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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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10 Blogging Ideas for a Lockdown

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Tired of “what I’m doing while stuck at home waiting out the coronavirus” posts?

 

Me too.  I’m lookin’ for posts with a little more meat on their bones, if ya know what I mean. But what to write about?

 

If you’re staring at the screen and wondering what to blog about while the clock ticks, here are 10 blogging topics you might consider tackling:

 

1. Creative Ways to Stay Connected

 

“Stay at Home” orders are the order of the day. How do you stay connected with friends, family and colleagues while practicing social distancing at the same time?

 

Do your readers know about video communications like Zoom and Skype? Videoconferencing with GoTo Meeting? Give them the skinny on Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

 

Videoconferencing is part and parcel of today’s workplace as many companies are seeking to accommodate work-from-home options. Here’s a list of 10 meeting tools and products for your organization.

 

2. Grocery Delivery Services

 

Research and polish a post comparing pros and cons for Shipt, AmazonFresh, Peapod, or Instacart. How ‘bout Gourmet Meals to Go? Which service provides the best quality, most selection and quickest delivery options at the best price? Also check out: 9 Best Site for Online Grocery Shopping in 2020.

 

3. Classic Books to Battle Boredom

 

Doctor Zhivago? Gone With the Wind? Jane Eyre?

 

A lot of classic literature has a lot of pages. What interesting, engaging classics can you recommend to help occupy the heart and mind while you’re stuck in doors?

 

Compile a list of long books that are worth the time. (Anything but Proust, or Bleak House, okay? On the latter, you’re better off watching the TV mini-series.)

4. Homeschool Helps and Hints

 

Homeschool blogger? If so, you may be experiencing a huge boost in traffic right now. So carpe diem! Seize the day and crank out some practical dos and don’ts. Where to find good curricula. How to keep kids on task. Setting realistic goals and expectations. (We homeschooled for years. I might jump in.)

 

5. Most Effective Relief Organizations

 

Many people are struggling and turning to relief organizations for help. Do you know a relief organization with a track record of efficacy and ability? Blog about it! Include a donation link and contact info.

 

6. A Little Levity, Please?

 

How ‘bout a roundup of some of the best coronavirus memes that’ll tickle your funny bone? Dispel some of the gloom with a little cheer.

 

7. DIY

 

With some store shelves bare and panic buying spread like wildlife, now might be a good time for a DIY post. Ideas:

 

8. To Soothe the Savage Beast

 

Put together a list of downloadable or other sources for soothing sounds: breakers on a beach, rain on the roof. Bird calls. AC/DC. (Well, okay. Maybe not AC/DC. But you know what I mean.) And how ’bout some golden oldies?

 

9. Cooking and Recipes

 

If this is your jam, your readers are probably looking for easy, comforting meals they can put together from what they have on hand. Whip up some recipes using pantry staples. Include substitute suggestions. Don’t forget kitchen projects to keep the kiddos busy!

 

10. Remember Rover

 

Pets can get stressed out, too. Research and write a post about how to identify and counter stress in your dog. Include creative ways to keep Rover occupied and exercised if you’re stuck in doors.

 

Of course, whatever category you choose depends on your niche and your interests. But writing is therapeutic. It may be “just what the doctor ordered” – not just for you, but for your readers, too!

 

Forget that ticking clock. Get busy blogging instead!

 

Have a blogging idea to add? Holler!


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7 Flicks to Battle Stuck-at-Home Boredom

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Are you practicing social distancing? Is your county or state under a shelter in place/stay at home order?

 

Battling Boredom?

Social distancing and such are “the new normal” as we battle the coronavirus. But what’s a body to do with all this stay-at-home-ing? Besides counting tiles in the ceiling or cracks in the linoleum, how do you pass the time while waiting for public health and government officials to lift or revise the order?

 

Literature and the arts are a coupla the best ways to get through this.

 

Top Seven

Here are seven movie picks to help you battle stuck-at-home boredom. We popped some popcorn and watched (or re-watched) all of these within the last coupla weeks or so. Some are recent releases. Others are Golden Oldies.

 

If you’re stuck at home looking for something interesting to do that doesn’t involve counting, consider:

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How to Find Your Writing Voice

Have you run out of blogging steam? Feel like you’re talking to nobody? Struggling to find your writing voice?

 

Back when I was young and foolish – about 20 minutes ago – I thought the best way to vaunt into the exclusive echelons of “serious writer/blogger” status was to mimic The Best. So I tried sounding like John Steinbeck, Anton Chekov, Charles M. Schulz and company. (Well, okay. Maybe not Chekov.)

 

But every time I sat down to write I’d think, “How would Hemingway or Jane Austen or Charlie Brown approach this?”

 

It was one of the dumbest things I ever tried. (Not counting the time we poured gorilla glue into ‘Steel Neil’s’ football cleats just before the big homecoming game or the time I left Reese’s peanut butter cups inside the tent in the middle of bear country. It was unintentional, honest!)

 

Not the Case

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But that’s not quite the case in the writing/blogging biz.

 

We all have authors we return to again and again, like favorite relatives or another slice of raspberry white chocolate cheesecake with extra hot fudge. Nothing wrong with that. Ditto studying great literature and technique.

But trying to mimic another writer, imitate their rhythm, pacing, or style is like trying to nail jell-o to a tree. It can’t be done and wearing raspberry goo all over your face is just plain silly.

 

Say It Your Way

Let’s face it. You’re one of a kind (you can take that any way you want). No one sees, hears, experience, processes or records life like you do. What you may think is insanely funny, for example, others may see as …. not. (Trust me on this one.)

 

Another writer may describe the proverbial “dark and stormy night” as “dark and stormy.” You may call it “a hundred-year monsoon blowing from the bowels of oblivion in a coal miner’s shaft at midnight during a lunar eclipse.” (But I sincerely hope not.)

 

The bottom line here: Your writing voice in unique. No one else can express what you can. So say it your way.

Besides, relying on someone else’s style or approach is a crutch. It reveals a lack of confidence and imagination. Or skill. Maybe all of the above. It’ll also suck the life out of your own writing style and keep you from finding your own voice.

 

No Short-Cuts

Developing your own unique writing style and voice may seem daunting. That’s because it is. But there are no short-cuts. Part of what makes a great writer great is that they’re willing to stumble and fall and get up again and keep marching. Consider:

 

  • William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected by twenty publishers.
  • Commenting on The Diary of Anne Frank, one “genius” sniffed, “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”
  • Book one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rejected by a dozen publishers.
  • Ms. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by 26 publishers before finally breaking into print. It went on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal.

 

And so on.

Hard Work

Writing is hard work. It requires insight, sensitivity, growth, maturity and discipline. As you grow as a writer, you may collect stacks of rejection letters and unsolicited “critiques” from barely literate peasants who wouldn’t recognize quality writing if it walked up to them on a street and shook hands (trust me on this one, too).

 

Don’t despair.

 

With practice, you’ll learn to sort through the “advice” that’s worth heeding and to smile politely when someone introduces himself as a “writer” because s/he’s invested nearly 19 whole minutes in the craft.

 

It Takes Time

Learning to express yourself on paper and engage an audience takes time. Do you think I became this brilliant overnight?! Not!

So be patient. Keep plugging. Practice. Expand and experiment.

 

If non-fiction has you worn to a crackly crisp, try poetry or an adventure novel or short stories. If you get really, really good at fiction, run for Congress.

 

Whatever you do, be willing to learn and accept constructive advice. As you study, struggle and practice, you’ll build writing muscle. Stamina. Depth. Perspective. Clarity and originality.

 

Learn from your mistakes. Take a class at the local college. Enter some writing contests. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your work and provide honest feedback

 

There are no short cuts, no “silver bullets” to finding your voice as a writer. The instances in which a body falls out of bed and wakes up in “serious writer” territory occur about as often as the last Ice Age.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Becoming a “serious writer” takes time, experience, training, teachability and a willingness to learn, grow and mature. And practice, practice, and more practice.

 

Power tip: A generous dose of humility doesn’t hurt, either.

 

So, dust off that keyboard, warm up those fingers and get going. You may have to “color outside the box” and exercise some mental muscles you didn’t know you had. But growing your own writing voice is worth it. The best way is the Nike way: Just do it! Like:

 

We write to expose the unexposed. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words – not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues. You can’t do this without discovering your own true voice, and you can’t find your true voice and peer behind the door and report honestly and clearly to us if your parents are reading over your shoulder.  — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

What’s your biggest challenge in finding your writing voice?


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Feeling Sick?

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Public domain

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this special commentary related to the coronavirus:

 

The coronavirus isn’t the first pandemic. It just feels that way, due in part to the 24/7 news cycle and social media.

 

So what are we to do with this, in this? Another perspective:

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9 “Green” Reads to Spruce Up Your St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Why Saint Patrick’s Day and why green? Well, many believe that Saint Patrick, foremost patron saint of Ireland, died on March 17. According to legend, Saint Patrick used the green shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. Others say wearing green makes you invisible to impish leprechauns so you don’t get pinched!

Well, again. Dyed-in-the-shamrock bibliophiles can join the holiday fun with a good book! Especially if it has green in the title.

Here are 9 “green” titled books to spruce up your Saint Patrick’s Day! And that’s no blarney! How many of these have you read?

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My Biggest Blogging Mistake – And How You Can Avoid It (Part 1 of 2)

 

Do you know what you’re doing when you’re blogging? Ever wonder if all that time and effort is worth it? You have things to say. Share. Express. But you’re not sure if anyone’s listening?

 

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I heard that blogging was The Way to develop a sturdy online presence and convert blog readers into book buyers.

 

I’ve been writing professionally since the 1980s. And yes, blogging is writing. But it’s a specific kind of writing.

 

For one thing, no one has the time or the patience to plow through the blogging equivalent of War and Peace. You only have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention. And keep them reading.

 

So, your content can’t be just good. It has to be great. But what qualifies as great blogging content?

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My Biggest Blogging Mistake – And How You Can Avoid It (Part 2 of 2)

Whoa! Hold on there, pardner! Before sashaying into today’s post, check out part 1 by clicking here.

That’s okay. I’ll wait.

So. When it comes to blogging mistakes and what not to do, I learned that “A list” bloggers – those with tens of thousands of readers – have one thing in common:

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While You’re Waiting – 9 Best Dog Stories Ever

Kimber here. Coming to you from my Purrell-slathered secret bunker. Laying atop my small mountain of T.P. Waiting for the world to end.

NOT!

But I am ready for winter to end!

I’m also waiting for another thing to be gone.

It seems like a lot of humans are freaking out over a virus thing-y. Maybe it’s the face masks?

Mom says be pro-active. Be responsible. But keep a level head. Don’t let fear and panic run your life.

I’m not.

In the meantime, if you’re stuck at home waiting for spring to show up, you might check out these titles (some of my favorites. Not that I’m biased or anything.)

1. Lassie Come Home, by Eric Knight

“First published in 1940, Lassie Come-Home has become a cultural phenomenon and one of the best-loved dog stories in the world, inspiring several movies and TV shows.”

2. Marley and Me, by John Grogan

The heartwarming international best seller about the world’s most loveable “worst” dog.

3. Big Red, by Jim Kjelgaard

Danny, a trapper’s son, knows more about the woods, trapping, and hunting than he does about the big city or dog shows, but when Red’s owner sees seventeen-year-old Danny’s love for the dog, he entrusts the boy with training the champion Irish Setter. A much-loved classic.”

4. Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson

Don’t make me explain this.

5. Kavick the Wolf Dog, by Walt Morey

When Andy Evans stumbles upon the snow-covered wreckage of a small plane, he’s shocked to find a survivor. Should he put the gravely injured dog out of his misery? The look in the animal’s eyes says he’s not ready to die. It turns out that Kävik’s a champion sled dog, and soon he makes a full recovery. When his rightful owner finds out Kävik is alive, he wants the dog back. But Kävik has other ideas.

6. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls

The beloved classic that captures the powerful bond between a boy and his best friends.

7. The Incredible Journey, Sheila Burnford

Two dogs and a cat and their journey home.

8. Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo

Ten year old Opal goes to the supermarket – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie.

9. Shiloh, Phyllis Naylor

Marty will do anything to save his new friend, Shiloh, in this Newberry Award-winning novel.

Wait. Do I smell spring?

What’s your favorite dog story?


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By the Book Cover – Which of These 3 Novels Delivers?

If Mom said it once, she said it a thousand times:

 

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

 

True that. But when it comes to books, we all do it, huh? (C’mon now. ‘Fess up. It’s just between us, okay?)

 

Well. Have you ever finished reading a book and wondered how in the heck did that cover wind up on that book?

 

I have. So I’m gonna save you a lot of time. After reading these three novels based on their covers,  I’m letting you know which books deliver and which don’t.

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5 Reasons Why “The Edge of Nowhere” Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

The Edge of Nowhere, 2nd edition

By C.H. Armstrong

Penner Publishing, 2015 (1st edition)

C.H. Armstrong’s The Edge of Nowhere is set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl days of the “Dirty Thirties.” The protagonist is a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners spitfire named Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene.

Victoria is a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. Now elderly, she has a tumor on her pancreas. So the novel opens with a letter. It’s penned by Victoria and addressed to her grandchildren. Dated November 12, 1992, the epistle begins:

“I know you refer to me as ‘the meanest woman you’ve ever known.’”

The rest of the book – 261 pages – fills in the blanks. What emerges is the fictionalized story of a woman who refused to be a victim.

Here are 5 Reasons Why The Edge of Nowhere Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat:

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