Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bloggers You Follow Post 7 :: Write 31 Days

Most bloggers have followers that they can write about. That's what we discussed in Post 4 (here). Yet, bloggers are also followers ...and we all have favorite blogs that we return to again and again. There are a couple of good posts right there on your sidebar. 

The reasoning behind the idea is pretty straight-forward: as a long-time reader, you have had the opportunity to get to know the blogger, having interacted with her blog, emailing her on occasion, and maybe even meeting her in person. Conventions and shows provide a wonderful opportunity to match a person to the blog. Getting to "know" the people who write your favorite blogs gives you an advantage in your own writing. With permission, you can write about the blog or the blogger.

Let's turn things around a little and think about how to write a post or two using your favorite blogs.

  •  It's easy to create a list of your favorite blogs. Perhaps write a short blurb about each one giving basic information
  • Are you willing to name a favorite? Go ahead! Why is this blog or blogger your favorite? What's her special gift in her niche? How does her writing stand out? How long have you followed her?
  • Do you feel a special closeness to one or two bloggers? Write about your friendship. Why do you sense this closeness? Why do you think the other person feels the same? Be sure to contact the other person and ask permission to write about your personal connection. You can write a general post about all of the bloggers you feel connected to or write an indepth post about one or two. 
  • Cover one special blogger each month (choose your own timeline). See the questions above or create your own; then dig into her blog and find the answers. 
  • Cover each blogger by speciality. Name the speciality and define it. Then present the blogger who best presents that speciality. For example, I follow many quilting blogs--I could cover modern, traditional, applique, trapunto, art, paper piecing, and so on. Explain why you think this blogger is an expert in the field.
  • Present the bloggers you follow by the books, videos or articles that they bring to the field. Bloggers today are writing and creating e-zines, books, tutorials, videos and in many other mediums. Provide links to the item(s) and explain what this particular blogger has added to the common knowlege that others in the niche need and appreciate.
  • Which bloggers have you met in person? How did the writer strike you? Were you surprised by her personality or did you meet exactly the person you expected? What did you do together? Is there something that you are sure to remember? 
  • Do you follow bloggers from outside of your country? What are their special gifts? How did they come to the field? What issues or problems do they face that is different than your own experience? Do they write about place? How does this knowledge affect you? You can cover each blogger separately or in one general post. 
Photo credit: Kai Brame @kaibrame
You must remember foremost that you are writing about real people. They have families and friends, many of whom may discover or be informed of your post. Privacy rules and internet etiquette should always be considered, especially when writing about other people. Ask permission first. Give the blogger as much information as you can about your plans so that she can make an informed decision about whether to allow this invasion of privacy. Many bloggers are more than happy and honored, but others may say no or lay down strict rules for your article. Be honorable and show your respect for the decision. Send a copy of the article before publication for her approval.

Why write about those writers whose blogs you follow? Share the love, for one. Your readers may want to add to their favorites. They want to know what you think. They trust you, so they take your recommendations seriously and check out the other blog. Any of those is a compliment to you, and you can pay it forward by complimenting others. Once you ask and receive permission, the article almost writes itself--you know this writer, have read her work and can easily research additional information on her blog. You can also get more than one post from almost any of the options above--a sweet bit of good fortune. Who among us is not looking for ideas that can translate into multiple posts?

Consider writing about blogs you follow. Make sure you ask first and respect decisions. Once that's out of the way, you will most likely enjoy writing a post or two about people you already like and who add information and entertainment to your life. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Holidays and Special Events Post 6 :: Write 31 Days

Holidays are difficult for some folks. There are as many reasons for that as there are people, it seems. Others find celebrating holidays and special occasions both rewarding and fulfilling. Everyone has to find his/her own way. Finding or choosing that way takes courage and finesse and, for some, lots of stumbling around. 

The question for bloggers becomes what to do with this opportunity. Pull out all the stops and celebrate as though everyone were on the same happy train? Or to respect those who cannot find joy in the event and let it slip quietly away? 

There is no one answer, of course. As most things happen to be in life, the answer lies within ourselves. We have to make the decision based on what we think is best for everyone involved. I tend to try to take the middle ground. I want to celebrate the religious holidays, family events, and festivals that are all linked to my childhood and my entire life. But I want to respect others as well. So middle ground it is for me. 

If you choose to let occasions slip by, you can skip the rest of this post, because it is all about how and why you can take advantage of the joys of special occasions. I'll not be offended: you simply don't need this info and will move on. 

The rest of us, however, will unpack this idea of writing about religious holidays, special occasions, family events and so on. Let's start with an understanding that no matter what I call it, from this point on, I simply mean any occasion that is not an ordinary Sunday-through-Saturday, live-life-like-you-normally-do day. They are all special in some form: 1. probably require clothes you don't usually wear, 2. have people to whom you must be polite, 3. include food that is much too rich to eat daily and stay healthy, and 4. likely have a few other indicators. Those are all good because any one (or all) of them can be blog-worthy inspiration.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, we need to understand why. Why would readers want to spend precious time reading about your special event? Well, it's the same reason that people read bridal magazines, look at photos on Instagram, watch reality shows, or follow people on Facebook. People are curious. It's that simple. Oh sure, we can find philosophical and psychological evidence of that curiosity, but do we need to? Aren't you curious? Aren't all the people you know curious? Yes? Good. Let's agree that no matter the reason behind our innate curiosity, people are curious

Photo credit: Tom The Photographer @tomthephotographer
We all have our traditions and customs. We know how and why we do certain things. We know why our particular family serves turkey on Thanksgiving, for example. We know how we dress for weddings or funerals. We can likely explain quite a bit about our particular religious holidays. So why are we curious about what others do? Philosophers and scientists have studied our mental acquisitiveness since the time of the Ancient Greeks. 

I am in no way the person to turn to for insight in human perspective. I simply know my own mind, and I will read anythingalmost. My love of reading stems from my own curiosity and my need to know about people, history, culture, art, civilization and, well, just keep going, anything you name is probably already on the list. 

I hope I am not the most eager person of all time. I'm fairly sure I'm not. That means that I am not the only one; many other people  want to know about you. How you live. How are we alike. How we are different and why. What your culture thinks about anything my culture thinks. Those pronouns are the key. They all stand in for people: you and me and them and us. Together or apart. It doesn't matter. 

Why people want to know (curiosity) leads to what people want to know (everything) to the question of how to provide the information. First, you can provide only that information you have. Sure you can do research and report back on your blog. But that is not the personal, experienced, human condition that most people are looking for. It's the reason that writers go on assignment. The reason that you can write about your experience and the rest of us will read ityou were there. You know the feelings: the fear, the joy, the love, the hate, the need, (keep going here, too)

Second, researching and reporting back just won't cut it. It won't be enough to express those feelings. You simply can't express feelings you didn't experience. You can imagine what they may be, but that's not the same as experiencing the feelings. Even if you never specifically write the exact words, "I wanted the whiskey," or "I hated that movie," or "I was so scared," readers know. You share your feelings in your story. Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. 

There's your answer to how. How? I'll reiterate. Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. You share what you haveyour story. Now we've come full circle. Take that event that we were talking about way up there in paragraph five: those experiences that are "blog-worthy inspiration." The details of the things you experiencedyour uncomfortable shoes that pinch, the rich food on the Thanksgiving table, the funny niece who insisted on wearing a tutu, the beautiful bride, everyone dressed in black. Your story. Whatever it may be.

Your story is the one you experienced. That's how you include any special event in a blog post. If you can, write about one part of the experience in a post and come back to the event to share another part of the experience. Write about your grandmother on a post and come back to write about the little couple who have been married 57 years and held hands during the wedding. Maybe just show photos that you took. It's all part of your story and your readers want to read it. They (we) want to know what makes this holiday or event or occasion special. The answer was there; did you catch it?
Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Quilt Inspiration: pun'kin

Pumpkins are the gourd of the day at this time of year. I saw a family at Walmart pushing a buggy with five or six huge pumpkins and a net-bag with lots of small fake ones. But with Thanksgiving and Halloween coming along very rapidly, it's time to find a few. 

If you're going to decorate with pumpkins, you should at least know the different kinds!
Curious about why I wrote pun'kin rather than pumpkin? My daddy said the word that way, and he sometimes called us girls pun'kin. With eight daughters, he said it fairly often, so when I hear the word, I think of his pet name for us. Even when it's prounced correctly I hear him saying it his way.

A family day at the local pumpkin patch is essential in the Fall. I love watching my daughter pick out her "perfect" pumpkin! #danskoessentials

The Patch (at Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch)

Carve a Pattern - Fabulous Fall Decorating Ideas - Southernliving. Turn standard grocery store pumpkins into decorative votive holders that are embellished with polka-dot cutouts.     How To Make It: Decorative Pumpkin Votive Holders

| October | "Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere." ~ Charles M. Schulz, The Great Pumpkin, Charle brownWhat a pretty fall arrangement for the yard or porch. Don't forget your backyard and patio. It's fun to decorate there too.98fca2ba685d1316b3b37175655100e8.jpg 540×720 pixels

38 Halloween Pumpkin Carving Ideas & How To Carve | RemoveandReplace.com

I love fall most of all

The Enchanted Cove

I found many pumpkin themed quilts, but all are small table toppers or wall quilts with the exception of this first one. 
pumpkin quilt - Bee In My Bonnet: I hope you...
It makes sense, though, that most of the quilts are small. A large pumpkin quilt wouldn't be displayed except for a few months a year. October and November, perhaps. Of course, Christmas quilts have only one year and there are many of those. 

Get ready for autumn with this cute harvest table runner! Use your favorite orange scraps to complete this cute project. This sophisticated fall decoration

Pumpkin Patch QuiltIt’s no surprise that I could hardly wait to make a mini version of the Pumpkins pattern! I decided to make this mini a little bigger than my other minis. It measures 23 1/2″ x 29″ finished, so it mak

Pumpkin Quilt

Scrappy Quilt show - Right Here!! :) - Page 28

Pumpkin= tutorial = Scrappy pumpkin table runner by Andy Knowlton | Thermoweb

Pumpkins wall quilt by Avis Shirer and Tammy Johnson

Autumn Welcome quilt by Shelly Pagliai. Panama Canal cruise projects.

48in x 57 1/2in

Of course, there are many people who own pumpkin farms, and a large quilt would make a welcome display either inside or outside the home. No matter the size or the season, pun'kin quilts can be especially cute. If you've a mind to make one, there are many patterns and even more inspiration pictures on Pinterest.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Your Blog Post 5 :: Write 31 Days

Continuing the Write 31 Days challenge, I thought about how it's sometimes difficult to write about what we do as bloggers. I most often feel that celebrating milestones or sharing good news is too much like shouting, "look at me!" But that is the kind of thinking that has kept my blog from finding more followers, having more views, or connecting with readers. 

None of those things matter to me, except that I like to write and I want my work to be read. Teaching probably influenced my thinking. I'm a firm believer that the students do the hard work, and they deserve to get credit for any successes. In fact, I know a few teachers who stand in front of their students when the spotlight is shining, and I never liked what I think of those teachers. 

Blogging is different. It's my work and it's okay to shine a flashlight (no spotlights) on any success I have. With that in mind I began thinking about what a blogger could do or say that would allow her to share good (or bad) news about her blog specifically or her writing in general. Start off by reminding yourself about how you feel when a blogger you follow has good news: something is published, she's hit a milestone, a new pattern or fabric line or book is about to come out. 

How do you feel? It's okay to sense a little jealousy, but aren't you truly happy for the person who put in the time and effort to get those accolades? Don't you want to know these things? Can you learn from them? 

One reason for sharing information about your blog (as opposed to sharing on your blog) is that you have a truly unique opportunity to show other bloggers how your blog works. What works for you? That's what you should share on this type of post. Every blog platform has a page that gives you information about your blog. That's where you're heading. On Blogger (the only one I know) Stats can be found in the left-side bar under Posts. You've probably looked here briefly to see what's going on: how many followers, views, likes, whatever. 

The information, however, is there for much more. What that is, I'm not quite sure. Remember, I'm not a numbers gal, so I tend overlook them when possible. But in this scenerio, we've got to go there. So let's have a look. 

Some of the information you can get to quickly are your pageviews. The chart can be reset by clicking on the tabs at the top. Click on All Time. Now you can see how your blog views have increased over time. Below the chart is a list of the posts with the most page views. Want to know what your readers have been checking out? This is the stuff!

To the right of that is another list informing you where they are coming from. Shout out to Crazy Mom Quilts! And there a map showing from where they hail. I actually have a few folks from around the world. Not many, but hey, we'll take what's coming, right?

The informaiton on this page is a goldmind of ideas for posts. But you have to be willing to share it with your readers. Why might my readers want to know that AmandaJean's blog shoots people over to my site? Maybe I can answer that for them. 

Every Friday AmandaJean posts "Finish it up Friday" and everytime I add my link, my page views jump. For some reason (I haven't figured out) they don't leave comments. But for the stats page, I wouldn't even know those readers exist. Maybe this is something I can explore for myself, but for my readers, I could write about how AmandaJean probably saved my blog. I can also explain how to link up with other like-minded bloggers. They might want to know that of all the linkups I post to, Crazy Mom Quilts is the one that is a sure-fire hit. Did I drop the other linky parties? No, and I can tell them that also. 

There are other questions that you can ask yourself just from looking at this particular page. Once you figure out the answers, you've got a post practically written. Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  1. what is your most-viewed post; why is it so popular
  2. where do your viewers live; why do people from other counties visit; which country outside your own seems to enjoy your writing the most; how can you give them more of that; 
  3. have you figured out who among your followers is most likely to return; do you converse with them in some other form, such as email; do you share other platforms; how did you become internet friends; 
  4. have you collaborated with anyone you've met on your blog; can you interview a reader or collaborator; how can you help another blogger
  5. how often do you post; which days of the week; when did you begin blogging; what was your reasoning for beginning; 
  6. how have you changed or refined your focus; what do you want for your blog's future
  7. could you have found a niche for your blog; what is that niche; how can you improve or refine your niche

Why write about your blog? There are those personal reasons: you want to shed some light on the information at hand. However, writing about your blog can help you explore ways to help your readers. Your blog becomes a case study for them. If you team up with other bloggers in your niche, together you can create a comparison case, which will help everyone involved in addition to the readers. And isn't helping your readers somewhere in those answers?

Links to other posts in this Write 31 Days series:
Writing about Writing Intro 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Letter shirts ~~ finished

I mentioned on Pin It Weekly that one of my friends has a small shop offering letter shirts for college students. The majority of her business comes from Greek organizations, mostly from Phi Mu. 

On Tuesday she fell and broke her left wrist. A trip to the ER got her a pass to today's surgery. Combine those two bits of information and you can probably figure out how her mishap concerns me. I sew. I mean I sew anything. I've made wedding dresses, knit garments, kitchen accessories, baby accessories, suits for myself and lots of other things I can't think of on the fly. So, yeah, I sew.

A trip to surgery (even "just" outpatient surgery) means you won't be sewing for a day or two. But she had orders that needed to go out right now. Guess who got the call? As I said on Wednesday, I've helped her before, so it's not a big deal. But she was in pain and a perfectionist, so it was a big deal to her. 

Upper left corner: finished shirts; upper right,
two fabric choices on tee; lower left, two choices
incl. the chosen geometric; lower right, my preference.
Lesson: don't make choices for clients!
Okay, okay, I stepped in. One of the customers hadn't made fabric decisions, so I pressured her with pictures of only a few samples and in no time I had the shirts, the letters, and everything else ready for production. 

Except I sewed the letters on the first two shirts in the wrong order! TWO letters! backwards! Arghuhhh. Rip, rip, rip half the night--knit does not play nice. Resew the correct way and work on the other items. The delivery person had to pick the order up at my house to make her appointment; it was that close!

So yesterday I went to check on my broken friend and encourage her before seeing the surgeon. More shirts. And a couple of jackets. And a couple of blankets. Hmmm, I have such a tough time saying "no," especially after I've already said "yes."

Anyway, if you're going to help someone, you may as well see it through to the end.

 So the weekend will be spent in the sewing room working on her shirts. But I'll be in the sewing room!

blanket in gold 

 And a few more pics of the completed shirts. The jackets (in black) are still in WIP stage. I have to rip out the bottom hem before sewing on the applique. Otherwise the pocket won't open. The kids love that she always opens up the jacket and saves the pocket. It's a great place to toss a phone. 
two more blankets

When was the last time you got wrangled into helping a friend? Comment down below and, as always, thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Followers Post 4 :: Write 31 Days

Let's continue the Write 31 Days challenge by talking about a great resource to tap for writing ideas: readers, followers, friends. Before you get on that "I can't take advantage of other people" kick, let's take a look at this option with open minds. 

As I often do, I'll ask that you put yourself on the other side of the pen. Consider this: if a blogger friend emailed and asked you for an interview to post on her blog, how would you respond? Would you tell your friend no? Most likely you'd be positive about the idea, perhaps even honored. Now consider: what is the difference between a blogger friend and a blogger follower? Isn't it possible that a follower would be just as positive, perhaps as honored?

Let's pretend that you have contacted a subject who has agreed to be interviewed. How will the process look? 
  1. After getting confirmation that the artist will answer interview questions, email a list of questions to her.
  2. Ask her to list as thoroughly as she wants to and email the list back. It is critical that you ask if there are subjects that the interviewee does not want to answer and to respect those wishes. If, for example, she doesn't want information about her family on the web, you must avoid asking for information or including information you discover in your research. 
  3. Once the questions and answers come back, it's time use  to write a profile. You may write about the artist, quoting her directly if you'd like, but writing a separate paper. 
  4. Some bloggers prefer to use the Q&A just as they arrive using copy and paste. If you plan to do so, be certain that the artist knows your intent as you should not change any part of the interview without permission. Telling the interviewee upfront gives her a heads-up to edit her work carefully.
  5. It's a good idea to send a copy of the article before it is published. This gives the subject a chance to clear up any misinformation or confusion. 
  6. Finally, the interview is published. Be sure to send the link to the artist so she can add it to her blog if she writes a post about the interview. Of course, it's a good idea to include links to the artist's blog.
See, that wasn't so bad. And the interviewee probably enjoyed answering questions and writing about her craft, family, and life. In other words, people enjoy writing about themselves as much as they enjoy telling about themselves. It's not egotistical, or doesn't have to be. It's quite an honor, actually, and another way to market one's art and work. 

What do you learn or gain from writing a post about a follower or artist? Depending on your questions, the list is quite long, but these are great starters: You learn about
  • a field of work that is different from your particular craft. For example, if you are a traditional quilter, you might interview and learn from a modern quilter. 
  • issues and concerns in the craft. Other people may read different magazines or books than you do. Asking about their influences gives you insight into other opportunities.
  • new or important artists in the field. You and the interviewee may admire different artists, or perhaps she knows of an up-and-coming new artist.
  • a new technique Artist attend many shows and classes. Ask about those and you could discover something new.
  • how to organize or improve the flow of your workspace. Even well-known artists sometimes work in small spaces. Asking about her workplace gives you new insight into how others organize their spaces.

Now that you understand that both you and the other artist have much to gain, consider who to interview. You should already "know" this person by reading books, blogs, magazine articles, etc. that she has published. Perhaps you've met her at a quilt show or convention or in a class. 

Most blogs have an "About me" page or a way to contact the writer. Use this to reach out to the artist, and construct a note requesting an interview. Be sure to tell her which social media you plan to use--email, FB, etc., and get that information from the artist, if necessary. Once you have the go-ahead, begin preparing questions.

Now about those questions. The obvious thing here is that you will get answers to the questions you ask, but it's easy to ask wrong or vague questions. Therefore, building the list of questions carefully is of utmost importance. 

A list of broad questions that can be used in any interview generally doesn't work well because the subject may give broad answers rather than the information readers are seeking. It is, of course, a good idea to build a list of questions that can be your starting point, and can be written at any time, even before you initiate contact. Once you have an agreement with an artist, do your research and use the list to write specific questions. My question lists appears above. I like to have it as I'm doing my research to help me stay on track.

Here's a link to a 2012 interview that I wrote about The Knotted Chain, an Etsy shop from which I won a giveaway. After receiving the jewelry from Shellie, I decided that I liked it and her service so much I wanted to profile her shop. 

This basically is about all there is to writing an interview. It's easy and you get to know your followers and artist friends on a deeper level. It can easily become a regular post to your blog. You never know, someone may even ask you to be the subject!

Please let me know if you have any questions--just leave them in the comments. I'll answer them here and also email you personally.

Links to other posts in this Write 31 Days series:
Writing about Writing Intro 

Pin It Weekly #217

I have a wonderful friend who sews Greek letters onto tee shirts, blankets and other items for college students in fraternity and sorority organizations. Long story short, she broke her arm. Sewing is almost impossible until she has surgery and a hard cast. Guess who got a call! 

Are we surprised? No! And what do you do when your friend is crying on the phone while in the ER? I mean, come on. I had to help out. The picture above is of the two tee shirts and the one below of the three blankets.  

I've helped her in a pinch before, when she took on more than she could handle. That means she knows what she can expect. Ha! There's more to that story. Anyway, this business got me thinking of Greek life. 
So the truth is I haven't been pinning them but I have been thinking about them. Thus, here's some of the Greek life on Pinterest.

You can recite the Greek alphabet. | 35 Signs You Miss Your Sorority  I mean... Technically I'm a bro

Gamma Phi Beta cactus painting

↞ ✧☼☽ Pin: @dalphny ☾☼✧ ↠

The cutest decor for your dorm room or your living room! Don't miss out on these awesome customized Greek vintage signs!

Kappa Alpha Theta | KAT | ΚΑΘ | PR | Sorority Recruitment Week | PR Shirt | TGI Greek | Greek Apparel | Custom Apparel | Sorority Tee Shirts | Sorority T-shirts | Custom T-Shirts

Customizable 7 x 14 stretch canvas painting that can be personalized with your school, sorority, and chapter. Color of paint and glitter can also be customized. Just leave a request in the notes section.
❥Pinterest: yarenak67                                                                                                                                                     More

Chi Omega Boho Foil Design College Hill Custom Threads sorority and fraternity greek apparel and products! Customize this design for your chapter today. Custom Greek Apparel, Sorority Tee Shirts, Sorority Shirt Designs, Sorority Shirt Ideas, Greek Life, Hand Drawn, Sorority Sisterhood, Recruitment Philanthropy, University, Rush

Awesome Retro Eighties Greek Designs! | Fraternity Rush | Rush T-shirts | Greek…                                                                                                                                                                                 More