Ten Years in Blogland

My, how time flies—seems we only say those words once we’ve reached a certain age of maturity.

I’ll soon be coming up to my tenth year of blogging. Yay me! I may not be posting often these days but

I’m still here in blogland. A lot of the bloggers I met over time have abandoned their blogs and I’ve lost touch. Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to come up with content, especially content that others might want to read. It also takes persistence to set aside time to write posts. There was a time when I put more time into my posts than I did actually writing—or at least it felt that way—and that didn’t make sense. So these days, I blog less and write more.  And while I’d like to be blogging a bit more than I am now, at the moment I’m okay with it. Perhaps when the time is right I’ll get back into it a little more.

My daughter set up this blog in the beginning because I hadn’t a clue about any of it. It all seemed so foreign to me. Slowly but surely I started to figure it all out.

In ten years I’ve written 614 blog posts, counting this one. I wonder how many words that would be? enough for a few novel no doubt. 614 feels like a lot, although I know there are many more bloggers out there that would put this number to shame.

This photo was the original header for my blog back in 2009. It was taken at Lake Torment in East Dalhousie.

I believe when many of us start out blogging we think that people will sit at their computers in anticipation of our next published post, that they long to devour our words, our wisdom because what we have to say is just THAT profound. But then reality sets in and we begin to realize that there are a few kind souls out there who regularly read –some out of interest and others perhaps out of pity. I think many of my readers might fall into the pity category—family who feel obligated to read Mum’s blog posts for fear that they may be quizzed at a later date as to what’s new on lauraabest.wordpress.com/. But hey, I’ll take those “pity hits” and say thank you because I know that it’s not always easy to find time to read and I’m always very appreciative of anyone who does.

So, here’s to the first ten years (Well, not quite yet, but hey, I wanted something to blog about.)

Thank you to all those faithful readers who stop by from time to time and especially to those who take the time to leave a comment. I’m really grateful for your support. 

What’s news?

This week marked my blogging anniversary. That’s right! I’ve been hiding out on WordPress for seven years now. The number seven seems significant in that it’s always been said to be a lucky number and aren’t the cells in our bodies all replaced in seven years? I always wondered how they can know this. Regardless, I’ve been here in the blogging world for seven years. I’ve met some wonderful people and I’ve seen many bloggers come and go. Maybe I deserve a pat on the back for making it this far. Also it’s been seven years this fall since Bitter, Sweet came out–just saying.

It’s berry season in my part of the world. Wouldn’t you love to have a field full of these beauties to pick? We’ve been helping some friends with their berry crop for a few days. It’s always a challenge to get them harvested.DSC07511A few weeks back we took a trip to Centreville and stopped off that the Cement Museum which was the home of Charles Macdonald. Unfortunately it wasn’t open for the season, but we took some pics of the statues outside. Quite amazing to think it is all made of cement.  I’m looking forward to seeing the inside once the museum is open.

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These cottages were also built by Charles Macdonald in the 1930’s and are in Hall’s Harbour. I think they’re absolutely charming. Some describe them as fairy homes and I can understand. They look so enchanting.

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This one is called the Blue Cottage for obvious reasons. I understand that it can be rented!

 

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Outside the museum there were other statues all made by Charles Macdonald.

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Love this mountain lion. He looks to be on the hunt. Maybe for the deer that are hanging around the property.

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I’m curious about this lovely lady, how and why she ended up here, naked, in the garden. Perhaps there a story there and maybe, just maybe, the answer can be found within the museum itself.

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Okay, to many, none of this is earth-shattering news, or even news at all, but just a few things that caught my attention this past while. I’m so glad to say that summer is finally here. I’ve been looking forward to it and hoping I’ll squeeze in some writing time over the next few months.

Do you have any special plans for the summer months? I love to hear about it!

Welcoming 2015 With Some Writerly Intentions

I love the start of a brand new year. I’m sure I say that every year around about this time, but it’s SO true. A brand new year is so full of possibilities, like a blank page just waiting to be written on or a field of unblemished snow where not a single soul has tread. Guided only by my imagination at this time of the year I feel as though anything is possible. It’s like starting all over again and there’s something most exciting about beginnings, especially for a writer.

I don’t make resolutions but I do like making a list of intentions, things I intend to accomplish, hopefully in the upcoming year, but if not, somewhere farther off into the future. For me, that feels doable without too much pressure, yet allows me to have some goal in mind at the end of it all. And I don’t fill my list up with far-fetched notions, dreaming only big dreams. While big dreams are wonderful, life is also made of up a lot of little dreams that in hindsight can prove to be just as important as the big ones. Aimlessly wandering through life can have its drawbacks. Applying just the right amount of pressure never hurts. At least that’s my philosophy!

So what are some of the things on my list? Below are a few of the writerly ones.

1.I intend to finish the novel I’m presently working on and start sending out submissions for it. There’s nothing more exciting that having several submissions out in publishing land awaiting a rejection or an acceptance, and nothing sweeter that having an editor email and tell you they want to publish your work. I recently had a short story published in Transition, a magazine put out by the Saskatchewan Mental Health Association. While it’s presently in hard copy it will be available on line and I’ll share the link on my blog when it’s available.
2.I intend to pen more short stories in the future. I’ve had several ideas come to me while working on this last novel and I’ve jotted things down just to make sure I wouldn’t forget. I’ve said before I miss my short stories so I need to remedy that.
3.I intend to say yes to writerly opportunities as they arise. Just recently I was offered the opportunity to read for a group in January. I’m excited about this and hopefully more opportunities will arise!
4.I intend to continue supporting other local authors. This has always been important to me. Nothing makes me happier than to help out a fellow author. I obviously can’t buy every book from every local author but, as I mentioned in my post here, there are plenty of ways to support our author friends.
5.I intend to continue blogging. Notice that I’m not vowing to blog every day or even every week, just that I will continue in some shape or form. I know there are some who say we should choose a schedule and stick to it, but that’s not realistic for me. It makes more sense for me to spend more of my time writing fiction than blogging. I’ve met some great people through blogging and made connections I otherwise would not have made so of course I plan to keep blogging.

So there you have a few of my writerly intentions for 2015. Perhaps it will inspire you to come up with a list of intentions yourself. I’m excited for all that 2015 will bring both on the writing front and on a personal note. The sky’s the limit!

Anyone want to share one of their intentions, writing or otherwise?

Hitting the Big 500

I just gave myself a pat on the back because we can all use one from time to time and sometimes there’s no one else around to do it for us. This seemed like such an occasion.

For some reason hitting the big 500 feels like a big deal. When I started my blog back in 2009 I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I’d find to write about. Now look. 500 times I found something to post about and some of you kept coming back for more! As my father used to say, “You’re gluttons for punishment.” It took a long time before I understood the meaning of that expression. But truthfully, you’re awesome and I can’t begin to tell express how much your dedication means to me.

A lot has changed for me in the past four years since I began this blog. Some of it wonderful, some of it not so wonderful. But through the ups and downs I continued to post. Sometimes I hit “publish” with a sense of excitement, other times with a sense of trepidation. But hit it I did. I’m determined that way. If I wasn’t I’d never have found a publisher for my books plus a lot of other things I never imagined I’d be doing at this point in my life … Blogging being one of them!

I nearly quit blogging on a few occasions, (bet you didn’t know that!) feeling that it was a pointless gesture, that no one actually cared enough to read and the faithful ones who might weren’t into reading blogs. While WordPress lets us know how many hits we get with each post it’s easy to feel as though our words are not having the desired effect since we can’t see any of our readers. That’s why the comment section is such a wonderful and appreciated thing. It lets us know that someone is out there, watching and reading, maybe even caring just a smidge if we’re lucky.

The comment section is always open on my blog, and I don’t have to tell other bloggers how nice it is to read what others have to say about something we’ve written. Most people won’t bother to comment. They remain anonymous, invisible, silently reading. It’s okay. We understand. It still means you’re taking the time to read. Time is precious. While comments are not required, or expected, they’re always appreciated. No one writes a blog post expecting others to tell them how wonderful it is. Most of us just hope we that our words will strike a cord, perhaps make someone stop and consider an idea they might not have otherwise considered or else make them think in shades of grey instead of only black and white.

So in honour of my 500th post I want to thank all of you for dropping in to visit from time to time. It’s wonderful to have others to share the highs and lows with. Five years and I’m still hanging in there thanks to all of you. And who knows, maybe some of you “invisible” readers will one day get up the courage to leave behind a comment to let me know you’re there. 🙂

Here’s to the next 500.

WordPress, Wayne Dyer, Summer, Book Releases, and Grandchildren

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. ~~Oprah Winfrey

Funny how time slips away from us as we watch the seasons come and go. Time slowly unravels–a little here and a little there— and before we know it those seasons have turned into years. Over time we laugh, we cry, we grit our teeth. We grieve the passing of people in our lives, our youth, and every other loss that comes our way. For some, the grieving takes over their lives and finding reasons to celebrate take an enormouspic_0092 amount of searching. Like everyone else, I’ve faced my share of grieving and loss, but through those times I’ve tried to see the good. Life is to be celebrated, a journey of our souls, an adventure that takes us far and wide.

This weekend is a celebration of sorts for me in more than one way. First, WordPress informed me that this is my four year anniversary for blogging. Not so shabby considering I’ve seen many bloggers come and go. Some I still miss and wish they would suddenly be struck by the blogging bug.

Also, I’m celebrating the fact that I’m off to hear Wayne Dyer speak in Halifax tomorrow. Some of you might remember me mentioning him from time to time on this blog. I’ve been a big fan of his for years and never dreamed I’d ever get to hear him speak. A once in a life time opportunity I’d say!

There’s also the beginning of summer to be celebrated even though the days are now growing shorter. I’m looking forward to the warm weather, and all the work involved with the release of my book in September. I also recently learned that I’m to be a grandmother for the second time!

So many things to be celebrated.

How about you, do you have reason to celebrate?

The Voice

There are times when I feel as though my blogging voice is gone, and lately this has been the case. I can tell you this doesn’t feel like a permanent condition, and I’m not planning to go anywhere soon. It just means I might find it more difficult to blog on a regular basis. Truthfully, I sometimes wonder what difference blogging makes to my writing life except to take time away from writing fiction. But no sooner do I have that thought then I remind myself of all those faithful readers out there who come by to visit, and the other bloggers I’ve come to know. Blogging shouldn’t be about accumulating a huge number of followers and racking up hundreds of comments, but engaging with those readers we do have. What that means is you’re all important to me and I appreciate your visits.

While I’m on this subject, I might just as well mention that, along with my reluctance for blogging, the same has been true for Facebook. I pop on by times, mostly to see any updated photos of Miss Charlotte, but when it comes to updating my status, I find I rarely have anything I want to say. I do try to update my page more often, but days sometimes go by before I feel the urge to post something there. Does it sound as though I’m whining? I sure hope not. As a 96 year old Grace once said, “I”m just stating facts.”  BTW Grace is an amazing woman who shared a room with my mother-in-law at the nursing home.

Don’t worry though, all this doesn’t mean I’m not writing, in fact just the opposite is true. I’ve been busy every day working on my next novel, and as any of you writers know, it can be an all-consuming task. Did I say task? Well, not so true. Writing isn’t and shouldn’t be a task. Expressing our creativity should be a must for all of us.

Sometimes our writing lives seep into our everyday lives, and people start to wonder just what the heck is wrong. That faraway look we have might not be one of indifference, but our minds busy creating those imaginary worlds that feel all too true. For a writer, our characters are real people who exist in a parallel universe. If we didn’t feel this way about them we couldn’t possibly make them come alive on the page.

Hopefully, once I have the first draft of my novel completed my blogging voice will return, and just so you know that first draft feels quite close to being done.  Believe me, I’ll be doing a happy dance at that point.

 Do you ever feel as though you’ve lost your blogging voice? Do you have times throughout the year when you devote less time to blogging?

Tweetless in Dalhousie

When it comes to twitter I’ve yet to understand what all the fuss is about. That could have something to do with the fact that I haven’t tweeted in months or my oh-so-slow dial-up connection that I’m helpless to do anything about. (No pity please it’s just one of the fallbacks from living in rural Nova Scotia)Tying up your phone line while you tweet your little heart out is annoying to those who actually want to speak to you in person. Just ask my kids. Not to mention you spend ridiculous amounts of time waiting for these sites to load.

Let me be honest: maybe I don’t understand what’s so fabulously great about twitter because I’m the lamest tweeter on the planet. Oh, yeah, I’ve thought about that a time or two.

But wait, I can’t be THAT bad. Twitter’s been trying to reel me back in for months now with little messages that arrive in my inbox. @_____________just retweeted @____________. I also get lists of people who are simply tweeting. So thanks, twitter, for pointing out the obvious. You’re twitter. People tweet. I get that. It’s how it was meant to be. Not to be mean twitter, but I’m not really interested in missed tweets—not to be confused by those who are mistweeted because mistweeting others is definitely NOT cool. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

On the other side of the coin, with the little bit I’ve been on twitter in the past, I’ve actually met some pretty cool people. Some of them have gone on to become facebook friends. Imagine the potential if I was tweeting on a regular basis! I know people who absolutely LOVE twitter. When they’re home they stayed signed in all the time. The moment something happens they’re letting the rest of the world know.

I sometimes think I spent too much time in the world of make-believe. I’ve committed to spend more time writing this year in an attempt to increase my productivity. Right now that seems to be where I need to put my time. Some people seem able to do it all–tweet, blog, facebook all while churning out spectacular novels. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people, but I’m not. I’d have to stay up around the clock in order to keep up. There are SO many online sites these days, I’m simply not able to keep up with them all. But I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. That just wouldn’t make sense.

I’ve got to be honest though; those little reminders from twitter might actually be working. I’ve been thinking of logging in just to see what’s up. That doesn’t mean I’ll sacrifice my writing time. Maybe it’s a matter of finding the right balance if in fact that “right balance” even exists, but for right now you can be sure I’m still tweetless in Dalhousie.

Are you regularly on twitter? If you’re a writer do you find it a struggle to find the right balance between social media sites and writing? Or like me, are you tweetless for the time being?

Celebrate Good Times

Hey, look at me I’m celebrating—nothing outstanding, mind you, just the fact that this is post number 400.  Impressive, don’t you think? Why not have some dessert with me as part of the celebration?

So if I figure an average post of about 500 words (give or take) that means I’ve written 200,000 words for you, WordPress.. You ought to be a little proud. That’s a couple of novels I’ve sacrificed, maybe even three or four depending upon the length. So what do you think, WordPress, am I ready to be freshly pressed anytime soon? Be honest, I’m used to being rejected by editors, I can take it.

Hehehe..But on a serious note, when I first began blogging I wasn’t sure what I’d even write about or if I’d even write on a regular basis. Now, look at me 400 posts in. That’s kind of cool and a reason to celebrate I should think. But the biggest reason I have for celebrating is all of you for stopping by and reading what’s going on in my mind. I do appreciate everyone’s visits and the comments you leave that sometimes make me giggle, sometimes make me think, and are always entertaining.

Here’s to another year of blogging!

Super Blogger

Look up on the net, it’s a troll, it’s a spambot, no it’s SUPER BLOGGER!

Are you faster than a speeding bullet, arriving at a blog mere seconds after it’s been posted? Are your posts more powerful that a locomotive, firing up emotions in your readers that bring tears of laughter, sadness and fits of rage? Are you able to leap to the comment section in a single bound, writing out a response so engaging and articulate that people swear you’re going to be the next Danielle Steel (and think, that’s just reading your comments!)

Okay, so many most of us will never become a “Super Blogger,” at least not by those terms. All jokes aside, most of us do try to be good bloggers. We do our best to come up with interesting content, posting as regularly as life permits, and most of all we try and make visitors to our blogging home feel welcome. (We don’t even make them take their shoes off before they come in.) And many of us reciprocate when it comes to our blog followers and comments. It seems like the right thing to do.

Let’s face it, being a “good” blogger is a lot of work and could be all-consuming if we let it. We could be zipping up and down wordspress hitting the “like” button with lightening speed, staying up into the wee hours racking our brains to come up with clever and meaningful comments. But blogging, as with all things, takes us time to find the right balance, one that works for us. We wouldn’t want to be accused of being a rude blogger by any means and yet it could take over our lives if we let it.

Last week, Roni Loren blogged about blogging manners in her post, enough-with-the-quid-pro-quo-blogging-etiquette-free-yourself check it out to see what she has to say.

In her post, Roni mentions the “rule” about bloggers supporting one another, following each other, and commenting back and forth, and says we basically do it because it’s good manners. Many of us would agree with that. Growing up, my parents believed that when someone visited you then “owed” them a visit. It was a fairly common practise. People kept tabs on it, same as phone calls. It was tit for tat. I’m not so sure that this rule holds true today or if I just ignore it. If I want to visit someone I do. If I want to phone them I do. I could care less when last they called me. I figure if they didn’t want to talk they just wouldn’t pick up. Thank goodness for caller ID.

Roni says that in the beginning “the reciprocity thing can be a great way to start making friends,” and this is very true. If you don’t put yourself out there how will anyone find you?

So what is it then, have things not changed since my parent’s day? Are we simply reading other blogs and commenting so they will reciprocate? I had to give this some thought. It’s a tricky subject.

The point of Roni’s post is to say that it’s not bad manners if we don’t reciprocate. She says, “We should not have to suffer a guilt trip because instead of visiting all of our blogroll that day, we turned off the computer and took our kid to the park. We shouldn’t have to “catch up” at midnight and hit all those posts we missed out of some sense of obligation.”

She goes on to say that the key to having blog followers is to write interesting posts, ones that encourage discussion and above all be genuine. These are all great points and is why I read the blogs I do.

Okay, I certainly understand the idea of visiting back and forth and leaving comments. As one blogger said, “Everyone likes to get comments on their posts.”

But is anyone going to comment on your blog if you never comment on theirs? For me it’s nice to know that others are reading. Hits to our blogs don’t mean a darn thing if no one is taking the time to actually read what we’ve written. Call me a social butterfly, but I do like getting to know bloggers and it seems the best way to do this is to engage in conversation. Still, it’s hard to shake that thought that not reciprocating, at least to some degree, is bad manners. If I visit a blog on several occasions, leave comments that are never replied to, nor does the blogger visit at least once to say hi, it gives the impression that the blogger isn’t interested. Sorry, but that’s how I’ve been conditioned to think. I don’t need anyone to be my next best buddy, but if you acknowledge me, at least a tiny bit, I won’t feel as though I’m being completely ignored. Sound lame? Sorry, just speaking the truth here.

All that said, I do have blogs I follow that I seldom, or never, leave comments on. Roni’s is one of them. I love Roni’s blog. I visit often, but in the almost three years that I’ve been following her I might have commented on her blog three times. I don’t feel the need to let her know that I’m hiding in the shadows, and I don’t expect a return visit. I met Roni way back when she was blogging on wordpress. I follow her blog because I like what she has to say, which I guess was the point she was making. Like I  said earlier it’s a tricky subject and I don’t really have any answers.

So the moral of the story is? Okay, I’m trying to come up with one here and I’m not sure if there is one. How about this? No need for any of us to worry if we’re not awarded Super-Blogger of the year. We just need to be ourselves. People will visit and leave comments because of the posts we write not because there’s something in it for them.

 What are your thoughts about good/bad blogging manners? Do you feel ignored if a blogger never acknowledges you? Or do you feel a blogger’s only responsibility is to writing great post and to heck with reciprocity no one can be everwhere all the time?

What’s New!

I’ll admit, my blog presence has been a bit scarce this past while.There have been several reasons. Christmas being one of them, plus the company of my daughter and granddaughter these past two weeks (Yay!) and not to mention the distraction with the guitar contest I blogged about last week.

Just want to thank those of you who took part in the contest and to let you know what the outcome was.  I hadn’t planned to blog about the contest in the beginning because I  knew quite a few of you who read this blog are also facebook friends and had already voted, but in the end I knew it would take every last vote we could get, and well, when it’s family involved I guess you do what you can. Right? Starting out with over 500 votes behind, we were able to get within 20 votes of the leader in the end and had nearly 1600 people supporting our efforts!!! Pretty darned impressive if  you ask me. It only goes to prove that there are a lot of people out there willing to do something nice for someone even if  that someone is  a complete stranger.

Because the numbers were so close and because my nephew’s story was one that resonated with many people, Jimmy Rankin decided to give away two signed guitars… I mean how super is that? The whole reason behind everyone working toward this was to help lift my nephew’s spirits as he recovered from a broken back.

Not being an online person, my nephew still doesn’t know about any of this and won’t until the guitar is finally delivered to him. Bet he’s going to be surprised…

As to how he’s doing, he’s “amazed” everyone at the rehabilitation centre with how quickly he’s come along in his recovery and I’m really not surprised. Strength and determination go along way when we’re recuperating. He’s now out of rehab and staying with his parents, able to walk although the paralysis is still there. We’re all hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery. To be truthful, you can’t tell me that his recovery wasn’t helped along by the prayers of so many. For those of you who included him in your prayers, I thank you and so does Rob.

Next week I’m hoping to be back to regular blogging…  Happy New Year to you all!

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