Mid-Month Short Story Challenge #11

We’re semi-permanently in double digits for these prompts. That’s exciting. If you’re into numbers and that sort of thing. Not that I would ever have a thing for numbers.

I actually wrote this prompt before prompt #9 came out, but I rearranged some of the prompts for various reasons, meaning this one fell out of the first ten. That said, it’s a prompt I’m excited about. This will become clear for reasons you’ll (hopefully) see below.

Your prompt is for this month below. Your story should be posted on July 1, 2018. Be sure to link back to this post so I can see your story and share.

  • Suggested number of words: 1000-2000 words
  • Seven words to work into your story: Waddle, impetus, serene, porcelain, terror, young, positions
  • Genre: Documentary/research paper style. Exactly how you achieve this is up to you.
  • Rating/Content/Perspective Limitation: No limitations
  • Topic: Mundane first-world problems explained to an alien

2018 Blog Goals – Q1 Review

At the beginning of this year, I decided to set some blog goals for 2018. I was inspired by someone on Twitter (I swear it was Kaytie Zimmerman from Optimistic Millennial, but I can’t find her goals post or tweet talking about this) to try set some sort of plan for myself to grow my blog in a few ways during the new year. It’s something I’ve only done one other time in the history of any of the other sites I’ve written for1On my old blog, I set a goal to write 365 posts in 2011. I think I ended with 435ish.. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try this year, particularly since I had some new projects I was planning on doing this year. I’ve talked about a couple of those projects so far, with a couple of them still on the way.

So…how am I doing on the three goals I set this year? Let’s take a look.

Goal 1: 20 New WordPress Followers

Let’s lead off with the goal that is going the least well, shall we? In 2017, I picked up 16 new WordPress followers, so I figured I’d try to grow this total by 20 this year. In retrospect, this might not have been the best goal, particularly since 12 of the 16 new followers in 2017 came in the first half of the year. While 2018 started off good, with the blog gaining a new follower in the first week of the year, I’m well behind pace on this one. I’m at a loss on how to improve this one at the moment, particularly since even in the heyday of my older blogs, I don’t believe I ever topped 100 total WordPress followers. If you blog and have suggestions, I’m open to them.

Goal 2 – Average 250 Visits Per Month

While I’m not on pace to hit this goal so far this year, I’m relatively happy with how this has gone so far. As you can see from the table above2If you needed further proof that I’m a spreadsheet nerd, I started a sentence in a blog post like that., while I hit my goal in January, I fell short of the goal in both February and March. That said, the fact that I was over 200 visitors in all three months shows that I’m sustaining growth, as the last month I was under 200 visitors was August 2017. On top of that, the 708 visitors by the end of March represents a 51.9% growth over where That Tiny Website was at the end of March 2017 (466 to 708). So while I’m not quite at the 750 visitors that would mean I’m meeting this goal, I feel pretty good about this pace so far.

Goal 3 – Grow Comment Count by 20% Again

I have to be honest. I expected this goal to be the hardest to achieve by a large margin. I don’t have the number of commenters on my posts that I once did. Yet, despite expecting struggles with comments, I’m shockingly ahead of pace on this one. Technically, I could not get a single comment in April and only be one comment behind pace for the year3Please don’t do that. I love you all.. But seeing how well this one has gone has been a nice surprise for the start of the year.

How are your 2018 blog goals going? Do you have any ideas how I can solve my follower struggles? Would you like to encourage people to flood to my site and click follow? Awesome. Sound off in the comments.

When You Can’t Write What You Want

I find it equal parts simple and difficult to come up with blog post ideas. On one hand, I’ve been blogging off and on for nearly 15 years now, with most of the past nine years featuring at least semi-regular blogging. I’ve had a ton of things I’ve written about in that time that I could easily rehash for content when I need it. But that’s not what I really want to do. I could likely turn this blog into a listicle filled site, and though I’ve parodied listcles from time to time, that’s also not route I’d prefer to go. What I try to do instead is to talk about new things with each post I write — or at the very least address different facets of a topic if I’ve talked about it before.

Another important thing to note about my blog is that I tend to write most posts, save for the Mid-Month Short Story Challenge responses, well in advance. If I have something I want to talk about that’s time sensitive, I’ll write about it and post it relatively quickly, but more often I’ve written a post weeks before it sees the light of day. When those timely posts get written, they push my scheduled posts back, which is how a post written in mid-October doesn’t end up going up on the blog until nearly Christmas time.

When I come up with post ideas, I tend to send them to myself via email so that I don’t forget about them. Some of those post ideas end up just getting deleted, but more often than not, I’ll eventually write about most things I send myself, if for no other reason than to clean out my inbox. I’d love to clean out my inbox right now1This goes both for my personal inbox and my work one..

The most frustrating thing for me as a blogger is when I have ideas to write about, but I can’t write about them yet for whatever reason. More often than not, this is because it’s something that’s on a timeline that’s out of my control2As is the case with all of the pending post ideas at this point., though occasionally it’s something that I have some level of control over. And that’s terribly frustrating. I don’t like having a lack of control over my writing, even though it’s something I have experience with just from having written a book.

At times like this, it’s hard to keep content somewhat regular on my blog. I tend to write more about non-personal things, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve written about Pokemon and pie in the past 30ish days3To be fair, the pie post is fantastic.. I feel like these are the driest times to be a reader of my blog, which certainly won’t help me reach my blog goals for the year. The best situation would be that things change to where I can write about the things I (badly) wish to write about. In the interim, however, I’ll just write about whatever comes to mind, even if I’m not able to hit the same post length or traffic goals I have with most posts.

How do you handle it when there’s something you want to write or talk about, but can’t for whatever reason? Let me know in the comments.

Mid-Month Short Story Challenge #8

Welcome to the eighth edition of the mid-month short story challenge. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in last month’s prompt. In previous months, you’ve written about change, people watching, a frantic lady at the airport, and many other topics. This month, the theme of the prompt will be focusing on death and reflection. Feel free to be part of this month’s challenge, or any of the other mid-month short story challenges by responding to a prompt with your own tale.

Your prompt is for this month below. Your story should be posted on April 1, 2018. Be sure to link back to this post so I can see your story and share.

  • Suggested number of words: 1000-2000 words
  • Seven words to work into your story: Command, humbled, mental, family, chartreuse, merchant, bulbous
  • Genre: Your choice
  • Rating/Content Limitations: Your choice
  • Topic: You are a dying or recently deceased person. You are confronted — either literally or metaphorically — with the ghosts of your past.

WIP Update #1

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in my charity drive wrap-up post that I wasn’t particularly sure where I wanted to go with my writing. At that time, I was pretty down on how things had gone with said charity drive. In a way, I took the results of that effort as an indictment on my creative writing. I clearly have never been the best at marketing my writing — and by extension my book — and despite the book’s good ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, I ended up in a bit of a rough place mentally with how I viewed my own writing.

At the same time, just as the charity drive was wrapping up, I finally finished an outline for a project that I’ve been wanting to work on for some time now. Last year, I wrote a prompt-based short story that ventured into the realm of artificial intelligence. More specifically, the short story focused on whether or not humans and artificial intelligence could love one another, as well as the societal implications of that thought process. I actually did three short stories of various lengths on the topic last year1I’ve taken all three down off this blog, as I may end up using them in the future as part of this project (or another)., however the first one from that series is what prompted the outline. Said outline was originally 42 pages in length when I finished it, though it’s since grown to nearly 50 pages as I’ve added additional notes to it for my own reference.

A little more than a week after I wrote that charity drive post, something clicked. I wish I could tell you what it was, but I really don’t remember. I just wanted to try writing — to try working on this project that I had created a giant outline for. So I spent the better part of six hours between two plane rides working on the project, getting to almost 10,000 words in the process. I excitedly took a screenshot of Google Docs’ word count feature and posted it to my Twitter, getting better than I expected reception to the work I had done. No one had read the work in progress. Hell, only one person knew what said work in progress was related to at that point. The reaction still made me happy to see all the same.

We’re a little more than two months on now from the point at which I started working on this new project. Since starting, I’m at just over 24,000 words in the project. This accounts for about one-quarter of the chapters in the story’s outline. Even then, there’s really just been a lot of world building done at this point2There’s a surprisingly high amount of world building I’ve felt like I’ve needed to do with this story, even though the technologies within it aren’t that far-fetched from what exist today., as the main story itself has only just started to take shape in the last chapter or two. I’d ideally like to have the first draft of this book written by the end of spring, though we’ll see how much I can get done over the next couple of months.

I’m not necessarily writing this post for anyone. If you’re interested in the writing I’ve done and would like to stay up to date on the work in progress I have going on now, great. I’ll (hopefully) be posting additional updates about it as I continue working towards completing it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a handful of people approach me about wanting to be beta readers for the story once it has gone through an initial edit, which is something I didn’t have with my first book3I had beta readers, however I had to proactively seek them out. Seeing people actively want to be beta readers for me is a welcome surprise.. With this book likely being my first novel that I actually try to do something with4I’ve written a full novel for NaNoWriMo three times now (twice in the time limit, once with some extra time needed). That said, I don’t feel like continuing work on those for various reasons., there’s a long way to go. That said, I’ll try to keep doing these posts, not only for my own self-accountability, but also to let you all have some insight into my writing process, if you’re interested.

And hey — if you are interested in seeing more posts like this, let me know in the comments. I can’t really know that people want to see more about this project if no one says so.