Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blogging Can Be A Dangerous Profession

Until recently I never thought much about how dangerous blogging can be. You start a blog and decide to share what interests you. But what if someone doesn't like it? What if someone is offended by one of your posts and leaves a nasty comment on your blog? Worse yet, what if your blog is reported and subsequently suspended and you suddenly don't have access to months or years worth of work?

Depending upon the comment left at your blog, your online reputation could be damaged and there is little way to know how many people heard about the incident. Yes, blog stats will tell you how many people read it on your site, but who knows how many people your readers told about it or how many people the commenter told?

In addition, bloggers are at the mercy of the sites that host their blogs. Yes, we read the Terms of Service, but who ever thinks there will be reason to worry about them. They're standard and rarely do they apply to you. Right? Well, that's not always the case, as my experience this week shows. You can read more about it here.

The incident above came on the heels of a challenge that some users who are hosted by Blogger recently experienced. Google decided to place a 2000 label limit on blogspots. Well, after blogging for years, I exceeded that limit and for a week or so I wasn't able to take advantage of SEO to drive traffic to The Book Connection because it wouldn't let me use any labels--even ones that I had used in the past.

Google increased that limit to 5000 unique labels, which will be helpful, but what happens when I reach that limit? Do I have to start a new blog every time I can no longer use unique labels?

The WordPress incident truly sidelined me for a couple of days, but more importantly, that combined with the Blogger issue made me realize how little control we have over what happens with our blogs. Somehow, that doesn't seem quite right.

Where does that leave bloggers? I guess, like authors who send books out for review, we never know what we're going to get. We never know when our happy world will be interrupted by some blogging issue outside of our control, like the author whose happiness is destroyed by a negative review. It doesn't mean we stop trying to get our names out there, but it does mean we open ourselves up for some knocks that non-bloggers may never know.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Moving Forward

Well, by now most of you know how my week has gone. Up until yesterday I was having a very productive week. It came to a standstill when I went to post a review at my kid's blog and found it suspended.

I don't know if venting here was the wisest choice, but I guess since I don't usually do it I'm allowed one error in judgment from time to time. Not only am I disappointed, I'm angry that one person could do that to another human being. It would have been such an easy thing to ask if I would consider changing my blog's URL or put up a disclaimer stating there was no affiliation between the two sites; but instead I was immediately put on the defense by a confrontational individual who accused me of malicious intent when there was none, and it could possibly have done damage to my online reputation. Wishing that WordPress would see through the ridiculousness of these accuasations also proved fruitless, so I am still considering my next step; but life must gone on in the meantime.

While coming out here tonight I ran across a quote from Ann Landers who put this all in perspective for me:

"When life's problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are coping with. You may consider yourself fortunate." - Ann Landers

In the larger scheme of things, this incident is just one royal pain in the neck. I can start a new blog like I did in July when I began The Kids Book Connection and work on building that brand up instead. The principle of the whole thing still shakes me to my core, but at the end of the day I am still safe and warm inside my house, loved by my family, and have been blessed by God in many ways. By the way God, if this incident was a test of my patience, I again failed miserably.

My thanks go out to all of you who offered words of encouragement and support over at The Book Connection and here. Those words mean a great deal to me, and let me know that no matter what I am falsely accused of, I am still surrounded by a lot of wonderful, helpful and generous friends in the virtual world.

Tonight I am preparing for NaNoWriMo, which will kick off on November 1st. I have several character interviews drawn up and have a basic idea of setting and plot. I'm more excited than I was in 2006 when I gave NaNoWriMo a shot, so hopefully that will bring me closer to success.

Good luck to anyone who is tackling NaNoWriMo this year, and thanks again to everyone for their support.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should WordPress Be Able to Suspend Your Blog without an Investigation?

As my readers know, we branched off The Book Connection's children's and teen books onto a new site on WordPress and called the new blog, The Kid's Book Connection.

I wandered out to this blog today to post a review and found it had been suspended.

Why you ask?

Well, it seems that a woman paid WordPress to use the to sell Usborne books and she feels that my blog--though it doesn't sell anything--takes business away from her. This is the comment she left on my blog on October 27th:

"DO you know or care your using another person domain name? your doing a free one on wordpress when others PAY to do theirs the right way PAYING for the domain name and hosting -How sad you choose to do this to another person who is just a work at home mom with a disbled husband trying to make extra money. WHY the need to do this instad of doing it the right way??????"

I deleted the comment, but retained it in my dashboard. I then explained in an email sent from a form I found on her site that my using was not done intentionally to steal her business--after all I don't sell anything on that blog. I merely chose a URL that made sense and flowed well with The Book Connection. I also told her I didn't appreciate her littering my blog with that comment and attacking me for all the world to see.

I have integrity and I would never do something as low as trying to steal business from someone else. The only thing I could be guilty of is not being smart enough to check to see if The Kids Book Connection was already being used on WordPress, and if I had, I wouldn't use it anyway because I don't want something close enough to anyone else's site to cause confusion.

I get this in return:

I put NO comments on your blog at aLL id did was to view it only and ask some freinds who this can be allowed
I did not litter anything esp your blog trust me there as I am not the kind of person to do that
What words where as I di dnot do any!

When you sign up for a blog it offers to have you buy the domain name and you choose not to as it is already owned had you looked and tried to buy it

You say "" troublesome to you, "" well it is as a work at home mom I find this so sad!!
tryingto make a few dollars on line with a domain name and website which I PAY for both of them and then comes someone using it for free -SIgh! How sad!..."

Okay, so first she denies leaving the comment on my blog--which I have--and again, she's angry that I got something for free that she paid for, keeping in mind however, that "wordpress" appears in my URL and not in hers.

Today, I wander out to The Kids Book Connection to post a review and guess what--my blog has been suspended. Gee, is that a coincidence? I think not.

After reviewing their Terms and Conditions, I honestly don't see where WordPress has just cause to do that; but what worries me more is that any Tom, Dick or Harry can report your WordPress blog and it is immediately suspensed without warning and without sending you an email to let you know there has been a complaint issued.

So, I am asking you, my readers, is that fair? Do you think it's right that your ex-boyfriend could get ticked at you and report your blog and have all your work be held up in limbo without any type of investigation performed first?

I was considering a move to WordPress for all my blogs because Goggle has recently placed a limit on the number of labels your blog can use, but I definitely won't do that now.

I usually pride myself on keeping emotion out of my writing, but today I failed miserably. I can't believe another human being would do that to someone, and that all that work of mine might have to be recreated just because an Usborne sales representative is angry that she paid for a blog she could have gotten for free. I am totally beside myself and I certainly won't be buying anything from or recommending any products from Usborne in the near future if these are the type of people they employ.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will you NaNoWriMo?

So, how many of you are going to tackle National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year? I had several reservations, as I am busier than I have ever been, but I decided I wanted to paticipate too much to ignore the desire and knew I had to go for it.

For those like me who are considering adding a sizeable project into an already jam-packed schedule, my latest Writer2Writer article might give you a hand. "Tackling the Big Gorilla - How to Add a Large Project to Your Schedule and Still Be Stress-free around the Holidays".

For help preparing for NaNoWriMo, including many links and resources, visit the Let's Write a Novel Together blog.

Good luck to everyone who will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2009!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The 2010 Muse Online Writers Conference

Well, in case you're wondering where I ran off to, I participated in the Muse Online Writers Conference last week. As always, Lea and friends did an excellent job, and this year attendees with completed manuscripts got the chance to vie for spots to pitch to publishers. Awesome new addition to the conference offerings!

Registration is now open for the 2010 Muse Online Writers Conference that will take place from October 11 through October 17, 2010. You can register at and be sure to put yourself on Individual Email so that you don't miss anything. Lea sends out numerous important message throughout the year and it is a bummer if you miss anything important.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Help Me Decide on My NaNoWriMo Project

I haven't attempted NaNoWriMo since 2006, and I sure don't know if everything will line up for me to give it a try this year, but I have three ideas that I'm toying with and I need some input from you. So come out of hiding and let me know your thoughts.

Idea One

In 2006, I began a story titled A Shepherd's Journey. This is Christian fiction story where I was able to the idea a bit and sell it to a children's publisher for a picture book, which will come out in 2010, but I still think it has potential as a more mature story.

Premise: As a child, a shepherd boy named Obed, is the in the hills outside Bethlehem on the night of Christ's birth with his father and two older brothers. They visit the Savior and sing His praises, but Obed's youngest brother Eli is later slaughtered by Herod's soldiers in an attempt to kill the new King. Time marches on and Christ begins his ministry and then is put to death and rises 3 days later. Right before the Resurrection, Obed's mother dies and he is worried for her soul, since her belief in God since Eli's death has ben shaky at best, and his fathers and brothers no longer worship God. Obed leaves home in search of the apostles, who are now in hiding, to see if he can learn more about this Jesus, and to figure out if He was the Savior he met so long ago, so that can bring his family back to God.

Like to write it because: I really feel this is a story God has called me to write.

Problems: Research was and remains an issue with this one. Fashion, food, typical weather are all things I need to find out. I have some texts here, but as I discovered in 2006, trying to research and write all at once doesn't work.

Idea Two

Premise: I had written a short story a while back titled "Montezuma's Revenge". In it, Reed's wife had attempted to murder him, but he survived and discovered his wife had vanished. Reed receives a mysterious text message claiming that this person knows where his wife Erin is and wants to meet him. During that meeting, he discovers that the text messenging stranger is his ex-girlfriend Sharon, who never liked Erin and thought she was the reason they broke up. Ben, Reed's father never liked Erin either, and is the one who hired Sharon (a P.I.) to find out where Erin disappeared to. Seems Erin ran away with a contractor who worked at Reed and Erin's house.

Like to write this because: I have some background started on these guys and gals and would like to turn this into something more than a short story.

Problem: Not sure if there is a full novel in here. It would be romantic suspsense because of the relationship with Sharon that would become more as the story progresses. Not sure where to start it off if I need to make it longer because originally I had is starting with Reed getting the mysterious text and discovering Erin's whereabouts early on. The plan was to have him take off to Mexico to find Erin and the contractor (Mark) and Sharon ends up following him there, a confrontation ensues, and though I didn't have all the details Sharon and Reed end up together.

I guess I could actually start it with Reed trying to figure out where that nasty wife of his went and then bring Sharon in, in a different fashion, but again, is there enough for a novel?

Idea Three

This one would be a total shot in the dark and I'm not quite sure how I would approach it because I really haven't given much thought to it.

Premise: This is a crime fiction piece with a romanctic element to it, though there is no happy ending because the woman is murdered. I put this together as part of a scene building exercise for a workshop last year. Gilbert and Jonathan are two detectives and Anne is the woman Gil is in love with, though he thinks she is interested in Robert, the son of a prominent senator. The senator's family has Mob connections, but it seems that Robert has some gambling debts that the Maronis (Mob guys) want paid and dear ole Daddy doesn't like his gambling and won't give him the dough; so Robert needs to wine and dine Anne, and hope that she marries him so he can use her money. But she can't decide if she loves him--seems maybe her heart belonged to Gil, they argue, and he kills her. A chase ensues and Robert is finally brought to justice.

Like to write it because: I would really like to see how far I could take it.

Problem: I set this in NYC in an unknown time period, but I was thinking 50's. I know next to nothing about NYC, police work, or organized crime other than what I've read, and I know even less about the 50's.

I guess there is a fourth idea hanging out there too, but since it would never meet the required word-count I don't think it's really a consideration. I was thinking of expanding my YA story "Amelia's Mission" and turning it into a novella. This would be along the lines of Lucy Maud Montgomery's work and I think it would be a great thing to put together, and fun.

I think that's it. If you want to share your thoughts on these, I would greatly appreciate it.