Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zzzz benefits

Anyone else feel the need to take a snooze after finally making it to the end of the A-Z challenge? Whew! Twenty six letters never seemed like quite so many. Well.... except for maybe in third grade when they were teaching cursive handwriting. 

But this post isn't about that. It's about the benefits of ZZZZZZZZZZzzz...

No, I'm not talking about the kind of benefits like the fact that your brain works better when you call it a night early enough to get the sleep you need before that way-too-early alarm (or that early-bird child) sounds. Or the benefit where if you SKIP several hours of sleep, you can get in several hours of prime writing time. :)

Photo Credit Link: Whisperfall at Deviant Art
I'm talking about the benefits of dreams.

How they can influence you. Inspire you. Possibly even make you think that your subconscious is WAY more crazy than your conscious is. I read a post a couple of weeks ago at The Secret Archives of the Alliterati by Alliterati K. Marie Criddle about how dreams affect her writing, and I've gotta admit-- it fascinates me!

I've heard a lot of people say that they go to bed thinking about their next scene, and their brain works on it all night. Sometimes they figure it out just as they're drifting off to sleep, sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night with the solution, and sometimes they just wake up the next morning with everything all worked out.

Is this how it works for you? I've got to admit-- I'm a little envious. I posted once about my theory on super powers, and told what mine is. You see, my super power is that I can fall asleep in under two minutes. Sometimes, it's under 30 seconds. And then I seriously don't move an inch-- not even to roll over or even attempt to be a cover hog-- until the alarm goes off. I actually really love my super power. It's a mighty powerful one. BUT, like every super power, there is a downside. My downside is that I can't turn it off! I can't lay in bed and ponder my story without falling asleep a few seconds into it. Sigh. Yes, there are a million worse things in the world. Like insomnia. (Recently, I took some medicine, and the warning said it could cause insomnia. I said YES!! I'll be able to plot in the middle of the night! Yeah.... It turns out insomnia isn't as great as I thought it'd be. Although I do credit some cold medicine-induced imsomnia for me finding my MC's voice in my WIP a couple of years ago. That girl talked to me for hours. So I guess sometimes it can be cool. But more than one night in a row? Not so much.)

So I guess the point is, when we stop running around like a crazy person and finally relax, our brains can do some pretty amazing things. Do you ever remember your dreams? Do they ever influence your writing? Have you ever magically figured something out during the night? Come on, share! I need to live vicariously here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yelling

Did you hear the one about the pregnant woman
who went into labor? She began to yell, 

"Couldn't! Wouldn't! 
Shouldn't! Didn't! Can't!"

She was having contractions.

Harhar. Okay. I swear I'll stop posting on Saturdays. Have an incredible weekend, everyone!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X out criticism

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."

~ Elbert Hubbard

Yes! We can avoid criticism!

All we have to do is be nothing.


So... If we want to be SOMETHING, we have to accept that there will be criticism.

And the bigger something we want to be, the more criticism we'll have to accept.

That's kind of the name of this game we're in, right? We write because we want our words read! Bring on the low ratings! We want our words read by a lot of people! Bring it on even more! Heck, we want the WHOLE WORLD to read our words! And more criticism!!

Of course there's the good stuff that comes all along the way, too! Eases the sting. But there will always be those bits of criticism that sting more than even the good stuff can temper. Those are the ones we really have to talk ourselves into being okay accepting.

So have you? Have you convinced yourself that you're okay accepting whatever amount of criticism that's going to come with wherever it is that you have your sights set?

I guess that's just one of the steps on our journey we have to take. Er... KEEP taking.

Here-- have a cookie! It helps. ;0)

Photo credit and recipe link from Furey and the Feast

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for What I wish I had known before pitching to an agent

I am a huge, huge, huge proponent of pitching your book in person to an agent.

Why? Because of what it gets you! I'm sure you know that agents get tons of queries every single day. A good portion of them (like 90%) come from people who haven't worked very hard on perfecting their craft. Agents know that if you go to conferences, you're likely in that top 10%. If you go to a conference AND pitch, you're likely a top 10% writer who has a book close to being worthy of representation. They don't have to wade through that 90% to get to you. Not only that, but it gives both of you a chance to know each other. And that's invaluable.

Tip #1: If you can get a pitch session with an agent / editor, do it!

Here's what I wish I would've known before pitching. (It's important to know that the conferences I've been to are ones where you pitch to one or two agents, and have a dedicated 10 minute scheduled time to meet with them. I know some conferences do a pitch-a-palooza type event where you go from agent to agent, and only spend a couple of minutes at each one. At that type of pitching event, there are a couple of these tips that might not apply.)

Tip #2: if you don't get a pitch session, get on a waiting list, because people cancel theirs all the time.

I pitched to my agent last year at the same conference I'm going to next week. It almost didn't happen, though! I was, quite possibly, the first person to sign up for the conference, so I could've had my pick of agents to pitch to (each person can have a max of one pitch).

Buuuuut.... I figured I would fumble my way through a pitch, so it would be better to just send a highly crafted query. Eventually, a good friend talked me into it, but by then the pitch sessions were already taken. So, I went on a waiting list.

Tip #3: Figure out what you want to cover. Don't memorize a script, but do memorize the points you want to cover. Then you can talk like a normal person about it.

I went to a class on how to pitch at a conference two months earlier. I had my 2-3 sentence pitch ready, and practiced on everyone who would listen, working to make it sound conversational, but still cover everything I wanted to cover.

Tip #4: Go with other questions in mind.

Then I went into my pitch session I speed-talked my way through it, because that's what I do when I'm nervous!I don't ramble-- I leave things out. So my pitch was done less than 30 seconds. She had asked me questions and I had answered them, and under the two minute mark, she had requested my full. Then she said, "Do you have any questions for me?" I had not even thought about questions for her! I just sat there, completely awkward, saying "Um.... Uh.... Oh.... Uh.... Nope?" Then I shook her hand and left, with seven minutes of our meeting unused!

People, don't do what I did! (See how willing I am to embarrass myself for your benefit?) Think about what you really want to talk about. This is golden time. Ask about their agenting style. Ask about the industry. Ask about the process. Ask about craft. You can even ask questions about your book-- like things about the plot you can't figure out. Ask about ANYTHING writing related! Chat. See how your personalities mesh. Just don't leave seven minutes early.

Tip #5: Don't cancel your pitch if your book isn't ready to send!

When you signed up for a pitch-- yeah, it was five months earlier, and you thought your novel would be ready, but it isn't. Don't cancel your pitch! IMHO, the only reason to cancel a pitch is if you got an got an agent between when you signed up and the conference. If your book isn't ready (but you're working hard to get it there), pitch the book anyway. When you send a query to an agent and they request pages, you should get it to them within about 24 hours. When you pitch, you have a YEAR to get it to them. A year! So don't stress that it isn't all the way ready when you pitch! You have plenty of time to make it shine. You are pitching to see if that story idea fits with them, if they think its a marketable enough idea that they want to see pages, and if it's a story they have the right contacts to sell.

Tip #6: Your pitch session doesn't have to be used to pitch.

That ten minutes you've signed up for is YOUR TIME. Use it wisely. You've bought not only that agent's (or editor's) time, but their expertise. And it is expertise in an area they are incredibly passionate about! They WANT to help you.

Let's say you signed up for a pitch, but it just doesn't feel right to pitch your book, for whatever reason. Those ten minutes are still yours! I've had friends use them in ways other than pitching, and the agents in every case have been more than willing to help out.
  • A friend brought their query letter and asked for a critique.
  • A friend brought their first three pages and asked the agent to read until they would normally stop, and then talk about what stopped them.
  • And I've had friends say, "I'm about to start writing a new novel. I have these five [or however many] ideas, but I'm having troubles deciding which one to use." Then they tell the five ideas, and ask which is the most marketable idea.
Tip #7: Don't be nervous. Really.

And the most important thing: remember that they are just people! I know it feels like they're rock stars, but they're completely normal. It kind of helps to remember that when you're sitting across a table from them. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Verbalizing your Vision in a Pitch Session

Since we're heading into the heart of writer's conference season, let's talk pitching! Because if you thought that clicking send on a query while sitting at your computer in your nice, comfortable home was hard, it's nothing compared to pitching in person! (Not to scare you or anything if you are about to do it for your first time.)

But first, a poll! (And fail on my part for the poll! I didn't think to put a valid option in the second question if you answered no on the first question. So if you answer no on the first, just guess how you'll be when/if you ever pitch. M'kay?)

Me? Um.... I may have been a little nervous at my first pitch. I may have told about my story in a speeding bullet voice, and finished 30 seconds into the pitch. It's a safe bet to say I didn't ramble. Definitely not cool and collected. I have debated whether or not to post this picture, because the body language tells pretty much how I felt.

Nervous hands? Check. Fake laughing to cover up the nervousness? Check. The conference photographer (wanting to get a picture of a pitch session or two) in the room to witness it? Check.

But that's me. And that's Sara. (Isn't she adorable?) And I had absolutely no idea at the time that my fumbling / shaking / speed-talking with her would one day mean I could call her my agent.

But I can't say I didn't learn anything! I'll have you know, though, that the next time I pitched, it went 1000 times better. Tomorrow, I'm going to post about what I WISH I would've known before I pitched. Because life is better if you know a few things before you pitch.

So what's been your experience with pitching? Are you pitching to an editor or agent anytime soon?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Useful & Underrated

Two things today-- and update (Ooo! Also a U word!) and something useful.

Have you guys heard of Wordle before? It's pretty cool. You paste some words into the website, and it makes an awesome little word cloud of those words. Then you can use it for your plethora of world cloud needs.

But wait! It has a totally USEFUL and UNDERRATED purpose as well! Ohmygosh. This is so cool, I can hardly stand it. Okay. That little box where you paste in text to create your word cloud? YOU CAN PASTE IN ANY AMOUNT OF TEXT. Including--- yep, you've got it--- your entire book.

So why is this so cool? Well, because it takes out the common words (like the, a, and), and then chooses the most common words in your book to make the word cloud out of. The more common the word, the bigger it is in the cloud.

Sooooooo, you can see which words you overuse! In a fun way! Here's mine for THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH:

It kind of makes me giddy to see those words that are specific to my book in a form like this. Of course, some of the biggest ones are my main characters. (Although, funnily enough, not my MC, Hope, since it's first person.) It's pretty expected to have those be the largest / most frequently used. But I can see that wow. I use just, looked, like and back a lot. Then I can go through my ms, do a search for those words, and look at each one to see if they really should be there, or if I truly am over-using them.

See? Totally useful! Check it out. Go to and click on create. Then play and have fun! (Because really-- it's totally fun. AND productive. :))

On to the update!

I finished first round edits! There is much joy and celebration and lifting of weights off shoulders going on here. Whew! It was tough. My editor is brilliant, and pushed me in ways I didn't even know I could go. I am so excited with the changes I made! It occurred to me before I sent it off to her on Sunday that she's probably just as nervous to get them as I was to send them. I mean there are a million ways an author can mess up edits! It's kind of a comforting thought, though, to know that you're both working toward the same goal, and you're both nervous. Makes it easier to click send.

And, in case you were wondering about general process stuff, and where things fit in a year-and-ten-month process like mine, they chose a cover artist! I'm not going to tell you who it is, because things can always go wrong, and there's always a small possibility that they'll have to change artists part way in. But I will say that all the members of the cover team, as well as marketing and sales, all were unanimous in their choice. (Which almost never happens.) You know, not having control over your cover is a scary thing. When my editor sent me his name and links, I can't tell you how relieved I was! I screamed, cried tears of joy and relief, and danced all at the same time. I have no doubt that whatever he does will be genius.

Now I'm going to stop thinking about that, because seeing a cover is still months away, and thinking about it makes it hard to wait. And now that I've rambled on and made you forget all about Wordle, here's your reminder to go check it out! (Make sure you play with the fonts. Because: fun!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tata to Titular Tribulations!

Note: This post should be taken none too seriously.

I'll just go ahead and say it. It's hard to come up with a good title. It just is. But never fear! I have a surefire way of coming up with a title THAT REALLY WORKS.

I show, as evidence A and evidence B, the following two movies:

What's so great about these titles, might you ask? I'll tell you. They are a TITLE and an ELEVATOR PITCH all in one. This is incredibly desirable, people. You know how it is: You see a movie trailer once, then someone asks you to go see that movie, and you can't remember what the heck it's about, because the title didn't remind you AT ALL.

Not the case with movies named like these two.

"Hey, wanna go see Snakes on a Plane?"
"What's that one about?"
"Dude. It's about snakes on a plane."
"Oh, yeah! Let's go."

See? Those middle two lines don't even need to be there when you have an elevator pitch title.

"Hey, wanna go see Man on a Ledge?"

Makes life all kinds of easier. With a title like that, people won't need to remember if they've heard what your book is about. The title will tell them everything. Just in case you need some more convincing (as if!), I have taken the liberty of changing the titles and altering the book covers of some well known books to one that fits the SNAKES ON A PLANE / MAN ON A LEDGE naming convention.

I present to you, the elevator pitch titles:

Hehe. Now isn't that easier? Your title doesn't have to be a thing to stress over for months. Thirty seconds, max, and you've got it.

You're welcome. ;o)

I'm thinking of renaming THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH to BANDITS INVADE A TOWN. Effective, no?

Fine Print: No book covers were harmed in the making of this post. (And for the record, though 99% of this post was done in jest and meant to be humorous, I do actually think that SNAKES ON A PLANE and MAN ON A LEDGE were aptly named. However, unless it works with your book, I am not actually advocating renaming your book with this method! Except in the comments. I definitely think you should rename it in the comments, if for no other reason than to keep us entertained.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Something to Eat

A little writing joke to brighten your weekend:

A hungry lion was roaming through the jungle looking for something to eat. He came across two men. One was sitting under a tree reading a book; the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion quickly pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him. Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

Have an awesome one, everybody!

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Ridiculous

"Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous
if you earn no money."

~ Jules Renard

I love the sentiment here. Buuuuut, I'm pretty sure there were plenty of people who considered me ridiculous for pouring so much time into something before I got paid for it. But do you know what? It's okay to look ridiculous! Check this out:

"It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them."

~Agatha Christie

See? It just makes us more loveable.

*raises a cookie in toast* Here's to all the people in life who thought we were loveable even without thinking we were ridiculous. :)

Photo credit and recipe link from Lisa is Cooking

(Apparently spring is making me want summer.)

Have a ridiculously fabulous Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questionable Names

One day when my daughter was seven years old, she told me what she wanted to name her daughter someday. Are you ready for it?

Cinder Block

She said she heard her brother say that name, and thought it was the prettiest sounding name she had ever heard! I didn't have the heart to replace her mental image of the name with this:

Plus, she said I could call her "Cindy" for short. ;)

Now I can't say I want my future granddaughter's name to be Cinder Block, but I LOVE when characters have interesting names. I'm not talking super long, hard-to-pronounce, hard to sound out names. But clever names. Names you wouldn't really expect to be a name, yet totally fit the character.  Like Hiccup on How to Train Your Dragon. Or Buttercup from the Princess Bride. (Or other first names ending in cup. ;)) Or River from Firefly. Or Forrest from Forrest Gump. Or Napoleon Dynamite. Or Primrose from The Hunger Games. Or, even though it's just a nickname, Bones. Or Squints.

I've gotta say, I'm kind of in love with those names that aren't really a name, but ARE a real word. What about you? Take them or leave them?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pen Name

In an email thread a couple of months ago, as Lucky 13s, we were discussing pen names. I was blown away when I realized how many of us were using pen names! The reasons ranged from a hard to spell last name, to not wanting steamy writing to be reflect negatively on their parents (which totally made me giggle), to their name being the same as an evil dictator's, to having a name that is much too common to be easily Google-able.

I found the entire conversation fascinating! I seriously had not ever thought there were so many good reasons to use a pen name.

(For the record, Peggy Eddleman is not a pen name. As the owner of a last name that gets misspelled virtually every single time it's written, you'd think I would have considered that. Nope! I just figured Eddleman is a very uncommon last name; Peggy is an uncommon first name. People weren't likely to have to sift through the lawyer Peggy Eddleman, the comic Peggy Eddleman, and the renowned chef Peggy Eddleman to find the author Peggy Eddleman. Know what I mean?)

But anyway, it got me wondering about you guys.

Do you use (or are you planning to use) a pen name? Why or why not?

And if you are, how did you go about choosing what your pen name was? I've got to admit. I think I nipped in the bud the mere thought of whether or not a pen name was a good idea, simply because of how VERY HARD coming up with a name is! I mean, seriously. I have a hard time naming my MCs. I'm supposed to name myself?! I don't think this....

is going to cut it. Turner Sixty North just doesn't have quite the ring to it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Overkeep Receipts

Happy tax day yesterday! (Or at least to everyone in the states. Or was it tax day in other countries? I have no clue.) Anyway, speaking of doing your taxes, I have a little advice I'd like to share that falls into the "Don't do what I did" category.

Do you aspire to one day get paid for your book(s)? Then listen up.

Start saving your receipts NOW.

There are a ton of things that you may be able to write off as a business expense once you start to earn money for your books. AND HERE'S THE THING: You can go back to expenses for previous years. So let's say your eventual book deal is three years down the road. Then three years down the road, when you figure your taxes, you can claim expenses you incurred right now. (Here's the fine print. I am NOT a tax professional, and you should definitely consult your tax professional on all of this.)

Me-- I knew this! I just figured that I'd remember which conferences I went to, and I'd go through Amazon's history for the rest. Yeah. That isn't working out for me so well. I wish I had kept a manilla folder at my desk, and stuck every single writing-related receipt in it over the past four years. I have a LOT of work ahead of me this year because I didn't. DON'T TO WHAT I DID. Whatever point you are at right now, start over-keeping your receipts.

Here's some things to keep:
(Again, consult your tax professional.)

  • Conference Tuition (along with any extras, like pitch sessions, manuscript critiques, intensives, boot camps, etc.)
  • Mileage to conferences (or plane tickets, car rental, etc.)
  • Food purchased while at conferences
  • Books (not just books on craft; any that give you ideas / inspire your writing)
  • Computer / laptop
  • Internet (because of such an importance placed on social media, and also for research purposes)
  • Subscriptions (to writing magazines, Publisher's Marketplace, etc.)
  • Printing supplies (if you have to print out pages for revising, or for critiquing the work of others)
  • Mileage to meet as a writing group
  • Software used for writing
  • If you hire an editor / consultant
  • If you pay someone to design your blog
  • If you pay someone to design your book cover
  • Home office expenses (including a portion of utilities)

Seriously, stick all this stuff in an envelope and keep it. And stick all email receipts in their own folder in your email. You might save a few receipts you won't be able to use. But that's better than finding out there were things you could've used that you didn't save receipts for. The point is-- it is so much better to OVERKEEP your receipts than to underkeep them! Trust me.

If you think of any items I missed, please mention them in the comments, and I'll add them to this list. And if you're already earning money for your writing, tell us what has worked (or hasn't worked ;)) for you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Never, Never, Never Compare

Why is it so bad to compare ourselves to other writers? Compare our books to other books?

Because quite often, we compare our WEAKNESSES to other people's STRENGTHS. (Or, the equally consequential method of comparing our strengths to others' weaknesses.)

Not only does it make us feel like crap (or in the opposite case, make us feel like everyone else is crap), but it STOPS US FROM GETTING BETTER.

No book is perfect. Let's just go ahead and get that out there. Those books you rate a 5 on Goodreads-- the authors just did the same things we're trying to do. Make our weaknesses not be negatives, and make our strengths shine to their fullest potential.

If we read a book and think, Holy wow! This author is SO GOOD at [fill in the blank], there is NO WAY I will ever be this good! I might as well stop right now. Well, um, yeah. They're amazing at [fill in the blank]. That's their strength. Does that mean we should stop? NO! That strength of theirs might not be our strength. In fact, it might be our greatest weaknesses. But did we notice the things they weren't so strong at? Maybe not, because we were so blown away by the thing they WERE good at, but those weaknesses were still there. No author has strengths in everything. But do you know what? YOUR BOOK CAN BE THAT SAME WAY. You'll just have a different strength that shines. A different thing that will blow others away.

But that bad feeling we get when we look at a strength of theirs that we don't possess, only has the power to discourage. And when we're discouraged, we turn off all ability to improve. Just say to yourself, I am comparing my weakness to their strength. It helps you put things in perspective! Then you can think, A master is at work here. If I pay attention to how they did things, then my weakness will become less of a weakness.

And by the same token, if we read a book where the author's weakness is our greatest strength, that critical Oh, my gosh. This got published?! feeling carries the same power. Yes, it got published because of the author's strength. If we spend the whole time noticing all the deficiencies in that area where we rock, we can totally miss out on learning from that area where they rock. Comparing our greatest strength to their greatest weakness has just as great a power to keep us from learning as does the opposite.

And that's what it's really all about, right? Getting better. Improving every day. Making our greatest weaknesses stronger, making our greatest strengths shine all the more, and making everything in the middle the best it can be.

And that's never going to happen if we compare.

Much gratitude to inluvwithwords at Out on a Limb for passing along the Sunshine Award to me. Thank you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for My Goal Funny

This comic makes me laugh.

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at

Wouldn't it be so great if all the words we write in a million other places "counted?" Because honestly-- I want credit for them SOMEWHERE. ;o)

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Leave Out

"I try to leave out the parts that people skip."

~Elmore Leonard

Best revising advice ever! If people are going to skip it, take it out. Of course, it's also paired with the understood Put in the parts people want to read.

Ahh. If only it were so simple.

But I don't know-- maybe it is that simple. Maybe the challenge lies in knowing which parts people will want to skip. And once you know that, it's as simple as leaving out those parts.

What do you think? Simple or not so simple?

And do you know what makes you think better? Staring at cookies! (Right? I know it totally helps me.)

Photo credit and recipe link for Cookies & Cups (thanks, Jo!)

Happy Friday the thirteenth, everyone!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for King of the Posts

You know how on some blogs they have a list of popular posts on the sidebar? In Blogger, there's two ways to do that. The easy way and the hard way. I'm going to talk about both.

But why, why, WHY would you ever want to do it the hard way?! Because it's better. Here's why:

Blogger has a popular posts gadget. It makes it simple. The only problem is, it goes off of page views, not number of comments. Which is great and all, unless you use images in your posts. If so, a post that wasn't really one of your most popular might show up as being so, just because it contained an image that comes up as a search result a ton on Google. It might just be a popular image--- not so much a popular post. With me so far?

So, way #1 is easy, and might do you just fine. Way #2 is harder, but it will actually let YOU choose which ones appear in it. (Other thing to consider: Way #1 will update itself. Way #2 has to be updated by you.)

Way #1: The EASY way.

For the new Blogger layout: (just click on the image to make it larger)

For the old Blogger layout: (Click the image to make it larger)

Way #2 The HARD (albeit more flexible) way.

Step 1: Figure out what posts you want to spotlight.

Step 2: Save an image you want to use from each post somewhere on your hard drive.

Step 3: Create the html code. Now don't freak out if you can't write code from scratch! It's all going to be okay. Blogger is fabulous at writing code for you. We're going to let it. Go into Blogger just like you are creating a new post.

Step 4: Click on the button to insert an image, then select one of those images you just saved onto your hard drive from one of your posts.

Step 5: Click on the image. Select both Original Size (trust me for a minute) and Left. (I prefer the old Blogger layout, so my images are going to be from that. It's the same either way, I believe.)

Step 6: Obviously, we aren't going to want this image to be its original size when it's in our sidebar. But choosing Original Size makes this step easier. Click on the Edit HTML tab at the top. The code for your image should look something like this:

See that part I circled that says "s1600"? That's the part that matters (s1600 is in two places-- it's the one toward the end we want). That 1600 is telling the maximum height/width the image can be. We don't want it that big. We want it to be somewhere between 60 and 100. (I changed mine to 60. Take a look at my popular posts in my sidebar to see if that's a size you'd like. If not, change the number.)

Step 7: Click on the compose tab again. Now your image will show smaller. Like this:

With me?

Step 8: Type in the text you want to have show on your sidebar. (This will generally be the title of the post that goes with that image.)

Step 9: In a different tab, open that post, highlight the URL, then press Ctrl+C to copy it.

Step 10: Come back to your post, hightlight the text you've typed in, then click on the link link at the top of the post, and paste (Ctrl+P) the URL you just copied. Now it should look something like this:

Step 11: And you're done with the first one! Give your post a title (something like "My list of Popular Posts" or something else that will help you remember), then click SAVE. This will be a post that you will never publish, but that you will want to keep, in case you want to update it later.

Now, go through these same steps for as many posts as you want to have show.

  • Once you get them all, click on the Edit HTML tab.
  • Press Ctrl + A to highlight all the code in the post.
  • Press Ctrl + C to copy it all. 
  • For old blogger: click on the Design tab at the top. For new blogger, select Layout on the left.
  • Click Add a Gadget in your sidebar.
  • Scroll down and find the HTML/Java Script option, and click on the blue plus sign.
  • For the title, type Popular Posts (or whatever you want it to say).
  • Click in the content area, the press Ctrl + V to paste in all that code you created. Then click SAVE.
  • At this point, you can move it to wherever in your sidebar you want, then click SAVE.

And you're done! Whew! I know it seems like a lot to do, but once you do it for the first post, it gets a ton easier. Really. I'm not kidding.

Or you can use the easy way and see if it works for you. You can always put in the work to do the harder way later! (Oh, and I should mention that there is a medium way. That's adding a link list gadget. That'll work, too, and let you choose which posts you want, but it won't allow you to have an image with it.)

Questions? Let me know.