Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Happy 2013!

Hello Dear Reader,

I did not really have a personal (if I may call it that) post to begin this year. Thanks for taking your time to read what I write.
I am aware that I have a number of posts pending from last year, like following up on the Committee, 38 Things and the Court Visit.

Plus there are things that have happened this (and even last) year that I should already have blogged about. Sigh! I promise to post the pending installments soon (Don’t be vague! Define ‘soon’) and I will make effort to update you on hopefully interesting new events. I should also write poetry a bit more often. (Any requests?)

Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web - Opportun...

Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web – Opportunity, Challenge, Responsibility (Photo credit: Fräulein Schiller)

My wife and I are expecting our son’s birth any time now and I have been contemplating blogging about his first year, but knowing myself and my record with keeping up with such commitments, I am hesitant.

Friday Fictioneers continues every week and I have looked at a few other challenges that I may join, but I have not yet decided on any of them (Finish the food on your plate first before you add some more!).  However, I expect to have 104 numbered posts by June 30th 2013 as explained here.

I hope you will enjoy reading.

Please feel free to comment on any of my posts, or use the Contact page whose link is up there on this blog’s menu.

Thanks for reading and I wish you a successful 2013.


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From EzineArticles.com

Click on the image for to see a version you can zoom in on.

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Today I would like to share a few tips that may help you as a WordPress.com blogger to get and/or retain new blog visitors. This is specifically about new visitors, as opposed to repeat visitors. In other words, it is about first impressions.

The first three tips can be implemented at your Gravatar account, accessible at http://www.gravatar.com (Link will open in a new window). You can log in with your WordPress username and password.


When you Like a post on WordPress (by clicking the WordPress Like button), all that people see is your picture or gravatar. If you Like a post on a popular blog or web site, then many people will see that picture.
I personally think having your own picture as your gravatar is better than having that of a cat or a tree, though some well-chosen non-human pictures may raise curiosity as well.
If you have an attractive picture it will, well, attract people and chances are someone will point their mouse at it to see something about you (or just to see a bigger version of the picture 🙂 ).

Which brings us to the second point.

When someone points their mouse at your gravatar, they will usually (unless they turn this feature off) see a hovercard – a small hovering window that displays summary information about you.
If you want the person to want to find out more about you, then add something interesting or informative to your summary information.

The hovercard has a link inviting the reader to view your complete profile, which is our next point.

Profile Links
A reader can reach your profile through hovercards or sometimes when you Like a post and a notification is sent to the blog owner.
Gravatar allows you to add multiple links to your profile, so that others can go from your profile to your site or blog or even FB page.
I only learnt this recently and was delighted.

If these links are not provided, then a visitor can use yourusername.wordpress.com and reach your blog, but that will only happen if they know that they can do that and are willing to take the trouble.
Also, this more tedious method will only take them to your wordpress.com blog, not your other sites or pages. So, go ahead and add links to your profile.

Like I said, you can set the above three things at http://www.gravatar.com

Your About Page

Once a visitor has reached your blog, then you need to give them a reason to stay on.
When I visit a blog for the first time, I will usually go to the blog’s About page to know more about the blog or the blogger.
Also, when you comment on or like a blog post, the blog owner will probably receive an email with a link to your About page (unless they turned off such notifications).

You can read this article on making your About page a good one:

My small addition: Avoid statements like “I started this blog one year ago” if you are not stating the specific year that you mean. The reason is simply that as the years go, the statement becomes untrue :-). Also, your readers have to figure out when you wrote “one year ago” then calculate which year you were referring to. Save your readers the trouble.

Comments on Posts
You can easily be found by others by commenting on other people’s blog posts. When you comment on a blog post, your name will usually have a link to your own blog, if you are already logged in to your WordPress account.
If your comment (or just your picture) is interesting, someone may click and visit your blog

You can read this article on commenting etiquette:
Some more tips about your blog:

Change your Widget Titles and Comment Prompt
Add an attractive elevator pitch
customise your email that is sent to new followers

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The Nomination

I have been/was nominated for/named for(?)/awarded the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Twice actually.



Thank you Sam and Ellie for the nominations/award.

I felt honoured/humbled/scared that someone could actually consider my ramblings writings inspiring.

I find it a little scary when I get notified that someone is now following my blog. I sort of feel that I have to write something good enough for an audience. You know like if you were singing in your house then you discover that someone is listening/can hear you? Yeah, like that.

But it is also a nice feeling, so thank you all who follow this blog.

The Rules

Now, this award comes with some rules:

1. Display the award image on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and link to their sites.
5. Notify the bloggers that they have been nominated and link to the post.

I will do the first 3.

The Links

I will leave out number 4 because you can already see the blogs I follow on the right column of the page. Do go through them. I think you will find something you like.

And in case my sister’s blog has been pushed off the list, you can find it here. Yes, I can be nepotistic 🙂

I will leave out Number 5 because I really do not want to impose any requirements on these good bloggers, but I will add two links to sites that I read that are not on WordPress:



I have already linked to the two people who nominated me above.

The Logo

So here is the award logo. Apparently there are various slightly different versions. I got this one via Google.


The Facts

Seven things about myself, in random order.

1) I have been on TV at least thrice – performing something, in a game show and my wedding.

2) I have a sweet tooth, but this has been somewhat curbed since I started taking an interest in fitness

3) I like horror movies and Stephen King’s books (but chickened out of watching an actual lynching/burning video clip)
(I was amazed that a friend of mine did not know who Stephen King was, but then again, that friend knew who Pamela Anderson was and I did not)

4) I am (overly?) analytical

5) I am generally a night person.

6) I got my driving license when I was 35 or so. Yeah.

7) I like animals. Had a pet dog called Cocoa.

Bonus: I don’t really like watching sports. I can watch, but it’s not a big thing for me.

The Feedback

Yeah. So that’s a little about me.

Your turn. Tell us something about yourself.

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Long, long ago, (well, from around 1999) Yahoo! used to offer a public profile page for holders of Yahoo! accounts. This page was accessible via geocities.com/your-yahoo-username (I think). There was a fairly easy-to-use (for that time) page builder, and I built a basic web site for myself there, and I used to post pictures and share some info on the site. It was fun. Yahoo closed down Geocities in 2009, though apparently the Japan one is still up.

Somewhere along the line I created a blog at blogspot.com. (also known as blogger.com) Apparently my first post there is dated May 2004. This was before it was bought by Google. I do not blog there regularly, perhaps because I find the interface unexciting.

Yahoo introduced a blogging platform called Yahoo 360. I enjoyed using that one and was blogging on it with some regularity. Unfortunately, Yahoo shut that down as well in 2009. I think I saved some of my posts from there somewhere. I may post them here someday.

I joined Facebook in 2007 (though I encountered some technical problems with that profile and deactivated it). Facebook introduced a Notes feature that allowed you to write stuff and add a picture (I think only one picture per post). I used to write Notes there with some frequency, and they used to elicit a number of comments.

For a short while, I used to post Notes on Facebook and post the same content here. Then I decided to abandon the Facebook Notes for four reasons:

  • Facebook seemed to have changed something in the way it works, such that posts got less publicised than before (This is my unresearched view).
  • Facebook also changed the user interface and removed the tabs that used to be along the upper part of one’s profile, from which viewers could easily access one’s Notes.
  • WordPress offers a richer interface, allowing you to link easily to other stuff, add pictures easily etc
  • It was tedious doing similar things twice.

If I remember well, at some point Facebook also introduced a blogging app, but I did not use it. (Except to write a post that I would not use it 🙂 )

My first WordPress blog post, cleverly titled ‘First One’, is dated 09 Oct 2008. I moved to WordPress after my sister did and I saw her new blog. WordPress also had (probably still has) a better interface than Blogspot and perhaps more features. (I don’t feel like doing a detailed comparison at the moment).

So there we are. It has been interesting blogging with comparative regularity, and reading other people’s blogs. Let’s see how this journey goes.

What has been your blogging experience? Feel free to share below! Thanks for reading!

Related articles

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Late last year (2011), I renewed a commitment I had made earlier that year, and said I would post 104 posts by the end of this year. Unfortunately, I slacked off. As of today, to achieve that goal, I would need 67 more posts (excluding this one)

Sign your posts wrong and right

Sign your posts wrong and right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

in about 50 days. That would mean multiple posts on some days. There are two problems with that: I think that number of posts would overwhelm many of my readers. Secondly, I think it is an unrealistic target for me.

Looking at the Archives list on the right column of this page, you can see that for August, September and October this year, I had 25 posts in total, meaning an average of about 8 posts a month. From those statistics, 8 posts a month is a realistic target for me and I think that would not be too much for my readers. Let me mention here that taking part in Friday Fictioneers has been very helpful in ensuring that I write at least one post per week (in addition to providing excellent practice, bringing readers and letting me read great stories. I think I will just write a separate post about Friday Fictioneers). So I have decided to extend the deadline for the 104 posts to June 30th 2013. That means that we will have 2 to 3 posts per week at least until June 2013, and probably beyond. I think everyone wins this way: my dear readers do not get overwhelmed, I do not get overwhelmed, and the posts continue beyond the original ‘deadline.’ Hooray!

Thanks for reading!

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Some comments: I was really waiting for Friday, to get the photo prompt. Then it came early(?) and I was not in a rush to post my story 🙂
The (few) times I have written flash fiction before, it has been fairly easy – getting it done within minutes and in a few drafts. This time I had to think quite a bit (yes, I am capable of thought – or so I think) and I had to cut out some ideas to fit the 100-word limit.
Also, I noticed that the (few) times I have written flash fiction before, I have had little or no actual dialogue in the stories. After reading a few stories from the excellent Friday Fictioneers, I decided to ensure I had dialogue in this one.
Also, I managed to not exceed 100 words 🙂
Your comments are very welcome and much appreciated even if I do not manage to respond to each one individually.
This week’s story page is here http://www.madison-woods.com/Wordpress/101912-2/

Photo courtesy of Ron Pruitt

It took a lot of effort not to jostle.
“I told you someone would come,” said Carla.
“Yeah. Good thing I didn’t set off with Harold”
“Do you think he made it?”
“I don’t know. If he moved fast enough, he may just have reached the next town before night fell. But if he didn’t, him alone against them…” he trailed off.
“That’s why you wanted to go with him.”
“Partly. Two or more of us would stand a better chance.”
The bus drove out of the now uninhabited town.

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Deutsch: Screenshot vom Blog-System WordPress.

Deutsch: Screenshot vom Blog-System WordPress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are not a WordPress blogger, you can skip this first part. I put it up in case someone is searching for some help with the WordPress Blogs I Follow tool.
——————-‘First Part’ begins here ——————-
As I was tinkering with this blog, I noticed a number of things:
I realised that I had quite a number of blogs listed in the Blogs I Follow widget in the right hand side column, but when I went to my Dashboard and clicked Blogs I Follow, there were only eight blogs listed. These seemed to be recently followed blogs.
Secondly, I realised that I usually receive notifications about new posts from these eight blogs only.
Third, I had clicked Follow on my own blog. I removed it from the Dashboard, but it still appeared in the widget.

So it seems either there was a disconnect between the Dashboard settings and the widget, or there was something I was missing. My suspicion is that the disconnect came about for blogs I chose to Follow a while back, such that these were not recognised in the Dashboard. Anyway, I seem to have fixed it by going to the blogs listed in the widget and clicking Unfollow, then clicking Follow afresh for those I still wished to follow (Yes, I stopped following some, particularly those that did not have recent (2012) updates).

I have submitted this information to the WordPress Support http://en.support.wordpress.com community.

[Update: I got a reply that the Widget and the Dashboard lists are actually supposed to be different. Only those to which you are subscribed to receive new post notifications by email show up in the Dashboard.]
——————-‘First Part’ ends here ——————-
Anyway, the exercise above gave me a chance to briefly look at some of the blogs I follow. I also followed links in comments to other blogs, followed some of those and so on. It (again) dawned on me that there are a number of published authors among those I follow (and some that I don’t). In other words, there are many ‘regular people’ out there who are published authors. Some of them have published ebooks and/or printed books. I think I really should consider pursuing this ebook option. Getting published now seems more easily attainable.

Many of the blogs are very good (hence my following them 🙂 ) The variety of bloggers and content is wide – from flash fiction, to longer stories, to daily events, memories, commentaries, interviews, tips, poetry, … One blogger was born in 1990 and lives in Romania, one is a lady who writes about Biblical nutritional principles, another writes poems exclusively(?), one writes as inanimate objects, one is my sister. (I was going to put links here, but you will need to do the work yourself and click the links on the right :-). Go on, discover.) There are many interesting blogs out there (You already knew that? Oh. Ok).

Bottom line is, I think, everyone has something to say, each from their own perspective. I recently realised that many of the things that may seem normal to me and to others around me, may actually be quite strange fascinating to others living elsewhere. (For example, taking a bath using water from a basin, as opposed to a running tap or shower). I think one of the key things is to say it as well as many of these and other bloggers do. I hope to actively collect worthwhile content, and to develop my skills in delivering this content.

Go ahead and share your story. Someone will be happy to read it. Or at least, if you read a blog you like, let the author know.

You may want to see this post, which I found after I posted this one.

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In February this year (2011), I said ‘I will be posting on this blog at least once a week for all of 2011.
Clearly that did not work too well. But I am trying again, and I want to make up for lost time, so to speak.
So from now, for about a year, I will try to post at least twice a week. To allow for unforeseen circumstances, blackouts, the collapse of the Internet, war, and so on, (Ok, the real reason is to allow me to relax from time to time), let us move the end date to an easier-to-track December 2012. So, that should be 2 posts a week for one year which will give us 104 posts. That is why we have 001 up there in the title.
To those who had the time and tolerance to read my ramblings, thanks. Let’s go again: More concerns, more experiences, more partly-thought-out ideas, more observations, more stories.

Thanks to http://therunningwriter.blogspot.com/ who posts maybe thrice a week. Keep it up man!

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(I saw this on my sister’s blog and decided (once again) to copy her.)

I have decided I need to blog more. What with being a wannabe writer and all. I need to practice, right? What was that? I really, really need to practice? Very funny.

So, I am starting right now. I will be posting on this blog at least once a week for all of 2011. From time to time, I will be using DailyPost for ideas.

I know it will not be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome, great and wonderful. Who knows, someone might actually learn something!

I hope you will encourage me with comments and likes, and maybe money? 🙂

So let’s see how it goes.

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