Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category
Carving out your very own corner on the web is important to you. You may be a brand-new user on WordPress.com — if so, welcome! — or a veteran blogger returning to an old habit. Recently on the Verge, Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, talked about getting back to blogging. On a noisy internet with many platforms, some are bringing their blogs back from the dead and reclaiming their personal turf.
But for me, the web ecosystem will always be bloggy at its core. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again myself.
No matter what type of blogger you are, these ten themes — ideal for personal blogging and writing — will inspire you: some are simple and understated, while others are bold and modern. Each theme works right out of the box, so you can start publishing right now.
Say hello to McKinley: a flexible, easy-to-use theme for writing, photographs, and short bits of content. The distinct post formats for your quote and link posts add blocks of color to your homepage, distinguishing quick posts from your longer pieces. Featured images also look great, while slideshows display at full width.
See McKinley in action on the blog of author Amanda Mininger.
A minimal design that gets out of the way? Check. Large font that’s easy on the eyes? Check. Pullquotes that supplement the reading experience? Check. Enter Syntax, a writing and reading theme with no distractions. Straightforward yet elegant, it works well with your longreads and chapter excerpts, but also displays featured images in your posts, which look fantastic in post archive view:
Check out how Economist contributor and Hannibal and Me author Andreas Kluth uses Syntax.
For writers who believe that images are as powerful as words, take a peek at Intergalactic, launched last week. Bold featured images and content blocks transform this theme into a visual feast, while the one-column layout creates a clean, quiet reading experience.
See Intergalactic take off on the site of journalist and photographer Bryan Smith.
There’s so much to love about Ryu, a popular personal blogging theme among our top ten. The large post titles are sophisticated, while the various post formats add variety to your site. (The background color of an image post automatically matches the uploaded image, which is a nice touch!) Subtle but effective design details are already in place, so you can activate the theme and start posting.
See Ryu in the wild on The Smallest Forest, a crafts and design blog.
A minimal theme with a cool scrolling header effect, Hemingway Rewritten has all the key features for most bloggers. Use the default countryside featured image, or upload your own custom header. Insert a few widgets in the sidebar on your homepage, or create full-width template pages to give your best content all the space it deserves. It’s a versatile yet clean layout, and Hemingway would be proud.
See Hemingway Rewritten transformed on The Disorder of Things.
One-column themes aren’t necessarily understated — just look to Eighties as the exception. Like the decade from which it gets its name, Eighties is fun and dynamic, from its bold blog title font to the huge full-width featured images. But despite the flashiness, it gives you the space to write, while the balance between your images and prose is tasteful.
Take Eighties for a spin on Camerajunky, the online diary of a camera addict.
Looking for something different from the themes we’ve showcased above? One awesome feature of Bushwick is the fixed header area on the left — best viewed on a bigger screen — which you can personalize with your own image. On the right, readers can scroll through your latest posts.
Check out Bushwick on the blog of artist Danny Gregory.
A single column, elegant typography, and lots of whitespace make Bosco an easy, pleasant reading experience. You’ll find unique treatments of post formats; for example, titles of link posts go straight to the content you’ve linked, rather than another page on your blog. You can also place widgets at the footer, to add cool extras without distracting your readers.
Readers will love the experience of Bosco — see it on Misprinted Pages, a blog on books and writing.
The final two themes in our list are premium, and our first — Pocket — mixes contemporary design with bold typography. Here, make your voice heard with attention-grabbing headlines, quotes, and stunning images. Your front-page archive is a single column, with distinct content blocks for your various types of posts. In the Customizer, you can also choose from multiple color palettes, select a grayscale effect for your featured images, and experiment with other extras.
See how writer, teacher, and swimmer Matthew Swanston uses Pocket.
One of my favorite new premium themes, Notebook is sleek and sophisticated. Set a commanding background image and introduce yourself on your homepage. Let the minimal graphic menu, which slides in and out on the left, direct readers to your content. The default typography is modern and easy-to-read, and images are used in various ways to enhance your site — not just as featured images at the top of your posts, but as background images in the post navigation and thumbnails in archive view.
Check out this premium theme on the Notebook demo site.
Today, we have a brand new free theme for you to enjoy!
Harmonic is a unique theme that really lets your content sing. Maybe you’re a band looking to make your home on WordPress.com. Perhaps you’re a photographer looking to showcase your work. You may be a blogger who just wants a theme that looks a bit distinctive. Harmonic has you covered.
With Harmonic you can build your own front-page layout. Choose from a title screen, showing your latest posts, page content, widgets or even a photo showcase using the Portfolio Custom Post Type. If sharing your writing is your aim, Harmonic has you covered with a simple, elegant, two-column blog layout. This theme also adapts to fit any device, making sure readers get a great experience, no matter which device they use when they visit you.
Harmonic is designed by yours truly and I really hope you enjoy using it as much as I did creating it for you. This theme is designed to stand out and I’m excited to see the sites you create.
Learn more about the free Harmonic theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.
Here’s the latest collection of our favorite stories from writers and publishers across all of WordPress. You can find our past collections here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations.
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Li, an associate professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology in Nanjing, China, recalls being forced by a teacher to criticize her best friend as an adolescent. “Criticism and self-criticism were required practices in every socialist social unit,” Li explains. “In the village school I attended, they took the form of trimester reports constituted by two parts: class criticism of each student and each student’s self-criticism.”
2. A Letter to Mitchell Browne, ‘Why Should Artists at Work Fund Idlers at Art?’ (Dave Lamb, School for Birds)
A Melbourne-based artist’s open letter to a journalist on eliminating arts funding: “The very best art will tell us not just who we are, but who everyone is, and will allow us to accept and understand not just what makes us different but what makes us unalterably the same.”
“They just look at him as LeBron James, the kid from the neighborhood”: Dan Robson reports from Akron and Cleveland in Ohio, meeting with Lebron James’s fans, surrogate father, former coaches, and the residents who watched him grow up.
An in-depth interview with the SpaceX founder on how we could make it to Mars — and why it’s important for us to get there.
Robert Rockaway on Prohibition-era Jewish mobsters, who — despite their criminal behavior — still saw religious observance as an integral part of their identity.
Jaya Saxena, whose mother is white and father is Indian, writes about her experience with being biracial: “You’re an intruder in either space, with no right to claim one or the other without a heavy caveat.”
The New Yorker is known for its exceptional reporting. This story, about a crippled legal system that left a 16-year-old imprisoned on Riker’s Island for three years without a trial, is particularly devastating.
War journalist Clare Morgana Gillis recalls her days reporting in Libya with James Foley.
A family’s answer to one of America’s most famous unsolved Mob mysteries.
Jessica Lee, a travel writer and author for Lonely Planet, recalls her time in the Middle East, primarily Cairo.
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Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:
something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.
Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”
I spoke with Lee about her experience, and what she has learned about herself and her writing.
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It’s amazing that you could go through something so profound health-wise and chart a new path for yourself coming out of it. What’s the response been to your essay?
I’ve been blown away. As life-changing as my stroke was, the response, too, will probably go down in my life history as a turning point.
I had a blog — and I’ve been blogging since before it was called “blogging,” back when it was called “web journaling,” back in the days when Justin Hall was on links.net and when I wrote my posts in HTML. But before I spun up my anonymous blog, I was asked to stop blogging by a few family members. I was putting them at risk, they said, I was not to make myself so public.
Bottom line, I didn’t want to stop blogging, so I started up a blog under a pseudonym. I never told them about the blog. A few months later, I had my stroke.
The blog was one of the first places to which I turned when I had my stroke, before I knew I’d had a stroke. I wrote in my journal, too — but I turned to my blog in the wake of my stroke, which for me was a largely isolating event. I made some great friends. Got support that way. It was my village, for a time.
Also, my blog has always been a place to do some “low-stakes writing” — writing without the intention of publication, writing that is more therapeutic. That said, blogging has always been a venue for me to refine my writing voice — because after all, it is still a public space with readers.
What are the odds that a person could suffer a stroke at 33?
According to the New York Times, about 10 to 15 percent of strokes happen to people under the age of 45. That’s supposed to be about 1 in 1,000. And oftentimes, young people who have had a stroke are misdiagnosed and sent home.
I was the youngest person in the DCU (aka “stroke unit”) in the hospital by about 30 years during my stay. Most doctors were astonished by my age. They certainly didn’t suspect I’d had a stroke until they saw the MRI and its uncontested results. I could see how I could have been sent home and had to shoulder a mysterious ailment. I was lucky in that they figured it out and I got the care I needed to ensure the recovery I eventually had.
Can you talk about some specific posts that led you on a path both during and after your stroke?
Definitely, the post during which readers told me to go to the hospital!
I’m not sure where I found my voice after the stroke, really. I think there were people out in the internet reading — Carolyn Kellogg, who writes for the LA Times, had a blog called Pinky’s Paperhaus at the time, and she linked to me as a writer recovering from stroke. So there was definitely interest in my story and situation.
I really don’t think I found my voice regarding my stroke until years later. I wasn’t able to write about it until my post for Nova Ren Suma, who did a Turning Point series on her blog, to which I contributed with a reference to my stroke.
Not only has blogging my stroke experience refined my voice, it was also life-saving. And anonymity provided sanctuary.
What is your life like now?
It is as normal as I imagine it to be. It’s, honestly, better than my life pre-stroke. I’m following my dreams and choosing very carefully what it is I want to do each day, each month, each year. While in recovery, I had very limited energy, and had to be particular about my priorities; I decided to keep doing that, go forward.
And what about your writing?
Once you go through something like that, when so many of your abilities are taken away, your life is pared down to what it is you really want to get back.
I went through a very dark place at some point in my recovery — and although I don’t look upon that phase with fondness, I did learn what was most important to me, and what it is I most desired out of my life. And my writing became a front-and-center goal. I’d always known writing was important to me, but after the stroke, I knew I would channel everything I had to get back to writing.
Now that I’m writing again, I’ve more a sense of structure with regard to my writing projects; in fact, I’m obsessed with structure, because recovery is so much about stages and regaining structure. Because my brain was injured, I understood how writing happens, in my brain at least — that stories are modular, that I need quiet, that layers come with each retelling.
We have a brand new free theme for your blogging pleasure today!
Designed by Automattic’s very own Mel Choyce, Intergalactic is a stunning specimen for your personal blog. Bold featured images act as the backdrop to your text, giving you a high-contrast, readable theme that’s perfect for making your content pop. The one-column layout provides a distraction-free environment for reading, while the slide-out menu keeps your navigation and secondary content readily accessible.
In Mel’s own words…
Intergalactic was inspired by long-form storytelling sites like Exposure and Medium. I wanted to design a theme that focused heavily on showcasing your stories, images, and videos, and could flex its content to many different use-cases. I also wanted everything to be big — as big as the Beastie Boys (who inspired the name). It was great working with Caroline to bring Intergalactic to life.
Learn more about the free Intergalactic theme at the Theme Showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.
Automattic is a distributed company — we all work from wherever we are. Right now, “where we are” is 197 cities around the world: New Orleans, USA. Montevideo, Uruguay. Tokyo, Japan. Vilnius, Lithuania.
Once a year, we get together somewhere in the world to meet, work alongside, learn from, and laugh with one another in an exhilarating, exhausting week called the Grand Meetup. This year, 277 Automatticians descended on Park City, Utah, for seven days in mid-September.
I flew across the country to spend time in a mountain lodge with a bunch of strangers I met on the Internet. And they are wonderful. #a8cGM
— Chris Hardie (@ChrisHardie) September 16, 2014
We introduced ourselves to new colleagues, reconnected with coworkers we haven’t seen since last year, and worked on ways to make WordPress.com even better. And of course, lots of us blogged about the experience, in words and images.
We were blown away by the brilliance and generosity of our colleagues…
I’m grateful to have met so many Automatticians from around the world who brought such kindness, curiosity, patience, fierce intelligence, creativity and humor to the time we had together. I’m grateful to have learned about their hobbies, families, personal journeys, quirks, pet peeves, amazing skills, unmitigated geekiness, and brilliant senses of humor.
- VIP Wrangler Chris Hardie
We marveled at the range of conversations we had, from the sublime to the absurd…
Here are some of the things I talked about this week:
- Scottish independence
- Taylor Swift
- My children
- Other people’s children
- Swing dancing
- Waffles (lack thereof)
- Fake morning talkshows
- Mario Kart
We soaked in the natural beauty of Utah…
Early morning takeoff, by yours truly.
And some of us got up close and personal with the wide Utah sky…
Happiness Engineer Jeremey DuVall realizes he’s just jumped out of an airplane.
We learned from one another, and had fun doing it…
I learned how to analyze data in Python with Carly, and went skydiving with Prasath. After discussing common security vulnerabilities with Anne, Cami and I plotted a podcast about absolutely nothing, and recorded part of our first episode…
If you asked me four years ago if I thought it were possible to enjoy working, I’d be dubious. If you asked me whether one could ever genuinely love and respect all their coworkers, I’d hesitate.
Over the past four years, the people of Automattic have demonstrated to me that it’s possible to do work you love with people you love. It’s not common — not yet — but it’s possible.
- VaultPress Eclectic Happiffier Chris Rudzki
We burned the midnight oil…
We worked, we played, we ate, we drank, we slept very little. We tried to make the world a better place, and if you think that’s me being dramatic you don’t know the people I have the honor of working with.
- Dot Organizer Cami Kaos
We took a lot of photos…
(Images above from Happiness Engineers Stephen McLeod, Pam Kocke, Andrea Badgley, Dennis Hong, and Andrew Spittle; Creative Director Dave Martin; Code Wrangler Allen Snook; Designamagician Dan Hauk, Mobile Maker Aaron Douglas; Growth Explorer Luca Sartoni; Spline Reticulator Dennis Snell; and Chief Semicolon Advocate Michelle Weber, AKA me.)
On the final day, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg led us in a toast that summed up the reason we’re all here…
I’m really grateful that I get to work with the people I do, and on the problems that we work on together. It’s far from easy, in fact each year brings new challenges and I make mistakes as often as not, but it is worthwhile and incredibly fulfilling. A few hours ago I gave a closing toast and teared up looking around the room. So many folks that give their passion and dedicate themselves to jobs both large and small, visible and unseen, to help make the web a better place.
- WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg
And when the week was over, heading home was bittersweet…
This morning was filled with so many hugs (and maybe a tear or two). I told myself that I was looking forward to returning home. To my own bed (although the sleep I got in the silence of the Park City night was the best I may have ever experienced). To regular exercise and home cooking. To the routine of my everyday life. And I was looking forward to that. And even though I knew I would miss my colleagues (it’s happened every time I return from a trip), the weight of the fog of sadness still surprises me when it descends.
I read their blogs. I like their Facebook posts. I retweet their Tweets. And I miss them.
- Happiness (w)Rangler Lori McLeese
If you think you might want to work with this motley crew and join us in 2015’s mayhem…
… we’re hiring. (And yes, you’ll get to make up your own job title, too.)
A theme named after the decade that gave us daring teen comedies and cutting-edge synth pop was bound to be a crowd-pleaser. And indeed, in the few weeks since Eighties was released, it’s garnered tens of thousands of fans who are using it on their sites.
Eighties may have been created with personal bloggers in mind, but its balance of striking visuals and flexible design makes it a good choice for anyone looking for a memorable, easy-to-customize website. Here are some of the theme’s most noteworthy features, already expertly used by our favorite Eighties early adopters.
A bold header area
Big and Splash were both huge box-office hits in the 80s. Both can also describe the theme’s header area, a full-width visual statement that draws visitors in immediately. Case in point? paper chambers, a crisply designed site by TC Shillingford, a Philadelphia-based blogger who writes on popular culture, sports, and more. TC’s gorgeous custom header images, along with a slender, modernist custom font, immediately make the site stand out.
Bilbiolkept, a literary blog by Edwin Turner, also recently made the switch to Eighties. The theme complements the site’s thought-provoking content, featuring an ever-changing roster of header images that welcome visitors with fresh visuals every time they stop by.
Tailor-made post formats
Eighties offers several unique stylings for different types of content, including the video, quote, and status post formats. Still on Biblioklept, here’s a great use of the image post format, which gives extra oomph to pictures and photos:
Featured images you can’t miss
With Eighties, you can create a powerful visual effect when you use the featured images option. Sleepy Coffee and Fables, a photo-heavy blog by a writer passionate about travel and snail mail, displays a well-chosen photo to set a distinct mood on each post.
Here, for example, is the featured image from a post on night photography:
And another one, this time from a post about journaling:
Note that the theme has the option to display full-width featured images, too.
A clean slate
With its ample, bright white space, and endless possibilities to create bespoke designs, Eighties can be turned upside-down: from a recognizably brash theme to one that recedes into the background. A great example of the latter is the professional site of Madeleine Hawks, a doula practicing in Austin, Texas.
Madeleine has created a website with a static front page, so all of her content — including her contact information — is easy to find for the first-time visitor.
Even more ways to customize
Eighties also lets you tuck away your main navigation with a pop-up custom menu in the header area, and includes a sleek (optional) social links menu. For the designers, illustrators, and other visual artists among you, the theme also supports our Portfolio feature.
Are you using Eighties already? Tell us what it was that made it the right fit for you.
We’re back with another collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress! You can find our past collections here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations.
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1. What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making (Tim Maly, Quiet Babylon)
After a successful “creators’ conference” in Portland, Maly asks some tough questions about whether the creators are taking into account the factories and anonymous services that help them succeed in the first place.
The Nazis stole his family’s paintings. He emigrated to Canada and became one of the country’s foremost gallery owners. And now, twenty years after his death, he is changing the rules of restitution.
3. Interview: Vanessa Grigoriadis on Writing Fast, Putting Stories Away, and Documentary-Style Writing (Meagan Flynn, Beyond the New Yorker)
Journalist Meagan Flynn chats with New York Magazine and Rolling Stone writer Vanessa Grigoriadis:
I just really try to write fast. And I think it’s so much better for my writing. When I used to agonize over every sentence and every section, the stories were so much worse. My problem is, if the content is not interesting to me, I don’t want to go back and revise it.
The London Review of Books writer reflects on childhood diversion:
In spite of The Poet and me being pretty old, we’re still young enough to remember from our childhood being told off for watching too much television and not, like the parents, making our own entertainment.
How Christian Rudder, the 39-year-old president and co-founder of the online dating site OKCupid, found himself at the intersection of dating and Big Data.
The little-known story behind Wonder Woman’s origins:
Wonder Woman’s debt is to feminism. She’s the missing link in a chain of events that begins with the woman-suffrage campaigns of the nineteen-tens and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later. Wonder Woman is so hard to put on film because the fight for women’s rights has gone so badly.
A mother visits her young son in a psychiatric ward:
Kids with mental illness stand out profoundly, and, thus, become bullying targets. That’s why Connor is a victim no matter where he goes—even here.
Dr. Robert Lanza has racked up a slew of scientific accolades—and generated an equal amount of controversy—for his pioneering work on cloning and stem cells. He also lives alone on his own island, collects dinosaur bones, and is often the subject of Good Will Hunting comparisons.
A conversation with Susan Cain, who speaks out about what we need to do to make classrooms more accommodating for introverted students.
A look back at the pioneering group of women who worked on one of the earliest computers:
Shortly before she died in 2011, Jean Jennings Bartik reflected proudly on the fact that all the programmers who created the first general-purpose computer were women: “Despite our coming of age in an era when women’s career opportunities were generally quite confined, we helped initiate the era of the computer.”
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Join us as we explore the world though the street photography tag on WordPress.com. Here you’ll find no airport lineups, no grumpy customs agents, and you never get the middle seat.
On belgianstreets, photographer Andy Townend recently shot “stripfeest,” an annual comics festival held in Brussels, Belgium. We loved how Andy captures this young reader fully ensconced in his comic book. An avid photographer, Andy is also a regular contributor to The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge.
We were intrigued by the untold stories in Michael Wilson’s photo, “the flower seller,” on his site, BrooklynBystander. Taken in Adelaide, South Australia, the photo below documents a brief moment of commerce. We look at it and wonder: who is it that these gentlemen bought flowers for — perhaps a friend, a relative, a lover, or maybe themselves?
Speaking of untold stories, the following moment of domesticity in the middle distance at Plebs Street Photography caught our eye. A woman, and a man working on a laptop, are both enjoying a bit of stolen warmth during Copenhagen Indian Summer. What is she doing? What is he working on? We love the way this photo allows us to imagine their story.
Matt Weber, a photographer who has documented New York City’s fleeting moments for the last 25 years, captured this subway performer’s serious glare and the polarizing effect this “subterranean gymnast” had on the passengers around him. If you were on this train car, would you be appreciative or apathetic?
Another quick spin through the WordPress.com Reader takes us from New York City’s subway to the following quiet moment in Venice, Italy, courtesy of photographer Kyra Betteridge. Kyra captured these gondola drivers in repose, as they waited for their next customers. We love how the light in this photograph draws your eye directly to the drivers, in their bright, striped shirts. Check out more of Kyra’s work on her site, Kyra Betteridge Photography.
At Life is a Vacation, Sangeeta wrestles with her emotions over the following photograph she took in Mandu, India, post-monsoon. The elderly woman struggling up the muddy, slippery incline reminded Sangeeta of her own nonagenarian grandmother.
Jessica Heckinger Nowak captures a different sort of solitude in this image of an accordion player in the streets of Paris, France. We love how if you focus your gaze on the player, the graffiti scribbled across the low wall resembles the flurry of musical notes we imagine emanating from his accordion. Interested in seeing more? Check out Jessica’s work at National Geographic.
Tour the world from the comfort of your favorite comfy chair, courtesy of the photographers who share their work on WordPress.com. For more, take a spin through the street photography tag in your Reader.
We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.
Writer, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.
Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.
Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month, Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.
Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.
Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.
Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.
Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.