The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Alive and Caught in the ’Net

by Tricia Dower

“You gotta have a website, Mom,” Katie said.

I didn't know where to begin. She talked me through the process of registering domains, both of us on the phone, on opposite North American coasts, looking at the same computer screens.

I wondered what I had to say that could take up a whole website. I was uncomfortable putting forth nothing more than a picture of Silent Girl and the message “Buy!” I wanted some value-added content, something to make it worthwhile for people to visit.

That was in December. Since then I've developed discussion guides for the collection—my “value-add”—and worked with a developer Katie knows to put together a site fitting both me and my book. A friend declared it to be “a visual equivalent of your prose.” I hope that’s a good thing.

I can’t say enough about the developer, Aaron Wrixon, and his company Azalea. Aaron was professional, efficient, and infinitely patient. (The older I get, the more I rely on not only the “kindness of strangers,” but their patience, too.*) He turned my brief description of what I wanted into a design that both surprised and delighted me. The colours he chose are my favourites and the site is easy to navigate. I know from nothing when it comes to HTML and all that technical jazz. I didn’t need to. I simply said what I wanted and he made it happen. Sometimes he told me that what I wanted wasn’t such a hot idea, and I appreciated that. All this took place within 74 e-mails in virtual space: he’s in Toronto, I’m in Victoria, and we’ve never met. I couldn’t believe how many decisions there were to make. I have a new appreciation for what goes into “going live.”

So here’s the finished product, called oddly enough I love everything about it, but I’m proudest of the Discussion Guides. I had fun developing the questions for “If you’re into Shakespeare” and “If you’re not.” It brought me back to student teaching days when my aspiration was to guide sleepy-eyed sixteen-year-olds into the blinding light of literary enlightenment. Life sent me down a different path, but never mind. Maybe another teacher can use my guides with her sleepy-eyed charges. Maybe book clubs members will find a question or two to stimulate discussion.

I’m a little nervous about “Silent Girl Speaks”—a blog with a focus. You can reach it through the site. Once the book is out and a few people have read it, I’d like it if they stopped by the blog to engage in a discussion about the issues highlighted in the collection: forced marriage, sexual slavery, domestic abuse, racism and so forth. You know—fluffy, escapist things. I suspect I’ll be discussing them with myself for a while, and that’s okay, but I hope it isn’t forever. I’ll still be here at the CWC every week, talking about one thing or another, but please visit my second virtual home, too. It’s easy to find, and you don’t need a car, bus, plane or train to get there. How 'bout I give you that address again:

*I was having trouble understanding how something would work at the launch, and the caterer sent me an e-mail with big bolded type. Her frustration was barely contained in those heavy, black letters. Get used to it, I told myself. Soon, they'll be speaking loudly and calling you"dear." (Come to think of it, they already do.)


Blogger Tania Hershman/The Short Review said...

What a beautiful website, Tricia, very clear and eye-catching, you're right to sing the name of your web designers, they did a great job. And I am fascinated by the idea of a Silent Girl blog, looking forward to seeing what happens when it gets going. I definitely want to buy your book, it sounds fabulous!


Thu Apr 10, 03:09:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Your daughter was right and I have to say it is a nice clean site which is what people are looking for. Now you need something at the top of the left-hand column of your blog, a permanent link pointing to it (preferably with an eye-catching graphic).

Thu Apr 10, 06:43:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Anne C. said...


Thu Apr 10, 08:44:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger MelBell said...

Damn, that's a nice site, Tricia. Love it!

Thu Apr 10, 08:48:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Your website is great and the image across the top of your blog is breathtaking.

I'd love to be sitting at that table and writing (though I might be constantly distracted by the view and feel as if the fields were calling me).


Thu Apr 10, 09:25:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks Tania, Jim, Anne, Mel, Jacqueline. And thanks for the suggestion, Jim. I'll talk it over with Aaron.

Jacqueline, I wish I were back writing in that room. It was at a B&B in Mountain View, Alberta. We were there, Unfortunately, due to the death of my husband's cousin. Colin grew up not far from there.

Thu Apr 10, 11:12:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Great stuff, Tricia!

Thu Apr 10, 01:34:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks, Andrew...and for visiting "Silent Girl Speaks." It's so exciting to get that e-mail announcing that someone has left a comment.

Thu Apr 10, 01:56:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

We can leave comments? I missed that. I was too mesmerized by all the buttons. I'm still a one-year-old, apparently.

Congratulations on your beautiful site. It is gorgeous.

Thu Apr 10, 06:19:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks, Tamara. Yes, you can leave a comment and still play with the buttons.

Thu Apr 10, 10:14:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Great site! I tried getting the book on Amazon, but it's not released in the US yet. I've got it in my cart, so I'll get one when it comes out.

Maybe you should do website design? I hear there's some cash in it...

Sun Apr 13, 08:52:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks, Steve. Every order appreciated! It's not available in Canada yet, either; May 1st is the expected date, since the Fiery First Fiction campaign I'm part of kicks-off then in bookstores.

As for website design, I'll leave that to the guy who did mine: Aaron Wrixon of Azalea.

Mon Apr 14, 07:27:00 pm GMT-4  

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