Blogging Guilt

Bless me Followers for I have sinned. My last blog post was over one week ago.

No kidding, sometimes that thought crosses my mind as I view my Stats, see faithful followers have stopped by, and know there wasn’t new material to greet them. Those stop-by nudges usually get me back in gear.

I struggle with the question of how frequently one should post and not only from the writing end of it. As someone who reads her fair share of blogs, I am often overwhelmed by the frequency with which people post. My mailbox subscriptions overflow and there are times I can’t possibly view and comment on every post. I know some WordPress users have resorted to using the Like button as a cyber wave, a way of telling their buddies they stopped by to skim but don’t have time to comment.

When I read about WordPress’s Post-A-Day challenge, I ran for cover. If I had a choice, I’d rather read one thoughtful, well-written post by an infrequent blogger than a blog-for-blogging’s-sake post every day.

For me, a post every four days is about right. Less than that and I feel rushed, in terms of the writing and the responding to comments. More than that and I feel disconnected from all of you. That’s about where I am now…Hellooooooooooo, anyone out there?

I’d love to hear your views on this. Are you on a blogging schedule, or do you blog when the mood strikes? Do you prefer to blog every day, or do you need some time in between posts? Are you ever afflicted by blogging guilt? Do tell.

WordPress, Search Engine Terms, and a Constipated Baby

As a technical writer, I enjoy reading documentation. The WordPress people do a good job explaining options and functionality. However, I’m having a difficult time finding an answer to a question about search engine terms.

“Search Engine Terms” is one of the features on the Stats page. According to the WordPress documentation, it lists terms that people entered in search engines to locate your blog.    

So, can someone explain how the search terms “my baby is constipated what can I do” brought someone to my blog? We talk about a lot of odd things here, I know, but I don’t think I’ve covered poop or lack thereof. Yet. 😉

Constipated baby utters his first words.

 

Desperate Mother, I wish I could help you, but having breastfed my baby, I never had to deal with constipation issues. The poops of breastfed babies are soft and orange…kind of like, wait for it, pumpkin puree. (Sorry, Charles).

However, let me point you to Amazon.com where you can buy the print or Kindle version of my novel The Benefactor. You will undoubtedly be up many a long night with your wailing child. What better way to pass the time than with a romantic suspense novel? You remember what romance is, right? Hmmm, probably not. Most likely the only suspense in your life right now is wondering when romance will return to your life…and when that damn kid is gonna poop.

Desperate Mother, rest assured it gets easier. I promise.

Why Do You Keep Coming Back?

Conversations with your dentist have nothing on conversations with your gynecologist.

I had an appointment today for an annual check-up. My doctor remembered that I had a novel published and asked how that was going. Then we talked about blogging. Several people had told her she should blog, but she didn’t know what to write about. The obvious answer was medical topics, but after a long day at work, she needed a break from that. Doc asked if my blog had a focus. I laughed. Lack of focus is my focus. She laughed and related, I think. And then she asked the $64 million question:

What keeps people reading your blog if there’s no focus?

I thought for a moment about what makes me return to a blog. A particular post draws me in initially, but the personality of the blogger and the relationship we develop keep me coming back for more. It’s no different than the connection I feel in person when I meet a kindred spirit. I guess for me, a blog and its comments are like conversations I might have with my non-cyber friends. Those are not on just one topic, right?

So, what do you think? What keeps you coming back? Enquiring minds and one gynecologist want to know.

Did you hear? I’m stylish.

This morning, Charles Gulotta of Mostly Bright Ideas nominated me for the coveted Stylish Blogger Award. No one has ever called me stylish. [Stop snickering, Mom!] It’s understandable. I live in pajamas most days when I’m at home writing. If I have to leave the house, it’s jeans, boots, and a sweater. Not too exciting, I know. So, imagine my surprise when I got the news. I feel whole now. [sniff] Special. [wipes tear from eye] Stylish for the first time. [sob] In fact, I must change into pajamas that are more appropriate for this occasion.

[snip, snip, snip] There, I’ve cut the back out of my favorite sheep pjs. Backless outfits are always more appropriate for awards ceremonies, don’t you think?

 As Charles mentioned in his post, the award comes with four basic tasks to be completed:

  1. Present seven things about yourself
  2. Name about a half dozen bloggers you think deserve the award
  3. Contact those people
  4. Create a link back to the person who gave you the honor

Here’s seven things you might not know about me:

    1. I think PEZ taste better when eaten from the dispenser rather than from the wrapper.
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    2. I have an overly developed sense of smell—a blessing when the flame blows out on a stove but the gas is still pumping, a curse when I get stuck in a cramped train under the armpit of a tall, unwashed man with a passion for Ralph Lauren’s Polo. You all say ugh to that, right? But when your nose is like a bloodhound’s, you find yourself praying for a quick death.
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      The first inkling my parents had of my super-sensory condition was in the pig house at the Flushing Meadow Zoo when I started to cry, grabbed my nose, and ran for the door when I hadn’t even learned how to walk yet. I should mention that there had already been some trauma that day when they looked away for a second and I leaned over to pet a cute little goosey. The weight of my giant, toddler bobblehead toppled me head first into the pond. Afraid of water to this day and hating nasty smells. All true.

  1. I despise overly restrictive rules, regulations, practices, and laws that are just plain ridiculous or that don’t take into account individual circumstances. So there!
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  2. I love food. I love to eat it, think about it, talk about it, write about it, you name it. I never mind if someone asks me what I’m eating in a restaurant. Great relationships have been struck up with strangers over the back of a diner booth, stopping just short of the exchange of a fluffy, silver-dollar pancake for a bite of a skillet omelet.
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    Growing up half Italian, I quickly internalized the message “Food is love.” I have such great memories of meals with my extended Italian family. And past events are easily remembered in the context of what we were eating at the time.
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    “Don’t you remember when Zia Anamaria announced that her brother-in-law’s sister’s son’s wife left him to pursue her dream of working at the buffalo mozzarella factory in Gaeta, Italy?”
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    “Oh yeah, that was the day Uncle Tutti choked on the string from the braciole.”
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    Okay, some of that’s not true.
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  3. Nature at once soothes and energizes me and feeds my creativity. My Muse lives outdoors, sipping nectar from trumpet-shaped flowers. If I’m lucky, I catch her with a butterfly net and bring her indoors for a few hours while I work. I thank my grandmother for fostering my fascination with nature. And I am grateful to my parents for taking us on month-long camping trips across North America every summer. There’s no hotel that compares to a sleeping bag in a tent under the stars, in my opinion.
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  4.  I am an ENTP on Myers-Briggs, an 8 with a 7 wing on the Enneagram, and a Gemini. Take a look at those descriptions and you’ll know more about me than you ever wanted to.
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  5. I am a champion of the underdog. And come to think of it, Underdog was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid.

 I’d like to thank the Academy, um I mean Charles for nominating me. His blog is one of my new favorites. I read his moving post Zabaglione and felt like I’d known him forever. Parts of it were so familiar to me. Give it a read.

Before I list my six nominations, I want to say the list would have been longer but Charles already nominated Jessica Sieghart of Surely, You Jess! Similarly, Val of Absurd Old Bird was nominated earlier in the week. And Richard Lamb of Celluloid Zombie would have eaten my brains if I nominated him, busy as he is with a new job.

Drum roll please. My nominees for the Stylish Blogger Award are:

The Fordeville Diaries – Her tagline reads “On a mission to turn the ordinary into the memorable.” She succeeds with each post. Whether she’s fretting about the ugly wall sconces in her hallway or lamenting the loss of her fingerprints (I kid you not), she always gets a good chuckle out of me.

Girlboxing – This 50-something female boxer manages to inspire me exactly when I’m in need. If you want some motivation to get up offa that thing and get that body moving, but you’re not interested in a drill sergeant-like trainer screaming in your face, make a stop at Girlboxing’s place for some quiet but powerful inspiration.

Julie Compton – This blog reflects the multi-faceted qualities of its owner. Julie is a two-time published author, a devoted mom, a female biker, a Dave Matthews fanatic, and a former practicing lawyer. If her blog is a bit quiet these days, it’s because she’s at work on her third novel. (Shhhhh, writer at work.) I can’t wait for her to finish. Her first novel Tell No Lies is a legal thriller that has been compared to Turow’s Presumed Innocent. In her second novel Rescuing Olivia, also a thriller, “a Florida biker sets out on a search against time to find and save the woman he loves when she mysteriously disappears after a suspicious motorcycle accident.” What I love about Julie’s thrillers is that her characters are deeply developed and her themes really make you think.

Earthquakes and Rattlesnakes – Zahara blogs about life, food, and travel and posts some gorgeous photos of the scenery and wildlife in Northern California. The photo in her recent post “After the Rain” took my breath away.

Huffygirl’s Blog – Huffygirl’s light-hearted musings about wellness and life keep me coming back for more. Her recent posts and photos about winter birds and how to set up a bird buffet in your backyard were of special interest. I love birdies.

Working Tech Mom – Techy has managed to balance a demanding career in the technology industry and family life. Recently downsized, she is blogging about the experience in an honest and upbeat way. That’s what I admire about her so much. I have a feeling her future posts on the topic will become a popular reference guide for job-seekers. You can’t go wrong with Techy leading the way.

Typical Day in the Life of a Writer

7 AM – Wake up early, roll out of bed, and go for a walk. This is part of the writing process, you tell yourself; the beauty of nature opens your mind and allows your thoughts to combine in new and creative ways…

8 AM – After doing a few floor exercises to tone your saggy writer’s butt, shower and don your lucky writing sweater. Sit down to a breakfast of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins. You can’t concentrate on writing when you’re worried about the state of your ass or when the grumbling of your stomach is louder than the whisper of your thoughts.

9 AM – Read both newspapers cover to cover. That way, if you don’t have any luck writing your novel, the anger inspired by the jackasses who share your world will lead to a passionate blog post.

10 AM – Call a friend to vent your frustration about the jackasses who share your world. “Can you believe the Sanitation Head staged a work slowdown during the blizzard but the Mayor fired the EMS Director because his guys couldn’t get through the unplowed snow to save people’s lives?”

11 AM – Feeling a bit peckish, but the sorry state of your ass prevents you from eating again until at least noon. Start to get ready to write. Assemble your BIC 4-color pen, multi-colored college-ruled notebooks, a Papermate mechanical pencil with pink eraser, AlphaSmart Neo word processor, lap desk, the latest draft of the novel, notes to self, list of scenes, various pages of scribblings, and your winged, Goth, fairy girl figurine, a tangible representation of your Muse. Set everything up just so on the living room sofa and coffee table. Grab a throw in case it gets chilly. Satisfied that all is in order, look at the clock. It’s noon. Yay!

12 PM – Open refrigerator and stare at shelves. Close door of refrigerator, open door of pantry, and stare at shelves. Repeat three times. Sniff a few of the leftovers, pick one, and pop it into the microwave. As lunch heats, stare out the back window and allow nature to continue to form your thoughts in new and creative ways. Beep beep beep. Chow time.

1 PM – After using the bathroom, because there’s no concentrating with a full bladder, look in the mirror and notice the patch of dry, flaky skin between your eyebrows. Apply some moisturizer on the spot. Smile wide. Hmmmm. Get out the expired box of Crest Whitestrips and apply them to your top and bottom chompers. And while you’re still in the bathroom, grab your tweezers and get rid of that stray hair that’s ruining the arch of your right eyebrow.

2 PM – As you pass the computer in your home office on your way down to the sofa to write, sign in to Twitter and tweet “The Mayor is a boob.” Sign into Facebook and watch the video of GloZell using Nads to rip her armpit hair out. Laugh hysterically. Fool. You should know…you tried that once with Zip meltable wax and it hurt like a bitch. Not to mention what it did to your college roommate’s soup pot. Shhhhh.

3 PM – Get comfortable on the sofa, lap desk in position. Stare into space. Tilt your head the other way and stare into space some more. Write the date at the top of the page. Draw a few speckled amoeba at the bottom-right corner of the paper. Stare out the window. Aaaaah, let nature do its work. Meet the contemptuous gaze of your cat. The little furry bastards always let you know exactly what they think of you, don’t they? You lookin’ at me? Giggle. Jump up and run to mirror and say that line over and over again in a DeNiro accent. Giggle some more.

4 PM – Tea time at the inn. Yay!! Put the kettle on. Warm the tea pot. Select the right tea. Will you be writing an Earl Grey kind of scene or maybe the White Pomegranate is the one? Set up a tray with a china tea cup, tea strainer, tea cozy, Demarara sugar cubes, festive napkins, and a plate of…open pantry door, stare at shelves. Close pantry door. Open pantry door again and have another look. Climb up on a chair and find that stale box of Scoobie Snacks and arrange the dog-biscuit shaped cookies on a delicate china plate. Carry the tray into the living room and settle down with your throw and steaming cup of tea. Stare out the window and sip. Feel the creative thoughts permeate your brain with the help of the steam drifting up your nostrils. Organic writing at its best.

5 PM – Holy Cow. Dinner time already? Yay!!!

6 PM – Realize it’s been just about a week since your last blog entry. Crap! Run upstairs to computer and whip up a quick blog about how ripping out your armpit hair with hot wax is a lot like writing.

7 PM – Stand, stretch, yawn. Gather up all the writing materials for your novel from the living room sofa and put them away. Everyone knows you can’t summon up creativity at night. That’s a morning pursuit.