Author Archives: Sandy Fussell

About Sandy Fussell

I love words, numbers and playing around on the internet. I'm the author of fourteen books including the Samurai Kids series and Sad, the Dog. I call myself the Cinderella author, convinced someone has waved a magic wand over me, and secretly worried I might turn back into a pumpkin in the middle of a school visit. I'm also an ICT consultant, children's book reviewer for The Funday Sunday Telegraph and Festival Co-ordinator at The Story Crowd. Visit my new website to say hi: www.sandyfussell.com or find me at www.samuraikids.com.au

Super Easy Image Attribution for flickr

Blog posts and images are a match made in heaven. While it’s easiest to use your own photos, most times I find I don’t have a photo to suit.

There are numerous websites with images a blogger can use for free provided they meet any specified attribution requirements. This blog post is not about finding those sites. A quick Google will identify pages of posts listing and ranking image sites. If you’re looking for that you could try these lists from the buffer blog and Canva.

flickr3This post is about my favourite site. I have three sites I use regularly – flickr, Pixabay and FreeImages. The latter two frustrate me more often than not because while I might find a suitable image, the best image, the one I would much rather have, is displayed to taunt me. It costs money.

While Flickr contains some copyright images a blogger can’t use, it’s easy to search by copyright restriction category. The available images are a higher standard in terms of creative composition, theme and subject compared to what I find for free on other sites. You don’t need to setup a flickr account to use the images.

There’s one more reason that makes flickr images my favourite choice. It’s an app called the cc flickr attribution helper. This is a bookmarklet developed by cogdog which will generate a Creative Commons attribution script  – as text or html – for easy cut-and-paste insertion into your blog (or document).

Here’s how it works. Once you have the bookmarklet installed (instructions follow), find the image you want to use on Flickr, remembering to search by a usable image category. For my example image, I searched the “commercial use allowed” category because I know that will give me an image with some restrictions, to best demonstrate the bookmarklet.

flickr1

I feel like ice-cream tonight so I selected the above image by Rachel_S_Lee from my search results. You can see in the bottom right of the screen it has “some rights reserved” and these relate to the attribution and that you can’t derive anything from it. To create the correct attribution click the cc flickr attribution helper in the browser tray and it will generate both the html code and text.

flickr2

If I copy and paste the html into my blog it will look like this:


flickr photo shared by Rachel_S_Lee under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

And if I use the text, it will look like this:

flickr photo by Rachel_S_Lee http://flickr.com/photos/leerachel/6300067541 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

If I make a mistake and select an image which is restricted, the bookmarklet will provide a message saying the image can’t be used, even with attribution.

You can install the cc flickr attribution helper bookmarklet from here on github. There are a number of options but the easiest way, and the way I did it, is to drag the bookmarklet to your browser bar. If you prefer visual instructions, this YouTube will help you. It was created by Richard Byrne who blogs at Free Technology for Teachers, one of my favourite blogs.

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Filed under Sandy Fussell, Tech Tips

Why Can’t I Cut and Paste from MS Word into my Blog

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can. But three times in the past month someone has asked me if I can help them fix the formatting in a blog post they cut and pasted from MS Word.

“It was perfect in Word,” my friend insisted. “Now on my blog, it doesn’t look like my other posts. I do this all the time and it’s never happened before.”

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be cutting and pasting from a word processor and then this problem wouldn’t exist. But I understand the pain because it happens to me too.

I manage a book review blog, The Reading Stack, and even though I’ve distributed an MS Word template to the reviewers and all the reviews are submitted looking correct, sometimes some of them do very strange things with fonts and formatting when I post them.

Screen Shot 1

It’s all about the codes embedded in an MS Word document. You can’t see them but if you transfer  them when you cut and paste, you overwrite your blog Style Sheet, corrupting the blog post theme formatting.

Even if you use an MS Word template like I do, codes are added when users paste into it from other documents or articles posted on the web.

So how can you get rid of these unwanted codes?

There’s no easy solution. The faulty formatting needs to be stripped out using a plain text editor and that means also losing the formatting you wanted to keep – but at least you wont have to retype the document and your blog will continue to look great.

Here’s what to do:Screen Shot 2

  1. Open the Word document containing the blog post in MS Notepad. This will strip out all formatting including any hyperlinks.
  2. Copy the displayed plain text to the clipboard (Control-C in Windows, Command-C in Mac)
  3. Start a new post in WordPress or Blogger
  4. Paste the text from the clipboard (Control-V,n Windows, Command-V in Mac)
  5. The post default fonts will be restored
  6. Add back any bolding, italics, paragraph breaks, hyperlinks etc
  7. Continue on

I hope that helps.

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Filed under Sandy Fussell, Social Media

Hashtags For Writers

What is a #hashtag?

hashtag-850363_640
A hashtag is any word preceded by a # (hash symbol). Hashtags are widely used across all social media but first appeared on Twitter in August 2007. I love that the hashtag was invented by a Twitter user (@ChrisMessina) and that Twitter’s initial response was disinterest because the concept was ‘too nerdy’. The people thought otherwise or perhaps they were happy to be a little nerdy!

This post focuses on hashtags for Twitter although the principles may be applied to other social media platforms.

Are there any rules?

Don’t overdo it. Different platforms have different comfort levels. Studies have shown Twitter engagement drops with more then two hastags (but Instagram posts often have up to ten!).

Hashtags are not case sensitive. Capitals are often used to help make them readable but make no difference when searching.

11 Things a writer/illustrator can use hashtags for

Spread the word – General hashtags like #bookart #kidlit and #writingtips facilitate searches on specific topics so are valuable when sharing a blog post or researching. Meme hashtags serve a particular purpose for example #mondayblogs promotes a blog post on Monday and #followfriday thanks active followers such as those who retweeted you.

Add emotion or voice – 140 characters is not much to work with. Hashtags can add nuance for example #fail or #asif

Be a member of a community – Communities have hashtags that can be used to find about and even participate in their activities like #nswwc (NSW Writers Centre). Yesterday I joined with a group of picture book lovers to celebrate #pb10for10 with a post of 10 favourite picture books on Google+

Attend an event – Most conferences and events have a hashtag and a dedicated event tweeter so that you can follow points of interest even if you can’t attend such as #kidsstoryfest, #readingmatters2015 and #mwf15. Event and conference hashtags can be found on their respective webpages

Follow the news – Breaking news, global and Australian, in all areas including literature, will quickly have a hashtag

Create connections – Hashtags help you find like-minded people to follow – if you are looking for new people to connect with who love Australian YA then a quick Twitter search of #loveozya will suggest tweeps.

Find items of interest on other platforms – Through the hashtag #wintercomfortbookchallenge on Twitter I discovered an Instagram challenge which I decided to participate in. I met new people and learned a new skill.

Attend a Twitterchat – Twitterchats are scheduled ‘chat’ sessions such as #ozyachat. There is a chat for everything! The best way to find a chat is to Google your area of interest eg ‘library twitter chats’ or ‘book twitter chats’. Even if you don’t want to participate, listening in can be a good source of information and finding people to connect with.

Research – Twitter is a massive database of facts and current opinion, searchable by hashtag. If you are looking for an expert you will find them on Twitter and they will be happy to talk to you. No awkward introduction letters/emails to write!

Support a literacy related cause or program – Tweet a relevant comment or link with a hashtag like #weneeddiversebooks or #indigenousliteracy or #greatbookswap Have fun – Often a hashtag will trend simply because everyone finds it fun such as #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

How can I find hashtags?

Twitter – Note the hashtags used by other writers, influencers or contacts in your industry. Click on the hashtag to see a list of tweets containing it to determine if it is of interest

Apps – There are a number of free applications which will identify popular hashtags and suggest hashtags for topics. Two apps I use are Hashtagify and Tagboard.

Google – Search ‘hashtags for writers’. ‘hashtags for books’ etc Many blog posts cover this topic. Check that any blog post is current.

How can I follow a hashtag?

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are two free applications for managing your Twitter presence and provide the easiest way to track a hashtag. In both applications you can add a column based on a hashtag so that any tweets containing it appear whether you follow the tweeter or not. Alternatively, you can do a search on Twitter

.tweetdeck

What hashtags are most useful for writers?

There are numerous hashtags for writers and illustrators of various genres and a quick Google search will easily find the current popular ones. This is a small selection of hashtags I find helpful:

#askHAUPure gold. Have you ever wished you had access to a publisher so you could ask any question you wanted? This is it! A wealth of publishing information on offer most Fridays from 3-4pm when a designated person from Hachette Australia (announced earlier in the week) answers tweeted questions. All questions are welcomed and answered.

This Friday #askHAU’s guest in the hotseat is author Stephanie Bishop and last week it was Head of Publicity Anna Egelstaff. Past sessions have included Sophie Hamley (Non Fiction Publisher) Suzanne OSuliivan (Children’s Publisher) and Louise Sherwin-Sark (Managing Director, Sales)

#ozyachat – fornightly chat hosted by @speculatef and @bookmanicurist. More information and recaps of past chats here http://www.speconspecfic.com/ozyachat

#loveozya – This is a new hashtag to raise the profile of Aussie YA and was created in the aftermath of the Australian Library Association report which showed the top ten YA books borrowed in Australian public libraries included only two Aussie titles. If you write or read YA this is an excellent thread to follow – to meet people, to find new books and to help promote Aussie YA.

#amwriting – There must be millions, no trillions, of #amwriting tweets. The reason I like this hashtag is because any random selection of tweets never fails to inspire me and make me feel I am part of a community sharing the same problems and challenges. Writing is not easy and it can be isolating. #amwriting helps writers support each other.

#MondayBlogs – Every Monday post a blog link and check a few links from other people using this hashtag. I choose to check links that also have a writing related hashtag so this is a good example of where two hashtags work best.

Curating with Hashtags

If you want to save a set of hashtag tweets you can use Storify. The ‘story’ you create can be shared or kept private. Here is a story I created curating the tweets for a Twitter bookclub session about The Pause by John Larkin. The hashtag was #ThePauseBC. Here is the storify for #KidsBookFest held by Vic State Library in 2015.

My Hashtag Tip

One thing I have discovered about hashtags is an ‘s’ can make a lot of difference. Topsy is an application which compares #hashtag use (popularity). Have a look the reach difference (tweets perday over the last month) between #bookreview (orange) and #bookreviews (blue).

topsy

Last but not least

If you are reading this post, there is one last hashtag you need to know #JustWriteForKidsOZ – the hashtag of the Just Write For Kids Blog!

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Filed under Sandy Fussell, Social Media