Category Archives: Metablog

Blogging about blogging.

Happy Anniversary to me… ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

One year ago to the day, on 28 February 2014, I wrote my first blog post, Introductions are in order.

So… Happy Anniversary to my blog! Yay! 🙂

Happy Anniversary

‘Cause baby you’re a fiiiirework… (Though I don’t actually think that makes much sense, but anyway. Image from wikimedia commons.)

Over this past year, I published 90 blog posts; most of them about writing or writing-related, some about miscellaneous things such as my pets, a few rants, rather fewer technologyrelated ones than I’d planned, one about my favourite game, Guild Wars 2, and once I may even have gotten a little political, though I reserve the right to deny that if asked directly.

(Actually, looking back through a whole bunch of my post topics, I just realised I should probably clean up and re-tag/re-categorise them before someone notices… sshh!)

The busiest time was probably in April, when I participated in the A-Z Challenge, which I spent more time on than I’d anticipated but it ended up being a good blog-baptism-by-fire, I think. One of the highlights was probably meeting Nicholas C. Rossis through blogging and getting an older short story published in his anthology.

I’ve met and followed some great fellow bloggers, am honoured to be followed by some in turn (though some of my followers are those silly I’ll-follow-you-even-though-I’ll-never-read-your-blog-and-hope-you-follow-me-in-return type people for whom I have very little respect; if I’m following your blog, it’s because I’m interested in what you have to say and try to keep up with reading it when time allows), and am now getting a decent, though by no means high, amount of regular traffic.

From the beginning, I’ve made it clear (I think) that my blog isn’t my primary concern, but I wanted to have a go at it so that I know what I’m getting into if and when I later set this up as a promotional platform for my writing. I’ve learned heaps about blogging (and writing), followed some good advice, and ignored plenty of other good advice because my blogging currently isn’t about getting many followers or maximising traffic to my blog. It’s more like a mixture between my personal soapbox and the quiet corner where I can go to get things off my chest by writing about them. My regular readers are relatively few, but I’m ok with that, because I feel I know them quite well and treasure them all the more for that.

One-year anniversary

My blog is one year old today!

As I continue on my journey of trying to get my book published the traditional way (a goal which I may never reach, or I may at some point have to reassess and consider self-publishing), I will most likely carry on in a similar vein. Family (my wife and three kids) has to come first, work has to be up there because it pays the bills (and with three kids in private high school this year, those bills are astronomical), writing, researching and editing gets most of the time left over (except when I indulge in playing GW2), and blogging… well, when I have time. But 90 posts in a year isn’t that terrible, is it? (Ok, maybe it is – I really don’t know.)

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s ever managed to read through one of my 90 blog posts! I’m even more thankful for anyone who’s ever liked and commented on any of them (hint-hint!). 🙂



New year, new theme

Back – and ready to read Fool’s Assassin

After being away from home (and from blogging) for a while, I’m back again, and really looking forward to reading Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb, Book One of the new Fitz and the Fool trilogy. I couldn’t buy the book while overseas (at least not in English), so I bought it from Target back here in Perth for just under $20 (which is a decent price since the RRP is nearly $30).

I’ve got a bit of time this week to read it, but I’m a rather slow reader. (Plus, I’m still jet-lagged, so I’ve only read about 30 or so pages of it before becoming too tired to read last night.) So it’ll take me a few days to get through it – as much as I’m dying to devour the whole book in one sitting, I prefer to soak up every word and imagine every scene like a private movie in my head. Call me crazy, but it’s how I read.

Once those few days are up and I’ve read it (I’m hoping to finish on the weekend, but might not get there until next week), I will most definitely blog about my take on the book (yes, there will be spoilers!). It will, I surmise, most likely be a very positive review; after all, Robin Hobb is my favourite author for a reason (as George R. R. Martin says on the cover, it’s “Fantasy as it ought to be written”). Having said that, I’ve built up quite some excitement for this book, so it’s possible the book might not live up to my high expectations. (Possible… but doubtful. Despite the errors I’ve already found in the first 30 pages. Maybe I’ll blog about those, too.)

Also on my “TODO” list for the near future is finally catching up on reading some of my favourite blogs (yes, there will be comments on older posts I think, it’s been quite a while) and blogging about how to merge two versions of the same document (with LibreOffice Writer, in my case) that started out the same but have had different edits made, since I’m going to have to do that with my manuscript soon anyway. I’ve done it before and it’s quite easy, actually.

Anyway, there you go – my “I’m back for more” post. 🙂

In case you’re interested in previous Robin Hobb-related posts, here they are, 3 from the A-Z Challenge in April and two from a couple of months ago when she visited Perth:

(The one about hobbitses, on the other hand, has nothing to do with Robin Hobb. But it’s funny. I think.)

A to Z Challenge – Reflection

So… the A to Z Challenge 2014 is over, and it’s time to reflect on my experience in the Challenge!

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Reflection

Overall, I throroughly enjoyed the experience of my first challenge of this kind. I only decided to participate a few days before it started, which was less than a month after I began blogging. There were a couple of minor things I didn’t like about it, but for the most part, they had to do with my own inexperience and my inability to estimate how much time I’d be spending on this.

Reading what the challenge was about, I initially thought, “A post a day, six days a week, visiting a few other blogs to check out what they’re writing – sure, I can do that.” I thought it was a good chance for me to get into my blogging existence and learn to swim by throwing myself in the deep end a bit. To some extent, that worked really well.

Naturally, I picked writing as my main topic, though, as haven’t written much worth writing home about (pardon the pun), at least not enough for 26 posts, I thought I’d share some of my favourite authors, books and characters during the challenge, and throw in some writing concepts and even one slightly technical post, ending with something personal and (hopefully) a little humourous.

If you feel like reading any of those posts, see the “I is for Index” one, or use the menu at the top of the page to get there directly. Alternatively, here’s a summary:

Out of these, the (slightly) humourous ones were: Douglas AdamsTerry PratchettHobbitsMarvin the Paranoid AndroidQuestsYours Truly, and Zzzzz….

What I didn’t anticipate was just how much time I’d be spending on all this. I admit I’d planned to “just do short posts” if I got into trouble time-wise, but I’m not so good with doing things half-baked. I ended up spending way more time than planned, both reading other people’s blogs and writing my own. I had fun doing it, and learned much in the process, but it cost me a few hours of sleep and, ironically, time away from my passion – writing.

Towards the end of the challenge, I was really looking forward to “having a few days off” from blogging and getting back to my own writing, i.e. working on my book. Notes I’d made while reading my own work on the train rides to and from work had piled up (electronically speaking) on my mobile, and after the challenge, I finally had time (or took the time?) to catch up.

So now, I’m actually looking forward to doing the occasional blog post – on topics I feel like writing about, not on topics that begin with a certain letter of the alphabet. 😛

What I’ve learned? Mostly, that next year (yes, currently I’d say I’ll be doing this again), I’ll be taking some good advice and preparing at least some of the posts before the challenge

I feel I should mention at least some of those challenge-related blog posts I read and enjoyed in case you’d like to check them out. I’m sure I’ve left out a few worth mentioning (I’ll keep notes next time!), but these are the ones I remember off the top of my head:

North of Andover – the link goes to a post of Thomas Weaver’s I especially liked, about a well-done interview.
Princess of Dragons – blogging about, you guessed it, dragons!
The Wannabe Writer Life – Allison’s blog is always fun and interesting
Janice Heck’s blog – Janice’s posts are usually quirky, fun, and teach some of the finer points of grammar
A Writer’s Life For Me – though she didn’t participate in the challenge, I’d feel bad not mentioning Mishka’s great blog; her comments are always cheerful and supportive – thanks! 🙂

I started following a bunch of blogs in April, despite my reader being too full already. Stop writing good blogs, people, seriously. People have to manage their time for crying out loud!

Congrats to all fellow bloggers who attempted or even survived the A to Z Challenge!

Zzzzz… – A to Z: Z

Z is for Zzzzz…. which is the sound I’ll be making over the next few days as I catch up on what seems like a month’s worth of sleep. It’s been… interesting doing the A to Z Challenge, fun for the most part, slightly distracting at times, and overall a great learning experience for a new blogger like me.

My sleepy pets

Zzzzz… my four pets doing what they do best: sleeping and looking cute. Awwww! (At least they’re not spreading hair everywhere while they’re being lazy!)

I wouldn’t say trying to keep up was stressful, but it did add a little pressure to get those blog posts out in time. I found I didn’t have enough time to read as many other blog posts as I wanted to, though I discovered some wonderful blogs to follow that I’m sure will continue to post interesting things even after the Challenge is over. Also, and more importantly, writing a blog post a day took up a fair chunk of time out of my own writing time, so I’m looking forward to two things: reading more of other people’s posts (I’m following a fair few and can barely keep up with them in my reader), and having more time to work on my book.

My followers have multiplied (still not many, but hey, my blog is only two months old), some whom I’m following, some I probably should follow (I’ll be reading more soon!), and some who, I suspect, just followed to get me to visit strange sites without intending to ever visit my blog again. (I can actually live with that!) I’m still getting a handle on the intricacies of blogging, so be patient with me. 🙂

One thing that was really interesting was seeing the variety of countries of my visitors in the stats – the majority were from English-speaking countries, but there were also some from around the globe that had me thinking how great it would be to meet all of them. It’s a small world!

Apart from one day (Good Friday – family was more important that day, so I posted twice on Saturday to make up for it), I managed to stick to the A-Z schedule every single day. As commenters and other blogs have pointed out, it makes sense to pre-write at least some of your posts before April and then publish them on the right date. (Nobody told me that when I started, but I’ll try to do that next year!)

Anyway, I’ll leave it there, get back to working on my book for the rest of the night, and hope you were able to enjoy some of my A to Z posts. If you’re interested, I’ll leave the “three-part-menu” up at the top of the page for a while longer, or you can jump to my I is for index post and see if you spot anything interesting.

Congrats to all other fellow A-Zers, and many thanks to every single visitor to my blog!

Yours Truly – A to Z: Y

Y is for me. I mean, for Yours Truly. Which is me. In other words, I’m going to be sharing a few little things about myself. It’s something I’ve mostly avoided thus far, apart from a post about my pets, an introduction, and my about me page.

If I count correctly, this will be my 50th (public) post on this blog. Yay! The A to Z Challenge has definitely helped get that count up, and in the coming weeks and months, I’m sure I’ll be posting closer to one post per week than one per day, but that way, I’ll get back some more time for what I really want to be doing, which is working on my book. Not that I don’t like blogging – I do, more than I expected I would – but the Challenge has taken up much more time than I’d anticipated. I’m not very good at just writing quick 100- or 200-word posts and leaving it at that; I tend to rave on and check my facts online more than I probably need to. I spend time looking for images that I don’t end up using (I don’t get to use images when writing my book, and while I know blogs are different, it sort of feels like cheating to insert images not my own) and getting side-tracked in facts and details.

My blog-writing is a little different from my book-writing in that I’m more informal here, but I guess that’s not unusual. Either way, I’m still a stickler for details, I hate making mistakes (so if you see any, please feel free to point them out in the comments!), although I have some strong opinions that may be very different from what seems to be the “conventional wisdom” many writers and editors follow. Some of these I’ve mentioned in my posts or in comments I’ve left on other sites; for instance, I don’t like people speaking in absolutes, or blindly following “rules” that were meant more as “don’t overuse” advice than iron-clad “you must never” laws. There are so many writers trying to find the perfect formula, and too many sites give advice that would make all their writing boring, in my opinion. Be different, be bold, be unique, just don’t fall into certain traps and overuse certain patterns that seem to raise some editors’ hackles.

About me personally? I’d still like to keep my “author persona” largely separate from my “private self”, but some things about me that make me who I am are these: I grew up in three very different cultures, speaking three different languages, moved around a lot as a “missionary kid”, had lived in three countries by the time I was one year old and moved 18 times before I was 18. Most influential were formative years that I spent in the tropical jungles of Papua New Guinea, something that has most definitely influenced my writing.

I met my wonderful and amazing wife when we were both teenagers in high school, and we have three great kids, two of them now teenagers themselves. I’m a family person above all else: above my job which I really enjoy, and even above writing, which I’ve come to enjoy so much I dream about doing it for a living (while realising that the chances of achieving that dream are frighteningly slim, even if I were the most brilliant writer on the planet – not that I’m claiming to be that). Two dogs and two cats allow us to share a beautiful house in Perth’s northern suburbs with them, though the tenancy agreement has several clawses clauses about things like feeding, grooming and walking them. I also have a great sense of humour, which even allows me to see the irony in stating that.

I think all this gives me a unique perspective on things like culture shock, racism, being an outsider, and cherishing one’s family, all of which I’m channelling into my writing. I look forward to learning more about my fellow writer-bloggers, to learning more about creating an online presence, and to being able to share the ups and downs of my writing adventure with like-minded people from all walks of life.

Truth be told, I’m also looking forward to the end of this A to Z Challenge and to being able to blog at a slower pace (so that I can spend more time writing). 😉

One month old!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month. (A month and a day, to be exact, but I didn’t have time to blog yesterday.) Compared to many other bloggers, who have been at it consistently for years, my little baby milestone is probably not very significant. But, as I reflect on a month’s blogging, I feel like I’ve already learned so much about blogging, following, and commenting, and I’ve had fun customising my theme.

Yes, there was a bit of a learning curve (and I probably have much more left to learn than I realise), and yes, blogging and reading other blogs, both to get a feel for “how it’s done” and because many of them are, well, interesting, do eat up a chunk of the time that I would otherwise have spent just writing. But even though it’s a different type of writing than what I’m used to, I’ve found myself enjoying the experience – mainly due to the other bloggers whom I’ve read, liked and followed, and who have liked and/or followed me, who have taken a few moments of their precious time to read my ramblings, and perhaps even to leave a comment. To each and every one of you a heartfelt Thanks! I look up to you and hope you’ll continue to read, write, and share.

I wanna be like you

“I wanna be like you!” (My two dogs, Velvet and Summer)

In my first month, amongst other things, I’ve introduced myself, told you about growing from my initial experience with rejection, ranted about 10 common mistakes I see all too often, recommended designating a creative day to make time for writing in a busy life and reading what you wrote in a different format, rambled on about the literary submission circus (in two parts), and advised you to trust the editing skills of your future self.

Next month will see me attempting to blog 26 times, literally from A to Z, and, having thought about it for a couple of days now, I think I’ve picked out my topic… but that’s another story (post).

A to Z Challenge – accepted!

Challenge accepted

“Challenge accepted!”

Being an absolute blogging-noob (having started less than a month ago), I’ve read about this “A to Z Challenge” on a few other blogs but didn’t really get what it was about. So when I came across this post on Daily w(rite) (thanks Damyanti!) and realised there were only a few days left to sign up, I had to make up my mind, so I headed to the official site and ended up signing up as number 1649.

Screenshot after I signed up for the A to Z Challenge

Screenshot after I signed up for the A to Z Challenge

Yay! (*Gulp*)

Apparently, I’ve just committed to doing 26 blog posts over the course of the month of April. That should be interesting. Oh great – posting the screenshot, I just realised I forgot to add the “(WR)” category, as my blog is mainly about writing. (At least it was prior to accepting this challenge. No guarantees about next month.) Doesn’t seem like I can change or redo that. Go me.

At this point, I’m guessing my April blog posts might be relatively short, or at least shorter on average than they have been thus far (I tend to ramble on a bit if I have time). But it’s a challenge, it’ll get me to look at some (hopefully interesting) content other people blog about, and it might get a few people to look at my blog who otherwise wouldn’t have found it. Don’t look a gift challenge up the… no, wait… don’t look up a challenging horse’s… whatever.

Can anyone recommend a couple of good blogs I can check out to get an idea of what type of content other people (writers or not) typically blog about during this challenge? Please have mercy and let me know in the comments if you can.

Twitter twats

Based on recommendations, I’ve taken the plunge and created my Facebook and Twitter accounts. To be honest, I’m not a fan of those. I can see the use, and the allure, but personally, I see too many people wasting too much time on them, and being dumbed down by using silly abbreviations to make that 140 character limit.

Is my opinion a bit extreme? Probably, compared to most. I’ve ranted about word limits before, and have given my 2 cents about common grammar/spelling mistakes. So don’t worry, I’ll hold my tongue this time.

The main reason was to reserve the usernames for… drumroll… when I get famous. Which will take time, but given my brilliant writing, it’s only a matter of time. Actually, I’m not really that optimistic, but I guess it can’t hurt, either.

For me, the action will still be here on the blog, not on Facebook or Twitter. Who knows, I may come around to it. Convince me. Or not.

Introductions are in order

Welcome… firstly, me to blogging, and secondly (yes, yes, more importantly) you to my blog.

Here is where I intend to write about writing.

For years, I’ve been writing. Writing software and web pages. And sometimes technical documentation, and all sorts of lovely UML diagrams and the like. Recently, however, I took a bit of time off from the rat race to get the story that’s been clamouring around in my head for years, unwilling to bide its time any longer after germinating for so long, out of my head and onto paper. Electronically speaking, at least. (That is, typing it up using LibreOffice, which worked really well; the bit about getting it “out of my head” didn’t work so well though.)

I made progress in leaps and bounds, and fell in love with writing so much that I want to do it full-time. Of course, the journey from “wannabe-writer-with-an-idea-in-his-head” to “aspiring-writer-with-a-manuscript”, hard as it may be, is still much easier than the one from “aspiring-writer-with-a-manuscript” to “published-author-who-can-afford-to-write-full-time”. One down, one to go, so to speak. Although I’m currently revamping my manuscript, merging some parts of it with new bits and a new “delivery mechanism”… but more about that in a later post.

If I’m anywhere near as enthusiastic about blogging as I am about my writing, this site should see a few posts a month (yeah, I know… how long will I keep that up?) about my writing and my possibly doomed-to-fail attempts at getting published, as well as the occasional post about development (software and web stuff). If I feel like I’ve been “good” about those blogs, I might even indulge in posting about my guilty pleasure, playing Guild Wars 2. Sometimes, the need to rant about something annoying may override my better judgement.

So, welcome. To my blog, I mean, not because anyone’s thanked me yet. (Give me a break, it’s a new blog… what do you expect?) Hopefully, the blog will soon contain more than this little post and the about me page.