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Weekly blog posts from the creators of Write2Ignite! Conference for Christians who write for children.
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By: Kirk Wight,
We have a new free theme to announce today: Bosco!
Amid a sea of sliders, sidebars, and huge header images, Bosco stands alone in its refined focus on content.
Your story is presented in a centered, single column, with sophisticated typography and an adaptive layout that looks beautiful on any device, mobile or desktop. There’s still plenty of room for widgets in multiple sections above the footer, while Custom Menus, Custom Background support, and unique Post Format treatments prove that Bosco is anything but lacking in features.
Give your readers the distraction-free experience they deserve with Bosco. You can see it in action on the demo site, or activate it on your own blog at Appearance → Themes.
Filed under: Themes
Looking for a theme that supports custom menus? Take our brief tour of custom menu themes and check out a few samples.
By: Michelle W.,
Blogging is about both publishing and finding a community. These three writers' hubs bring together bloggers from all over the world.
By: Cheri Lucas Rowlands,
Nearly 150 of the themes available to WordPress.com users support post formats, which means that these themes offer a variety of post types (standard, image, gallery, video, audio, quote, and more) that display your content differently based on the format. If your theme supports post formats, you’ll see a Format module as you’re …
By: Ben Huberman,
In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com, from new features to great blogs to discover.
By: Ben Huberman,
We release beautiful new themes every week. In our Early Theme Adopters series, we focus on bloggers who are using the most recent additions to our Theme Showcase. Today, let’s visit some of the blogs that are already using Sorbet, a vibrant, inviting theme.
By: Caroline Moore,
Writers, photographers, food lovers: take a look at our two newest themes, Hemingway Rewritten and Sweet Life.
By: Cheri Lucas Rowlands,
From thoughtful commentary on the history of science to an entertaining blend of science and humor, these blogs have very distinct approaches to science but have one thing in common: a driving curiosity about the world around us.
By: Ben Huberman,
From your sidebar to your comments section, these tips will help you clean up your blog in just a few minutes.
By: Ben Huberman,
In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com.
By: Cheri Lucas,
We were floored this week by the posts we came across on WordPress.com. This community is full of different voices: bold, opinionated, and honest. You take risks and put yourselves out there. You offer perspectives on issues that matter to you. You use your blogs and websites as platforms to share your insights and musings with others.
If you’re looking for reading material, here are four recent posts to consider:
I have been Muslim for about two and a half years now. About 6 months after that, I began dressing more modestly, wearing long sleeves, looser fitting clothes, etc. I knew then that I would eventually want to/ need to wear a hijab, but wasn’t ready for that.
The writer at Meditations of a Muslimah explores life as an American Muslimah. In this post, she describes how she’s thought about wearing hijab for a long time, but has always come up with excuses: it could be a distraction at work, where she deals with clients in social work, as well as in her community. “Living in the ‘Bible Belt,’ people can be pretty judgmental here,” she writes, “though they won’t always admit it or blatantly say it to your face.” Writing with both eloquence and honesty, she concludes that these are all just excuses — “excuses for not doing what I’m supposed to do.”
As such, I’m not sure I would go as far as to say that gay celebrities have a social or moral duty to be open about their sexuality. But I am prepared to argue that by refusing to acknowledge that they are gay — or that once, not that long ago, they were scared to admit it in public — they’re perpetuating an inhibiting and heteronormative status quo.
It’s film awards season, and last Sunday Hollywood rolled out the red carpet at the Golden Globes ceremony. In a personal and emotional acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, actress Jodie Foster talked about a whole life lived in the public eye — and the value of privacy. Josef Church-Woods, a writer at LGBTICONS, appreciates Foster’s speech: “We need all the positive, gay role models we can get, flying the flag for ‘modern families’ and the notion that love is love, regardless of sexuality.” But he goes on to explain how important it is for public personas to speak up — and to see that talking freely about sexual orientation doesn’t imply an invasion of privacy.
Social agents constantly feed the young with sugar-coated phrases. You may have heard them before; they appear on posters sold in stores that target teachers. “You are special,” “The world is your oyster,” “You are unique,” etc. Everyone is being told they are special. Everyone is unique.
Michelle, the university student behind The Grumpy Giraffe, tackles social issues, particularly in education, and we enjoyed reading her take on individualism, entitlement, and today’s youth. She is critical of educators who “feed pretty phrases” to students, making them believe they’re innately special, and urges them to provide specific, behavior-targeted feedback instead of meaningless phrases that set up students to fail.
Two months into our new life in Munich, two months after burying our son in another country, and my parents have not contacted us yet.
From the very beginning, we were locked in to Melissa’s personal, sad, but beautiful piece at Melissa Writes of Passage about grief and dealing with the death of a son. Intimate and painful, she tells a story that has to be told, with honesty and carefully crafted dialogue. She also writes about how things are not said: parents and friends who keep their distance — who give her breathing space — when the opposite is needed and craved. ”If we think it’s better we all pretend nothing happened, and that we as friends are safer staying far away, we are also terribly mistaken.”
Did you read something in the WordPress.com Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.
For more inspiration, check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.
By: Cheri Lucas,
In August, WordPress.com bloggers hit us with their best: Smart takes on the month’s biggest stories. Thoughtful musings on culture. Photographs and art that bring the world to life.
The following ten picks represent what Freshly Pressed is all about: original content that engages readers, timely posts that contribute to a larger discussion, and personal writing that resonates with others. Enjoy!
This photo essay documents quiet, unexpected moments of daily life in Iran and captures the delicious details and textures of Yzad and elsewhere. The collection of six photographs illustrates quality over quantity—each image is strong, well-composed, and tells its own story.
“But I’m still happy to be in their gang, because we don’t all have to think the same.”
This post examines hot-button topics—abortion and feminism—through an original and nuanced discussion of actress Patricia Heaton. We are impressed with the blogger’s honesty, respectful but confident voice, and willingness to ask questions; these elements encourage readers to comment and join the discussion.
“Why do we turn to these stories? For shelter. We need an explanation, because “It happened for no reason at all” is somehow too horrifying to face.”
In this reflection on Hurricane Katrina, writer/photographer Kim weaves thoughts on Louisiana, loss, and the film Beasts of the Southern Wild. We especially like her musings on how we create stories to cope, and to make sense of why things happen in the world. Her gallery of evocative images of New Orleans complements the piece.
“This whole long, sordid episode ends in two competing realities. The first is that Armstrong – despite his protests – likely is guilty. The second is that doesn’t matter if he is.”
After introducing the story on Lance Armstrong’s battle with the US Anti-Doping Agency, Mark presents an opinionated yet fair take on doping in cycling (and touches on other sports, too). He admits he is not an Armstrong fan, which further illustrates a balanced approach to the issue.
“As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the idea of someone writing a review of my book if they haven’t read it. I’m not writing so people can pat me on the back, I’m writing because I have stories I want people to read.”
Here, Jo offers her thoughts on an interesting publishing story: an entrepreneur who set up a business in which authors pay him to write a positive review. Solidly written and thorough, the post leads to a discussion for both writers and readers alike. We like how she asks questions at the end to help launch a healthy debate.
“The point is, this is a decision that most deeply affects the victims of rape; those victims have to live with the outcomes of that decision as well as the effects of the crime itself; and those women should be allowed to make the decision that is best for them.”
August saw no lull in controversy in the news, and WordPress.com bloggers confronted these issues head on. A post tackling a hot-button issue can become polarized—even angry—but this take on Todd Akin’s statement on rape is at once passionate and professional.
“Actually, Timmy, there’s a really, really good chance that you won’t be an astronaut. Considering your complete inability to understand long division, you’re probably going to sell cars when you grow up. Now let’s talk about Santa Claus.”
Readers enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek list about the lies one father tells his kids. Whether or not you are a parent, you can relate to this lighthearted post, and will likely recall your own childhood and wonder: did my parents lie to me?!
“Before she pricks her finger, she hesitates, her hand outstretched, but then at Maleficent’s urging, she finally touches the spindle. I’ve always preferred to think that she did it on purpose, not just because she was under a spell. I like to see it as an act of rebellion, a refusal to go from Briar Rose to Aurora quite yet.”
We like how Melissa uses a childhood tale to express ideas about coming of age. Musings are particularly resonant when a writer takes something familiar—such as the story of Sleeping Beauty—to illustrate observations on a more personal level. As a result, she engages with her readers, who have made their own connections through her insights.
“Cartoons – the word, the concept, the feeling, the religion — is dead. Dead and obsolete like the Gothic-arched mouse hole where Jerry took refuge. Drowned in a sea of endless animation.”
This homage to old-school Saturday morning cartoons left readers swimming in a sea of nostalgia. He-Man! Dungeons and Dragons! The shows of Hanna-Barbera! The sharp and entertaining commentary and palpable passion for the subject contribute to this well-received post.
“Rest in peace other Neil.”
We’re always on the lookout for original artwork: illustrations, paintings, sketches, and more. Shortly after learning of Neil Armstrong’s death, (another) Neil shared an illustration celebrating the famed astronaut. The piece is just as much about Armstrong as it is about the artist himself, and this makes the post timely as well as touching.
What do you think about these selections? Were there other Freshly Pressed posts that stood out this month?
If you’re looking for more, peep the latest posts on Freshly Pressed; check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips and inspiration at the Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the reader.
For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.
By: Sara Rosso,
It wasn’t just a one-time event! The Automattic Worldwide WP 5k is back again in 2012! Set your timers for April 29th!
At Automattic we work from all over the world, and we use internal blogs for socializing and exchanging non-work ideas in addition to making WordPress.com and our other products more awesome. One of the things we’re really concerned about is staying healthy – we even have an entire internal blog dedicated to fitness.
We had a great idea: Get all Automatticians from 79 cities & 24 countries to run/walk a 5k on the same day! This way we can get some exercise together as a company even though we’re apart (though we won’t rule out a softball or Texas scramble at our next meetup).
A year later, and there are now 105 Automatticians we hope will take part in the 5k all around the world in 2012.
We want to invite you to join us, WordPress.com users (and self-hosted WP users, too!), in the Worldwide WP 5k – the 5k blogged around the world! The date is approaching, so read on to find out how to participate.
WHAT IT IS: A 5k run/walk (approximately 3.1 miles). You can run, walk, or skip. It’s up to you. There’s no time limit and there’s just one requirement: that you participate! You can do it inside or outside, on a treadmill or on a track, or even do a swim or a bike ride instead of running/walking – just get moving!
A 5k is roughly equal to:
- 3.1 miles
- 12 laps around a track
- approximately 6000-7500 steps
- approximately 50-60 minutes of brisk walking
If you ran/walked last year’s Worldwide WP 5k, why not try to shave a few minutes off your time and set a personal record (PR)?
WHEN: We’re all busy, but we want you to participate, so we’re giving you some flexibility, too. The WWWP5k is set for Sunday, April 29th, but you can do your run/walk anytime from April 23rd-29th (you’ve got a week to fit it in).
WHO: Anyone who’s ever used or loved WordPress (and your families and friends, too). Heck, the entire Internet is invited!
HOW: Post about it on your site and tag the post “wwwp5k” so we can find you (and for a chance to be Freshly Pressed). If you’re not on WordPress.com, link back to this announcement post so others can find it and participate, too.
You’re welcome to blog your entire route and your preparation (videoblog, perhaps?) but above all we’d love to see where you are and how you’re completing your 5k. Give us a picture of you and what you see when you cross the finish line and tell us your location as you complete your 5k with the rest of the world. Some tools & suggestions:
As 2011 comes to end, we thought it’d be interesting to look back at the events that made headlines this year, and a few of the bloggers who were there in person (or closely connected to the events) to document history in the making. Here’s a recap of some of the biggest news stories of the year, as blogged by WordPress.com users.
January 25: Tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities to demand an end to the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
Cairo-based journalist Max Strasser reported on the events from Istanbul. Marilyn Gardner posted updates on the situation after speaking with her daughter, who was living in Egypt for school.
March 11: Japan is hit with an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest in its history.
The author of Amblerangel.WordPress.com was at a grocery store in Shibuya-ku when it happened. She recounted the experience in We’re Being Shaken and Stirred in Japan. According to Liz Tagami, who was at Narita International Airport when the quake hit, “It started as a silent rolling wave.“
June 24: New York legalizes same-sex marriage, becoming the largest state in the U.S. to pass the law. It goes into effect thirty days later on July 24, 2011.
TalkAboutEquality.WordPress.com was on site at the New York City Clerk’s office to chat with the couples who lined up for marriage licenses, as documented in the post Thousands of New Yorkers Put a Ring on It. In August, Jacob Murphy shared photographs of a pop-up chapel ceremony in New York City’s Columbus Circle.
July 9: South Sudan becomes the world’s newest nation after seceding from Sudan.
Uganda-based photographer Will Boase was there to capture the celebration, which he blogged about in Happy Birthday South Sudan.
Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but this blog is sooo delightful
Until the internet gets slow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
That’s right, it’s that special time of year where you can show off your holiday cheer with a little special blog flair — falling snow. To get it started:
- Go to your dashboard.
- Navigate to Settings » General.
- Check the box next to “Show falling snow on this blog.”
- Roast some chestnuts.
Even Texas boys like me who only saw snow a handful of times growing up can enjoy it all month long, until we turn it off on January 4th.
If you are a terrible Grinch or if the snow just slows down your computer or confuses your cat, you can go to your personal settings page and hide the snow everywhere you go.
By: Daniel Bachhuber,
We’ve made two big changes that make it easier to encourage friends, family, and colleagues to interact with your WordPress.com blog.
First, now you can invite people to follow your blog. If your blog is public, anyone can use the Follow button to sign up to receive an update each time you publish new content. But if you’d like to share your blog with specific people, we’ve made it easy to send them an invitation to check out your site.
Try it out now and invite some friends to follow your blog:
1. Head to your dashboard and click on Users → Invite New. Type the users’ email addresses or WordPress.com usernames.
2. Set the Role to Follower.
3. If you like, add your own message to personalize the invitation, then click Send Invite.
When your friend accepts the invite, they’ll start receiving email updates each time you publish a new post.
Secondly, you can also use the new invitations to add contributors to your blog. Have you ever thought that it might be fun to have a friend write a guest post? Or perhaps you want to ask a colleague to help moderate comments. Adding contributors to your blog has never been easier.
Head to Users → Invite New in the dashboard and enter the person’s WordPress.com username or email address. Then select the contributor, author, editor, or administrator role, and send the invite.
Your new user will now be able to access your blog by visiting the My Blogs section of their dashboard when they log in to WordPress.com. They’ll also receive an email notification that they’ve been added to your blog.
For more details on the new invitations, check out the Support document on Inviting Contributors, Followers, and Viewers.
10 Comments on Easier Invitations Mean More Followers and Blog Contributors, last added: 11/15/2011
If you are doing a great job on your blog and posting regularly, sometimes important posts fade away from the home page. Sound familiar? Today, we’re excited about introducing two new themes that come with a featured section for prominently displaying some of these posts.
The first theme is iTheme 2 designed by Themify, is a free theme inspired by the instantly recognizable Apple style design that is perfect for your Mac related tech blog. By activating it, iTheme 2 immediately revamps your blog to a stylish, Apple themed cool blog.
What’s great about iTheme 2 is not only the look but also its features. It offers three color schemes and a cool featured posts carousel on the home page. Go find more about the theme on its showcase page.
The second entry is Bold News, a premium theme from WooThemes. Same as other fantastic themes from them, Bold News is also packed with customizing features as well as a featured posts carousel on the home page. Get the full details on the theme showcase page. You can upgrade your blog to Bold News directly from the showcase, or from your dashboard under Appearance → Themes.
You guys use WordPress.com in all sorts of creative ways, documenting the adventures you take…
…the people you meet…
…the characters you create…
…the meals you prepare…
…and the places you live.
And you share a ton of amazing photographs. So be sure to show them off! Here are three tips on using photos to make your site more visually appealing:
- Upload your very own custom header image to give your site a unique look and feel. Some themes even allow you to use featured images to display different header images on specific posts and pages. For a design that’s 100% unique to you, try out the Custom Design upgrade.
- Don’t make readers squint to view your photos. Generally speaking, bigger photos are better, as long as they’re properly aligned. Check out the Get Flashy tutorial on Learn.WordPress.com for tips on aligning and resizing your images.
- If the majority of your content is image-based, consider using a photography theme that will put your photos in center stage on your site. Visit the Theme Showcase to find one that’s perfect for you.
Want to browse other awesome photo blogs? Check out Freshly Pressed and the photography tag pages.
19 Comments on 3 Ways to Make Your Site More Visually Appealing, last added: 10/10/2011