In Sputnik’s Orbit

A few thoughts to tide you over…


Blog Hop: #MyWritingProcess

I don’t often do these blog hops because they quickly take on the character of a chain letter, however, Gibson Michaels was kind enough to tag me, so I’ll dip my toes in the pool. If you’ve been following #MyWritingProcess, you know that this one is four little questions about the process of writing, and they are pretty good questions:

#MyWritingProcess: What are you working on now?20140409 - ASI - WOTF - WRITERS WORKING ON 24 HOUR STORY _1MW3960
Stuart: EVERYTHING. Winning Writers of the Future sort of threw me for a loop, because now I have a book to promote and marketing and social things to attend to that I didn’t expect until a bit later.

Writing is a little like mountain climbing. You start with a little bouldering, find out what skills and tools you need to master, and then move on to more challenging terrain once you’re fit and ready. I’ve invested a lot in my craft–gone back to school even. With my skills list in mind, I hadn’t planned to return to serious work on novels for another year, but I’m adapting. Turns out, that’s on the list, too.

In the last six months, I’ve started a new novel based on my winning WotF story, built a new website, met and become active in new writing and social groups, and kept busy with signings and appearances. I’m also working on several shorts, am in a new anthology (Tides of Possibility) and am co-editing it’s sister fantasy anthology. Despite all this, I’m still reading and learning all I can.

#MyWritingProcess: How does your work differ from others in the genre?
Stuart: I’ve been praised for the creativity and sophistication of my stories. I’d like to think that’s valid, if only for the effort I put into research and story detail. I always say that even a short story has to take place in a logically coherent world–just don’t weigh down the pages with that world’s crust and beach sand.

I grew up on an airbase on the prairie in South Dakota. At night, you could see the spine of the Milky Way. You could watch satellites pass overhead and wink out as they crossed the terminator. In the morning we’d hike past ghost towns and gold rush relics to find dinosaur bones in the mountains. It was a place of remarkable contrasts, where ancient and modern, scientific and mythic all crashed together. I grew up thinking about the connections between those worlds, and that affects how I approach story craft.

I was heavily influenced by the golden age of scifi, by Heinlein and Clark and Asimov. I try to start from the character of that breathless time in mid-century, when the future seemed so clear, but with the textures of today’s culture folded in. It seems to me that man is forever poised between greatness and doom. It’s my job to dance along the precipice, muse at the echoes, and try to have some fun along the way.


#MyWritingProcess: Why do you write what you do?
Stuart: The little people in my head have to get out somehow. I mean, have you seen the points on their sticks?

Seriously, though, the first story I ever sold arose from a friend’s idle comment–a careless sentence so evocative and beautiful, all the literary neurons in my brain lit up. I kept thinking about it for months until first a character, then a conflict, then a concept evolved around it.

It’s been said that all writers are arrogant, that writing is an inherently arrogant act. I think I’d agree. I mean, if you aren’t writing because you think you have something to say that the world needs to hear, I don’t know why anyone would do it. It’s hard and it’s lonely, and not very profitable for most people. That’s not the question, of course, but it’s related. I write the stories I do because I think they need to be written. I make them the best stories I can, filled with humor and adventure and struggles to tug at the heart strings and soul. But when it comes down to it, I write the stories that emerge around me, like dinosaur bones washing out of a cliff face. You find something like that, and you want to dig it out and know it, to understand and share it–because you can, because you’re the one who stumbled on it.

So yeah, I’m a treasure hunter, and when I find something cool, I want to shine it up and share it before it’s lost forever. And then there are the we little STICKS! 😉


#MyWritingProcess: How does your writing process work?
Stuart: There’s this box, see, and in the box are gears which I lubricate with fingers greasy from pop-corn eating , and inside the box is Lon Chaney’s brain and… no wait. Different process. Forget I said that.

Some people try to plan the work, some people try to wing it. I like to plan the work and then wing it. Each story begins with an idea, maybe just an image, maybe a scene or premise. I start writing what I have, and as I do, the characters and world take shape in remarkable detail–far more than I need to write down on the page. I focus on just the details needed to help  really envision that world or that character. Then, when I’ve got a good start, I go back and assemble whatever I have and make sense of it. I organize around an idea, and that suggests plot, and that suggests concept.

There’s a lot of cutting and taping and bleeding and chocolate. There is no chocolate. The concept and plot suggest more scenes and ideas and characters, and I go write those I’m most excited about, then the cycle repeats. Then I pull down the shelves and graph the story arcs and pacing across the walls. I don’t really do that. That would be crazy. Why are you looking at me that way? Often, the beginning and ending arise fairly early. Just as often, they change dramatically. It’s a very iterative process. I wish I could do it all much faster. I need to go paint my walls. Do you know how to get permanent marker off the rafters?


So there you go. Writing makes you crazy. Or is a perquisite. The rule book is not clear on this.

If you are following the #MyWritingProcess hop, drop by to see fellow scifi author, Kyle Russell at, or go check out last week’s victim,

Doing It With Authority

A writers group to which I belong recently got into a discussion of common “mistakes” that lead readers to bail from a work. I pointed out that it may be a mistake for those in the businessaad094e93c9593a4612cac7155fc568a even to attempt self-guidance in this reguard, as the things that drive writers and editors batty may not be the same things at all that typical readers care about.

For example, did you notice that I put even in the grammatically preferable position in the previous sentence? I rest my case.

Lists like this are invaluable, but it’s probably counterproductive to think of anything in writing very prescriptively. Novices (at anything) are apt to take such lists too much to heart, and the result can be crippling.

Dave Wolverton talks about “writing with authority,” writing in which the author’s intelligence, command of the language, and intent are immediately clear. I think I know what he means, and if you read very much, you probably do to–or you will now that you’re looking for it. It’s that intangible something so often missing from otherwise fine stories up for critique, invariably present in the Hugo and Nebula winners, and which is often enough to justify my patience with whatever pet peeves a particular work may violate.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “dark and stormy night” is universally derided in the business today, yet it pleased enough readers that we’ve all heard it. Dachiell Hammet founded an entire genre on static character description and copious repetition. Games of Thrones has a prologue.

Whether you are a writer or not, in the end, you must choose what kind of artist you are and what kind of work you are aiming for. The best advice I can give is, learn from the very best.

ApolloCon X

I just got back from ApolloCon where I made some friends, learned a few things, and surprised local Wrbarbarianiter’s of the Future finalist DL Young with some swag.

This nice barbarian let me take his picture, but the mean evil Star Fleet officers beamed up from the other end of the conference center before I could catch up to them.

One of the highlights was a talk by David Gerrold, one of the original Star Trek writers who gave us “The Trouble With Tribbles” and more recently, The Martian Child.

Gerrold says he loved and respected Gene Roddenberry, a man “loved by everyone who never worked for him.” He said Gene had a knack for assembling just the right team of just the right talent–and then not listening to any of them. He “could always take a crappy story and make it into a good script, but could also take a great story and turn it into a good script.”

He said the fans probably shouldn’t have blamed the network for the show’s cancellation. “They knew Star Trek was bringing in a demographic they wanted to reach, they were just sick of dealing with Gene.” It didn’t help that by the third season, Gene was working on other projects and brought in Fred Freiberger to produce the show. Gerrold said the first words Freiberger ever said to him were “I screened Trouble with Tribbles this morning. I didn’t like it. Star Trek is not a comedy.” It’s worth noting that others have stated that Freiberger did everything possible to boost the show but that, as Nichelle Nichols puts it, “Star Trek was in a disintegrating orbit before Fred came aboard.” Still, he was wrong about the tribbles. The through-line of humor, respect, and idealism, is what made the show (TWT missed winning the Hugo that year by three votes, it lost to Harlan Ellison’s script for the Star Trek episode, “City on the Edge of Forever”).

For Star Trek, Gerrold said, he bigger problem was Gene’s lawyer, “an evil man who enjoyed hurting people,” and he said the man (Leonard Malzish) had said as much in his presence. I won’t repeat some of what Gerrold asserted about Malzish, but he said it’s funny that even when Gene and Majel were having financial troubles “the lawyer never was”. It’s a fact that, near the end of Gene’s life, Malzish was banned from the Paramount studio where Star Trek TNG was being filmed.

By that time, Gene’s health was in decline and Gerrold had quit the show. Malzish, he said, “was afraid others were trying to take control away from Gene, so what he was doing was undermining everybody that might be a threat. But I wasn’t trying to take anything away from Gene,” Gerrold told us, “I was trying to win him that Emmy he so deserved (and never got).”

It’s all a bit sad. Ironic too, because Gene had supposedly brought in William Shatner to captain the Enterprise because Jeff Hunter (who played Pike in the original, un-aired pilot) had an overbearing wife who annoyed people on the set. The meek may inherit the earth, but it apparently takes ego to get things done. On the bright side, it was fan uproar over Star Trek’s cancellation that helped give rise to the modern era of cons and fandom and the ready market for the franchise and it’s extended legacy, so you just never know how things will turn out.

Gerrold didn’t just talk about Star Trek. He said that as writers, our jobs are to shake things up. “I realize that some of you here may be offended by some of my remarks,” he said, “and if that’s the case, let me say, good!” He also said the caliber of scifi being written today is astounding, that “scifi is becoming not just a genre but literature.” For that alone, I went up and shook his hand. As a new writer and current Writers of the Future winner, I told him that if that’s true, its because the bar has been set very high.

I Love People Who Love Reading

Okay, this isn’t a real blog post. I just copied this from Levar Burton, because it’s just THAT AWESOME. Seth McFarlane is kicking in a cool mill in matching money to help Reading Rainbow. I manned up with my (mumbled into sleeve) dollars. Have you done your part yet? You have? Yeah? Well I donated BLOOD yesterday, so…yeah.

Project Update #22: MORE BIG NEWS! Kickstarter’s Most Successful Projects (Pebble, OUYA, Pono & Veronica Mars) Are Here to Help!


LeVar again. It’s Friday, June 27, and we’ve now got just four days left in this campaign. But the response to Seth’s $1,000,000 matching offer has been incredible.

Hundreds of you have written and commented to tell us that you’re increasing — even doubling — your pledges to take advantage of the matching. That means everything to us, and I hope you’ll be proud of what we accomplish together.

And guess what: this afternoon, I’ve got even more amazing news.

With the renewed momentum, we are now one of the TOP 5 Kickstarter Projects of All Time:

That alone would have been incredible news, but the real news is even better. 

This afternoon, the teams behind every other Kickstarter in the Top 5 – Pebble, OUYA, Pono and Veronica Mars – are all stepping up to help us go even farther. Every single one of them.



I got a letter yesterday from Tim Powers, the man who wrote “On Stranger Tides,” who’s sold options to Disney, who in his youth, used to chauffeur Phillip K Dick around Southern California.Issue03_powers_241x303

I had posted him a note, so he posted me back, just a little line of encouragement.

Deep down inside, I must be a Lutheran. You know, the deep-in-the-pores, Lake Wobegon sort who knows the world is nothing but other shoes just waiting to fall. I can’t tell you why I write – you probably wouldn’t want to know – but it isn’t for money or fame. I’m not that naïve. And so for the first part of my journey, I could tell myself it was just a hobby, like sight-reading chords in Chopin’s preludes or puttering around with the house’s plumbing. Then I win Writers of the Future. I meet all these souls who have dreams a lot like mine, some of whom are just starting out, some of whom have trudged the trenches and written the guidebooks.

And that’s what it’s all about, really. When Tim Powers tells you you can do it, that he’s pulling for you, that he looks forward to being able to brag on having taught you, what can you say?

Yes sir, Mr. Powers…Tim…I’m on it.


Sirens Through the Window

My daddy was a professional killer. Oh, he never actually did the deed, at least not on purpose. As a navigator-bombardier on a B-52, he may have killed a few soldiers hidden in the jungles of Vietnam and Laos, but that’s about as impersonal as killing gets. War may be hell, but for the most part, hellfire was a distant backdrop to the daily business of husbanding a complex aircraft through the gauntlet of checklists and maneuvers that made up each day-long mission. Often, the closest he got to combat was watching a string of overlapping shock waves, eerie and beautiful, as they rippled across the misty landscape far below.

He wore zippered nylon in jungle green, but his was basically a desk job, even if it was at 30,000 feet. He snacked on crackers and cheese provided by the women’s auxiliary, drank good coffee from a thermos, and cooked foil-wrapped TV dinners in an electric oven bolted next to the cockpit steps. When his work was done, he’d tinker with his navigational slide rules, start on the mission reports, or nap in the companionway–snug in his long johns till the fuel transfer started and the nose pitched down and the blood ran to his head.

Occasionally, a cluster bomb would get hung up on its shackle. Then he’d climb out onto the bomb bay doors and tie it off with bailing wire, hoping to hell the guys up in the cockpit didn’t hit the wrong switch while he worked. Sometimes, he heard approaching missiles through the radar set and could only pray the electronic warfare guy was on top of his game. Eventually, the Vietcong got their act together and missions had to drop beneath the radar. Then they flew through bone-shaking thermals above the treetops—within reach of hostile ground fire. Colleagues, then friends, started to die.

This was all a sideline, though–what the Strategic Air Command called “temporary duty.” Daddy’s real job was to deliver Mark-28 and Mark-36 thermonuclear bombs to targets within the Soviet Union, there to rip from the cold war machinery a few hundred thousand of its cogs — people with jobs and pets and children whose schools and dreams were little different from mine.

This was what he trained and drilled for. When he wasn’t overseas bombing the jungle, he served regular week-long tours in a half-buried bunker studying war plans and playing cards and waiting for the klaxons that would send his squadron running out onto the runway and charging off to ignite Armageddon.

He brought home a bulky appliance of chrome and gray, a forerunner of the text pagers that came a decade later. We were never to touch it, but if it ever squawked, he said, he would have to leave without explanation, and we were to pack at once and head for Grandmom’s farm.

This was our world. Daddy made wooden toys in the basement, and when he drove onto base, rifle bearing soldiers snapped out crisp salutes. When my sister and I played camp between the living room chairs, it was under a big rubber training map showing bombing corridors through the San Bernandino Valley. Sesame Street was sometimes preempted by congressional hearings or the latest news from Vietnam or Palestine. The world was gray suits and horned rim glassed, but we were Air Force blue. Everyone in our family hailed from a different hometown, but when the national anthem played, we all turned in unison — our hands raised together over stiff, proud chests.

The years moved on. The marriage didn’t survive the Carter administration. We’d all seen it coming — as much a part of Air Force life as water rationing and jet noise. While I was in high school in Shreveport, Daddy transferred to Great Falls and retired. Soon, tobacco did what the Vietcong could not. I went to college and made my way into a world newly freed from the threat of nuclear attack. The last time I saw my cold warrior daddy, he was in a metal box — air-force blue — and boys younger than I was were firing a last salute.

Then one day, I was ordered to Little Rock to assist with a corporate re-engineering effort. I stopped in one of the lush, green valleys between the mountains north of the river and bought new shoes and a sport coat, a uniform appropriate for a few weeks in close quarters with the company president and his directors. I joined them in a company-owned house in a middle-class neighborhood north of downtown. The living room was furnished with metal folding chairs. Yellow Post-It notes plastered the walls. The kitchen was stacked with pizza boxes and catering trays and equipped for popcorn and coffee.

A director led me to a back room to discuss a computer program he needed my help with. Outside was a neatly-mowed yard, sunny and calm and filled with birdsong. We’d just set to work when the birds fell silent and I heard through the window a familiar sound from decades past, and the hairs stood up on my neck.

On base, when I was little, there had been a community garden. One evening close to sunset, while we were planting peas, the sirens went off. All the fathers looked up at a yellow metal tower I had never noticed before, and at its flashing crimson light. Hushed, urgent voices passed along the rows. Hoes and shovels banged together and into the trunks of cars. Footsteps quickened. Children were swept up into hurried arms.

This all came flooding back as I sat in that window, listening to the familiar wail. My director explained about the weekly tornado drills. I explained about the garden. We laughed and continued our analysis, one small job in the great American drive for efficiency. I paused, though, while sweat still dampened my forehead, to remember the very different job that had been my daddy’s.

A decent, rather ordinary man, he had been given the lunatic task of saving the world by wielding the power to destroy it. He never talked about that power — never told me of the computer fault that once sent his squadron to within minutes of its failsafe point — the point beyond which keys would have been turned and envelopes opened and the flight could no longer have been recalled. Had it come to that, I believe he would have done his job. He would have flung his bolts into the heart of civilization, just as he was trained to do. He knew, far better than most people at that time, what that would have meant.

The sirens through the window recalled that time in the garden and the somber, purposeful reaction of airmen whose paternal instincts had been co-opted to drive them from their families and running to carry hellfire off into the night. It might have been a drill, it might have been the end of the world, but no one hugged or exclaimed or swore. The wives knew their duties as well as the men, and fell to established procedure.

In that moment, the war that could not be won had come home, in the battle for forced calm and delayed tears and in a hundred conflicting duties tearing through a generation. I knew nothing of war or duty. I could only look up at the purple sky and see my big, tall daddy and what no little boy should ever see written in his father’s eyes: the stoic resolve of a front line soldier, beyond the reach of hope or fear.

The Hidden Cost of Just Being

When I moved to Houston, I was fortunate to have a number of colleagues whom I could call on for advice. They all told me the same thing, that the cost of living here is about the same as the town I was leaving, but that you have to be careful because there are a lot more things to spend money on.

True. So true. In spades.

So now I’m a writer, and my time is much the same. I have the same amount as I had before I started but now I have this whole other life to shoehorn in. It’s a challenge. Just ask any writer.

And now I’m getting to some small level of success. I have book signings coming up. I have some likely opportunities for readings and/or talks. Eventually, I’ll need to be able to sell a few books on my own, mostly for signings when I don’t have a cooperative merchant to work with.

So now I take credit cards. Pretty simple. You sign up with a vendor like PayPal or, wait to be verified, and get a little scanner to plug into your phone. To expedite things and satisfy a fe points of curiosity, I opted to buy a reader locally and get the purchase price refunded through an on-line rebate. Why not? It all works as advertised and is all very tidy. I can now take credit card payments for a few percent of sales, with no other commitments or fees. No horror story. No cautionary tale. Sorry.

Except I had to drive to the store, and while I was out, I needed a new pair of shoes (I write at a walking desk) and then I had to register and read up on the scanner. And now, uneventfully enough, that’s three hours I don’t have to write.

And so it goes.

And I don’t count the time walking around the lake with my wife because, well, she’s awesome.

Disney Rethinks Sleeping Beauty — Again

imagesYesterday, I took the family to see Maleficent, and the following contains SPOILERS – sort of.

In this reimagining of Disney’s classic “Sleeping Beauty,” a pure-hearted fairy protector turns vindictive after she’s betrayed by a human who uses their acquaintance to gain the throne. To get her revenge, she shackles his child and kingdom with the unbreakable curse familiar from the classic tale, but later grows to regret this petty act and to love the child she has cursed and to seek to undo what she herself has made undoable.

Which is all very well. It’s nice to see the female characters recast as something akin to actual people. It’s nice to see both the king and Maleficent retold not as one-dimensional archetypes but as people with imperfections, vices, and redeeming virtues. However, for me, there is far more wrong with this story than these virtues can heal.

First, the ending is transparently clear from early on–from the first scene after the child goes into exile with her “aunts”. Once this ending approaches, it become clear that a pointless battle must occur to fill up the remaining time in the film. The battle occurs, but there is only moderate peril and a somewhat unlikely resolution. To be fair, I have found that since I started writing, I’m surprised by very little in any film, so it might just be me.

Second, if Maleficent has depth, the entire rest of the world is reduced to puppetry. The king’s youthful actions are capricious. As an adult, we feel for him only at the moment of the curse, and next see him as a virtual lunatic who we can neither sympathize with nor despise. The prince is now the throw-away archetype that the princess was in the original telling–and I don’t see how that’s any better than the original sexism. The other characters act and appear at the whim of one king or another or at the flick of Malifecent’s hand. The kings wife just conveniently goes away, as apparently has Maleficent’s parents and support system, to the detriment of all.

Third, the story is conveniently inconsistent. There is a point in the final battle when, consistent with the story so far, Maleficent could easily arrange her servant’s escape but doesn’t–because the story requires that someone else intervene. Multiple scenes set up the premise that when fairies contact iron, they are instantly and painfully burned, yet when a heavy iron net is dropped on Maleficent, she seems only mildly inconvenienced and then instantly recovers. At the start of the film, Maleficent is respected as the future protector of the fairyland “moors”, but after her betrayal, all the other fairies vanish even though she clearly still has more than enough power to protect them. This gives the entire world the feeling of a convenient plot element.

At the end, Maleficent restores the fairy moors and bestows a fairy crown on the girl, declaring the two kingdoms to be finally united. Which is what you WOULD say, I guess, having vanquished the army of the neighbouring kingdom and thrown it’s ruler from a tall tower. Okay, he was trying to kill her for no clear reason, I get it.

Finally, the pacing—-oh the pacing. On the one hand, I didn’t feel than key relationships were developed sufficiently. On the other hand, there are whole swaths of film that needed to be tighter–like when Maleficent’s crow, acting in the role of aerial recon drone, makes several forays into the kingdom tell us things that were obviously going to happen. Then in a pivotal scene of redemption, I found myself thinking less about the poignancy of the moment than about how the filmmakers had wasted a gaping opportunity to draw out the tension and amplify the power of the moment.

My youngest daughter gives the film 9 out of 10 sprinkles. I give it about five. It isn’t that it was bad, I just thought it could have been far more emotionally powerful and that Disney fumbled away the drama at nearly every step. But then, I am not the target demographic, and I’m a writer, so my brain is kind of warped. Oh yeah, and Angelina Jolie did pretty well with the role, such as it was. There was one scene of genuine poignancy in which ladies throughout the theory could be heard squeeing into tears. If only there could have been a few more such moments.

My New Website!

Howdy! I have a spiffy new author website, and you can see it at

Screenshot - 05202014 - 11:49:42 PM

Yeah, I know, that’s the same place the old site was. I just pointed my domain to the new goods–but that’s not what this blog is about.

I’ve worked in IT long enough that the luster is long since off the wires and lights, the gadgets and whirly-gigs; I just want to get my work done. And I should no more need to understand C# or HTML to do it than a carpenter should have to understand the two-phase, double-insulated motor in his table saw. I’ve developed many a website and many another application in more technologies and tools than I’m going to be bothered to enumerate here before your quickly glazing eyes–and folks, let me tell you, I’m over it.

The modern trend toward cloud-based, wizard-based tools is good. Custom code? Not so much.  Putting aside special-focus sites like Facebook and Youtube, creating websites to suit our needs is now as accessible as typing a letter (okay, formatting an elaborate presentation). Blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger allow you to create pages that you can use to create simple static display sites, and for most of us, give us everything we need in a personal website for free. If you need or want a little more, tools like Weebly, Joomla, Wix, and Squarespace make web design almost as simple as grooming the dog, with less fur.

Skip ahead a bit brother….

I chose Weebly. For me, it strikes the right balance between wizardly ease and customizeability, and by giving me a great deal of control over a relatively small set of slick and attractive templates, it lets me get on with it in a manageable, economical platform. I had my new site built in an hour, and spent an afternoon working on tweaks. Each of those was simple and satisfactory, and I’m delihted with the final product. So if you are considering Weebly, here are a few observations and tricks:

The Domain Game
With Weebly, you must pay if you want to use your own domain. Otherwise, your site will be accessed at This is not true of Blogger with supports domain forwarding for free, but it is true of many sites including most aimed at web site construction. Decide now whether it’s a deal killer. There’s really no way around it.

With Weebly (and any tool remotely like it) you are giving up some control. For example, I’ve yet to figure a way to set alternate text strings for some photos uploaded to customize the templates and that’s something that can adversely affect  search engine rankings if that’s something you worry about.

Making changes
Weebly gives you access to its HTML page templates, its uploaded file resources, and its relatively simply, self-documenting, and well-oranized CCS stylesheet data. Playing with these is far less daunting the updating a WordPress or Blogger template, and might even be a good place to learn basic HTML and CSS.

Before making any of these changes, be sure you understand how Weebly’s preview and publish features work. You’ll want to take care not to push broken changes to your site. If in doubt, keep back up copies.

How to turn off the header: Many of the Weebly templates have a big bold title line at the top of the screen. For my purposes, I found this redundant and a waste of vertical screen real estate, so here’s how I turned it off:

  1. Go to the “Design” page, and click “Edit HTML / CSS”
  2. Under “Page layouts”, select any layout. It doesn’t matter which, because you’re going to make the same change to them all.
  3. Search for “logo-wrap” and wrap this whole block in xml comments ( <!– –>) making sure to delete any other comments that might get in the way–so it looks something like this:<!–div id=”logo-wrap”>
    <div class=”container”>
    <table id=”header”>
    <td id=”logo”>{logo}</td>
    <td id=”header-right”>
    <td class=”search”>{search}</td>
    </div–><!– end logo-wrap →
  4. That’s it. Make sure it works as expected, then repeat for all page layouts. If you DO know a little html, you could also just remove the “{logo}” line and insert your own markup here.

How to turn off or replace the footer: If you pay for your Weebly site, you can add a simple footer. If you don’t, you are stuck with a big, garish ad for Weebly itself, but it’s easy to replace this with something more tasteful:

  1. Go to the “Design” page, and click “Edit HTML / CSS”
  2. Under “Page layouts”, select any layout. It doesn’t matter which, because once you have it the way you want it, you are going to make the same change to them all.
  3. Search for “Footer”. By default, the footer looks something like this:<div id=”footer-wrap”>
    <div class=”container”><div>{footer}</div><!– end container –>
    </div><!– end footer-wrap –>
  4. Weebly substitutes it’s generated footer for the keyword in curly brackets. To suppress and replace this, replace the footer markup with something like this:
    <div id=”footer-wrap”>
    <div class=”container”>Powered by <a href=””>Weebly</a> | © 2014 C Stuart Hardwick |
    <a href=””>Contact</a></div>
    <div style=”visibility:hidden”>{footer}</div><!– end container –>
    </div><!– end footer-wrap –>
  5. Setting the style to “hidden” suppresses Weebly’s default footer. I inserted in its stead, a simple text footer, a link to my contact page, and a sensible acknowledgment with a link to Weebly’s home page. Note that my site no longer has the Weebly link because I’m a paying customer. That’s how Weebly pays it’s bills. Suppressing the footer on a free site without replacing it is, in my opinion, stealing.
  6. That’s it. Make sure it works as expected, then repeat for all page layouts.

How to make the favicon work properly: The favicon is the little 16 x 16 pixel graphic on the each website tab in your browser. If you pay for your Weebly site, you can easily upload a favicon on the “Settings” page, “General” tab, however it may not work right. You can exploit a little trick to set the favicon on a free Weebly site, and it turns out it’s the better option even on a paid-for site.Screenshot1

The favicon should normally have a transparent background, and must be in .png or .ico format. I already have one that I have used on earlier incarnations of my site, but no matter which format I used, Weebly displayed it on a white background. My solution, use this hack:

  1. Go to the “Design” page, and click “Edit TML / CSS”
  2. Under “Files” click “Add to File(s)”
  3. Upload your icon file. I used “favicon.ico”
  4. Now, you’ll need to know the URL to this icon file. Normally, you would just click on it in the file list, then right click where the image is displayed to the right and copy the image URL to the clipboard. It seems this doesn’t work for .ico files (I didn’t try the .png version) but there is a simple workaround: Simply click on any other image file, right-click and copy it’s URL to he clipboard, paste it somewere, and change the filename (to favicon.ico in my case).\
  5. Now, click Settings, SEO, and enter the following code in the header field:
    <link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”files/theme/favicon.ico”/>
  6. Anything you paste into this field becomes part of the page header for every page on your site. Click the “Save” button, publish the site, and it will now display in browsers with the favicon–with its transparent background.

How to repurpose the social icons: Weebly offers an elegant, well-designed icon strip for linking to your favorite social media sites, and setting it up is simple–as long as you use the right sites. But what if, say, you never plan to link to Vimeo, but you’d like to use Reddit instead? This is really just a matter of modifying the icon graphic used by the template, and it’s not as hard as you might think.Screenshot2

  1. First you’ll have to figure out which image file is used. You can do this by looking through your page templates or using “view source” among other things. For my site, it’s “social-blue.png”.
  2. Go to the “Design” page, and click “Edit TML / CSS”social-blue
  3. Under “Files,” right-click to download the icon .png file.
  4. Using any graphic editor that supports transparent backgrounds and saving in .png format. I use the free online tool Pixlr.
  5. Carefully blot out the images from the colume of icons you plan to modify and replace it with your own. This can be the hard part depending on your artistic skill, but you can usually find a favicon for any social site in .png format with a transparent background, and that makes it a lot easier.
  6. Try not to tamper with the background or icon edges, as these will be highly visibl in thesocial-blue finished site.
  7. In your Weebly editor “Design” page, under “Edit TML / CSS”– “File(s)”, choose “Add new file(s) and upload the modified icon graphic. MAKE SURE TO BACK UP THE ORIGINAL!
  8. That’s it. Assuming you did the editing well, you’re done!