Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

Just Pressed: New Books by Authors on WordPress.com

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 4.12.45 PMGabrielle Bell, a cartoonist based in Brooklyn, New York, has published a new book, Truth Is Fragmentary: Travelogues & DiariesRaw, revealing, and sometimes surreal, this comic diary serves up what Gabrielle is known for — her humor and introspection — as she muses on daily life and chronicles her travels around the world, from France to Sweden to Colombia.

Gabrielle is a WordPress.com blogger to watch: in the past, her work has been selected for numerous notable anthologies (such as the Best American Comics series) and her last book, The Voyeurs, was named a best graphic memoir of 2012.

In addition to Truth is Fragmentary, check out her multi-part series, Siberiaand other cool projects — from panels to posters — on her blog.

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Marilyn R. Gardner, the blogger at Communicating Across Boundaries, also has a new book released this month: a collection of essays, based on her blog posts, titled Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 4.47.35 PMMarilyn started her blog in 2011 after returning from a relief trip to Pakistan — with the hope of finding her voice.

Three years later, Marilyn has grown her blog into a space for thoughtful writing on cross-cultural communication, faith, third culture kids, travel, and the Middle East.

Between Worlds, which weaves these themes into one compilation, is tangible proof that Marilyn indeed found the voice she had been looking for.

Are you an author on WordPress.com? Have you recently published a book? Leave a comment and let us know.

If you’re interested in previous book releases from WordPress.com authors, check out our May and April 2014 editions. For a glimpse of how authors use their blogs to promote their books, take a look at this post on author websites.

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com, Writing
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Heading to BlogHer ’14 next week? So are we!

BlogHer 2014, the 10th anniversary celebration of the popular women’s blogging network, kicks off next Thursday, July 24th in San Jose, California. There’s still time to register, and we hope you do — we’ll be there, too!

This year, along with a Happiness Bar offering in-person support for your WordPress sites, we’re hosting a series of short workshops on the topics you care about most. We’re also excited to welcome some of the amazing WordPress bloggers nominated as BlogHer Voices of The Year — they’ll join us for a series of informal panels where we can chat all things blogs and blogging.

Interested? Here’s the schedule:

Friday, July 25

  • 10 AM: Talking Shop with BlogHer Voices of the Year
  • 11 AM: WordPress.com or Self Hosted: Which One is Right for You?
  • 12:30 PM: Own Your Content: Tips for Switching Blog Platforms
  • 1:30 PM: Talking Shop with BlogHer Voices of the Year
  • 2:30 PM: Getting Great WordPress Support
  • 3:30 PM: Master Your Domain

Saturday, July 26

  • 10:30 AM: Own Your Content: Tips for Switching Blog Platforms
  • 12:00 PM: Plugins: Taking Your WordPress Blog to the Next Level
  • 1:30 PM: Fight for Your (Copy)Right: Intellectual Property Basics
  • 2:30 PM: Get Social: Your Content, Your Networks
  • 3:30 PM: Talking Shop with BlogHer Voices of the Year

The WordPress booth will have everyone from editors to developers to Happiness Engineers to VIP managers there to talk about every aspect of the blogging (and Automattic) experience.  BlogHer ’14 is jam-packed with inspiring and educational programming, but we hope you’ll find a few minute to swing by — we’d love to say “hi!”

If you’re not able to be there but want to follow the fun on Twitter, follow #BlogHer14. We’ll also be tweeting with the #WPlovesBlogHer hashtag.

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Attention, Writers: The Next Blogging U. Challenge Is Here

Last month, more than 4,000 bloggers joined us for Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit, where they challenged themselves to carve out time to write regularly, and to experiment with new forms and styles. The result? Thousands of posts, comments, and follows, and countless new friendships.

We’re excited to announce Blogging U.’s next offering, which begins next Monday, July 21st. Writing 201: Finding Your Story will invite participants to take their craft to the next level by focusing on more advanced storytelling and self-editing tools, from finding the right angle from which to narrate your story, to coming up with strong opening sentences.

Good writing is essentially rewriting.

— Roald Dahl

Writing 201 is a self-directed course on the art of revision: four weeks dedicated to self-editing and rewriting, looking at our work with a magnifying glass, and improving it. If you have existing posts that you’d like to work on, expand, or refocus, whether as a result of Writing 101 or not, this course will be ideal for you.

The nitty gritty

Over four weeks, we’ll present four different workshops, each published on a Monday. You’re free to read each workshop at your own pace — absorb it all in one day, or tackle parts of it throughout the week.

There is no assignment or posting requirement at the end of each workshop, but we’ll offer a series of questions and discussions to reflect on every week. In your own time, you’ll experiment with these techniques in the specific pieces you’re working on. You’ll decide how much time and effort you’d like to spend each day.

Just like in Writing 101, you’ll be invited to join the Commons, a private forum for conversation, support, and feedback. Given the emphasis on editing, the Commons is a key component of this course: it will be the space to workshop your material. Workshopping is all about collaborative brainstorming: you’ll offer specific, constructive feedback to others, and they’ll do the same for you.

If you’re a self-motivated blogger and think your writing can benefit from intensive feedback and greater focus, then Writing 201 might just be the perfect next step for your blog and for your craft. You’ll find the signup form (and more details) here.

Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Writing
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Street Art: Around the World in Eight Photos

Whenever I get the chance to travel, I always photograph local street art. The topics, colors, and scenes help me absorb the feel and atmosphere that makes each destination truly unique. Join me for a tour of some amazing street art from around the world, right from the comfort of your armchair.

Welcome to Berlin, Germany, our first stop on the tour, where we find Christine Estima‘s photo of street art by ElBocho. I love the bold lines and striking expressions:

#ElBocho Berlin Baby Photo by Christine Estima

#ElBocho Berlin Baby (Photo by Christine Estima)

And now, over to Cardiff, Wales, for something slightly more muted. DIFF GRAFF did a great job capturing Rmer‘s portrait of Marlon Brando as the Godfather. It’s quite striking, wouldn’t you agree?

Marlon Brando by the artist Rmer Photo by DIFF GRAFF

Marlon Brando by the artist Rmer (Photo by DIFF GRAFF)

Heading to Dunedin, New Zealand, we stop off at Dunedin Wears the Pants. The site, run by Caitlin and Helen Owen, celebrates Dunedin’s vibrant creativity. Continuing with our more muted palette is an incredible, perspective-boggling piece by Daniel Mead:

Baldwin Street Art by Daniel Mead (Photo by Caitlin and Helen Owen)

Baldwin Street Art by Daniel Mead (Photo by Caitlin and Helen Owen)

Hop over to the Xochimilco borough of Mexico City, Mexico, and feast your eyes on the vibrant colors of American expat Shannon‘s photo essay, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” on her blog, Casita Colibrí:

From the photo essay, Who are the people in your neighborhood? by Casita Colibrí.

From the photo essay, Who are the people in your neighborhood? (Photo by Shannon)

In search of more brilliant colors, we stop in San Francisco at Stan Santos‘ blog Simple Kitchen Seasons. Here’s a sample from a recent series of photo essays by Stan featuring sights on the streets of San Francisco. The brilliant blues are stunning in this piece:

Photo by Stan Santos

Photo by Stan Santos

For a more minimalist feel, check out this photo essay by Jan Kalserud taken on the streets of Taipei, Taiwan. For more incredible street art, check out Graffiti Taiwan, a blog by Jan Kalserud and David Jiang dedicated to documenting street art and graffiti in Taiwan’s public places.

Photo by Jan Kalserud

Photo by Jan Kalserud

Spinning the globe, let’s stop at Rotterdam Street Decorations, a blog dedicated to sharing the ingenious creations found on the streets of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Here’s some political commentary in bold purple:

Lastplak @ Noorderkanaalweg VI (Photo by Rotterdam Street Decorations)

Lastplak @ Noorderkanaalweg VI (Photo by Rotterdam Street Decorations)

Our final stop on the street art armchair tour brings us to Reyjavik, Iceland, for some words of wisdom, courtesy of Dawid, the blogger behind Adnotator. Be sure to check out his colorful photo essay in full.

Photo by Dawid

Photo by Dawid

If you’re sad the tour has come to an end, be sure to explore the street art tag in your Reader.

What are your favorite pieces of local street art? Please share links to your work in the comments!

Filed under: Community, Photos
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New Themes: Adaption and Isola

This week we’ve got two great free themes designed here at Automattic. How cool is that?

Adaption

Adaption
Adaption is a brand new free theme, designed by yours truly. This theme is flexible and adjusts itself for every aspect of your site — your content, your design, and the device you’re using. The focus is on your content, with full-width images and simple, supportive design elements, and the layout adapts with an optional third column that appears if you add widgets. Adaption truly adapts to make sure your readers get the best possible experience.

Isola

IsolaIsola gives you a fresh, clean slate to showcase your writing, photographs, or videos. Its primary menu and widget area are tucked behind a handy button, giving your content plenty of room to breathe and keeping it beautiful regardless of the device or screen size. Designed by Automattic’s own Joen Asmussen, Isola was inspired by a “less is more” philosophy and was influenced by mobile design patterns.


Both Adaption and Isola are free. Check out each theme’s showcase by clicking on its screenshot above, or preview it on your blog from Appearance → Themes.

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Early Theme Adopters: Worldview, Collective, and Alto

At the end of April, we announced three new premium themes, Worldview, Collective, and Alto. As with every theme we add, the real fun happens when you get your hands on them — here are interpretations we’ve loving of each of the three.

Kate goes Global

Was global nomad Kate swayed by Worldview‘s name when she chose it as the theme for her travel blog? Whether she was or not, she uses the theme to lovely effect on Kate goes Global.

worldview comparison

We particularly like how she uses custom image widgets on her home page (above, right) to echo the circular Gravatar that’s part of the theme’s default look. Then, on single posts, she takes advantage of the theme’s full-size images to show off her travel photography.

kate single

 

Versu

Collective was designed with teams in mind, as a bold way to help organizations highlight their members. Game startup Versu looked at it; saw the easy navigation, expansive area to highlight images, and flexible layout; and knew they’d found the home page for their new gaming platform:

collective comparison

Below the splashy graphic, they use the page to tell visitors a little more about Versu and highlight some of the great press their project has already received. And since the main menu remains on-screen even when readers scroll down the page, it’s simple for visitors to explore their site.

versu two

 

Breach of Close

Alto is stripped-down, crisp, and puts all the focus on your content, whether that means words, images, videos, or any combination thereof. The popular WordPress.com blogger behind Breach of Close uses it to help readers focus on his thoughtful, long-form musings.

alto comparisonA single, well-chosen image at the top of each post provides visual interest and is a simple but effective way to create breathing space between his longer posts. Rather than layering the post title and category over the image, as in the theme demo, he keeps things minimal and lets the image and title stand on their own.

Ready to try something new? Learn more about AltoCollective, and Worldview in the Theme Showcase. If free themes are more your speed, take a look at our archive of Early Theme Adopters posts for plenty of  no-cost inspiration.

Filed under: Customization, Themes
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Field Notes: European Beer Bloggers Conference

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer. This week, editor Ben Huberman shares his experience from the annual European Beer Bloggers Conference, an annual gathering of brewers, beer lovers, and bloggers who are one or the other (or both).

One of the best aspects of my work is that I get to interact with bloggers on a daily basis, whether it’s in an email to a Freshly Pressed blogger, the comments section at The Daily Post, or the Blogging U. Commons. Still, meeting WordPress users in real life is a particular pleasure. It’s a real privilege to see the faces and hear the stories of the people who bring our software to life.

This year’s European Beer Bloggers Conference was held in pint-obsessed Dublin, Ireland. The jovial atmosphere on the streets was alive and well in the conference as well, from the craft brewers who were excited to offer a taste of their ales and stouts, to the staff of the beautiful venue — a converted church that once hosted the wedding of Arthur Guinness (founder of guess-which-beer-dynasty).

The conference brought together a diverse, multinational crowd, from Polish beer guru Tomasz Kopyra to Irish craft-beer documentarian Sean Monaghan, with many other representatives from Belgium, England, Austria, and other countries (and even one Floridian — Carol Dekkers, aka the blogger behind MicroBrews USA).

We often say that blogging is all about community. It was wonderful to see how what might sound like a platitude is, in fact, true.

Over the course of the two-day event, I constantly saw bloggers helping each other out, sharing tips, promoting each other’s posts on social media, and, above all, simply enjoying the camaraderie of their far-flung beer buddies. It was just as impressive to see the collective power and influence wielded by citizen bloggers, who drew the attention of big industry names like Fergal Murray, Master Brewer at Guinness, and Vaclav Berka, Pilsner-Urquell’s Brewmaster.

Fellow Automattician Derek Springer, a home brewer and beer expert (who also happens to be a Code Wrangler), attended as well, and was very much in his element. Derek gave an excellent, full-bodied talk about the ways in which bloggers can maximize the impact and reach of their stories.

And such great stories they are — over the course of the conference, I chatted with numerous bloggers who are using their sites to tell theirs. People like beer historian Martin Cornell, who wrote an extensive history of British beer, or Belgium-based Breandan Kearney, who runs a beer-and-chocolate blog with his wife, Elisa (he covers beer, she’s on the chocolate beat).

Thirsty for more beer-blogging goodness? Try Liverpudlian author Chris Routledge’s site, or Irish blogger Simon Broderick.

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If you’ve been blogging for a while and yearn for face-to-face interaction with like-minded writers, a blogging conference, whether general interest or niche, might be just what you’re looking for. Even if you don’t yet know any of the attendees, you’re bound to make new friends (and follow a bunch of new blogs) in no time. (For a crash course on blogging conferences, check out our handy guide).

In case a beer bloggers conference sounds like the Best Thing Ever but you were nowhere near Dublin last week, you’re in luck. The people behind this event in Dublin are also organizing the American edition of this conference in San Diego, California, in August, and WordPress.com will be there as well. If you make it, be sure to stop by our table for some beer talk, blog talk, and swag.

Sláinte mhaith!

Filed under: Community, Events, WordPress.com, Wrapup
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New Theme: Big Brother

Today we’re proud to present a brand new free theme, designed especially for large organizations and government by Automattic’s own Michael Arestad.

Big Brother

Big Brother

Big Brother offers a clean and traditional design, multiple color schemes, and support for standard customization features. It’s a professional, readable theme that’s easy to tailor to your organization’s style.

Breadcrumb-style navigation on pages make even the largest sites a breeze to navigate, while the widget area keeps your secondary content close at hand. Start a blog to keep your members up-to-date on current happenings, or use the [sitemap] shortcode to create a quick, centralized location to list all of your organization’s important information.

As always, Big Brother adapts to your screen size, allowing for a pleasant reading experience no matter the device:

Big Brother Responsive WordPress Theme

You can see Big Brother in action on the demo site, or activate it on your own blog at Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Themes for Longform Writers

Many of the themes in our Theme Showcase are great for writing and reading longer articles and stories, from our classic default themes — including Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Twelve — to popular personal blogging themes like Ryu and Manifest

Last week, we shared ten of our favorite longreads across WordPress, and we hope you’ve taken some time to sit back and savor these longer pieces. Below, we’ve gathered some themes that work well with longform writing and offer a clean, enjoyable experience for your readers.

Syntax

On Otium, Yale PhD student Sarah Constantin writes about mathematics, cognitive science, philosophy, and more. Aside from a colorful graphic header image, Sarah keeps her blog simple. You can click on the button on the left to open the menu and access her About page, but the site is minimal, which keeps the focus on her prose.

On Syntax, you’ll find large, easy-to-read typography, and some nice touches for writers, like elegant displays of pullquotes:

As you can see on Sarah’s site, Syntax puts your writing in the spotlight.

Book Lite

Daniel Kay Hertz, a Chicago-based writer, discusses public policy and urban studies at City Notes. His site features a wide header image, fonts that are easy on the eyes, and a clutter-free, single-column look. He balances his text with visuals, and creates a pleasing reading experience.

Inspired by old-fashioned typography, Book Lite is clean and sophisticated, no matter how you customize it. Your widgets appear in your footer, keeping all of your extras in one place and allowing your writing to take center stage.

Duet

A notable feature of Duet, a premium theme, is its two-column layout, inspired by traditional print magazines. The design transforms your longer posts into professional pieces, which you can sample on The Squeaky Robot. Here, the Hanoi-based writer and traveler mixes images and text beautifully, seen on posts like “The Great Divide” as well as “A Single Story of Soviet Russia,” an archived favorite.

Another plus about Duet? It’s a solid theme for longform writers who produce as many photographs as they do words — you can set image and gallery post formats as well, which feature photographs proudly, as seen in these festival snapshots in Ba Vì National Park.

Other themes to consider:

  • With Manifest, you’ve got a number of post formats to display different types of content, from status to gallery formats. But its standard post format is as clean as can be — perfect to tell your stories and publish commentaries, with no distractions. See it on blogs like Voiced Over and Idiot Joy Showland.
  • Hemingway Rewritten, launched earlier this year, has quickly become a favorite among WordPress.com bloggers, with its parallax-scrolling header and bold yet sophisticated font choices. See it in action on Blog of the Courtier. The theme’s full-width page template offers even more real estate, in case you’d like to feature your best writing on static pages.
  • A very stylized theme, Esquire might not be appropriate for everyone, but for those who do activate it, it’s often a perfect fit. Esquire‘s out-of-the-box accents — from the red drop cap to the yellow menu box on the left — look great on Jessica Lee’s blog, Road Essays, where she publishes travel nonfiction narrative.

Filed under: Themes, WordPress.com, Writing
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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 1

Here’s the first official edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress! We’ve scoured 22% of the internet to create a reading list of great storytelling — from publishers you already know and love, to some that you may be discovering for the first time.

We’ll be doing more of these reading lists in the weeks and months to come. If you read or publish a story on WordPress that’s over 1,500 words, share it with us: just tag it #longreads on Twitter, or use the longreads tag on WordPress.com.

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Tickets for Restaurants (Nick Kokonas, Alinea)

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How the owners of world-class restaurants including Alinea created their own custom ticketing system:

Though I hadn’t the faintest idea how we would sell tickets, Grant and I included the line: “Tickets, yes tickets, go on sale soon…” in the announcement ‘trailer’ for Next. That was meant to do three things: 1) gauge the reaction from potential customers; 2) create interest and controversy; 3) force us to actually follow through.

Read the story

‘How I Came to Kill Your Brother’: A Confederate Reveals an Irish-American’s Final Moments (Damian Shiels)

“There are only two conflicts in Irish history which have seen close to 200,000 Irishmen in uniform. One is the First World War… the other is the American Civil War.” Historian Damian Shiels tells the true story of a soldier’s death, and a first-person account from the man who killed him.

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No Country for Old Pervs (Molly Lambert, Grantland)

Lambert looks at the sex scandals involving photographer Terry Richardson and American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, and asks: how did they stick around for so long anyway?

I remember thinking in 1999 that we were finally on the brink of the future. I saw how wrong I was about that repeatedly. After 9/11, the culture became demonstrably more conservative. Gender essentialism returned, and the ’90s were suddenly considered a failed experiment, like the ’60s, in pushing the boundaries for sex roles too far.

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Insuring The Dead (Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The New Inquiry)

Inside the business of corpse-repatriation insurance:

It is said, by people who would know, that at its peak, Colombia’s infamous Medellín drug cartel was spending $2,500 a month on rubber bands to wrap around bricks of cash. The arithmetic of human excess begins to acquire mythic status when money becomes nearly impossible to count and we are left to communicate chiefly through estimates and legends, like the one in which Pablo Escobar set fire to $2 million in cash to create a fire for his daughter when they were on the run and she got cold. During Colombia’s dark and bloody 1980s, the cartels’ pecuniary abundance was not only the stuff of legendary proportion. Death, too, became grimly innumerable—and at the intersection of cartel, guerrilla, and paramilitary violence was the question of how to respond to the ubiquity of death.

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Inside the Barista Class (Molly Osberg, The Awl)

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A former barista examines service work and the difficult transition into the creative class:

My kind of service work is part of the same logic that indiscriminately razes neighborhoods. It outsources the emotional and practical needs of the oft-fetishized, urban-renewing “creative” workforce to a downwardly mobile middle class, reducing workers’ personality traits and educations to a series of plot points intended to telegraph a zombified bohemianism for the benefit of the rich.

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The Near-Death of Grand Central Terminal (Kevin Baker, Harper’s)

How we almost lost a New York landmark:

Many consider the destruction of New York’s original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 to have been the architectural crime of the twentieth century. But few know how close we came to also losing its counterpart, Grand Central Terminal, a hub every bit as irreplaceable. Grand Central’s salvation has generally been told as a tale of aroused civic virtue, which it was. Yet it was, as well, an affirming episode for those of us convinced that our political culture has become an endless clown-car act with the same fools always leaping out.

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Matt Power: An Appreciation (Maria Dahvana Headley)

A eulogy for the journalist Matthew Power, by his friend, writer Maria Dahvana Headley, following his death in March at age 39:

I can’t believe Matt Power died on the river. I can’t believe Matt Power isn’t still trekking and toasting the joy he always had, for everything he did, for his amazing wife, for his amazing life. So many people are grieving him right now, and grieving the words he won’t write, too. There are a lot of broken hearts all over the world. He was loved.

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Opportunity’s Knocks (Eli Saslow, Washington Post)

The fastest growing job in America — working as a nurse aide — is also among the hardest. The reporter follows a single mother hoping to find a stable job and build a better life for her family:

“I’m getting desperate, to be honest,” she told her classmates. “I need something good to happen. I’m hoping this might be it.”

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Greet the Enemy (Kent Russell, Tin House)

Russell recounts his experience with night terrors, which he associates with his love of horror films and the work of Tom Savini, a special-effects artist known for working with director George Romero on zombie films.

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What’s In a Name? (Kat Haché)

A transgender writer on changing her name:

I’m a woman with a pretty amazing namesake – two fantastic women. And my name is just as valid as any nickname adopted by any individual at any point in their lives. My name is just as valid as that of any Hollywood star. My name is just as valid as any woman married or divorced who chooses to adopt or discard her lover’s family name. Those names are not up for debate, however. Somehow, transgender names are.

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Photos: wallyg, Flickr
banditob, Flickr
coffeegeek, Flickr

Filed under: Reading, Tags, WordPress, Writing
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