5 Coding Projects I Hope to Complete in August

The past couple of months I’ve been so busy with custom design work, wedding planning, trips (California, Boston, New York), and finishing up school work that I have barely had time to work on my pre-made products. Well I’m blanking out my whole month of August just for that! For at least the month of August I will not be taking on any new custom design/work projects (except for a couple already scheduled). I’m going to devote 100% of my time to getting out new products and features.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been working on, but haven’t had time to finish. Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of these features in August!

1. UBB Reviews to Goodreads Add-On

What it’s about

Post review from WordPress to Goodreads

This is an add-on for the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. It allows you to check a box on your WordPress book review titled “Send to Goodreads”, then when you publish the post the review is automatically sent to Goodreads along with your star rating.


This add-on may even be done. I’ve been using the same functionality on Nose Graze for a while now to test it out. When it seemed to be working, I coded it up in a new, separate plugin. But now it’s just sitting there because although I had the time to code it, I haven’t had the time to actually test it yet. Theoretically it should work but it still needs testing since I compiled it into a separate plugin.

There’s also one huge feature that I haven’t tested yet. Originally I coded the plugin with one checkbox: post to Goodreads. So after checking that and saving the post, the review would immediately be sent to Goodreads. But then I decided to code a second checkbox: post to Goodreads when the review gets published. Here’s the difference:

  • The first checkbox sends to Goodreads IMMEDIATELY after checking the box and saving the post. So you can check it, then click “Save Draft”, and the review will be sent.
  • The second checkbox only sends the review to Goodreads when the post gets published (whether by clicking “Publish” or scheduling the post and when the post goes live).

Again, it should theoretically work fine, but I haven’t been able to test it yet.

Update: I have released the add-on for those using my Book Host web host service. So far it’s been going well!

2. Front-end review submissions for UBB

What it’s about

This feature is similar to the UBB Review Requests Add-On in the sense that there’s a front-end form.. but it has a whole different purpose. This basically takes all the UBB fields and puts them on the front-end along with a post box. So people can fill that in, then the book info gets compiled into a new post draft for you to review. This is perfect for guest reviewers or review submissions if you don’t want to let everyone into your admin area.

UBB front-end review submission form


I actually coded this as an add-on at the same time I made the Review Requests add-on. But then I thought maybe I should integrate it into the main UBB plugin. So if I decide to do that, I’ll have to copy the code over then do a lot of testing on it. But it’s basically the same functionality as the review requests add-on, so it doesn’t need that much more testing.

3. CW Mail plugin

What it’s about

This is the email subscription plugin that I coded for myself. It’s a plugin that allows you to collect subscribers through a widget (see my sidebar) then send emails to those subscribers by connecting to Mandrill. So the actual load of sending email isn’t done by your server; it’s done by Mandrill. Mandrill does cost money but the first 12,000 emails per month are free, then after that it’s only $0.20 per thousand emails. So my bill every month is less than $2 USD.

You can configure different lists for people to sign up to (like I have “All Posts”, “Bitchin Book Blog Posts”, and “Book Review Posts”). Then you can set up an autoresponder that uses logic like this:

CW Mail autoresponder settings

This particular autoresponder will only send out an email to people on the Bitchin’ Book Blog Posts list, only if the post type is “Post” (as opposed to a Page), and only if the post is in the Bitchin’ Book Blog category.

And here’s what my post email template looks like:

CW Mail email template

Obviously I have a bigger, more detailed HTML template that goes around that (and is stored in Mandrill), but this is the template for this specific “All New Posts” list. You can see where I’ve used shortcodes like {post_content} to insert the content of the post.


I’ve been using this plugin on Nose Graze for over a month now I think and it’s been working perfectly. The only reason I haven’t put it up for sale yet is because if I’m going to do that, I need to write a ton of documentation on how to set it up and use it, and I haven’t had time to do that yet.

4. Nose Graze pre-made theme

What it’s about

A couple weeks ago I mentioned I was going to be turning old Nose Graze themes into pre-mades. The first one I’m working on is my previous design.


I’ve already put a lot of development time into this theme. It has a pretty insane options panel that almost rivals Tweak Me:

Nose Graze theme settings panel

But there’s still a lot more to keep adding and then testing!

5. Novelist plugin – UBB for authors!

What it’s about

I’ve been playing with this idea for MONTHS! The core feature of the plugin is: easy book organization for authors. Think UBB in the sense that there are neat little boxes to fill out for your books, then the HTML gets compiled automatically. Here’s a screenshot:

Novelist book info settings

So you can see there’s a new tab for books and you can “Add New”, then fill out the information about the book. Fields include: title, series, publication date, synopsis, purchase links, quotes from reviews, and excerpt. Then when you visit the book’s page, the HTML gets compiled for you automatically.

Another cool feature is the ability to automatically pull out your book’s average star rating/review count from Goodreads.


Originally I wanted to create a combination of UBB and Tweak Me but for authors.. so think like a crazy customizable theme with built-in options to make authors’ website lives easier. I actually spent a few weeks developing that, but then I stopped (got busy, I suppose). However, I actually did integrate some of the book features into my author clients’ themes (like J.A. Redmerski). Then, months later, I decided I should pick it up again but put it into a plugin instead… well that hasn’t happened yet.

Which projects are you excited about?

Is there anything else you’d like to see happen that I haven’t mentioned?

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  1. Actually, looking at the “front end review submissions”..not sure I really get what it’s FOR. Is it for things like other people submitting reviews on your own blog? Like, if you wanted a guest reviewer, or if you have another reviewer but don’t want them to have access to any admin stuff on the blog? Also, the “Review Requests” add on you mentioned…I saw that turn up in the UBB plugins…is there anywhere where you have documentation on exactly how to use it? I’m a bit lost with it…I don’t quite understand it or what you use it for. (I can be a bit thick sometimes…LOL)

  2. Very excited about the reviews to GR. I post on GR after my site, but it’s such a pain in the butt copy and pasting etc. This will be SO much easier! Man, you’re a busy girl. Do you ever take a break and relax? πŸ˜‰ You’re like the energizer bunny!

    Carrie recently posted: Making Comments On Fellow Book Blogs
    1. This kind of stuff is what I like to do to relax! πŸ˜€

      Let me know how the Reviews to Goodreads add-on works for you! People have been reporting that it works okay, but it’s still nice to keep hearing that until I put it up for sale for everyone!

  3. I would buy the heck out of that mail plugin as well as the Goodreads posting plugin!

    I’m curious about the GoodReads one: since the UBB plugin uses “[ ]” instead of “‘” to mark spoilers, if you had spoilers in your review, would you then need to go back over to GoodReads and edit those so the spoilers are tagged correctly in GoodReads?

    Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews recently posted: Top 10 Tuesday: Cover Trends I’m Tired Of
    1. Absolutely! I currently have two boxes in the settings:

      1. Add text/HTML before the review
      2. Add text/HTML after the review

      And both of those have some shortcodes available, one of which is [review_url]. So you could enter something like this:

      This review was originally posted on <a href="[review_url]" rel="nofollow">Bewitched Bookworms</a>

      And that link would take you to the review on your blog. πŸ™‚

  4. LOVE this! I’m very excited about the GR review plugin. Will that be a plugin? I was just telling my friend how much I’m loving your Book Host service. I want to switch over my book blog to it now. (You’ll probably never get rid of me) Since you’re on a hiatus, would that be something you could do? Would it be just ordering the service online or would it have to wait until after your blog break? You know I am clueless about anything blogging related so I’m just wondering if moving would affect my blog in any way…

    The email service looks awesome. Will all the UBB features show up in the email? I just switched over to Jetpack for emails but none of the UBB features (like the cover and book info and buy links) appear in the email so I don’t like it…

    Would it be possible to save book info so you can automatically pull it up and not have to retype it? Say, if I featured a book as my WOW and entered all the information in the UBB, would it be possible to just pull that up when the time comes to write my review? Or to save series info?

    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted: Blog Tour Review: Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton!
    1. Yes the GR review plugin will be an add-on to UBB (a separate plugin that requires UBB, but runs along side it).

      If you wanted to migrate your book blog to Book Host, I could do that at any time. That’s something that takes less than an hour so I can squeeze that in. I’m just canceling all “big” projects for the month of August, but everything else (like migrations) is still fair game! I’m thrilled you’re loving Book Host though!

      Yes, all shortcodes work in the emails (including UBB info). I seriously don’t understand why Jetpack doesn’t allow shortcodes in their emails; it’s stupid!

      As for the storing book info, that’s already available. πŸ™‚ If you have a post that already exists with book information, you can pull that out to display in another post using this shortcode:

      [book-info title="Book Title" author="Book Author"]

      So that should already be functional. πŸ™‚

        1. You use eNom right? If so, you have to login, click on your domain, click “General Settings”, and there should be an option to “Email Auth Info to Registrant”.

          If you can’t find it, you’ll have to ask your registrar how to get it, because that’s something they provide.

  5. These are all great and I can’t wait for the mail plugin!

    I have been meaning to ask you about your post about featured images (http://www.nosegraze.com/dynamic-featured-images-wordpress/). This is great but I have no coding knowledge so I wouldn’t even try to do this. Is this something you can develop as an add-on for Tweak Me? I’m planning to purchase Tweak Me soon =)

    1. Hm I’ll see if I can work that in. It’s a bit more complicated when making it for a pre-made theme.

  6. OMG you are a genius Ashley! I love all those ideas!
    I was just transferring my newsletter from mailchimp to MailPoet (I think it’s called MailPoet, lol) because I don’t want to pay the monthly fee. I tried only sending out my newsletter on certain days but I just got a message yesterday that I had reached my limit and they aren’t sending anymore without me paying. Hence the transition.
    However, I’m not a huge fan of how the new emails look, and to be honest I have no idea if it’ll even work. My point in all this is that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you would release your newsletter widget!!! I would definitely purchase it πŸ™‚

    1. The good thing about my plugin is that the emails get sent through Mandrill, which is a separate system owned by MailChimp. That means they actually allow template exports from MailChimp. So you can design your template in MailChimp then import it into Mandrill and use that same template/design to send your emails through Mandrill and my plugin. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m very excited about the “post to Goodreads” plug-in! I have a checklist (when I’m actually reading/reviewing, which I’m not right now…sadly) that actually TELLS me to go over and post to Goodreads, because I always forget.

  8. The mail plugin is what I’ve been waiting for, I don’t like feed burner or jetpack and I really like your stuff, so I’m pretty sure this will be awesome. Can’t wait!!

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