Confessions of an Occasional Blogger

Posted on June 12, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , |

I seem to be falling behind with this blogging thing. My last entry was three weeks ago. Uh oh.

However, the novel I’m writing is making excellent progress. I have no idea how authors, especially those with the book-a-year contract, juggle both. The longer I do this, the more impressed I am with that end product, a book that’s a satisfying read.

I have a feeling that I overthink my blog topics. I have about seven unfinished drafts that I couldn’t get off the ground, let alone post in a timely fashion, so they’re outdated now. A prime example is a post about my pre-Belmont thoughts on Big Brown.

Also, for some topics, I have another venue in mind. I don’t want to debut them here under my basically, intentionally anonymous personal blog. So I save them. I hope they don’t end up like the magazines on my coffee table, the ones I insist I intend to read but secretly fear that I’m just hoarding.

Plus, part of me likes the idea that I have a relatively anonymous venue in which to post thoughts and interests. But that defeats the purpose of the promotional author blog. Although our little circle here is kind and generous, I wonder if I might be too thin-skinned to be a blogger, like a NYT best-seller who discontinued her blog after getting crisped in an accidental flamefest. I think I’ve managed to build a shield over my fiction for critique purposes, but maintaining that facade takes a lot of energy. I’m not sure I’ve got the strength just yet to extend my mental shield to works on the blogosphere, too.

So I’m comfortable here with our little circle and feel a bit guilty that I don’t contribute more.

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Wordpress Changes

Posted on April 10, 2008. Filed under: blogs, WordPress | Tags: , , |

I know it’s been a few days since I blogged, but dang! I come back to tap out some posts and see that my Dashboard looks different. I feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up — and missing his 8-track when everyone else is wearing an iPod.

Come to find out, I haven’t posted for ten days. That might do it.  I’ve been off busy working on a pair of articles for the Sisters in Crime Guppy newsletter, plus my upcoming “I’m Legit” website.  A day in the blogosphere must be like a “dog year.” Sheesh.

One thing I miss in this new version is the word count. I like to write short posts. Now I have to judge it visually, I suppose.

Maybe I need a trip to the new FAQ. I’m sure they updated that, too.

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Newbie Mistress of My Domain

Posted on March 29, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , |

Late last year, I finally snagged my name as a domain. Someone who shares that name must have let it slip through her fingers. Claiming it was satisfying, but I can’t help wondering about her. Is she out there somewhere kicking herself? I would be.

But mostly now, I’m in the process of coming up with a website that says “I’m a writer and I’m legit.” Potential sources that I cold-call will be able to look me up, even though I don’t have any published books yet. I probably should have done this a long time ago.

A web-savvy friend offered to point me in the right direction, even though I can’t afford his services to design the thing outright. He sent me to draw up a site map, write up “assets” (copy) and click through templates and stock photos.

Building a website seems to have something in common with building and decorating a house. All the decisions to be made about what will be comfortable, yet make a good impression.

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RSS to the Rescue?

Posted on March 9, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , |

Squirrel in Our Backyard

Photo by Rhonda Lane

I try to keep up with my favorite blogs but it can be tough. Real Life gets in the way of Virtual Life.

So, it’s RSS to the rescue. Because I don’t check my Google and Yahoo accounts often, I have it sent to my main email. Apparently not all blogs do that. So, I just click on over to the over to the blog itself where I do my reading. A post from several days ago, especially on a busy daily blog, may catch my eye so I might comment. But then I get a knuckle-rapping message for being late.

My virtual tail drops between my legs as I slink back to where I feel more welcome. Maybe there’s something good to be said for blogs not posting every day? A little laid-back atmosphere?

So, I RSS when I can. But then there’s something else I miss in RSS posts — the fancy design layout (theme/template) that so many bloggers pay such good money for.

Those layouts, to me, are like a restaurant’s decor. Yup, I go for the food and the fact that someone else does my dishes, but I also go for the atmosphere. Otherwise, I’d just order takeout and eat at home in
front of the TV. Some RSS feed posts do show up with some design elements, but I still feel like I’ve pulled up to the Chili’s To-Go window again.

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Slowing down for Florrida

Posted on March 7, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Florrida, Uncategorized, WordPress, writing | Tags: , , |

I needed to make a new category. I was tired. So, now we have a new state. Florrida. And because it’s a category, I can’t correct it.

This is symbolic of a larger issue for me. A daily blog, especially of all-horse-stuff,  is gonna grind me down to a nub. Don’t get me wrong – I love it. But I spent a couple of hours yesterday on a short post.

I’m not schizophrenic, but I hear the voices of my old editors:

“I can’t use this if you don’t have art. (photos)”

“Get another source to corroborate this.”

“Use something timely. Save the evergreen stuff.”

You can take the girl out of journalism, but you can’t take the journalism out of the girl.

So, I wanted to create content for today, to have “money in the bank.” So the Old Editors’ Voices start up again. What’s going on now? Hunt, search. Oh, let’s do that. Click. click. Now doublecheck it. Get some art. Make it fun. Get yourself out of the story. Write it tight. Put yourself into the story. Oh, right — a category.

Florrida.

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Parlez vous blogspeak?

Posted on March 2, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , |

I’ve found a really instructive website. Don’t be put off by all the advertising emphasis. You’ll find informative articles for beginners here, too.

One of the frustrations of looking up info has been knowing what to call something. Like the pictures. They’re not called “photos” or “graphics” or “illustrations” or “art” (the newspaper term for photos). For websites and blogs, they’re “images.” Hokay. Now we’re cookin’. A searchin’ we shall go.

The same goes for the WordPress FAQ. You’ve gotta know the jargon. The WP FAQ is quite thorough, really. But you have to know what something is called in “blogspeak” to find it in the search. So, I open up another tab, go to Google and search around until I find a word that matches the idea I want, get the term and then search the FAQ.

All this reminds me of the old joke about having to know how to spell a word to look it up on the dictionary. Or having to figure out the phone company’s categorizing of businesses to use the yellow pages.

I don’t need to work crossword puzzles to keep my mind sharp – I’m learning a new language.

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A day away

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Uncategorized | Tags: |

Nope, I didn’t run off to a spa. Or hit the mall. Or catch up on all the Oscar films.

I honestly thought I had posted yesterday. Yeah. Have you noticed how close together “Save” and “Publish” are?  This time, it worked to my advantage. Does anyone have a horror of releasing a post before its time?

So, yesterday, I went to Weight Watchers (I feel like I’ve set up permanent camp on this plateau), then to Costco and then back to where I dug into the long-awaited taxes.

Am I done with those yet? Nope. Probably about 2/3 done, though. I just had to make some progress with that. I plan to ship off stuff to the accountant on Monday. But I hope I’m done long before that.

After all, today’s an extra day. A gift. But, considering it’s a gift, though, I should find a better use for it than taxes.

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Not just words anymore

Posted on February 25, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , |

I’m still wrestling with the images issue. I’m doing okay with the writing part of blogging, but I’m not used to illustrating my own work. Or editing my own work. Or doing the layout for its presentation.

I used to be a newspaper reporter. Sometimes, I shot my own photos, too, but that didn’t sit well with my newspaper’s organization.

So, I became accustomed to having a photog assigned with me. My bureau chief would be the first reader, who’d also point out logic and flow issues. Then, my story would go on to the main office, where other eyes and hands worked on it. Several would proofread it. Someone else wrote the headlines. Someone picked the photo from the two or three I’d print. Then I’d see the finished story-photo unit the next morning with coffee.

Now, as a blogger, I do all those jobs. I’m now my own assignment editor, layout, copy editor, photo editor and reporter. Not to mention that I’m now expected to insert myself into the story, which is a big journalism no-no. So, I’m not sure that I do anything well. But the process is exhilarating

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The Tax Preparer Waiteth

Posted on February 24, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , |

Two bags full of receipts and bank statements have been waiting for me for weeks now. Usually, I prepare taxes via “the dump and sort” method. Pretty self-explanatory. And, yes, it’s true: I’m blogging, a very New Mllennium activity about sorting paper receipts for taxes — an activity that is very Old Millenium.

I didn’t say it had to make sense. But isn’t that the way of the tax code anyway? It doesn’t have to make sense.

But it still must be done. All must render unto Caesar. Nothing is certain but Death and Taxes. Yadda, yadda, yadda. With two bags full of paperwork, you’d think we had more money. Some ratio formula must be apply concerning the number of receipts. If so, what size container would Donald Trump have – boxcars full of receipts? No, probably skyscrapers full of accountants and money wizards at his beck and call. His fingers probably never touch a receipt.

My fingers haven’t touched these receipts since I stashed them in the bags. I wonder if I can use QuickBooks for next year?

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Learning blogging

Posted on February 23, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, WordPress, writing | Tags: , , , , , |

I’m gonna give the horses a break for a few days, so I can work more with this “variety blog” concept a little more. I’ve been editing some of our old stuff here — primarily re-writing the link to where you can click on the name which is writing hyperlinks in WordPress. I’ve still got a couple of entries more to convert.

And thanks to Lyndi , I’m now signed up with iStockPhoto and about to sign up with Dreamstime , which has a large library of free photos.

I have to say that I’m really enjoying using WordPress. I may even use a WordPress template for my author website.

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