The First English Bookshop Established on The Continent

Hi, you.

It’s been a while. And if you’ve missed me in my absence, I’m here to offer an explanation for it.

I’m not depressed, so that’s good. In fact, I’m quite happy these days. 🙂

To be honest, blogging has fallen down the list of my greatest passions. I still love doing it, but it’s been a while since I’ve lent excitement and eagerness to the next post I’d be writing up. Nothing has happened, just that I’ve got other projects going on which have all been preoccupying my time. It’s been about a month since my last entry, and in that timeframe I’ve managed to start posts and scrap posts. Today I’m finally deciding to give you an update, on the off chance you’ve assumed I’ve fallen into an abyss. (I haven’t.)

I’ll still be blogging, of course. Just not as often as I used to or as I said I’d try to. A few entries per month seems absolutely feasible. That said, I also wouldn’t be surprised if I accidentally glaze over a month, either. I can tell you I will have a new, well-thought-out, organized, and planned blog entry popping up fresh for you either tomorrow or on Saturday. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of an awesome bookmark I found in a recent purchase.

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How neat is that? Now I’ve got another reason to visit France. 🙂

Happy trekking. See you this weekend.

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New Year. New Blog.

Hey, everyone!

I’ve been absent for longer than I’d cared to be. The holidays are generally a busy time in my life, so I was a wee bit preoccupied with that as well as other family matters.

How is everyone’s new year so far? Off to a good start, I hope! I’ve decided to go into 2015 with a healthier outlook on life, and thus I’m beginning a journey into dairy-freedom. I’m starting small, however, and only cutting lactose out of my diet right now. Baby steps. 🙂 I need time to warm up to the long list of foods I will no longer be able to eat once I go dairy-free completely. There are alternatives, of course, but rather than a drastic change, I think titration is a better method. So, that said, I will gradually work my way into being dairy-free. It’s a change I’m excited about, and I want to share the adventure with you, so I’ve started a food-themed blog called Foodsmith! Check it out and follow along if you’re as much of a foodie as I am. Aside from my dietary changes, it will also be home to anything and everything food-related: recipes, foods I love, product reviews, restaurant recommendations, etc. There are so many awesome food blogs out there already, and for the longest time, I didn’t want to add to the list. But I’ve recently delved into the world of Pinterest, and on it I’ve pinned so many delicious looking recipes and things that I want to try in the kitchen, so I just couldn’t help myself any longer. 😀

I will still continue to update Wordsmith, of course. It’s not going anywhere, and I’m excited to see where blogging will take me this year!

What have you all resolved to do in 2015?

Gravitas

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.

–Brendan Gill

I Haven’t Died – Updates, Music, Free Balloons

Remember how I said I planned to blog every day in November? Yeah, no. I was sick for most of it after I declared that potential commitment. But I’m fine now, and not dead–which is good, right?

I was also busy with family matters, as it was Thanksgiving here in the states this past Thursday. I worked my first Black Friday ever and it wasn’t even worth it. But barring that disappointment, I enjoyed my time with my family. We even took–for the first year ever–a couple of family Christmas photos, one of which we will be sending out in card form. 😀 View it here:

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My brother’s got a magnetic tripod which we connected to our ceiling fan for the aerial shot. I think it came out rather nicely. 🙂

In other news, I did not win NaNoWriMo. When November ended, I had a grand total of 2,948 words… right around the corner from 50k. But I’m going to continue work on it, and this evening I broke the 3,000 mark. I ended my writing spree tonight with 3,053. It may not be much, but it’s better than nothing.

Speaking of better than nothing, have a listen to one of my favorite songs of all time- “Better Than Nothing” by Maria Mena. I’ve mentioned her before in my “7 Inspirational Songs” posts (which, by the way, will eventually continue and will only happen once a month). This song serves as the album closer to her debut, Another Phase. It was released in Norway in 2002 when Maria was 15, and the lyrics are hauntingly beautiful, relatable, and mature.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I just wanted to drop in and say hello since I haven’t posted in ten days. The holidays are a relatively busy time for me, so who knows what December will bring? I plan to blog as often as I can, but sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for it.

I hope everybody is well, alive, happy, safe, and healthy. Also, I lied about there being free balloons in this post. Had you going, didn’t I?

And The Award Goes To…

…Tina Fey! For her performance in ‘This Is Where I Leave You.’

Just kidding. It’s actually me! 😀 I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award, for the second time, actually. The first time, I had no idea what it was or what I was doing, so I never fulfilled the requirements. This time around, I’ve been nominated by this lovely lady. Thank you, Zareen!

According to the rules, I am supposed to thank the person who nominated me – check; don the Liebster Award badge on my blog – check (see the ‘This Week’ widget to the right); tell readers 11 random facts about myself –

1. Sometimes when I am walking in public with my headphones in, I pretend I am in a music video.

2. I met Neon Hitch at a Pride event last July; I got her autograph on my bicep and a day later, got it tattooed on me forever.

3. Indian food is my favorite cuisine.

4. I’ve had 10 piercings in total- never all 10 at the same time; some came while others went. I retired them all but my cartilage this past June. 

5. I have to sleep with a blanket, even in the height of summer.

6. I have a fondness for horizontally striped clothing. 

7. I play Minecraft.

8. Bridesmaids is my favorite movie.

9. I’ve been collecting Pokemon cards since the late ’90s.

10. I have hypersomnia.

11. I’m the youngest of three boys.

– check; nominate 5 other blogs –

I nominate these fine bloggers:

G. Z. Kieft | thenarcissistwrites | January’s Dream | betternotbroken | Flora Pan

– check; finally, provide questions for them to answer –

1. Who’s a celebrity you’d most like to creep on at a trendy coffeehouse?

2. How do you feel about balloons? Amazing, right?

3. What does the LEMUR say?

4. What book are you currently reading? How is it?

5. What’s your favorite flavor of throat lozenge? 

6. Which ingredients would make your ideal sandwich?

7. Which color would you like to paint the walls that are currently around you?

8. Do you have a favorite song of all-time? What is it?

9. What type of surface are your feet touching right this second? (e.g. rug, hardwood, grass, concrete, soil, not applicable, other)

Zareen has posed the following survey for me.

1. Name one person you can’t live without.

My best friend Jenn. She’s my support system; my rock; she keeps me grounded, is brutally honest, and she has taught me more than she’ll ever know.

2. What is your dream job?

I want to become a recording artist. I want to make records and play shows and tour the world. Forever.

3. Describe your ideal destination.

Oslo, Norway.

4. Best part of your life is…

My dreams, ambitions, hopes, and aspirations; they’re outlines of my future. Also, those fleeting moments when stress is absent, family is present, and laughter is omnipotent.

5. Favorite accessory that you can’t leave the home without.

It’s not so much an accessory as it is my chapstick. If I somehow forget it when I leave home, I will stop somewhere to buy some. I need it constantly throughout the day.

6. You hate people who…

Abuse animals.

7. Worst pick-up line ever is…?

Damn. Are you McDonald’s? ‘Cause I’m lovin’ it. (But I would totally use it.)

8. Name the car you want to drive.

Kia Soul- it doesn’t matter which color.

9. Name one person who has had significant impact on your life. 

Avril Lavigne. Need I say more?


That about wraps it up. Thanks again, Zareen, for nominating me. Thank you, also, for being an awesome fellow blogger and supporter of my blog. 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about me. I certainly look forward to learning more about my nominees!

 

Needed: Opinions

What do you guys think of my new theme? I favored my former one (Illustratr) for its simplicity. But after a while, it got to be too plain. Too much black and white, not enough color. I like this one- it’s relatively ‘autumnal,’ if you will. It just somehow reminds me of Fall, okay?

Honest opinions?

100+ Followers and Inspirational Strangers

I should have worded the title better, because it is two separate thoughts. Allow me to explain.

I’ve broken one hundred followers: my first milestone! Thank each and every one of you so much; I am honored that you find my content worthy enough to follow along. You are what drives this blog, and without you, I wouldn’t have an audience to cater to. I probably would’ve given this up a while back if it weren’t for you. I have a surprise coming as a token of my gratitude- I won’t go into detail other than saying that it will surface by next weekend the latest.

As far as the ‘inspirational strangers’ part of the title goes, I want to take a quick second to recognize an awesome couple I met at Trader Joe’s recently. I’ve seen them three times in the past week or so while at work. The first time, I aided them in their gluten-free shopping adventure. The next time I saw them, I had the pleasure of cashing them out and thereby talking to them a bit more. I don’t normally like to relay information that involves receiving a compliment from someone else (ergo, talking myself up), but these two really made me feel nice. They informed me that I was a part of their discussion at dinner the night I first met them- that I had a ‘really cool vibe to [him].’ It made my whole week to know that I could have had such an impact on someone, without doing anything particularly outstanding. That same day, I learned that she’s originally from Buffalo, while he grew up on the west coast, and they currently reside in California and are visiting. I saw them again earlier tonight very fleetingly, as there was a rush, but the man went out of his way to say hello to me. Again, I was flattered. I also learned that they leave for the west coast on Monday. Unless they stop in to the store before they leave, I won’t get to see them again. I sadly didn’t even get their names. But they were briefly regular customers that will stick in my memory; not because of their kind words, but because they had a way about them that left me inspired. I only wish I’d extended an offer to keep in touch. Maybe I will get my chance on Monday.

It is instances like those that are the reasons I love my job. So many interesting occurrences; so many interesting people. You learn so much without even realizing it, simply in daily interactions and routines.

Going back to my follower base, once again, you are all amazing. Thank you for keeping me going. Wordsmith is for you; not for me. I hope you enjoy everything that’s to come.

🙂

Let’s Coauthor a Short Story: A Budding Narrative (Day 2)

The story is off to a fantastic start; the contributions have been nothing less than excellent. If you missed day one, you can get yourself up to speed here. I would love it if you would hop on the bandwagon.

In short, we are writing a story together as a community of bloggers. Each person writes their own excerpt, following the previous person’s submission. What you write is completely up to you; there are no guidelines, but it’s urged to use an example of imagery, assonance, alliteration, metaphor, simile, or any combination in your writing.

The following are the contributions so far, with their respective authors in parentheses, in the order that they were submitted. If you choose to join in, please try to keep in line with what’s already been established (e.g. character names, setting), but feel free to take the plot wherever you’d like it to go.


 

In her own words, the building stood taller than any she’d seen before; so tall, a cloud of fog cascaded over its peak, shrouding it from her sight. 

(jedorsparmilesrequins [me])

Next to her Michael let out a long, low whistle, bouncing energetically on the balls of his feet as he waited for her to put away the scanner and tell the rest of the party if the structure was still safe to climb.

(caroljforrester)

“It’s never too late to reach up and touch the sky, Mico!” she cajoled. “In fact, if ‘you’re’ever going to reach a pinacle it’s quite likely that it will be this one – fearless first: losers last!”

(graemesandford)

Michael, stripped from his previous bravado, displayed a disposition akin to extreme sickness. “The stairs don’t work in this one, then?”

(G. Z. Kieft)

Dubai embraced their group in a dusty warm breeze, very much the opposite of the clear cold cutting wind they would have to endure as they climbed.

(theneuroticpeanut)

‘No its the dare that’s the thing to see if you have it in you like the disposition of a rat up a drainpipe.’ Michael having survived the multiple facial colours of the extremely concerned turned with an air of certainty and announced his intention to rise to and take up the challenge.

(summerstommy2)

A candle flickered briefly in one of the lower windows and the silhouette of one in a hooded monk’s robe appeared before the shade was quickly drawn.

(JanuarysDreamer)

Michael swallowed hard; the lump in his throat felt as if it were the size of a papaya. He shot a glance at Rhea, but she seemed too distracted by her overzealous approach at the impending hike to notice. He scanned the monstrous edifice one final time before choking back his apprehension.

(jedorsparmilesrequins [me])


 

If you’re stumbling upon this project for the first time, I welcome and encourage you to participate. If you’re just here to read how it’s going, that’s perfectly fine as well. If you’re lost and this is simply an unplanned detour, welcome! Have a look around if you wish. Also feel free to stop by the aforementioned authors’ blogs- they are all great people with content that is worth the time to check out.

Let’s keep the story going! What happens next? 🙂

Let’s Coauthor a Short Story

You know that sentence game that involves each player adding to the previous person’s sentence to form a story? Let’s do that.

I will start by proposing an opening line below. You can keep it going by adding a followup line in the comments. Here’s the fun part: try to include an example of imagery, assonance, alliteration, metaphor, or simile, or any combination in your line. It’s not required, but suggested, to get you thinking.

You can either write a line to follow mine, or to follow someone else’s comment. You may quote the line you are following for the sake of clarity, or you may leave it up to interpretation by remaining ambiguous. Some lines may have multiple followings, some may not. As a result, I hope to create a largely open-ended story. There is no deadline, and you may comment as many times as you wish.

When the story is eventually finished, I will post it in its entirety and give credit to each contributing blogger. 🙂 Let’s get the ball rolling.


In her own words, the building stood taller than any she’d seen before; so tall, a cloud of fog cascaded over its peak, shrouding it from her sight. 

9 Things to Remember While Blogging

I’ve been asked numerous times throughout my life if I’ve ever tried to keep a journal. The answer has almost always been no. While I do believe the art of actually writing (as opposed to typing) is a lost one, I am more partial to utilizing Microsoft Word than a notebook for the sake of convenience. I did try to keep a dream journal once, but upon waking up from a dream, I either found myself too tired to record the events therein or that I’d forgotten what I’d dreamt about.

Blogs are a different story. I attempted to blog on several occasions in middle school and in high school. I took to LiveJournal to post all about my angsty teenage life and experiences thinking I knew everything about everything. All attempts were short-lived, however, because I’d always lacked an audience. While keeping a physical journal is more of a personal endeavor, a blog makes more sense to me when it’s got a following. That said, I’ve decided to list some pointers to keep in mind if you’re a tenderfoot in the world of web logging.


 

1. Write about whatever you damn well please.

I’ve read through countless articles regarding how to be successful at blogging, and nearly all of them state to be consistent. In other words, pick a single topic to write about and stick with it. Consistency of content does carry some weight, I agree, but it is not so cut and dry. Maybe you’re a professional dancer. Maybe dancing is your one true passion and you could go on and on about it. But maybe, in between performances, you’ve managed to finally finish that Paul Auster novel you’ve been reading and are dying to give it a review. And maybe you’re a vegan, and you have some awesome vegan-friendly recipes you’d like to share. My point is that it’s your blog, so if you want to write about dancing and Paul Auster and veganism, you go right ahead.

just-write_2014While there’s nothing wrong with writing a blog that focuses on a single category, sometimes you have multiple passions, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. I am always pleasantly surprised when I happen upon a blog that contains a variety of subject matter. Remember that every genre has its fanbase, so there will always be an audience to cater to, no matter what it is you choose to write about.

2. Gaining a following takes time.

I feel that there is far too much emphasis on the prospect of going viral. It happens every day, sure, but there is no formula for success. The videos and photographs and articles that reach a viral status do so due to heavy circulation among consumers. This can be thanks to media sponsorship, or not. Moreover, the subjects in viral media often aren’t trying to gain celebrity. They’re heavily circulated because of their uncanny nature, humor, irony, ignorance, and blatant stupidity.

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Simply put, gaining a follower base is not going to happen overnight. I’ve been a member of WordPress for 8 days so far, and I’ve accumulated just under 30 followers. It’s a process that takes time and dedication. Be consistent insofar as how often you post, and you will gradually see your number of followers increase.

3. Some days will be better than others.

There are going to be days when discouragement rests heavily on your shoulders. You may have a brilliant idea for a post, type it all up, publish it, and then wait with bated breath for the notifications to roll in while looking like this:

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I’ve been there. But the notifications don’t show. You even left a bowl of food out for them, but nothing seems to lure them in. Or, they’re few and far between. This is okay. Keep in mind that your followers may be in different time zones. They may not have their noses pressed against their computer screens waiting for a new post to appear in their readers. Non followers may not have come across it yet, or maybe the tags you used aren’t necessarily ‘trending’ at the moment. It may take days before your post receives any sort of love. Some days, you may not receive any likes, comments, or followers, or very few. It happens. Just remember to have confidence in everything you write and post. I’ve found it’s helpful to log out after publishing, and shift my focus to something else.

Also keep in mind that just because a post may not receive any likes or comments, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been seen. Check your stats to see how many times your posts have been viewed.

4. Steer clear of ‘follow trains.’

‘Follow trains’ (occasionally referred to as ‘follow4follow’) aren’t necessarily schemes, per se, but they aren’t the best bandwagons to jump onto. I haven’t seen any on WordPress, thankfully, but they’re extremely prevalent on Tumblr, and sometimes Instagram. The idea is that somebody with hundreds of thousands of followers will post a link to their own blog, and then each of their followers will reblog the post, while adding their own link to it (creating a ‘train’) and following every previously listed blog. I’m sure that sounds confusing.

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The pattern repeats ad infinitum. The ploy is that it’s a fast and easy way to gain a follower base. But it’s incredibly inauthentic. Not only do you have hundreds of new followers who’ve probably never even visited your blog, but you’re now following them all as well. There’s no way to coerce anyone into following your blog. If someone likes your content and they want to see more, they’ll follow. Leave it at that. At the same time, you should be following a blog because you like the author’s content, not in an effort to persuade them to follow you back.

5. Blog for personal gain, not for internet fame.

In other words, don’t try to impress anybody. Let’s say your entry about the Pyura chilensis gained popularity, more so than you expected it to. Your head is reeling with excitement that people out there like your take on the living rock. That means the pressure is on, right? Your next post has to blow the Pyura chilensis out of the water (pun intended), right? Wrong. It’s not a competition. Now, you have settled into the mindset that your next entry has to be better than the last, and so on. You try your best, but you try too hard, and your next post gains very little momentum. Don’t try too hard.

rockywinsThink of it this way. Each blog entry is its own adventure. Each adventure has its own set of venturers, and any given group may vary greatly from the next. Don’t compare your posts to each other, even if the topics are related- especially if they are related. Just don’t do it. The art of blogging is not a game. It’s a hobby; for some, a career. Either way, do it because you love doing it.

6. Tag appropriately.

Tags are useful tools that help current and potential readers discover your posts. It is best to keep them concise and relevant. Please, try not to abuse them. In the past, I’ve had the tendency to get overexcited in my tagging, assuming the more tags, the more likely that my post will be found. I can’t speak for other blogging services, but on WordPress, that’s not true. In fact, I recently learned that if the combined total of your tags and categories in a single post exceeds 15, that post will not turn up in search results or in your followers’ readers.

hashtag1If you’re writing creative fiction, some good tags might include creative writing, fiction, prose. If you’re writing about the latest Transformers movie, you might want to tag Transformers, Mark Wahlberg, Optimus Prime. It really depends on your subject matter. But if you’re writing about your favorite local shops to patronize in your city, it wouldn’t be wise to tag soft-boiled eggs. It’s irrelevant, unless your post is primarily about which place serves the best soft-boiled eggs.

Also, a good rule of thumb when tagging is the more specific, the better (i.e. soft-boiled eggs instead of simply eggs).

7. Be active in the blogging community.

Keeping a blog is only one facet of the blogosphere. It is just as fun and important to network in the community. Search for tags that interest you. Stumble upon blogs that focus on the subjects you’re interested in and follow along with them if you care to. Make friends.

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Aside from following, don’t be afraid to actively participate in the comment section. If you have something to contribute to a lively discussion in the thoughts on a post you like, feel free to leave a comment with your input. Keep the conversation going. Even if you don’t necessarily have any feedback to give, dropping by to say you enjoyed the post works just as well. This way, you’re positively reinforcing the author. I like to think of it as giving a high five of encouragement. It’ll push them to keep going, and who knows, it may be just what they needed to improve their day. Utilizing emoticons may even give your comments that extra boost of positivity. 🙂

Networking is also a great way to draw organic attention to your own blog without blatantly saying, ‘hey, check out my blog!’ Being active and commenting on others’ posts encourages them to stop by yours as well. They may even leave feedback or follow you!

8. Have your own individual writing style.

Don’t be afraid to stand out.

Stand-OutThis is something that may also take time to figure out. Whichever style of writing comes most naturally to you is the one to go with. Anything else may feel forced, and it may come off that way in your writing. There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from your favorite blogs, but there’s a fine line between influence and plagiarism. If you habitually resort to dry or deadpan humor to lighten a situation, do that while you write. If you’re brutally honest with no filter, be that way while you write. Let the most authentic sense of self come through in your writing; readers will pick up on that, and you’ll gain respect for not trying to be like anybody else.

One of my personal favorite bloggers, The Narcissist Writes, has such a vulgar and hilariously honest approach to her writing that I can’t stay away. I was hooked before I even finished reading the first post of hers that I came across. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She’s profane in the best ways, and it makes for some incredibly entertaining content.

9. Have a life outside of WordPress.

I believe this is key to success as a blogger (as anything, really). I mentioned in my second point that there isn’t necessarily a formula for success, but there are certainly ways to help you get there. Although blogging is something you might be intensely passionate about, remember that it’s just blogging. You still have bills to pay. You still have a family and friends and other obligations. These things don’t stop while you’re writing and editing and rewriting. Pay equal mind to each important aspect of your life, all the time. If you consume yourself in the realm of your WordPress account, chances are you will fall short in some other area(s) of your life, and that’s never good.

Go out there and have dinner with your estranged cousin. Babysit your nephew. Go for a bike ride along the river on a beautiful day. Dabble in something you’re unfamiliar with. Read a book. Make a mix CD. Play with your cats. Garden. Do anything. Do everything. Just make time for the other pieces of your puzzle that you hold dear to your heart. In doing this, you gain experience that in turn can make for something excellent to write about. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t obsess over and analyze things you cannot change. Just get out there and live.

Then, when you’re done living for the day, if there’s still time before bed, come back and share it with the world.