The Canadian Book Challenge

9th Canadian Book Challenge Logo flag

The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants. More on reviews below.(It’s also a lot of fun and collectively we’ve read and reviewed thousands of Canadian titles! Actually, the whole books, not just the titles.)

Source: The Book Mine Set: The 9th Canadian Book Challenge

For those who aren’t Canadian, do you read books by regional authors? When did you last try someone local?

Free Keyword Help from Ubersuggest

Get keyword ideas with Übersuggest the free keyword suggestion tool that makes good use of different suggest services.

How it works?

Write a term in the box.

Choose a language and a source. Übersuggest can get suggestions either from regular Web search or from search verticals like Shopping, News or Video (more to come).

Übersuggest takes your base term, add a letter or a digit in front of it, and extracts suggestions for it.

Click on each word to get further suggestions based on that term.

Add each keyword to your basket clicking on the plus sign on its left.

Add all visible keywords to your basket clicking on the large grey button.

With this free keyword tool you can instantly get thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries! Use the keywords to get inspiration for your next blog post, or to optimize your PPC campaigns.

via Keyword suggestion tool — Google suggest scraper — Übersuggest.

I tried it for a few topics. It brings up a lot of suggestions and sorts them alphabetically. Many suggestions are similar, of course, that’s not a bad thing when it comes to deciding on keywords to use in tags, titles and so on. It also gave me some new ideas to write about in future posts.

Blogging 101: Say “Hi!” to the Neighbors

Capture

Today’s challenge is one I am skipping for now. I’ve got a lot of blogs I follow, years and years worth of blogs I follow and I almost never read them. I would like to take time to weed through my list to find which are link rot, moved and can have a fresh link and find new sites which I would love to add to the list. That all takes quite a lot of time though, more than one day for sure.

So this day three of the WordPress Blogging 101 will have to be on the list of extra things to do later. I’d like to do the same for all of my sites. Actually, links I have on the two main sites need to be sorted into relevant topics which would fit on the niche sites too.

Lots of work to be done!

 

Blogging is a communal experience; if you didn’t want anyone to read your posts, you’d keep a private diary. Today, begin engaging with the blogging community, the first step in building an audience.

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.
Why spend time reading other blogs?

Publishing posts is only half of blogging — engaging with the community is the other.
Considering what other bloggers write will inspire you and sharpen your thoughts.
Part of what makes blogging such a rich experience are the relationships we develop with people from around the world. Those relationships only happen when we engage with one another — just look at The Commons. Plus, reaching out to other bloggers is the best way to have them return the favor.

The first step is finding the people you want to connect with. By following topics you care about in the Reader, you’ll discover a world of blogs. Some of them will become favorite reads, and some of their authors will become your fans.

Want to share your great finds? Visit The Commons.
To get you started, review our tips on using the Reader to find and follow blogs that speak to you. A few of our editors have also shared their favorite Reader topics. Add five topics, so you can access them quickly whenever you feel like doing some reading. As you browse the topics, follow five new blogs, too.

The Blogroll on The Commons is another great place to explore. There are over 1200 of you participating — you’re bound to find some new favorite reads. Scroll through the list, and click on titles that intrigue you, seem up your alley, or make you laugh. (Adding the “blogging101″ topic to your Reader is also a great way to keep up with your co-bloggers.)

If you don’t blog on WordPress.com, you can still use the Reader if you have a WordPress.com username. If not, there are other ways to explore — your blogging platform may allow you to browse, or you can visit blogs you love and check out their blogrolls and commenters’ blogs.

Feel free to publish a post in addition to completing today’s task if you’d like! Write the post that was on your mind when you decided to start a blog, or take a look at our prompts and challenges for more inspiration.

Blogging 101: Say Your Name

Capture
I haven’t changed blog titles often but I change the byline frequently. It’s hard to settle on just one description of your site. If you take a minute you can always think of something completely new, smarter or shinier. Today the WordPress Blogging 101 challenge was to give your blog a fresh title (if you don’t already have one) and think of a byline. The byline should take into account the Introduction post I wrote yesterday. So… I’ve been doing that. It has taken most of the day, so far. There are too many options. I’ve already thought of something else for this site and I only just saved it up there and took the screen shot.

herebedragons

How to be OK with Criticism or Negative Feedback

This Hub (as people at HubPages call the articles posted to the site) started from a question asked on the site.

“What do you tell anti hubbers?”

The first thing that bugged me about the question was “hubbers”. Titles should be capitalized. The second thing that bugged me was the whole attitude of the question. It’s all WRONG!

First, why do we have to live as if everything is us and them?

Second, why is no one allowed to disagree? Why do we put down opinions that don’t agree with our own?

Third, why don’t people listen to criticism and use it to their advantage?

Fourth and lastly, why do people close their minds and then act proud of it? I admit, this attitude of being close minded and proud really annoys me. As if the arrogance isn’t enough; to be proud of being so close minded is just too much!

Turn a Negative into a Positive

I’m only going to write about the third point I made, using negative feedback to your advantage rather than closing your mind to it.

When we first hear something negative we get an instant reaction. Some will rebel or be aggressive, defend ourselves, ignore it and try let it slide off us, deny it all, or some of us hide away in our shell just that much deeper, unable or unwilling to cope with anything someone didn’t like about us or something we are doing. I tend to hide in my shell in that first moment but I have learned to see it differently, though it takes practice.

I won’t pretend it’s easy, but open your mind to the essence of the feedback or the opinion given. If you take out the negative delivery, the part of the comment just meant to cause a fight or hurt your feelings, there could be something of value in what was said. Even opinions which counter our own beliefs and values can have a bit of truth. Take the negative feedback, comment, opinion and use it to your advantage. Open your mind to the possibility that you can improve.

Some negative comments and opinions are a fantastic way to confirm your own ideals and values. My best example of this is from my own life as a Pagan. I do get feedback from other people, in other religions or even people who claim to have no religion or serious spiritual beliefs. Some of the comments are nasty, some are fear driven, some are aggressive and some are well meant. If I just listen to how the comments were delivered I could be offended, upset. But, what really works best is to listen to the comment, the information given. Sometimes the information confirms everything I already believe. Now and then I learn something completely new – that’s what I like best.

Of course, the great thing about listening to people who want to hurt you with their words is to turn it back to them, to surprise them by saying “Thank you” and meaning it. You can bet that confuses them. Unless they are foaming at the mouth, most people will be interested in what you have to say once they see you are actually listening to them. You won’t necessarily change their opinions (and you shouldn’t really try to) but you can start a conversation, have a discussion where both of you will learn a little or a lot and agree to disagree. At the very least, both of you have the opportunity to come away with your mind a bit less closed.

You might even find out you agree more than you disagree. It could be you have been arguing the same point from different sides. Even people from different religions want the same basic things, they just look at it from different points of view. In the end, it’s the big picture that counts. Little things mean a lot but there’s a reason big screen TV’s sell so well compared to the old smaller screens. The big picture shows more and makes a lasting impression.

Turn negative feedback/ comments/ opinions into positive action for yourself. Use new information to better yourself, to confirm you are on the right track or to understand how other people think. In this way you can turn something negative into a positive. A win-win situation for you!

Note: I don’t want to say anything for people who don’t like HubPages. They are welcome to their opinions. You’re a little foolish if you only value people who agree with you. It’s up to each person to listen to what is said and form our own opinion. Use the feedback to our advantage. It doesn’t have to be polite feedback in order to be true or right about things we could change to make HubPages, and our contributions to the site, better.

Notice a Change?

I just added Genesis as the theme here. It needs some CSS to flip things around. I will likely get something done over the weekend. It does have a clean look, a bit too much space in odd places right now and not the font I like for titles and headers. Nothing I can’t work out. Maybe it will end up being a child theme by the time I’ve got it worked out.

There are a load of Genesis plugins. I think it relies on them a bit too much. I would say it is not a theme/ framework for anyone who can’t deal with some HTML and CSS customizing. The framework doesn’t come with many options for customizing it. Thesis was much better that way, more user friendly (until version 2 came out).

Update: The update is I’m not using Genesis. Seems the only way to use Genesis is to write your own child theme. At which point, what is the point of having Genesis? Right now I’ve gone back to another premium theme I bought a couple of years ago. Nice to get some use form them now and then.

Turn Posts and Categories into Faux eBooks

Lorelle on WordPress has created images in her sidebar to link to favourite, popular posts and categories in her blog.

But, she has made the images look like more – I thought they were going to be ebooks she has written. Did you think the same (if you have seen them) too?

Could you do the same? Think about the posts which tend to get the most traffic from your older posts and rewrite the titles as an ebook title. Then create a little image file. Then pull up the posts you wrote and loved, the ones you thought would attract readers but just never took off. Dust off the dust bunnies and give them another chance. Do the same for your prime/ important category or categories.

Put a selection of the images in the sidebar, together. Keep them uniform in size and colour, etc. So they look like a set and will all seem to be something you did intentionally rather than random links to other sites or ads.

I bet you will get more clicks on them. I clicked on them in Lorelle’s blog sidebar because I thought they would be an interesting ebook to download and read.

Mysteries

This was originally part of the Suite101 University ecourses offered for free. I wanted to preserve the information for myself and others as Suite101 is taking all of the ecourse University content down.

Mysteries

By Janet Blaylock

Introduction

This course is a pre-requisite to “Writing Mysteries.”

What are your favorite genres? Romance perhaps? Maybe it’s Adventures or Comedies? How about the more intense genres of Mysteries, Detective Fiction, Suspense, Horror, or just good old Thrillers?

If you enjoy reading books by the earlier writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie; or the later writers such as Catherine Coulter, Nevada Barr, Sara Paretsky; or the famous authors of suspense or thrillers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, or John Grisham; then you may find yourself investigating the cases right along with the detectives. This is the essence of a good thriller/suspense book because they have already captured you and will now hold you hostage until the plot is inevitably revealed. Continue reading Mysteries

Stop Wasting Your Time… on Titles that Don’t Say Enough

Are you losing potential readers because you don’t post enough information when you try to lure them into your posts?

We read so many leading titles that have promise and then don’t deliver. As writers, we need to give people enough information that they can connect to something we have written about and want to read more. Skipping details might bring curiosity but if the connection is lacking, or not there at all, it just won’t work.

Last night on Twitter I read a Twitter post promoting an article. It sparked my interest but, there wasn’t enough information to make me actually want to click it. In trying to catch my attention the writer was trying to be mysterious and (I guess) provoke my curiousity. It did, but not enough for me to open another window on my web browser.

So I posted back to her on Twitter for more detail. She replied back and said I’d have to click/ read the article to find out.

But, the fact is that I don’t have to. Not at all.


The fact is that her article is just one more in the pack. I didn’t click the link and read it. If she had said it was about surviving cancer, or surviving a plane crash, or surviving a two-year-old temper tantrum… one of those would have been that bit of extra information that would have given me enough reason to read her article. By choosing to keep the mystery she lost my interest.

Even more importantly, I didn’t connect to her article. I didn’t feel it applied to me enough that I needed to read it. That bit of missing information made all the difference.