Friday, December 30, 2011

10 Things About Sierra and 2011

Every year as my last post of the year I do one called 10 things abut me in this year. You can read the ones for 2010 here and 2009 here. Obviously, those posts are of more interest to me than you, but if you're interested, you're sweet.

This year was kind of a mega year for me. I had a huge amount of change, and I go into 2012 with a lot of excitement.

1. I had another baby.
This was a huge one, and so it tops the list, because the resulting lack of sleep over the past 8 months has been really, really, really hard. And not just hard--but kind of mentally ruinous. The silver lining is I'm too tired to care. But the best part is all the fabulous guest posts for this blog:

2. I started a new career. 
Last year on December 31, I was laid off from my job at 7 month preggers. (Yeah, it's been a year of massive changes!) So I did what any completely unhireable person would do besides filing for unemployment and biting my nails to the quick over whether I'd still have health insurance so I could deliver my baby without racking up a $24,000 hospital bill. (That was what my 5 year old son cost in 2006; Rainbow Puppy, the baby, actually cost only $12,000. I didn't have an epidural--not by choice!--so it cut the bill in half. Can you believe that?) I embarked on a dream I'd had for years but was way too chicken to try it: I began freelancing. I freelance technical writing and copywriting, and graphic design...which leads me to #3.

Some of my actual work
3. I discovered I'm a graphic designer. 
Who knew? Well, I should have known. I do have an art degree. But somehow, I thought you had to have a graphic design degree to be able to do it, or you had to be on intimate I-was-with-you-back-when-you-were-in-release-2 Adobe Illustrator terms. Turns out, I actually had all the skills...and while I still freelance writing jobs, I do more graphic design jobs. Clients started asking me to do things like make logos for them. And then I got asked to do web design (and started Atmosphere Websites with my Wordpress build partner, Mike Chen.) Turns out, I could! And I love it!

4. I started lots of blogs.
I started a food blog, mostly to keep track of recipes I liked for my own reference, and I started a blog attached with my freelance business, called The Elements, which focuses on design, marketing, and usability. Then, I realized I had to pare down--what with no sleep and no time and all (pared down to just this blog and The Elements). I kind of reached a blogging plateau. I also uninstalled the Intense Debates commenting system from this blog--losing hundreds of comments--because it stopped letting people comment.

5. I began writing a monthly column on Roni Loren's blog Fiction Groupie.
This was exciting for me. Lots of people read Roni's blog, and my fellow columnists (we're actually just guest posters with a due date, but I like to use a schmancier word because it makes me feel...well, schmancy) are all published authors. So that makes me tremendously grateful to be included in such good company. So far, I've written on the All is Lost plot moment, Is it chick lit or women's fiction? with agent Sara Megibow answering some questions, and Creating strong female characters.

6. I started and then ended a literary magazine.
Remember Small Tales? It began with the greatest of intentions, at possibly the worst time. I was able to form an editorial board and get a blog up about it, but that's where the fun stopped. Man, running that kind of thing takes a ton of work--and that's before you start accepting submissions! Ultimately, we folded the magazine before it started because a) I was having a baby, b) another member was having a baby and c) none of us had the time to devote to it. As time went on, it became clear our passion for the project was dropping, as well. It remains one of my greatest disappointments that I couldn't see the project through--especially because I'm one of those people who sees pretty much everything through. But without a passionate love for the project, it wasn't going to survive.

7. I made tremendous progress on my WIP, and also very little.
I technically typed "Finis" in January, but have been revising ever since. Usually I don't revise a whole year, but there's the aforementioned baby interruption. And also, I did something I've never done before. I stopped and looked very, very carefully at the structure and the story of the WIP. And then I read the most amazing book I've ever read-- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, which pretty much changed everything for me. It was a pleasure to realize I'd done most things right, and an even greater pleasure to correct minor niggling things thanks to the book.

8. I began to get rid of plastics.
This post I did about reusing sparked by an eye-opening anti-plastics posts by my friend Meghan Ward, kicked off a huge changed in my household. We are much more aware of the plastics we use with food and toys. I ditched all of my plastic containers in favor of glass ones. I got reusable snack bags. I save plastic bags and take them to a special recycling center in my area rather than throw them away to sit forever in a landfill, leaching poisons into the ground.

9. I got shingles. 
Yeah. The old person's disease. Turns out, people in their thirties can get them. Here's how they work: if you have had the chicken pox, then the virus never goes away. It lives in your nerve root, like a parasitic little bastard, and sits there until one day when you slam your son's finger in the bedroom door and the entire nail comes off and you have to go to the emergency room, and you're shaking so hard because you did this, and also your baby is in pain, and you've never been to the ER before and everything about it sucks. Also, your immune system happens to be low, and you haven't slept in 7 months. It's a perfect storm. And voila! Shingles! They went away after 2 weeks. And they sucked.

10. I discovered that I'm not as socially retarded as I thought I was.
Look, it's been a while since I had to go make new friends. So when the whippersnapper started Kindergarten this year, I was sure I'd alienate the other moms somehow. I'm not a warm, chatty person to people I don't know--I'm not that person who can chat up anyone, anywhere. But it turned out that I met some wonderful women and made some friends after all. It's been really nice. I have some more letting go to do (like asking them to hang out more), but I'm on my way.  I couldn't believe it.

There you have it. Happy new year! Let's kick 2012 in the rump!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I just called to say....

I was reading James Scott Bell's The Art of War for Writers (a great book for reading on the pot...but don't tell Mr. Bell please) and came across this gem: you should try to avoid having characters say "I love you." James (can I call him Jim, perhaps?) says your characters should show they love each other rather than every saying it.

Immediately my mind scanned my WIP, which I've been revising for many moons now. Let's see...dee dee dee...yep, oh man, shoot. Right there. Look:

“I have to go,” she said. ....
He stepped forward to pull her against him again. “I love you."
“I love you, too,” she said, meeting his lips. And she did love him. Marrying him might not be the worst thing in the world.

GAH! This is disgusting! This is terrible dialogue and they sound so wooden. He tells her he loves her to stop her from leaving, and she falls for it and volleys it right back like it's nothing. So I changed it to:

“I have to go,” she said. ....
He pulled her against him again. She met his lips and reveled in the chill that danced across her neck as he wound his hand through her hair. Marrying him might not be the worst thing in the world.

To me, this is better because now there's a question as to whether he loves her, and there's opportunity for her to find out whether he does or not. Now, she's thinking about what his status is, and that works for the story well.

Then I skittered ahead to the next questionable part-- the climactic event when my two lovebirds, apart for so long and after overcoming numerous obstacles, have finally met without hindrance. And, oh gross, it's just as bad. My male lead says:

“And anyway,” he said, “this is not really his moment. It’s ours. And barring any further ridiculously stupid interruptions, I’d like to tell you finally how very, very much I find myself in love with you.” 

Ugh! There's no mystery to that! I've just told you everything. Story over. Close the book! It's just boring to read. Not to mention melodramatic. When I removed it, things got much better, fast. Check it:

“And anyway,” he said, “this is not really his moment. It’s ours. And I want to be here with you.”

Then lots of smooching and other fluttery action happens, which demonstrates the characters' growing awareness of their feelings, and realizations of each other's feelings. It just worked so much better. If it didn't work better, well then I guess I would be saying "Ha! Ha, James - Jim - Scott Bell!" but you know that totally wouldn't happen, because that guy is a writing advice genius.

Think about it: isn't it way nicer when your loved one does something to demonstrate how much he or she loves you, rather than just saying it? Mr. Sierra, for example, listens to me. Listens to me! I know because he remembers things I say even when I don't. There are so many nice, loving, considerate things he does for me. He's a great demonstrator of love, but he doesn't say it a lot.

So, agree, disagree? Do your love interests say the words?

Monday, December 26, 2011

You guys are just awful!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas yesterday, if you celebrate it. We all have the flu and I've lost my voice completely but I think you'll see from the below that I have a voice when it counts.

Last week, Tawna Fenske said this in one of her blog posts:
"Oh, and thanks to the more than dozen readers who emailed yesterday to alert me that my Wednesday blog failed to post, or to inquire if I had dropped dead following an all-night orgy involving Daniel Craig, George Clooney, and Lyle Lovett."

Immediately, I sunk into a spiky pit of depression, its maws of grey sadness pulsating and sick (and not just because Tawna included Lyle Lovett in her all night orgy fantasy). You see, *I* have never received any emails of concern from readers when I fail to post a blog post. Not one single person ever paused to email me and ask if Alexander Skarsgard has whisked me away to a private island for a weekend of nonstop romping involving raspberries, chocolate, and several pieces of Tiffany diamond jewelry strewn rather haphazardly across my person--that is, they became askew after the vigorous ministrations and love-filled gestures from Alexander to moi. Of course, Alexander decided that the weekend was far too short--it always is, isn't it?--and booked us into the place (pure luxury by the way, but one of those clever places built to look like a hut so that you think you're being all primitive when in fact you never see so much as a gnat during your entire stay) for a month.

Alex also let me sleep for several nights on end. He's so great. :)

About six days into the stay (which Alexander soon extends into three months because he can't get enough of me--he would have done six except he's got a filming schedule to stick to, you know), Joesph Fiennes arrives in a creaky old motorboat that's seen better days, operated by a toothless guide who initially eyes the luxury hut with a large dollop of disgust but soon changes his expression to one of joy when he catches sight of the pure love Alexander has for moi. Joseph is half-mad with grief and outrage that Alexander has stolen me away, and the two nearly come to blows when I interject and explain to Joseph, not without some regret,  that while I will always love him, Alexander just wins out. I do hate myself a tiny bit when a placated Alexander disappears into the all-stainless steel, marble countertop kitchen that has hosted some of our romps to make a mojito for me, because I whisper to Joseph that I'll see him again. I can't possibly stay away when faced with that face and those eyes, can I? No! No one would blame me either. Joseph, who shares the empathetic heart Alexander has, can't bear to be the means by which my moral fibre disintegrates, so he protests and sadly returns to the boat to hear promises from the toothless guide that he should not fear, for the careful man who plans wins, and if Joseph plays his cards right, he'll have his tropical-romp-six-month-love-nest day with me in the end. Joseph smiles sadly as Alexander returns with my mojito and runs the back of one finger along my jaw bone, returning my attention to him--not difficult since he isn't wearing a shirt (why would he?) and Joseph is--and the guide shoves off in dark waters while I remain behind, wrapped in the golden ASkars embrace.

Not a single person has emailed me about that. I'm terribly hurt!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Google Reader Roundup

  • Meghan Ward has an excellent post on 8 ways to help someone in need. Meghan also had a really important post on models and sexual abuse--with some pretty heavy but good discussion in the comments. Kudos to Meghan for addressing this topic and also putting her own painful past out there for the greater good.

  • Roni Loren guest posts at Anne Allen's blog with excellent points on why it doesn't matter which method of publishing you pursue-- because it isn't a competition.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Books I read this year

This week there have been loads of very thoughtful posts in the writerly blogosphere, like Meghan Ward's 8 ways to help someone or....well, I'm sure there were more. Like serious, proper posts.

In keeping with the usual traditional of this blog, this post isn't one of those.

Instead, I thought I'd talk yet again about myself. (You know, in keeping with tradition.) So this will be about the books I've read this year, which Goodreads makes it easy to report using their stats tool. (I love Goodreads because I would never remember what I'd read otherwise.) Because I gave birth to my second baby, Rainbow Puppy, my reading was augmented by many nights in the nursing chair--a huge bonus in my book--but still Goodreads said I've read a mere 25 books this year --and I read 25 books in 2010 too. This was greatly disappointing, as I like to complete with myself. At least I didn't do a books-I-read-in-2010-post, so I'm still winning against myself. (I'm kind of a super lame Charlie Sheen.)

So here are some of the books I particularly enjoyed this year:

  • This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
  • The entire Game of Thrones series (or more accurately Song of Fire and Ice)
  • One Day by David Nicholls
  • The Hunger Games trilogy
  • Skipping a Beat by Sarak Pekkanen
  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen 
  • Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde (I specifically read this because there was such outcry against it, so I was pleased to support the book--plus it was fabulous)
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  • Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
  • The three Save the Cat books by Blake Snyder (I so need to do a post about these, seriously)
I'm currently reading The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, which is fabulous. So I'm going to hurry up and finish it so I can be at 26 books, thereby totally smashing my last-year-self into the ground, ha HA! 

What book or books have you read this year that you loved? Let me know so I can add it to my list!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Some holiday season whimsy

Sometime when I wasn't looking, Restoration Hardware --that store full of nice, "old" looking and generally heavy objets, overhauled itself into a "job creator" supplier of high end furniture and accoutrements. I shall explain. Remember when they sold fun little stocking stuffers like hand warmers and whoopee cushions? Remember when their stuff was really nice and you might even find yourself affording some of it, here and there?

The other day I heard a thunk on the doorstep and looked outside to see the mailman scurrying away. Rubbing my hands in anticipatory glee over an unexpected package--was it someone sending an early Christmas gift? A belated birthday present? A forgotten online order? From the sound of it, it was books. Lots of them. In hardback.

When I opened the door, I found a 1.5 inch thick Restoration Hardware catalog, so big that it wouldn't fit through our mail slot (which generally takes small packages). "Fall 2011 Sourcebook" it called itself, rather pretentiously, as though I would be inspired by all their room setups. This monochromatic catalog had articles, but by people I don't know, and on topics I don't care about. But the second page too my breath away.


I laughed. Honestly, bird cage chandeliers? Hung from 3-inch thick weathered marine rope? But they were--huge massive cockatiel cages trapping a pretty chandelier. For just $2195 for a small one, and only $2995 for the extra large.

So listen. If you're finding yourself stressed this holiday season, or stuck in your writing, take a moment to celebrate that some people are completely insane--both the company that sells birdcage chandeliers for $2995 and the people that buy them. (Of course, apologies if you are one of them.)

What's the most ridiculous thing you've seen for sale this season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Buying Solved

The last two weeks before Christmas generally cause lots of panic in my house as we scramble to fulfill our gift giving obligations. Fear sets in and our eyes go wide like dinner plates as we contemplate the ratio of time, money, and number of gifts still to think up and get. Buying gifts for people is hard. But I have a plan this year. And I thought I'd better share it with you in case you are currently experiencing similar gift-buying paralysis. Below is a list of books I am either giving, or thinking about giving.

General Fiction

This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park. I raved about this book already, and Sam was gracious about giving an interview here. It's a beautiful story and I really enjoyed it. Plus, Sam knows how to write a great opening line. I'm giving this book to a few family members.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. MAN what a great book. It's about magic, and love, and a totally rad circus that I would love to visit, if it existed. I love this book because I was convinced to buy it through the power of social media, and it it paid off.

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
. My mother is totally into this British mystery author so I immediately pooh-poohed him (even though I actually really like British mystery authors, and Scottish detective novelists). That was before I read this book, which was fantastic. Great, fast read about a wrongly convicted man's plan for revenge.

Middle Grade and Teens

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead was just a fantastic, wonderful, and truly delightful read, even for adults. Surprising and fresh, with a lovely time travel twist. It sparked the very first 5 star review series here on the blog.

Treehouses of the World by Pete Nelson. Look, teens are hard to buy for. But when I saw this book I was immediately intrigued. The pictures are fabulous, and who doesn't wish they had or could build an amazing treetop retreat? Recalcitrant teen boy relatives are getting this from me this year. Word to the wise: Amazon sells this for $24.95 but I believe I paid $12.99 at Barnes and Noble (in-store).


Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel. I haven't actually read this yet but the title alone assures me I will love it--and so will my 5 year old. It's about, well, a bad kitty at Christmas. I mean, listen to this: "Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the city, not a creature was stirring...Except for BAD KITTY." DONE. Love it!

The Underwater Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta. All the alphabet books by author Pallotta are great, but we love this one in particular. It's just fantastic. The art is great and the short text is funny, for both kids and adults. Best of all? When I went to an aquarium with my whippersnapper, he recognized a ton of sea creatures because of this book.

Animal Masks: 15 Punch out Faces. Can't recommend this one enough. We have it and it's a great gift at $12.95. It comes with brightly colored, quite large animal masks you punch out (and keep in a handy folder at the back). Mask elastic is even provided. Best of all? Both the baby and the cats gave quite a start when I put on the fox mask and stared at them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sharing is NOT Caring

Last week I was walking home from
dropping off the whippersnapper at school. I had Rainbow Puppy in a baby pack, wearing him in front of me, and I entered a crosswalk. This car comes shooting down to the stop sign at the crosswalk, and rolls right through while I'm still in the crosswalk--in fact, barely half way across.

I turned and give the driver A Look.

The driver stopped the car, just past the crosswalk. She rolled down her window and asked,"Do you want to share about that?"

Oooh. I bleeping HATE it when people talk like that. Did I want to share my feelings, as though we were in group therapy and not me nearly being hit in a crosswalk by a driver who couldn't stop at a stop sign? Did I want to communicate my anger, and presumably talk about it in a rational way? Did I want to share like it was show and tell day in Kindergarten?

You bet I did.

"Yes, I want to share," I said. "Why don't you not go through crosswalks while people with babies are still in them?"

She didn't miss a beat. "I can tell by the look on your face that you're not happy with that. Would it make you feel better if I waited here til you're on the sidewalk?" This last was delivered in a SUPER patronizing tone, as though I was the asshole.

"No," I said. "What would make me feel better is if you actually stopped at stop signs, especially when people with babies are in the crosswalks."

She smiled a frosty little smile. I could tell she was trying to do one of those happy-bright-positive things, but it wasn't working because of the way she'd opened with the confrontational inquiry as to whether I wanted to share. And she'd probably ruined any possibility of any goodnaturedness when she'd chosen to roll through the crosswalk with me still in it. She said, "I'm sorry you felt angry. I'll try to remember to stop."

"That would be great," I said. "Have a nice day."

None of the above was said with any sincerity. We were two mean bitches, angry at each other and full of morning vigor. Although she was clearly in the wrong, and she was condescending and rude when she had no place to be, I was mad and righteous about it.

When she drove off, I was still angry. I didn't expect to be nearly run over and then confronted about it. She probably didn't expect (or like) being called out on bad behavior, and chose to confront me about it rather than apologize and move on.

Man, what a way to begin the holiday season!

We're all rushing these days and especially now up til Christmas. Here are a few reminders on navigating the season:

  • Please, please take a moment to slow down. Hurrying causes accidents.
  • Be courteous. Say you're sorry when you bump or transgress, and say excuse me.
  • When someone else pushes or bumps, try to restrain yourself from lashing out. Move on.
  • Have a hot cup of coffee and be glad you're alive and (I hope) healthy.
  • Don't ask people if they want to share. It's gross and smarmy.
Have a good week. And for goodness' sake don't ask people to share.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Google Reader Roundup - Not!

I have some easy Friday goodness for you (and me) today. Also, I decorated this post too at the bottom.


Why Author Websites DO Matter

On Monday I moaned about not knowing what makes a blog worth reading. This is all in connection to connecting with other writers and, someday, readers. This week, Anne Allen has a great post on how to blog, and it had a few points I responded to in her comments. But it seemed to have gotten lost in the ether, so I'm going to reproduce it here because I believe passionately in what I said. (This post is not meant as an argument with Anne--I just wanted to clarify some points.)

So, two important things about writers and websites and online presence:

Getting your name out there is Good; Relying only on Google rankings is Bad
Anne noted that, "The point is to get your name out there where the Google spiders can find you," and then quoted a publishing acquisitions editor who said this: "I don't read the query (sorry aspiring writers!) I look for two things: genre and word count. I then Google the author. I'm looking for the number of times the writer's name appears on the Internet. I'm searching for a website or any attempt to build a platform.”

Ha ha! "Sorry aspiring writers!" Wow.

Here's some news for you: The "number of times the writer's name appears on the Internet" can be fixed and faked. As I said in my lost ranty comment, you can FAKE THIS STUFF and so it all comes back to popularity contest. Several sneaky people have approached me to put links to them on my blog. At first I was all, "why on earth are you asking me? My blog isn't anything!" And then I realized that's the point (which was depressing). "Nothing" blogs are more likely not to care about linking back to you--and back links "up" your search rankings.

This is an echo of the perfidy of Klout rankings and how fake those are--which I discussed a few weeks ago.

I don't deny at all that a blog or the start of a social presence is important, however. Anne is right that you want Google to find you. But just remember that the metrics associated with such thing are unreliable--so if people only use those to see whether someone is a viable commodity or not, there's something sadly missing.

Having an author website accomplishes more than you think it is does
Second thing in Anne's post that I responded to:
That’s why a website you have to pay somebody to update for you isn’t as useful. People want to connect with you—not your web designer. The difference between a website and a blog is the difference between putting an ad in the Yellow Pages or personally giving somebody your phone number. Blogs are friendly. And if you have a blog, you don’t need an expensive website. Here’s what Nathan Bransford said about formal websites:

"The thing about author websites is pretty simple, in my mind. They're expensive. Are they worth the return on investment? I don't know. I can't think of a time I've ever bought a book based on a visit to an author's website. But I have definitely bought books based on author blogs. I know I may not be the average reader, but I still have a hard time seeing how it's worth the investment unless the website is really spectacular."

This set of commentary was a little confusing. I wasn't sure if Anne and Nathan meant you should never pay someone to update a website for you or not pay someone to design a formal website for you. Most websites you pay a designer to do for you are updated by you. If you're a big time author and can't handle updating your site or are too busy, there is still huge value in having the website. But I don't think Anne and Nathan were addressing big time authors with PR teams at their disposal. I shall explain below.

First, full disclosure: I design web sites for authors and other small businesses. Design only. Our clients update their owns sites. You definitely don't want to pay someone oodles of money for a formal website. But if you have no design skills and no clue on where to start for a website, but you know enough to know that a website that looks like a llama vomited all over the screen is going to harm you, then hire someone. It's possible to do it cheap. We offer it cheap.

Know that a blog is a social media tool, and appropriately fits into a website. Here's what you do with both:
  • Use your blog to engage in discussion with people
  • Use your formal website to inform and market to people
This goes for all businesses, not just authors. People visit websites primarily to verify that you are who you say you are. In other words, they want to see that you're real, legit, and worth buying into. In a world where there are way too many choices, that's really important. And then you use your social media tools (blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever) to engage directly with those people.
I also discussed this in a post a while back called Author Websites: Not Just for Pubbed Authors, but I guess Anne and Nathan didn't see that post. :)
I welcome discussion about this. Thoughts about the Google rankings? The author website? One of the commenters on Anne's post said "Whew, I won't worry about a website for me then!" I hope I've clearly outlined here that a website does matter, and it does communicate other things than a blog does. But it's important to note that for the writer just starting out, you don't necessarily need a website yet. I always recommend getting your own domain name early, however.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Traits of a good blog - and do I match up?

I've been blogging for a few years now, and I have a horrible confession to make: I have never understood what makes a good blog. Other than great content, that is. There are differing opinions on the metrics of blog success--comments, followers, link backs--but what makes a blog good to read? (Note that when I speak of blogging, I mean writers who blog, published or unpublished.) Humor? Excellent writing advice? When I thought about it, I came up with the following traits of blogs I love reading:

1. I always learn something. Be it plot, characters, or finding ways not to use the word "because," I love writing craft blog posts. Blogs that consistently offer fresh takes on craft are always popular. Note that craft posts coming from unpublished writers are usually not taken as well--not by me--but in general. There are some notable exceptions to this.

2. Humor. I love a bit of silly, and bloggers who consistently offer humor are always visited in my list.

3. Honesty. Showing me a piece of who you are is actually really important when I thought about it. Everyone is human but no one likes to admit it--when you do it for us, we all feel better about our own struggles.

I'm sure there are more traits of interesting blogs, but these were the strongest for me. And also, I haven't slept in a long time--my 7 month old baby, Rainbow Puppy, is such a horrible sleeper at night that we usually only get about 4 hours of sleep tops a night now, so I kind of move through life listing to the right like a boat with a leak. So that was all the deep thinking I could do on that.

And like all shallow thinkers, I then turned the three good blogging traits onto myself. Did I do all three? Let's take a look. Because honestly, in the four years I've been blogging, I kind of thought I was doing a good job but actually I think I've been a little full of myself. Like, I've been righteous about what I post. What an ass I've been, actually! Check it:

- Do I teach something in my posts? Ha ha ha ha! Who cares what I have to say? Who am I? Well, sometimes my instructional posts are good (I was the only one surveyed though), but it's kind of hard to get over the fact that apart from having 15 years of experience as a professional technical writer, I'm not a professional fiction writer (yet). So me giving writing advice is not wonderful. Especially when I do like I'm an authority. Sheesh. Gross.

-Am I humorous? We all know the dangers of believing yourself funny. I crack myself up a lot, but as Mr. Sierra is constantly pointing out, I'm the only one laughing. Hey, at least I'm having a good time, right?

- Am I honest? At first I said yes to this. But actually, I realized I hide behind quasi-instructional posts that nobody comments on because I'm too...I don't know. Shy, embarrassed, afraid to be honest? I realized I rarely tell the truth about myself through posts. Here is the truth: I am a high strung mother of two young boys, just launched into a wonderful new career I never thought possible before of a freelance graphic designer (and it's working!), and I started writing fiction seriously four years ago. That's nice but it's not honesty. Here's the honesty: I don't sleep at night (4 hours tops) thanks to baby, and I'm exhausted and annoyed and I worry a lot. I swear a lot. I am frustrated that my mind is 85% oatmeal from it and that my current WIP is at least 6 months behind where I thought it would be because of the non-sleeping, and also, I'm sassy and sarcastic and caustic and no one likes that. I'm tired and I make a lot of mistakes. A lot. Sometimes I care, sometimes I don't. I hate it when people think badly of me. I can't stand it. I'm introverted. When talking with people, I almost always assign them a higher status in the conversation whether it's warranted or not. I don't know why that is. My rear end is wide but I sure as hell am not going to the gym. I'll walk but that's it.

I think when I can reveal my total failings as a human in my posts, then there will be some honesty (and since I touched on them above, I figure I'm good for a few months, right?). I don't tend to reveal my failings, but those are what really make blog posts good. Like writing failings. I never say what I've done wrong, only what I've done right. And that makes for boooooooorrring reading.

I don't know. I'm burned out on blogging. I'm tired of writing posts that I feel like I have to write. I want to write posts that *I* want to write. I'm just not sure what those are yet.

What do you think? What makes a blog worth reading?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Google Reader Roundup

  • Agent Scott Eagan has a timely reminder for us to watch what we say when we're vying for representation or deals.
  • Nathan Bransford has interesting e-reader poll results for several years running--it's neat (and not surprising) to see how the answers have changed.