JaniceHeck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “Kristen Lamb”

#AtoZ, 2014: Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910 Who’s on your list of Twitter Followers? Look carefully and you might find a few surprises (shocks?):

Twitter Fight

Twitter Fight

a porno queen or two
a foul-mouthed jock
a beggar (asking you to follow, pleeeeease)
a person boasting about how many followers they can get for you
people with very strange names
a person who may be calling you or your mother names in another language
other surprises.

I like Twitter, but the speed of its message flow disrupts idea continuity. Still I check Twitter fairly regularly, and I always find something interesting or funny. Kristen Lamb is one of my favorites. She gives lots of advice on writing, blogging, and jumping into the social network. She always has something amusing to say.

Lamb_2011_1__biggerKristen Lamb@KristenLambTX Apr 14
Been working since 7 this morning. Can I have back all those naps I didn’t want when I was a kid?       Best-Selling Author. Social Media Jedi. Newest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

But given the fun, Twitter does have it annoyances: love-hate relationships with followers, for one. I have found it necessary to develop my own guidelines for accepting followers. (Yes, that sounds snobbish. Others may have their own personal guidelines.)

Here are a few guidelines I use for managing my own wannabe followers:

1.  I do not use an autofollow program.

Early on in my Twitter lifetime, I tried out an autofollow program, that is, until I realized there are some Twits that I absolutely do not want in my followers list. Since that time, I look at each new follower to see if I want to follow them back or not. This takes only a few minutes every few days. I like to know who follows me, not how high my follower number gets.

2. I choose those I want to have as followers.

I follow those people who have somewhat related interests: reading, writing, blogging, publishing, education, travel, religion, child safety and welfare, food, technology, and perhaps some organizations and businesses related to these topics. Of course, I follow family and friends. You find out some interesting things that way! Most often, but not always, those with the similar interests follow back.

I like inspiring quotes, so I follow Denny Coates along with 24.7K followers. Alas, he doesn’t follow me back. Oh well.

coatesDenny Coates@DennyCoates 5m
 “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

3.  Every few days, I check my list of followers to see who they are.

I do this by looking at the following three words on my Twitter homepage:

Tweets                Following                  Followers

Followers: Click on Followers and a list of your followers and wannabe followers comes up.

Wannabe followers (waiting to be approved) have a white box.
Click on the new followers’ names and see if they are fairly active tweeters. A very low number of tweets may mean this is a new Tweeter. If this person has similar interests, I usually follow back. People who use faceless avatars and have only a few tweets may be nameless persona who fish for people using automatic follow-back programs. These clickers really are only after numbers, not friends. I automatically skip over this second group of tweeters.

Click on the white box so the wanabees of your choice can forever be your devoted followers (BFF).
Or leave the white boxes alone if you don’t want to follow back.

I do not follow:

1. Empty heads (avatars). I do click on these to see if more information is available about them, but generally I do not follow, andimagesTWC4023L avatar after a few days or weeks, I find they disappear from my follower list. (Qwitter tells me when I lose followers, but I don’t worry about that because these qwitters are probably the empty-headed avatars.)

2. People who do not have bios. I like to read the brief bios that Tweeters put out, and I generally follow anyone who has put a little thought into their teaser. Ten words or so is not much, but you can say a lot about yourself in those limited characters.

3. Beggars. “Follow me, and I will follow you back. Pleeeeeese.”  Sorry.

4. Language abusers and foul language. Using the word that got Paula Deen in trouble (and other words of the same ilk) is also a no-no for me. It’s disrespectful. Really, we have all heard all these words before. They do not impress. Give it a rest.

5. Erotic language, suggestive language, or bare-chested (male or female) poses. Not necessary.

6. Tweeters with unusual names who offer followers: Astuty Astika? Menda Wahyungtas?  Dinda?  Wai Routt? Anggun? Solikha?  Really? These names sound phony to me. (Honest, I did not make these examples up.) Click on their names, and you will usually see only a few tweets. Of course, they do have followers: those people who use autofollow to build up their numbers. These Twits love to count their “Gotchas.” A few of them do have lots of followers, but do you really want to have an infusion of people who have no common interests?

Of course, some of those with phony-sounding names may have something going for them. Some can have hilarious, off-the-cuff commentary.

Barracks O’Bama     ‏@P0TUS19h       BREAKING SCANDAL–Fox News: Photos prove that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were masticating together.

Alas, on my latest check, Barracks O’Bama seems to have gotten lost in the dust of all those others with spelling variations of Barack Obama. (By the way, can you spell our President’s name?)

7. Tweeters who promise thousands of followers for $. Nope. Watch and you will see that these follower promises crop up in batches. Five or six unusual names, no bios, no picture.  Click on their names, and you see that they have only a few followers themselves and have only put out a few tweets. If they can promise you followers, why don’t they have all that many followers themselves? Don’t click on the URL they give out.

8. Tweeters who tweet in another language. Sorry, If I can’t interpret what you say, I don’t follow. And you probably can’t read what I say either. I do follow a few French or Spanish Tweeters. It gives me practice in reading those languages that I studied many years a little while ago in high school. Most of those who tweet in another language are probably pretty nice people, but how can I tell if I can’t read what they write? Better to just leave these alone.

9. Tweeters who go by one name. Really, if you are Hillary (followers: 1.99m, following: 9, Tweets: 94) or a Monica copycat (followers: 952, following: 171, Tweets: 419K) you can get away with that. Even Justin Bieber uses both names. Of course, made-up names are okay. Just use the same cautions when following. I like the comments by

10. Tweeters (and Facebookers, for that matter) who ONLY tweet their new book repeatedly. That alone will keep the Tweeter off my follower list AND my BUY list. I admit that I do tweet about my WordPress posts, but I usually do that only a time or two for each post.

Even with fairly careful adherence to these personal follow guidelines, I get surprises in my follower list. No problem. I can remove them.

Twitter Limits

Now how about when you add people to follow, and Twitter interrupts and announces that you have reached your limit? What is that secret limit? How can you follow more people when you get to this stopping point.

After the first thousand or so followers, Twitter allows you to follow about 10% more people than follow you. So what do you do? Some people will never follow you. They just won’t. Take Dennis Coates, mentioned above. He has a following of 24.K Tweeters,  yet he follows only 8,841 people. He will likely not follow you or me. Still, I like his positive attitude and his quotes, so I will continue to follow him until he discovers what he is missing by not following me back.

At this point, in order to add followers, you must first delete people on your follow list who do not follow you back. (You will find some big-timers who do manage to get around that Twitter count practice.)

ManageFlitter will give you a list of your non-followers in the order from when you joined Twitter, and with a few clicks, you can delete those non-followers either en masse or one by one. Generally, when you invite someone to follow you, they follow you in a relatively short time or not at all.

Of course, I follow some people who will never follow me, because I want to hear what they have to say.

Here’s what a few other bloggers have to say about Twitter:

Cynthia Hartwig, “How Susan Orlean Built a Posse of 260,000+ Twitter Followers,” August 21, 2013.
Terry Whalin   “How to Improve Your Twitter Followers,” June 28, 2013.
Bridget Whelan, “8 Reasons Why a Writer Should Join Twitter on the Shortest Day of the Year”
Janice Heck, “They Laughed When I Sat Down to Twitter
Janice Heck, “Twitter Bio in Ten Words”
Two Writing Teachers, “Connecting with Other Writers,” 4/12/2014
Anita Ferreri, Sharing TCRWP: Getting Started With Twitter, 4/12/2012
TCRWP: Getting Started with Twitter

Here’s one more…about unfollowing a blog…

Don Charisma, “Please unfollow my blog”

A note from Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/66885-i-can-t-follow-people-follow-limits#

The Last Meow
Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.

Look for a list of posts for the #AtoZ, 2014 Challenge (Writing Quirks) here:  #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

tWITTER CATMeow for now.  =<^ !^>=

 

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NaBloPoMo 8: WANAFriday: What Would I Do?

NaBloPoMo=National Blog Posting Month. Challenge: Write a post a day in November.

WANA=We Are Not Alone, a group of bloggers who provide mutual support for our writing and blogging efforts. Shepherded by by Kristen Lamb.
WANA Challenge: Write a #WANAFriday post every Friday with a prompt posted by one of our members.

This week’s #wanafriday question/theme comes from WANAite, Cora Ramos.

How did the last book you read change you, or not. What do you want from a good book?
In recent weeks, I have posted several reviews on books I have recently read:
I found each of these books to be well-written and each had a significant message.
I wouldn’t say that these books changed me, but I must admit that I have thought about their messages a number times since finishing them. How would I hold up under these circumstances? What decisions would I make when faced with these incomprehensible challenges?
001 (23)In The Red Kimono, a Japanese family living in San Francisco in 1941, faces discrimination, character assassination, and brutal loss of freedom through no fault of their own.
The story, written by Jan Morrill, relates events that happened in her own family’s world. In reading this book, you face the reality of war-time human interactions and shake your head. How could this happen in our own country? Both major and minor characters struggle with the complexities of a world gone crazy with fear and hate. The characters each learn something in their struggle to survive in their pain and suffering. And the characters have lessons for the reader, too. It is a powerful story, beautifully told.
001The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay is historical fiction, set in Paris, France in the 1860s, when a powerful government under Emperor Napoleon III  decided to modernize Paris by tearing down entire quaint neighborhoods and rebuilding with grand boulevards and modern architecture.
This touching story relates how people from these intimate neighborhoods coped with the change: the young and realistic coped and moved on; the elderly suffered and struggled with overwhelming change in their lives.
Rose Bazelet decided to fight the modernization incursion in her little neighborhood in her own way, and in the meantime, she confronted long-held secrets. The book, written in letters to her late husband, Armand, describe the horror of the destruction of near-by neighborhoods. Soon the destruction reaches her own dearly-loved neighborhood. It’s coming closer and closer to Rose’s house. Now it’s time…
Tatiana de Rosnay, named one of the top three fiction writers in Europe in 2010, wrote NYT  bestsellers Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept.
001M.L. Stedman’s book, Light Between Oceans, presents a compelling moral dilemma for a young, childless couple, Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, who have suffered multiple miscarriages in their short marriage. Isabel’s emotional well-being is tied up in these miscarriages.
The lighthouse keeper has emotional problems of his own dealing with his memories of battles in Europe in WWI. He was one of the lucky ones who arrived home still in one piece, but his memories of battles and close friends who died there, torment him.
Now living on an isolated lighthouse island off the coast of Australia, the couple discovers a dinghy on the beach with a dead man and a live baby in it. How could this be? Is it an answer to Isabel’s prayers and pleading for a child? They can’t possibly fathom why, but here is a live baby that needs care. Is it their responsibility to care for this baby? What is their responsibility in this situation?
The decisions they make have long-ranging consequences. This book is both compelling and heart-breaking.
Why did I like these books?
1. Historical fiction (or books with historical settings) are among my favorites. I love reading about other times and other places.
2. Each one of these books has a compelling story, with complications that challenged the main character’s (and even minor character’s) whole lives and belief systems. These books raise many questions:
How do people react when their worlds fall apart?
Do they rely on their past moral instruction, or do they make it up as they go along.
What are the consequences do they face when going with their hearts and not their reason?
How do people cope with tragedy in their lives? Do they stand up to and go on? Do they fall apart?
What character traits belong to each group?
Would we be like this person or that person?
3. These books give many hours of pleasurable reading, although the tension, at times, runs high.
We don’t know how we would react in these extreme situations, but we hope we would act in accordance with our own long-help beliefs, values, and principles.
The Last Meow
Yes, Missy Jan, I know you like to read, but could you just let me finish my breakfast in peace? Please? I have a busy day scheduled. After I eat, I will play, sleep, then eat again. Let me get started!
Photo: Crash the Cat by Kathy Cherry

Photo: Crash the Cat by Kathy Cherry

Meow for now! =<^;^>=

Blimey! Another Blog Challenge? NaBloPoMo. OK, I’m In.

Okay. I am a pushover for blog challenges. For two years running, I have completed the A to Z Blog Challenge in April and will probably jump on the bandwagon again next April. I learned a lot from those challenges, mostly that I like challenges, that they get me to write more, and that I can complete them.

survivor_[2013]

This year I joined the Blog Every Day in May Challenge. Hmm. Maybe two challenges so close together is a bit much.

BlogEverday[1]

Photography Challenges

I have climbed aboard on Cee’s Fun Foto express which provides challenges of various types, but mostly related to photography.   I wrote about some of those challenges in a blog post here: Newly Discovered; Cee’s Photo Challenges. I enjoy the photography challenges and take tons of pictures, but they sit on my computer. After all, who wants to see 200 photos taken in one day! Now I have an outlet for these gems. The photography challenges encourage you to think in different ways and to look at things from all angles. You get some surprising results when you do this, and you get new ideas for writing.

WANAFriday Challenges

One last challenge: WANAFriday. 100 bloggers with a range of experience in blogging joined with Kristen Lamb for a blogging experience: WANA112. Kristen’s primary message for all of us was this: We Are Not Alone (WANA). As bloggers, we need to stick together and encourage each other, to give feedback, and to share thoughts and feelings. My WANA112 group is probably most responsible for keeping me going as a blogger.  Now with almost two years at blogging and 225 posts published, I feel much more confident about posting and joining challenges.wana logo

This WANA112 group of 100 friends has largely stayed together now for over a year. Ninety of us joined a closed Facebook group where we post about whatever is on our minds. About six months ago, several members of the group suggested we start our own challenge, and so began our own WANAFriday challenge. One member of the group posts a prompt for the rest of the group, and those who have the time and inclination respond to it. Between five and ten people respond each week.

NaNoWriMo, NaNonFiWriMO, NaPoWriMo

Every year about this time, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) comes around. The goal is to write 50,000 words on a novel in one month.  I am not really a fiction writer, so the idea of writing 1,600 words a day does not grab me at all.

As an alternative, NIna Amir organized WNFIN (Write Nonfiction in November) or NaNonFiWriMo (National Nonfiction Writing Month)  for nonfiction writers. While I do write more nonfiction than fiction, I cannot imagine writing 50,000 in one month. One year, maybe.

Nina Amir sent a note about WNFIN: (Thanks, Nina)

You don’t have to write 50,000 words during the Write Nonfiction in Nov. Challenge…you can write an essay, an article, a report….or a book of any length.

By the way, in April I run National Book Blogging Month (NaBoBloMo) for those who want to blog a book in a month. You can find that on my blog, http://www.howtoblogabook.com. :~)

And we can’t leave the poets out. NaPoWriMo challenges all poets and non poets to write 30 poems in one month. I haven’t tried this challenge yet, but I have it tucked in the back of my brain for future reference.

And Now: NaBloPoMoNaBloPoMo_November_small

But now, we have another choice: NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month). Write a blog post every day in November. That I can do. I have done this with the A to Z Challenges, and I can do that again. Besides, NaBloPoMo provides prompts by the month ahead of time in case I don’t have ideas of my own. (I write on a variety of topics, including cats, but my favorite topic relates to teaching writing to developing and struggling writers.)

If you want to sign up for NaBloPoMo, click here: NaBloPoMo, November 2013, Blogroll. Look for the November writing prompts here.

A Challenge for Everyone

Of course, there are many other challenges on Internet…something for everyone. Starting with the biggie:

The Daily Post at WordPress.Com: Weekly Writing Challenges
The Daily Post at WordPress.Com: Weekly Photo Challenges
Ese’s Weekly Shoot and Quote Challenge
yeah write weekly writing challenge
Velvet Verbosity 100 Word Challenge
Six Word Saturday
Wordless Wednesday
It’s Monday: What Are You Reading?
Where’s My Backpack: Weekly Travel Theme Challenge  New theme on Fridays
Ultimate Blog Challenge: (Blog post a day in January, April, July, October)
Make Something 365
30 Day Gratitude Challenge
Should Be Reading: Friday Finds: Books you have added to your TBR list
Five Sentence Fiction: A new prompt word given each week.
FatMumSlim: November Photo a Day
Lisa Jo Baker: Five Minute Fridays
Saturday in Six Words
The Weekend in Black and White
Weekly Writing Spark — Ignite Your Creativity.net
Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge
Festival of Leaves Challenge
Tuesday’s A to Z Challenge
Theme Thursday
Friday Foto Challenge
BEDN Blog Every Day in November
Super Quote Sunday
Thursday Lingering Look at Windows
Festival of Leaves
Friday Fictioneers: 110 word challenge, photo prompt
Insecure Writers Support Group..post 1X a month
Sunday Stills
Trifecta Challenge: two writing prompts a week
Community Storyboard weekly writing prompt

For even more blog challenges check http://dailypost.wordpress.com/blog-events-listing/

(My personal challenge is to find all the writing and photo challenges! If I have missed any, please add it/them in the comments section below. Thanks.)

"Spooky" the Longwood Gardens cat, PA. Photo by Dawn Ellis

“Spooky” the Longwood Gardens cat, PA. Photo by Dawn Ellis

And Now: The Last Meow (Where the cats get the last word)
We really don’t care how many challenges MaMa Jan gets into, just as long as she doesn’t forget to give us kibbles and cuddles and lets us nap whenever and wherever we want!  She knows our motto: “Eat, Play, Nap.” What else is there for cats to do in life?
Meow for now. =<^;^>=

P.S. Please add links to other blog challenges in the comment section. Thanks.

PSS. See you tomorrow on NaBloPoMo.

A Wordle of Welcome

wana logo

WANA Friday Prompt: Every Friday, the WANA 112 group (Kristen Lamb’s little lambs: We Are Not Alone in this blogosphere) blogs on a prompt suggested by a WANA team member. This week’s prompt is. . .

Create a Wordle (www.wordle.net) of something you have written.

My Wordle features my very first blog post on WordPress: “Hello. Welcome to My Time to Write,” January 28, 2012. It gives a visual summary of my life experiences and writing interests.

001 (2)

The Last Meow

Don’t forget us kitties. We have a Wordle of our own. How do you like it?

001 (17)

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Check out these #WANAFriday Wordles:

Kim Griffin

Ellen Gregory

Linda Adams

Cora Ramos

Rabia Gale

Five Great Writing Blogs

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Prompt: Five of Your Favorite Blogs

Five Favorite Blogs?
Impossible. I have five favorite blogs in each of many categories: writing, blogging, photography, travel, hiking, cooking, YA, children’s literature, nonfiction writing, and more. I collect blog links in my WordPress Reader and try to read through them as often as I can, sometimes daily.
Yes, I know, it is a form of procrastination, but it is also supportive to my writer friends. How’s that for justification?
So I’ll do several posts over a period of time (undesignated) in which I name my favorite bloggers in these other categories as well.
I’ll start with my five favorite writing blogs:
1. Victoria Grefer at Creative Writing with the Crimson League and at VictoriaGrefer.   thecrimsonleague
A New Orleans girl, Victoria has written five novels including the Herezoth Trilogy: The Crimson League (Book 1), The Magic Council (Book 2), and The King’s Son (Book 3).
While I don’t consider myself a fan of fantasy writing, I do enjoy the writing tips that Victoria posts on this creative writing blog. She writes about character development, dialogue, and plot, a well as outlines, first drafts, marketing, and so much more. Her tips help you look more critically at your own writing and can be applied to both fiction and nonfiction. Besides, Victoria loves cats, and that gives her bonus points in my book.

Here’s one of Victoria’s posts: Bloggers-Authors: The Benefits of Simple Style and Structure in Your Writing.

2. Ellen Gregory: to beyond and backEllen Gregory
Ellen, an Aussie from Melbourne, works in communications, specializing in science, technology, engineering, and specialist industry sectors. If that isn’t enough, she writes fantasy fiction. Her blog posts covers three themes: A to Z Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Chronicles, and Feeding the Muse (everyday inspiration). Yes, of course, Ellen has a cat.

Here’s a link to a Dungeons and Dragons post and another on Building Fantastical Worlds. These will make you want to read more of Ellen’s posts.

3. Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Tami is a YA and Middle Grades writer who loves to travel. I met her in Kristin Lamb’s WANA Group (We Are Not Alone) over a year ago. Here’s my favorite post on Tami’s blog: If You Give A Writer a TAmi ClaytonBrownie. And here’s another: Six Secrets Parents of Special Needs Children Have But Don’t Tell You.

Oh, did I mention that Tami loves cats? She builds their self-esteem by telling them frequently, “good job being a cat.” I can see that her cats rule the roost!

4.  Linda Adams: Soldier, Storyteller
I met Linda in the A to Z Challenge where she wrote a writing rule for each letter of the alphabet. Here are a couple of them: Rule D: Discipline Yourself to Write, and L: Never Stop Learning about Writing.Linda Adams

Linda served our country in the army for twelve years and was deployed in the first Persian Gulf War. Now she writes action-adventure-fantasy thrillers for our midnight reading habits. Her short story, “Six Bullets” can be found in the anthology, A Princess, A Boatman, and a Lizard: Forward Motion Anthology, 2012.

I don’t know if Linda has a cat of her own, but she posts a ton of pictures of cuddly felines on Facebook. These give me many smiles. Thanks, Linda.

5. Lillian C: Hopes and Dreams: My Writing and My Sons
I met Lillian early on in the Blog Every Day In May Challenge and have enjoyed her writing. I especially liked this post about her lillian c 2sons: Controlled Chaos. Her writing touched my heart with its vulnerability, sincerity, and honesty. She is a professional writer who lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons, and she writes fantasy. Her story, “On the Wings of the Wind” appears in this anthology, 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories.

The Last Meow

Phew. I am really tired. I need a nap. (Thinks, Linda, for sharing this picture.)  Meow for now.  =<^;^>=

cat sleeping

May 5, Blog Every Day in May: Blogger Buddies

Blog Every Day in May, May 5 prompt: “Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends.”

BlogEverday[1]

I recently hit several milestones in my blogging career: 10,000 views  on April 22, 2013, and shortly thereafter, 100 posts on May 2, the day I completed the 2013 A to Z Challenge reflection post.

On that day, I thanked my faithful early followers. I love them all. It would be too hard to pick out just one from this group. Each one has such a creative flair, a commitment to excellence, an encouraging nature, and a wicked sense of humor.Kristen Lamb

But I do have to admit, there is one blogger who brought all of this together: Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone (WANA), The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.  Kristen brought our WANA 112 group together in January of 2012, and many of us still connect on our closed group Facebook page. Kristen was instrumental in helping us develop those wild and wonderful descriptive taglines for our blogs (see below). Notice that all of these blogs use our own names as blog titles. This was Kristen’s suggestion for building our writing platforms.

Tah Dah. Here they are…my blogger buddies.

Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Elaine Smothers, Wonder in the Wild
emaginette, Shout With Emaginette
Glenda Mills, Meet Me On The Mountain
Barbara Forte Abate, Scribbling Outside The Lines
Judythe Morgan, Voice and Views from The Front Porch
Mike Schulenberg, Realms of Perilous Wonder
Sheila Pierson, Wonderstruck
Ellen V. Gregory, to beyond and back
Jodi Lea Stewart   Walking on Sunshine
Liv Rancourt, Laughter, life and romance under partly sunny skieswana logo
Elizabeth Fais, Where the awesome begins
Sara Walpert Foster, Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
Siri Paulson, everyday enchantments
Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller
Sherry Isaac, Psychological Sizzle
Sherri Martin-Hutchins, live wonderstruck
And none of us could get anywhere without advice from Laird Sapir, of Shabby Chic Sarcasm

Blogging buddies are the best!

Click on WANA (now International) to find out more about what’s going on with WANA.

X is for . . X-It (exit) Strategy

a-to-z-letters-2013Day 24 in the A to Z Challenge, and here we are at letter X.

I have been reading a number of AtoZ bloggers’ posts to see how creatively they have handled this topic, and I am impressed. This letter has been a challenge for us all, (what will we ever do next year?) but look at what interesting things I found.

(X)aria
Xiu
Xantus, a hummingbird
Durty Fillums. And no, this is not a hummingbird variety, and it doesn’t start with X. Go read it and you’ll get it.

And hang on, we still have the letter Z to mangle manage.

The A to Z Challenge has been good for me in both 2012 and 2013. (See my treasured  2012 A to Z Badge of Honor?) Somehow I feel responsible to get survivor-atoz-2the letter of the day done, even if one delinquent letter spills over into the next letter territory. A to Z keeps me on task and in focus.  It keeps me interacting with other bloggers, clicking likes, and leaving short notes. This has been fun.

But what happens when the A to Z party is over?

One year ago, just before my first A to Z,  I joined WANA112 (We Are Not Alone) group organized by Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone. One hundred bloggers came together to share our beginner struggles with blogging under Kristen’s superior tutelage. Now 88 members of that original group still keep touch by sharing blogging posts, comments, support, and friendship in our own closed Facebook group. I love this group. They are the best.

And now, I have found new blogger friends on A to Z. I hope we can keep in touch via the Blogging A to Z Facebook page. But now, since this A to Z party is ending, I must decide what to do next, hence this X-It strategy post. Here are some beginning thoughts.

strategy

1. Keep blogging, but perhaps at a more sane regular pace, say two or three times a week.

2. Clean up my blog. It looks a little cluttered on the sidebar, and I want to tighten things up there.

3. Add my blogroll…I have procrastinated long enough on that. Thanks to Dawn M. Miller at Lingering Visions for sharing her thoughts on procrastination here.   

4. Keep reading blogs, liking them, and commenting on posts in WordPress reader. This is my favorite way to read blogs because they come up in a nice list and load quickly. (Going from my email to a blog post is sometimes slow.) And I like the way WordPress pulls up blogs in categories I have selected. I can quickly see what’s new in my favorite areas: grammar, writing, ESOL, English teaching, travel, photos, cooking, health, books, and of course, my all time favorite: CATS. ={^;^}= Meow.

5. Categorize my posts and publish topic lists of my posts. Along that line, I want to make headers for topics.

6. Print off a hard copy of each post (now at 93 posts). On post 100 I will post a Catalog of Cats Celebrating with me.

7. Master the gimmicks and widgets. Even after a year of posting, I still have trouble with getting new widgets in my sidebar. I think I have mastered it, then when I try to do it again, I fail. Maybe I should write down the directions? You think?

8. Get the answer to this question. WHY, WHY, WHY does WordPress flip back to an older version of my drafts when I click off to do something else? This is the most maddening thing.

9. I am sure more goals will pop into my mind as I rethink this whole process. These will do for a start.

Thanks for being my faithful readers. Now that I have stated my strategy, you will have to hold me accountable.

Now the educator in me says that I have to be S.M.A.R.T. about these strategies. Maybe another day. My head is spinning.

smart -goals 2

The Last Meow

Hey gang. It’s almost time for the BBBBIIIIIGGGGGG party. How about a little warm-up so we will be totally prepared? Meow for now.  =(^;^)     xxxxx

party cats on table

S is for Stats and Milestones–10,000 Views Milestone! WooHoo

a-to-z-letters-201310,000 views of my blog? Really? How did that happen?

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the stats that WordPress keeps for each blog, not realizing how broad the reach of a blog can be. So in early April, when out of curiosity I clicked on my blog stats, I was surprised shocked to see that my blog had well over 9000 views.

Getting StartedThey laughed

I laughed when several years ago my daughter said, “You ought to start a blog.”

Why on earth would I do that? I laughed.

But once the seed fell out onto the ground, it began to take root and grow, not right away, but over time.

One of my first blog posts was, “They Laughed When I Sat Down at The Piano.” You know, sort of like, “They laughed when I sat down to blog.”

wana imageWANA: We Are Not Alone

I have been blogging for a while now. I muddled around started with a BlogSpot.com blog,  titled GED Writer, in September of 2010, writing about the GED (high school equivalency testing for dropouts) and adult education topics. I realized this was not a hot topic for a blog and decided to think the matter over a bit more.

I tried again with WordPress in December of 2011, finally getting a blog going in January of 2012. I met Kristen Lamb online and began to follow her posts at Writing Warriors. I read her book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and I joined her WANA112 group: 100 writers who wanted to get better at blogging.  Kristen advised us to use our own names as our blog titles because we needed to build name recognition as serious bloggers. She also advised us to branch out and write about multiple interests rather than just write about our primary, more narrow, writing interests.  All of this was great and encouraging advice.

In the process of building my blog, I made lots of new writer friends. Of those 100 original writers in WANA112, 88 of us still keep in touch on Facebook on our closed group page.

And more amazing than that was that I gathered followers, kind readers who left encouraging notes.  I learned a lot from reading their posts, too. Such clever people, I thought. I will always appreciate these early followers. These are the best friends I have never met:

Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Elaine Smothers, Wonder in the Wild
emaginette, Shout With Emaginette
Glenda Mills, Meet Me On The Mountain
Barbara Forte Abate, Scribbling Outside The Lines
Judythe Morgan, Voice and Views from The Front Porch
Mike Schulenberg, Realms of Perilous Wonder
Sheila Pierson, Wonderstruck
Ellen V. Gregory, to beyond and back
Jodi Lea Stewart   Walking on Sunshine
Liv Rancourt, Laughter, life and romance under partly sunny skies
Elizabeth Fais, Where the awesome begins
Sara Walpert Foster, Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
Siri Paulson, everyday enchantments
Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller
Sherry Isaac, Psychological Sizzle
Sherri Martin-Hutchins, live wonderstruck
And none of us could get anywhere without advice from Laird Sapir, of Shabby Chic Sarcasm

A to Z Badge 2012 (1)A to Z Challenge, 2012

But I didn’t really get into more serious blogging until the April 2012 A to Z Challenge (to write 26 posts in the month of April). I took the challenge seriously. I decided that if I could do 26 posts in that short a time, I could probably do more. The A to Z format certainly made it easier to come up with ideas.

I finished the 2012 A to Z with a hey,-I-can-do-this-blogging-thing attitude, further reinforcing Kristen Lamb’s yes-you-can-do-it encouragement.

Of course, blogging daily is tricky to do what with all the other commitments in life, so I settled into a doable pattern of two to three blog posts a week and continued through November of 2012 before taking a break because of family health issues. When that 2013 A to Z Challenge flashed around the Internet, I was hooked again!

Topics

In May of 2012, I traveled to Tuscany and Rome in Italy for two weeks with my sister-in-law and two other friends and found many topics to writevilla-Il Cortile del Borgo about there. We rented a villa named Il Borghetto near San Gimignano and wrote about that. We visited other intriguing Italian cities, and I wrote about them: Florence, Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, aother charming towns. We traveled to Rome, and I wrote about our adventures there, staying in an old family-run hotel near Piazza Navona.

After Italy, I returned to Southern New Jersey and wrote about surprising things there: blueberry festivals, derecho (severe wind storm), veggie farms, Relay for Life, Ocean City, and a few other events of interest in my home state. And I added recipes for my favorite foods using “Jersey Fresh” vegetables and fruits.

For the 2013 A to Z Challenge, I have focused more on Writing PLUS Grammar-You-Can-See. Let’s just wait-and-see what comes along next!

Thanks, again, to all my faithful friends and followers. You truly are the best. My blogging adventure has been fun, though I must admit it has had its hours and hours moments of frustration. The learning curve is steep, but it does level off get less steep as you move along. Just keep writing!

***

Here’s a post from Ellen Gregory, a WANA112 friend, on her recent accomplishment of writing 200 posts. It’s so nice to see my blogger friends hit their own milestones. Congratulations, Ellen.

The Last Meow

Of course, kitties have been a big part of my blog. They always have something smart to say. They really don’t care for myTerribly Cute pic...cat attitude grammar posts, but they seem to like the rest of my blog topics. They celebrate with me on our 10,000 views. After all, that means they get 10,000 views, too. No grumpy cats here!

Meow for now.   ={^;^}=

Hyper-Hyphenated Words Make Surprising Adjectives

a-to-z-letters-2013Hello. It’s H-Day in the A to Z Challenge.

H is for Hyphens

Hyphens have been called lots of names: left-over punctuation marks, “the smallest of the little  hyphenhorizontal line thingies” (The Grammar Cat), and “short and sweet” as compared to the dash which is long and lean (Laurie Rozakis, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grammar and Style).  Laurie Rozakis says that the dash and the hyphen are like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito: Confused so often they are taken for each other.

Sometimes called stacked modifiers, or make-it-up-as-you-go adjectives, these adjectives can be humorous if used sparingly, or annoying if overused. This is a “what-you-may-have-been-wondering-about topic” (Grammar Girl), or maybe not.

They look something like this:

  • He has a jump-off-the-page personality.
  • We went to a shoot-em-up movie.
  • I’m a pretty easy-going, live-and-let-live kinda girl.

Personally, I’m a love-those-hyphenated-compound-adjectives-kind-of-person! Evidently a few other writers like these phrasal adjectives, too. Here are a few samples.

So What. Who Cares?oh-my cat

Of course, these stacked adjectives can get silly if they are overused, but somehow, just once-in-awhile, a stacked adjective does the job.    This one, for example:  “my good-for-nothing, pot-smoking, boyfriend-of-the-moment…” (Heather Marie Adkins). Now that one just gets right to the point.

The Last Meow

Terribly Cute pic...cat attitudeNow to the really important stuff. Here’s how to make cat faces on your very own keyboard. How’s that for a neat cat trick?

=<^ . ^>=   Meow for now.

What’s your favorite hyphenated stacked modifier?

Versatile Blogger Award

What a thrill to be selected by my writing peer, Elaine Smothers, to receive this Versatile Blogger Award.

This award encourages bloggers to read and support other bloggers. It is gives tangible recognition to the time and effort it takes to develop and maintain a blog. It also emphasizes WANA: We Are Not Alone in this blogging world! Kristen Lamb has helped to ensure that! Read all about it in Kristen’s book We Are Not Alone:The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.

I met Elaine in Kristen Lamb’s WANA112 blog group, and I have followed her blog ever since she and Forrest started it.

Who is Forrest? I’m glad you asked.

Forrest is Elaine’s very capable, red-eyed assistant.

(BTW Forrest, I see that you have already received this prestigious Versatile Blogger Award. It suits you. It matches your skin tones in the most serendipitous way! But that red flower, oh my, how it accentuates your dreamy eyes. And look at that lovely red glow on your tummy. You are so talented! You know just what colors will emphasize your natural beauty. Have you considered a life calling as a color consultant? You could become as famous as that walking-talking gecko with the Aussie accent that sells insurance. Just saying…)

See how distracting Forrest is? He is just so darn cute!

Now back to business. The Versatile Blogger Award is passed around from blogger to blogger in a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support. The three guidelines are easy to follow:

First. Thank the person who gave you the award and link to their blog. Done! Thanks again, Elaine and Forrest.

Second. Nominate 15 blogs that you enjoy and present this prestigious award to them.

This is a bit tricky as we bloggers tend to read a lot of blogs. But here are my 15 bloggers. Some are WANA friends, some  are A-to-Z Challenge friends, some are travel friends,  some I met in random ways (like reading blogs with interesting names or loglines), others have been recommended by blogger pals.

  1. LitKid (10 years old) and AKid@Heart  2 girls lost in a book (a daughter/mother duo)
  2. Katy Manck,  BooksYALove
  3. Kate Messmer,  Nerdy Book Club
  4. KidLitFrenzy
  5. Ana Romero,  English Diary: I’m Learning English
  6. The Blissful Adventurer   Professional Eater and Storyteller
  7. Bob Scotney    Bob’s Home for Writing
  8. Gail M. Baugniet    Sister-in-Crime
  9. Jacqui Talbot  Choctaw Tales and more
  10. Shout with emaginette    Live Life and Shout About It!
  11. Sonia G. Medeiros      Doing the Write Thing
  12. Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers  Writing Sisters
  13. Snigdha           Get Set and Go
  14. Brian and Shannon    Everywhere Once
  15. Linda Adams       Soldier, Storyteller

Last task, tell 7 random things about myself.  Here goes.

1. Born a South Jersey farm girl, I have lived outside New Jersey more than I have lived in it. I went off to college at age 18 and returned to SJ when I reached retirement age. Can a little farm girl from South Jersey find success in the big outside world? Well, yes.

2. Cold weather is not my favorite, but I did live in Alaska for ten years. After an administrative internship at Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska, I became an assistant principal at Soldotna Elementary, then the principal at North Star Elementary in Nikiski, Alaska. Yes, we used American money in Alaska! (Can you believe someone actually asked me that?)

3. So what do you do in Alaska in the dead of winter? You join groups.  An actress I am not, but I once played a lead role in a small-town production of “The Most Eligible Bachelor in Town.” I was that hussy who was after the bachelor (actually, he was already my husband, but no matter). This was the production of the year in the tiny Anchor Point, Alaska theater group. As I recall, we had two performances. I don’t remember whether the crowd stood up to give a standing ovation, or if they just needed to stand up to get their heavy winter coats on. We’ll just say we had a supportive crowd! We had fun anyway. The theater group disbanded soon after this star performance.

4. I prefer hot weather over cold. After Alaska, I moved to Hong Kong to be principal in the Lower Primary Division, Hong Kong International School. With over 700 children ages 4 to 8 in my division, I kept pretty busy. I worked with an incredible bunch of talented teachers and loved almost every minute of it. Being in Hong Kong allowed me to explore Southeast Asia. Gotta blog about that one day.

5. Blogging is a relatively new interest for me. I love to read blogs about travel, cooking, food, writing, blogging, nonfiction books, YA, KidLit, education, technology, and more. I also love photo blogs. And I did survive the A to Z Blog Challenge in April (writing 26 posts in 30 days), but my normal posting will probably range between eight and twelve postings a month.

6. Gardening is fun, but I do not have a green thumb. Something eats the roots of my plants, and they wither and die soon after I plant them. I do have one straggly houseplant that has miraculously survived for eight years. Of course, my husband has to water it now and then, but what else could he do in his spare time? The silk plants do well, but they do get a bit dusty. (Watering plants doesn’t leave much time for dusting.)

7. Did I mention that I love cats? Well, I do. I currently don’t have one because I like to travel, but when I grow up and settle down, I’ll probably get one.

Now I look forward to reading new blogs suggested by my 15 Versatile Bloggers. Happy blogging everyone. Remember WANA!

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