Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

 

Wonderful Bloggers of OZ_2 - sig

 

We aren’t people anymore.

Have you noticed?

We’re the Wonderful Bloggers of OZ.

When you read an article or post or tweet, look at the language. “Bloggers”. Like some group of lost writers who crashed a hot air balloon, landing in a bizarre world: The Blogosphere.

We perform tricks to dazzle—with words and photos that aren’t quite as real as we’d make them out to be.

Because, sometimes, your dog’s foot is in the background of that perfect tulip shot and needs to be cropped out. Sometimes that amazing idea gets caught in a tornado and thoughts whirl around and around until you plop down near a Technicolor yellow brick road.

You land on a witch and get her sparkly shoes (which are wicked cool). So there’s that. But there are flying monkeys to watch out for. So there’s that, too.

The Blogosphere can be a scary place.

It’s filled with dangers and strangers but also with wonderful people who rally around you and tell you how awesome you are for arriving here with your blog.

There are always a few who are on the same journey and are more than happy to skip along that brick road with you even though there are lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my.

When we get to The Emerald City Blog, and see the “Blogger of Oz” is just a man behind a curtain, we will show compassion.

Why?

Because none of us are wizards. We are human—vulnerable and lost and busy and stressed and trying to make the Blogosphere think we have our shit together. That we are the Great and Powerful Oz.

So, as I tag this post with “bloggers”, I know that you are, indeed, fellow travelers on this blogging journey. Or writing journey. Or both. But I do know, and do keep in the forefront of my mind, that you are people.

Here’s the thing I think we sometimes forget:

We ARE people. We HAVE blogs.

We are not our blogs.

We are human beings. (Weird, introverted, writer-types, some of us, but still.)

Just remember, gentle readers, there is a person behind the screen.

 

If you need a break, just close your eyes, click your mouse 3 times, and walk away. We’ll be here when you get back–we’ve got water balloons for the Witch of the West and flaming potatoes to fight the flying monkeys. 

 

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3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Blog Reader-Friendly

 

I’ve only published a few how-to posts before so bear with me. It’s short. And has three easy tips to increase your readership.

Okay, I can only promise it will increase readership by one.

That would be me.

Hopefully that one flower (that would be me, again) will become a garden of readers.

There are some of you (I won’t name names) who have the most sweetest blogs and the most loveliest things to say. And yet…

There are a few things I’d like to discuss with you. Three, actually. I’ll be quick. Promise.

I’d like to ask a favor, my bloggy friends. Could you do something for me? That is, if you don’t mind and I ask nicely? (I usually offer cookies or something as my “nice” may not be as nice as I think it is. So, cookies will be involved. Or cake. Your choice.)

When I read your post and there’s a link, it’s wonderful if that link is a word or two (or even five), not an enormously long URL.

And then, when you have your cute, little word that is now a link, it’s quite charming if it doesn’t kick me off your blog. I’m reading your blog because I like it. And I don’t want to leave. And you don’t want me to leave. There might be other posts I’d like to read on there.

Finally, when someone leaves a link in your comments, it often flies off the side of the page and makes your blog literally swim before my eyes. And not in a cute, “Aw, look, it’s a dolphin” sort of way. No. It moves and is difficult to read and (apologies) I often click off the post. I sometimes manage to finish reading if it’s short but I certainly don’t enjoy it as much as I would if it were, say, staying in place.

So, if you’re interested (and use WordPress), these are super-quick fixes:

 

Turning a long link into a short word or phrase:

  • Select and cut link from your post
  • Highlight word(s) you would like turned into a link
  • Click on link button in the toolbar (if you hover, it says ‘insert/edit link’)
  • Paste link into the space provided

 

Having a link open in a new tab:

After you have turned your long link into a short word or phrase, have it open into a new tab so I can stay on your blog. (Unless you want me to leave. I can take a hint.)

  • Keep box open where you just pasted your link
  • Click on gear icon (it will say ‘link options’ if you hover) Skip this step if using the Reader
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there

 

Adding/editing links in comment sections:

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Edit’
  • Click the ‘Link’ button
  • Cut and paste link into URL space
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there
  • Click ‘Update’

OR

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Quick Edit’
  • Cut and paste the following into the comment box:
  • <a href=”www.hello.com”>Hi</a>
  • Change “www.hello.com” to link in the comment
  • Change “Hi” to whatever text you want to display
  • NOTE: This will not open the comment link in a new tab

 

So long and thanks for all the links! 🐠

 

If you don’t do these things, is it by choice? If so, why? Does it bother you to have a link open in a new tab? Do you think it’s more likely people will click on longer (obvious) links?

 

Update on #Flash4Storms Hurricane Relief

 

WE DID IT!

 

I gave this two weeks thinking, even with that, I might not reach my goal.

And here we are.

In one week, the amazing blogging community came together to help the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Your words helped. You helped.

I can not thank you enough for joining in this fundraiser and helping others in need.

I offered to donate $1 for each flash entry that was posted (up to $50). Because of you, a donation has been made and, just as important, the word has been spread that, though the hurricanes have passed, there is still need. That is priceless.

 

To everyone who participated, thank you. To everyone who reblogged and shared this post, thank you. ❤


Note to my lovely fellow bloggers:
Some people commented but didn’t link, others linked but didn’t comment, others landed in my spam folder. Some were entries, some were reblogs. I tried my best to keep up with comments and pingbacks but, alas, I am only human. I am one person trying to sort through everything that landed here at Lemon Shark. If I missed your entry or reblog, I sincerely apologize. (But I think I got everyone!) Either way, we did it! And help is on the way to our fellow humans in need.

A huge shout-out to D. Wallace Peach who offered to match my total donation. So know that each and every one of you who participated raised $2.

Another huge shout-out to Norah Colvin who offered to match my donation for each of her readers’ entries and has also made a generous donation. If you hopped over from Norah’s, you raised $3.

 

The enthusiasm and creativity in the blogging community is fantastic!

I also need to mention my amazing tweeps (my fellow micro writers, Twitter friends, hashtag warriors…). The wonderful Ree created a compilation of flash fiction, hosting writers who don’t have their own blogs but wanted to write for this cause.

I am so grateful to all of you. We got the word out. We raised money. We helped.

THANK YOU! ❤

 

I donated to Direct Relief which has received amazing ratings across the board.

 

#HurricaneMaria

#HurricaneIrma

#HurricaneHarvey

 

If you’d like to help out one of the numerous hurricane relief charities, there are links below. Remember… Every little bit helps.

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Charity Navigator

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Consumer Reports

 

original image source: NASA

 

Flash Fiction Prompt for Hurricane Relief #Flash4Storms

 

WE DID IT!

 

Harvey, Irma, Maria… These hurricanes have hit hard, leaving massive damage in their wakes. Here’s how you can help:

 

1. Write a piece of flash fiction in 50 words or less with the theme: Help 

(This can be any sort of assistance, support, encouragement, or a story of someone or something that needs help. You do not need to use the prompt word. Be creative! It can be 50 words, 15 words…even a six-word story. Anything goes provided it is prose up to 50 words. It doesn’t have to be sunshine and rainbows but keep it PG and friendly.)

2. Add a new post on your blog with your flash fiction and the hashtag #Flash4Storms in the title

3. Link to this post

4. Leave a comment here with a link to your post so I know you’ve participated

5. Help spread the word on social media with the hashtags:

#Flash4Storms

#LemonSharkCharity

 

 

I will donate $1 to hurricane relief for every flash that is posted (up to $50).

 

The challenge is open until October 15th, 2017.

 

While participating in this fun flash prompt, consider helping out one of the numerous hurricane relief charities. Every little bit helps.

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Charity Navigator

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Consumer Reports

 

There are still many people in dire need and there is still a lot of recovery to be done. ❤ Thank you, my friends.

 


Please note that, for this post, I won’t be replying to comments – I’m using the comment section as a log of entries. One entry per person, please, as I’m trying to reach more people and spread the word that help is still needed. I reserve the right to dismiss any flash that I feel inappropriate (explicit, violent, advocating hate or intolerance of any kind). You do not need to be following this blog to participate.

Play nice. Write. Help. ❤

 

#HurricaneMaria

#HurricaneIrma

#HurricaneHarvey

 

ETA:

Norah Colvin has offered to match my donation for each of her readers’ entries. If you’ve hopped over from Norah’s, please mention her name in the comments to double the donation! ❤

D. Wallace Peach has offered to match my total donation when this challenge is through (and is working to max it out). Let’s do this! ❤

I am so grateful to these two amazing, wonderful women for their generosity. To them and to all who have participated in this challenge and/or reblogged and shared…THANK YOU! ❤

 

original image source: NASA

 

Why You Need a ‘Contact’ Page

 

 

I’ve recently run across a few blogs where, for one reason or another, I would have liked to contact the writer. I looked for a ‘contact’ page. I looked on their ‘about’ page (if they had one). I looked all around their homepage. Alas, if the information was there, I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I gave up too soon. Regardless, I did give up. That’s the point of this post.

I found something on Sue Vincent’s blog a few months ago talking about the various reasons why it’s probably a good thing for your readers to be able to contact you. It also gives step-by-step instructions on how to create a contact form if you’re a bit wary of sharing your email address on your blog.

Click on ‘my sites’ top left of the screen, scroll down to WP Admin on the blue drop-down menu and click.

Hover over ‘pages’ (or ‘posts’ if you prefer, but it will get lost unless you pin it) and click ‘add new’.

There, at the top of the screen, is a button to ‘add contact form’. Click this and it opens a drop down box.

Click ‘add this’ and it inserts a whole bunch of bracketed code. It will show up with your details in it on the preview, but they are not visible to others.

And there you have a working contact form.

Just so I’m not accused of being a hypocrite, I’ll come right out here and say, if you look at my menu, there is no ‘contact’ page. I’m thinking of adding the form Sue mentions but, in the meantime, there’s my ‘about’ page. I’ve had a way to contact me on there since the beginning of this blog.

That said, perhaps I’ll make it a bit more obvious…

Anyway, do check out Sue’s post:

 

 

 

Do you have a ‘contact’ page? Or a way to contact you on your ‘about’ page or main blog? If not, is it an oversight or something you’ve chosen not to do?

 

Raw Literature: Writer Unplugged

So I’m forcing myself to get over my Guestapostophobia. Facing my fear. Writing guest posts.

I’m happy to have a post up at Carrot Ranch, a supportive community of flashers (erm…people who write flash), hosted by the ever-encouraging Charli Mills. Check out my post about how letting go and just writing can produce a powerful, genuine story.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Essay by Sarah Brentyn, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

<< ♦ >>

I’m in awe of “raw”.

This tiny three-letter word is like a super hero. I’m a word nerd and I love that this petite power house can describe so many items, objects, and states. We use it to talk about food (uncooked), the weather (cold and damp), skin (red and sore), emotions (intense and unrestrained), fabric (unfinished, unhemmed)…

My favorite definition, from the depths of Google’s dictionary, is of “a material or substance”: in its natural state; not yet processed or purified. It also provided some marvelous synonyms: unrefined, untreated, natural, unedited… That, to me, is raw literature.

And that is all I write.

I’ve been scribbling stories since I was nine years old. Probably younger, but that’s when I remember completing my first fictional tale. Have I moved beyond that? Of…

View original post 608 more words

Guestapostophobia (The Fear of Writing Guest Posts)

 

 

I was going to write an awesome guest post.

It was going to be spectacular.

Then I sat down to write.

It turned out to be a post about writing posts. I couldn’t believe it. And it was bad.

I don’t have trouble writing posts for my blog. They’re pretty easy. In fact, I write them in my head all the time like some crazed commentator.

Then I tried to write for someone else’s blog. This caused much panic, self-doubt, writer’s block, and a small amount of sweating, which shall collectively and henceforth be known as SEBS (Someone Else’s Blog Syndrome). SEBS can range from mild to severe.

Cure?

Just type.

If you’ve been offered a guest post, go for it. If you follow someone who has a guest series, ask about it. You might even write something great. But, hey, if it’s bad, that’s okay, too. Move on.

If it really sucks, well…you’ll make a lot of people happy. Because they’ll think, “Wow, that stinks. I could write a post so much better than that.” And they will. And they’ll submit it and guest post. See? You’ve helped a fellow blogger or two. Doesn’t that make you happy?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Have you written any guest posts? Do you develop SEBS? Is it just me or is writing a guest post more difficult than writing your own?

 

* Look at the photo again. Sure, the pink flowers seem pretty…until you stick your face close to them and realize there’s a spider sunbathing inches from your nose. That’s my photographic metaphor for writing a guest post.

 

My New Blog Scares Me #MyFirstPostRevisited

 

my-first-post_revisited-bloghop

 

I’m calling out bloggers to publicly share their very first post.

I want to see them all. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whether you’re thrilled to have an excuse to dig out that old post and give it some fresh air or you’re seriously considering deleting it after I tag you, I want to see it.

It will be interesting to read these (as a fellow blogger) and, also, for you to find your oldest post and see where you were then as opposed to where you are now.

 

As per the rules, here is my first ever (unedited) Lemon Shark post:

 

My New Blog Scares Me

I’ve been blogging for over a year. Yet now that I’m switching the location of my blog, I’m scared. This is a bizarre and fascinating phenomenon which I feel should be studied.

The site is so fresh and clean and shiny. I don’t want to muck it up. Quite suddenly, my posts are no longer adequate. My writing is no longer worthy. Because…why now? Oh, right. The fresh, clean, shiny new blog. It is not to be muddied with words willy-nilly. Posts must be planned and polished to perfection. Ah. But that’s not how I write. So I am faced with a serious decision. Do I change who I am for my new blog?

I have this chance at a new online existence. It’s mind-blowing. I can be whoever I want. I can be funny. Well, I’m not sure about that but I can be very serious and literary. Although. With the fragments… I do love fragments. And swears. They’re fun.

My point is still valid. I can easily, with the click of my mouse, switch the colors, the theme, and even the name of my blog. With a wee bit of thought, I can change the whole focus of the thing. I can become someone else. Someone else who is me because I am still here writing and I’ve joined Twitter and I like all my tweeps there and whatnot.

So I’m stuck staring at the screen. It’s taunting me. Really, it’s not. Well, maybe a little. Some of the taunting is me of course, I know that. But screens can taunt. Ask anyone. *whispers* They can.

My first post needs to be a Mona Lisa. Or a Girl with a Pearl Earring. Okay. Aiming a bit too high. How about the slightly lesser known, but still magnificent, Spaghetti on Wheat?

My magic 8 ball says…“Ask Again Later” What?! I was counting on that! How much later? Stupid toy. Forget it. Here goes. My first post on my new blog:

Hello, gentle readers. Spaghetti on Wheat.

Thank you.

 

 

Yup. So there it is. My very first post here on Lemon Shark. Okay, now I get to tag five bloggers. Have fun. Because I think we could all use some silly fun.

Obvious rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag…um…ten two twelve five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

Completely silly rules that I’m making up as I type:

  • Drink a glass of wine, bottle of beer, cup of coffee, mug of herbal tea or whatever floats your boat after you hit “publish”. (In other words, toast yourself. Go you!)
  • Read the post out loud in a Mickey Mouse voice.

 

Rachael Ritchey (Since she created the awesome badge for this blog hop, she’s my first victim.) 🙂

Now the five…
Norah Colvin
D.G. Kaye
Geoff Le Pard
Silver Screenings
Loni Townsend

Can’t wait to read everyone’s first post. 😈 Pass it on…

 

my-first-post_revisited-bloghop-resized

 

Help Me Find Your Blog

 

gravatar-image

Your Gravatar

Your G (globally) R (recognized) Avatar (um…avatar)

 

I’m not saying you must have one of these or even should have one. It’s totally up to you, of course. But it’s possible you’ve heard something like this from me:

“Hello. 🙂 Just an FYI: Your Gravatar leads to your old blog.”

Or

“Hi there. 🙂 Your Gravatar is unclickable.”

You may already know this. You may not care. You may want it that way. But, just in case, it’s an easy fix.

Sometimes, when I’m rushing around or out and using my phone (which, if I’m honest, isn’t “sometimes”, it’s “most of the time”), I’ll click on your name (or image) to get to your blog. It’s quicker and easier than searching through social media for your handle or typing your name into Google then scrolling until I find you.

If you have a Gravatar, think of it as your avi, bio, blog, social media, and all that jazz rolled into one.

Update that bad boy for your bloggy friends so we can find you. Or don’t. But please don’t take offense if I comment about your GRA. Take it with some grains of salt (around the rim of your glass), a margarita, and a smile.

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you have a Gravatar? Does it link to your current blog/website/social media? Do you keep it up-to-date or have you forgotten about it until now?

FAQ and useful info: http://en.gravatar.com/support/

 

After talking to some tweeps, thought I’d add a quick how-to sort of thing:

Sign in to Gravatar.

Click on “MY PROFILE” at the top of the page.

On the right, you’ll see a list.

“WEBSITES” allows you to add, well, websites. (You can add all sorts of things here that you want to show up as a thumbnail image below your name – not just WordPress blogs, FYI.)

“VERIFIED SERVICES” gives you a drop-down menu letting you quickly and easily add social media by cutting and pasting the link to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, YouTube, and more.

 

Without Apologies

 

blue-sky-clouds-and-trees-sig

 

If you miss one or two of my blog posts, I will not accept your apology.

People comment, email, and DM to apologize for not visiting my blog or doing so a week or more after I’ve posted.

For the love of all that is covered in chocolate, please stop.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s very sweet (the chocolate and your apology). And I’ll admit I’ve done this myself to fellow bloggers.

Of course I like seeing you here but, if you can’t make it, it’s all good.

If I don’t see you for a long while, I might inquire. But, if I do, it’s out of curiosity or concern not anger or upset.

Every once in a while (or more often), we get overwhelmed in the blogging world. We can’t keep up. Either with writing our own posts, reading others’ posts, commenting, or replying to comments.

It’s. All. Good.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I don’t know how many times I’ve blogged about this but I don’t care. I’ll blog it again. I’m a broken record. Whatever.

I do not believe blogging should be a source of stress in people’s lives. And, yes, we are people. With lives. Outside the bloody internet.

Sometimes, we can’t catch up and need to rid ourselves of guilt and empty our inbox. I think we’ve all been there. Or most of us, anyway.

I will not tell you that you’re doing something wrong or not doing enough.

I won’t.

You’re good. Just like that.

But I also will not tell you you’re wrong for wanting to be everywhere and do everything. Sometimes, we do this to ourselves.

So, if you really feel the need, you could pop over here and leave a smiley face and I’ll know you were drowning in notifications. Then I could save you, you know? It’d be a secret code or something.

I’ll drop by your blog and leave you a life vest.

 

 

I’m not even going to ask.

If you’re overwhelmed, stressed, falling behind in the blogging world…take a breath, empty your inbox, and throw away the guilt. If people get upset about you missing a couple of their posts or not replying to their comment…well… *shrugs*

You’re all good here. Cheers, gentle readers.