Happy Dance! I Got a New Award!

We writers are a needy bunch, aren’t we? Who but writers would feel compelled to invent blogging awards and then pass them around to their online friends?

But hey, recognition — in any form — is a heady thing, and I for one certainly won’t turn it down!

Liebster Blog Award

Which brings me to my latest accomplishment. My friend Izzie over at The Whatever Factor recently passed on the Liebster Blog Award to me — Thanks, Iz, I ‘preciate it!

Now most of the time it pains me to admit ignorance, but here goes: When I saw the Liebster Blog Award, I had no idea what it was.

It sounded like “lobster” to me, and at first I thought it had something to do with food. Or Lent.

So I did what any good writer would do — opened up another window to research the term.

“Liebster” is a German word meaning “dearest” or “beloved.” Its connotation also extends to “favorite.” (Since I don’t have a single drop of German blood, no wonder I wasn’t familiar with this word!)

But somebody considers me a favorite. Cool! I’m almost speechless!

As with most other blogging awards, the Liebster Blog Award carries some heavy responsibilities, none of which I take lightly. Without further ado, here’s what is supposed to take place next:

  1. Thank the blogger who gave you the award and link back to them.
  2. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog (get it from Google Images, if you’d like).
  3. Pass the Liebster Blog Award on to five other bloggers you admire.
  4. Let your recipients know of the award by leaving a comment on their blogs.
  5. Bask in the love of the blogosphere.

Now, the Liebster Blog Award is supposed to be presented to relatively “small” blogs — those with fewer than 200 followers. But I have NO IDEA how many people are following these blogs, nor do I have time to try to figure it out! If your name is listed here and you have w-a-a-a-y more followers than 200, don’t shoot the messenger, okay? Just re-read Rule #5 above and be happy!

And now — Ta Da! — my choices for the Liebster Blog Award:

So off you go — congratulations and don’t forget to spread the love!

How do you tame the Social Media Monster?

Are you, like me, sometimes overwhelmed by the proliferation of social media and the expectation that we ALL participate — in everything?

The arguments are persuasive:

  • Writers need a platform, a following, to show agents they’re able to promote their manuscript
  • Businesses need to connect with potential buyers and generate “buzz” about their services or products
  • Nobody in the entire world can possibly connect with as many people in real life as is possible online

But all that connecting can be exhausting, especially for writers (who tend to be introverts anyway and often find it easier to hole up and just write).

And perhaps it’s lots worse on those writers who, like me, can’t write full time right now because they must work at a paying job. Or those with small children. Or aging parents. Or…whatever.

We can all find excuses for NOT connecting online. Yet the reality is, there are only 24 hours in a day and, if you listen to the “experts,” we need to be sleeping 8 of them. That leaves 16 hours. For those who work, subtract 8 more (or 10 if you have a long commute), bringing your total “free” time to 6 hours.

Six hours to do basic personal maintenance (like bathing), run errands (banking, grocery shopping), taxi the kids to and from lessons and sleepovers, kiss the spouse, walk the dog, cook meals, and clean the house.

That doesn’t include time for yourself — to read, soak in a spa, exercise, paint, take up piano, or write.

What’s the answer?

If you look at the history of social media, you’ll find that blogging started in 1997. Facebook debuted in February, 2004, Twitter in March, 2006, and Google Plus in June, 2011. More than 845 million people are on Facebook and at Twitter’s five-year mark, some 350 billion “tweets” are delivered each day. In addition, countless webinars are now available, on everything from how to make your small business successful to how to plot that story lurking in your head.

No wonder we feel deluged!

Some people address this problem by periodically scheduling a vacation from online activities. They fold up the laptop, turn off the i-pad and phone, and unplug from the busyness.

That’s a good idea. We all need to recharge occasionally.

Other people set a timer. When their hour (or however much time they’ve allotted) is up, that’s it. No looking back. No cheating.

Do our online friends miss us when we don’t show up? I’d like to think so because I miss them when they’re absent for a time. But, if we announce that we’re taking a sabbatical, at least we’re letting everyone know we’ll be out of touch.

My suggestion (and it’s more a “Memo” to me rather than something you need!): Remember why you started down the social media path in the first place. Enjoy your time connecting. But don’t feel you have to be connected 24/7!

How have you tamed the social media monster??

I’m so Versatile!

The Versatile Blogger award

My friend Karen over at The Kazual Kreative recently bestowed an award upon me, and I thank her for it most sincerely!

Now I’ve seen these doo-dads around for a while, usually on blogs I enjoy reading because they’re posted by writers I’ve come to respect. To join their ranks is a humbling, yet exciting, experience.

As with any prize, there are rules attached to its full acceptance. I suppose one could simply grab the award and run, but where’s the fun in that??

I digress.

The Versatile Blogger award requires a nominee to:

  • link to and thank the person making the nomination. Check.
  • add the Versatile Blogger image on their blog. Check.
  • list seven things about him(her)self.
  • link to 15 blogs to “tag” as future recipients. Spread the love around, you know.

So, without further ado, I present 7 facts you might (or might not) know about me:

1. I wear silver-colored metals better than gold-colored ones.

2. I have never liked balloons.

3. Or clowns.

4. Once I rode in a hot-air balloon (totally cool and totally unlike party balloons!)

5. I also flew in a single-engine airplane. (But not at the same time as #4. Obviously!)

6. I don’t particularly enjoy being wet. Either from rain or from a swimming pool.

7. I won’t eat lima beans.

Phew, that was challenging. Who knew a person could make such a fascinating list, huh?!

Moving on, here are my nominees for the Versatile Blogger award. They’re listed in no particular order. And yes, I’ve checked to make sure I’m not repeating (wouldn’t want anyone to have to come up with new facts and links after they’ve done it once!).

Wait a minute. Linking to 15 previously non-rewarded blogs is more time-consuming than I’m willing to tackle. So I’m changing the rules. I herewith present eight nominees for the Versatile Blogger award. Anyone who regularly reads my blog and wants to be included in my list can e-mail me. Or just assume you’ve been included and thank me with a nice link!

Note to those who “control” this award: No, you may NOT take it away from me, just because I failed to find 15 blogs to link to! I tried, really. But this thing has been around the block a few times now, and while I should be miffed I wasn’t among the first to receive it, better late than never. Face it — it’s mine, regardless of whether I followed the rules. And I’m NOT giving it back!

To the following lucky bloggers, Tag, You’re It!

1. Memoir Writer’s Journey

2. One Sister’s Rant

3. The Whatever Factor

4. My Odd Family

5. Any Shiny Thing

6. Dawn King

7. Down the Road

8. Janna T writes

Beware the Stalker!

My son and I got into a discussion that turned into a disagreement the other day.

I brought up the subject of blogging, how much I enjoy doing it, what interesting people I’ve met online, and how we’re all getting to know one another and support each other.

‘You ought to be more careful when you’re using the Internet,’ Domer chided me.

‘Huh? I am careful,’ I retorted (probably a bit huffily, for he was quick with his response).

‘No, you’re not. You don’t really know any of those people you’re talking to every day.’

‘You don’t know the people on Facebook either.’

‘But I do,’ he protested. ‘I only talk to my friends. People I actually know. Not like you. Your “friends” might be stalkers.’

Stalker cat (image thanks to http://www.icanhascheezburger.com)

‘No way. Some of them I know. Some I’ve met in person; some I’ve met through others. I’ve become friends with them over time.’

‘Right,’ he scoffed. ‘But you’ve never actually met them. You don’t really know them.’

‘Sure I do. Some are poets or writers like me; some are moms; some have dogs.’

Domer squinted at me. ‘Uh-huh, and most are probably liars.’

‘Nuh-uh,’ I said. (Like the way I switch to kid-mode when I can’t think of anything clever to say??)

‘Bet they are,’ he continued (Was he just trying to push my buttons??). ‘They’re probably perverts. You know, the kind that drive around in dirty panel vans with a sign on the front door saying “Free Candy” or something.’

‘They don’t either. We all have our photos posted. . . .’

‘Yeah, and photos aren’t available free for any pervert who wants to use one. Your “friends” probably don’t look a thing like their pictures either.’

‘But we’ve come to know each other. To learn each other’s likes and dislikes. To feel the truth through hundreds of words. To form a community.’

Domer kind of pursed his lips and nodded. ‘Whatever, Mom. But I still think you need to be more careful.’

I’ve tried to be prudent, I tell myself. I know the rules about not giving out full names or addresses or other personal information. About not broadcasting plans for being away from home. About not actually meeting online “friends” in anything other than very public places. About not posting intimate details or photos I wouldn’t want to share with a stranger.

Safety — my own and that of my family — is paramount in my mind when I post or comment. I want to be true to myself and real to my friends, but I don’t want to be accessible to the stalkers and creeps in the world. Shoot, my desire for anonymity and privacy is one of the reasons I don’t do Facebook and Twitter; the other is lack of time!

Still, the little imp probably has a point. One just can’t be too careful nowadays.

Do you ever relax and enjoy the online experience, or do you still find yourself censoring certain details?

Thanks for Reading, Thanks for Commenting

I was watching the finale of Season 7, The Next Food Network Star, last night (Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King, won, in case you missed it), and something that was announced grabbed my attention.

Premiering on Aug. 27 will be a new show starring The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, who has penned an immensely popular cookbook, memoir, and children’s book. She’s billed as a sassy, spoiled city girl turned rancher’s wife and home-schooling mom of four; her show will spotlight home cooking and life on the ranch.

What’s amazing to me is that Ree is a blogger. But not just any blogger.

She gets more than 20 million page views per month and received the Weblog of the Year award for 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Talk about a following!

Seriously, I can hardly fathom having that many people devouring my words on a regular basis. How does she ever keep up with the comments?!?

When I started this blog (shortly after returning from a Writer’s Digest Editor’s Intensive in October, 2009), I did so with a great deal of trepidation. I’ve written practically all my life, but the idea of putting my thoughts and words “out there” for all the world to see kinda gave me the heebie jeebies (yes, that’s a word — look it up!). The last thing I wanted or needed was having a bunch of strangers creeping on me.

Over time, however, it became apparent that the people reading my blogs were, in many cases, very much like me. As I read their thoughts and words in return, and as we commented on each other’s posts, I began to feel a kinship with them. I prayed for them, looked forward to learning more about them, and began to hope that somewhere along the line, maybe we’d actually meet in person.

That hasn’t happened, yet. But it’s okay. You don’t have to see friends every day to remain connected.

I’m thankful for every single one of my readers — whether they leave comments or not, whether I know them personally or not. They make me smile, or laugh out loud; they give me new ways of looking at things and advice when I ask for it.

Writing can be a lonely task. Knowing there are others traversing a similar path makes the journey more pleasant.

So go ahead and leave a comment. How can we connect if I don’t know who’s reading and what you’re thinking?

Happy anniversary!

I made it — yeah!!

When I started this blog Oct. 23, I challenged myself to publish one new post every day for a month. Since today’s Nov. 23, it’s been a month, and I’ve managed to rant or praise or instruct or yak about something every single day.

Not bad for somebody resistant to this social-networking thing!

Some of my posts have been short; others, not so short. Some, I still find interesting to read. But even the others are so much better than my preteen diaries that they were worthy of my time and effort!

After attending a Writer’s Digest Editor’s Intensive in October, I decided to test the social media waters with blogging rather than begin with Facebook or Twitter. I might try those two one day, but certainly not now. You see, I’m already juggling a full schedule and don’t need anything else to distract me from my novel (and unfortunately, we writers are masters at procrastination!)

I soon found that blogging can be a two-sided sword. On the one hand, some posts came so easily that they served as “warmup writing,” making my novel writing clearer, tighter, and more readable. Other posts took so much out of me that I really didn’t have time for creative writing — at least, not as much time as I needed or wanted.

So I think it boils down to this — I’ll keep on blogging, just not every single day. That way, I’ll force myself to adhere to a schedule with my novel and I won’t waste time penning boring blogs.

Seems like a reasonable compromise to me.