Blog of the Day: Meet Sheila Blanchette!

imageMeet Sheila Blanchette! 

Sheila and I have only recently become bloggy friends. With a name that instantly made me think of heroines from ‘Gone With the Wind,’ Sheila is an American writer, author and blogger and I absolutely love her writing style. Her ‘About’ page is one of the best that I have ever read:

I have an edge. Sarcasm and irony are two of my favorite things.

I am a wide eyed optimist. I love a happy ending.

This is the dichotomy that is me. Lou Reed meets Jack Johnson.

Those three lines are from a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post where I am a guest contributor.

I also like music. All kinds of music. When I wrote that second line about my favorite things, my mind immediately jumped to The Sound of Music. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

I am currently working on my third novel which includes a lot of rock ‘n roll. While you wait in eager anticipation for more on that subject, you can read my published novels. The Reverse Commute and Take Me Home. Both are available on Amazon and if you just move over to the long hallway to your right you can click on their covers and buy the books. I would love for you to buy the books.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, I am working on shameless promotion. It’s a requirement in my job description. Self published indie author. One Woman Show. We all do it. It’s the way books are sold now. Blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Pinning and Instagramming. I am everywhere and if you travel down the hallway to the right, you will find a door leading to each and every one of those places where you can find me. I am everywhere.

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I spent a year walking and blogging about it. It’s my year long story of exploring my new home in South Florida, a strange land indeed. It’s also a story of my becoming a writer and the inspiration I found all around me. What I Need is All Around Me. That ‘s Dave Matthews, someone I shared a brief, intimate moment with.

My perfect day would be living in Diane Keaton’s house in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. You know, the one with Jack Nicholson? Diane Keaton’s character is a successful playwright and lives in a beautiful home on the beach in the Hamptons. I want to be that woman. Writing at my desk early in the morning as the sun rises over the ocean, my coffee mug on my beautiful desk in my beautiful home designed in the style of a Nancy Meyers movie.

Sheila’s blog theme is very similar to Suzie81 Speaks – she writes about her interests, her life experiences, stories, interviews, books and her thoughts and ideas, and every post that I have read so far is beautifully expressed, insightful, full of beautiful photographs and makes me want to read more!

For those of you that are interested in any of these things (which I know thousands of you are), then I would highly recommend that you show Sheila some serious blog love!

To find Sheila’s blog, simply click on the link here

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sheila-Blanchette/884367004930816

Twitter: @SheilaBlanchette

Instagram: http://Instagram.com/sheilablanchette/

Want to buy one of Sheila’s books? You can also find her Amazon page here

 

Do you want to be featured as my Blog of the Day? For very reasonable prices I can offer you the opportunity to advertise your blog to over 10,000 followers here at Suzie81 Speaks – for more information email me at suzie81blog@hotmail.co.uk

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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Let’s Talk About Numbers…

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As I spend more and more time in the online world I have noticed that there are quite a few little spats that break out between various people. It isn’t often that I have had to deal with quarrels – I’ve been lucky in that there are only one or two incidents where others have been so offended by what I have written that they launched personal attacks. However, there was a little Twitter spat that appeared on my feed this morning that seemed to be about copying posts and stealing followers. The final tweet, before I’m assuming that people started getting blocked, was simply: “You can f*ck off with your 200 followers.” This made me smile – it highlights perfectly what I feel the social media world represents – it’s all about the numbers. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I see ‘Follow me on bloglovin’ I need three more followers to make it to thirty’ appear on my Twitter feed.

I arrived in the blogging world extremely late, only starting my own litte blog in April 2013. I’ve never hidden the fact that Suzie81 Speaks was a personal project – I was experiencing quite a difficult time in my life and as writing has always been therapeutic for me, blogging seemed to be the perfect solution.

For the first few months I wrote and pressed the publish button as often as I could, with no expectations. I discussed every little thought that entered my mind, I included photographs of my daily life and I started to get to know other members of the same WordPress community. Over time, my little space of the Internet grew – I purchased my own domain name and spent a lot of my free time talking to interesting and entertaining people, reading posts and customising my site. I was (and still am) immensely proud of my achievements – every award and every milestone was shouted from the rooftops of the online world and my personal life – because they were completely unexpected and a wonderful addition to the act of writing in itself. Lots of other bloggers do the same… and why not! Such achievements deserve to be celebrated! A lovely bloggy friend of mine recently had a second one of his posts go viral, and I’m really pleased for him – he has a fantastic blog and deserves every success!

I get lots of emails that ask for blogging tips and request reblogs of their own sites. However, most of those emails discuss the same thing: my numbers. How did you get those numbers? How can I get those numbers?

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Let’s talk about those numbers shall we?

I’m a self-confessed stat obsessive. In sixteen months I’ve had just over 250,000 views and gained over 7,000 followers. 90,000 of those views have come from one specific post that went viral on Facebook in the UK earlier in the year. Again, I am very proud of those numbers, in my little world they are amazing, and I bore The Bloke about them on a daily basis. However, in the blogging world they are minuscule. Tiny. Over the summer I have received between 400 – 1000 views a day, but during an average working day it is about half of that.

I spent a lot of time looking through my list of followers, and discovered that hundreds of them are from blogs that haven’t been updated since last year. I know of quite a few people that I personally follow that are currently having a break from blogging after experiencing burnout, and there are a few who still continue to read and comment despite not writing anything themselves. While the numbers may suggest one thing, the traffic that I get is considerably less.

Of the 7,000 followers, nearly 2,000 of them are from my Twitter account, and a large percentage of these are the same people that follow my blog. I have nearly 100 people on Tumblr, and over 100 people on Facebook. Again, these are predominantly made up of the same people from WordPress. The rest on Twitter are people who, like myself, enjoy participating in the many hashtag wars that take place and have no real interest in reading my blog.

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In essence, there are about fifty people who regularly read, comment on and promote my posts. They are incredibly supportive and they care about the well being of those within the online community. These are people who maintain their own highly entertaining blogs, which I thoroughly enjoy reading. Of those fifty people, I have email conversations with five of them, and I have just one on my personal Facebook account. While I love the little buzz that I gain from seeing an unexpected spike in my stats, it doesn’t compare to the comments that are left daily from these people. They make my day, even if I don’t always have time to reply to them.

 

So, instead of questioning your number of followers, you should be asking yourself about the quality of your posts and your ability to engage your readers. Blogging is an ongoing and lengthy process, it takes weeks, months and even years to build up a community, and you are not going to gain thousands of followers and millions of views by simply pressing the ‘publish’ button. Regardless of your blogging goals and ambitions, you should be looking for quality, not quantity in your posts and the followers that you gain from it, and also in the blogs that you follow yourself.

And to those fifty, thank you… X

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

Questions, Questions, Questions: The Response

question-mark-iStock_000003401233Medium-copyHere at Suzie 81 I host regular blog parties, which allow bloggers to post links to their sites, chat, meet new people and increase their traffic. However, a few weeks ago I decided to do something that was slightly different from my usual ramblings – I asked a set of seven questions and posted an open invitation for anybody and everybody to answer them, simply focussing on the idea of getting to know the WordPress community a little better. My following has increased over the last few months and I don’t get as much time as I would like to explore other blogs, so I thought that this would be a quick and easy way to find out snippets of information about bloggers, their sites and their interests.

I sent specific requests to some of the bloggers that I have been following for a while and waited for their responses, genuinely expecting just a few replies. My initial plan was to link everyone up, share my findings and highlight any ingenious responses.

Ever heard the phrase bitten off slightly more than you can chew…? This was the situation I found myself in with no less than 70+ responses to work through in just three days. Great, and at the same time… oh sh*t. Thanks to various reblogs, retweets and Facebook shares from blogging powerhouses I was inundated with answers, all differing in opinion, length and detail. Looking at each individual response to each question resulted in approximately 490 answers to read through. Wow. So, before I begin, I wanted to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to everybody who took the time to participate!!!

1. Why have you chosen your blog name?

Mr. Sugarbears is what I call my dog when he’s being good. It started as my Instagram name and now my blog name. ( mrsugarbears.com )

I remember the day that my blog name came to me. I was driving home from work and as I rounded the corner from my home I just saw the most breath taking view …. rolling green hills, cows in the pasture and trees everywhere; I was not in the valley any longer and then it hit me, my blog should be called “Valley Girl Gone Country”…..a California native moving to Arkansas of all places?? there had to be some humor in that….so that’s when this blog came alive. (Valley Girl Gone Country)

I wanted a title that gave the tone of what goes on in life and on my blog – both meandering and multifaceted. (Multifarious Meanderings)

“Artistical Intelligence” means ‘what art means to me’; to use whatever is considered artistical with a certain degree of ‘using one’s mind in order to come up with ideas for all kinds of illustrations’. And that’s a fairly complicated way of saying something what just means ‘drawing smart’  (Artistical Intelligence)

Reinvention is the stage I’m in. I’ve hit a wall in my career, my relationships, at a point where I’m figuring out how to make some changes. ReinventionofMama seemed a perfect fit. (Reinventionof Mama)

My blog name describes what I do – I run. I run around town, around the gym (on the treadmill), around work chasing people and I like to run in the park with my dog. I run around. (I Run Around)

I’ve always loved the word “serendipity” and the way it feels between my teeth. It’s a very satisfying word and it’s so me! (Serendipity)

This is funny actually, I love the song- through the trees from Jennifer’s body and when I started thinking about coming up with the new blog, all I could think of was this song, only I changed it a little to lanes. (Through the Lanes)

I chose my blog name because I am an artist, and I’m definitely on a journey! (tamberrinoartstudio)

My blog name used to be A Look In A Creative Mind. It’s still called like this, but you can only see it when you hit the tab “Blog” in my menu. When I started blogging, I wasn’t an illustrator. I was a student and I needed a creative outlet where I could focus on all the things I had an interest in. Which is a lot and because of this I didn’t have a real focus or specific goals for my blog. I wanted to write in English and share drawings, recipes or random observations. I figured a look in a creative mind would capture it the best. You’re literally getting a look in my mind and whatever observation I have to share. (TJLubrano)

I have always been a frog collector, so I knew when I started a wahm business the name would have to have “frog” in it somewhere.  but by the time I got myself fully onto the internet, most of the business names and domains featuring the word “frog” were already taken.  so I went to an alternate spelling, “phrog.”  I was using phrogprincess and leap phrog design in my business, so when I started my blog soon after having babies, phrogmom seemed appropriate. (Phrogmom’s Weblog)

iStock_000005793936Medium-solutions2. When you have an hour of free time, what do you do?

I ponder the great questions of the universe. (Yes I know the answer is 42!) The really pressing questions like: Is Swifty secretly a dominatrix? Why do I always get boogers after I cut my fingernails? And why in the world do we have white crayons? Could be worse, I could be watching reality TV. (Finale to an Entrance)

I don’t see any of my time as free time, but I also see all of it as free time.  The only planned-time event on my schedule is my 9-5 job.  Outside of that, I do what I want.  This includes (in no particular order): blogging, reading, taking long baths, watching lots of television, cooking, researching math theories, shopping for my family, playing with my cats, playing video games with my husband, having long windy conversations with my husband, playing board games, creating things, browsing the internet, playing with social media, having tea with friends, google chatting with far away friends, and supporting local artisanship. (Rarasaur)

Free time? My time is expensive, people. You want computer help, you pay! I don’t give my expertise away for free! That’s a lie. I do. Oh, I see. What do I do in a free hour? It depends on my mood. I might read (fantasy/urban fantasy/sci-fi mainly). Maybe watch some TV. Read blogs or post something of my own. I might watch TV and blog at the same time, but I never do anything else when I read. (draliman on life)

Well…. I suppose IF I had an hour of free time I would spend it um…. gosh, I just don’t know!  I schedule EVERYTHING!!  Even recently when I took up crocheting, I had to fit it into my schedule.  I suppose, if I could muster an hour to do anything I wanted, that wasn’t scheduled… I would enjoy sitting back and reading a great book.  No noises.  No phone. No children, dogs or husbands.  Just me, my book and a glass of wine…. sigh. Now I’m jealous of that chick in my imagination. Dammit. (WahmCat)

questions3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what would it be?

This is a difficult question to answer. If I choose any age prior to 33 I’d never know Baby C. If I choose any age after he’d never age past 2. I think I’m just going to abstain from answering this question because I love watching my children learn and grow too much to freeze the flow of time. Of course, if I can stop aging while everyone else gets older then I’d pick 25. That seems like a nice age at which to stop. Not too old and not too young. (Twin Daddy)

None. I like the progression of the years and growth. As I get older I’m more and more comforted by the things I learn daily that make my life easier. I’m just as content now at 61 as I was at 11. It’s all the same. (A Little Fluff)

I always believed that if I died and went to heaven, I’d appear as if I was 12-years-old. That was a good time for me. I never grew up with a high self esteem, and it was at that age where I really began to believe that maybe I was good looking. My fashion was jeans, floral design shirts, and I had dyed blond hair. I’d also just discovered the merits of hair gel. I was a cute little kid. (All Hail the Monkey King)

My current age mid forties is good. I still have a young child but also teens and college goers so I can hang on to mothering a while longer but have built in babysitters too. (My thoughts on a page)

Hmm… tough question. I wanted to say 17 at first, then I remembered that would mean being stuck in high school forever. Yikes! I’m going to have to go with 23, grown up but still pretty young. (Pray. Eat. Create & all that other joyous stuff)

Since I am quite young, merely a child, on the scale of life, I would say that this answer will probably be different in about 30 years or so. But, right now, I am happy with where I am. I don’t think I want to be one age forever. That would be boring, and I am most definitely NOT boring. I am quite “eccentric”. I want to live life as any other person would : to age, to learn, and to die. I assure you, my death will not be solemn. I will die happy. (AnnabellaTessoro)

4. If you could learn to do something, what would it be?

I would want to learn how to take photographs with an antique camera. I have an old Wirgin Reflex sitting on my shelf with no film in sight, and I don’t know how to make it work… (Finding Nemo)

I would love to be able to play the guitar. I could finally put my whimsical song writing to music. I know my refrigerator cleansing tune, Throwing It All Away, would be a hit. I just know it. (CaseyWasThere)

There is so much that I would like to learn to do most are creative like things like being a good photographer, being able to write well, play a musical instrument etc something that I think would enrich my life and have that creative edge to it. At the moment I as creative as a lump of BluTac. (Cognitive Reflection)

Ooo… I’d want to learn to do magic! The Harry Potter kind and talk to Unicorns (although learning to see them first would be a good idea) and to dogs too. (Heartsongs blog)

Play the piano. I had piano lessons when I was a kid but I was too stubborn to continue with it. Now I regret it. I would love to be able to play some of my favorite songs to my kids. (The Vanilla Housewife)

If I could learn to do something, I’d had to say I’d like to use my hands for more than just playing music. I’m a creative soul at heart, so I’d like to try my hand (pun intended) at wood-working. I joke with my siblings that in high school, I decided to pick up a guitar, instead of a hammer. Now I want to pick up the hammer. (The Musical Poet)

question-25. What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

The first thing I would do if I won the lottery is pack in work, pay off my mortgage and anything else. Give money to all my family and there are any number of friends I would just love to be able to help out. I also have promised two fellow bloggers a share if ever I win. I haven’t forgotten! The one thing I’ve always promised myself I’d do is wrap monetary notes around stones and attach them with elastic bands then deposit them along my local Main Street. A little message attached would just say they were welcome to share my good fortune. I would love to see people’s reactions to that. I would get quite a buzz. I’d travel. A return visit to Greece, of course. Catch up with old friends. France. Italy. Australia. India. Egypt. New Zealand. Lots of places but those ones for a visit first. I’d take my kids out of school, teach them myself and let the world fill their education. I’m not really big on stuff. But it would be nice to be able to buy whatever I needed without thinking about the cost. Maybe a car whose battery light doesn’t keep coming on for no reason that anyone can discover! (Scottishmomus)

A wig.  Virginia requires winners to go public when they claim their prizes.  I would also get whatever other items I can to disguise myself as much as possible.  Then I would buy two, one-way tickets out of here for me and the kid (hey, guess we better get moving on that learning languages task). (Not a Punk Rocker)

A monkey. I mean, why not? Actually, if we’re being serious, I suppose it depends on how much I’m winning. Enough for a party with friends? Enough for my desired Kombi? Enough to travel the World? Enough to follow Dave Matthews Band on tour? Enough for a house at the beach? Enough to start my own business? Those things. The party first. Then a monkey. (Whimsical Eclecticist)

Money doesn’t do it for me. I’d be as happy buying a book as a car (Richard Ankers Writes)

Buy my own house, not even a large one just my own little sanctuary (Life, the Universe and Depression)

6. What is the thing that makes you absolutely unique?

My inner strength. I often underestimate it but not a lot of people can go through what I have been through. (The Modern Day Fairy Godmother)

Hmmm….I’ve been sitting here for about ten minutes trying to figure this one out. *brain cramp* I think there isn’t ever one thing that makes us unique, but rather it’s the combination of things that compose us. Without a doubt, I’m an odd combination of things—but for the life of me, I can’t think of one thing that makes me unique. Uh-oh. (The Girl Who Blogs)

I don’t really have an inner monologue, I always say… the thing I am thinking about. You could see it as talking without ‘a filter’. My thoughts just go straight out by voice or by keyboard when i’m writing about stuff. (fysiotim)

What makes me unique? I’m like everyone else, but my soul is my own (The English Professor at Large) – sorry, but the link doesn’t work to this site.

My DNA, Finger Prints, Memories, The love for my wife. (My Sore Soul)

What makes me unique is that God made me unique. I’m figuring that out and committing it to memory more and more as time goes on. I am unique, but it has nothing to do with what I have done to make myself that way. I’m an empty, flawed jar of clay. But I am blessed with gifts and traits that make me unique. Much like I am blessed with flaws and weaknesses that make me unique. Also, I make perfectly moist cookies and other baked goods. Like, oooey-gooey in the middle brownies. It’s a gift and a curse. (This Heart)

I am me. First child. Type A. People pleaser. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Teacher. Writer. Entrepreneur-wanna be. Book tour ready. Oh. Not unique? Well then, here’s something else. I have become more and more claustrophobic as I have gotten older, but I love to have really heavy blankets on me at night. I feel like I sleep better if the blankets are ‘pushing me down’ at night. I think it is also a subconscious way to decompress and wind down after multi-tasky spinning all day long. (mommyverbs)

For lack of better words, I march to my own drummer I guess. I don’t let other people’s opinions affect my choice or way of thinking. (Love from tara)

What my past did for my heart. (Oldest Daugher & Red Headed Sister)

questions_large7. What is your favourite blog?

Here is the cop out – there were so many blogs that were listed as favourites that I realised it would take a further few weeks to collate them all. The choices were wide and varied in content and I personally found quite a few new fabulous blogs that I have started following. Instead, I am going to be rather lazy and suggest that you check out the responses on the post. You may find a whole new set of blogs that you never knew existed!!

Phew! My apologies if your comment hasn’t been included in the post as yet – I am going to update this in the next few days to allow for more brilliant responses. Feel free to revisit the post and connect with lots of lovely bloggers!!

Hope you enjoy! Have a lovely week!!

Image credits:

Image 1: anndaly.com
Image 2: dteuro.com
Image 3: contestedwillsprobatelawyers.co.uk
Image 4: reonline.org
Image 5: xkcd.com

 

Blogging Etiquette and Politics: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I normally stay away from becoming involved in controversial discussion and arguments, but something annoyed me this morning.

I’ve only been blogging since April. When I started I hadn’t a clue about the process and I have spent a large amount of time building my blog into something that I’m proud of. As my following has grown I have started to get to know others a little more and I’ve always been very lucky to receive lovely comments from them and to my knowledge haven’t been subjected to any personal attacks. There have been a few occasions where someone has disagreed with what I’ve written, but they’ve usually done so in a polite and courteous way. WordPress, in my mind, was very much a fun, supportive and happy place to be and I have always felt safe here.

However, over the last few months I have started to notice some of the ‘dark side’ of the blogging world, particularly when discussing stats. Continue reading