Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging – Most Popular Posts

As the title states: This blog is ten years old. It turned ten on January 3rd (The First Step in Blogland), but I had forgotten about the milestone. When I started this blog, I had no idea I’d still be blogging a decade later. I’ve covered a lot of material and had a few controversial posts. How controversial? I was threatened with a lawsuit for one incident, but I’m not allowed to speak about that. Those who know, know.

Ultimately, I stand on the side of writers, not publishers, book sellers or anyone else. Well, let me clarify that. I stand on the right and just side regardless of the costs to my reputation and book sales. I despise those who take advantage of writers; it’s one reason I keep this blog alive.

Statistics

Over the past ten years, I’ve made 667 posts, had 97,205 visitors and 168,374 views. I have 860 followers through WordPress and 75 by email (total: 935).

WordPress also breaks down years with stats. In 2020, I wrote 69 posts totalling 38,894 words, averaging 564 words per post.

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Assessing 2020 Goals and Making 2021 Goals

If I had to wrap up the year 2020 in one word, that would be extreme. Was anything moderate except the weather? Some rode the wave of this extreme while others were sucked beneath the wave where the undertow tossed them around.

Me, I watched from the sidelines when I wasn’t busy on an adventure.

Assessing 2020

This is the day of the year I assess the goals I had made for 2020. Given the extreme energy in the air, some of those goals were met, some were not, some were exceeded.

Writing Goals

The books I had planned to write were…

  • Within the Myst: Book 2 in the Mystical series
  • Gathered Stones: Book 5 Castle Keepers series
  • The Helmsman: Young Adult Fantasy stand-alone novel
  • Origin of the Stones: Book 6 Castle Keepers series

Here’s what actually happened. The words written went to these books.

  • Seeds of Life: A stand-alone dystopian novel: First Draft Complete
  • Within the Myst: Book 2 in the Mystical Series: 20,105 words written
  • Gathered Stones: Book 5 Castle Keepers series: 19,284 words written
  • Plus a few short stories completed
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Writing Hangover

In the past seven days, I’ve written 23,546 words of my current novel, Seeds of Life. I surpassed the expected 90,000-word draft, and blew by 100,000 words without realising it. Every waking moment when I wasn’t caring for the animals and the children, doing basic housework, cooking, baking, moving furniture (my daughter’s moving back in), building a duck house and shovelling snow, I was writing.

Currently, the draft sits at 106,002 words.

This morning, I’m suffering from writer’s hangover, but the story won’t let me go. It’s all I dreamt about last night. This evening, after the chores, collecting drinking water from the spring, moving the ducks to their new house, cleaning up the basement and picking up chicken food, I’m diving back into the story to see if I can get the main characters out of the danger they’re in and bring them home.

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Starting a Self-publishing Career from Scratch

Every other week or so, a writer contacts me and asks how I do something or where to find information in regard to self-publishing. Often, these are writers who have been writing for a long time but have never entered the publishing world either traditionally or non-traditionally.

Sometimes they ask a question I can answer in one sentence. Other times, I can go to my website – this website – find the post or page on which I discussed that topic and send the link. Still other times, they have many questions. I try to answer the best I can, but my time is limited, and I can’t spend an hour crafting an email with links and details.

An hour to write an email? Yes, because I double check information or I find a reference to it on the web to ensure that information hasn’t changed and to provide a place where they can learn more. Then I read it carefully a few times to ensure I’ve said things properly, didn’t leave out a word and included everything I wanted to say.

It’s Already Online

The truth is, most of the information I provide is already on the web. Many times it’s on my website because, believe it or not, on January 3, 2021 (The First Step in Blogland), I mark ten years in blogland, and I’ve written about every step from writing that first draft to getting that published book in hand.

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Thoughts About the Highest Tides in the World

On Saturday, on our return trip from getting a load of hay, my youngest son and I ordered our last ice cream of the season from Dairy Queen and drove the short distance to the Shubenacadie River to watch it as we ate our treat. The last time we were there, we arrived just in time to see the mud flats swallowed up in 15 minutes by the rushing tides. It’s a sight to see if you’ve never seen it.

1986 F150 Ford loaded with hay

My son, who has always had an interesting perspective on the world and life, said after a few minutes of staring at the river, “The world’s highest tides. I guess somewhere had to be the highest.”

Ain’t that the truth.

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A New Season Starts Today

Can you smell that? If you were in Nova Scotia, you’d smell the crisp, single-digit morning that tells the primal self fall is on the way; time to prepare for winter. Or is it the unmistakable aroma of school supplies being sorted at the kitchen table with anticipation of the first day of classes that ignites your energy?

While some look at September as an ending to summer, I see it more as a start to a new year that holds the potential for something fantastic to happen.

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Glimpse Into My Summer

Starting in early spring, I reduced my screen time to only a few hours a day instead of ten hours a day. Other things have taken priority, things I’ve enjoyed immensely. However, fall is quickly approaching, and I plan to increase my online presence slightly. Slightly because most of my screen time will be spent writing, not on social media. In fact, I’m not on social media any longer.

Gone are Twitter and Facebook. Instead, I’m dedicating my time to writing books and blogging only. Below is a collage of images from the past few months. I’ll expand on them in the near future.

Summer of 2020

A Busy Spring and a Book Launch Sale

I can’t get over how busy the past four months have been for me. While I have been writing a little, editing a lot and formatting books, an equal amount of time (if not more) has been spent offline, away from the computer.

Life is going in the direction I had planned, so I’m far from complaining. However, I am rethinking a few things I had planned.

For instance, I wrote two short novels last year, both under 70,000 words. They were not fantasy and because of advice from other writers and Amazon’s algorithms, I had decided to publish these and others of similar fashion under a new pen name. Of course, a new pen name would create a few challenges of its own, but I was prepared to tackle them.

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Brandon Sanderson: Fantasy Writing Lectures

I’ve been watching a series of lectures by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson on the craft of writing with the focus on the fantasy genre. These lectures took place at BYU. Whether you write fantasy or not, much of the writing advice applies to all stories.

I’m working my way through them, but what I’ve learned so far is:

  • I’m a chef, not a cook.
  • Conflict connects characters, setting and plot.
  • Everyone must be good at something.
  • Yes, but; no, and.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow is the perfect character who is incompetent, yet highly proactive, and that’s what makes him (and SpongeBob) interesting and entertaining.

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Magic Rules in Your Fantasy World

I’m not one for strict rules so while watching fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s YouTube lecture “Magic System”, I kept thinking, The magic in my novels doesn’t have rules.

However, afterwards I considered the ideas he presented and once I broke through the dam, the rules flowed swiftly. The magic within the realm of Ath-o’Lea does have rules. Some are soft, others firm.

Sanderson imparts this sage advice: Flaws are more interesting than powers. Things your characters can’t do are more interesting than what they can do. Flaws and limitations of magic are interesting.

With that in mind, I considered the powers and the limitations used in my novels.

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Supporting Characters Who Stole the Show

When we set out to write a story, we know which characters are the main characters, the ones readers will cheer and invest emotions in. That is until books are turned into movies and actors cast to play supporting characters do such a tremendous job, they steal the show from main characters.

Did you know the main characters in Pirates of the Caribbean were Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner? Jack Sparrow was a supporting character . . . until he stole the show.

Did you know Phil Coulson was only a supporting character in The Avengers. Writers thought it was okay to kill him off . . . until fans rattled their cage to have him resurrected.

The same happened in Thor: The Dark World. They killed Loki, then realised he was too big a character to knock off, and they had to bring him back. He was supporting Thor, but we know how that went down with Loki fans.

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Critical Drinker Inspires a Wins vs Losses List

Redemption: (Ryan Drake 1) by [Will Jordan]

Shortly before Christmas, I stumbled upon the Critical Drinker, a YouTube critic mostly of films, but he critiques books at times, too. The Drinker is Will Jordan, author of Redemption: Ryan Drake 1. I’ve watched several of his videos for both the entertainment and insight in to how movies were constructed or, in many cases, how they were poorly constructed. As a writer, he comments on character development, plot and other aspects of story building.

His dissection of the three recent Star Wars movies is brutal. I am a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy – Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – and his critiques tell me the new movies are ones I never want to see. In fact, they should be burnt. The stories trampled over our heroes of the past and are extremely disrespectful to their legacy. While I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was, I had an inkling of what was to come.

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The Over-used Trope for Character Development

Over the weekend, I watched Good Will Hunting. No, I’ve never seen the movie before even though it was released in 1997. That was the year I was working 40 hours a week at a garden centre, giving birth to my first child and settling into a new house, so I didn’t watch much of anything.

Throughout the movie, I was waiting for the inevitable. I say inevitable because many of the books I’ve read and the movies I’ve watched the past 20 years have used death to jolt the main character out of their ‘destructive’ daze and into change for the better. I’ve seen it so many times, I can often pick which character will be sacrificed for the good of character development. If it’s a character I’ve invested emotion in, I pull back before the death, knowing it’s coming. If I’m unaware, it feels like a betrayal by the writer.

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My 2020 Goals are About Writing and Living

Today, my mother turns 92 years old. She never thought she’d see this age, yet here she is. Like many of us, we are never aware of what we’re capable of doing. We just do it.

2020 is a transition year for me. There are things that must be done, and only by working off property will I accomplish them. So, this spring, I plan to begin working 40 to 50 hours a week, which will take me away from writing in the short term, yet will deliver me closer to a few long-term goals I want to accomplish in the next five years.

Much like when I worked at the garden centre a few years ago, this job will be physical (my favourite type), and I’ll be outdoors most of the time. It will chew up most of my time from April to December. Then I’ll be free to write through winter again.

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