Monday, August 31, 2009

When we share shoes...

...we can learn a great deal. This is the best thing about critiquing. Quixotic over at Step 1: Write, Edit, and Revise, had this great post about what effect critiquing others work has had on the way she looks at her own work. Her observations are accurate, and could easily be applied to my own experiences. As I mentioned here, I recently sent my ms to two beta readers for whom I am reciprocating, and I have joined a crit group which starts up tomorrow. This has prodded me to do a series of posts on critiquing. I'm no expert, so please, read on at your own risk. For today, all I have to say is this: critiquing others and having others critique my work has been the best thing I've ever done as far as my writing goes. What about you? Has critiquing and being critiqued been helpful to you? Okay, more on that later. Today, I have an award to pass on. My friend Rae over at Weather Vane gave me the Splish Splash award. To find out what it's all about, go visit Rae, but basically, it's for those who have dazzling blogs. Thanks for the compliment, Rae. Now, I get to pass it on to nine other dazzling bloggers. 1. Jody Hedlund at On The Path 2. Cindy Wilson at Cindy R. Wilson 3. Jennifer Major at Major Musings 4. Anna Morrison at Anna C. Morrison 5. Suzanne at Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness 6. Fiction Groupie at Fiction Groupie 7. Tabitha Bird at Books, Bubs, and Writing Blabber 8. J.B. Chicoine at J. B. Chicoine Work In Progress 9. Kathryn Magendie at Tender Graces Thank you all for brightening my day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

This Sock Can Talk!

Okay, I know, it's a lame picture, but it is foot-related, and my creative juices have been zapped by a chapter I'm reworking because of some minor plot discrepancies. Besides, it's my birthday, and no one should have to think too hard on their birthday, should they? At any rate, I do have a point to make. I've spent this week talking about what makes a work stand out from the masses. Many of you have commented that voice is the most important thing. I agree, which is why I saved it for last. Most of you know, as I've mentioned before, that my characters tend to run away with my story. This is not to say that voice comes easily. Actually, voice is something I struggle with, especially when the adult in my head starts arguing with the teen characters about everything. Strong voice is imperative, though, and if we want our writing to stand apart from the rest, we all must strive to achieve it. How do you get the inner you to sit down and shut up so that your characters can be heard? And, yes, it's Friday. So, it's time for the next recipient of the The Silver Shoe of Sincerity Award. There is only one rule, and that is: if you choose to pass it on (which I hope you do), please do so to someone who you find to be sincere in their blogging activity. This week's recipient is Janna Qualman, author of Something She Wrote. She positively interacts in all ways, and her posts move me emotionally. Sometimes I cry; sometimes I laugh; sometimes I cry because I'm laughing so hard; and sometimes I just stop and think. If you don't already follow Janna, go check out her blog. Have a great weekend full of setting, plot, conflict, and, of course, voice!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Uh-Oh! There's a Problem!

Obviously, the woman's heel broke, which would pose significant problems, but what about the things behind the scene--the things we can't see in the picture? Maybe she swore under her breath because it would be the third time she had been late for work in a month, and the boss had already threatened to fire her. Maybe she had just fled from the Irish Pub where her boyfriend had dumped her, and heat rose to her cheeks because she knew he was watching. Or, maybe she was on her way to borrow money from her mother, who never thought she'd amount to anything, and showing up with a broken heel would only validate what her mother thought. Aside from an interesting setting and a unique plot, another way to make our work stand out is to develop strong internal conflicts that the reader can relate to. What most would consider the same old, done-to-death story can shine with the addition of inner turmoil. External conflict is what drives a story along, but it is the internal conflicts that make the reader care about the characters and what happens to them. It's what gives a story heart. What about you? What do you think the story behind the broken heel is?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

These Shoes are Different!

And they certainly got my attention! And a good plot with many different angles will, too. Yesterday, I talked about how we can make our works stand out by using interesting settings. Another way to achieve this is to use twists of plot. Like I said, most stories have already been told at least a dozen times in one way or another. But, if we can come up with a new spin on it, it's a new story. The perfect example of this is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. On the surface, this story appears to be about Jacob and his wives, Rachael and Leah, and in part it is. But, really, it is about Dinah, Leah's daughter. In the bible, her story takes up all of three or four sentences. Diamant has managed to turn that into a full length novel, and a quite good one at that, because of her unique twist on plot. If you are lucky enough, or perhaps I should say, talented enough, to come up with a never-been-done-before story, your work will stand out. If not, though, how about coming up with an interesting twist on something that has been done before? Is your plot different than anything else out there? Or have you put a special spin on it to make it different? And along those lines, how important is plot, anyway? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Flip Flops in the Snow?

That's unusual! (Well, not really these days, but cut me some slack. I'm trying to make a point here.) Take an ordinary pair of shoes and put them in an unusual setting, and you have an interesting picture. Take an everyday story and put it in an unusual setting, and you have an exciting tale. One way we can set our works apart from the rest is with setting. Take Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, for example. She took the age-old tale of King Arthur, something we've heard a zillion times, and turned it into something else entirely by putting it in a mythical setting. Like it or not, most stories have already been told in one way or another (Romeo and Juliet, for example). Our job is to come up with a new way to tell the same old story. Setting can be a great resource. How have you used setting to make your work stand out from the rest? Or what books have you read that effectively used setting to distinguish themselves from the masses? Now, I have to thank Fiction Groupie, Strange Fiction, J.B. Chicoine, and Weronika for this award. Thanks girls! I'm breaking the rules here, but if you leave a comment to this post, the award is yours. Most of you leave regular comments, and I can not even begin to just pick five to pass it on to. You are all deserving. I love each and every one of your comments and hope they never stop coming!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Son Is Picky!

But he finally chose these. And I never, ever, ever want to take him shoe shopping again! Last week, I decided my youngest son needed new tennis shoes. I figured it would take an hour, maybe two, right? WRONG! As we were backing out of the driveway, he informed me that he wanted either all black or all white shoes. I cringed at the thought of all white, knowing they would be all brown within a week, but all black was doable, so I agreed. At the first store, he narrowed his choices down to two pairs. I narrowed it down to one after I pointed out that I would not spend more than fifty dollars on a pair of tennis shoes for an eleven-year-old. He narrowed it down to none when his size 6 foot wouldn't fit into a size 5 shoe. At the second store, there were several choices, and we had a very helpful salesman who probably hated us by the time we left an hour and a half later. Every shoe my son tried on had a problem--it makes my foot look too big; it hurts my pinkie toe; it hurts my heel; it looks stupid...etc. I decided to give up for the day and try over the weekend, but as I passed by a small sporting goods store, I thought, Why not give it a try? Well, low and behold, he found the perfect pair of shoes. They aren't all black, and they aren't all white, and they will be all brown in a matter of days, but he was happy, and so was I. It made me think about an agent searching for the perfect manuscript to represent in the mass of many. She starts out with a preconceived notion of what she's looking for, and when she doesn't find IT, she broadens her horizons. Then, some things just don't quite fit, or she doesn't fall in love with it enough to buy it. Then, from the most unlikely of sources, she discovers a gem. My point is this: publishing is a subjective business, and we all have a shot, but we have to do something to make our work stand out from the rest. Agents and editors have so many to choose from; they aren't going to settle for mediocre. We have to make our work shine like a gem so that it gets noticed. Knowing that you are all avid readers, I'd like to hear what you think makes a work stand out. What makes you want to recommend a book to friend?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Good Polish Couldn't Hurt

By someone else, of course! Sometimes, we've been walking around in the same pair of shoes for so long that we fail to see the scuff marks. That's when a good shoe shiner comes in handy. After all, he does know shoes, doesn't he? This is why having other writers read our work is so important. After hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, and even months and months of looking at our writing, we can't see the flaws anymore. We become accustomed to them. They become the norm. Up until now, I've only let a few family members and friends read my ms. They were very helpful, and pointed out some things that were easily fixed, but they aren't writers. They don't know the ins and outs of the craft. Well, I'm taking the next step. I'm sending out my manuscript to a couple of fellow writers. It's both daunting and exciting at the same time. I only wish I had done it before I queried! Any advice? And, it's Friday, which means it's time for the next recipient of the Silver Shoe of Sincerity Award. This award is intended for those who show complete sincerity in their blogging. For more information, visit this post. Remember, you are under no obligation to pass it on, but I'd smile if you did. And you don't have to post it on your blog and link it back her, but that would be nice. :) So, that being said, this week's recipient is Rae, author of Weather Vane. Her posts are always so honest, and more often than not, they make me laugh. Plus, she comments a lot, and you all know how much I love comments! Go pay her a visit! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What? A Shoe Without a Heel?

There's obviously been some kind of mistake! How could anyone walk in a shoe like this? This week, I've been talking about how my manuscript wasn't ready when I first queried it. So far, my discussions have been limited to the obvious--the uneducated errors that distinguish a newbie from a more seasoned novelist, things like word count and grammar. Like this shoe, these things stand up and shout, "Something isn't right here!" But what about the more subtle deficiencies? You know, those underlying issues that aren't so obvious--things like passive sentences and purple prose. Unlike word count and grammar, these deficiencies don't come with a formula for solution. There are no set standards for the number of times you can use "was" in your manuscript. There's no predetermined limit on descriptive adverbs and adjectives. And there's no word processing program tool to tell you when your writing has become melodramatic. These issues can only be remedied by studying the craft and improving our skills by writing on a daily basis. We can look at the publishing industry in this day, and think of all the negatives--too many writers, not enough agents, fewer books being published, etc. But one positive is this: So many established authors, agents, and editors have opened up their brains for us to have a glimpse of their knowledge of the craft. Sometimes, it's through a simple blog. Other times, it's handed to us in book format. Either way, they are sharing with us the things we wouldn't have access to otherwise. There are so many great resources out there for improving our writing skills. Have you taken advantage of them? If so, I'd love to hear what blog, book, article, or website you have found most helpful in your journey. Feel free to mention Stephen King's On Writing, but be sure to spell his name correctly, unlike I did in Tuesday's post. You never know...he could be reading our blogs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is It Just Me...

Or do these shoes look like commas? Up until a few months ago, I considered myself to have a relatively firm grasp on grammar. My first love was always English. I was in the honors classes throughout high school, and I spent hours reading and writing. But, since my dad was paying for college, his checkbook had the honor of choosing my degree. So, I majored in Accounting. One day, I was researching agents and came across a blog about how to improve your manuscript. (I'd point you in that direction, but I don't remember which one it was.) There was a whole section dedicated to the mechanics of writing. I was shocked to find that I had broken many of the rules this agent listed as important. Had things changed since I was in high school? Or had I just forgotten the rules? Either way, I decided I needed a refresher. I went right away to the local book store and bought several books on proper writing mechanics. I spent the next few days reading these books and searching the web for any sites about the subject. In the end, I realized my manuscript needed a complete overhaul. There were twenty-five errors on the first five pages alone. I had a brief moment of humiliation at the thought of agents reading my submissions and shaking their head at my careless writing, but I pushed it out of my head and quickly got down to the task of editing. Have you taken the time to rid your manuscript of mechanical errors? By the way, there are probably a dozen or more mistakes in this post, but I don't have time to edit it! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So Many Wasted Shoes!

And so many wasted words. Yesterday, I talked about querying too soon. Okay, mostly, I talked about my encounter with the trash man, but still, I made reference to querying too soon, didn't I? At any rate, I thought I'd spend the rest of the week (and possibly the rest of the year) talking about why my ms wasn't ready when I first queried it. And today's topic is...WORD COUNT. When I first queried my completed ms, it weighed in at 110,000 words. Whoa! That's a lot of words for Young Adult! According to the SCBWI, of which I'm a proud member now, the maximum word count for YA is 65,000. Unfortunately, I did not know this back then because I hadn't even looked into it. (Other sites will tell you it is 80,000, so that's what I'm going with. 30,000 is easier to cut than 45,000, isn't it?) Out of those five agents I queried, only one responded. And it was a form rejection. I have a feeling they all saw my word count and laughed out loud. I'm so glad I only sent it out to five before learning the rules. I spent the next three months cutting words, scenes, and even entire chapters. I got it down to 85,000 words. Close enough, right? We'll see... It may seem unfair, but as a new writer, it's important to play by the rules. Unless you are an established author like Jodi Picoult or Stephen King, or an exceptionally lucky novice like Stephanie Meyer, agents will look at your word count. Why else would they want it specifically stated in the query letter? This is just my yet-to-be-published opinion. What are your thoughts? How important do you think word count is?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trash Day

I have a love/hate relationship with trash day. I love to get rid of all the trash that has accumulated over the week, but I hate it when I oversleep and don't get it out in time. I still can't figure out why they have to come so stinkin' early! The last time this happened, I chased the trash truck down. He was already almost all the way down the street, but the thought of maggots crawling over week-old trash took over my reasoning power, and before I knew it, I was running down the street, waving my arms and screaming, "Come back! Come back!" Yes, I had just crawled out of bed and was barefoot and in pajamas (not the pretty kind either). My hair was a giant, frizzy mass of tangles, and my eyes were bloodshot and puffy. But, in my defense, I had been up late the night before writing. No, not blogging--writing! I thought about flirting with the guy, but then I realized I wasn't exactly the most attractive thing right then. So, instead, I humbly begged him to swing back by my house. He tried to hide his amusement at my appearance, but I saw him giggling when he so kindly returned to retrieve my trash. I'm pretty sure I made his day. I know he made mine--he gave me a second chance. But will an agent? Maybe. Maybe not. In this post, I talked about all of my late night query mistakes. Several of you mentioned that the biggest mistake you made was querying too soon. This was also my biggest mistake. My trash just wasn't ready. What are some things you've done to make sure your manuscript is the best it possibly can be?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Love Awards!

And my friend Strange Fiction over at Ranch Girl Ramblings and my friend Michelle McLean over at Michelle McLean's Writer Ramblings gave me this one. Thanks girls! The rules are as follows: 1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award. 2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog. 3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award. 4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. 5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers. 6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate. 7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated. The seven I'm passing it on to are: 1. Rae, author of Weather Vane 2. Weronika, author of Weronika Janczuk 3. Stephanie Faris, author of Steph In The City 4. Jenn Johansson, author of Author Jenn Johansson 5. Terri Tiffany, author of Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer 6. Amy Tate, author of The Virginia Scribe 7. Eileen Astels Watson, author of A Christian Romance Writer's Journey Now, I guess I get to talk about myself! 1. I came in second in The Kansas City's Worst Singer Contest, and they played me singing Honesty by Billy Joel on the radio. 2. I do Dance Dance Revolution for my workout, and I'm as good a dancer as I am a singer. :) 3. I never get bored. I could sit for hours alone with my own thoughts. 4. I'm only five foot tall, so I prefer heels. Even my flip flops have a small, wedge heel. 5. Speaking of shoes, despite the theme of my blog, I'm not a shoe fanatic. 6. I'm addicted to the Game Show Network, and coffee, and solitaire, and blogging, and... 7. I hate, hate, hate doing laundry. Did I mention I hate doing laundry? So there you have it! Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blogger Is Hiding My Post!

I've decided Friday isn't a good day for Blogger. Apparently my post, along with many others, isn't showing up in anyone's reader. I'm posting now in hopes it will show up. See below:

These Boots Were Made For Walking!

But my characters refused to wear them. They just didn't understand why their story had to come to an end. I didn't want to see them go either. I'd lived with them for so long, I couldn't imagine life without them. But I knew all good things must come to an end. After several arguments and much hesitation on my part, we agreed that the novel must have an ending. They worked laboriously with me to tie up all loose ends and cried with me as I wrote the last sentence. Instead of saying good-bye, though, we hugged and said, "Until next time." You see, I promised them a sequel. Even so, bringing my novel to an end was the hardest part of my writing journey so far. The characters, the scenes, the conflicts, the emotions--they all became a part of me. I didn't want to let it go. Am I alone in this? Or have any of you had a hard time ending your story? On a completely unrelated note, it's time for the next recipient of The Silver Shoe of Sincerity Award. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, this award is intended for those who show absolute sincerity in their blog interaction. For more information, visit It's All About Sincerity. I'd like to remind you all that I would love to give it to every single one of you, and eventually, I probably will. But this week's recipient is Heather SINCERE. Oh, ooops, I mean Heather Sunseri, author of Balance With Purpose. She always has a kind word to say, and her posts are encouraging. Go check out her blog! Remember, there is only one rule for this award: if you choose to pass it on, please do so to someone you find to be a sincere blogger. Also, feel free to link it back here. Have a great weekend my fellow character-loving bloggers!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Couldn't Find Them!

I searched everywhere--in closets, in drawers, in cabinets, and even under the beds. But my characters were nowhere to be found. I was halfway through my first novel when they deserted me. They won't admit it, but I think they were angry with me because I wasn't writing enough. I had a good reason, though. I was researching. There were some finer details in my story that I needed to gather information about. For example: The town it takes place in had no name. I had temporarily called it Smalltown because, well, it was a small town. But I got sick of being reminded by Word every time I typed it that it wasn't a real word. The town needed a name! Then there was the whole matter of police dogs. Leon, my friendly yellow lab character, was a drug-sniffing canine, and I didn't even know if yellow labs could be police dogs. They can, by the way, and they are actually quite good at it. And of course there was the issue of the Irish Mafia, which I conveniently referenced without knowing a thing about them. Did you know they are most prominent in Philadelphia? Speaking of Irish, I had to research Irish names because some of my characters were getting sick of being called things like Irish Dude. They really needed proper names. Thankfully, my characters showed back up when I was done researching. And I quickly went back to typing like crazy. What about you? At what point during a WIP do you do the research? Before? After? Or sometime in between?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

These Shoes Make Me Laugh

Okay, they really only make me giggle, but still, they get a reaction out of me. I can just picture the poor woman walking down the street, tilting backward because she can't stand up straight. Seriously, is that Barbie wearing them? Every novel, even the most serious one, should at least garner that--a giggle or two. So how do we manage to bring in a little bit of humor? Donald Maass gives us some suggestions in The Fire In Fiction. Hyperbole: Take every simile and metaphor; then exaggerate it into the outrageous or unexpected. Irony: Don't be afraid to point it out, build it up, and show your characters reaction to it. Overreaction: Let your characters have over-the-top responses to the little catastrophes. These are just a few ways Maass mentions. The bottom line is, exaggerate at some level. Maass says, "Even a serious novel needs to occasionally exaggerate for effect." Well, you heard him. Go exaggerate!

They Ran!

They did! My characters stole my book and ran! At first, I tried to stop them, but then it became obvious they were far better writers than me and much faster, too. So I let them go with it. Three chapters in, I lost all control over my story. All of my preconceived notions about plot went out the window. My story line became something else entirely--something else entirely better, thanks to my screaming characters. I would be writing a scene, and one of my characters would stand up and shout, "Are you crazy? What do you think you are making me do? I wouldn't do that! I'd rather do this!" Yes, I'm admitting it. My characters wrote my book. Now, if only I could get them to land me an agent... I watched an interview with Jodi Picoult a while back where she talked about how her characters speak to her. I could relate, and it gave me affirmation that I'm not crazy. These make believe people that take over my thoughts are real. If I don't see them as that, and I don't give them a chance to be heard, I can not effectively write about them. I've heard a lot of talk about muses, and I finally realized my characters are my muse. Do your characters ever speak to you? (I don't mean in a creepy, weird kind of way. I mean in a creative, inspirational kind of way.) Or do you have another muse?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Dove In!

Well, actually, I was pulled in, but same thing, right? The other day, I was at the pool with my kids, and due to the intense heat, I decided I needed to get in and cool off. I've always been a toe-dipper instead of one to just dive in, so I ran my foot through the water, thinking I'd get in slowly. But before I knew it, my son had a tight grip on my ankle, and I was falling sideways into the water. After a short tirade on my part, I realized my son had actually done me a favor. The water felt good. The same thing happened when I started writing my first novel. Only it was my characters pulling me in, not my son. I fully intended on outlining and doing character sketches before I started writing, but those characters had me typing frantically. Before I knew it, I had written three chapters. And they were fantastic! Oh, who am I kidding? They needed more work than my ten-year-old air conditioning unit. But I didn't care. I could edit later, right? This time around, things have been a little different. My characters are arguing with another voice inside my head--the strict editor lady who's cranky more than she is happy. So, do you work from an outline and character sketches? Do you edit while you're writing? Or do you just dive in and start writing like I did the first time around? I'd really like to know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just Do It!

Yeah! Easy for the NIKE marketing team to say. On September 1st of last year, I began writing my first novel. Up until then, I had only written a few articles for my high school newspaper, a handful of poems, a couple of short stories, and a zillion journal entries in countless, five-subject notebooks. It was a long-time dream of mine to write a full-length novel, but something kept holding me back. That something was self doubt. After all, I had no formal training in the craft other than the couple of writing courses required for my business degree. I was already short enough on time without adding writing something of that magnitude to my schedule. And, I had all kinds of ideas floating around in my head but no clue how to turn them into a full-length novel. Suddenly, though, these characters appeared in my thoughts, and they wouldn't go away. They kept getting bigger and bigger until they were the only things I could think of. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and I gave in. I did exactly what the characters, and NIKE, had been urging me to do for over a decade--JUST DO IT! And, it was the best decision I've ever made. What about you? What pushed you into writing that first novel?

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's All About Sincerity

If you haven't noticed, my posts this week have all been about what, in my opinion, makes a sincere, and therefore, successful, blogger. On Monday, I talked about actively participating in other blogs by commenting. On Tuesday, I talked about following blogs that we find value in. On Wednesday, I talked about giving priority to blogs we feel a real sense of interaction with. Yesterday, I talked about being positive and respectful in our blog interaction. Today, I want to honor someone who exemplifies the very traits I've discussed with an award. Yes, I made the award up. (Is that legal in Blogville? If not, will someone please come get me out of bloggy jail?) At any rate, there are no rules for this award. You don't have to pass it on to anyone, but I'd love it if you did. You don't have to put it on your blog and link back here, but that would be nice. You don't have to add your name to a list of recipients because I wouldn't have a clue how to create such a list. Okay, there is one rule. If you do choose to pass it on, please do so to someone you find to be sincere with their blog interaction. I could easily give this to just about every single one of you, and I'd like to, really I would. But it would take too long to enter all of your names, and I really need to get back to writing. I have no doubt, though, that if this award gets passed along, you will all eventually receive it. Besides, I'll be giving it to someone different every week. So, without further ado, the first recipient of this prestigous, yet homemade, award is D.L. Strange, author of Ranchgirl Ramblings. She was one of my first followers, and she has, time and time again, demonstrated sincerity with not only her interaction with me and many others, but also with her own posts. Go pay her a visit, especially if you need a good friend. And while you're there, tell her she should post more often. :) Thank you all for being the kind and decent bloggers that make me smile every day! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

The other day, someone (I won't mention any names) says to me, "Your hair really is getting gray, isn't it?" Now, I'm making a big confession here to all of you bloggers. I have gray hair. Well, I would if I didn't color it. On this particular day, it had been quite a while since I had done it. In fact, the box of hair color had been sitting on my counter for several days waiting for me to have a chance to use it. Did I know my head was starting to look like a skunk? Yes. Did my mother-in-law (oops...I wasn't going to mention any names) have to point it out? No, but she did. I've never encountered any rude bloggers, but there seems to be a case of it going around. Nathan Bransford had to block anonymous commenters because of a rude person. Stephanie Faris had to switch from My Space to Blogger because of several rude people. Jenna Alexander decided to stay completely away from the internet for a week because of a rude comment she read on someone's blog. Someone might argue that if the world was a perfect place, everyone would be kind, but it's not, so as bloggers, we have to deal with it. I disagree. I think being part of a community like this comes with the responsibility of interacting in a positive and respectful manner. It does not come with the right to say whatever you want. What do you think? Have you ever come across any rude bloggers?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Time Factor

I have to admit that I could spend all day blogging. But I don't. Aside from the kids taking over the computer regularly, I have other things I have to do. I follow over 100 blogs. If I were to read and comment on every single one of them, assuming it took five minutes for each, that would take more than 500 minutes. That's over 8 hours, and it doesn't include writing my own posts or responding to comments on my posts. Would I love to be able to read and comment on every blog? Absolutely. Is that possible? Absolutely not. Thankfully, not everyone posts every day. That helps. But I also have my priorities. Not that I don't enjoy every blog I follow, because truly I do, but there's something to be said for those I feel a real sense of interaction with. These blogs are my priority. These are the blogs I read every time there is a new post. These are the blogs I comment on regularly. As for the others, I visit them as often as I can, and I comment when I feel I have something of value to add. This is the only way I know how to handle it? What about you? How do you manage your blog time? On a related note, if you haven't read Jody Hedlund's Posts this week, you should. She's doing a great series about the top ten mistakes bloggers make. Pop on over. It will be well worth your time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To Follow Or Not?

Yes, those are penguin feet. But I promise. They are not Mooch's. Last week, my son received an invitation to a birthday party from a boy who he was not friends with and never had been. Convinced the boy had only invited him to get more presents, my son did not want to go. I made him, though, because I thought it was the nice thing to do. We'll never know for sure what motivated the boy to invite him, but my son ended up having a great time and making a new friend, too! This situation reminded me of the whole follower business on blogger. Yesterday, I talked about how much I like getting comments on my posts. Nearly everyone who responded admitted that they, too, love the comments. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that you all also love followers as much as I do. We've been told time and time again by people who actually know what they are talking about how important it is to develop an online presence. These same people all agree that in order to build up your own following, you must follow other blogs. While this seems a tad bit on the insincere side, it is true. And, I'll admit, I have followed blogs with the hopes that they would in turn follow me. I've also followed blogs because they followed me first. Now, is this really such a bad thing? I look at more like the birthday party my son went to. Perhaps the boy only invited him to get more presents, but they both gained a new friendship out of the deal. In the few short months I've been blogging, I have developed some awesome friendships. I've found so many blogs that provide valuable information. I've found so many bloggers who are on the same journey as I am. I've found blogs that make me laugh, and who couldn't use a good laugh sometimes? My point is this: The following game doesn't have to be insincere. The key is to follow blogs because you find some value in what the person has to say, not because you are trying to build up your own following. Chances are, they will also find value in what you are saying and will follow you, too. Okay, that's my far-from-expert opinion on the matter. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

You Light Up My Life!

This shoe lights up. And so does my phone. When I have a new email, a flashing red light appears in the corner of my phone. I used to look forward to seeing this light because I hoped it would be a response to one of my e-queries. On more than one occasion, this light saved me from the typical refresh-every-five-seconds syndrome so many writers suffer from. Since I stopped querying three months ago, I now look forward to seeing the light because I hope it is a comment from one of my blogger friends. Every time it is, I smile. Your comments bring me joy, and for that, I want to say thank you! Is it just me, or does anyone else love the comments? I also want to thank you for participating in the Mooch Mcgee Slumpbuster Challenge. Mooch's story is now complete. Well, sort of. The ending is rushed and not great, but it is finished. I know you are sick of hearing about Mooch, so I promise this is the last time I will mention him. This is also the last day he'll remain in my sidebar. So, if you want to read his story, click on him today because he'll be gone tomorrow. He will be missed, but sometimes, it's just time to say good-bye. So farewell, Mooch. It's been nice knowing you! Again, thank you all for being such great bloggers!