Tag Archives: Blog Business

Search Engine Questions From 2020

a cartoon face that looks concerned. it has question marks over its face and a raised eyebrow. Every year I take the last two weeks of December off from serious blogging to recharge. One of the lighthearted topics I save for the end of this month has to do with answering search engine questions.

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

My responses are below them. This is a 1500-word post because new visitors, and therefore I, had a lot to say this year.

how to fly in air by meditation.

Some people do believe it is possible to levitate or even fly while meditating.

I’m quite skeptical about claims like these, especially if they’re made by anyone who is making money by selling anything that will teach you how to do this. When in doubt, do not pay anyone to give you magical powers unless you are a self-aware character in a story you know will end well.

 

Lydia’s barber shop

I do not own a barber shop, although my spouse and I did start trimming each other’s hair during the first wave of Covid-19 and have continued that practice to this day.

 

Lydia’s apple orchard

I also do not own an orchard. When I was a child, I lived in a few different farmhouses that were  originally built in the 1800s. At least one of them had a single apple tree on the property, but that was the extent of their orchard-like properties.

 

how to fix a Mary Sue

Step 1: Start working to unlearn sexism (and all other forms of prejudice). If you are human, this is an ongoing process. If you are not human, please comment and tell us what your species is like.

Step 2: Hold male characters to the same standards you hold female characters to.

Step 3: Write characters who have realistic and meaningful flaws no matter what their gender identities might be.

 

Star Trek fluffy creatures

The word you’re looking for is Tribbles, and I will talk your ears off about them if you allow me to. They’re delightful.

Captain Kirk slowly emerging from a large pile of tribbles

 

why do I prefer to be alone?

You might be an introvert. Alone time is what recharges us from socialization.

 

reasons to go to the mall

In pandemic times, you should only go if you truly need something there and can’t find it anywhere else.

In non-pandemic times, you should only go if you truly need something there and can’t find it anywhere else.

(Can you tell I’m not a fan of malls?)

 

what being an adult feels like.

Uncertain. I thought I’d have it all figured out by now.

 

You can learn a lot from Lydia.

Thank you. You use proper punctuation and grammar which easily puts you in the top 1% of search engine queries. We might be life partners and/or chosen family now. If you wish, I’ll even start trimming your hair. ūüėČ

 

why are gym teachers so mean?

my English teacher hates me.

Teaching is a skill that is not possessed by everyone who is employed at a school by any means. I also wonder if some teachers aren’t terribly burned out and should be retrained for different careers.

I had an awful teacher in school one year. When I was much older I learned some things about her personal life that helped me develop a little compassion for her, but I still think she should have sought employment that didn’t involve children in any way.

However, understanding why someone may have behaved the way they did is never an excuse for the harm they cause.

Volleyball hitting the top of Lisa Simpson's head and then deflating. From the animated show "The Simpsons"

what make a good gym teacher

Someone who genuinely enjoys teaching and spending time with children.

Someone who is cognizent of the fact that their students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and ability levels and who takes all of these things into consideration when lesson planning.

Someone who is responsive to their students and adjusts their teaching methods to appeal to everyone, especially kids who have not had positive experiences with gym class or exercise in general. Athletic kids will continue to enjoy working out regardless, so I think it’s important to help non-athletic kids discover the many other types of exercise out there.

 

mindfulness gif.

I could talk about this topic all day. I love mindfulness gifs.

the word breath. there is a feather above and another one below the word, and all three items slowly expand and contract in a gentle breathing pattern.

 

cool things to collect

Memories. Photos. Delicious meals and snacks. Smiles. Random acts of kindness. Amusing stories. Hugs (in non-Covid times and with consent, of course).

 

how to have a friendly face

Smile gently and make eye contact. Use these powers carefully if you’re a woman or non-binary person who wants to avoid the occasional odd encounter with a stranger.

 

the bear who wasn’t there

This sounds like something my dad would google. He likes to sing lighthearted folk songs, so I choose to imagine that one of them is about an invisible or missing bear.

 

seven rabbits

rabbit gif

There are more than seven rabbits in this gif. Is that close enough?

seven rabbits eating food while crowding around a small bowl

 

how to make playground equipment

I haven’t the foggiest notion how to do that. May I refer you to my brother who builds all sorts of things out of scrap wood for fun? If you ask him for a poem or story about it, he will refer you back to me for an artistic interpretation of his work. We’re a good team like that.

 

children’s prehistoric fiction books

I don’t remember reading anything on that topic until I was a preteen, but I think that Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet sounds intriguing.

strongest caveman novel

I love this query and hope one of my readers will have a suggestion for it. This is also a great segway to the second portion of this post.

 

Jean M. Auel and Earth’s Children Questions

On that note, let’s end this with some of the many questions about Jean M. Auel and Earth’s Children I’ve received here since the Internet has decided I’m an expert on this topic.

Beware of a few spoilers from a nearly 40-year-old series if you want to read Earth’s Children without knowing anything in advance.

Where does Clan of the Cave Bear take place?

Answer #1: It takes place between 29,500 and 26,500 years ago in what is now known to be southern Europe.

Answer #2: A regrettable film from 1986 that seemed to have only briefly skimmed the blurb for this book instead of, you know, actually reading and comprehending the entire story.

Answer #3: Your imagination.

young Ayla touching a cave bear's skull
Young Ayla from the aforementioned film.

 

When was Clan of the Cave Bear written? 

It was published in 1980, so I’d guess it was written in the late 1970s. If you meant the geographic location, I’d assume it was either in Jean M. Auel’s home or at the libraries where she studied all sorts of stuff related to hunter-gatherers and prehistory while writing this tale and its sequels.

 

Is Jean Auel still writing?

Is Jean Auel writing a seventh book?

What happened to Jean Auel?

Jean Auel is in her mid-80s now and retired from writing new stories so far as I know.

 

Does Ayla see Durc again

Canonically, she does not see him again, but there are many fan fiction stories out there that give this mother and son a much more satisfying resolution to their forced separation.

 

What happened to the clan after Ayla left?

Based on the foreshadowing in Clan of the Cave Bear, the current leader probably wasn’t in power for very long due to his narcissism, impulsivity, and bad temper. Based on promises their mothers made when these characters were babies, Durc was assigned a mate who was half homo sapien and half Neanderthal like he was. As an adult, he may have left his tribe with anyone who wanted a more stable living situation and moved elsewhere.

 

Earth’s Children’s series book 7

There is a fan fiction book written to wrap up all of the loose ends that were left unresolved in Jean M. Auel’s official sixth and final book in this series.

 

Clan of the Cave Bear movie remake

The Valley of Horses movie

Is Clan of the Cave Bear on Netflix?

Will some streaming network please buy the rights to this series and turn them into films or a TV show! There’s clearly demand for it from people other than me.

 

Is Ayla a common name?

It depends on which culture you live it and what your definition of “common” might be.

Ayla is a traditional name in Turkish,Hindi, Spanish and Scottish cultures and sometimes pop up in Hebrew ones as well.

In 2017 it was within the 100 most popular names in Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

If I had a dog, Ayla would be a top contender for her name.

 

What is Ayla’s real name?

No one knows the answer to this for sure. I suspect that Ayla was part of her original name. For example, she might have been called Shayla or something by her birth parents before her adoptive (Neanderthal) parents shortened it because they couldn’t pronounce those extra syllables.

My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2020

A green olympic typewriter that has typed out the number 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. I continued that tradition in 2019 and am back again today with this year’s entry.

The first two times I wrote this post, WordPress gobbled them up when I tapped the Schedule button. Talk about frustrating! Let’s cross our fingers and hope the third time is the charm.

Each year there are surprises in these roundups. It’s not always easy to predict which posts will do well immediately, take off months later, or occasionally never garner as much interest as I thought they would.

This year I was a little surprised by how many bookish posts made it to the list. In the past, those topics generally didn’t garner as much interest as they did in 2020.

It was awesome to see so many of my entries for Vintage Science Fiction month be so popular as well. I will be participating in that blogging event again in January, so stay tuned.

I also liked seeing some film and indie book reviews included in the top 20 list. These are topics I could talk about all day.

Fitness was something I blogged about less often than usual this past year. I am hoping to blog more about it in 2021, especially once all of us who can be vaccinated against Covid-19 have been vaccinated and it becomes safer to go places again.

Thank you all for reading what I’ve written this year!¬†Without further ado, here are the top 20 posts of 2020 beginning with #20 on the list.

Winter Blogfest graphic on a blue background with white snowflakes dotting the top and sides. The graphic reads, "Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. A Prize on every post! December 21-January 1."

20. A Free Author Promo Opportunity at Long and Short Reviews 

A girl with a bored expression on her face reading a book.

19. 4 Creative Ways to Overcome a Reading Slump 

Black and white photo of a pug tilting its head in confusion

18. Why Writers Should Eavesdrop Regularly 

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura. She is holding her brand new tribble.

17. Vintage Science Fiction Month: The Trouble with Tribbles

Person standing in a 6+ foot tall tunnel built into thick walls of snow and ice.

16. An Exclusive Interview with Winter 

Film poster for Jumanji. image on poster shows four main characters standing at the mouth of a cave looking out onto a jungle with mountains in the distance.

15. A Review of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 

A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories by B.A. Loudon book cover. Image on cover is of a pile of pumpkins.

14. A Review of A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Stories 

A city park landscape. The grass is green and covered in blue flowers. The bushes are just beginning to turn green, and the trees still look bare.

13. A Photo Essay of Toronto in April

gibraltar point lighthouse on Toronto Island in Toronto, Ontario

12. 6 Toronto Urban Legends for Halloween

Child running up a flight of steps

11. 3 Reasons Why You Should Try Mall Walking

Nine speech bubbles in a variety of shapes and pastel colours.

10. Why I Blog About Multiple Topics 

Photo of person's legs and orange shoes as they climb a flight of blue stairs.

9. 3 Reasons Why I Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevator 

A dead tree. The top half has been shorn off and is lying on the ground. Was it damaged in a storm?

8. A Photo Essay of Toronto in March 

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick book cover. Image on cover is of a stylized, human-shaped flame holding the Earth.

7. Vintage Science Fiction Month: Second Variety by Phillip K. Dick

Bananas that are submerged in a bright yellow landscape.

6. On Finding Scope for Imagination During Uncertain Times 

six clouds digitally altered to spell out the word dreams.

5. Let’s Talk About Vivid Quarantine Dreams¬†

 

A toy apple sitting on three textbooks in front of a blackboard. The toy apple has a window and door painted on it so it looks like a little house.

4. 5 Homeschooling Tips from a Homeschooler 

Book cover for 1NG4. Image on cover is of a metal structure that has been photographed just after dusk.

3. Military Science: A Review of 1NG4

a room filled with levers on its wall

2. Hopeful Science Fiction: Move the World 

Women doing yoga

1. 3 Things I Like About Yoga

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

Woman working in home officeWhy, 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 year that I didn’t end up writing then but plan or hope to change this time around.

Once again, I’ll edit this post to include links to the posts of anyone else who decides to write about this same topic. I love getting sneak peeks of what all of you are working on!

 

Title: Mindfulness Exercises for a Bad Mood

Publication Date: August 3

Why: This is something I talked about writing last year. My research into the topic has finally culminated in enough knowledge to share what I’ve learned.

Film poster for The Others. Image on poster is of Nicole Kidman looking scared.

Title: A Review of The Others

Publication Date: August 20

Why: The 2001 film The Others is my all-time favourite haunted house story. I’ve been raving about it here for years and finally found space in my editorial calendar to officially review it. ¬†If you haven’t seen it yet, this is your chance to go rent it so we can gush about it together.

 

Title:Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things to Do in the Autumn

Publication Date: September 23

Why: Autumn in Toronto is gorgeous and filled with amazing things to do, many of which are outdoors and therefore will hopefully not be affected by Covid-19. Fingers crossed.

 

Film poster for Us. Image on cover is of protagonist crying while holding a mask that looks identical to her face.

Title: Dodging Doppelgängers: A Review of Us 

Publication Date: October 15

Why: Am I the last person on Earth to see Us? Possibly.  It was still a great deal of fun to watch, though, and is perfect for Halloween, my favourite holiday.

 

Title: Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Funniest Things That Have Happened To Me

Publication Date: November 18

Why: These stories would otherwise never fit into the theme of this site. Their topics range from alternative uses for adamantium (the fictional alloy used to coat Wolverine’s bones in the Marvel universe) to what it’s like when acquaintences get so confused about certain facts about your life like your racial identity that they argue with you about how everything really must work.

 

Title:¬†Stained Property: A Review of The Red Lodge¬†(Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Publication Date: December 3

Why: Did you all¬†know that telling Christmas ghost stories was a tradition in England in the 1800s and early 1900s?¬†Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories is a series of those tales. I’ve written reviews of all of them and will publish them in December 2020 and December 2021. This is something I’m really excited¬†to share with you all as some of them aren’t well known at all in our era. And what’s better than shining light on excellent stories from the past?¬†

Person standing on snowy mountain while looking at aurora borealis at night

Title: Fitness and the Holidays

Publication Date: December 7

Why: Like a lot of folks, my healthy habits tend to slip up a bit over the holidays. I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic for years and decided to finally bite the bullet in 2020.

 

Title: My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2020

Publication Date: December 28

Why: One, I enjoy sharing the posts that resonated with all of you the most. Two, seeing how the trends change over time helps me figure out what to focus on in the coming year.

The number 2020 cut out of white paper and surrounded by confetti

Title: Search Engine Questions from 2020

Publication Date: December 31

Why:¬†The pure frivolity of it all. Some of these search engine questions are hilarious but don’t make enough room to be expanded into a 500-1000 word post. So why not let them shine in a few sentences instead?

 

Title: What I Read in 2020

Publication Date: January 4, 2021

Why:¬†This is something I’ve written about annually for a long time. It’s always fun to take a look back at how many books you’ve finished!

 

Woman reading book while sitting on a stone bench in a forest

Title: Modern Classics Series (tentative title)

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Eventually, I hope to start recommending science fiction and fantasy books written in the last 20 years that I believe will be considered classics in the future. I still need to do a lot more reading before beginning this series, though!

 

Title: How to Find Your Way Home in Minecraft

Publication Date: Unknown

Why: I stopped playing Minecraft. Someday when I regain my interest in it I hope to write this post.

 

Rolled up yoga mats

Title: 3 Benefits of Taking a Yoga Class

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Even if fitness classes were open here at the moment, Covid-19 and what we know about how it spreads makes this stuff far too high risk for me to take that gamble.

 

Title: Health and Fitness at the Library

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: *Me glaring at Covid-19 for shutting down all of the cool library programs I was going to promote here*

 

Title: 5 Places You Should Visit on a Trip to Ontario for Canada Day

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why:  Damn you, Covid-19!

Why I Blog About Multiple Topics

Nine speech bubbles in a variety of shapes and pastel colours.Edited on May 13, 2020 to include two responses to this post: On Blogging and Requiem on Blogging. 

I’ve been blogging on various sites more or less continuously since I was in college.

It started after I read a friend’s blog and realized I could do that, too.

Several of the blogs I worked on solo or as part of a group of bloggers no longer exist, but PK Stories is an exception to that.

I was a preacher’s kid growing up and spent a few years sharing amusing stories from that part of my childhood.¬†(Please note that I’ve learned a lot about writing, blogging, and storytelling since that site was last active. It’s pretty old).

Blogging has changed quite a bit over the years. The best practices for it these days are generally thought to include picking one topic and only writing about that.

So why don’t I follow that rule? Well, there are a few reasons for that.

Content Fatigue

Image of a puzzle in the shape of the profile of a human head
Actual footage of my thought processes after a couple of years of writing about the same topic every week.

I’ve learned through trial and error that I experience content fatigue on single-topic blogs after about two or three years.

It’s tricky for me to know where to go next after I’ve covered everything I want to say, especially since I dislike recycling posts or repeating myself.

Rather than building a new site from scratch every other year, I now prefer to stick to the same site and bounce around among a few different topics instead.

Kudos to those of you who can blog about the same thing for years or decades.

I admire your constancy, but my creativity eventually struggles under those circumstances.

Overlapping Interests

Blue rectangles and squares that are overlapping each other. There may be some people on this planet whose interests all exist in well-defined bubbles that never intersect with each other, but I’m not one of them.

My fitness posts often reference science fiction or fantasy because I think about topics like Frodo’s long walk to Mordor or what it would really be like to use a Holodeck ¬†for my workouts. (Yes, I will actually write that post one of these days).

Sometimes I need to share childhood stories when I talk about the magic of Halloween so my readers will understand why it’s so important to me.

Yoga is both a workout and an exercise in mindfulness. That still blows my mind and may require a few more posts to fully explore.

So why not talk about all of the fascinating things that move between and connect these seemingly-unrelated topics?

Simple Human Curiosity

A group of human-shaped figures in every colour of the rainbow - brown, orange, yellow, green, red, and more!Look, would I ever tell someone else what to write about on their site? Absolutely not!

But I do quietly love it when bloggers reveal new pieces of their personal lives and interests that may or may not be related to the main topic(s) of their sites.

There’s something delightful and surprising about everyone once you get to know them well enough.

It’s amazing to learn that someone you’ve followed and interacted with for years has this whole other side to them that you’d never would have predicted whether that’s a hobby, interest, or something else entirely.

So one of the other big reasons why I jump between topics is to give my readers a better understanding of who I am as a person. Yes, half or more of my posts are about the science fiction and fantasy genres in any given month because of how passionate I am about them, but those aren’t my only interests by any means.

My hope is that by sharing these parts of myself other bloggers might be encouraged to do the same thing.

How did you all pick the topic(s) for your sites? What made you stick to one topic on your site or include multiple ones on it?

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 by how popular my reviews of various Youtube workout videos were this year. When they were first published, they didn’t get as many hits as I was expecting, but that changed quite a bit over the longterm. Look for some more reviews of free online workouts in 2020.

Interviews with readers and writers of science fiction were well-represented in this round-up, too. I’d love to do more of them in 2020 if anyone is interested. The informational link on how to sign up is included below.

On a silly note, I thought it was interesting to see how many posts that had stock photos with orange or yellow hues made it onto this year’s list. Maybe my readers really love those colours. Ha!

Woman using a cellphone

20. Put Down Your Phone and Pay Attention

Carved and lit Halloween pumpkin sitting next to a calendar that says October 31

19. My Best Halloween Memories

The personification of spring. She's sitting on a swing that's adorned with pink roses.

18. An Exclusive Interview with Spring 

two front doors in a duplex. One door is blue and the other one is yellow

17. 5 Tips to Beat Writer’s Block¬†

Couple cuddling a dog

16. 3 Fictional Families I’d Want to Spend Family Day With¬†

Books covered in a thick layer of cobwebs and dust

15. Why I Prefer E-Books Over Physical Books 

Woman stretching over to touch her toes before a run.

14. What to Do If You Missed a Week of Working Out 

Poster for the film The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The three main characters from that film are smiling and looking straight ahead in it. One is holding a book and the other holds a light.

13. My Review of The House with a Clock in Its Walls 

Woman doing an upper body workout.

12. My Review of Fitness Blender’s Toned, Lean Arms Workout¬†

Athletes laughing and jumping.

11. 4 Things I Love About Fitness Culture 

Science Fiction fan Tammy Schoch posing by the grand canyon

10. Interview with Tammy Schoch 

Stack of books sitting next to a vase of yellow flowers

9. Why Taking Reading Breaks Can Be a Good Idea 

Photo of Berthold Gambrel

8. Interview with Berthold Gambrel 

Woman dancing while using headphones and iPhone

7. 4 Games You Can Play While Listening to Audiobooks

Grapefruit Slice Lying with Lemon Slices

6. Blogging Advice: Finding and Using Visual Images for Your Site 

Photo of author M.H. Thaung

5. Interview with M.H. Thaung 

Group of people networking with their cellphones

4. Blogging Advice: Social Media and Networking 

Person blogging about coffee on a WordPress blog

3. Blogging Advice: Brainstorming and Idea Management 

Blue and Red Galaxy Painting

2. If You Love Speculative Fiction, I Want to Interview You

Woman Performing Deadlifts

1. My Review of Fitness Blender’s Brutal Butt and Thigh Workout¬†

I’ll Tell You About My Drafts Folder If You’ll Tell Me About Yours

Edited in August 2020 to include links to finished posts.¬† It’s been a long time since this blog published a lighthearted writing post, so let’s change that. ¬†Lately, I’ve been gently poking my drafts folder and trying to decide which posts in there, if any, are ready to finish and share with the world. On… Read More

If You Love Speculative Fiction, I Want to Interview You

I’ve decided to try something new on my site. This was loosely inspired by what Downright Dystopian started doing with her interviews earlier this spring. I’m hoping I’ll be able to tap into a new audience since I’m focusing my questions on people who like speculative fiction and have multiple social circles that don’t seem… Read More