Category Archives: Blogging

Squeezing a post in

It's Sunday, it started like every Sunday, with a call to my parents. We talked about family triumphs and struggles, the opening day of Major League Baseball, and other things.

My son and I went to see Ghost in the Shell today. Everyone seemed to be wondering what I thought, because the reviews weren't that good. I thought it was awesome to be honest. One of the things I wanted from it was visuals of the futuristic environment.

My next novel (possibly 2018) is going to be called Grinders. It's about bio-hackers, and I want to use setting similar to what I saw in the film previews. (Okay, I'm old enough that I was thinking Blade Runner, but you get the gist.) Ghost in the Shell delivered big time, in fact, I may have to step up my setting beyond the ideas I already have.

I thought the story was good too. It wasn't overly complicated, and it suited the genre well. I would have liked to see more familiar faces, but it could be that I wasn't looking at the faces. Scarlet Johansen tends to make me look many places at once.

Tomorrow kicks off the Story Empire Blog tour I already shared with you. This is going to keep me busy. I will have a guest here tomorrow, and at the same time, I will be a guest somewhere else. Never one to slack-off, I also have the regular post in the rotation at Story Empire. This means I have some serious comments to follow across the internet.

I will not be reblogging my own tour posts, because I won't step on my guest's toes during this event. If you want to win one of my prizes, you'll have to visit my host's sites. This is the tour schedule, and there are some fun prizes up for grabs, and some great deals on good books.

Then there is the social media support to go along with it all. There are occasionally comments there that I need to respond to, on top of the WordPress comments.

During all that, I want to move ahead with my reading responsibilities. I may try reading a few chapters, surfing all the sites and media, then reading a few more chapters.

Lisa Burton, my personal assistant thinks she can explain it better than I can.

Wish me luck. Have you seen Ghost in the Shell? What did you think? Do you have any tips for keeping up with all of my blogging responsibilities?

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A little of this, a little of that.

There has been a different kind of content here on Entertaining Stories lately. It isn't that my well ran dry, it's that I've been getting invites. If someone generously wants to support me, the least I can do is reblog and try to drive them a bit of traffic. Let's face it, many of my followers are authors and they should be saving those sites in a folder somewhere for the times they need a bit of support.

Next week is going to be different around here too. I'm participating in a fun blog tour that I helped to create. I'll be hosting the other Story Empire authors while they host me. You'll have the chance to learn about some awesome new books, with deep discounts or free days, and there will be prizes. I'm pretty excited about the ones I'm giving out, but you'll learn more about them tomorrow. It's going to be a lot of fun, so come along for the ride.

While we're doing this, there will still be original content on Story Empire, and I have the monday post in the rotation. In other words, I've been blogging while hosting friends, and being hosted by other friends, the posts just haven't been revealed yet.

My son and I have tickets to see Ghost in the Shell tomorrow. The advertisements look pretty awesome, and the source material was pretty popular. It sounds like the movie is getting terrible reviews, so I don't know what to expect. At least I get to hang out with my son, so that's kind of cool.

Last May, this little bundle of joy arrived at our house:

Otto was actually born on April First, which is kind of fitting after you get to know him.

He had a big first year. He got to wade in the Pacific Ocean, went on multiple camping trips, and had a long-standing battle with plastic water bottles. I'm writing this post in bursts, because he keeps shoving his ball onto my keyboard.

Today, this is what he looks like:

Not the best picture, but he doesn't stand still very long, and it's the best I could do.

If you look behind him, you'll see his gingerbread man, his big lizard, and his rope toy. Not a latex toy in sight.

We were warned about bulldogs and latex allergies. We bought him a glass food and water dish set on the day he arrived, just for this reason.

His absolute favorite toys are the plastic ones. His chin broke out with nasty pustules, and I took them all away. I still have his ladybug ring, several rubber balls, and the last rubber bone that still squeaks.

Over the course of several days, everything seems to have cleared up for him. I feel bad about it, but I may have to get rid of those toys that have latex.

It's odd that it wasn't a problem for a year, but that is kind of how allergies work. It's all fine until it isn't, then they never go away.

Otto tends to go at everything full speed ahead. He plays hard, then he crashes hard. In the time it took to write this post, we played ball for 45 minutes, and my wife participated too. Then he crashed. I'll sneak up and see if I can actually get one more photo:

Gotcha.

My flex day is Monday next week, and that's perfect. I can monitor comments on the first day of our big tour, along with those at Story Empire, and I may even finish my reading. (The same reading I was supposed to finish before April arrived.)

So happy April Fool's Day, happy birthday to Otto, and I hope all of you have a great weekend.

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Beyond new fiction

I spent the majority of my day working on blog projects. I'm declaring yesterday a victory, and not getting greedy about it. I have more things to do than new words of fiction.

It does little good to craft new stories, if you're not willing to promote. The tales might be good for the soul, but I want people to read mine. That means dedicating time to other projects.

I worked up one more post for Chris Graham. His StoryReading Ape site has driven me a bunch of traffic. He wants twelve posts for 2017, and by adding one here and there, I can stay ahead of the curve. The challenge with Chris is to promote myself without coming right out and saying, “Buy my book.” I've turned to craft posts and theories for this.

This has the potential to cause me another problem. As a member of Story Empire, we are gearing those posts to craft and skills too. Do I have enough tricks to keep all the posts different and still deliver quality content? I guess we'll all find out together.

I also drafted my next Story Empire post today. I need graphics, and have time to gather them, but the post is in fair shape already. I don't have to post it until March 15th, so I can still make it pretty. The topic is branding, and it should be a good one.

In addition, I worked up the raw shtick for a future Lisa Burton Radio post, and finalized and scheduled next weeks interview.

I also set up a guest post for a friend, but that was pretty easy. I suppose I get to count this post as part of my daily output too.

None of this stuff happens in a vacuum. It takes planning ahead, and getting a few words down ahead of time. I still need to come up with some March wallpaper, and possibly a new banner. I just don't think I'm going to get that far tonight.

Back to the paycheck job tomorrow, but I feel like this was a super productive weekend. I'll surf around this week and see if I can find some images for March, and maybe modify may banner image.

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The Rave Awards! #RRBC

The limousine pulled into a row of other limos. Lisa Burton* sat across from me in the back. A four-hundred pound man sat next to me in a tux. “Why is he here again?”

“Don’t worry about him,” Lisa said. “He’s from Harry Winston, and he comes with the diamonds. I have to give them all back after the program.”

“That’s too bad. They look really nice.” We pulled forward a few car lengths, and I asked him to let me out.

“What are you doing? You’ll miss the red carpet.”

“That’s the idea. I’m slipping in the back, grabbing a beer, and meeting you at our table. You’re the spokesmodel. It’s your job to take this bullet for me.”

“You’re such a baby. Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

I wound my way to our table and sat where my name card indicated. The room filled up as Lisa wound her way over. She paused to pose for selfies, and sign some autographs.

The show started and we applauded when Jan Sikes won for most creative tweets. Lisa grabbed my arm, “Her character appeared on Lisa Burton Radio, and she included you in her presentation on promotion. So excited for her.”

“I agree, she’s a talented lady.

Rea Nolan Martin’s, The Ansesthesia Game won for best cover, and Beem Week’s, Jazz Baby won for best book trailer. We applauded their victories. I started chewing my nails.

The award for best blog site was called. “In third place, Entertaining Stories, by C. S. Boyack.” The crowd applauded and I waived. The cameras were mostly focused on Lisa though. “In second place, Fiction Favorites, by John Howell.” We applauded again.

Lisa grabbed my forearm. “John’s so nice. I’ve been to his house, and his characters appeared on my radio show a couple of times too.”

“And the Blog of the Year goes to, Nonnie Jules for Watch Nonnie Write.” The crowd went crazy. Nonnie is one of the hardest working people I know, and deserves all the awards she can take home.

Nonnie also won the award for Most Giving Hands. The Most Supportive Member of 2016 is Wendy Scott. Jan Hawk won for Member of the Year, and Lisa reminded me that Jan’s characters have appeared on her show too.

Karen Ingalls is the Top Reviewer of 2016. Stephanie Collins is the Top Recruiter of 2016. I took my napkin and dabbed it across my forehead.

“For Book of the Year, in third place, The Playground by C. S. Boyack.” I waved once more, and Lisa attracted camera flashes. “In second place, She Dies at the End, by A. M. Manay. And the Book of the Year, for 2016, goes to Type and Cross by Staci Troilo.” The crowd went wild. The Book of the Year competition was tough, and all the entries were good. Lisa grabbed me once more and reminded me that Max the dog appeared on her show.

I shook hands with those around me, and slipped quietly to the lobby. The bar was only a few steps further, so I went inside. John Howell was already there. I offered my hand. “Congratulations, John.”

He waived down the waitress and she slid me a dark frothy beer. “Congratulations yourself. Where’s Lisa? Is she joining us?”

“Hardly. She went to the Governors Ball. I think she wants to recruit characters for her radio show.”

“How does she rate? She isn’t even a nominee.”

“That doesn’t matter. Velvet ropes just move aside for her.”

“I can see that. I heard they have an upgraded bar at the ball. Wanna check it out?”

“Why didn’t you say so sooner, John.” I dropped a twenty on the bar and we headed across the street.

***

*Lisa Burton is my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She’s also a robot, and makes regular appearances here.

***

You might guess that we have a lot of fun in the Rave Reviews Book Club. It’s all about supporting each other, and climbing that ladder together. The Rave Awards are only one fun event, and there are a couple of blog parties and some writing contests that are worth checking out. In December they held an online convention that was very popular.

If you think this club might have something to offer you, please check us out at this link.

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WordPress Gremlins at work again

It looks like WordPress is hard at work making unnecessary improvements again. I noticed this happening this afternoon.

First the icon on my site changed to the stupid bell thing. It lights up whenever something happens, but no longer lets me know if it’s a comment, like, ping, or follow. It isn’t terribly hard to click and find out, it just seems like a de-improvment over what they had. The bell has been standard on Reader for a long time, but what used to be on my site was superior.

Second, my handy stats link is gone from the toolbar. I now have to back into it through the “My Sites” link. Not terribly hard to use, just more clicks to get the data I want.

I noticed that I cannot switch between Entertaining Stories and Story Empire easily any longer either. I used to have an option in the My Sites area. One click and I’m there. Now I have to open the link, tell it to switch sites, and then it opens a godawful half-page thing instead of going where I want. It looks like the best option now is to include a link in my bookmarks and avoid the whole “improvement.”

While there, I nearly freaked out. The dashboard seems to be missing entirely. This is the only editor I use for anything. I upload photos, occasionally write posts there, and make all my changes there. Don’t worry, it’s still around, but it’s been moved to the bottom of that abomination they are trying to force upon us. I’m sure it’s short lived, because it’s better than what they are trying to shove down my throat.

When it comes to actual blogging I still use a third party app. It isn’t being updated any longer, but still works better than WordPress does.

I don’t know why they can’t leave well enough alone. The original versions I started with were the best and most simple to use. Every thing they improve makes WordPress harder to use. How hard would it be to give me a toolbar with simple links? Change sites, stats, new action on a post, even a log in from my page would be really handy.

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Holiday Week

This is a holiday week here in the USA. For my international friends, Thursday is our Thanksgiving.

This kept me up late Monday, because my work scheduled a potluck. Makes sense, we have to stay up all night Wednesday to cook, why not do it Monday too? I had enough chile verde to take home for supper last night.

Tonight I have to bake dinner rolls. I made the mistake of baking these for Thanksgiving many years ago, and everyone demands them now. It’s a raised dough product, so hours of rising and punching down, and re-rising are part of my evening plan. My wife said we need a TRIPLE batch this year. I actually have one giant-sized bowl I might be able to make it all at once in. I’m sure I have to wash it first, and will have to wash it during the process because it’s also my storage bin for the finished product.

Bake time is another issue. I only have so many sheets, and the rolls have to raise one more time after they are shaped. This year, I’m going to be thankful for getting it over with.

Things have slowed down online. I’m noticing it on all fronts. Since I ended my big promotional push, I have a lot more time for other things. I’ve even expanded beyond my “must read” list on WordPress. Some of you may notice some likes on blogs I haven’t visited for a while.

I took a vacation day Friday. We have company, but I don’t know if they’re all going out for Black Friday. I don’t see it being a productive writing day, but it could happen. Pure luck of the draw, my flex day is Monday and that could be a writing day.

I hacked out another “anthem” piece for my Enhanced League baseball stories. I’m pretty happy with it. This one is about the extra guy on the team. The one who fills in for injured players and the lack of respect for his job.

In other news, I have a fun Lisa Burton Radio post scheduled for tomorrow. I couldn’t sell Thanksgiving to anyone as a good day, so I wrote this one on my own. It isn’t about one of my books though, so if you get a break in the action tomorrow you might want to check it out.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it. I’ll be thinking about you slaving over your cornbread stuffing, and green bean casserole while I punch down dough.

PS: Don’t forget to thaw the turkey.

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I sense a disturbance in The Force

I got into blogging as a necessary evil. I knew nobody would ever find my books if I didn't have some kind of online presence. It's as good a reason as any to start a blog. It quickly became my favorite way of interacting online.

Bloggers go into it for all kinds of reasons. For some it is a journal, others want to share travel experiences, etc. There seems to be something different about it recently.

You know me, I'm always trying to figure out what things mean. Maybe I was a Wallstreet guru in a previous life. I love my blog for its own reasons, but some knowledge could help me with the main reason I started it in the first place.

My number of followers is accelerating. I tend to get one here and there, but recently they've been coming in droves. I fell in with other authors, book bloggers, reviewers, and writing gurus. Seems pretty natural, and I would expect other bloggers would gather with like minded people.

Lately, I'm getting bloggers that have nothing to do with books, reading, writing, or anything else you might expect. I've always gotten a few of these, but recently it became a noticeable amount. Here are some of the concepts of recent followers:

  • Building a dream house.
  • Church youth groups.
  • War in Afghanistan.
  • A plumbing business.
  • Several makeup businesses.
  • Several fashion bloggers.
  • News story of the day.

There are more, but you get the idea. It's pretty easy to guess the makeup and fashion folks wandered here because of Lisa Burton. I may even find her next look by visiting their sites on occasion. On the other hand, if Cover Girl or someone wants to offer her an endorsement deal, hit me up.

 

Many of these blogs don't have their sites completely set up. There is no “about” page, and in some cases there isn't even a first post. So why are brand new bloggers finding me? Did I use some magical word as a tag on one of my posts? (You know, because I'd like to do it again.)

 

I'd like to think I'm so popular that my books are drawing fans to follow my site, but I don't think that's what's going on.

 

I get the feeling that we've reached some kind of saturation point on social media. I've read at least one of you unfollowing people on Facebook because of all the political propaganda. (I agree and support you, by the way.) I always use the term “firehose” to describe Twitter, because my feed is like trying to drink from a firehose.

 

Social media of all kinds has influenced the network news. There is less reporting of facts, more opinion pieces, and much more celebrity stalking. I mention this, simply to note the power of social media. Bear with me, I'm freewriting this one.

 

Are people drifting to WordPress because they are tired of pictures of someone's new nose-ring? Are reporters starting blogs to get a voice in what must be a competitive market? Think of the “news story of the day” blogger. Maybe the networks don't want him, because they have to make time for a celebrity who showed up at a protest. Now that celeb is no more valuable than the other protestors, but since he was on Hollywood squares 25 years ago he gets 10 minutes.

 

I understand the businesses. WordPress is a simple format to use, and it's easy to make changes. Small business folk can use the mechanism to make wonderful websites. They can do things themselves that they used to pay people to do. But why are they following me? I'm unlikely to hire a plumber from seven states away.

 

Are people coming to WordPress to get out of the firehose of data on other sites? From my new followers, I see more seriousness than I would find on Twitter. Are they getting lost in those streams, and looking for a more positive experience?

 

I welcome everyone, and try to follow back those who might be remotely interesting, but I can't follow them all. Regular bloggers will understand this.

 

I'd like to think that we're all ready for a governor in our exhaust systems. Maybe everyone won't understand that one, so I'll say maybe we're ready for a filter. We've had years of “look at my doughnut” posts, and the world is ready to move past it.

 

I told you I sense a disturbance in The Force, I never promised to explain it. What do you think is happening? Are we evolving as far as social media is concerned? Could this foretell the next big thing we should jump on? What is the next big thing?

 

Let me hear it in the comments, now I have to go look at my physical mailbox. Maybe there is a check from Maybelline or someone waiting for me.

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