Archive for blogs

Broken Tail

Posted in All posts, Life with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2010 by Trina

I’m back after a year of learning how to balance writing while working a high-energy day job –sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. When I am most proud of my work, when I feel the writing is sharp, the characters interesting and the plot flowing, something is always sacrificed: working out, time with my husband, chores around the house–who needs clean clothes anyway, or energy for the day job. After trying various schedules and even abstinence from writing for awhile, I decided to start up this blog again with a different focus: how to juggle it all. But most importantly, how to be happy with the consequences. Can I live with an extra pound or two if I give up my work out to finish a challenging chapter? I have learned to say yes, but not every day. I will admit that I’ve given up too many workouts recently, so I’ll be posting about my weight loss challenge.

I hope that what I have learned about finding balance in the writing life will help other writers. This blog should also help to keep me honest. I have learned that I need the structure and goals that blogging gives me. I think I was most productive as a fiction writer when I knew I would have to be accountable to myself and my readers by writing about my progress on a regular basis.

broken tail

A broken tail-only a Labrador can do it well!

It was a timely weekend to begin this blog because yesterday afternoon Alex (our black lab) broke his tail, poor guy. Harry and I spent the afternoon at the emergency vet in Raleigh. The vet had to give him a shot of pain killer just to be able to examine him. It must be very painful. We learned that there is no treatment for a broken tail. The vet can’t splint it because dogs wag their tails so much. So Alex is taking pain medication and an anti-inflammatory. He’s pretty listless.

BTW, the emergency vet is on Vick St. in Raleigh. That address seemed like bad karma.

Because we lost the afternoon, Harry and I both decided to take some time yesterday evening to write–instead of watching TV. I managed to get 900 words of a new story written and 3 submissions out. I was happy with my progress. That’s where the balance– which is really a euphemism for sacrifice– comes in. I had planned to take a long walk with Alex, but the walk didn’t happen. The writing did. And so it goes.

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Wordle

Posted in All posts with tags , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by Trina

This is what I got when I put WORLDS THAT NEVER WERE into Wordle. What fun!

Created by Jonathan Feinberg, Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Taking stock: Beautifying your blog on a budget

Posted in All posts, On writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by Trina

Let images do some writing for you. The photo below sets the tone for this post and hopefully sparks some interest.


I grabbed this image from iStockphoto.

I could have chosen any image to use as an example, but this one fit my mood this rainy Saturday morning.

Over on the awesome copyblogger site, Sonia Simone talks about using images to get the biggest bang out of a blog post (while putting in the least amount of work). Wouldn’t we all love to get on with more important stuff–for me that’s writing fiction–not to mention spending time with my husband and my dog.

Sonia says, and I agree, writing a great blog post is a lot of work. There’s the planning, the headline, the writing, the rewriting, the rewriting, the rewriting.

Images are steroids for your headline, you can set an emotional tone and arouse curiosity through pictures. What fun.

Sonia suggests two sources to grab images. The first is iStockphoto, which is my favorite. It has a wide selection of stock photography at very good prices. For a blog post, you can use their smallest size image, which will run you a little over $1 depending on how many credits you buy at a time. I downloaded the picture above from the dollar bin of iStockphoto. I also did a search on “Halloween” and found 15,256 photos to choose from.

Photo by freeparking

The second source Sonya suggests is the Flickr Creative Commons, which is where the non-copyright images on Flickr are found. Each image is available under one of six customized licenses built to influence where and how each image can be used. From the Flickr Creative Commons page, you can enter search portals for each of the six licenses.

I didn’t like Flickr as well as iStockphoto because I found the different licenses confusing. Still, the photos on Creative Commons are free, as long as you credit the photographer. And I found Skellie’s article A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Incredible Flickr Images helpful in explaining the six licenses.

I did the same search for “Halloween” under the Attribution Licensed photos and got 25,550 matches. This license allows you to modify the images (by cropping them, or writing on them, for example) and to use them in both commercial and non-commercial spaces. The only requirement is that you credit the author with a link back to their profile. Other licenses restrict users, for example you can download the images, but not modify them.

You’re forbidden to use Flickr images marked as copyrighted (or “All rights reserved”) for your own purposes unless you get explicit permission from the author. Who has time for that?

Time for me to quit procrastinating querying agents, submitting my short stories and writing new work. Although playing with images was certainly much more fun. I don’t think I’ll get much more writing done today. Harry and I plan on watching some scary movies this afternoon–the rain suggests cuddling indoors.

Thanks to my marketing writer husband for the post title.

JA Konrath

Posted in All posts, On writing with tags , , , , , , , on September 16, 2008 by Trina

I am honored that JA (Joe) Konrath has linked WORLDS THAT NEVER WERE to his blog: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. There he posts interesting and useful information for fellow writers. Althought the title suggests it is for newbies, I think there is something there for both new and experienced writers. His latest post, Casting Your Net, is about how to take advantage of Internet relationships formed from social networking through blogs, websites and billboards. I learn something every time I read A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and am happy to be included in the blogs Konrath reads.

As previously posted, I also love Konrath’s books. In terms of humor, JA Konrath is the king. I discovered his detective series with star Lt. Jack (Jacqueline) Daniels after reading one of his short stories in a thriller anthology edited by James Patterson. I bought WHISKY SOUR, read it, and then bought the next three books. I laughed my way through all four books, one right after another. I didn’t want to stop to sleep, eat or work. Konrath’s is the only series I read straight through like that. He doesn’t skimp on the details. One killer drove nails into the bones of his victims, one peeled off the victim’s skin, all while the victims were alive. One scene that sticks in my memory is when one of the killers put razor blades into candy bars. The resulting scene after a detective bit into the razor blade was both graphic and humorous. The humor lightens the story and works with the graphic scenes in this series. I’ve just read his latest, FUZZY NAVEL and can’t wait for the next one.

It is obvious that I learn from Konrath’s blog by the number of my posts where I’ve quoted him:
A Good Thrill
Stories Aren’t Buckshot
Write. Edit. Polish–Submit
Milestones

In other news, I have only 25 pages left to edit in my young adult novel–as yet unnamed. It was to be titled KATHARINE TAYLOR AND THE MAGIC QUILT, but I didn’t want it to sound so Harry Potterish, so I was going to call it HIGH TREASON. Harry doesn’t think that is a fun title for young adults, so I’m thinking about it. Whatever it is titled, I should finish this week! I intend to celebrate most heartily. Tip a glass of wine, beer–or whatever you are imbibing–for me.

Signs you are a blogoholic

Posted in All posts, Life, On writing with tags , , on August 21, 2007 by Trina

I was updating my Web site this weekend and as I modified my “works in progress” page, it occurred to me that I needed include writing this blog as part of my “works in progress.” Blogging takes up much of my time and has contributed to keeping me from finishing my young adult novel.

Why? Blogging provides instant gratification — people see what I write immediately. There are no rejection letters and no waiting to get my work published. In contrast, when I work on my novel, I have nothing to show at the end of the day. The document sits in a file on my computer, read by no one but me. Sections of it may be brilliant, but parts are not ready for anyone to read. I’ll have to wait until it is finished and marketed out to an agent to see it in print.

Blogging is different. I can post in just a few minutes and read what other bloggers have to say in that same few minutes. It is a powerful addiction.

So here I sit with the notes for my young adult novel spread over my desk, with the document open to the chapter where I left off. But I find myself distracted and decide to write about spending too much time blogging. Meanwhile I haven’t touched my novel, haven’t moved the curser — it blinks, waiting.

Signs you are a blogoholic
1. You think to yourself, “Am I spending too much time blogging?” And then you blog about it.

2. You find yourself thinking, I can’t wait to blog about this, while brushing your teeth.

3. You can only keep track of which day it is by consulting your blog.

4. You have more blogger friends than real life friends.

5. You find yourself having amazing relationships with people in far-away places like Jakarta, Tasmania, and Scotland.

6. You meet new people, and really resent the lack of an “About” page attached to their forehead.

7. A friend tells you enthusiastically about their new blog and you cringe when they scribble down an address with “myspace” after the three w’s.

8. Your mother doesn’t call anymore, she just checks your blog.

9. Instead of chuckling at humor, you actually say “lol” outloud.

10. Your home computer has a serious hardware failure. You break out in a cold sweat and try to Google for a local repair place.

11. You walk around in a daze because you wouldn’t let something as insignifant as sleep interfere with your RSS feeds. (When you do go to bed you find yourself lying awake wondering if your server is connected).

12. You spend so much time doing blogging tasks that your “real writing” ends up falling by the wayside.

13. You get more “comment waiting for moderation” e-mail messages than spam.
14. Your lifetime goal is achieving a page rank of 10.

15. You keep a blog ideas notepad in your car and you write in it, putting your life in jeopardy on a daily basis.

16. You quit your day job because it is interfering with your blogging. (Money is so overrated).

17. You gain weight because you can’t get away from the computer long enough to do something as insignificant as going to the gym.

18. You clothes don’t fit, but you don’t shop for clothing because it will take away from your blogging time (you haven’t shopped for food anyway, so your clothes will soon fit).

19. Your first thought when you looked at your vacation pictures is which will look best on your post about your vacation.

20. You include ownership of your blog in your will.

21. You finish reading this and go make a post with your own additions.

Reducing the can from comment spam

Posted in All posts with tags , , , on May 12, 2007 by Trina

My blog has a new look because I got up this morning to 48 comment spams, everything from real estate tips to sites promoting drugs to increase my erection – like I need that. While I was mucking around in the blog settings, I decided to give the blog a new look as well.

Why are they spamming me?

Apart from because they can, the need to raise page ranking in search engines gives rise to the need to create a lot of links to a web page so the search engine thinks that page is important. From WordPress’s page on Combatting Comment Spam FAQ.

Because they can. Let’s take the can away from comment spam.

I painstakenly deleted the comment spam — all 48 of them. Then I tried one of wordpress’s tips. I clicked “An administrator must always approve a comment” box and my e-mail inbox was soon full of spam comments to delete.

I didn’t realize spammers were clogging up blogs until now. Upon doing some researching I found that the explosion of blog spam is a besetting problem for the blog industry.

A splog is a “spam blog”, a blog that copies content from other blogs without permission (though there might be a link back), using that content as if it was their own. It’s a little more complex than that, as some mix and match content from many blogs, or mix and match content from different posts into one post. The key to identifying a splog is that the content is not their own, and typically there is no original content to be found.
Splogs tend to have content unrelated to the title and reported purpose of the blog. They also may use content taken from other blogs and stuff their own keywords into the post, promoting whatever they are selling like ringtones, porn sites, drugs, dating, casinos, etc.

For the most part, it is easy to spot a splog, but much harder to get it shut down. Reporting Spam Blogs – Splogs « Lorelle on WordPress

Here’s to reducing the can from comment spam!