The Accidental Website Facelift

I was trolling around WordPress looking for a new theme for the Capital City Writers Association when I stumbled upon one I thought might work. I only meant to see what it might look like on my site, but then I found that when I activated it, I couldn’t go back! Oops. But what a happy accident.

Now when you visit erinbartels.com, it’s a heck of a lot more visually appealing. This new theme has allowed me to showcase some of my photography a bit more, it’s forced me to revamp some of my pages, and the font is easier to read. It even has better adaptability for tablet and mobile viewing. It did take me quite a while to figure out the bells and whistles, but I think I’ve got most of them covered now.

Hope you enjoy the new format! And please share it with a friend you think may enjoy this blog!

Gearing Up for a Week of Writing

I’ve taken the week off work to write. Starting Monday, I’m blocking Facebook, email, and the few websites I occasionally view to waste time (Twisted Sifter, I’m looking at you). I’m using Cold Turkey, a program that lets you block out web access for certain periods of time. I’ve scheduled a few posts in this space, but I doubt I’ll be actively blogging. For the next week, that will mean much of my days will be internet-free. 

The weather is cold, icy, gray, and fairly miserable so there is no temptation to even leave the house. We cleaned up most of our Christmas mess on Sunday afternoon, so I shouldn’t feel compelled to clean.

Nothing but time to write.

Oh, and celebrate my 13th wedding anniversary. And have breakfast with a friend. And maybe peek in on the Rose Bowl. And celebrate my 34th birthday.

It’s still a busy and celebratory time of year, after all.

I See Free Books in Your Future…

It would appear from the sidebar that this space is close to having 1000 followers, so I wanted to remind all of you lovely readers that I made a promise back in September that if A Beautiful Fiction reached the 1000 follower mark by the end of the year, I would make all of my short stories free for one day (January 2nd, my gift to you on my birthday). As of the writing of this post, we’re 37 followers away from that goal.

First, thank you for reading and for sharing articles with your friends through email, on Facebook, and on Twitter. I hope that you continue to find these posts informative and encouraging.

Second, I do have to apologize and tell you that one story (“This Elegant Ruin”) will not be available as part of this giveaway because it is officially a runner up in the Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest and I’m awaiting a contract that will outline which rights I maintain to it. Suffice to say, it will be free online anyway as it will be on the Saturday Evening Post‘s website in January or February. It will also appear in their 2014 fiction anthology. And I believe I will still be able to include it in my short story collection next year (both ebook and printed book).

So, once more…

How can you help make this great giveaway happen?

1.) One easy way is to click the Follow button on the righthand side of the screen if you are not already an official follower of this blog. You’ll get new posts emailed to you automatically–and nothing else. No spam. No ads. Just blog posts. That’s it. When I blog you’ll know about it and you’ll be among the first to know about future giveaways and promos!

2.) When you read a blog post that speaks to you, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter or email it to someone you think would enjoy and benefit from what I write about here.

Here’s the other big announcement: Once the January 2, 2014 date passes, the stories will not only no longer be free, they will no longer be available on Kindle. I’ll be taking them all out of circulation as I work on the collection. So get them while they’re hot.

Thanks again for reading.

Great Lakes Infographic Love

Who doesn’t love a good infographic? Wonder which of the Great Lakes is the longest or deepest or highest? Or how far you would travel by ship from the westernmost point of Lake Superior down the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic? Wonder no more:

Click on the graphic to see it bigger. And if you’re looking for Lake Michigan, it’s combined with Lake Huron as they really function as one body of water despite their separation by the Lower Peninsula.

The Fate of Wildflower Wednesday Is in Your Hands

Tomorrow is the last Wildflower Wednesday post I have scheduled. I had originally intended to just finish out the summer with them, but got carried away. If there is enough interest, I’ll continue this weekly feature. So let me know in the comments if you want me to keep posting pictures and facts about Michigan wildflowers once a week. If there isn’t much interest, we’ll just let it wither and die like this year’s wildflowers succumbing to the frost.

A Short Hiatus as We Tend to Other Matters

Besides my regularly scheduled Wildflower Wednesday blog post, I may be conspicuously absent from the blog this week. Over the weekend our church lost three lovely older ladies to death after a very short time for all of them in hospice. In case you had never gathered from previous posts, my husband is a pastor, and so our household will be very busy ministering to grieving family and friends (and grieving ourselves) in addition to all the rest that our busy lives entail.

I hope if you are a person of faith that you will say a prayer for us, especially my husband, Zachary. The longer we serve at our church the more closely we know those whom we lose to the grave and the more deeply we feel the void they leave behind in our church and in our hearts. Our one comfort is that Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our own so that not only will we live with Him but we will be able to see, embrace, and love all of those believers who have gone on before us. And so we do not grieve as those who have no hope, but as those who are secure in the Savior’s hands.

I’ll see you next week.

Giddiness, Goals, and Giveaways

Hi friends. I don’t typically focus on stats and numbers in this space (yawn) but I noticed this week that A Beautiful Fiction reached 900 followers. This made me understandably perky. And then I thought, What if I could reach 1000 by the end of the year? Wouldn’t that be cool? And I answered myself, Yes, Erin, that would indeed be cool.

So beyond my goals to write and publish a short story each month (which is going just swimmingly, I can assure you) and to secure literary representation for my first novel (which may or may not happen in the coming month, but it’s a possibility), I’ve added a third goal for the year: to reach 1000 followers on the blog. Hey, it could happen. And if it does, I’m prepared to go a little nuts.

So, if by 11:59 PM on December 31, 2013 I’ve gotten to 1000 followers, all twelve short stories I will have written this year will be available as a free download on January 2, 2014 (my 34th birthday) as a thank you to all of you.

How can you help make this great giveaway happen?

1.) One easy way is to click the Follow button on the righthand side of the screen if you are not already an official follower of this blog. You’ll get new posts emailed to you automatically–and nothing else. No spam. No ads. Just blog posts. That’s it. When I blog you’ll know about it and you’ll be among the first to know about future giveaways and promos!

2.) When you read a blog post that speaks to you, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter or email it to someone you think would enjoy and benefit from what I write about here.

I may occasionally remind everyone of this opportunity (for newcomers who don’t go back to read this post) but I promise not to be obnoxious about it.

If the blog reaches 1000 followers earlier than the last night of the year, the giveaway will happen earlier as well. So if you’ve been enjoying this space as much as I have, please share it with your friends–and then get 12 short stories totally free on your Kindle.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

How to Find the Best Beaches in Michigan’s U.P.

Mosquito Beach
One of my favorite places in the world: Mosquito Beach.

I don’t typically highlight websites on this blog, but in preparing for my upcoming hiking trip to Grand Sable Dunes and other parts of the east side of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (and also in thinking about August’s short story) I happened upon this excellent website: Some Yooper Beach.

For the uninitiated, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is locally referred to as the U.P. (pronounced Yoo Pee, not “up”) and those who live there are called Yoopers. This particular Yooper has done the world a great service by visiting TONS of U.P. beaches and then describing them and sharing photos of them on his website. If you have ever thought of visiting Lake Superior, spend some time on this site first to see which part of the 2,726 miles of shoreline (nearly 1,000 of which are in Michigan) you would most like to visit.

Mosquito Beach
We spent more time at Mosquito Beach than any other place on the trail.

Another handy website is the Lake Superior ShoreViewer. What it lacks in interesting commentary, it makes up for in comprehensive photos of what appears to be the entire Michigan shoreline. Though it would be super nice if you could zoom in on the photos (which you can’t).

I’ve added both of these sites to my page of Michigan Links. If you didn’t know about that part of this site, why don’t you go check it out now? I’m sure you have tons of time to waste, right?

Beach at Coves
The beach near Coves campsite.

Every Ebook–FREE TODAY (Yeah, you read that right.)

One year ago I started this blog with the intention of focusing most of my posts on writing and Michigan. If you want to know why I chose those two subjects, just click on “Home” up above the blog header. A year later, I’m happy that my passion for both writing and Michigan has not waned. In fact, I get the distinct feeling that I’m truly just getting started.

For those of you who have been along for the ride from the beginning, I thank you for reading. For those who have just found A Beautiful Fiction, I thank you for joining us on this journey toward better writing, more appreciation for the natural world, and more intentional noticing.

We’re now nearly six months into my one-short-story-per-month experiment (I’m thinking June’s story will just make it on time). I’m in talks with a couple agents about my first novel, I’ve begun another that I’ve put on pause, and I’ve begun a third for which I’m in gung-ho mode. I’ve also sketched out another project—a three book series.

I have many lovely travel plans, the first being Interlochen next week, where my husband is taking me to see Brandi Carlile in concert—part of his Mother’s Day present to me. I. Can’t. Wait. Then camp, Mackinac Island, and hiking.

So I imagine this summer you will find this space filled with photos of some lovely places and people. And I’ll keep those short stories and posts about the craft of writing coming as well.

If you haven’t already, consider following me on Twitter (@ErinLBartels) to get links to lots of interesting articles about Michigan, writing, publishing, and more.

First Five

And as a special thank you to all of my readers, I’m making all five of my short stories FREE TODAY ONLY for Kindle and Kindle apps. So snap them all up today and tell your reading friends to do the same. You can find them all on my Amazon author page or on the My Books page on this website.

Happy summer, and thanks for making me part of your longest day of the year.