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?

 

Book Launch: Fireworks or Fizzled-Out?

 

 

The other day, I got a tweet. It was like, ‘Hey, Lemon Shark. I feel all ARGH! Is this normal for a book launch?’ And I was like, ‘Hmm… I’ve never done one but, yeah, I’d say it is.’

The question was from Lucy over at BlondeWriteMore. She’s publishing her first book (finally…ahem). It’s a long-awaited romcom sure to be a smash hit. Anyway, the lovely blonde writer was wondering my way and it got me thinking.

Yes, I’ve released a book. Two, actually, but I’ve never had a launch. It was more of a whisper. I actually worked one of my releases into a post script on my blog here. Yup: ‘P.S. I’ve got a new book out.’ Shame on me, I know.

While a lot of people get a rocket launcher and have the crowd count down to blast off, I have a sparkler in my hand and run about the yard on a balmy summer’s evening alone.

If I’m honest, it’s probably more like a stick of incense. The faint aroma of ‘new book’ wafting in the air, smoke swirling and curling in beautiful patterns that go completely unnoticed (unless you happen to be passing by).

No street team, no online marketing, no book tour. I’m not blasting through the blogosphere with my new book. I’m relaxing, drinking a beer, and watching my sparkler burn down and fizzle out.

 

Where are you on the days (or months) leading up to your release date? How do you announce your new book? Fireworks? Sparkler? Smoke signals?

 

 

Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

I’m at Sue Vincent’s blog today with a fun, little post about indie authors. There’s swearing and sarcasm involved as I’m ranting about how indies are perceived by some:

their point is that we indies are incapable of writing high-quality stuff. We are chaff and should be thrown away unless someone somewhere in the distant hills and valleys of La-La Land (or the Big Apple or wherever) decides we are grain. I call bullshit on that.

You can read the post here: Be the Grain You Were Meant to Be

 

Ooh, and the post is so pretty! Sue set it up beautifully. My books are there (one’s on sale…hint…hint) and Sue fought WordPress to get my book trailer up on her blog. She won. Round of applause for that one.

Thanks, Sue! ❤

Please check out my sarcastic rant-turned-cheerleading post and be grain, my friends!

 

What’s All the Hubbub About BookBub?

 

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of hubbub about BookBub. It’s kind of all over the blogosphere right now.

From all the posts I’ve seen, it seems to be this fab, new site for authors. Yet, it’s hardly new and it’s not just for authors.

So what is it?

(Sorry. I’m not here to answer that question. I’m asking it.)

It appears to be, mostly, for readers to find books and get deals. But authors can join and put up a bio with their books.

Also…reviews. It’s another place to post reviews. That would be so very, very good. I’m just not seeing a lot of reviews there. Is this a new wave of amazingness that people are starting? Or is this just a trend that’s going to fizzle? I know it’s been around for years but so has Pinterest, Flipboard, Google+ and many, many other platforms we’ve signed up for and left to gather dust in the virtual corner of our online attic.

When I search the almighty internet, opinions vary. (I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am.) It’s wonderful, it’s horrible, it’s useful, it’s useless, you MUST join, don’t bother joining… You get the idea.

There is much ambivalence about the Bub so I’m wondering (among my bloggy friends) who is on it, how they like it, what it’s used for, etc.

Is this a useful platform (or…place? or…site?) for authors to be on?

 

 

I’ve seen a half dozen posts in the past month alone about the Bub but the most recent ones are from Colleen Chesebro who is on there and encourages other authors to get on there, too. And Georgia Rose who is on there and is bringing her reviews with her.

 

Image Source

 

Are you on BookBub? Do you love it, hate it, or are you ambivalent about it? How is it working for you as an author? Do you write reviews on there?

 

UPDATE: Okay. I’ve joined. Click the cute, little button below if you’d like to connect on the Bub:

See you there! 🙂

 

Georgia Rose has created a fantastic tutorial: How to Post Your Reviews on BookBub <- (Check that out!)

 

Blue Sky Tag

 

 

1. If you lived in a house made of jello, what flavor would it be? Any particular reason?

 

I would cry. Or scream. Or both. I hate jello. It’s unnatural and wiggly and gelatinous. If I lived in a house made of sweetened slime, I’d wonder about my sanity. (More so than I already do.)

 

2. What is your first reaction when someone knocks on your door?

 

Hide.

 

3. Does a blue sky or blue ocean make you happier? Why?

 

Both. Neither. I love blues skies and blue oceans but also light, puffy clouds and rolling grey ones as well as crystal, clear turquoise water and stormy seas. I love nature in all her moods.

 

4. If you were out enjoying a beautiful day and suddenly it started raining, what would you do?

 

Dance in the rain.

 

5. Whose name makes you smile as soon as you hear it? Care to share why?

 

Spike. I envision lots of funny scenes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer every time I hear his name.

 

6. Dog, cat, fish, or rabbit?

 

Human. I’m actually human. Or do you mean to eat? Because I do like sushi (sorry, Nemo). Oh, a pet? Cat.

 

7. What’s your favorite mode of travel?

 

Transporter. “Beam me up, Scotty.” Teleportation is awesome.

 

8. If you had to stay up all night by yourself in a deserted building, what would you spend the time doing?

 

Sleeping. Oh. Crap. Never mind. Is there wine? It’s my fake all-nighter so I say, yes, there’s wine. I’m going to go ahead and let you all know just how boring I am: I’d stay up reading and writing.

 

9. Running in the rain or running in the gym? (Even if you don’t run! ha!)

 

Hmm. I don’t run. Ever. I’d probably slip and fall either way so it really doesn’t matter. Though, if I’m in the gym, I’d have to be around people so…rain.

 

10. To stand alone on a mountain peak or dance in a crowded club?

 

I think I just covered that. (Psst…I’m a hermit.) Alone on a Mountain Peak might be the name of my next book…

 

11. Who do you write for?

 

Me. (And I have at least two posts about this.)

 

It’s been a bit since I joined in a blog hop. Thanks to Rachael Ritchey for tagging me and making me answer these questions she made up. Yes, she made them up. That’s in the rules. Yes, there are rules. I broke them. And had fun.

There’s a thing about 11 for this tag: 11 rules…no. 11 cups of coffee…hmm. Ah. 11 tags, 11 answers, 11 questions… Something like that.

For me, I’m going with this…

Consider yourself tagged.

Join in, have a bit of bloggy fun, use the awesome Blue Sky Tag banner (that Rachael designed).

 

Okay, if you’re going to play, here are your questions:

 

  1. Do you judge a book by its cover?
  2. What’s your favorite color? (Specific shade would be awesome…just saying.)
  3. Which animal is smarter: chimpanzees or dolphins? (Except if Geoff Le Pard plays because he will say “mice”.)
  4. What’s your least favorite part about writing: editing, revising, or proofreading?
  5. Are there any mythological creatures you believe are real? (Or wish they were?)
  6. Which ridiculously popular book did you not enjoy?

Do You Prefer / Which Would You Rather questions:

  1. Pen or pencil
  2. Wine or beer
  3. Bean bags or straight-back chairs
  4. A pile of proofreading or a stack of math worksheets
  5. Monty Python or Three Stooges

 

Tag. You’re it. Have fun, gentle readers. 🙂 Let me know if you play…I’d love to see your answers to my questions! Yup, I made up these questions just for you. You get to make up your own for the bloggers you tag. 🙂

 

Guest Author – Sarah Brentyn

I’m super excited to be the featured author over at D. G. Kaye’s blog. Debby (an ENFJ, by the way), has interviewed me on a number of subjects including my personality status (INFJ), time management (an oxymoron), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (influence on my writing or fantastic cult classic)… Hmm…
Oh, yes, and my upcoming books. 🙂

You can read the post here: Guest Author Feature – Sarah Brentyn

The post is so pretty, with covers and book trailers. And here’s Debby’s fantabulous intro:

 

I was thrilled when Sarah accepted my invitation to visit here because she reminds me of those reclusive movie stars who’d rather stay hidden behind her words, only I’ve noticed she’s stepped out and done a few interviews this year, and I’m glad that I’ve managed to snag her over here too.

Sarah is known for her micro-fiction. She can tell a story using minimal words that have a tendency to linger long after you’ve read them.

 

Thank you, Debby! ❤

Please go check out my off-the-cuff responses and have yourself a chuckle. Or throw tomatoes. Either way.

 

Hinting at… Happiness?

 

 

What does a Harvard University professor have to do with flash fiction? Nothing. And everything. Or, at least, something.

I’ve thought for a long time now that good flash fiction packs a punch. It heightens emotional responses, engages readers, invites them to be a part of the story, makes them think…and keeps them thinking.

As I said in a recent guest post at D. Wallace Peach’s blog, “I want to make readers wonder what the hell just happened then decide for themselves three hours later because they can’t stop thinking about it.” Well, I’ve found a bit of scientific proof on why that could be a good thing.

Daniel Gilbert is a professor, psychologist, writer, speaker, award-winner, and all sorts of other cool stuff. He’s done numerous studies on our ability to imagine the future, anticipate outcomes, make decisions, and how all these things affect our happiness. He’s written and talked about it. A lot. You should check him out.

But what I’d like to focus on today is one study he referred to in an interview on NPR: Why We’re Bad At Predicting Our Own Happiness — And How We Can Get Better. Participants watched a movie. Some got to see the end and some did not. (I know, right? Gah!) Here’s part of the transcript:

 

GILBERT: Well, there’s no doubt that uncertainty can amplify emotions

We did a study in which people watched a movie. And for some of the people in our experiment, we didn’t let them watch how the movie ended. We didn’t let them see what happened to the main character. Now, if I asked you, which of these two movies would you rather see, 100 percent of the hands go up and say, I’d like to see the end of the movie, please.

But what we discovered was people who didn’t see the end of the movie liked it more, thought about it for longer, were still engaged in it and still enjoying it, even hours or days later. They didn’t see what happened to the last – the main character in the end, and so they kept wondering, gosh, I wonder if he went to college or he became a football player. What an interesting thing to be thinking about and enjoying.

 

Look at that: “people who didn’t see the end of the movie liked it more, thought about it for longer, were still engaged in it and still enjoying it, even hours or days later.”

You see where I’m going with this…

Flash fiction.

I know it’s not exactly the same thing but, wow, it really is similar if you think about it. I mean, you read a flash. And, although it often has a beginning, middle, and end…it hints. You finish the story with some fulfillment but with questions clinging to your brain.

A good flash story will give you enough to sink your teeth into but leave you wondering what happened before, what could happen next, what is going on around the edges of the story.

Readers might enjoy the story better when they use their imagination and creativity. Or not. Just a theory. Either way, they’ll most likely be thinking about it a bit longer, engaging a bit more, and perhaps even be a bit happier as they ponder all the possibilities.

 

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