Tag Archives: Blog Business

My Most Popular Posts of 2021

A drawing of a bar chart whose bars move up and down but mostly up.
Let’s pretend these are my proper analytics.

Every December I make a list of my most popular posts of the year. This is something I first began doing in 2017 with a roundup of my 10 most popular posts.

In 2018, I decided to double that number in response to my blogging friend Tom Williams doing the same thing. I continued that tradition in 2019 and 2020 and am back again today with this year’s entry.

This year’s list won’t be as accurate as it was for previous years because the Google Analytics on my site isn’t collecting information anymore and I’ve missed out on some data while trying to figure out why it stopped working.

What can you do? Nothing in life works perfectly all of the time, and I’m grateful for the information I do have about visitors to this site in 2021. Hopefully, my 2022 analytic information will be complete.

The other unusual thing about this year was that I blogged less often during it. I used to write posts on Mondays about fitness, speculative fiction, meditation, and other topics. This wasn’t something I had a lot of emotional energy for this year due to grief and other aspects of the pandemic, so most of my posts were of more structured topics like book reviews or responses to blog hops like Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) or the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge (WWBC). (Those acronyms are included below when applicable).

We will see if this changes next year.

With all of that being said, here are some of my personal favourite posts in no particular order:

. Search Engine Questions from 2020 

This is often my most amusing post of the year! People search for the oddest and funniest stuff online.

Man struggling to open a jar of pickles. The man is not wearing a shirt.  What I Read in 2020 

A Photo Essay Update on Damaged Toronto Trees 

How I Changed My Mind About Weightlifting 

My Interview at Ginger Nuts of Horror

My Goals for 2021 (WWBC)

What I Include In My Content Warnings and Why

 

 

And here are my 10 most popular posts of 2021 according to the data that Google Analytics was able to collect:

A cellphone. Someone has searched for Google Analytics in it’s browser. 10. My Greatest Weakness (WWBC)

9. Places in Books I’d Love to Live (TTT)

8. Colourful Book Covers (TTT)

7. Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud (TTT)

6. Books I Loved That Made Me Want More of Them (TTT)

5. LGBT+ Book Quotes (TTT)

4. Bookish Gifs (TTT)

3. Books With Mountains on Their Covers (TTT)

2. Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean (TTT)

1. Books About Fresh Starts (TTT

 

I love that fact that Books About Fresh Starts was my most popular post of 2021.  May 2022 be a better year for us all!

 

Search Engine Questions From 2021

Man looking quizzical as he holds a cup with a string attached to it up to his ear. Every year I take the last two weeks of December off from serious blogging to recharge. One of the lighthearted topics I write ahead of time and save for the end of the year is related to answering search engine questions.

The phrases and sentences in bold below are the most amusing and thought-provoking queries that have sent new readers to this site over the last year that didn’t quite warrant their own blog posts.

There are a few mild spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale, The Others, and The Little Stranger in this post, so reader beware. Oh, and this post will be a long one, so settle in for about two thousand words of frivolity.

 

Hope Santa brings you lots of presents

This one is about a week late, but I was pleased with my haul this year. It included the perfect amounts of chocolate, tea, and warm socks. Ha!

 

What does autumn taste like?

I think autumn tastes like candy corn, fresh breezes, fun-sized Halloween candy bars, apple cider, all of the produce that ripens then, and, if you catch any of the illnesses that are so easily passed around during cold and flu season, cough drops.

 

 If you liked the fall you will like….

I was going to say Halloween, but I know that not everyone loves that holiday the way I do.

I think people who like the fall might also like:

  • The mild, friendly temperatures of spring
  • Places on Earth that have mild temperatures in general like Vancouver or Seattle
  • Endings (since autumn happens at the end of the year)
  • Looking back at your accomplishments
  • Long, dark evenings
  • Rainy days

 

 

How much perfume is too much

Too much cologne

Strong, heavily-applied scents can make me wheeze and, even worse, trigger a migraine.

I hope that anyone who wears them remains mindful of how much they use and how their choices affect others. A little spritz or dab is plenty.

Ariana Grande spraying copious amounts of perfume on herself

 

Don’t brag about your morals.

Agreed. I’m always a little suspicious of people or organizations who loudly proclaim how moral and upstanding they are.

Shouldn’t that be self-evident through their actions? Why are they drawing attention to themselves Iike that? Are they trying to divert our attention away from something with all of this humble bragging?

 

Wholesome succubus

Someone needs to write a story about this immediately! I’d never think to put these two words together.

 

Man meditating while sitting on a blue yoga mat How long should I meditate each day?

My name is Lydia, and I might be the world’s worst meditator. That is to say, I only do it occasionally and generally not for more than 10-15 minutes.

How long you should meditate depends on your attention span. May it be better than mine in this scenario!

 

Does baby Angela die in The Handmaid’s Tale?

In the book, a medical professional discovered birth defects in baby Angela soon after she was born. She did not survive them, although it was never clear if the birth defects alone killed her or if someone helped that process along.

In the TV series, she was born healthy and has thrived so far.

 

Is voting worth it? 

Yes, I’d say that it is.

Voting is not a panacea or a quick fix, but it is one of the ways we can share our wishes with elected officials. I mean, would there really be so many attempts to suppress voting if it didn’t work?

 

A frothy pineapple drink in a pineapple. The pineapple is sitting on sand at a tropical beach. Fantasy winter holidays

Is this question asking what my fantasy winter vacation would be like? Is it asking which winter holidays I like? Or maybe it’s asking what the winter vacations and/or winter celebrations are like in fantasy worlds?

My fantasy winter vacation would involve bringing my side of the family to somewhere warm and tropical for a few weeks. I miss them terribly, and what better place to connect than on a beach or in a villa that has never so much as heard of words like freezing rain or blizzard?

I don’t really do traditional celebrations of any winter holidays, but I do like to take note of the Winter Solstice due to my Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s nice to know that more sunlight is on the way. I also enjoy things like eating feasts, baking cookies, and pretending that the socks and chocolates I gave to myself on Christmas morning came from Santa.

As far as winter vacations and celebrations in fantasy worlds go, it really depends on the fantasy world and when exactly you visit it. Narnia was a very different place when the White Witch made it perpetually winter there for a hundred years in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe than it was, say, when her spell began to break down and Father Christmas was finally allowed to visit once again.

 

The Little Stranger plot explained

An elegant, old mansion might be haunted by the malevolent ghost of a child who died from a disease that young infants are now routinely vaccinated against.

Then again, the people who live there might be imagining things and/or accidentally misinterpreting perfectly ordinary accidents. (Go read my review of it for a deeper analysis).

 

How to say jólakötturinn?

This site gives a pronunciation guide, but to heck if I know how accurate it is. Icelandic readers, can you help?

 

The Others husband explained.

He most likely died in battle. His spirit eventually returned home to be reunited with his wife and children, but he was too traumatized by his last moments on the battlefield to reconnect to them.

I choose to believe he eventually healed enough emotionally to seek them out again. (My review of it is here).

 

National bird of Canada 

Canada has no official bird, although we tried to change that in 2017.

I think that pigeons should be our national bird. They thrive here in Toronto, and I think they’re kind of pretty.

Pigeons walking on a cobbled stone path

 

Is it unprofessional to not wear makeup?

Y’all, I mentioned this once on my blog about a decade ago and still get hits on the topic. Isn’t the Internet a funny place?

In some workplaces, it would be considered unprofessional for a woman not to wear makeup. Those companies are sexist and ableist in my opinion. Some of us are allergic to makeup, or have sensory difficulties with it, or have any number of other medical reasons why we can’t wear it. No one should be pressured to wear (or not to wear it) no matter what their sex or gender identity happens to be.  It has nothing at all do with how effective someone is at answering calls, stocking shelves, frying eggs, writing TPS reports, or making sales goals.

If someone enjoys wearing makeup, good for them! However, I think we should all be judged on the actual metrics of our jobs instead of what colour our lips are.

 

The Land of Painted Caves movie

On several occasions, I’ve blogged about my desire to see a miniseries or film series on Jean M. Abel’s Earth’s Children. I would still love to see the first few books in this series brought to the small or big screen. If the later books could be transformed into scripts that explored the themes and conflicts that were present in the beginning, I’d happily watch them as well.

 

 Is being late acceptable in your culture?

No. I grew up in a family that was generally 10-15 minutes early for everything. It was interesting to grow up and meet people from other cultures who have completely different thoughts on what it means to arrive on time. I’ve met some people who will show up at 3pm when you originally agreed to meet at 1 or 2pm due to assumptions they make about the meaning of time and how closely it should be kept track of!

If these things are clearly communicated ahead of time, I’m cool with it and will simply mark down a later time in my calendar because I am a stickler for arriving when my calendar says I ought to even if the people I’m meeting have a much more flexible interpretation of our meeting time.

I don’t socialize with people who are habitually hours late, refuse to communicate about it, and will make me miss something like dinner or a movie because they can’t arrive on time for things that only happen at certain times or that will cause my blood sugar to crash. (I’m a bit hypoglycaemic, so skipping meals makes me feel sick).

 

Fairies with fangs

Wouldn’t that make them tiny little flying vampires?

 

Describe me in a gif

I have no idea how to describe someone with a gif when I don’t know who I’m describing or what they’re like.

My brother once said that Merida from the animated cartoon “Brave”  reminded him a little of me.

Merida from Brave tossing her curls around.

 

Maybe my readers will respond to this post with gifs that are somehow similar to their looks, personalities, interests, or hobbies?

 

schoch soda

I have no idea why anyone would search for this, but I do have a cute family story about it.

When I was a kid, we’d sometimes ask my dad to open cans of soda for us. He’d always agree so long as he could have the first sip of it. Seeing him drink a little bit of our treats gave us the motivation to learn how to open aluminum tabs as soon as possible!

 

A toy robot walking ominously on a reflective black surface. What happens when computers get smarter than we are?

I’d argue that some of them already are more intelligent than some of us. Eventually, this will happen more routinely. It’s nothing to worry about so long as we program them correctly and treat them kindly.

 

What rhymes with Lydia

Plenty of words rhyme with Lydia, but most of them aren’t words you’d hear in most ordinary conversations. For example, telosporidia or Numidia both rhyme with Lydia.

 

When mindfulness is a bad idea

Anything can be a bad idea in excess.

I’d say mindfulness is a bad idea if you dwell in a moment that needs decisive action. For example, if someone is choking or if you’re in some other situation that requires you to get up and do something about it right now.

 

Tips and hints for aspiring writers.

Stop calling yourself an aspiring writer.

if you write, you’re a writer.

You don’t have to be traditionally published, hybrid published, or self published.

Writers write. That’s all you need to know.

 

Is William Golding still alive?

Only if you’re a time traveler from 1993.

 

Let’s end this very long post on a cheerful note.

 

There’s always hope gif

Aragorn saying “there’s always hope” to another character in Lord of the Rings

This is the perfect gif to end this post and this year with.

 

Why I’m Reducing My Blogging Frequency

Content warning: this post includes references to seasonal depression, people who died from Covid-19, and people who are permanently disabled from Covid-19. 

I’ve been blogging for many years now. It’s been my experience that blogging can be a cyclical hobby or profession.

Sometimes bloggers have plenty of time to write and so many topics we can’t imagine how we’ll find room in our editorial calendars for everything we want to say. In other seasons of life, things change.

I Need to Rest

Brown and white bunny in a wicker basket on a bed
Not my bunny or basket, but I grok this feeling.

In some ways, it has felt like March of 2020 never ended. All of the events and trips I looked forward to when the long, dark days of winter feel never-ending were cancelled last year and they are beginning to be rapidly cancelled again this year.

To be perfectly clear, I completely understand why this is necessary for public health and safety and in no way sympathize with the anti-lockdown, anti-mask, and anti-science protestors.

Honestly, I have had a much easier experience during this pandemic than many people out there. I have safe housing, a loving marriage, plenty of food, and money to pay the bills.

Out of all of my relatives who have caught Covid-19 so far, only one distant relation has passed away from it and only one or maybe two closer relatives have what are probably permanent health effects from it.

I’m very grateful for my and our good fortune in these troubled times. So many people are dealing with much harder situations.

With that being said, I’m also bone-tired. For anyone taking notes out there, the winter blues do not mix well with pandemics at all. This combination should be avoided at all costs in both real life and fiction. I’d give it zero stars out of ten even if you have somehow personally have managed not to know anyone who caught Covid-19. It’s exhausting.

I Need to Write Fiction

Closeup photo of person typing on laptop keyboardMy other reason for trimming back on new blog posts here is a cheerful one.I need to preserve more energy and creative juice for writing my speculative fiction stories!

It’s been several years since my last tale was published. That must change. I have pages of notes and rough drafts for future stories. All I need is the time and creative juice to bring them to life.

It is my hope that this new blogging schedule will facilitate that once my mood perks up in the spring.

Longterm readers might remember that I’ve gone through similar periods of cutting back on blogging here before. It’s something I really don’t like doing, but sometimes it’s necessary even if it makes me want to go sit in the Naughty Blogger corner for daring to change my posting schedule. LOL!

I’ll revisit this decision later on this year to see how I’m feeling and how sustainable the new blogging schedule is.

The New Blogging Schedule

Snapshot of an iPad that is opened to a page that says "my weekly priorities" and has a numbered list on it.
My hope is to eventually return to my usual Monday – Thursday schedule, but I’m cutting out all Monday posts for now. They generally tend to take up as much writing time as two to three of my other weekly posts combined.

If you follow me on Twitter, I will continue to share several posts from my archives each Monday for #MondayBlogs. Thank goodness that past me wrote plenty of them to cycle through while current me rests.

(Some? Most?) Tuesdays – Top Ten Tuesday posts. I love the TTT community, so I’ll do my best to stay connected to it when my energy levels and other commitments allow for that.

Wednesdays – Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge posts

Thursdays -speculative fiction book reviews, but probably only for short stories.

This is the hardest part of the year for me even during non-pandemic times. April is always better for my mental health, especially once I’ve had multiple long walks in the warm sunshine and my brain realizes spring truly has arrived.

If only I had a crystal ball that could tell us all exactly when this pandemic will end and life will feel more predictable again.

How has Covid-19 impacted your blogging and writing habits? How are you all feeling now that we’re over one year into this pandemic? Do you also feel guilty about changing your blogging routines?

What I Include In My Content Warnings and Why

Anyone who has followed this blog for a little while has probably noticed the content warnings that appear in some of the book and film reviews I share. I recently realized that I’ve never blogged about what I do and don’t include in my content warnings here, so let’s discuss it.

Please note that I will be briefly discussing things like rape, murder, and violence later in this post to give examples of things I use content warnings for. I will not go into detail on any these subjects, but I always warn my readers in advance when sensitive topics come up. Keep reading at your own discretion.

The Purpose of Content Warnings

A rabbit sitting at the mouth of its den
The friendliest photo I could find online.

Content warnings are used to alert readers about potentially sensitive material so that they can decide for themselves if they would like to read or watch that content.

Trigger warnings are a specific type of content warnings that are used for subjects that may cause intense psychological symptoms in some cases.

The purpose of these warnings is to give people who have PTSD, anxiety, or other mental illnesses a heads up before suddenly diving into topics that may trigger flashbacks, panic attacks, or other mental health concerns for them.

Since just about anything can be a content or trigger warning for someone out there, it simply isn’t possible to forewarn everyone about anything that might be difficult for them to stumble across in a story or film.

What I Include in My Content Warnings

My goal when writing content warnings for the stuff I review here is to include topics that are widely known to be sensitive or triggering.

I generally warn my readers about the following topics:

  • Any form of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, etc.) against adults, kids, or animals
  • Blood and gore
  • Descriptive medical procedures (needles, surgery, amputations, etc).
  • Violence
  • Kidnapping or abductions
  • Death or dying (including pets/animals)
  • Pregnancy or childbirth (especially if it has a tragic outcome)
  • Self-harm or suicide
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, etc.
  • Mental illness

There have been a few times when readers contacted me privately to ask for clarification for a content warning or to see if something not on this list was included in the book or film I’d reviewed. I’m always happy to answer those questions.

While I do have a spoiler-free review policy in general, I think it’s helpful to let folks know in advance about topics they might need to emotionally prepare for before reading or watching what I recommend here.

How Do You Handle Content Warnings?

Three sketches of humans with round heads and torsos. Each one has a speech bubble above them that is blue, purple, or a combination of the two colours.Do you use them? Why or why not?

If you use them, what topics do you include in them?

Are you open to answering readers’ questions about the content of the stuff you review if they would like to know in advance if something not on your list was mentioned in the book, film, or other piece of media you reviewed?

I can’t wait to hear how all of you handle this topic on your sites and in your reviews.

 

My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2020

Every December I make a list of my most popular posts of the year. This is something I first began doing in 2017 with a roundup of my 10 most popular posts. In 2018, I decided to double that number in response to my blogging buddies Terry Tyler and Tom Williams doing the same thing.… Read More

I’ll Show You My Drafts Folder If You’ll Show Me Yours

Why, yes, I did write the same sort of post last summer! It was such a smashing success that I’ve decided to do it again. Last year’s peek at upcoming posts has since been edited to include links to everything that I ended up writing. Some of the stuff listed below are ideas from last… Read More

My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2019

Every December I catalogue my most popular posts of the year. This is something I first began doing in 2017 with a roundup of my 10 most popular posts. Last year, I decided to double that number in response to my blogging buddies Terry Tyler and Tom Williams doing the same thing. I was surprised… Read More