to make things much easier.

I do feel the need to make sure you all know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Joomla! is very good at what it does, and I definitely recommend it for applications where blogging isn’t the primary need. I am going to miss some of the things it has to offer, and I will state right here and now that I am making some trade-offs for the sake of a more robust blogging platform. But, just as there are blogging solutions for Joomla!, there are also solutions for WordPress that will replace the functionality I am giving up.

In the end, it’s a question of choosing the right tool for the job. It just made sense to trade a strong site-building tool with a blogging attachment for a blogging tool with site-building attachments. My next sites will almost certainly be Joomla! based, even though they will also include blogs.

Blood Transfusion

The stuff that really keeps a site like this alive is the content. To make sure my new monster is healthy and thriving I am going to need to make sure there is a constant flow of fresh blood into its veins. Before that, though, I needed to use the old site as a donor for the new, draining the old monster so the new could live.

This was less like a blood transfusion and more like brain surgery. EasyBlog has no method to export data into a format that WordPress will receive. Both platforms run on PHP and SQL, so in theory it should be possible to write a script that will suck the content from one database, change the blood type, then dump it into the other. In fact, I know it’s possible. But no one appears to have been motivated enough to do it yet. I toyed with the idea for about two seconds before I realized the task was far outside my skill set. And the last thing I needed to do was bog myself down in trying to figure it out.

Luckily, there wasn’t much in the old site anyway, so I used the high-tech method of cut-and-paste. This is probably the only time I will be able to say I was relieved to not have been very prolific.

Now, I’ve written about this before, but I tend to get easily wrapped around the axle, so to speak, when it comes to self-management and productivity. This site redesign is a prime example: I got so caught up in producing a structure and a design that would be absolutely perfect for what I want in a website that, when I stepped back a moment, I saw myself spinning around the same problem six months from now.

I woke up. I grabbed an off-the-shelf theme, tweaked it a little while noting issues for further tweaks to be made later, and published it. As a result, SS2.0 isn’t exactly what I envisioned, but it ain’t what it was. Overall, a very good thing.

Plastic Surgery

What you’re looking at right now is quite a bit different than what it was. Changing the site’s look involved quite a bit.

I found the graphic elements I had chosen to be distracting. The solution as I saw it was to both simplify the structure and completely rethink the role of imagery on the site. This is, after all, a site about writing; I don’t want anything to distract from the reading experience. That said, I restate that it’s not where I envision it. Yet.

Looking at the theme of my writing–supernatural suspense–I found that, however cool it might look for a horror site, the bloody splatters just didn’t fit. I needed something less visceral and more eerie. The creepy house in the header is a small step in that direction, and as you can see by the menu bar, I haven’t abandoned the raven as a symbol.

It doesn’t look as much like a Frankenstein’s monster as it had, yet neither is it as pretty as I can make it. But it won’t be long.

The Spark of Life

In every version of Frankenstein I’ve ever seen, the last act before the monster rises from the operating table and begins wreaking havoc is to charge it with a massive dose of electricity. That’s what’s going to keep the blood flowing, and the only way I know to do this is to keep infusing it with new content while encouraging intelligent commentary from you, my readers.

So, in a way you could say that I’m back. Or you could just stand back in terrified triumph and declare, “It’s alive!”

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About RNAdams2

I write what I call "supernatural suspense"; that is, suspenseful stories involving otherworldly events. I have a lot I could (and will) write about the topic. I could explain what I write as "horror," but I have always believed that an author should have the primary motive of horrifying his readers, which is not the case with me. I could call my writing "supernatural" or "paranormal," but my writing lacks much of the focus on romance/erotica or teenage angst that seems to be prevalent in those genres.
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