a different kind of year end post

So. I just can’t bring myselfย  to do one of those year end wrap up posts linking you to all of the so-called interesting things I wrote this past year. Yeah right.

First of all, I’m almost a full week late now. I’ve been planning to write this for two weeks but I have like 3,000 work deadlines this month and we all know this blog is the first thing to suffer the consequences of me having to earn actual money. (The second is housework. Or is it the other way around? Seeing as I’m sitting here writing in a very dirty little house. Ahem.)

Honestly though, nothing in my 2011 archives was all that entertaining and well, I just didn’t write nearly often enough to bother. Bad, bad, blogger I am. Lucky for me I’d rather read blog posts than write them! There are gazillions of good bloggers out there writing fabulous stuff every day. Lucky for you I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

These are women who write about anything and everything; work, relationships, kids, funny stories, heartache, whatever the topic, if they’re writing about it, I want to read it. Some of them you’ve surely heard of and others you might not have. Popularity doesn’t matter to me, good writing does. These are the blogs that when I spy a new post in my Google reader, I skip over everyone else to read them first!

I’m kind of a terrible commenter, so this is my way of saying thank you to them for being awesome. In random order here are some of my favorite bloggers of 2011:

So seriously, if there is ANYONE on this list you’ve never read before, GO RIGHT NOW!!

BUT WAIT! Before you go, tell me your favorite blogs? I’d love to find some new good reads. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

the swing

The wide wooden seat, it’s smooth board worn from use, called to me with its welcoming song of solitude. The thick old ropes reached high and wound around the sturdy branch above. The small patch of earth beneath, grooved from years and countless shoes dragged across it, was often muddy, and no grass could grow there.

It was my spot, though shared with a sister, I remember it being a retreat, where I could play and dream undisturbed.

In the spring you could look up through the dark branches and reach for the endless blue sky. Your toes would touch the clouds as you swooped higher and higher. Your nose filled with the scent of new white blossoms.

When summer came, a canopy of green would shade you from the heat of mid-day and create a theater for your songs.

Autumn would bring bright red fruit to snack on while you read your books. Winter would bury it in snow, the tree and the swing together in waiting.

Oh, the daily dramas it housed and bore witness to! It’s role was the mast of pirate ship, a surfboard on crashing waves, a tall mountain’s peak, or the tower above a medieval castle. It could carry the weight of two when asked, spider-like, or standing. But it was really meant for one, to carry one high, and, jump! That momentary feel of flying.

Both tree and swing are long gone now, a stump still there to remind of their place in the world. Blossoms still on nearby trees, where apples fall in autumn. Good climbing they are, low branches giving joy to other kids. None quite right for a summer swing, though, none could ever be as perfect.

In my mind’s eye I can picture it, still there, swaying in the breeze, beckoning me with a lullaby of childhood.

you make me blush

Y’all gave me some of the nicest compliments evah! I got some of the sweetest comments and emails I’ve ever had here yesterday. I don’t know why that embarrasses me, but it does.

Here’s the thing, a couple of you called me a writer. I’ll take that as a huge compliment because I definitely don’t view myself as a Writer with a capital W. I know I can put a few coherent thoughts together, I know the rules of the English language, (whether I follow them or not!) and sometimes I get a creative thought. However. I’ve never aspired to write for a living. Somehow, to me, a writer is someone who makes money with their work, or at least has the will and potential to do so. Am I wrong about that?

Just by virtue of blogging, does that make me a writer? I don’t think so. There are many real writers who use blogging for practice, to hone their skills, and really it’s a perfect platform for it. Feedback is essential to a writer, and what better way to get instant feedback than a comments section? But that doesn’t mean every blogger is a great writer.

Most of the really good writers I know can’t not write. It’s part of them, part of their soul, and from what I can tell, they feel something akin to withdrawal symptoms when they don’t do it. I, on the other hand, could go for weeks or months without writing anything, and it wouldn’t bother me a bit.

Writing a little fiction is something I’ve dabbled at in the past, but have never been serious about. I discovered something about myself as I’ve done it more often this year; I’m really a better editor than a writer. Just like with photos. And I’m okay with that. I know one of my talents is having an eye for a great image, though not usually through my own lens. On paper, my talent is seeing how the words can be rearranged to make them sing. But when I try to edit my own writing, a haze shadows the page, and I can’t see it for what it really is. I’m okay with that too.

Anyway, this makes me wonder, how do you define a writer? Is it anyone who writes anything, or must you have a true passion for it? Does a writer need to be making money from it, or just be good at it? Do you have to have pure talent, or just perserverance to make it great? Or all of the above?

this bytes

I’m hope you’ll all forgive the following whine – I just need to get it out!

I’m a little disappointed in myself over what’s going on at ChapterBytes. If you didn’t notice, I put the site on hiatus awhile ago. It was fun while, well, while it was fun. But it hasn’t been fun lately, for me anyway. It’s nothing about what’s been written, I love the writers and I love the story. But when I started the whole thing I didn’t think too much about the administration of it all. And the finding of new authors, and the promoting, and the stats, and all the stuff that doesn’t make it fun anymore. And I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve had some grand plans for it. I bought a domain name, with ideas of self-hosting, and having multiple streams of storylines, and all sorts of cool stuff. Then suddenly those things overwhelmed me. At the same time I struggled with finding new authors to keep the current story going. I felt like I was constantly selling it, always asking for more writers. I almost dreaded a new chapter arriving in my inbox because that meant I had to get the next writer going and I never knew what their enthusiasm level would be. At the same time the logistics were killing my own enthusiasm.

So now I’m left with decisions. Do I let the current site just die where it is? Do I move everything over to the new domain and try again? Do I start fresh with a new “book” at the new site? Do I use the new domain for just my own writing?

Should change the whole concept into a writing carnival with links? I could set a topic or a first sentence or some other prompt each week and let people who want to participate write on their own sites instead?

The thing is – I put up that hiatus post a week ago and I’ve not had one single comment and only one private email. Does this mean hardly anyone really cares? That I can do whatever I want and it doesn’t matter? If it does matter to someone then I’ll feel bad if I screw it up, but if it doesn’t matter to anyone then I’m free – but disappointed. Clearly I’m conflicted.

I’ve also found it really odd that I’ve had two completely different readerships between these two sites. Only rarely has a regular of one crossed over to the other and stuck around. Well, readership is a strange thing in itself anyway, fickle, unpredictable, and apparently inversely proportional to number of comments. I suppose that’s a whole separate post of it’s own though.

I’m digressing. What I’m really doing is asking opinions here – what would you do if chapterbytes was yours? Not that I necessarily do what y’all tell me to, I’m just curious what you would do.

fireflies

She whispered from the bunk above me. “I think we can go now. She must be asleep.”

Quietly, like a cat, she jumped down from her bed, while I crawled out from under my own covers below. A dim light from under the door helped us navigate across the room we shared. We ever so quietly tiptoed out into the hall, past the bedroom where Mom slept. All of us kids, we sure wore her out, but we also knew she would awaken at the slightest of noises. We prayed the floor wouldn’t squeak nor our ankles make a crack.

Stifling giggles and trying not to stumble in our excitement, we went down the stairs to the landing. Ah yes, the big door was still standing open, letting the cool night air stream in. That meant Pop, ever the night owl, was still up. Probably down in the family room watching TV or reading a book. Some of our siblings were likely still be up with him. No school for the summer meant later bedtimes for the older kids, though not for us.

Please don’t make a sound, we can’t be stopped before we’ve started, I thought as we pushed open the screen door and let ourselves out from dark house into the darker beyond. We might not get another ideal opportunity.

The concrete steps were cold on my bare feet, and the grass colder still with dew drops clinging to their blades. The night air felt wonderful after such a sweltering sunny day. A light breeze prickled the skin on the back of my neck and sent a thrill down my spine.

A perfect night for fireflies.

We could see them flitting all around us, all across the wide expanse of lawn. We ran in circles, catching them in our palms. Peeking between my thumbs, I could see just blink, blink, blink, like the tiniest of signal flares sending an SOS for help. I let it go after just a moment, no harm intended. Catch another quick, feel its buzzing against my skin. Peek again. Let it go.

It was too much fun to be quiet about it. There was no doubt we would soon be caught ourselves. Our laughter pealed through the air, into the windows, waking our mother.

“Come back inside,” she called. “Go back to bed.” Not angry, but not exactly pleased. We were happy though, we’d had our romp. Did you know Mom, when we went down the hall, what we were up to? Did you purposefully let us have those few moments before you came out to get us?

I remember catching fireflies with my sister. I have no doubt she does too, though I don’t remember ever talking about it.

bad guy byte!

We get to hear the inner workings of our bad guy’s brain over at ChapterBytes this time! AndreAnna has written Chapter 13 from Jack’s perspective as the conspiracy plot grows – go tell her what you think!!

Also, don’t forget I’ve started a ChapterBytes NING group for discussions. It’s not just for authors so come join us and you can give us your opinion too! I’d love to have your thoughts about our upcoming SciFi/Fantasy book and any other genres you’d like to see represented! It’s a perfect place to ask questions, and it’s also where I’ll be making announcements. If you already have a Ning ID you can use that, if not, it’s very easy to sign up. You can also follow ChapterBytes on Twitter.

my own byte

Mercy. I finally finished my ChapterBytes chapter. Just posted Chapter 12. This is the first one from a different point of view. Go tell me if you like it, pretty please?

a thief

Hi all! I’m currently blogging from my MIL’s front porch, since that’s the only place I can connect to the internet. Why yes, I am, in fact, borrowing a wireless connection from some faceless neighbor in the backwoods of Central Maine! Thanks to whoever you are, I really appreciate it. (I gotta say, it was a little easier to work at the FIL’s last night – he has wireless set up!)

I just wanted to check in and say hello. I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled programming sometime later this week. We travel back home tomorrow, but before I can post here again, I need to finish my chapterbytes chapter. I’ve been working on it all evening. In a word doc. Yuck. But it had to be done since I preferred writing from the couch instead of sitting on these cold wooden steps.

I’d also really like to watch some Olympics tonight and since I can’t do it staring at the grass and swatting mosquitoes I’m gonna go inside now. See y’all in a day or so!

a byte of forgetfulness

Gah! I posted Dana’s Chapter 11 of Foodie up at ChapterBytes like 3 days ago and I forgot to post about it here! (The word forget seems to come up in my life a lot lately. I forget what I’m supposed to take to fix that.) Dana did a fantastic job and gave us yet another cliffhanger! I love it! When you’re done reading her chapter, go check out Dana’s book review site!

Now it’s my turn to write a chapter again. Holy moly.

I’m on some major deadlines with two of my current work projects, and DH is on vacation this week so we’re supposed to be visiting family for the next few days. I’ll be working from their houses! OMG, penguins are cute and all but I think I’ve looked at 10,000 images of them in the last 3 days. Yeah, not exaggerating either. Even though I’m prone to exaggeration, I’m actually not this time. Ack! I think it might be at least a few days before I can get my chapter written. Anyone want to ghost write it for me?! ๐Ÿ™‚ Or give me some ideas? Oy.

Okay, bloggy break over, back to the penguins. Unless my eyes explode.

aack! a big byte!

It’s little long, but it’s fabulous! Chapter 9 is up over at ChapterBytes. Heather has taken us into a whole new world with her twist! It’s so good it just wasn’t possible to trim anything off the word count – but it will suck you in and you won’t even realize it’s almost twice as long as some of the other chapters!

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