Tag Archive | blogging techniques

Creating Your World

A few days ago my daughter called and said she found an outlet for some of my jewelry. Lately, painting has taken the place of my jewelry designing because I have a dresser drawer full of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets just lying dormant. So I was excited a tanning salon wanted to take my creations and sell them. Christmas is coming, after all. The store I had my jewelry displayed downtown closed over a year ago, so I pretty much abandoned my jewelry efforts.That is not to say my paintings are flying off the wall. I’ve found one idea leads to another, then another, and another. Before long, my creative endeavors almost move me out of my house!

I may never sell a painting, but I challenge myself by trying new techniques and practice things like perspective, which I really haven’t mastered yet. The best part is when my artist friend Marie critiques my creations and makes suggestions to improve what I’ve done. Constructive criticism is part of the creative process, so grow a thick skin and ask for it.

I’ve always enjoyed crafting but like everything I seem to take on, I am prolific. I’ve written eight novels and many short stories. I’m working on two more books, too. This is my 482nd blog — and I took a year off.

But I have to do these things. Creating is the reason we are all put here. Really. Maybe you don’t create “art” or “literature” but most people pick something to enrich their soul. My creating keeps me thinking. I hate foggy days (not the weather). When I feel sluggish, I pick up one of my creative outlets and just do it. Nobody has to push me to move into the creative side of me, and before I know it, the fog has lifted and I can go on to tackle more mundane activities like cleaning, paying bills, or cooking the evening meal.

If you don’t indulge your creative side, you’re missing the boat. Pick something you might enjoy. Try it. And if you don’t like the activity, try something else. Creating is in human DNA. You need to express this part to make you whole. Tell me about your creative outlets. I’d love to hear about them.

 

Fleeting Fame Has Landed On My Blog-step

nov 2012 008I am SOOOO jazzed today — one of my posts, “A Day in The Life of an Adjunct Teacher” was “Freshly Pressed” on Friday.  Thank you, WordPress Editor, I am thrilled to receive this honor!

Every writer dreams of his or her work being read by thousands, preferably millions of people. We all dream of being famous. We do what we can to promote our work. That is why I am so excited about this recognition. Having one of your posts selected for this honor increases the number of people who follow what you have to say. Holy Exposure, Batman!

I started blogging last year in August at the suggestion of my publisher. Miranda told me blogging was a great tool I needed to use to promote my writing. I was leery to blatantly blab about my novels, but then again, if I don’t say anything, who will? Eventually, though, I talked about other things–like teaching and writing, my husband’s MS and every once in a while, I’d get up on my soap box and yell about something. Over time, my blog evolved, and I anticipated writing a post everyday.

Little did I know I would enjoy blogging so much. The best part of the medium is learning about other writers from around the world. In a strange way, we all are connected by this new blogosphere in ways we wouldn’t enjoy without technology.

However, with recognition comes responsibility. I agree with Jules Renard, a French writer who said:  Fame is a constant effort.  I expect now I must raise my writing to a new standard because more eyes will read what I have to say. There’s a certain pressure that goes along with such recognition. Like a zillion emails showing up in my In-Box this morning. I haven’t had that many emails since I left a corporate setting ten years ago!

So, my dear friends and loyal followers, as well as those of you who are just getting acquainted with me, you have my promise I will give you my best on a given day. Some days will be good others, not so much. It’s the best I have to offer.

Being Alone With Somebody

The Packer Gang on Game Day

The Packer Gang on Game Day

Most every morning before I begin writing, I read my email and the blogs that I have subscribed to. (Yes, Miss Rondon, I ended that sentence with a preposition.) 

I think I do this because I never know what I will write about until I sit down and actually start typing. Sometimes the other blogs inspire me to write something you might think is profound. Well, sorry to say–not today.

I’ve cautioned you this blog’s purpose is to have none. I use the forum to help me understand who I am and then have the guts to actually share it with the world. I also want you to know that I’m a writer of novels and short stories. I want you to know that I have been published and expect someday to have my books bring me very large checks so I can crawl out of the pit of poverty that I have fallen into. But most of all, I would like you to know me, and hopefully, like me. But I’ll warn you, I am a nice person but so far, not that great. I have a myriad of accomplishments in my past, but my present is nothing to “write home about.” Especially lately.

The cold weather that’s blasting down from Canada has kept Ken and I in the house for over a week. Along with the pittance of snow that has accompanied the wind chills that are below zero, it is dangerous for Ken to go outside. Even Ernie is bothered by the weather. Our little fair-weather pug usually meanders when we let him outside, but for the last week, he goes out, does a quick leg lift and high-tails it back into the house!

So, we’ve been staring at each other from across the room with our computers on our laps, catching a few daytime television shows. The most exciting thing that’s happened in the past week has been a clogged up drain in the basement.  I’ve had to go out for food and medication, but like a trained homing pigeon, I find my way home before enjoying another human being’s company. But, right now, it must be this way. Shame on you GROUNDHOG for getting our “Early Spring” hopes up.

Living like this makes me feel sad for the hundreds of elderly people who are left alone in our society. People need people. We’re wired to be social. Anybody who contradicts this is either stupid or mentally ill. So, when a person has reached an age when they have outlived their friends and family, what can they do? If they are well, of course, they can reach out and make new friends. If they are ill, though, they probably don’t have the energy to reach out, or they think they will be a bother to someone else. It must be awful for them to just wait for death to come to release them from their loneliness.

I have no answer for such a horrible existence of so many seniors. For now, Ken and I have each other and neither of us would have it any other way. Looking ahead, though, I just hope I am not the last one left. It’s the worst fate I can think of. (Yup, I did it again, Miss Rondon–I see you rolling over in your grammar grave!)

NOTE: Miss Rondon was my third and fourth grade teacher at St. Sebastian’s Elementary School.

Another Blogging Award – This is REALITY

reality-blog-awardI want to thank Michael S. Fedison for nominating, “Author McCloskey Speaks” for a Reality Blog Award Michael is the author of the “Eye-Dancers” young adult novel and website. I know he’d love a visit. I am very humbled that he nominated me. Thanks so much, Michael!

One of the stipulations for this award is to let readers know a little more about the author. The nominees are asked to answer five questions, so you’ll find my answers below.

 

1.  If you could change one thing, what would you change?

I would take a chance as a young person. My life circumstances required me to grow up fast because of my father’s heart condition and my mother’s need to go back to work. I was the oldest child, and heaven help me–A GIRL–so I was expected to pick up the slack and and help my parents. When I was 18, my Aunt Mary in San Diego invited me to live with her. I have always been sorry I didn’t take her up on that offer. I’ve never had the experience of living any where other than “home,” and I think this is one of my shortcomings as a person.

2.  If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

If I could be 21 and know what I know now,–watch out world! I’d go back in a heartbeat!

3.  What is one thing that really scares you?

No one is going to like this answer, but the one thing that scares me the most is the apathy of so many young people. So many students  who have passed through my classes have had no desire to do their best, challenge themselves and have some kind of direction. Even worse, few have no curiosity about their world. They believe what they hear from media and never question its validity. In my mind, if a person loses his curiosity, it’s almost as devastating as dying.

4. What is one dream you have not completed, and do you think you’ll be able to complete it?

I always dreamed about getting a book published, and now that I have had four gone to press, I dream about getting a chance to travel to the all the places I’ve researched and imagined. I especially would like to go to Scotland, the homeland of one of my best friends.

5. If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

I admire many strong, brave and famous women, but I don’t know if I’d ever want to be one of them. I am a little afraid to walk around in someone else’s skin for fear I might discover some chink in their armor. I know they must be there because they are as human as I am, and I wouldn’t want to deflate my admiration of them. No. I don’t want to be anybody else, thank you.

Now, I would like to nominate the following blogs for the Reality Award.  I enjoy them almost everyday and would like you to have the opportunity. too. Please check them out and take a look around these wonderful websites!  They are all rich and diverse sites, with so much to offer.

http://davidanaturephotography.wordpress.com

http://cristianmihai.net/about/

http://candycoatedreality.com/

http://insearchofitall.wordpress.com/

http://bottledworder.wordpress.com/

Who am I? What is my Purpose? Where do I Fit?

compartmentsBlogging is an interesting activity. I’ve yet to determine what type of blog my blog is, and I feel pressured that I should do so.

I talk a lot about personal experiences , writing, teaching, and feelings about life. Selfishly, I admit I use it as a free-writing exercise to jump start my day of writing, except for Sundays when I give you a short story. (It’s kind of my day off.) But what is it I am creating? What do I offer my readers so they return? Who am I in the blogging world?

I keep pursuing this quest, because I know one elements of a good blog is focus. So far, I admit, I haven’t found it, so I’m asking for help.

I know the world HAS to be compartmentalized in order to process the flood of information we receive each day. In my University Communication theory classes, this was one important concept that was frequently discussed. But the nucleolus of the program was the theory that REALITY IS SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED!  Boiling this theory down simply means that because of our upbringing, socioeconomic status, experiences, and education, we all process the information that hits us daily differently.

Let me give you an example.

In December I posted a piece entitled, “Good By and Good Luck.” Most of my readers thought it was a very positive post about wishing my students a good educational future as they left my class.  I say “most” of my readers, because there was one–Markus–who was very angry with me. Clearly, I meant no disrespect for any of my students, but looking into my crystal ball, I knew they all would not make it through college. Markus blasted me for being a poor teacher.

“Don’t ever underestimate your students. Your just one teacher and this is one class… NOT their future.”

He had a point. From his world, I was an uncaring, untalented bitch who limited my students. NOT TRUE.  But because of my background, I knew his anger was more about him than it was about me, so I posted his comment and came back at him with one of my own.  I wrote several paragraphs taking his criticisms one-by-one with further explanation. (If he had been reading my blog, he would have known how much I cared about the students in my class–but it was clear this was his first time making my acquaintance.) I finished my reply with this:

“So, Markus — take your anger out on someone else. There’s a big, wide world out there that would appreciate comments such as yours. Just get all the facts before you spew your crap.

Luckily, Markus was brave enough to swallow his pride and comment one more time.

Mrs. McCloskey, I applaud your efforts to reach the world through your teachings and your books. I too stand to learn something from you as I periodically browse through. I can’t promise I won’t challenge you or you challenge me, but you won’t receive any angry unwanted rants or replies from me. Fair enough?”

His post did something very important for me. It helped me realize I can’t be everything to everybody. So, I will keep searching for a “category,”  as I post each day and wander through the blogging wilderness to try to find my niche. I’m in for a long journey.  But, I am a woman, and I do stop and ask for directions.

 

The Statistics Are In

Write2As a relatively new blogger, I’m interested in seeing what people enjoy reading.  Hmm…..must be the businessperson in me–“Give ’em what they want and they will come.” So, I’ve done a little statistical research and learned that my present audience enjoys the feel good story, Santa Came to Town”  and Angels to the Rescue” got the most views. “When a Funk Sets In,” got the fewest looks.

This little bit of research made me feel good. I guess we’re all looking for things to read that not only entertain us but give us a good feeling when we’ve read the last line. I wanted to jump for joy when I learned this because that’s the stuff I truly enjoy writing!

I admit my world view is somewhat limited, even though I’ve had a chance to travel and see how poor most of the world really is. But, I grew up in a totally different place, a small town where people didn’t lock their doors and citizens cared about each other. My dad was a volunteer fireman for 30 years and my mother was a Girl Scout leader and Den Mother for many years. I even wrote a short story “A Special Neighborhood Watch,which is about how our special neighborhood took care of an elderly neighbor so she could stay in her home.

I also write about times when violence on television was rare. The divorce rate was low, and children played safely in parks without adult supervision. We rode our bikes without helmets and even suffered through the most common childhood diseases, but we were protected in ways that children aren’t today. Oh, there were still wars going on in the world and politicians misbehaving, but I didn’t know about it. I’m just learning a lot about that stuff now on the history channel!

So, I’ve got my answer as to what to write about for the rest of my life. I won’t bring you fantasy tales of wizards, dragons and werewolves. I won’t bring you horror stories. I won’t bring you tales about forensic medicine or murders. I’ll stick to what I know. A happy life with challenges that can have the ability to crush a person, but through love and carrying there will be a happy ending. After all, that’s what all of you have told me you want to read. And I want you all to come back again and again.

Concerns About Blogging

Because I write about things that happen around my Midwestern American life, sometimes I become concerned whether others are really interested in reading my blog. Oh sure, I aspire to become a respected author, making my living by doing what I love, so I put myself “out there” so people reading my blog MIGHT want to read one of my novels. But other than that, I don’t have a future plan for my life. This way I can be pleasantly surprised by the good stuff and not overwhelmed by the bad stuff.  I’m not an expert on anything. Just a “Jack of all Trades” going about my life as it comes. Actually, I think I’m rather boring even though I try to keep my world open through the Science and Smithsonian television channels.

Today, I’m happy to tell you that I’m not going to concern myself with this petty worry any longer. You see, I got some great advice from Cristian Mihai, a fellow Woodpress blogger, who said all I need to do is write about my passion. He said it’s the writer’s words that make people want connect. Readers can feel the passion in the words.

Whew! What a relief! Cristian freed me to keep on keepin’ on. Yeah! I’ll continue to write about my characters who drive me nuts, my events surrounding my writing, things that happen, things that don’t happen, and all the other mundane stuff other people might miss.  I’ll continue to search for the “secret to life” in the little things, then I’ll write down my thoughts and share it with those of you who are kind enough to follow me.

With that said, here’s my promise. I’ll give you a short story once a week. (I’m planning on getting a collection of short stories published within the year, so you’ll get first crack at them.) I’ll talk about writing, along with the joys and frustration of teaching the craft. I’ll write about things I’ve seen that “speak” to me, and I’ll welcome your comments–or criticisms should you make them. I promise to post only once a day–sometimes taking the weekend off.

How does that sound?

The Latest Baby

Yesterday, I received a box of my latest novel, “THE LOVE IMMIGRANTS.” It’s always a joy when such event happens because it’s positive proof that I’ve really had another novel published to put on my shelf. (Remember I told you, it is my goal to fill up my one shelf in my living room bookcase with my novels.) But the aftermath of Sandy the Hurricane has taken a lot of joy out of the event. It seems selfish and rather foolish to be happy about something frivolous when so many millions are suffering. Even today, the high winds here–over 1,000 miles away from coast and the wind damage, flood damage, and snow damage–are still blowing.

I’m sure all of the survivors of this horrendous storm would probably tell me that life goes on. So, with that in mind I will tell you that the project next year–if the Mayan calendar is wrong–I will have at least two more novels to put on my shelf. One book is drafted, the other is still in the works, and I’m waiting for inspiration for the next few.

Each novel is a book that could stand on its own merit, but they are all interconnected with characters who keep showing up in subsequent books. Writing these stories has been fun, but I’m thinking to make the next one a part of this blog, chapter by chapter — what do you think of that idea? Would you tune in day after day for a new installment?

Let me know by sending me a response to this post by saying “Aye” or “Nay”. If the “Aye’s” have it, I’ll follow suit. It might be fun.

Curiosity is a Driving Force–Passengers Beware!

Every once in a while, my curiosity drives me nuts. Today was one of those days. I woke up with this curious drive to learn where the term “BLOG” originated.

Seeing it isn’t “cool” to just grab the dictionary any more, I warmed up my laptop, called up GOOGLE and summoned my request. Like an archaeologist, I dug around until I found what I wanted. I discovered web journals have been around since the 1990s and the term BLOG didn’t show up until 1999 when it was coined by Peter Merholz–a graduate from the University of California – Berkley. Supposedly, he was making a joke about the technology and put together the two words web and log = blog. Of course, I found this information on the Internet so it must be true, right?

Okay, I had my answer. But for a curiosity junkie like me, it wasn’t enough. Along with the where and when, I discovered a whole new language built around web journaling. Eureka!  Want to know what I found? Come exploring with me! (Otherwise, you may be dismissed.)

First, let us begin with the terms for specific types  of  blogs. With 100 million blogs in the Blogosphere there has to be some kind of organization, right?

  • ANONOBLOG is one written by an author who wants to remain anonymous.
  • An AUDIOBLOG is where you’d find posts of recordings.
  • A BIZ BLOG is a blog operated by a business.
  • A BLAWG is written by a law professor, student or law review.
  • (I’m sure there are many other categories, but let’s move on.)

With 100 million blog sites, there are equally as many bloggers. Here’s some terms for some of them.

  • A BLEGO is the self-worth of the blogger. (blog + ego); at first glance that one had me stumped, too.
  • Then there’s the ever popular BLOGEBRITY.
  • A BLOGSNOB who is a blogger unwilling to acknowledge comments from anyone outside their blog clique. There’s the BLOOGER who is an immature or boorish blogger acting like a teenager.

Again the disclaimer is in place –this is by no means an all-inclusive list; it only contains words I thought were hilarious.

I was concerned when I learned that a blogger can even be inflected by BLOG diseases. Here are a few:

  • BLOGSTIPATION, which is a fatal diagnosis of one being unable to think of something to post.
  • BLOGORHHEA when a blogger writes an unedited stream of consciousness.
  • BLOGOHOLIC who is addicted to writing so much that she/he destroys the rest of their life. (I wonder if they have a 12 Step program?)

That brings us to the BLAUDIENCE –people like you who read blogs. There’s the BLURKER who sneaks in, reads and leaves no trace of their visits behind, and  the BLOGROACH who is an obnoxious commentator who disagrees with rude comments on everything posted.

I could go on, but if I haven’t lost you yet, I will soon, and I would never want to do that. It’s my goal to entertain, inform, and once in a while give you something you can use for conversation around the water cooler.

So, carry on BLAUDIENCE!  Your day awaits you.

A Writing Assignment

Last night I gave my students an interesting assignment. I want them to write about a person or an event that changed their lives. Everybody has something like that in their background, especially when everyone in the class is an adult. I can’t wait for the results.

The great thing about beginning writers is they don’t think they’re writers. They write a topic sentence, give some examples and tie it up in a one-sentence conclusion. Then they go on with their lives. Oh, what lessons we can learn from them!

They intuitively know the most basic rules of good writing. If you’ve forgotten them, let me refresh your memory.

1. Have something to say — then say it.

2. Give specific examples.

3. Use simple words.

4. Write concise sentences.

5. Use ACTIVE VOICE – “Passive voice bores people.”

6. Keep paragraphs short. (That goes for chapters, too.)

7. Cut the fluff – words like “very” bury your message.

8. Don’t ramble – cut to the chase.

9. Redundancy is death. (Readers get it the first time.)

10. Go back and tighten it up further.

In our world of instant everything, people want messages and stories quickly. If you’re writing complex sentences, cut it out! All you’re doing is shouting to the world that you are small-minded and hiding behind your puffy words. To sound smart, stop trying to sound smart.

All you have to do is know where you are going and help others to get there.