Flashes of Speculation – Relaunch Examined

“Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com has been awake again for less than 24 hours, and already I’m very happy with things. I’ve had a handful of past contributors declare their excitement at its revival, and I’ve had three new stories posted already, accomplished through new registrations and stories submitted for review. That system already seems to work more smoothly than the previous one. I’ve also had three stories submitted in the last week or so, which spurred, in part, my own expediency at getting the site back in motion. I can only hope that things continue to progress so well a week from now and even a month from now.

I love the new theme – “Trevilian Way”:http://thedesigncanopy.com/downloads/trevilian-way/. I had originally planned to design a new theme for the site myself, but then I saw this one and decided there was no need to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. Trevilian Way already does just about everything I’d wanted, anyway, and I have this thing about designers and coders who keep re-inventing the wheel. Sure, there’s something extremely satisfying about displaying your own work, but I also have no problem using someone else’s theme when it meets my needs. And I must say – Trevilian Way _is_ pretty.

Tag CloudI changed some of the more subtle elements of FoS’s archiving system. For starters, I dropped all the author categories and merged them into a single Stories category. My intention is to mirror the same type of archive system I use here – use categories as the Table of Contents and tags as the index. That said, I set up Trevilian Way’s wide left sidebar with a tag cloud by going through each story and tagging it with, at minimum, the story author’s name and the genre or genres into which the story fits. Select stories were also tagged with additional terms, such as vampires, demons, etc., for common elements that readers might be interested in. Many of the stories were more difficult to classify and index and so did not receive any additional tags beyond author and genre.

ArchivesCategory and Archive lists have also been pushed into a drop-down dialogue in one of the sidebars. This will hopefully help prevent the sidebar area from expanding into a 3-headed hydra, about which you may have heard. I expect it will still fluff out a bit as we add more tags, so that tag cloud will likely be limited in number and an actual Site Index built from a tag cloud will be added as a Page.

I’ve had a request for a small banner graphic for FoS, as well, that contributors and fans can use on their own blogs to advertise. I’d meant to play around in Photoshop a little last night and just never quite made it that far. I hope to produce something on that front in the next day or two.

There are some as-yet ephemeral ideas in my brain about ways to make FoS more community-friendly – contests, giveaways, etc. – but nothing I’ve given much thought to yet. I also want to make more of an effort to solicit flash fiction from writers, which is going to mean my finding good speculative flash fiction writers. I’ve got a few flash fiction sites on my radar that I want to browse through again – it’s been quite some time since I gave much thought at all to such sites – so it’s just a matter of tracking those down again and catching up on what’s new.

I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed working with FoS, so it’s good to have it up and running again. I’m curious to see if I can make a better go at it than on its first tour. It will, of course, demand a fair bit of pro-action from myself, but it will also rely heavily on the excitement of the contributors, since FoS is in place largely for them as a venue to display some samples of their writing.

This is all very exciting.

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