This event is so cool I decided to dedicate a full post to it today.
On October 31, blogger Patricia Lynne is going to be hosting a Trick-or-Treat blog hop for anyone who is looking for free, new e-books to read.
Authors, you have until October 31 to hop on over to her site and share a link to your free book or books.
Bloggers, readers, and reviewers, the full list of free e-books will be available on that site on October 31. Be sure to go check it out then if you need something new to read. The hashtag they’re using on Twitter is #trickortreatreads, so keep an eye out for that, too.
I’ve already added the link for my books. If I find any titles there that fit the theme of my blog, you may see reviews of them here in the future. A big part of the reason why I wrote this post is so that I can link back to it over the coming months to explain how I gained access to so many free books at once if this pans out as well as I hope it does.
I started blogging back in the early 2000s when most of the bloggers I knew used Blogspot. One of the things I miss the most from that era are response posts.
If you don’t know what a response post is, here’s an example of how this sort of thing works.
Finley: Here are seven reasons why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all.
Rory: The other dayI read Finley’s post about why Picard is the best Star Trek captain of them all. Here’s a link to their post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. While I agree with most of their points, today I wanted to talk about why Captain Sisqo was an even better example of top-notch Star Trek leadership.
That is, Rory noticed something in Finley’s original post that made them decide to write a response to it in order to dig more deeply into the topic of which Star Trek captain is the best of them all or to explain where their opinion differed from what Finley thinks about that universe.
Just like WordPress today, some blogging platforms back then had notification systems that would let the original blogger(s) know someone had linked to their work. Other bloggers could read both of these posts and then write their own replies about which captain they thought was the best. Sometimes this sparked conversations that lasted for weeks or months and took place over many different sites as new people added in their opinions and the original participants replied again to clarify their point of view or ask a question.
I’ve seen echoes of this phenomenon on occasional Tumblr posts, but I’m not seeing it happen in the blogosphere much at all these days. If someone strongly agrees or disagrees with a post, they tend to create Twitter threads or leave a comment instead.
Comment sections and Twitter threads are fun, but I prefer blog posts for discussions like these for a few different reasons.
It’s been my experience that responses last longer and are easier to find if they’re turned into a blog post. Few people scroll months or years back into someone else’s Twitter stream, and I’ve had experiences in the past where old comments on my various blogs disappeared with site updates.
Blog posts have a way of sticking around on the Internet for years after their publication date. Occasionally, I still find references to posts that went “viral” in the blogosphere many years ago.
In addition, one of the first things I do when I discover a new blog is to poke around their archives and see what they were talking about months or years ago. There can be posts there that I’ll then share with the people I know who are interested in comparing Star Trek captains, for example.
More In-Depth Discussions
There are many things I appreciate about social media, but it’s hard to fit complex ideas or discussions into a few 280-character tweets. The beautiful thing about the blogosphere is how much more room there is in a blog post to add subtley to your point of view.
A tweet might only have room to mention one or two things you loved about Jean Luc Picard. In a blog post, you could mention everything you admired about him, compare it to the strengths and weaknesses of other captains, and respond to someone who had complained earlier about how silly is it for him to specify every single time that he wants his Earl Grey tea to be hot when that’s something that the replicators on the Enterprise really should be able to assume based on that captain’s long history of drinking hot tea.
Any Trekkie who stumbled across this hypothetical response post could share it on social media and ignite an entirely new round of discussions on the strengths and weaknesses of all of the Star Trek captains.
Yes, communities can and absolutely do exist on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites.
One of the biggest differences between building an online community on social media and in the blogosphere lies in how easy it is to keep up with everyone. I’ll take a step back from my Star Trek analogy for a moment to discuss something serious that actually happened in one of my social circles recently.
Without giving away too many identifying details, a friend of mine recently went through something difficult. They talked about it on social media, but because of the time of day they shared them as well as some of the silly marketing gimmicks on that site I – along with many other friends of theirs – never saw their updates.
It wasn’t until they shared another status update talking about how lonely they felt that most of us realized something was wrong. Had this been a blog post on my RSS feed instead, I would have seen and responded to it within a day or so of it being published.
I Want to Write More Response Posts
As the saying goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.” While that phrase was originally coined to describe far more pressing issues than this one, I think I’m going to start shuffling my editorial calendar around on this blog a bit to allow for occasional response posts.
Maybe they’ll come back into fashion again if more bloggers realize just how useful they can be.If you write something thought-provoking, your post just might be the one I pick!
For those of you who have experience with them, what do you think of response posts? Are you also interested in bringing this style of blog post back?
Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. As I’ve said here before, I don’t believe in stretching out my words if a few hundred of them will suffice.
Someone found this site recently by doing a search for movies about blogging. Normally, queries like this happen because of something I blogged about in the recent or distant past.
This time I couldn’t figure out why that search led them here other than the fact that I have multiple posts about movies and blogging as two separate categories.
Sometimes the magic of Google combines unrelated words in new ways when someone searches for something that doesn’t have a lot of hits online.
The more I think about that original query, the more I agree with this person.
The first movie I remember seeing about email was You’ve Got Mail, and it came out shortly after this form of communication became more commonly used.
Blogging hasn’t gotten the same treatment so far as I can tell even though it’s been around for about twenty-five years now. This post is old, but the demographics of blogging also make me think that there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in seeing such a film. At least as of 2010, the average blogger was young and almost a third of them lived in the United States. That tends to be the same demographic that goes to the movies regularly!
This isn’t even to mention the fact that blogs exist for every niche out there. A story about bloggers who were all dealing with chronic health problems would have a completely different narrative flow on the big screen when compared to bloggers who wrote about playing poker, rescuing abandoned pets, restoring vintage cars, reviewing books, or trying to convince toddlers to eat their vegetables.
The possibilities are truly endless.
True, it probably wouldn’t be very entertaining to have an entire film about someone typing away on a laptop or tablet.
The director and screenwriters would need to show other sides of the blogging community like conventions, small group meetups, the things bloggers go through to get that perfect picture for their site, or what happens when you have a post ninety percent written, forget to save it as you work, and then your computer crashes right before you tap that save button.
Raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you!
What do you all think? Would you watch a film about bloggers?
Happy Independence Day to all of my American readers! The Fourth of July is an ordinary day here in Ontario, so I’m back to blogging about the sorts of topics I generally discuss here. If you haven’t already checked it out, why not go ask me a few questions about what it’s like to live in Canada?
Writer’s block is a topic I’ve been meaning to discuss on this site for quite a while now. I’ve had my own trouble with it in the past, up to and including brainstorming for something as simple as a blog post topic. Today I wanted to share a few techniques that I use to deal with this problem when it happens. If you have anything else to add in the comment section below, do speak up!
Balance Multiple Projects
On any given day, I’m brainstorming, writing, or reworking blog posts, my latest novel, future social media posts for myself, future social media posts for the organizations I volunteer for, book reviews, and more. If one of these writing styles isn’t working for me, I’ll switch to another one.
There is something about asking your brain to transition from one project to the next that can really get the creative juices flowing.
A tweet requires brevity while a chapter of a book might need me to dig deeply into the details of what is going on in that particular scene so that my audience will know exactly what is going on in it.
Do Something Unrelated to Writing
And when I say unrelated, I mean it! Pick an activity that you enjoy but that has nothing at all do with your current projects.
Go swimming or buy a ticket to the latest summer blockbuster you’ve been meaning to watch. Fly a kite, take your dog on an adventure, or have dinner down at the local pub. Book a weekend away at local campground or check out a special event in your neighbourhood that you’ve been meaning to attend.
Do these sorts of things without any sense of guilt or expectation that they will lead you to the next plot twist in your writing. Just enjoy those hours or days away without any thought of what’s going on with your characters at the moment.
Once you get back, there’s something interesting I think you should try.
Have a Conversation with Your Characters
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to my characters. No, I generally don’t speak out loud to them, although more power to you if that works.
One visualization technique that I really like is imagining that I’ve sat down with my characters to have a cup of tea together. The conflict and tension in their storyline is nowhere near us, and we have all the time in the world to talk about what’s going on with them and how they want to react next.
Don’t ask me why this works, but I’ve found it very helpful in figuring out why I’m stuck on a particular piece and what sorts of things I should think about trying with the plot in the future.
Write Scenes Out of Order
For example, I generally find it much easier to write the middle of a story or novel than I do the beginning or ending. Beginnings need to draw the readers into the plot quickly while at the same time developing the character’s personalities and giving a good overview of what the world they inhabit is like.
As far as endings go, I always want to know what happens next no matter how long a story is or how well it fleshes everything out. This is a good thing as a reader, but as a writer it can make it tricky for me to know when to wrap things up.
Middle sections are my sweet spot, so they’re often the portion I try to work on if I get stuck. There are so many opportunities to foreshadow the ending or make more references to things I’ll put in the first few scenes when I’m writing this part.
Interestingly enough, this also works just as well for blog posts and tweets! Can you guess which section of this post I might have figured out first?
Pick a Different Genre
No, I’m not saying you need to publish what you write or that you need to start an entirely new project altogether. I’ve written plenty of scraps of things that will never see the light of day.
Here’s the thing about picking a different genre: it can often require you to use a different set of writing muscles. A romance novel is usually nothing like a poem about a rainy day. A short horror tale has a completely different feel to it then an autobiographical essay.
If you can, choose a genre that is something you’d rarely to never read, much less write.
It’s been my experience that attempting to write a hardboiled detective story is a great way for me to start coming up with ideas for the genres I actually have experience writing. No sooner does my detective stumble upon the crime scene then he or she realizes that this isn’t the only genre going on in that snippet of a tale.
What are your favourite tips for beating writer’s block?
Welcome back to my series on blogging that Ruth Feiertag asked me to write late last year. This is the third instalment, and today we’re talking about the important of including visual images in your posts. (There are links to the first two instalments at the bottom of this post).
I’m going to be spend the vast majority of my time talking about the two specific types of visual images that I’ve seen used most often in the blogging world: photos and videos.
If you can master these two options, you’ll go a long way in attracting and retaining new readers.
Why Including Visual Aides In Your Work Is So Important
How quickly did it take for you to notice the picture of the sliced citrus fruits I included in the beginning of this post? My attention was immediately drawn to the pink slice. I wondered if it was a dyed piece of lemon or if it was supposed to be part of a small grapefruit instead.
A well-chosen picture or video is eye-catching. Ideally, it will encourage the reader to ask questions about what it is they’re seeing and experience your post in ways that wouldn’t be as likely if they were only staring at words on a page.
Does this mean that every single post you share must be filled with images? No, not necessarily. You might only find one picture or video that is at all relevant to your subject matter. Sometimes you might not find anything at all! There are times when the topic I’ve talked about doesn’t have many good stock image photos that match it. This brings me to my next point…
Make Sure Your Visual Aides Are Relevant
If you’re writing a post about whipping up a batch of your top-secret chili recipe, it wouldn’t make any sense to include a photo of elephants alongside the ingredient list.
In my opinion, it’s better to publish something that doesn’t contain any pictures at all than to shoehorn in images or videos that don’t actually fit the topic of conversation. This is something I’ve been guilty of in the past, and I know it has confused at least one of my readers.
Do your best to avoid my mistake. Take as much time as you can to find pictures or videos that match the topic you’re discussing.
Obey the Copyright Laws
Honestly, this shouldn’t even need to be said, but be sure to research and obey the copyright laws for your country. I’ve heard of multiple bloggers who were sued for using photographs and other creative works without permission. If you have any doubts about whether or not you’re allowed to use a specific work, find something else to fill that space instead or leave it blank.
Where to Find Free Stock Photos
Assuming you don’t know the photographer or creator personally and haven’t received special permission to use their work, here are some of the labels you’ll want to look for when searching for photographs that you’ll be able to use for free on your site.
Look for Public Domain and Creative Commons Licenses
As a general rule of thumb, the copyright on most photos and other works will expire 70 years after the artist’s death. Do not assume that every photo published after that date is free to use, however! Each country has their own laws on this topic, and sometimes those laws vary based on when the artist died. Always double-check what the rules are in your country before using any visual aides.
It is also possible for an artist to forfeit their copyright claims if they wish. This means that you can use their work for personal or commercial reasons without needing to seek permission first or pay for the rights to use that photo.
Public domain photos can be used for commercial and personal purposes. You don’t have to credit the photographer or provide a link to the site where you found it for this type of photograph.
A Creative Commons License is a little more complicated. In general, photos that have this license can be used for free if you follow the rules the creator made for them. For example, they might ask you to provide a link back to their personal site, include the Creative Commons logo, email them for permission first, and/or take some other step to indicate that you are not the owner of this photo and you do have permission to use it.
There are many free stock photo sites out there. Pexels is my favorite site for public domain photos due to their huge selection and high-quality images. Wikimedia Commons has a smaller and more historical selection of photos that are mixture of public domain and creative commons licenses.
Finally, anyone who writes about TV shows or films should always check the IMDB page for the program they’re reviewing or discussing. There are often set photos, film posters, and previews on them that can be used in your review!
I highly recommend all of these sites. No registration is required for any of them, and you are free to use as few or as many photos and other items from them as you wish. In all of my years of including pictures in my posts, I still haven’t run out of possibilities from these sites. They’re all updated regularly with relevant and interesting content.
Sometimes I’ve also found wonderful stock photos by googling “public domain X photos,” where X stands for whatever topic it is I’m blogging about today. Be careful about double-checking the license for pictures if you go this route, though!
Since I haven’t needed to sign up for any paid stock photo sites so far, I won’t give recommendations for or against any particular companies. I try to only give advice on topics I’m experienced in.
Where to Find Videos
The copyright for videos is both easier and more difficult than it can be for photos since so many videos out there were either intentionally created to be shared or may have been stolen from the original creator. On the positive side, I am seeing people becoming more diligent about finding the original sources for videos (and forms of art not relevant to today’s post like comic strips) than they were even a year ago.
If I can’t verify who originally created a video or if the creator’s identity is disputed, I don’t share it. I work hard on my writing, and it’s only fair to give proper credit to other authors and artists, too.
The vast majority of the time, the videos I share come from one of two sources because of how (relatively) easy it is to track down creators on them: Youtube and Vimeo. The other nice thing about them are their share buttons. If a specific video has that option disabled, it’s a sign that the creator doesn’t actually want you putting it on other sites.
To repeat myself for a third and final time, don’t take my word on whether or not you can share something. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t have the copyright laws from every single country on Earth memorized. Always do your due diligence and err on the side of caution if you’re not sure what the rules are.
This has been a long post. To thank you for reading it, I’ll share one of my all-time favourite Youtube videos with you. As anyone who knows me has probably already guessed, it is rabbit themed!
Welcome back to my series on blogging advice. There were a few reader questions in the first instalment, How to Begin Blogging, about the actual process of creating a blog, so I thought I’d take a moment to briefly address that. I’ll share a link to that post at the end of this one for… Read More
Last month, Ruth Feiertag left a friendly comment on one of my posts asking for blogging advice. Not only did I have far more to say to her than would fit into a comment, I thought her question would be an excellent jumping off point for a new series on this site. Today I’m going… Read More
Every time one of my favourite blogs shares a post with a title similar to this one, I get a little nervous about them shutting down or going on hiatius. If you’re the same way, don’t worry! lydiaschoch.com isn’t going anywhere. I have and will be making some changes to this site that I wanted… Read More
Before I dive into today’s topic, I’d like to make this clear that this post was written as a gentle nudge for people who’d have the time and energy to dedicate to blogging if they knew about the individual and societal benefits of doing such a thing It is not meant to be a commandment… Read More
Can you believe it’s November already? It feels like January ended last month, and yet here we are moving quickly into the 2018 holiday season. As someone who doesn’t observe any winter holidays other than nodding slightly in the direction of the winter solstice since it means the days will soon be filled with more… Read More