C is for Canada

ascii art canada


I may be the only one who gets the idea behind my design. But, here it is. I wanted to do something fresh because I started the A to Z Blogging Challenge to help get myself back on track. I used to post daily, then I got too many other sites and put that extra pressure on myself. Blogging became a chore and I lost track of the elements I really like about web publishing. One of them being creating my own images whether my own photos, hand drawn cartoons or ASCII art (like this).

The Art of Comment Spam

This is a comment sent to one of the sites I write for:

Excellent article. I am experiencing a few of these issues as well..

Would you accept this comment or moderate it (delete it/ mark as spam)?

Less experienced blog publishers would tend to accept and publish this comment. I did not. Why?

It’s generic. It helps if you know the post this was left for was about a cartoon collection called “Love Is…”. So, yes, there are issues, romantic issues, life issues and dating issues. But, the actual post was more about cartoons and collectibles than issues. Does that help you decide to keep or reject the comment (above)?

It is an art (in a way) to create a generic comment in hopes of getting it posted. The goal is to have your link accepted (the one you add to your comment with your name and email). If you get enough links accepted then they show up as published (accepted) comments and this helps sell those links as viable/ non-spam links to Google and so on.

Anyway, the part of that I find interesting at the moment is the art of writing a generic comment – appearing to sincerely comment while actually saying nothing. Have you heard of double speak?

Come up with a few truly great examples of generic comments a blogger could be fooled into accepting as real, sincere comments. Remember to keep it just generic enough that you can get away with posting the same comment everywhere, on any kind of post.

Zine Making

Have you ever put together a zine? Do you even know what a zine is?

A zine should be creative with art too. Maybe some fiction or cartoon drawings. Personal essays and rants and artistic commentary all belong in a wide variety of zines I have seen and admired.

If you were going to take on the experiment of publishing your own zine, what would you make it? Once you pull together a plan think of a great name for the zine.

You may never actually put together a zine but you could take an hour to imagine yourself as a trendy, arty, underground or indie publisher of a zine.

The Story Behind your Profile Picture?

Creepy Query Girl wants to know: What’s the story behind your profile pic and what kind of background would you get for your author’s portrait?

I know most of you through the smiling faces of your profile pictures. Some of them look professionally done. Others look they were taken in a natural setting when you just happened to be smiling. And others might be a cartoon or movie character or some significant piece of art or a label that you feel represents who you are here in the blogosphere.

I was thinking the other day about what kind of picture I’d want on the back of a book I wrote. Most authors go out and get professional photo shoots just for the occasion. Would I want a woodsy background? Or would I go with some kind of solid color? Or what about a sandy beach!…ooh…with sparkling turquoise water and white sands…and dolphins!?

The Doodologist is Open

Claire has begun doodling as a business, The Doodologist. I’m not sure how many years she has been creating her doodles. We even ran a Doodle Week together once upon a time, a couple of years ago. Her doodles are bright, energetic and upbeat.

What would you like as a doodle for yourself? Something that would tell all the best about you in a drawing, a caricature/ cartoon? Which of your favourite things would best tell the world who you are? What would you not want included?

One for the Ideas Folder

The problem with having a lot of ideas is finding the time to do them all well enough to bring your original ideas to life. I’d like to do web comics/ cartoons. Like this idea I doodled above. Before I’d post this as a web comic I would draw it again, better, maybe give it some colour too. But, I probably won’t get time until about 4:00AM tonight. So, instead, I am leaving the original drawing in my ideas folder. Something to be worked on at a later date and time.

Do you keep an ideas folder or is it one of those things you thought was a great idea but haven’t gotten around to actually doing yet?

Catching the Tiger’s Tail

There are no right or wrong ways to start writing a story. Some writers will plan it all out ahead, even using a storyboard as they do for drawing cartoons. Not everyone finds this to be the way that works for them. Not everyone can get into planning and then get out of it again and actually start writing. I’ve known someone who stalled with planning a project and then never actually left the launchpad.

For those who don’t want to start with a lot of planning start with a few characters, one main problem to deal with, one main setting and a limited time span. See how it goes. Do you feel other characters evolving into the storyline? Do you get an idea for more places and more details to come along and muck up things with solving the problem? Then it seems you’ve got the tail of a story. Hang onto that tiger and keep writing.

Monkey in the Middle

Unless you have never tried a creative writing exercise you will know about writing prompts which give you the first or last part of a story or a few words which you work into a full story. Now, for something different… Below you will find the middle of your story. Give it a beginning and an ending. Happy writing!

Of course the branch broke and all the stuffed toys fell down into the backyard. Half of them landed right on the sandcastle which Jones had by now (finally) completed. Poppy cried, sure that the stuffed animals would require emergency medical care. Molly wanted to know if the tree would grow that branch back right away, just like in the cartoons. Polly wanted an apple from the broken branch cause someone had once told her anything from a broken tree was poisoned once it hit the ground.

Show and Tell with the Face

One of the interesting things about learning how to draw cartoons are the faces. Especially how a small difference in the angle or thickness of a line can make a huge difference in the expression of the face.

Try it. Just draw a circle as the face then add different eyes, nose, mouth and eyebrows. Come up with a few versions and then just change the eyebrows. It is strange how a small change to the tilt of even one eyebrow can give a very different emotion to the same face.

Do you think about facial expression when you write? Do you give your characters a face or just tell people they look annoyed? How do they look annoyed, how does it show in their face. Show, don’t tell.

Blogs We Luv: 10 Questions

The Ten Questions from Blogs We Luv

1* Describe your blog in five sentences or less.
2* Link us to one post from your blog that best defines who you are.
3* What sets you apart from other bloggers?
4* When and how did you first discover blogging?
5* What is your biggest pet peeve related to blogging or the internet?
6* Name one plugin, blogging widget, or service that you can’t live without.
7* If you could choose anyone, living or dead, to write a guest post for your blog, who would it be and why?
8* How has blogging made you a better person?
9* What are your tips for becoming a better blogger?
10* Name one great blog that you read on a regular basis. What makes it unique?

1. A scrapbook/ junk drawer of things I create, write, think or just find interesting. Rural exploration photos when I have been out taking photos. Cartoon drawings to illustrate the blog mostly every day. Basically it is things I think of when I’m in the shower. Conversations I have with myself. Ideas I find somewhere else and want to keep track of to explore further. It’s made of stuff I love, stuff that bothers me and just stuff in general. Kind of like life.

2. Love the World – Doesn’t define who I am. There is no one post that does that. But it has some of the elements of who I am. I think there is too much in my head for any one post to contain it all.

3. I don’t especially want to be set apart from other bloggers. With all the other bloggers out there I’m sure there are several doing the same stuff I am. I post for myself. I still feel the passion for web publishing that I first did over ten years ago when I began my first weblog. I like the ideas of diy web publishing, free journalism, creative CSS and HTML and having the freedom to do it all my way.

4. Over ten years ago. I almost remember some of the first blogs I read. They were still new in 1996, most people had a webpage up if anything. Blogs were software which made keeping a site updated easier as your newest work would show up on top of the older work. They weren’t all journal-like then either. People who knew code were doing wonders. The rest were trying to learn from the best of them. I remember being awed and amazed by those who created blogs back then, they really were feats of artistic and geeky genius. I was working more on ASCII art, newsgroups and IRC than blogging. My first blog was on Blogger though, I liked it even way back then.

5. Biggest peeve are the ads (and splogs which followed the ads). If anything is killing blogs it is monetizing and seo obsessed people who don’t really create anything. All too often it is recycled, stolen or mass contributed content which lacks anything personal at that point. Splogs are like a huge clog in the drain of the kitchen sink and they spoil blogging by making it harder to find real blogs that would awe and amaze as they did once upon a time.

6. Nothing is coming to mind. But it’s always the widget that you don’t even think about which is most essential and taken for granted. I couldn’t live without Blogger itself. I love finding good avatar making sites, Blessthischick.com is my favourite at the moment. I like Firefox though lately it hasn’t been keeping me logged in anywhere as it used to do. I like StumbleUpon and Flickr too, both services.

7. No one. What would be the point of having someone else write a post? It’s a personal blog, a way for me to hear myself think as much as a way to create something for others to view. To have someone else post would turn it into something else and then it wouldn’t be me writing for me any more. I’d have to start another new one. 🙂

8. That’s easy. Blogging kept me from going insane when I was alone in a foreign country and getting divorced. Not sure if it really made me a better person but it really did keep me from feeling completely alone and isolated with just all kinds of thoughts and feelings spinning in my head. It gave me focus and a place to put my feelings out there and get feedback from a few blog friends so that I felt someone was listening to me even if I was still in a room all by myself.

9. That depends if you really are a blogger or someone using blog software. If you really have the genuine interest in creating something go for it. Try new things and don’t worry about the opinions of others. You should be doing this for yourself. Making your own footsteps into the virtual world. Don’t go too far into the idea of writing for an audience, write for yourself or it soon becomes meaningless. You get burnt out when you really don’t have anything of yourself there any more. If you focus on traffic and link backs to your blog instead of adding colour, ideas and thoughts you won’t have anything of your real self invested in it any more. Readers won’t find that interesting either.

Work on keeping your blog easy to navigate, organized, not too cluttered and keep it to a simple, clean layout. Also, make sure your colours and the font size don’t strain your reader’s eyeballs right out of their sockets. If you want to post every day but feel stuck a few days try a new way of expressing yourself: draw something, post a photo, a poem, write about a new hobby you are interested in, take a day off and do something new to write about, anything else you can think of that will fit into a blog post. Just like the old days when I wrote penpal letters and would think of new things you could fit into an envelope and mail acros the oceans, a blog is a format you can fit a lot of things into if you put your mind to it.

10. Had to think about it for a bit. It’s a tie between The Useless Men and Blog U now. The Useless Men are fun to read but Blog U has been a great source for blog innovations especially when there was something specific I wanted to change or fix.