What to Blog about when You’re out of Ideas

I’m sure this happens to every blogger sooner or later: your idea well dries up. It might be a long creativity dry spell, or maybe it’s just a temporary slump and you’re like “drat, I’m supposed to post tomorrow and I have nothing ready.”

Well, here are some handy tips to keep you going – or at least to help you fill in the gaps until your creativity springs gets going again. If you’re stuck for blog post ideas, you can:

Search the internet for “blog post ideas.” You’ll come across dozens of far more creative and influential bloggers than yours truly who have long lists of ideas, or fabulous tips for getting out of a slump. Continue reading

Vintage Home Decorating and Other Escapades

For this week’s post, I’m sending you over to one of my favorite blogs, Chronically Vintage. Since my blog features mostly writerly tips and bookish stuff (and music, and my blue hair, and so forth), I thought this post would fare better on a blog dedicated to all things vintage.

Jessica of Chronically Vintage is a lovely fashionista who shows her readers how to bring vintage fashion into the modern world in an affordable and attractive way. I’m honored to have a guest spot on her blog, writing about vintage home decor, antique furniture restoration, and more. Hop on over to her blog to check it out!

The Best Social Media Sites for Writers

“Writers need to be on social media!” everyone says. I agree. You don’t have to be a social media expert, or spend 24/7 connected to your Facebook and Twitter apps, but you should have an online presence. A website is a good start, but if you want to develop a fan base, the best way to do that is to be accessible. And social media provides the perfect venue for you to connect directly with your fans.

Here are some of my favorite social media sites that I believe are the best-suited to authors:

Facebook – Yep, Facebook is the big dog of social media. And despite its constantly-changing algorithms, and young millennials flocking away from it because their parents just signed up, Continue reading

Why do I Blog?

Last week I didn’t publish a blog post. I know I have a lot of subscribers, but I really have no idea if anyone pays attention to my publishing schedule or waits in breathless anticipation for a new post every Wednesday. (If you do, then I thank you for your attentiveness and interest, and I apologize for leaving you hanging for a week).

I’m sure I was far more upset than anyone else at missing a week for the first time in nearly three years of blogging. The sad part is, I have no good excuse – I simply forgot. So that got me thinking: why did I start this blog? And why have I been so committed to keeping it up for so long?

After a bit of self-analysis, here are some things I came up with. In no particular order, the reasons I blog are:

I like writing. Blogging gives me a chance to write a little bit every week. It took some nerve, at first, to put my words out there for the whole world to read, but the positive feedback and comments I get are definitely encouraging.

Blogging has helped me with discipline. Writing of any kind takes discipline. Even if you’re writing just for yourself and just for fun, it takes a degree of disciplined action to write regularly and to finish anything. The discipline of committing to a weekly post – even if I’m the only one who notices or cares about the regular schedule – has helped me to start learning the art of writing even if I don’t feel like it or feel inspired. (Except for last week, obviously, but let’s not talk about that anymore).

Blogging helps with SEO. Now we get to the technical side of things. I’ve known for years that an author needs a strong social media presence if they expect to ever be noticed or read by anyone. And there are so many tips out there about getting a web presence launched before your first book is published, so that you already have a following when you’re ready to start promoting a book. Since I love social media and I love writing, starting a blog seemed like an easy and logical thing to do.

My blog is my home base on the internet. Blogging regularly helps keep the following that I have, and increases my chances of gaining new followers. My blog also serves as my main author website. Since I have no books for sale yet, I don’t need a fancy website with multiple pages or a calendar with my book signing schedule. (Yet. Here’s hoping I’ll need all of that soon). Anyway, my blog is where you can find me online. I have it linked to all of my social media profiles, so if you want to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest (or all three), my blog is the easy one-stop-shop to find everything.

So there are my main reasons for continuing this blog for so long. I hope that you are enjoying it, even if you don’t read every post or care what day of the week I publish. I love blogging, and I intend to keep it up for many more years to come!

The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Capitalization

Some days it seems like basic capitalization is becoming a thing of the past. With texting, auto-correct, and even intuitive typing in word processing programs, it’s easy to just not bother with a silly little thing like capitalization. I’ve been guilty of rushing through a text and not bothering to check and see if my phone automatically changed the i to I or not.

Typos and all lowercase in texts to your friends is one thing, but when it comes to actual writing (as in a blog post, story, query letter, resume, school paper, etc.) capitalization matters. I’m going to highlight just the basics here. Refer to your style manual of choice (Chicago, AP, etc.) for the finer points of capitalization for things like acronyms, honorary titles for individuals or groups, headings and subheadings in articles, and so forth.

The first word of a sentence

This should be a no-brainer. The first letter of the first word of every sentence should be capitalized, even if the word is “the,” like in this sentence.

Proper names

Proper names include:

People’s names – Joe, Sue Smith, or yours truly Grace Robinson

Place names – America, New York City, Grand Canyon

Other proper names (brands, stores, organizations, etc.) – the White House, the Blue Angels, Saks Fifth Avenue

In English, the only pronoun that gets regularly capitalized is “I.” This makes English unusual, because in most languages, the first person singular personal pronoun is no different from “he,” “they,” or “you.”

Book, movie, and song titles

Examples:

The Notebook – as in the Nicholas Sparks novel, or the movie based on his novel. If you’re writing about just a random notebook, it would not be capitalized – unless it’s the first word of the sentence, of course.

“Let it Go” – a perfectly normal phrase, but if you’re referring to the song from Frozen (see, more capitalization), then it now goes in caps.

Other Really Important Words

This is sort of a joke, and sort of not – it mostly depends on context. Unconventional capitalization can be used for humorous effect in a blog post, like this Really Important Post about Capitalization that you’re currently reading. Capitalizing ordinarily non-proper nouns is common in genre fiction like fantasy, such as the One Ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. “One” and “ring” are common, unimportant words, but in the context of that story, the capitalization lets the reader know that this particular Ring is anything but common.

One important thing to note, though, about capitalizing ordinary words for emphasis: it’s basically universally agreed that texting or posting on social media IN ALL CAPS is the equivalent of shouting, and should be used sparingly. And by sparingly, I mean putting ONE word in all caps for emphasis, NOT THE ENTIRE BLASTED POST. (That’s my opinion – and widely-agreed-upon internet etiquette).

So there you have it – a few small basic rules of capitalization. As I mentioned, please refer to an actual style guide if you get bogged down with capitalization details. But in the meantime, sticking to these basic rules for school papers and internet posts can help add a little professional polish to your work.