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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Journal that chronicles my son's life

I've just about completed volume three of the set of journals I've been writing that detail my son's life. As I wrote about in a recent Facebook post, I've spent a large part of the past six months catching up on my journal entries, fleshing out short entries and adding photos to the completed ones. I know the eventual audience for these books is small (perhaps just him and a few family members), but after seeing how happy the first two books made him, I knew I wanted to keep going with the project. It's incredibly fun to sit with him and read a printed book that details major (and/or funny) points in his life.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gifts from G

Every year, my son and I go to Toys R Us, buy a bunch of toys, and then drop them into the Toys For Tots bin. This year, though, we took the toys and donated them to "Gifts from G". Gifts from G was created by a family in our neighborhood who lost their 8 year old son, Gavin, last December. Gavin spent many holidays at Duke University Medical Center, so all the toys the family collects for "Gifts from G" will be donated to the medical center. If you are interested in donating as well, you can find out more here:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This one is for the Lord of the Rings fans

You have to love Google's sense of humor. If you want to know what I'm talking about, go to Google Maps and click the "Get Directions" button. Switch to walking directions, and then enter "The Shire" as your starting destination and "Mordor" as your final destination. Then read the message highlighted in yellow below your destinations. :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Time Management

Lately I've struggled to find time for all my hobbies.

This is mostly my own fault. I made the decision to run longer distances each day, I made the decision to start working out, and I made the decision to go on some amazing trips. (Oh, and I made the decision to purchase that pesky time-suck that is known as an iPad.)

When you combine all these decisions with the other things in my life I enjoy, such as parenting and writing and keeping up with my friends and family, and then when you throw a full-time job into the mix, well...the minutes disappear quickly.

This has led me to think about how I allocate my time, and to think - to really think - about what I’m doing with the precious minutes I have available to me each day. Some things are non-negotiable and won’t be changing. These include the time I spend with my son, and the time I spend with friends and family. If anything, I think my life would be more fulfilling if I increased the time I spend with those people important in my life.

I’m not going to stop writing either. I haven’t had that many great writing days over the past couple of months, but that’s starting to change as I allocate more time to my writing. And there is nothing that compares to the feeling I get when I have an awesome writing session. When the words are flowing, and when the verbs are popping out as fast as my fingers can type them, it doesn’t matter if I only write one paragraph or twenty pages. Life is good, and I can float on the good feeling from a strong writing session for several days.

But if I’m spending more time writing, what have I thrown out the window?

I’m still running and working out, although the humidity is shortening my runs. But according to my bank account, it’ll be awhile before I can take another trip. That means no weekends without a computer, which means I’m able to fit more writing in the nooks and crannies that make up a long unplanned weekend.

The biggest change, however, has been with my iPad. I’ve limited how much I use it over the past five days as an experiment, and it’s amazing how much more time I have. I had no idea those ios board games were eating away so much of my time! Word with Friends. Hero Academy. Ascension. I was losing bucketfuls of those precious minutes of each day keeping up with all the games I was playing. It was fun, but it also demanded a lot of my time, time I am no longer willing to give up so freely.

So I’ve scaled back my gameplaying on my iPad, and I’ve started limiting how much I use it. Which is probably why I had time to write this blog post.  :-)

Do you ever think about the ways you spend the minutes of each day? At the end of the day, do you feel satisfied with what you did?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marketing Yourself When You're a Self-Published Author: March 2012 Numbers

Longtime readers will remember that I used to show a graph each month detailing how my forays into social media were progressing. Well, it's time to bring that feature back, at least for one month. Rather than show the entire graph, I'm going to show my first month and my most recent month. Take a look:

Here are some notes about the numbers:
  • Go Viral: Almost every number across the board got a bump last month when I posted 3 mashups of Judy Blume book covers combined with elements of Star Wars. Did those mashups have much of anything to do with my writing? No. Did they bring in new readers, Facebook followers, and Twitter followers? Yes, yes, and yes. Moral of the story: If you post something and it goes viral (or if you get lucky and Judy Blume tweets about what you've done), you could suddenly find yourself with a lot of new readers and followers. I know David Kazzie has debated on his blog if his "So You Want To Write A Novel" YouTube video actually led to more book sales. Well, I can tell you for sure that the Judy Blume covers definitely led to some book sales for me.
  • If you post it, they will come. If you don't, they won't. Okay, this one is easy enough to understand. I posted very few times between September of 2011 and January of 2012. Guess what? The number of views I got on this blog dropped like a rock. The good news is that it works the other way too. Post more often and the readers will return. I'll probably never be a consistent blogger, but it's nice to know that whenever I do go into blogging mania, I'll have some readers along for the ride.
  • Twitter numbers are deceptive. Wow, look at that. I've got 5,639 followers on Twitter. But guess what? The number of followers who actually ever see or read my tweets is probably a tiny fraction of that number. The reason? Twitter static is hard to overcome. There's just so much out there, and so many people tweeting, that it's hard to stand out and get your tweets noticed. I still enjoy tweeting, and love reading other people's tweets, but if I don't get many responses to something I tweet, I never take it personally.
  • Facebook fans rock! Out of all the types of social media I'm now using, I love Facebook the best. When I post something on Facebook, I usually get lots of great responses. It's gotten to the point now where I post stuff on Facebook not because I have something to say about a topic, but rather, because I want to hear what others have to say about it. Wondering what Gandalf's job would be if he lived in our world may seem like a silly topic to some people, but we had a great time on my Facebook page discussing exactly what type of job he would find. (ZZ Top band member and Industrial Lights and Magic technician were two of my favorites.)
  • It's okay to ask...occasionally. Don't forget to occasionally ask people to join you on your social media platforms. I don't do this often because it would annoy people if I did, but letting your social media contacts know about the other ways they can follow you can be a good idea, especially if you're dabbling in a new social media platform. (I'm looking at you, Pinterest!) Oh, and by the way, here are the social media platforms I'm using the most right now. I'd love it if you'd join me on them.  :-)
To close this out, let me just say that I'm extremely pleased with these numbers. I've come to really love social media, and especially the people I've met using social media. It's been a great 12 months, and I think the next 12 months are going to be even better!