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
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
My 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
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.
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?
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
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).
Kidnapping or abductions
Death or dying (including pets/animals)
Pregnancy or childbirth (especially if it has a tragic outcome)
Self-harm or suicide
Sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, classism, etc.
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?
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
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.
I could talk about this topic all day. I love mindfulness gifs.
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.
There are more than seven rabbits in this gif. Is that close enough?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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… Read More
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
Every year I take the last two week of December off from serious blogging, so here’s a lighthearted topic for today that I’ve been slowly compiling since last winter. The phrases and sentences in bold are the funniest, most interesting queries that have sent new readers to this site over the last year. My responses… Read More
Years ago, I occasionally answered reader questions about all sorts of topics. This is something I originally began doing because a friend of mine started doing it first. The post that began this series on his site as well as some of the entries in it are no longer online so far as I can… Read More