Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flash Fiction: Pulled Apart

by M. J. Joachim
Updated 4/22/16

There in the shadows, deep within the cold, damp woods of this dense and overgrown forest, Elsa wept silently so Angelo couldn’t hear her. She wasn’t sure where he was, or when he might come back. All she knew was that when she least expected it, he’d be there pleading with her to understand.

Elsa’s mind raced to a happier time in their lives, a time when Angelo would smile and talk to her as they sat on the park bench, or he walked her home from school. Life was so blissful then. She was open and honest with him, telling him all the teenage drama, exaggerating about how hard it was living at home.

Angelo listened patiently. Sometimes he’d put his arm around her shoulder and pull her close. Angelo was so supportive and understanding. Elsa wondered why he never said much. What was he thinking when she told him how unreasonable her parents were, and how angry she always was with her siblings?

The course, heavy rope that tied her to branches overhead singed her skin as she inched further away from the tree. “In time the rope would wear down,” Elsa thought, “I might even be able to escape before Angelo gets back,” she whispered aloud. Before she finished speaking the words, Angelo appeared before her. He tied another rope to her other arm, attached the end to his truck and slowly drove away.

©2012, 2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, GNU Free Documentation License

Flash Fiction: Snowman Scavenger Hunt

by M. J. Joachim
Updated 4/22/16

The skillful, strong and beautiful husky dogs stood on the pine ridge overlooking the valley of snowmen below. They knew the task at hand. Training for this annual race to the finish took place for most of the year. While the majority of sled dogs were running distance drills and obstacle courses to race in the Great Race of Mercy, old man Sebastian penetrated the depths of his dog’s senses, instilling in them a subconscious fear, agonizing hunger and unrelenting spirit of revenge.

Sebastian used clothing to stimulate his dogs with an intense horror and hatred for the man that wore it. As the dogs became ever more agitated by the men’s clothes, he soaked them in the men’s blood and hung the clothes to dry, just out of reach of the dogs in their kennels. Then the dogs fasted for a few days with the vile smell of blood soaked clothing overhead, while he built the valley of snowmen.

Only after they were half starved would Sebastian come back and harness his sled team to lead them to the barren meadow, completely frozen over in this vast Alaskan tundra, yet somehow brought to life with hundreds of snowmen. There the dogs could feast on the sickening and morally base creatures that preyed on little children during their earthly lives, the ones society set free, but a man like Sebastian couldn’t rightfully release.

©2012, 2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Defining Flash Fiction

by M. J. Joachim
Updated 4/22/16

Almost everyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of flash fiction. However, my definition of flash fiction probably falls on the more rigid side of things. I simply fail to see how stringing a few words together, which may or may not make a complete sentence, qualifies or meets any sort of literary criteria. Simultaneously, I believe short stories are exactly that – short stories, and flash fiction (by my definition) happens to be much shorter.

Split hairs with me, if you will. Flash fiction, in my ever so humble opinion should be no more than two or three hundred words. Within those few words, a plot should unfold through extremely well chosen, descriptive words. Characters should come to life and a surprise ending (or twist) is mandatory, not optional.

The challenge of writing flash fiction is mixing detail with character development. There’s no time to talk about trivial matters. The reader needs to be drawn into the scene and captured by the characters. The entire story needs to climax and conclude within 2 – 3 paragraphs, leaving the reader fully satisfied with its jolting ending.

What’s your definition of flash fiction? 

Do you enjoy reading and/or writing flash fiction? Why or why not? Send me an email or share this post and tag me in a discussion.

Meanwhile, I’ll dig up a few old flash fiction stories of mine and post one or two of them here in the next day or so. You can look forward to telling me what you like or don’t like about them. And if you’d like, you can share some of your own flash fiction stories as a guest post here. Be sure to email me with your story:

©2012, 2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing Prompts and Character Development

by M. J. Joachim
Updated 4/22/16

Using the photo as a writing prompt, we’re going to transform it into a story, and delve into the process of character development a little bit today. 

Here's what you need to do.

Part 1

Intensely stare at the picture.

Find one intriguing aspect of it, something your imagination can work with, and zoom in on that one aspect of the photo.

Use as many descriptive words as you can to bring that one, solitary aspect of the photo to life for your readers.

When you are finished with this, step back – go get a cup of coffee, splash your face with water, change the laundry or walk outside to breathe the fresh air.

Part 2

Think like an artist. Notice every aspect of color in the photo, and describe how it enhances your focal point from Part 1.

Pay attention to shading and lines – depicting how they add to or detract from the element you’re writing about. Give them a role to play in your story. Use the contrast of such things to promote and inhibit the intention of your story. Let them be friends and adversaries, each contributing to the personality of that one aspect you want to capture the most attention from Part 1.

Part 3

Set the scene. Place your character and all the supporting players on the stage. Use the background of the photo to determine where any action will or won’t take place.

Talk about external conditions like the weather, intruders and those who work diligently behind the scenes to make the entire scenario possible.

This is no longer an image of a canna in a photo. This is a tool for writing inspiration.

Write your story and (if you publish it), please send me an email with a link to your page. And yes, you may include a copy of this picture in your post if you do. Please contact me for use of this photo, outside of this exercise.

©2012, 2016 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Short-hand Confusion Regarding Email and Text Messages

Words are very powerful indeed. They have the power to convey intense emotions detailed with every joy and horror we experience – or fictionalize, as the case may be. How is it then that an article or letter can elicit vibrant meaning, but a text message or email can be lost so easily in translation?

Most of us have experienced the occasional “oops” in such matters, the one where we give up and say something to the effect of, “Just call me. That’s not what I meant at all.”

Then again, what if that was what we meant, and the confrontation is more than we expected – encouraging us to back down for the sake of whatever else might be at stake?

Which leads me to the obvious conclusion…

Words should not be wasted!

They should not be wasted on trivial matters …or people.
They should not be wasted in meaningless conversation.
They should not be wasted for the sole sake of getting someone’s attention.
They should not be wasted on literary gibberish…

Oh, who am I kidding?!

Of course they should be wasted on literary undertakings!!!
Authors are the geniuses that rarely seem to make sense. They use words to expose, demand and resolve the quirks and happenings of historical and current events. They meander about all sorts of things, sharing unique perspectives that oftentimes make a difference in the smallest (and largest) of ways.

I’m still puzzled about the texting and email misunderstandings. If we are truly writing what we mean, and meaning to say what we write, how can a shortened version of it become such a problem? Unless, of course, we’re the ones being cajoled into changing our minds, based on the reaction and response we receive when we do so?

Ah, the power of words!

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, GNU Free Documentation License

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Reading and Writing Feed Off Each Other

Reading is a vital part of any writer’s work. It is not enough to browse through websites, keep up with current events, thumb through magazines and research topics, however. Reading is one of many things meant to inspire the author of any manuscript or article.

Reading and writing go together. Just as when a writer reads something, which inspires new writing, authors also promote new learning (reading) from the work they produce. Just last night, I picked up an old book that has been sitting on my shelf for years titled, The Berlin Diary. I’m familiar with World War II. I’ve researched and written a few articles about it. However, that article I wrote the other day on Janusz Korczak inspired me to read about WWII from a different perspective. I chose journalist William L. Shirer’s book, which shares his first-hand account of events as they unfolded while he was on assignment.

The Berlin Diary is a fairly long book – over 600 pages. I’m barely into the first few, and already I’ve learned something new about Hitler. I imagine I’ll discover more heroes (like Korczak) from this time period to write about, practice controlling my temper as I read about people blindly following some lunatic, while wondering how such a thing could ever happen in the first place. These feelings are nothing new, yet I’m sure they are capable of producing a wealth of essays from me about more than a few subjects.

Personally, I believe writer’s block might well be a myth. If you want to avoid it, write – period. If you’re not sure what to write about, read. Let the two activities feed off one another, and writer’s block will be a non-issue.....

Ooorrrr, it could be......

.........a nice way of stating you’re dealing with a little to much head trash on any give day, and a politically correct way of saying you have a few other things you need to be doing, besides sitting at your computer and writing all day.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: GNU Free Documentation License

Monday, May 21, 2012

Writing Investigation #3: Dealing with Mega Topics

Last Saturday night, May 19, 2012, I spent some time researching and writing a humanitarian biography about Janusz Korczak for my site, Effectively Human. It was a dark tale, one that truly makes one’s soul cringe and wonder how any population can become subject to such horrors by its government.

My task became one of deciphering which was more important, emphasis on Korczak’s unwavering devotion to the children – children destined to die at the hands of Nazi’s, or I could touch on all aspects of his life, providing limited details of each. As you will see if you read the article, I chose to emphasize the former.

Some topics are simply too charged and explosive to take all at once. The mind and heart cannot always grasp or digest volumes of material, which rightfully need to be presented in turn. Writers offer alternatives to their audience, providing small snippets of important information about a given topic. Each little piece is part of a larger scenario – much like the pieces of a puzzle, which ultimately create an entire scene.

Now it’s your turn, good people…

How do you break down your stories and articles, for greater emphasis on important details?

Which subjects or topics do you find hardest to write about, because they simply seem too big to address? Do you generalize and address them anyway? Do you avoid those BIG TOPICS altogether? Do you categorize and create snippets to get your main point across?

We’re all in this together as writers, so please share your thoughts in the comments. Let’s work together to provide the best possible content we can for our audience. Thank you for your participation.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blog Perceptions – Personal Journals Gone Awry or Mini Websites?

There’s a lot to consider when starting a website. The foundation of that website provides the stability necessary to build it according to a pre-determined plan. The owner of a website usually has a vision for their site, an idea to expand upon and build accordingly. Websites don’t happen by accident.

Curiously enough, I was engaged in a conversation recently where I mentioned I needed to go and update my blogs. The person who heard this immediately replied, “Blogs are dumb. All people do is go on there and talk about their problems, chatter about doing laundry and complain about their days.” I was a little taken aback by the commentary, but completely understood where this person was coming from. Heaven knows I’ve visited my share of blogs that fall into those exact same categories.

I responded simply, “Blogs are mini-websites. They can be anything the author wants them to be.”

Perception is reality, good people, so the questions of the day are:

What is your perception of blogs?

  • Do you think most blogs are personal diaries that get blasted all over the web?

  • Are blogs mini websites that can be used for a variety of purposes?

  • Does the informal format of blogs lend itself to author rambling, which can and often is a turn-off for visitors?

  • Do rant blogs drive you crazy, or distract you from things you might rant about yourself?

Your comments are encouraged here, and you know I will answer them with my personal opinion and thoughts on the matter. Don’t hold back. Let’s keep this conversation going and see how it helps us develop our own blogs.

As always, thank you for stopping by and visiting with this fine group of writing enthusiasts. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, good peopleJ

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Internet Standards for Websites and Blogs

Some of the best websites and blogs I’ve visited on the Internet are ones that show some sign of organization. They are often topic based, easy to navigate, easy to follow and very welcoming. Many times, they provide new insights for me to consider. Quite often, they take the edge off my days, allowing me to laugh a bit and take life (and myself) a little less seriously.

A few standard Internet rules I try to religiously abide by are:

  • Create a happy place for people. Regardless of your website or blog topic, be a place where people can feel the fresh air, enjoy the sunshine and respond to the positive energy that’s part of your message. It’s easy enough to address serious issues, without being a “Negative Nancy” about them.

  • Never badmouth family or friends. Anger and frustration passes quickly enough, but words posted on the web remain forever. That’s not to say I don’t lean on family and friends when I’m having a very tough time. It is to imply that I do my best never to gossip, which is one of the worst things a person can do, imho.

  • Keep it short and sweet. Time is precious and as much as I know everyone who visits my website and blogs hang on my EVERY word, I also know most people are there only until they move onto the next thing they have to do – fleeting moments, as they are, and not mine to impose various degrees of frustration on, while trying to keep people on my pages.

Everyone has favorite websites and blogs with various reasons why they return time and time again. What are some of yours? Please share them in the comments, so we can all learn from each other and maybe even initiate some changes to our own blogs. One never knows what we haven’t thought of, until someone lists it as a favorite item or pet peeve. Thanks for your help on this, good people. And thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog today!

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, GNU Free Documentation License

Monday, May 14, 2012

Writing Investigation #2 Follow-up: Writing Focus

Focusing on details in pictorial writing prompts allows us to give life to specific elements in a piece. When I first looked at the picture of the soup, and read the prompting words, “stirring the pot,” I knew that I could use this writing prompt to present a specific scenario and address an all too common issue people face in society every day, that of being bullied.

Instead of writing about the larger picture, my goal was to focus on a specific element of the picture, and use that element to bring my subject matter to life. In other words, I found a focal point that would be the object of the composition I wished to present.

According to the Purdue University Writing Lab, brainstorming and clustering are useful skills, necessary to help with the writing process. These skills make it easier for writers to be more productive and use their time wisely, when producing their work.

Limiting distractions is also a key component for those who need or desire to be efficient and proficient when writing. Daily Writing Tips suggests people write in quiet surroundings, limit noise and interruptions, turn off instant messaging and other social networking distractions.

What helps you be more productive when you write?
How do your surroundings make it easier or more difficult for you when you write?

Please share your answers in the comments and let’s continue this discussion as a group. Thank you.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Writing Investigation #2: Focusing on Details

Amidst all the vegetables and broth, one solitary chunk of potato settled in the midst of the chaos of its hodge-podge surroundings. “Trouble maker,” chided the other ingredients in the pot. “How dare you position yourself like that!”

The lonely potato knew it had done nothing wrong. The master had been stirring the pot periodically for hours. Each time, he scooped up the little potato chunk and tested it for tenderness. Each time, he gently placed it back in the center of the pot, smiling at how tough this little piece of potato truly was.

Even before this particular potato was prepped and simmered in the pot with all the other vegetables, the master understood its viability. The hidden depths of this potato were certainly immeasurable and unable to be quantified. There was something spectacular about the essence of this potato, something that challenged the other ingredients in the pot – making them want to put this one in its place and shatter its relevance and importance among the others.

Now it’s your turn, good people…

Again I use symbolism to describe a scene that is all too common among people. This time, however, I drew on specific details and to illustrate my message using imagery. I want to tap into the emotions of my readers with this piece, touching on something we’ve probably all experienced at some point in our lives.  And so I ask you…

What is your first reaction to this piece? What feelings does it awaken in your heart and mind?

Are you inclined to want to do something about your emotions, or are you more likely to control the way they make you feel? (Fight or flight response...)

If you were writing a conclusion to this story, what would it be? How would it reflect your feelings about the story being told?

Please share your responses in the comments. If you read a response from other visitors that causes you to pause and think about things, engage in the conversation with them. Let’s use this particular investigation as a community forum, where we can politely converse and learn from each other. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say. Thank you for your participation in Writing Investigation #2.

Oh yes, one more thing…

©2012 All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: The Writers’ Post – Blog Hop #47
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Purposeful Writing and the Rights of Commentators

There are times when content requires the opportunity to stand alone, without being bombarded by initial reactions of its recipients. Writers enjoy feedback; this is absolutely true. However, like the artist, writers share their work to evoke emotions, draw on intuition and purposely cause reflection from those who read their words.

At a time when our society demands the right to voice its opinion without restraint, writers often feel the need to give fodder to this idealistic compromise, without considering their own rights to let their words simmer in the minds of those who read them. The disillusionment of such practices can hardly be underestimated. There is no hard and fast rule indicating writers should mandatorily subject themselves to the purposes and agendas of those who stumble upon or intentionally read their compositions, be it with favorable or unfavorable inclinations at their disposal.

Wisdom eradicates the notion that unscrutinized commentary is appropriate and acceptable in any or all circumstances. Forums allowing for generous input, opinion and advice are all the rage. My question is, to what avail? If popularity were the height of every writer’s dream, then yes, inciting the masses to comment and engage in unlimited conversation, while responding to such interaction is vitally important. This goes without saying.

However, if the purpose of the written article is to use the written word as a means to influence the people reading it, much like a well performed play, inspiring melody or intensely detailed piece of artwork, where commentary is not the objective of the work being shared, then the writer may appropriately determine not to expose their work in such a way, allowing it to stand alone and be considered, rather than reacted to, or opened up to forum observations.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fabulous Fun Friday – An Optical Illusion and Classic Cartoons

Think like a writer, now…

Yogi Bear

Foghorn Leghorn

Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eliminating Anonymous Comments on Blogger

Most of the time, it’s harmless. Once in a while, however, the option of providing for anonymous comments provides a platform for inappropriate behavior, at best. I don’t really get it, but then I suppose I don’t need to either. All I know is there’s a way to eliminate the temptation, while still allowing people to comment freely on your blog.
Step 1:  Go to your Blogger Dashboard
Step 2:  Click on More Options
Step 3:  Click on Settings
Step 4:  Click on Posts and Comments
Step 5:  Scroll down to “Who can comment?”
Step 6:  Click on “Registered User (includes Open ID)” or any choice below it.

While you’re there, you may as well turn your word verification off.

Scroll down to Comment Moderation and click “No” where it says “Show word verification.”

My personal theory is that if you’re already addressing comments by preventing anyone from posting to them, you probably don’t need word verification anyway, especially since only registered users will be allowed to comment.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Drink Water to Reduce Writer’s Block

All I know is that recently I’ve been inundated with the benefits of drinking water and horrors of drinking too much soda. My husband recently told me about a lady who literally drank herself to death with soda. I shared a photo of water vs. soda last night on my facebook wall. Water won hands down! I wouldn’t dream of giving soda to my plants, but they sure get stressed if they don’t get enough water – and sometimes even die!

However, I’ve heard I can use soda to clean my toilet, and for sheer giggles and grins, I’m going to try this one! I’m going to buy the cheapest soda I can find and use it to clean my toilet just for fun! I might never go back to buying expensive toilet cleaners again, if it works like I’ve heard it does!

The obvious conclusion presents itself clearly enough. Water makes our bodies function better, which thereby makes our minds think more clearly, ultimately resulting in less writer’s block, easier word choice decisions and a better product (article, blog post, thesis, ebook…etc. etc. etc.) Personal experience tells me water cures what ails us. It flushes our systems of toxins and impurities; scientists have been proving and touting its benefits forever. Even before scientists spent millions of dollars doing research on the benefits of water, people innately knew it was …

Please excuse me for a moment…

I’m having a bit of trouble finding the right words right now…

Guess I’ll go get a glass of water so I can think clearly again…

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: GNU Free Documentation License

Monday, May 7, 2012

Writing Investigation #1 Follow-up – Blog Rage

Blog rage! That’s all I can call it, and I’m not sure why it happened on my blog. Here I was working on a post relating to the writing prompt for Blog Hop #46, thus the picture of the window and the word “opportunity,” when suddenly I was blind-sided by more “F” words and other various profane comments from an anonymous visitor than I dared finish reading!

This was on my post from the previous day, a post that shared a little bit about myself, because I’d received my first blogging award from Dana, author of The Daily Dose. I’m not sure why this person forgot to pull up his big boy pants (or her big girl panties, for that matter), but clearly something about me sent him into a rambling, lunatic’s rage.

What to do…what to do…
I’d never experienced anything like this on my blogs before.

How long had these comments been there? Who might have been offended by such profanity being left on my blog? Is this raving idiot dangerous, stupid or merely completely devoid of any sense of human decency and manners?

Quite the quandary indeed…and to what end? For what purpose? How could “venting” in such a way make someone feel better or be healthy in any way, shape or form?

Oh, the questions can be never ending, can’t they?

The answer was obvious. The “dirty window” was right there, surrounded by many dark and curious accents. My story reveals how I chose not to engage in the attackers vengeance, but rather delete the unseemly cobwebs which played such a minor role in the blogging destination I am trying to create. None of this was about censoring or limiting the conversation encouraged on my blog (cleaning the dirty window).

It was about keeping my emotions in check, trusting in who I am and never letting any upset, no matter how big or small, stifle my efforts and visions relating to what I want to do and how I want to do it. This was about being true to myself and not letting bullies get the best of me.

Have you ever experienced blog rage?
How do you handle it?
Are you inclined to filter your comments to prevent it?
Has blog rage ever caused you to take a hiatus from your blog?

I’m very new to dealing with blog rage. Please, share your thoughts, so we can all learn from each other, and deal with blog rage bullies effectively. Thank you!

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Writing Investigation #1: Writing Prompts and Symbolism

The opportunity to clean the window did not escape me, nor did its significance in the grand scheme of things. I could easily have used my writing prowess to belligerently attack the notion, without any regard for the importance of restraint.

As I looked at the impregnated view from my distance down the hallway, it was obvious the entire scene could be reduced to rubbish from its filth. My task would be to stifle the opposition – the tension building up within my bones upon surveying the undiminished situation. What harm did a few unexpected cobwebs along archways and in corners truly cause, especially when they could so easily be wiped away, never to be seen again?

Tackling the task of cleaning the window seemed rather trivial, upon realizing the greater opportunity at hand.

That window…

That particularly spectacular window…

Was not a view to be gazed at from afar.

It was an opportunity to soar with the heavens

Commissioning my spirit to take flight!

Writing Investigation #1

Now it’s your turn, good people. Consider the following questions about what I have written. Please share your thoughts and answers in the comments.
  1. What could be the true symbolism in this article? What do you think it is referring to?
  2. How does this article challenge your mind to visualize specific details? Do you wonder what they mean and why I chose to use specific words and phrases?
  3. If given the option to write a piece, based on the picture shown and including the word “opportunity,” how will you respond?

The last question was my task. This is what I came up with for various reasons. A future blog post in the making, I am sure. Suffice to say, I discovered this writing prompt and chose to participate in the challenge associated with it yesterday. From the moment I knew I was in, I mulled it over, gazing at the picture numerous times while deciding how to approach my task. Filtering outside influences was not an option – and in fact, a few of those outside influences flamed my creativity for this post. 

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: The Writers’ Post – Blog Hop #46

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Woohoo! It’s My Very First Blog Award!

OMG! Dana, author of My… (scratch that) The Daily Dose just made me the recipient of my very first blogging awardJ Barely had my cup of coffee in hand, let alone the fortification that comes with it, and she’s proving to me that I actually can open my eyes and read without the caffeine energy boost that always starts my day! Thanks, Dana! This is so exciting and way too much funJ

As a newbie, please be patient with me while I figure out the rules…

Hmmm…10 little known facts about me…where to start…where to start….

Oh, here’s a good one…

I married the boy next door, literally. (Okay, he actually lived 4 doors down, but who’s counting when you live that close to each other, right?)

Sewing machines drive me bonkers! I can use them well enough … when I absolutely have to, but if given the choice to sew by machine or by hand…I’m the one picking up the needle and thread and sitting on the couch to make my seams.

I use a pen name. (Long story – destined to be a post on this blog someday…) My real name is Teresa.

Contrary to popular belief, being the youngest to 7 older brothers and sisters does not spoil you! It builds your character (sometimes in ways you never thought possible!)

I make a clear distinction between the Catholic faith and the Catholic institution. I love my Catholic faith, cooperate with its institution and trust God to sort out the details.

Effectively Human is my website. I came up with an idea, shared it with some friends and have been working at it since last fall ever since. It’s not turning out exactly the way I thought it would, but that won’t prevent me from adding to it as often as I can.

Change has been one of the greatest blessings in my life!

I always dreamed of wearing a long gray braid in my old age. Having managed with very long hair for a number of years, and having recently cut it to shoulder length, I’m thinking it’s a nice idea. However, it might be a little too much work to keep those locks tangle free and shiny all the time.

Before I was positively off the market and more than a little happily married to my wonderful husband of almost 20 years, I absolutely refused to date boys with the last name of Smith. Any guesses as to why?

Getting my hair done isn’t even on the list of things I can’t live without. Keeping it clean and neat is more than enough for me; spending time at the hairdresser prevents me from doing so many other things that are much more important…like hanging out with my amazing family, enjoying the company of phenomenal friends (both on and off line) and releasing my creative energy in a multitude of ways.

Sharing the Love now…  <3 <3 <3

©2012 All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fabulous Fun Friday – Let the Games Begin!

It’s Fabulous Fun Friday, folks – a day I used to have with my students, back in the days when I was in the classroom. So gather up your energy, creativity and competitive spirits and let the games begin.

First up is the Writing Prompt Challenge.

Game #1

Can’t Beat This Card

Here are the rules. Take an ordinary deck of cards and draw out 7 at random. Use those 7 cards to write a story in 30 seconds or less. No editing allowed. I’d love it if you’d write your story in the comments. Everyone is welcome to share their 2 cents on which story (ies) they like and why.

Game #2

Next up is an oldie but goodie. How many 4, 5 and 6 letter words can you make out of the following word?

You only have 30 seconds. Ready. Set. Go!

Share your totals in the comments; extra kudos if you give at least 1 synonym to go with it.


Game #3

Last but not least…Word Scramble. You knew I couldn’t pass this one up, didn’t you?


Happy Friday, good people! Wishing you a wonderful weekendJ

©2012 All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Internet Etiquette and Boosting Your Traffic

When someone gives you a gift, it’s always nice to acknowledge and reciprocate the gift that is given. The age old rule of returning a clean dish to a neighbor who shares their delights with you applies. I was taught it’s almost rude to give back a clean, empty dish. Instead, you build your relationships and expand your community by giving the dish back full or your own tasty treasures.

Thank you is the obvious and expected response. However, thank you can be considered a conversation ender, if you don’t follow it up with the extended handshake and appropriate interest toward the person being thanked.

Such is the case with Internet etiquette and commentary…

Why do people have to beg for comments on articles and blogs, when clearly people are responding to their message?

Allow me to state the obvious, good people. It’s because turn around doesn’t seem to be fair play. It’s because people get all excited when they see comments on their own Internet writing and photos; many of them even take the time to respond to what is being said about their personal stuff, by replying to the comments being offered…

What they don’t do is click on the name of the person who took the time to read and comment on their work, and take a few minutes to read and comment on the work of the person who commented – unless they’re in some contest or challenge where this is all part of the game, that is.

I’m on a personal mission to change all this when it comes to my Internet blogging and writing. It’s time to overcome some very bad and rude habits of mine, habits that end the conversation with a simple “thank you.” I’d rather promote the development of relationships within my own community. They’re already there, waiting for me to engage in the conversation. This isn’t rocket science, after all.

What do you say? Will you join me in this personal quest to not only thank people who acknowledge your Internet work, but make a point to click on their name and share your interest in their work too? It’s actually a lot of fun, and I’ll bet we can start a chain reaction and build a supercharged, active and highly functional Internet community in no time at all. What say you? Are you in? If so, leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to visit your work tooJ

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  Stock.Xchng, Image ID 1095396

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Translating Your Blog for Your Followers – That was Easy…

With so many blog gadgets out there, it’s difficult to know which ones you really need to help drive traffic. I found one a few minutes ago that is really kind of neat. It’s something I know will be useful, because I’ve used it on other people’s blogs. It’s also something that is bound to benefit my followers. Many of my followers on my crochet blog are from numerous countries throughout the world. The gadget I’m referring to is called, “Translate.”

Translate doesn’t take up a lot of space; it has a drop down menu with dozens of languages to choose from and it literally translates the content of your blog, so followers more familiar with other languages can understand it better. That’s a big plus for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that the blogger and follower can communicate more effectively with each other.

If you’re not sure how you feel about this gadget, try it out right here on Writing Tips for Success. It's right there at the top of the sidebar. Use the drop down menu and test a few different languages to see what happens. Then, consider your own followers and the audience you’re trying to reach. Let me know your thoughts about this new gadget I discovered in the comments. I’m curious to see if it excites you, as much as it does me.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Links and Webpages – You Be the Judge

Perhaps it’s a mere quirk of mine, a sense of entitlement when I land on a web page I choose to explore. I didn’t land there by mere accident, and if I did…it had better be good, or I’m out of there clicking the backlink faster than a mouse being chased by a cat!

Once I’m engaged with a webpage, I intend to stay there for a while…at least long enough to read what I have found; quite often, I’ll even contemplate my findings and leave comments for the author. This obviously is determined by the type of webpage I visit – not all websites are meant for on-the-spot commentary, nor should they be.

Back to my sense of entitlement dilemma…and all those pretty little links, showing me the author did due diligence, research and what have you…

Links are cool! Don’t get me wrong! I’m a firm believer in using links to expound on solid writing, and provide a much broader perspective of the topic being presented.
What I don’t like is landing on a page, clicking on a link, and ending up completely off the page I chose to land on in the first place. It’s not that hard to click the “open a new window” box, when formatting and posting a page on the web. By doing so, viewers can enhance their reading experience, without interrupting their train of thought.

Experiencing webpages is different from reading them. I prefer to experience what my author experienced when presenting the page for vast readership. I want to be captured by the article before me, and rely on credits and embedded links only as an afterthought. It’s my right to read an article of my choosing without being whisked away to some foreign page, all because I want to see what might be hidden behind a certain link. It’s my deliberate choice to read the article before me, and personally, I’m not too keen on that being taken away unexpectedly.


What are your quirks about links and linking? How do you feel about links throughout the article? Would you rather see a list of references at the end of the article, or not at all? Share your thoughts in the comments, please, so we can all make the most of this post togetherJ

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, GNU General Public License

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Use Your Words…and then, Learn Some New Words

Participating in the A – Z Challenge last April was exhilarating for me. We had to come up with posts relating to every letter of the alphabet, and sometimes this wasn’t so easy. I’ve always enjoyed playing with words, so this game was right up my alley.

Writing on the Internet has taught me quite a few things about searching for whatever I need or want. Using these search skills, I didn’t mess around when it came to the A – Z Challenge. Relating the letter X to crochet was easy enough – but also rather obvious. Someone even commented she was surprised I came up with something so original, as she figured I’d just write about a simple cross stitch or something.

Oh, there are some beautiful “X” patterns, motifs and designs in crochet to be sure; I’ll undoubtedly be sharing them on my blog at some point in the future. That was way too easy though, and I wasn’t about to limit myself to the mass hysteria exposing itself, as over 1,700 A – Z participants worried over what to post for letter X. It’s not my style. I’d rather create an element of surprise for people, and have a little fun instead.

As you can see, I’m going overboard and exaggerating (creative writing skills at work for your pleasure); none-the-less, I ventured into the world of search skills to discover unusual words I could apply to my crochet blog for the letter X. I literally typed, “Words that begin with X” in the search bar and found numerous links to choose from, each containing a large list of X words.  One of my favorite sites is Crossword Clue Solver. It’s where I came up with the word, xeranthemum. Wouldn’t you know my Xeranthemum crochet blog post is one of my most popular to date!

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Teresa DePoy