Getting More Traffic: How Effective Are Scheduled Topics or Columns for a Blog?

This question stemmed from a conversation I had with Leanne Cole, a blogging friend from Australia.  We both scheduled posts and compared. Her audience grew and mine did not.  I wrote about it in August 2013, and that article drew a large audience. I thought I would repost it, but it rambled. Looking back over the history of my blog gives this post a different perspective.

blogging skills, non-fiction
blogging skills, non-fiction

Over a three-year period my statistics remained consistent when I posted regularly.  “How to” commentaries got the most traffic. However, when I experimented briefly with scheduling columns, the number of visitors dropped.   In spite of the brevity of the trial, there are lessons to learn from my failure to increase traffic.

  1. Weather – I blamed decreased traffic on the weather. Why not?
    • In Northern Hemisphere summers people have time off and are active outside and traveling.
    • In the winter and spring they are busy with holidays.
    • That just left the fall. I am a teacher. School starts in the fall. Teachers look for new ideas. My advice is to schedule topics in the fall.
  2. Consistency – Consistency means that week in and week out the scheduled column appears. Forget what you read in #1, and don’t blame the weather.
    • Realistically scheduled pieces extend beyond a season, and seasons differ with international audiences.
    • Historically newspapers set the journalistic standard when they featured columns each week. Readers came to expect a certain type of writing, humor, or information from a columnist. Click here for a world-wide list of columnists.
    • Consistent blogging about topics requires knowledge, research, and interest. Readers look for fresh information on a topic of interest.
  3. Topics – Topics must interest others as much as they do the writer to increase traffic.
    • Topics that work best stay within subgenres of the blog’s emphasis. In order for one writer to cover five topics credibly, they should relate their column to a theme: travel, photography, writing, book reviews.
    • Column titles need to hook readers yet be reliable and generic.  Post titles with a surprise element generate readers.  But with continuing material readers want to know what to expect such as “Dear Abby” or “The Rest of the Story.”
  4. Writing quality – Writers have one shot at building a lasting audience per reader.
    • Quality writing takes time for 99.9% of writers. Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird gave me courage to fail at writing, and rewriting. Writers need to count in failure time, and match the number of columns they write to the amount of available time they allot to the project.
    • Poor quality writing repels readers, creating long-lasting effects on a blogger’s statistics.
    • It is harder recapture a reader’s interest with the same weekly column if the first one they read was poor. Posts are more forgiving.
  5. Interaction with other blogs – This a necessary element for unknown bloggers, and most of us are unknown.
    • Blogging columns today have a different purpose than newspaper columns used to have because of the writer’s ability to interact with readers. It takes time to comment to readers who visit your blog. It takes more time to reciprocate and visit their blog and respond to their piece.
    • Writers who fail to connect with readers, will get few return visitors unless they are already famous.
    • Return visitors create the genre of blogging, and without them, why blog?

Laurie and Paula copy

My 2013 conclusions:

“The moral of this post is that I will get around to changing my schedule eventually, or rearranging it, but I’m going to keep on and try to lose a few more viewers for a little longer. Then I’m going on a real push to get serious about blogging, and bring my followers up to at least 5,000, and my total views per month to at least 20,000.

However, before I do that, I’ve got to get my best-selling book written and published, and have a showing of my photography at a famous California art gallery.  I’m also thinking about becoming a body-builder and I’m definitely going to start taking Yoga, so I can teach it until I’m 95 years old.

Gosh, I have so much to do before I retire for good.  I’d better get going.  First, I’m going out to lunch and shopping with Paula…”

Blogging is hard

My 2015 Conclusions:

  1. My experiment failed because I did not know enough about five different topics to write off the cuff about them every week. I was unrealistic and narcissistic to think I could do justice to multiple unrelated topics.
  2. My titles were not clear: “Sordid Stories.” The title had alliteration, but it portrayed a foggy idea. Sexy, Criminal, Gossip? My intentions were unclear. I tried to be funny, which did not work over the course of my experiment.
  3. Be happy with the successful goal of going to lunch with Paula, or change your tactics.

Thanks for the images, Google.

What are your conclusions?

 

A List: Authors’ Most Helpful “How To” Books About Writing

Yesterday Christine Royse Niles from my home state of Indiana prompted the writer’s Facebook Group, My 500 Words, members to write lists.  I couldn’t think of anything interesting to list until I read several posts in a different writers’ group.

Christine
Facebook Picture

Pamela R. Winnick, award-winning author, asked a provocative question of a LinkedIn writer’s group, The Craft of Writing Fiction (no promotions).

Pamela
LinkedIn Picture

 

The question is, “Have you been helped by any writing “how-to” books? If so, which?”

That would be a nice list for my blog resource page, I thought.

Here is the list I generated from author-members’ responses.  If you write, I think it will be very helpful especially with links.

Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller John Truby
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Anne Lamott
Building Better Plots Robert Kernan
Elements of Fiction Writing Characters and Viewpoint: Proven Advice and Timeless Techniques for Creating Compelling Characters by an Award Winning Author Orson Scott Card
Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict and Suspense James Scott Bell
Fiction Writer’s Handbook Hallie and Whit Burnett
How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author David Armstrong
How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript James Scott Bell
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy Orson Scott Card
How to Writer Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery and the Rollercoaster of Suspense Carolyn Wheat
If You Want to Write Brenda Ueland
Make Your Words Work: Proven Techniques for Effective Writing-For Fiction and Non-Fiction Gary Provost
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction William Zinsser
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Stephen King
Playwriting Seminars 2.0: A Handbook on the Art and Craft of Dramatic Writing with an Introduction to Screenwriting Richard Toscan
Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master Martha Alderson
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) Francine Prose
Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells James Scott Bell
Self Editing for Fiction Writers How to Edit Yourself Into Print Brown and King
Story: Style, Structure, Substance and the Principles of Screenwriting Robert McKee
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story K. M. Weiland
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers John Gardner
The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear Ralph Keyes
The Elements of Style Strunk and White
The First Five Pages: The Writer’s Guide for Staying Out of the Rejection Pile Noah Lukeman
The Midnight Disease, The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain Alice Weaver Flaherty
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers Christopher Vogler
Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence  Lisa Cron
Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint Nancy Kress
Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within Natalie Goldburg
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook Donald Maass
Your First Novel: An Author and Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream AnnWhittenbergLaura Whitcomb

It’s after 3:00 a.m.  At this hour I’m not holding myself responsible for any typos or errors in writing, spelling or judgement.  If you find a problem, read around it, and THEN tell me about it in a glowing comment.  :)

P.S. I worked too hard to wait until morning – real morning to publish this.  I can’t wait!  :)

Three Easy Tips To Spice Up Dialogue Elementary Students Can Learn

writing with students

What we don’t teach students – and I did not know to teach – surprised me as I’ve studied how to improve my writing to publish my work.  As a teaching consultant, I wrote constantly.  As a teacher I thought I did a good job teaching students how to extend their thinking into writing.  I taught them general principles that worked for both non-fiction and fiction writing.  But I missed these EASY steps to make dialogue more interesting.

1.  Add body language.  

Body language, facial expressions, and unspoken communication constitute an estimated 70% of what people understand.   But readers can’t see the characters.

Ask students to describe angry, sad, happy or worried.  Include this description before or after the quotation.

Notice how the body language helps make the dialogue more interesting in this scene.  Tani invited her friend Vanessa to move in with her after fire burnt down her house.

“You have problems, Vanessa, but at least you have Jesus.”

“True enough, even if I am not great about going to church.” Vanessa looked down and started picking at her split ends.

Tani changed the subject.  Why don’t you come stay with me for a while, Ness?” She looked around living room, with lace curtains, and colorful couch. Everything was in its place. Tani pursed her lips together in a tight confident smile and tilted her head as she glanced from one side of the room to another.

Vanessa backed away from her a couple of steps.   It’s sweet of you to open your home, but Babe, you would  kill me after one or two nights! I’m not easy to live with. I would mess up your routines!”

“My routines are helpful!” Tani put her hands on her hips. “You’re just jealous because I can find things like my glasses and robe!”

“You got me on that one Tani.”

Twisting her hair, Tani broached the subject Vanessa shied away from.  “We could go to that new senior singles group at church together if you stayed here for a while. You know I hate to go alone, and you are so friendly.”

In addition to the website, I google images and try describing them to get the right emotional effect.

What do these movements mean?

Websites like this help students (LIKE ME) describe body language for various emotions, and remind me what certain movements mean.

silence

  1. Silence speaks louder than dialogue. In counseling, as in the written word, silence carries the heaviest loads. Tension is palpable, and I would bet if you have not read Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, you will go check it out now.

“Does Eliza mean nothing to you?” Miss Rose rebuked him.

“That’s not the point. Eliza committed an unpardonable offense against society, and she must pay the piper.”

“As I have paid for nearly twenty years?”

A frozen silence fell over the dining room. The family had never spoken openly about Rose’s past, and Jeremy was not even certain that John knew what had happened between his sister and the Viennese tenor…

  1. Add interruptions to dialogue. Barriers and interruptions also add tension to already tense situations. The conversation in the dining room continued. As readers we are still reeling from Miss Rose’s secret revelation when Isabel plays the next dialogue card.

“Paid what, Rose? You were forgiven, and protected. You have no reason to reproach me.”

“Why were you so generous with me but cannot be with Eliza?”

“Because you are my sister and it is my duty to protect you.”

“Eliza is like my own daughter, Jeremy!”

“But she is not. We have no obligation to her; she does not belong to this family.”

“Oh, but she does!” Miss Rose cried.

“Enough!” the captain interrupted, banging on the table with his fists as plates and cups danced.

Interruptions might also be people coming in at the wrong time.  No one was more skillful at interrupting than Kramer.  Dialogue with Kramer around never got boring.

Distractions make keep a long conversation from being boring.
Distractions make keep a long conversation from being boring.

Have students write dialogue as they normally would leaving plenty of room between each speech.  Then have them go back and add one of these three techniques.  They might do the same to another writer’s dialogue.

** History Teachers – try this to spice up a history lesson after reading a piece of non-fiction text.  Have the students create a dialogue between important players in the event they are studying.  Then have them go back and add in these techniques.

If you liked these tips James Scott Bell has many more in his book How to Write Dazzling Dialogue:  The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript. 

The 7 Tools of Dialogue by James Scott Bell, found in Writers’ Digest

Images from Google.

Easy Changes to Spice Up Dialogue that You Can’t Teach Elementary Students

Elementary teacher

After retiring from over twenty years in education, I discovered that I’ve been writing dialogue incorrectly. Not only have I been writing it wrong, I taught it wrong. In my defense, I would not WANT elementary students to know some of these secrets.

Woman and two young children outdoors holding volleyball and smi

  1. To write great dialogue EVERYBODY fights – Yikes! As a teacher, I mediated fights all day. I hate fighting, but as an author, if characters don’t fight or at least disagree, it’s hard to tell them apart. Intensity can vary from teasing to screaming.  I tried it.

no pictures

Tani enjoys arts and crafts, home decorating, and shopping. Vanessa suffers from depression over losing  her home to a fire, and starting over again.

“You need pictures.” Tani declared.

“I had pictures.”

They’re gone, Ness. Your place has no personality. Let’s go shopping.”

This wasn’t a huge fight, but it helped to set the scene, and made it a little more interesting than just saying.  Vanessa had no pictures on her wall, and needed to go shopping.

Hazel

From The Fault in our Stars by John Green, sixteen year old Green Hazel has terminal cancer, and her mother is trying to help her through depression.

“I refuse to attend Support Group.

“One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities.”

“Please just let me watch America’s Next Top Model. It’s an activity.”

“Television is a passivity.”

“Ugh, Mom, please.”

“Hazel, you’re a teenager. You’re not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get out of the house, and live your life.”

“If you want me to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.

“You don’t take pot, for starters… You’re going to Support Group.”

“UGGGGGGGGGG.”

elementary writing

  1. Cut out words especially off the beginning of dialogue. Teachers have to pull words out of elementary students to get efforts like. “I have a cat. My cat is gray.” We struggle to teach them to add adjectives, adverbs and connecting words to make their writing more interesting. Then teacher becomes a writer, and the word on the street is, “Less is more.” I tried this with my character, Sarah, who is always in a hurry. Even Vanessa improved with a few cuts to her tendency to wordiness.

So, I thought it was just a gimmick at first,” she had told Sarah during their daily phone call the next day.

Well, did you even check up on their credentials?” Vanessa had visualized Sarah with one hand on her hip and her eyes rolling.

Of course, I looked them up online. I think they’re legitimate.” Vanessa played Spider Sol while they talked.

“Never mind, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it tomorrow. I’ve got a call. I’ll talk to you later.”

According to James Scott Bell, shorter sentences speeds up action.  What do you think?

fire
“The fire is raging out of control,” shouted 4’s chief. “Don’t go in there.”  (DUH!)
  1. Use dialogue to reveal the unknown not the known.  Dialogue is not an excuse to be redundant. Eliminate repetitive information. On the other hand, elementary teachers spend all day diverting disaster by repeating known information. I changed from teaching fourth to first grade. I was not ready for all the repetition I needed in my dialogue.

giving directions

“Put your pencils at the top of your paper so I will know when you’re done.” Without this reminder, pencils might work as a drumstick, baton, or a sword.

“Put your pencils, down.” You think they learned it the first time, but looking around, you see papers with extra drawings, drawings on someone else’s paper, and in worst cases, drawings on the desk.

This is not the case for authors. They must not show something that either the readers or the characters already know.  I crossed out “duh” words in my next attempt at dialogue.

Fred, four years Trixie’s junior, could move quickly when necessary, but not fast enough to avoid eight ounces of water that sprayed him from the waist down, when Trixie got mad during her birthday party.

The party’s chatter died suddenly to see how Fred would handle his soaking trousers. He stood up and undid his belt and unbuttoned his top button.

“Trixie, you got Fred’s pants all wet,” Fred’s girlfriend Edith said.

“Guess I’d better take these wet pants off!”

The crowd gasped in unison.

?????????????????????????????????????????

These seem like minor adjustments, but as I read over my manuscript, I found almost every conversation sounded better when I followed these spicy tips: provoke characters into fighting, cut their words short, and don’t use dialogue to repeat information everyone already knows.

Thank you Google for all these pictures.

If you liked these tips, you’ll love the book by James Scott Bell, How to Write Dazzling Dialogue:  The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript.

Dazzling Dialogue

Thanks to my new friends, Catherine and Irene who “liked” me on TC History Gal Productions.  Hope others will join me as well even though there are no prizes that I know of besides getting better acquainted.  :)

Blogging is YOU in Words – Three Steps to Help People Know You Better

RESOLVED in 2015:  Update my blog.  I spent two days cleaning up my three year-old blog and incorporating what I’ve learned over the years.

typing

  1. Create Pages That Work
    1. Only use a few (3-7) Main Pages, and create sub pages if you have lots of information. Examples might be: About, Start Here, Resources, (I had about 10 pages showing.)
    2. Main Pages are short, but highlight your purpose.
    3. Spend the most time refining your About page because people will go there first to see if they want to spend any time with you.
    4. Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from other people’s pages YOU liked, and revise them to make them your ideas.  Did someone mention their dog, and you adore yours?  Reinvent and include.20130915_0618171R
    5. Invite viewers to your social media on your About page
    6. Include contact information for readers to fill out, if your purpose is to build readership and/or sell products.

      11
      I got sucked into SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, Path, Pinterest, Instagram. I’ve been through it all!  Anything to get my face out there!
  2. Publish with Social Media
    1. Social media, even if you don’t understand it, builds statistics, and may build long-term readers. Establish social media accounts, such as Facebook Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and invite your email contacts to build each platform. Set WordPress to link automatically to social media.
    2. To build readership and relationships check your social media often and learn how to use it.
    3. Join social media groups so you can send posts and pages to specific groups who would be interested in those topics.Manny's Trip to Spain
  3. Revise and Repost
    1. After a few months, or years depending on how much you blog, reorganize your blog.
    2. Update information on pages. Refer readers to search specific categories. Include lists of helpful blogs, books, and posts.
    3. Revise your writing based on what you have learned about that skill from blogging. For example eliminate passive verbs and pointless adverbs like quite or really.
    4. Copy the link of your revision and repost them on social media.  Assuming that your social media presence has grown, it’s amazing how many people didn’t see it the first time, but now know you, and will visit it now.

Most of the photos above are compliments of my blogging friend, Ralph who entertained my teddy bear Manny for a month in Spain.  Manny knows more about blogging than I do!

I'm going in again!
But her blog still need some cleaning up. I’m up for it! :) Manny :)

What are your plans for your blog this year?

 

Four Tips To Achieve WordPress Staying Power

This post is a response to my annual report from WP.  My stats lagged behind last year’s. I took long breaks between posts in 2014 while I served as CCSS president and later as I wrote Images of America:  Woodlake.  I think WP felt sorry for me and tried to encourage me, by telling me that I had “staying power.”  So if you’d like some staying power, here’s my advice.

staying power

1. Write about what you know.  A few years ago I worked on a state project to align writing and history social science.  Editors modified the published version  immensely, so I published my original along with a few pictures.  I didn’t know what else to write when I started blogging.  That article draws more views year after year than any other post.  WP told me I have staying power and I should try writing similar articles to ones I’ve written in the past.

25-random-cat-behaviors-finally-explained-01

2.  Analyze your stats.  I had never heard of most of the ways people found my blog until I read my annual report.  It turned out that a university professor’s site recommended that article.  I need to apologize to many students mis-identified as SPAM.  Who knew?

learning

4.  Write about what you don’t know.  Even though WP told me to write more of the same, I have branched out into less popular posts.  Writing cements learning.  Every day I learn something new, and being a teacher I have to do something with it and not let it sit and rot in my brain.  So I write about what I learn.

Happy-New-Year-Images-To-Share-On-Facebook

So what was your best post last year, and where are you and your blog headed this year?   Wherever you go, have a great New Year blogging, enjoy the journey, and when you get to my blog, pull up a comfy chair and stay awhile!  :)

Kalev3

I borrowed all photos except Kalev’s puppy picture.  :)

 

Three Easy Steps to Start Blogging for the New Year

Happy New Year!!! Are you celebrating yet or all done?

RR MuseumR Dining carA few days ago a new blogger asked me for information about blogging.  I remember life as a  neophyte blogger.  Blogging experts wrote in a foreign language, as did photographers.  My blogging friends still help me learn new techniques.

SFW History Ladies SD 1-5-2013141a
Blogging friends Marsha and Russel Ray

 

1. Decide the Purpose of Your Blog – Is it for you or for you AND readers?  Remember you can change it later.

  • Are you a vanity blogger or commercial blogger? Vanity bloggers DO NOT selling products.
  • If you want ANY traffic, you want to increase statistics. To build statistics quickly experts teach that specific blogs draw more readers. True! Readers click in and out rarely leaving a comment. If the information is good, blog statistics climb rapidly.
  • Random blogs get less traffic, but attract like-minded readers who chat and build friendships instead of statistics.
  • Most blog readers prefer positive blogs to negative ones. Complaining housed in humor works, but most venters need a private blog. Cause-venting attracts readers, but doesn’t necessarily build long-term relationships. If something bad has happened to you, but your overall blog is positive, sharing makes you more human, but folks DO NOT want a constant diet of it unless it is VERY humorous.
  • If feedback is important to you, short articles (500 words or less) work better than long ones. Edit, edit, edit!  Break long posts into chunks and publish them later.
  • If your blog teaches a skill, share what you learned AND what you thought about your learning, including your mistakes. People will get to know you, learn from you, and keep coming back.
  • Blogs NEED pictures even if you borrow images from Google. Daytime bloggers enjoy music, but songs and videos load slowly, and impatient blog surfers may give up. Sleepless bloggers with families won’t listen to your music at night unless they have a blog cave, or their families are deaf.

kildeer 1

2.  Label Posts with Blogging Categories

  • Organized people may start with categories, and then write posts.
  • Random bloggers like me start rambling, then determine what categories fit.
  • WordPress will suggest tags. Tags differ from categories, and help WWW readers find information quickly.
  • Categories help readers who come to read you find what you write about. They also help you find articles you already wrote about specific topics.
On the Floor of Congress http://www.ushistory.org/us/19e.asp
This ia a battle in your brain. Is it History? Blogging Skills?, Famous Art? Best Lectures Ever?

3. Label Pictures with Blogging Categories – rainy or snowy day projects!

  • Most of my picture titles started with the letters IMG. Poor labels filled my blog with repeated pictures, and used up my storage capacity. Edit using the scale changer. (Later, no hurry on that!)
  • Click on a picture to edit it and change the title using category names.
  • Use the text feature as you process your photos to  write your name on the image.   If you don’t, some malicious person might Photoshop your image and re-purpose it.  I did not sign them at first as you can see with my killdeer, but who cares if she ends up protecting a lion in Africa and not her eggs in my driveway?
Blogging skills
Blogging skills See the copyright signature????  Its tiny.  I make them  more pronounced now!  

That’s enough for today because you need to go post your first post of the new  year.

 

 

Tips to Make the Difference Between “I’d Better Stop (Criticizing) Here and “I Want to Read More”

It is pretty scary to put your work out for the public to read and criticize.  Part of the reason is that, while you want to make changes to make it better, criticisms alert you to the problems, but don’t necessarily tell you how to fix them.

Fix this
“Sis, just tap it a little to the lift. Awww you missed. My turn!”

 

These tips from Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland helped me get out of my rut. (The links are from Amazonsmile, which makes a contribution to your favorite charity if you register for it – Mine is California Council for the Social Studies, of course!)

1.  Open with movement.  She means this literally.  Make the person get up, walk, run, sit – do something.  In my first -345th draft I had started with description.  I thought it was interesting, but then my husband is a realtor.  The rest of the world was not fascinated or captivated, by knob and tube wiring, so this was a huge tip.

driving off

2.  Open with conflict. Personally I hate conflict, but then I’m a little boring around the edges, AND I am not the protagonist – of course she has some parts of me, but the boring ones had better go by the wayside!  So she is huffing off in her Mustang convertible after a little tiff with her dad!  OH Yeah, I guess that’s not so different from my life – Dad’s just been gone so long I forgot.  Maybe I’m not boring after all!

Nancy Kress suggested several exercises in Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint that helped me refine my character after I got her moving.

  1.  Create a mini-bio.  I set up a table and added to it after reading each chapter in her book.  One assignment was to analyze another author’s characters.  Here is the table I set up, and my brief analysis of Macon Leary from the first few pages of Accidental Tourist.  
Name: Macon Leary
Age:
Birthplace:
Marital Status: Married then divorced
Children: Ethan – deceased
General appearance:
Living arrangements: Married to Sarah, then living alone
Occupation: Writer of tourist books
Degree of skill at occupation Very good,
Characters feeling about occupation hated traveling, loved writing
Family background Lost a child, buried his feelings in habits
Faults Routines for everything, rituals, depressing habits

For my own characters I added lines for:

  •  favorite book or magazine, (I Googled what kinds of books each type of woman might be reading.)
  • a full description of an outfit they would wear, and
  • what motivates their actions – what do they want from the story and why – the back story.

This activity allows you to mix up your characters more easily.  I made one of Vanessa’s conservative Christian friends bi-racial black/white and not white, whose mother was a dancer and singer in New York before she married.  I gave another friend potty mouth – and low-cut casual clothes – totally unlike how I originally pictured either woman.

sexy Sarah

2.  The final exercise prompted the writer (me or you) to insert body language descriptions between the lines of conflict dialogue.  The main character may be honest or dishonest in his dialogue, but the body language has to be genuine.  First I looked up body language for someone who is irritated on the internet.  Then I rewrote the brief conflict between Sheena and Vanessa and inserted some honest irritation body language.  It didn’t add many words, but I think it added some believability.  It was so easy, I did the same thing for her scuffle with her dad.

So there you have it, my best tips for editing Chapter 1.  Next,  I’ll share Chapter 2 and then in a following post I’ll share  additional tips I’ve learned as I read more.  :)  For you that are more into photography and non-fiction, thanks for hanging in there while I dabble in fiction.  :)  Happy holidays!  :)

Happy Holidays and A Parade of Thanks

Here it is Christmas Eve, and I’ve hardly mentioned Christmas this year or wished you all Happy Holidays.  I hope you all have wonderful plans with friends and family for the holidays.  Our celebration is going to be quiet this year, getting together with neighbors, and being lazy like Mr. Snowman who doesn’t move a muscle while he guards the piano.  He likes his job, though, or hides his feelings behind his broad smile.  I’m not sure which.  He’s not much of a conversationalist!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays.  :)
Merry Christmas and happy holidays. :)

I want to thank you all of your for your comments yesterday.  They were very helpful.  I agreed with them, and have struggled with Chapter One from the beginning of the first writing of Chapter One, which is soooooo discouraging!

I read today that writers need to wear three hats as they write:  the writer, the editor and the reader.  The last one is the hardest to develop.  The problem is that the writer already knows things that the reader isn’t privileged  to know.  Since I know so much about Vanessa, it’s been hard to weed out just what all I should share in the first chapter.   Some of it I’m not sure I even want to tell you because it’s so private boring  hard to put into words!  Another problem I have is that Vanessa keeps morphing.  Sometimes she is so fluid, that I can’t even keep track of who she is!  I thought I knew her pretty well as Trixie, but as Vanessa, she’s not quite the same person.  It’s like changing the person who played Darren in Bewitched in the middle of the series.  He was sort of the same, but not really!

So what you all said to me made a lot of sense.  Making sense of advice, and being able to fix it, though are two different skills!  It’s interesting to me, that teaching and writing all most of my life hasn’t been nearly enough preparation to write a simple best-selling fiction novel.  My husband says I’m expecting it to come to easily, and I guess I have to agree with him, although I don’t consider what I’ve done as “coming too easily.”  It’s pretty humbling, really.  But… I will keep plugging along.

Thanks again, enjoy the holidays, and God bless.  :)

Images of America: Four Simple Steps to Edit a Pictorial History

Editing a picture book with 50 -70 word captions for each of 200+ pictures requires more effort than you would think, and grammar is not the hardest part to correct.

1.  Ask experts to read your manuscript.

McKay Point 2

I might have made the mistake of calling this a cement dam at one time.  But not after writing Images of America:  Woodlake.  Robert Edmiston corrected one entry explaining that cement is a part of concrete, but dams are made of concrete, an aggregate of cement and rocks.  No company in Woodlake makes cement.  In a million years I would not have corrected that mistake on my own.

This is the four room school built in 1912 or 1913, not 1923.
This is the four room school built in 1912 or 1913, and not in 1923.

2.  Ask experts to help you check pictures for historical accuracy.  This can be more difficult than you think.  Sources of pictures don’t always label their pictures.  Even libraries rely on the picture donors to date and label the pictures correctly.  Sometimes you can check facts using newspapers, but they are not always accurate either.  I used two or three references when possible to make sure I had names and dates correct.  Even then, my readers questioned me on several items.  Marcy Miller and I sleuthed through dates of the school buildings.  She had a picture of a building built in 1913, but several dates were attached to it.  I had thought it was the same building that is now the district office, but I had a date of 1923 on that building from an obscure reference in a book.  As we dug, we found that there were actually two different buildings.  We looked at the brickwork at the bottom of the building and compared it to another building picture we had from a newspaper.

Edmiston-29

3.  Ask experts to check names, double check them. If you are like me, you were not alive in 1860.  When a relative tells you that one family’s children were too young to attend school in 1860, you have to question the historian’s information, if possible.  In this case it was not possible because the historian passed away in 1971, and she did not have anything footnoted.  The mystery might have been solved because the woman from the family in question had children from a previous marriage that could have attended school in 1860.  Even though the children had a different last name than was listed in the book, the historian might not have realized that because the woman had remarried, and the children might have gone by the new husband’s name to make things more simple.  Some things never change!  But it is surprising how important it is even 150 years after the fact, to get the names correct.

 

Notice the search box at the top, and the name is highlighted.  The page number is also listed in the sidebar not pictured.
Notice the search box at the top, and the name is highlighted. The page number is also listed in the sidebar not pictured.

4.  Document your sources so that you can find where you got your information.  One fact in question came up about the name of one of the participant in the 1926 Pageant named in the picture. One elderly resident had seen the picture and told Marcy Miller that it was one person,  when in fact it was his brother.  The evidence was in the newspaper, and when I showed her the article, she said, “Well his memory isn’t always perfect.”  Expect people to question your facts, and do your best to keep track of them.  When publishing with  Arcadia books, the template doesn’t allow for footnotes or an extensive bibliography, but you almost need to include one in your own copy.  I spent a lot of time looking for the information source to prove my writing.  Sometimes I had it listed in the caption, but when I approached 70 words in the caption, I couldn’t include the information credit for publication.  As I neared the end of my research, I purchased a product, Wondershare PDF Editor Pro to make my PDFs searchable.  This helped me to find information faster.

Can you guess the year of this picture?  Clue:  Experts are alive today who can name most of those pictured.
Can you guess the year of this picture? Clue: Experts are alive today who can name most of those pictured.

In their author’s guidelines the publisher suggested that writers allow 2 weeks for editing using an expert reader.  They moved my deadline up a month, so I didn’t have that luxury, but they have been wonderful about accepting changes, and once I get the proof back, I will have another opportunity to proof read it once again.

I hope this has been a helpful process for you in your own writing.  :)

Find me on Facebook under TC History Gal Productions.

 

WP Photo Challenge: Yellow

Yellow seems to creep into every picture even when I don’t focus on it.  I looked for a folder that might show a lot of yellow where one might not expect it.  I first opened “Market Research.”  In this photo trip, I explored what sold books.  Compare the picture with more yellow.  What do you think?

Yellow 1RT
With

 

with less
with less

I actually could not find a bookcase with NO yellow.  Yellow makes the other colors pop.  Which book in the next bookcase draws your attention?  Which ones would you choose to read looking at the cover?  What about if you just looked at the spine?

Yellow 3

Yellow needs another color to offset it, but a bit of yellow goes a long way, wouldn’t you say?  The book I remember reading from this entire post – 9 months later is The Dark.

For more choices click the WP icon

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Images of America: Three Tips for Researching and Writing Historical Captions

Marsha's knowledge about Woodlake before researching for Images of America:  Woodlake
A symbol of Marsha’s knowledge about Woodlake before researching for Images of America: Woodlake. (Courtesy of Google.)

You’ve seen pictures of the brain lighting up when ideas enter and make connections to random ideas. Pathways get brighter as the brain connects similar knowledge and experiences until eventually superhighways light up the scan.  You can reach the superhighway of understanding your topic quickly by following these tips.

Hanging with friends1
Woodlake Foundation Fundraiser featuring Courtney and Haley Hengst eating Vince’s Spamtures. (You don’t want to know – trust me!)

 

Tip #1 Offline Research:  Start with Friends – Be Social

You can’t research a community without talking about your project to as many people as possible.  You might as well have fun doing it!  Friends will know something interesting, have a resource you need, or know someone you should contact.  Those synapses will start to spark.  Next be brave and move into unfamiliar territory – schedule appointments.

Bob and Linda

Afterwards, take a walk with your friends and tell them what you learned, and how much you appreciated their lead.  Your conversation will sparkle because everyone wants to know all the gossip you learned – even if it is over 100 years old!  :)

final cover proof

Tip #2   Offline Continued:  The Scanning/ Interview Appointment

Once I got this proof back from Arcadia Publishers, my step-son suggested that I print it up with the first few pictures and captions I had written.   It worked great! The proof primed the pump and assured strangers that I was a legitimate author.  Interviewees helped proof captions, gave more information about  pictures I already had, shared a different perspective, questioned my facts, or confirmed what I knew.

To prepare for the appointment pack your car with what you might need.  Include: your camera, scanner, a thumb drive (don’t forget this!), cell phone, and a computer for taking notes. I took lots of notes on the proofs I printed, too.  If the person I interviewed didn’t mind, I recorded parts of conversations on my cell phone.  Many times interviewees also had written material about their pictures as well:  interviews or newspaper articles, which I scanned.

Hengst3-16
Bob Hengst really was a rocket scientist in high school! (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)

 

A great purchase to make better use of this information is Wondershare PDF Editor Pro.  This software package is about 1/3 of the cost of Adobe Acrobat, and will convert your PDF document like the one above into a searchable document.  Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this until I almost had the book finished, but you don’t have to wait that long if you have read this post!  :)

Abe Dinken's Shingle Factory in Elderwood,  CA  (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)
 (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)

Tip #3  Online Research

Some pictures showed people in occupations I didn’t know much about, like tenting orange trees in the early 1900s.  I found a U. S. patent by Abe Dinkins and Abe Upp for a scale that is still used today for weighing grapes.   Some schools, businesses and service organizations have a history blurb on their website. Google taught me about pesticides and the various methods used throughout history, what and how industries use steel containers, tuberculosis, how to tie grape vines, and many other useful tidbits of information.

Woodlake Elementary School 1923 (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)
Woodlake Elementary School 1923 (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)

California Council for the Humanities transcribed interviews of least 7 Woodlakers about World War II, agriculture, and their lives in general, including an interview of Alice (Hawkins) Mitchell.  These documents gave me interesting stories to use with pictures that were hard to describe interestingly because I didn’t know enough. (It might be hard for some to believe, but I didn’t attend school as early as 1923!)  Alice Hawkins is on the right hand side, third row up.  If I had used this picture, I might have quoted her California Humanities interview in the caption about this picture to preview  Alice’s future.

Redbanks (Courtesy of the Tulare County Library.)
Redbanks (Courtesy of the Tulare County Library.)

Research is the key to writing good captions as much as socializing, following up on leads, and appreciating your friends’ help is the answer to gathering MANY usable pictures.  Follow these tips, and your new synapses will glow brighter than your Christmas lights! :)

After researching for Images of America:  Woodlake
Marsha’s brain (popping)  after researching for Images of America: Woodlake (Courtesy of Google.)

If you like these tips join me on my writing journey and LIKE my Facebook Page, TC History Gal Productions.   :)

 

Images of America: Woodlake; Gathering and Organizing Images

 My 600th post! 

Woodlake parade  350
A Woodlake Rodeo Parade picture from an unspecified time period.  (A Bud Kilburn picture courtesy of Lisa Kilburn)

Arcadia Publishing has specific requirements for the photos in your Images book.  You receive a written guideline and an editor that answers questions promptly.  Your success is practically guaranteed – once your get the photos!

Edmiston-1R
The Edmistons (Courtesy of Robert Edmiston.)

Images of America books are not family history books, so even if you grew up in a community, you must gather pictures.  Multiple family’s pictures in the book are essential to telling the story.

Beginning Woodlake buildings labeled by Marion Legakes.  (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)
Beginning Woodlake buildings labeled by Marion Legakes. (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)

In the case of a small community, probably the library will not have enough images to fill your book.   You might have a small museum or historical society that stores pictures.  Even though our museum is not open, one woman has pictures in her home.  Here are the ways I started from 0 and gathered the 200+ pictures I needed for publication in 6 months.

Woodlake parade  351
A Woodlake Rodeo Parade picture from an unspecified time period. (A Bud Kilburn picture courtesy of Lisa Kilburn)

 

  1. Our local Kiwanis magazine put in a free ad for me. – 1 direct call and one referral from her
  2. I walked the streets of Woodlake and talked to business owners, City Hall and Woodlake Police. – 2 donors
  3. Talking to friends in the grocery store  – 1 prospect
  4. Following referrals from friends – 30 donors
  5. Cold calls to businesses – 1 potential donor who googled me to make sure I didn’t have a criminal record or wasn’t a sex offender before he called me too late for publication.
  6. Following referrals from referrals – 3 donors
Laura 112b
The community northwest of Woodlake called Elderwood in the 1940s. (Courtesy of Laura Spalding.)

Organizing was important, and took quite a bit of time as I processed the photos.  These are my steps.

  1. As I started scanning photos, I put the PDFs into files in my document folder labeled by donor’s names.
  2. Next I created a “Woodlake PDF” and put in all of the donor folders.
  3. Each photograph sent to Arcadia was a TIFF file, so I processed all most files, and put them into a separate file with the donor’s name inside a large folder that said, “Woodlake TIFF.”
  4. I didn’t write about every picture.  In order to write, I used an unpublished blog account, because importing each picture to a Word file made Word crash.  It is hard to write about a picture when you can’t look at it as you write, so the blog was perfect.
  5. However, that created another step.  TIFF files are huge, so I resized each photo I used (or thought I might use) in the book and saved it as a JPEG, and created another Donor file and put it inside – you guessed it – the “Woodlake JPEG” file. Then I could upload those files easily to my blog, and the ones I didn’t use in the book I could post to FB or in my  blog.
  6. Then I made files for the chapter titles and copied only the TIFFS into those files, numbering them for the book.
  7. Finally I copied the entire folder, “Arcadia,” onto an external hard drive.  I started to copy all of it to the cloud, but it was very time consuming.
  8. After I submitted the manuscript and pictures, I began copying the JPEG files only to Picasa.  I’m still not finished, and I hope it is worth the effort!  I have them organized by subject rather than chapter, and I have one folder for all the images used in the book along with the caption, so that if I do another book, I will use different pictures, or be sure to credit the book as well as the donor.
Inside the Bank of America circa 1936.  Courtesy of Woodlake City Hall
Inside the Bank of America circa 1936. (Courtesy of Woodlake City Hall)

That’s it.  That’s how I gathered and organized hundreds of pictures in six months.

Twinkle

The six million dollar photo that sold recently captured the perfect twinkle of light and processed it beautifully. These are my $1.00 twinkles taken with my iPhone last year at the NCSS Conference in St. Louis and their different processes.

Twinkle1

First I cropped it to help it adhere to the thirds rule.

Stylized with Glowing Edges
Stylized with Glowing Edges

Then I added filters.   I thought this one was pretty cool because it took it from real and somewhat blurry to on-purpose blurry with some sharp edges.

Filter:  Stylized - Solarized
Filter: Stylized – Solarized

I solarized Twinkle 3, and I like the rainbow of colors.

Distortion:  Glass
Distortion: Glass

Twinkle 4 reminds me of driving through St. Louis with my dad when

rain pelted the windshield unfettered by wipers.  I’m not sure why we lived through that ride.

I actually thought they turned out well considering the beginning photo.  Mr. Snowman, however, reflects my best camera’s capabilities (before I dropped it) – and mine too, for that matter.

SFW Christmas 2012004RT

Mr. Snowman posed beautifully on our tree last year.  Here he poses pretending he is outside in the snow instead of our cozy cottage.  He came back shivering, though.

Filter:  Stylize:  Find Edges
Filter: Stylize: Find Edges

He tried on the Glowing Edges next, and liked the look when he preened in the mirror, and asked for one more make-over.

Fliter: Stylized: Glowing Edges
Fliter: Stylized: Glowing Edges

I threw him into the texturizer, and he came out immortalized as a stained glass window.

Texture: Stained Glass
Texture: Stained Glass

With a twinkle in his eye he asked me to find out from you which of his pictures you like best.  :)  I’ll be sure to tell him.  He’s got his eye on me from the tree in the living room.  :)  He thinks he’d make a good Christmas card.  What do you think?  :)

For more great Twinkle pictures click the icon below

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Images of America: Woodlake; Steps to Finding the Vision That Drove the Book

Just like good sex, writing, even bad writing, starts in the brain.    Before the first word ever appeared on my computer screen, questions etched their way into my consciousness.  Before I even wrote an outline, I questioned the existence of Woodlake. I pictured this foothill community without a town.

Woodlake Becky 6 Sevenson Ad

  1. Guiding Questions  I started with the question, “What makes Woodlake unique, and why did it become a town?”  The vision developed.  I wondered if the people who ranched here, and the Native Americans, the Yokuts, whose culture had survived the early settlers’ arrival objected to Gilbert Stevenson’s dream of a town.  Wondering prompted a several tasks.
  2. Research:  Reading & Interviewing In step two I sought answers the basic questions, and got a feel for Woodlake’s uniqueness.  This was an ongoing task, of course, but first I needed to get an overall vision of the book’s focal points. I could do both tasks simultaneously on Facebook which put me in touch with between 1,000 and 2,000 group members.  I quickly made some friends, only to discover that they lived clear across the United States.  That was bad for face to face interviews, but great for the Woodlake Foundation when it comes to marketing!Woodlake on FB
  3. Create a timeline to identify iconic events and people that contributed to the vision.  Events blurred in my brain, so I started a timeline.  The first years were easiest to order because they had already been documented in two books, and published and unpublished articles.  The later events still remained fresh in people’s mind, but the middle episodes remained fuzzy, except that everyone seemed to LOVE Woodlake and love living here in the 1940s to 1980s.  As events became clear, so did iconic individuals.  After reading entries on FB, Gus West assumed a bigger than life place in my brain.  He was the one man police force starting in 1941.  Most of his clients were naughty boys that did bad things to street lights and outhouses.   He seemed to know just how to deal with them.  I pictured Andy Griffith of Mayberry, and the more I read, the more central he became to the story of Woodlake’s lost middle years. Printable pictures of  Gus seemed non-existent, but his influence pervaded my thoughts, and guided the story of Woodlake.  I wondered, “Would I EVER find a picture of Gus West?”
  4. Rough in an outline of the book.  In a small town life-changing events, patterns and iconic people surface quickly.  In Woodlake the last major event that everyone mentioned was the high school fire.  Since history becomes valid after about 25 years, this 1980 blaze marked the latest date in the book.  At that point I didn’t have any pictures of it, and didn’t know who did, but the vision of what I needed was clear.  Since this was a picture book, all I needed to do was find a source.  Friends recommended the name of a photographer, who was gone.  The search for pictures is another topic, but photographers became somewhat iconic, too.WUHS 1980 FireT
  5. Determine Structure of the book by examining similar books.  Many of the Images books are topical, but my brain works chronologically.  So I combined the two approaches.  Chapters 1-4 are chronological, while the last two chapters deal with influential topics that adhere to the vision. The theme that Gilbert Stevenson and Gus West both wrote in history had a dreamy quality.  Stevenson saw a tourist town.  West protected it.  Celebrations attracted attention to it, and Churches and Schools gave it the solid foundation it needed to become reality .
Woodlake ElementaryR
Woodlake Elementary, built in 1923 at 300 W. Whitney.

 

Finding a vision for the book emerged through the questions that arose in my mind.  Finding answers to the questions, and finding 200 pictures to convey the story created another series of tasks for another post.

 

Images of America: Woodlake, Step One

 

castaway-laptop2

There I was, minding my own WordPress and Blogger blogs, trying to Twitter, connecting to LinkedIn, finding friends on Facebook, and deleting hundreds of emails that I signed up to get.  Everyone had an offer for me to make me better at all those things.  It was offer overload.  I’m not sure why I didn’t delete Ginny’s Wednesday, May 28, 2014 email asking me if I wanted to write a book about Woodlake.

My name is Ginny and I am the California acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing. We publish local or regional pictorial history books as part of our Images of America series. I’m interested in starting a similar project about Woodlake and came across your blog while researching potential authors. You’ve got a great style and voice and your experience and knowledge of the area would make you an excellent candidate to author the book. Is this something you might be interested in?

I fell for it almost as hard as I did for my first my spammer compliment on WP.  She sent some attachments about the company, so I wrote her back.

Hi Ginny,
That would be so fun!  Let me look this over, and I’d love to talk to you!
And my friends say I’m shallow!!! hahaha
She called me the next day, and I remember talking to her for quite a while.  She gave me a six-day deadline to complete a 10 page proposal including a book outline with 10-20 sample pictures and captions.   Only she forgot to send me the proposal form!  On Monday she wrote,

Hi Marsha!

I just realized I had not gotten the proposal to you last week as promised! It is attached to this email. The most important sections are the Author Information, Book Information, and Schedule – everything else can come later (including sample images/captions). Please let me know if you have any questions! I look forward to speaking to you soon!

The due date was still Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Among other things the proposal application asked about my background, community involvement, businesses that might carry the book, and dates that might affect the release of the book.
roping1RT
Woah!  Intensive!  I guessed a lot! So I sent her one picture I had scanned from a neighbor, and wrote a caption for it. (This wasn’t it, but it’s awesome, don’t you think?) I wrote a 200 word summary of what I thought I might write, and spent the rest of the day completing the form.  Looking back over the proposal as I write this, I see I missed a question.
Business name Contact person and affiliation to business (if known) Address/City/State/Zip

Phone ###.###.###

Local insight and personal connection
Joe’s Drugs

(pharmacy)

Joe Smith, owner

 

321 S. Main Street

Anytown, DC 98765

(123) 456-7890

Town pharmacy that carries local themed products. Owner Joe is my brother-in-law.

I made my June 4th deadline.  On June 12, 2014 I received this reply along with  450 more words and two attachments of instructions.

Hi Marsha,

I hope you are doing well! I am pleased to inform you that your proposal,Woodlake, has been approved. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with you in adding Woodlake to our Images of America series!

I had my first opportunity to publish history, starting with 4 scanned pictures out of over 200 necessary.

I hope I won’t bore you, but I want to spend a few posts outlining the steps I took from start to finish to write this book so I don’t forget it.  I sent my final draft in with all the pictures on Monday.  I need something else to do!  hehehe!!!  Along the way, I hope it will help some of you in your writing journey.

Thanks for all your support and encouragement along the journey. NOW, I write histories!  :)

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

For being such a 100% gorgeous day, Saturday, November 29th turned oddball early on.  First of all I called my friend’s dad, Clarence.  I know his name is Leonard. I only said it wrong twice. Leonard Hansen was Woodlake’s famous World War II POW.

hansen with flag

He was on the Tulare County Office of Education Board of Education.  I worked there.  I’m Tulare County’s History Gal.  We filmed a video about his experiences.  I called him Clarence.  It promised to be an odd day.

Woodlake Farm

Then I picked up Robert Edmiston.  He had promised to show me landmarks in Elderwood that I didn’t know.  So we went to the Woodlake High School Farm.  I couldn’t see a single crop.  How odd was that?

trees

The 100 year old palms listed oddly

Bill Ferry

California is  in the middle of a drought.  Hardly a drop of water sits idle.  Sally, Linda and I easily amble around the circumference of Bravo Lake in an hour.  Farmers pumped Tulare Lake dry over 150 years ago. The only ferry in Central California is Bill Ferry.

Easter Island of Elderwood

Someone in Elderwood replicated Easter Island. This individual wanted to redevelop the Mini-Ha-Ha Ranch and destroyed the 100-year-old stately palm trees that lines the access road by setting them on fire.

Easter Island2

Palm tree trunks don’t burn well.  This violent act clearly disturb the Plane Gods.

Elda School 2014

Someone left the door open at Elda School.

Blue Oak's last stand

The only native stand of blue oaks left is not in a nature preserve, but sits in a hog wallow field across from an orange grove in Elderwood.

Converging signs

The signs are all there, but where’s the road?  Robert pointed out Lone Oak Mountain in the background.  The lone oak died.

TC history gal bites the dust

I don’t think I forgot to put the car in park.  Sometimes my Prius doesn’t turn off when I press the off button.  Sometimes it doesn’t go into park.  Even so, it shouldn’t have gone backwards.  Usually, when it doesn’t turn off, it goes forwards while I’m still in the car, and I press it again.  This time it sat still as though it was really in park, so I got out and took a picture.  Then I looked around to see the car starting to take off!  I ran towards the car as it moved gently backwards and tried to stop it, but I fell out of the car as I tried to get in.  I don’t know how Robert got in the driver’s seat.  The car didn’t crash.  I bit the dust, but the car didn’t run over me, nor did the open car door jab me in the face.  My camera, which I threw on the ground as I fell,  could still shoot pictures.

Blurred vision

The autofocus doesn’t work any more.  Thanksgiving paid it forward for me.  Another one of my X# lives with only one little scratch on my elbow!

022714-odd-ball Yesterday was odd ball.  Click the icon to see more odd ball responses.

 

 

Black and White Challenge: Glass

I live much of my life behind glass.  My 2006 Prius has  over 215,000 miles, my husband’s 2004 truck has nearly 200,000 miles, and his “new” car, a 2010 Prius has nearly 80,000 miles on it.  Usually I drive and can’t take pictures (or shouldn’t). On our accidental vacation, we had to stop.  So did everyone else.

SFW TAV Herd of Elk 6

Nonetheless, my husband wanted me to stay behind the glass.  Glass protects.  For this picture, he pulled off the road.  Elk grazed on both sides of the 2-lane highway.  Other brave souls came out from behind the glass.  I did too, and fortunately the elk were more interested in the grass than in us.  :)

Randy on Glass

You don’t want to test glass beyond its protective endurance.  Fortunately there was more to this floor than just glass because a few weeks after we took this picture, the glass busted!  Those squares weren’t patterns on the carpet, they were tops of Chicago buildings.

Notre Dame BW Glass

Glass does more than protect.  The University of Notre Dame collected more French stained glass than anywhere in France.  It would take days to notice all the beauty in these glass windows.

Chicago_0462

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but what about people working in glass buildings?  I guess they can throw anything they want during the daytime.  You can’t see in anyway.  I could have seen a reflection of me throwing a stone off the tour boat, but I was more than a stone’s throw away!

042314-bw-4

If you’re not glassy-eyed by now. Click on the icon to view more of Cee’s friends’ photos.

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