A few interesting blogging facts

Recently, I read some interesting facts about blogging but I don’t recall where I saw that. I had made note of a few things which stood out to me, and which I will share here in case you might like to know.

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Were you aware that 64% of bloggers blog as a hobby? Only 27% of bloggers write full-time at this. I think I would consider myself, at present, full-time – or the closest thing to it. I don’t blog every day but I try to keep up a manageable routine and schedule – however haphazard that can be at times. :)

I learned that 21% of bloggers have been blogging for more than 6 years. I started blogging in September 2008 on another site, which makes it five and a half years ago for me.

Do you know what are the major traffic sources for blogs? I’ll tell you: Search Engines make up 48% and Social Media make up 28% – which would consist of Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and other such places. My posts are noted by me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and anywhere else I or my readers choose to mention my posts.

In January 2010 I moved to WordPress. I am pleased to be one of the 40% of bloggers who are using WordPress as their blogging platform.

Another interesting fact is that 30% of bloggers are 25-34 years of age, while 27% are 35-44 years old, and I don’t fit in either of those age groups! Oh well, I still feel at home here.

How do you rate with regard to the above facts? Do you have any other interesting things to add to this information?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

 

 

 

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Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 14: Ready, Set, Go!

Welcome back! Over the next many months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month fourteen:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 14: Ready, Set, Go!

I have a terrible time making a good first impression. I either come off looking stuck up because I don’t say anything at all, or like an idiot because I talk way too much.

The good news is that most people are willing to overlook that first sentence or two that does (or doesn’t) come out of my mouth, but, when we shift our focus from social situations  to novels, that first sentence becomes all important. For many people, including editors and agents, the first sentence is all they need to determine whether or not they read the book.

So let’s discuss two important things you need to learn about writing a first sentence.

1. The first sentence doesn’t have to be written first.

Duh. Of course, you don’t need to write it first. But seriously, you don’t. Since that first sentence is so important, it sometimes stands like a wall, blocking off every strong intent, every beautiful word, every delicious story that could follow, because the writer chokes.Trust yourself, go on with the novel. Start the marathon, but, when you return to that first sentence, consider your prime target.

IMG_1426photo credit: Neil Harrison

Strangely enough, your prime target isn’t craft or artistry. It isn’t even voice, although all those things are important.

2. Your prime target is your reader.

Allow me to share the first sentences from three very different manuscripts that I’m working on. (The titles are “working titles,” which means they’ll probably be changed.)

1. From TAIL FEMALE, “I’ll be fifteen next apple harvest and I got me a baby girl one years old and she’s named Chinaberry Scott.”

2. From WISH, “If you pace it off, the cement floor measures six feet wide and nine feet long, and the ceiling stands high enough that I can’t reach the camera mounted in the corner, even with a running jump.

3. From BONE FIRE, “The morning the giant walked into the village, Rose was stirring a bag of stew that hung over the outside hearth.”

Whatever weaknesses these first sentences contain, each carries one important attribute. It targets the reader, because most readers are going to stop and say, “What?”

My best advice about your first sentence? Write a sentence that holds a bit of mystery in its gut, so it pulls your readers forward into that story you can’t wait to tell them!

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you come back April 24, 2014, for part 15.

Important info about Alzheimer’s research! My rant

I’m on a rant! Please indulge me.

As you know, Alzheimer’s disease (one high-profile aspect of dementia) has invaded my family and taken over a major part of my life. Today I have very important information to share with you.

Before you read further, I would like it if you would take this Alzheimer’s quizRight click on the link so you don’t lose your place here.

Much research is being conducted to learn how to prevent, slow, predict Alzheimer’s disease, but study of the actual brain of Alzheimer’s patients cannot be done until after death. I recently learned that the main focus of study is of the male brain because it is easier to work with due to the female brain being more complicated due to hormonal changes and differences. This means that drugs formulated to help Alzheimer’s patients are geared more to the male brain! This is shocking since more women are afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease than are men! Now, does that make sense to you?

I don’t know about you, but that does not sit well with me. Alzheimer’s is following the generations in my family and I for one do not want to have to rely on ill-targeted studies and drugs should it come to that for myself or any other woman in my family.

There are not many causes I believe in enough to commit to support, but Alzheimer’s research is one in which definite strides are being made and support is not misused. In fact, Nova Scotia is a leading force in research and progressive work in learning about this disease. I’m proud of that fact. I also see the huge and urgent need of continued research for breakthroughs. I truly believe that for the generation of my own offspring there will be discoveries made to determine very early if an individual has the actual disease and then stop it from progressing further, thus saving the individual from the horrible regression due to a deteriorating brain. Although now there is a blood test that can reveal if a person has the gene, at present the drugs we have, at best, sometimes slow the progression but cannot stop it. 

I wish I were a scientific genius who could come up with the answers to save so many lives from the agonies of Alzheimer’s disease. There is so very much we don’t know about it … what causes it, what triggers it to start, how to stop it, how to prevent it, how to cure it. There are guesses, lots of those, and there are studies which have found diet has a lot to do with trying to fend it off – foods that make a positive difference for the brain (coconut oil being emphasized now) – but when one is in a family stalked and oppressed by Alzheimer’s that is not enough.  Answers, helps, a cure, PLEASE!

I found a website I would like you to visit. It is called Hope Knot. The name comes from the Hope-Knot project – to combat women’s brain aging disorders. A beautiful design was created by a renowned jewellery designer whose family has experienced the devastating effects of dementia. He explains the inspiration for the design, which I hope you will go HERE to check out for yourself.  Here is what is said on the site: The Women’s Brain Health Initiative wanted an icon to raise awareness and escalate concern over the unchecked growth of dementia and other aging brain diseases in women.

Here is additional good information about Alzheimer’s.

There is more I could say but for now I will simply thank you for permitting me this rant. You can see it is a cause I believe in. I urge you to please visit the website, and if so inclined, make a purchase of that beautiful jewellery to support the effort and honour the many women afflicted – or who will be afflicted – with brain disease. I did.

If you took the Alzheimer’s quiz what were your results? I missed one.

There is talk of a blood test now that will reveal if someone has the Alzheimer’s gene. If given the chance, would you want to know ahead or would you prefer to wait (if you have it) until it is obvious? If you knew ahead, would it change your life?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

PS:  From the Hope-Knot website:  Almost 70% of new Alzheimer’s sufferers will be women. What makes this fact even more alarming is that there is little understanding of why this is the case, and there are no studies currently being undertaken to explore the discrepancy. We at the Women’s Brain Health Initiative intend to change that.

 

 

Book Review: Adventures in Mother-Sitting – by Doreen Cox

Adventures in Mother-Sitting by Doreen CoxBook: Adventures in Mother Sitting
Author: Doreen Cox
Publisher: Olmstead Publishing
Date: January 1, 2010
Genre: Memoir (adult reading)
Pages: 266
Price: $18.00; Kindle under $6.00
My Rating:  A good book for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia

* from the book blurb: ADVENTURES IN MOTHER-SITTING is a memoir that speaks to a journey through grief, through losses of many kinds.

I read this book with the intention of reviewing it, especially since I also am a caregiver of a loved one.

Adventures in Mother Sitting is a book written by the daughter of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Doreen Cox wrote from raw and real emotions and experiences. She took the reader through her journey, preserved in journals, in a way that draws the reader into her life, and into her home which she shared with her mother for whom she became a “care bear”.

Three things that stood out to me in a less positive way are:  1. I have never read anything where the author used quotation marks as freely as in this book.  2. It felt as if chapters 11 and 12 yanked me right out of the story and were not necessary.  3. Some repetition seemed unneeded as the reader can understand what was said and will likely remember most of it from before when encountering things that relate back.

Now, that out of the way, the great things about this book are the honesty with which the author wrote and her willingness to share it all. She told in great detail, some parts difficult to read because of the exposed reality of the disease, about how Alzheimer’s (dementia) steals from its victim. Not only are memories stolen, but the memory of how to do even the simplest things disappears. The brain is confused and damaged by the disease, affected in such a way so as to make it stop relaying the usual messages we all take for granted, such as how to eat, dress, carry on a conversation. There is so much to learn about Alzheimer’s, so much to understand in caring for someone afflicted. Doreen opens a window into seeing what it is like living with that horrible disease, and how acutely needed are love, compassion, patience, understanding.  She also bravely shared how it sometimes became too much for her when she was sleep deprived and exhausted, and how she coped – or failed to cope – with the demands on her.

Adventures in Mother Sitting is told with humour, love, and tenderness, but also with a sometimes shocking truth. It is raw, revealing, and perhaps awkward for some people to read, but it should be read anyway.

Two years ago I wrote a review of Still Alice  – a fiction novel about a woman who learned she had Alzheimer’s, and covers two years of her life as the disease gradually takes over her brain’s ability to function. It is a book highly recommended among caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and during our Alzheimer Caregiver Support Group meeting this month I recommended Adventures in Mother Sitting by Doreen Cox.

If you are facing dementia in any way, particularly as a caregiver of someone so afflicted, I suggest you read this book. It will help you to understand more from the viewpoint of the caregiver, enabling you to see from the author’s experience how the disease changes a person’s abilities and mind to that of total dependence.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

8 fun ways to procrastinate

Are you a procrastinator? Or, do you wish you could find things to help you procrastinate … because …  maybe that story you are working on just isn’t coming together and you need a harmless distraction to give your brain a break.

If you need that break, or you feel you simply want something fun to while away a little time, first … I found this funny clip for you to watch.

Ellen DeGeneres on procrastination

Then, here are eight fun ways to procrastinate. Enjoy!

  1. Bubble Wrap pop
  2. Today I found out
  3. Create word clouds
  4. Play piano
  5. Neon Bible
  6. Swap Sketch
  7. Reaction Time Test
  8. Google Fight

The ones I don’t already have on my Writer’s Helps page will soon find their way there so you can find them easier any time you want to take a fun break. :)

Do you have any other fun ideas?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!

 

Book Review: Operation Bonnet: a novel – by Kimberly Stuart

Operation BonnetBook: Operation Bonnet
Author: Kimberly Stuart
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: February 1, 2011
Genre: comedic fiction
Pages: 266
Price: $14.99
My Rating: An enjoyable read with tasteful humour; not totally predictable.
 

I won this book from somewhere, I think perhaps on Twitter.

This is the first Kimberly Stuart book I have read, and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure if a book written about the Amish community would hold my interest, but it certainly did. It isn’t even all about the Amish, but gives some insight into that lifestyle, while also following the main character in her own life in the mainstream community.

Operation Bonnet is about a young woman, Nellie, who wants to be a private investigator, but living in a small community she can find no one needing a PI. That is, until she meets Amos, a young man who, of his own accord, left the nearby Amish community and the girl he loves. He is forbidden to visit so hires Nellie to spy for him. To do that Nellie has to somehow infiltrate the strict community, so she pulls some trickery in order to get herself into the home and kitchen of the feared and respected matriarch of that community. It’s a nerve-racking experience for Nellie, for although she is quite good at keeping up in the kitchen (she loves to cook) she has trouble keeping out of trouble.

Even though Nellie is trying to help another in the romantic front, her own heart is tried because of her best friend, the guy with whom she grew up. As smart as she is she just doesn’t see what is happening in her own relationships.

What added another interesting dimension to this story, for me, is the fact that Nellie is trying to take care of her aunt who has dementia and resists allowing her parents to place her aunt in a home.

I don’t want to tell you anymore about the story because it is worth your reading it yourself. Kimberly Stuart writes with humour and heart, creating believable characters and realistic dialogue that I think you will enjoy in Operation Bonnet.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Does fear control your life?

FEAR.

What do you think of when you hear that word?

From the time I was a small child fear was my constant companion. It hindered me in every way. Sometimes it got pushed aside but rarely did it let go. It has taken years for me to begin living without it taking over, and even yet I struggle against its seemed power in my life. I have come to believe that when fear is not of value it is a choice to be made.

FEAR IS A CHOICE.

Without going into a lot of personal grief about things not necessary to mention at this time, I want to direct you instead to an excellent post I found. Titled “Is Fear Driving You Forward or Dragging You Under?” it was written by Kristen Lamb  <—- so please take a few minutes to go there (just click on her name) and read it. She says it so well.

E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

I’m still working on that. How about you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)