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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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5 Sure-Fire Ways to Lose Readers (And How To Avoid Them)

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Kimber here. Mom says it’s time for a little bloggish housekeeping.(She calls it “housekeeping.” I think it’s more like Rants From the Ole Curmudgeon. Don’t tell her I said that, okay?)

But here’s the deal. Mom gets tons and tons of jun… um, stuff in her In Box. Every day. Lots goes straight to the big kitty litter box in the sky. Never gets opened or read. We’re gonna tell you why and what you can do to fix that.

Here are 5 sure-fire ways to turn off readers and put them to sleep (and how you can fix them):

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40+ Book-ish Quotes to Boost Your Instagram

There I was. Stretched out in a pool of sunshine. Working on my tan.  Mom comes along with her mobile Doo-Hickey:

“Smile, Kimber! Sit. Roll over. Lay down. Stay. Say ‘cheese.'”

While the Doo-Hickey is clicking away.

So annoying.

Anyway, Mom says she’s going to “post” the clickey things from her Doo-Hickey. Whatever that means. Then she says:

 “Kimmi, How’re we gonna caption these?”

What “we,” Kimo Sabe?

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3 Blogging Truths Nobody Tells You

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Ever wish someone had told you how to get from Point A to Point B as a blogger? What to do and what to avoid? What works and what’s a waste of time?

I wish someone had told me some things when I first started blogging – shortly after the discovery of fire. After many, many fits and starts and enough mistakes and mis-steps to choke a camel, I’ve learned some essential blogging truths. Here are three:

Truth #1

Sometimes you don’t feel like writing. I can spend a whole afternoon puttering around doing absolutely nothing. Just to avoid writing. (This never lasts. I just threw it in to see if you’re paying attention.)

But sometimes the mere notion of sitting down and banging out something brilliant is as appealing as a slug. Like: I haven’t even started writing yet, and I’m already exhausted. 

Sometimes writing is as attractive as a root canal sans Novocain. Or my mother in law. (Wait. Did I say that out loud?)

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The #1 Reason No One is Reading Your Blog & What To Do About It

Are you cranking out luminescent strokes of blogging brilliance only to have no one notice? Tired of blogging your fingers off only to have your posts disappear into a black hole?

Do you feel like:

  • Why bother?
  • Is this blogging thing really worth it?
  • What’s the point in trying so hard if no one ever reads or reacts to my content?
  • Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel.

Here’s Help

Don’t toss that towel. Cuz help is on the way.

In this brief video, Cristian Mihai of The Art of the Blogging explains why no one is reading your blog and what you can do about it. Hint: It comes down to two words. Do you know what they are?

Cristian explains here. Give it six-ish minutes. You’ll learn a lot. I did.

 

See?

Related: How to Stop Being “The Invisible Blogger”

What did you learn? How will you apply Christian’s insights today?


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How Spinach Can Make You A Better Blogger

Ever come back from lunch with a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth? You didn’t know anything about it. For hours. Just greeted everyone with your dental greenery. Because : 1) You didn’t check, or 2) No one said anything.

That can happen in the blogging world, too. Example? This recent conversation between Mom and Kimber the Wonder Dog:

Kimber: Mom! Mom! You gotta optimize us!

Mom: Don’t bother me now, Kimmi. I’m writing.

Kimber: Mom! Mom! You gottta find a responsive theme and layout for our blog so we’re mobile friendly!

Mom: Kimmi. Can you give it a rest already?

Kimber: Mom! Mom…!

Kimber Continues:

It’s tough being brilliant all the time. But somebody’s gotta do it.

Well, I try to go easy on Mom. After all, she still remembers typewriters and carbon paper. White-out and 8-track cassettes. (I’m pretty sure she was on a first name basis with that Abe Lincoln guy. Don’t tell anyone, okay?)

As I was saying, I try to go easy on Mom. About the time she got the hang of desk top computers, they came out with those mobile device doo-hickeys. Then she had to figure those out, too.

So I wasn’t going to push her too hard on optimizing her site for mobile. Or switching to a responsive theme for the blog. Every time I brought it up, Mom said:

 

Go lie down, Kimber. There’s a good girl.”

So annoying.

Eureka!

Then Mom had a Eureka! Moment. (About time.) “Kim,” says Mom. “I’ve been doing this blog thing all wrong!”

Duh.

That was the day Mom finally figured out that her blog had to be “mobile friendly.” It wasn’t. So she made some changes.

Can you see? Can you see? Can you tell the difference? Huh? Huh? Huh?

If she’d only listened to me sooner. But you know how moms are.

Anyway, this is what one of us learned:

  1. Writing for the internet is different than writing for print
  2. A good print writer does not necessarily a good blogger make
  3. Desktop computers aren’t the primary way most people access the internet anymore. They’re using mobile devices more and more. So make sure your blog is optimized for mobile. If you don’t, you’re likely to get left in the dust.

Remember the spinach-in-the-teeth thing? Mom also learned that some of the Biggest Blogging Mistakes Ever include:

  • Thinking you know it all
  • Being unwilling to change or adapt for new platforms and audiences
  • Assuming that providing brilliant content alone will catapult you into the blogger “A List”

The truth is, reading on-line and reading print are two different critters. They require two different approaches. Mom used to think that because she’s a multi-published author, she could easily turn and pivot into blogging.

Ha!

A Whole New Approach

She had to learn a whole new approach for a whole new platform, including:

  • Brief, pithy sentences
  • Eye-catching graphics
  • Bullet points
  • Short paragraphs
  • Make sure your blog is Mobile Friendly. (Find out how to do that here.)

Mom didn’t know about that last one until someone finally told her. Like getting rid of that pesky bit of spinach stuck between your teeth, sometimes you don’t know what’s wrong until someone points it out. So hurray for spinach!

Go lie down, Mom. There’s a good girl.

One last thing. What’s a “typewriter”? (Askin’ for a friend.)

XXOO,

Kimber

  


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Share Some Blogging Sunshine!

Kimber here. Sharing some tummy rub-worthy news!

Mom and I have been nominated for our first

Sunshine Blogger Award!

 

Well, it was mostly me. I can’t help it. As a Border Collie mix with loads of love, I’m all about sunshine! And all things brilliant, shiny, and bursting with good cheer! I’m also highly intelligent. Loquacious. Loyal and protective. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall felines in a single…

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Sunshine Blogger Award. Nominated by Hiker Babe. Who loves to explore The Great Outdoors. Plenty of positive vibes there! Also great info and inspiration about hiking, camping, and treating nature with respect. 

What’s a Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given by bloggers to other bloggers. It honors bloggers who are “creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.” (Aw, shucks. That’s me all over, dontcha know? Did I mention that I’m also shy, modest and retiring? Thank you, Hiker Babe!)

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award isn’t a self-congratulatory pat-on-the-back paw shake. (Like the neighbor’s cat, if ya know what I mean.) The award means you spread the word about writers you love with your readers! That’s a win-win for everyone. Yesssiree, Lassie! (See bottom of page for details.)

“Sharing some sunshine,” Kimber-style.

The award also comes with some rules, ‘natch.

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules:

 

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

 

And now, on with some sunshine!

 

Our answers to Hiker Babe’s Questions:



1.Your favorite book?

Man! That’s like asking a mom which kid she likes best! But if you insist, here’s a “short” answer:

I’ve long maintained that some of the finest writing in all literature is Children’s Literature. Any writer who can grab and keep a child’s attention for an entire story is doing something right. Examples?

  • Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind
  • Prairie fires, rampaging grasshoppers, scarlet fever, and Christmas candy in the Little House books.
  • Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series.
  • Aslan and Narnia. Black Beauty. Peter and Wendy.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit.
  • The Little Prince.
  • The Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke.

Perennial favorites? Most anything by John Eldredge. Corrie ten Boom. Elisabeth Elliot. Gary Paulsen and Max Lucado. For uplifting, inspiring stories of hope and grace, Richard Paul Evans is right at the top. Ditto Debbie Macomber and Jan Karon.

I also confess a certain fondness for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel as well as a curious little monkey befriended by a man in a yellow hat.

2. Describe a recent reading or book-related achievement:

In 2018 I surpassed my Goodreads Reading challenge of reading 365 books in one year. My final total: 383 books. Mostly from the local library.

 

3. Favorite comfort food?

Tiramisu. Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. Onion rings. Chocolate anything. Cobb salad. Dilled salmon. (Not necessarily in that order.) 



4. Favorite place?

The library! There’s also a sweet little mountain inn in western Washington that the hubs and I adore. 

 

5. A Pet Peeve?

People who keep interrupting me when I’m reading! Or writing!

Like, “Can you not see that my nose is buried in a book? That I’m in deep concentration here, 98 miles beneath the Marianas Trench? That I’ve sailed to the end of the world, jumped off, and hove to in another galaxy? That I’m on the rim edge of another Stroke of Sheer Brilliance that you’ve just possibly derailed forever?!” Puh-leeze!



6. What would your ideal day look like?

Is that a trick question? Cuz it could literally go “16 ways from Sunday.” (Kimber says “Limit it to three.” So here goes.)

Possibility 1: Curled up in my living room recliner with my snuggly blankie, a roaring fire, a steaming mug of hot cocoa and a good book. With Kimber snuggled onto my lap, of course.

Possibility 2: Any day in The Great Outdoors with the hubs and Kimber. Especially at Mount Rainier National Park. Cuz most any day at Mount Rainier is better than the worst day most anywhere else. (Don’t ask how I know that.)

Possibility 3: Any day with Kimber the Magnificent. Listening to Andrea Bocelli or Chris Tomlin tunes and doing most anything to avoid scrubbing the tub.

7. Favorite Quote(s)?

Man! That’s like asking a mom which… oh, never mind. That’s hard to narrow down. But in the running would be:

“All children, except one, grow up.” (If you don’t know this, kindly look it up.)

“We can beat these guys!” Coach Herb Brooks, 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team

“Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt” – Yours Truly


8. What do you love most about blogging?

I love connecting with other readers and bibliophiles, fellow bloggers and writers. Ditto sharing ideas and inspiration and supporting each other.



9. Why do you your write/blog?

Writing is part of my personality. Embedded in my DNA. “Writer” is who I am, not just what I do. Basically, I write because I can’t not write. Ever since I was a little kid. 

I also love the challenge of trying to convey sometimes complicated, intricate thoughts, emotions, events and/or experiences with words. It’s a never-ending challenge, both frustrating and joyous – especially when you finally reach that Aha! “light bulb” moment! Know what I mean?

10. Have you published any books? If so, what genre?

Yep. I’ve authored and published over 25 books. I *specialize* in what one wag dubbed “excruciatingly insightful prose.” I’m not quite sure what that is. Can I get back to you on that?

 

11. What book moved you to tears?

Wow. There have been many over the years in this category. Everything from Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows to Marley and Me. (You may detect a slight canine bias here.)

However, a recent re-read that comes to mind is Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds, by Joy Adamson.

I first read this remarkable book in 1969. Some 50 years later, this true story of an orphaned lioness and the two humans who loved her enough to set her free remains one of the most powerful, poignant stories I’ve ever read. It includes overcoming overwhelming odds. Triumph. Tragedy. Tenderness. Hope and loss. Also vivid, evocative descriptions of East African flora, fauna, and people. Born Free has it all. (Shoulda bought stock in Kleenex.)

On a similar note, Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa also qualifies.

Nominations


Kimber here again. Here are Mom’s and my nominations to keep the love flowing. (We’re still working on coming up with 11. But here’s a start):

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

Cristian @ The Art of Blogging

Christine @ The Uncorked Librarian

Barbie @ Barbie Holmes

Andy @ Pearls and Pantsuits

Jody @ Jodyleecollins



Eleven questions for these exceptional bloggers to tackle:



1. How long have you been blogging?

2. Why did you start a blog?

3. How has blogging affected your life?

4. Describe your biggest blogging challenge

5. Your favorite book genre?

6. Describe your version of The Perfect Vacation ($ not an obstacle)

7. How do you defeat writer’s block?

8. Are your family and friends aware that you’re a blogger? What do they think?

9. What’s the best writing or blogging advice you ever heard?

10. Describe your blog in 10 words or less

11. Dogs or cats? (Inquiring Kimbers want to know!!)

 

 

By the way. The whole point of the Sunshine Blogger Award isn’t to keep it to yourself. It’s to share it! And spread some blogging love. So, nominate away, friends! 

Whew! Is it dinner time yet? “Askin’ for a friend.” Thanks again for reading. Happy blogging and full sunshine ahead!

 

 


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Is This Blogging Thing Going to Work?

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Are you a newbie blogger struggling to find your voice? Have you been blogging for awhile and are discouraged? Wondering if it’s worth the effort?

 

Have you asked yourself:

  • Am I wasting my time?
  • Does anybody care?
  • Is anyone listening?
  • How come I don’t have more readers?
  • Do I have what it takes to be a “successful blogger”? (Whatever that means.)
  • Is this going to work?

 

These questions aren’t about education level or computer skills. Prior knowledge or experience or anything like that.

 

Nope. If someone’s asking if they have what it takes to be a “successful blogger,” what they’re really asking is:

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Social Media: Blogging Boon or Bane?

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Most everyone who’s anyone is singing the praises of social media when it comes to growing your blog. The amen corner is full of “absolutely!” and “imperative!” when it comes to using Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and/or Instagram, etc. to jump-start your blogging traffic or increase book sales.

 

But is social media use helping or harming your writing?

 

Answer: It depends. Here are some possible boons and banes.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA BOONS:

  • Speed and convenience. You can publish that great American novel yesterday and trumpet your magnum opus all over the world today via your Facebook page or Twitter account. Or sooner.
  • Ease. Social media applications are generally straight-forward and easy. You don’t have to have an advanced degree in computer science to figure it out and plug in.
  • Accessibility. Unlike paper and pen or hard copy, you can update your social media outlets from virtually anywhere – email, mobile phone, blackberry, etc. You don’t even need to be near a computer.
  • Maximum exposure with minimal effort. Many social media platforms offer an option to link to your other accounts so that posting in one venue generates an automatic message in another.  (If you activate this option, just be sure that what you’re tweeting about will also be of interest and appropriate elsewhere.)
  • Cost. There’s no need to invest in paper, ink, or postage when using social media to promote your expertise or your work. You can open a Twitter or Facebook account for free.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA BANES:

  • Quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Social media is quick, convenient, and cursory. You can cover lots of ground with minimal effort, but social media is the online equivalent of “a mile wide and a quarter inch deep.” Cultivating the kind of relationships needed to successfully market yourself or your work takes a lot more than a one-sentence status update or a 140-character tweet.
  • It can be deceptive. Writing and blogging take time, energy, and effort. You may feel like social media-ing yourself all over the place is boosting your writing/blogging career, but in the final analysis, only one thing can do that: writing.
  • It’s distracting. What’s easier – tossing out a 140-character tweet, or cranking out a full page of prose, correcting spelling and punctuation, sharpening your POV, or creating several pages of meaningful dialogue? The ease and accessibility of social media can seduce you away from the real work of writing.
  • Time spent on social media is time taken away from actual writing. Like the above, if you’re spending half your day Facebooking, linking, or retweeting and devoting twenty minutes a day to revising that troublesome chapter or rounding out that one-dimensional character, you’ve jumped the tracks. You’re a writer, not a tweeter. Prioritize your time accordingly.

 

In Sum

Social media can be a boon and a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal when used properly and advisedly.

It can also be a bane, a glitzy distraction that gobbles up huge quantities of time and creative energy that should go into your writing.

 

Bottom line

The answer to the “help or harm” question depends on you. Balance is the key. Use it wisely.

 

How do you balance your writing/blogging and social media use?

 

 

 

 

Image Credit:  Creative Commons License 2.0


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Are You a Discouraged Blogger?

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Remember how you felt when you first started blogging? Wasn’t it a rush? Exhilarating? You had lots to say and probably couldn’t wait to say it.

You wrote and published a bunch of posts sharing your genius with the world. And waited for the world to notice.

And waited. And waited.

And waited.

Maybe you’re still waiting?

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7 Common Blogging Mistakes – Are You Doing This?

New to blogging? Been at it awhile? Trying to figure out why you’re not getting any new readers, likes or comments?

Maybe you’re making some blogging mistakes. We all do it. What separates “the wheat from the chaff,” so to speak, is who identifies and learns from those mistakes and who doesn’t.

So let’s start with 7 common blogging mistakes. Then we’ll discuss how to fix them.

Are you doing any of these?

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