Pray for Turkey

My friend is caught in the middle of a war zone. Police are attacking anyone in the streets, attacking hospitals, mosques, and colleges. Random gangs are flooding the streets. All Hell has broken loose…

I normally don’t post about politics but a dear friend of mine is caught in the middle of a war zone. She is going to college there as an international student, her dream is to provide health care to those who need it in Africa as a nurse in public health. She had no idea she would be put to the test before graduation.

It started off as peaceful protests about societal problems such as unemployment but the government and the police attacked with aggression. Some of her friends have been shot to death, people she knows have been beaten for merely walking down the street. The situation is getting worse and worse and although my friend is only there for school, she has been attacked as well. I can’t provide names or more details to protect her identity since she mentioned rumors of the government hacking into computers and possibly shutting off all communication (such as phone lines and the internet)…But I ask for prayer and for others to spread the news! Here are some videos she has shown me and some pictures she took while walking to the campus and back.

Youtube video: Turkish Police beating a fallen protester

Youtube video: College my friend attends attacked with tear gas

BBC News: Article and video. The man with dreadlocks has now been shot and killed, was known by my friend. The Egyptian hit with the canister my friend helped save.

Here are some pictures she has taken herself, got from friends, or offline.

My friend knows the person who was killed that these people here are mourning

My friend knows the person who was killed that these people here are mourning
Police agressively attacked those who were mourning.

Police agressively attacked those who were mourning.

The injured

The injured

My friend was attacked with tear gas although they were the only people in the street walking home from the University.

My friend was attacked with tear gas although they were the only people in the street walking home from the University.

Her jacket after helping stop the bleeding off a fallen friend who was shot in the face with a canister of tear gas.

Her jacket after helping stop the bleeding off a fallen friend who was shot in the face with a canister of tear gas.

Reflection

befunkyme.jpgAuthor Notes:

I usually do a weekly reflection on my class blog about this fiction blog but our assignment was a little bit different this week. We were to tour other classmates in place of our summary. I liked what I saw out there but also received feedback from three classmates.

My “About Page” needed some beefing up, so I recently made some changes. Still need to add some more back story, but don’t know how that should look yet.

Biggest problem with fiction blogs is organization.

Which I knew that from the beginning…thats why I originally wanted to write in a collage format so anyone could jump in anywhere and it would easy to pick up….But as the story ‘wrote itself’ it became chronological instead of collage–although there are jumps forward in time here and there it never goes ‘back in time’ unless in reflection of the past…

A new reader must start all the way at the beginning.

But I’m hoping with this new section written by Alex in their new homeland, that with the new setting, I could start over so to speak and try more of the collage style like I originally planned.

Also I can finally try writing with a young romance theme.

Thoughts

befunkyme.jpgAuthor Notes:

Experiencing writers block because I know people from my class will be looking at my blog this week….So I’m trying to write an extra good fiction post, but by focusing on an audience I’m failing to write anything. Keep deleting beginnings and running back and forth. Instead of a fiction post as planned today I’ll begin reflecting on my writing process.

I started these blogs writing on Microsoft Word then copy pasting them onto WordPress posts, making additional edits to fit in here, saving drafts, viewing them, then publishing it what seemed like hours later.

I’ve quit doing that. It simply took too long and now that I am beginning to feel more comfortable with WordPress, I’ve quit worrying about the little things as much. I’ve noticed grammar errors in my writing and that…ugh…disapoints me. But then again copy edits can always be made later. I’ve been writing freely on WordPress, checking for spelling errors, then publishing it without re-reading posts first.

An aspect about blogs we learned in class, is that posts dont have to be perfect:

“Web workers (those who work using weblogs and wikis and other social media) use the web to help them work. They often post their work in various stages of completion. Some posts present a fairly complete consideration; some, the roughest sketches, the sketichiest beginnings. Bloggers typically post knowing there will be updates and changes, and often post in draft to encourage comments and advice.

Because the blog is time-based, each post marks moment in the ongoing development of a project. And because a blog is public, writers can call on readers to help them out. The trick is, then, how to signal provisionality – both to yourself and to readers who might be open to helping you out.”

From the wise words of my professor, I remind myself to turn off the ‘editorial’ voice in my head blocking my progress this week, and just let the creativity flourish.

-Sarah D.

Fiction on blogs

While researching what Google has to say about fiction blogs, I came across an article with this quote that both spiked my interest and bothered me:

“Read non-fiction blogs for ideas as well. For your fictional blog to be successful, it ought to sound and feel like a regular blog. You can use the traditional elements of non-fiction blogs in creative ways to make your fictional work more interesting, but you must respect the medium, or it won’t work!”

The words “it wont work” bothered me. Why? Because if someone likes your writing, it shouldn’t matter if you utilize mediums of blogs or not. I’ve seen short posts, no links, no images, just a paragraph or two on a given subject usually something borderline controversal and this blogger received hundreds of comments both in support and a few against.

But I understand what the quote was initially getting at. Blogs have mediums for a reason, those aspects are there because they work in some way or another. I take a deep breath and consider it. Yes, it makes sense to use those mediums in writing fiction.

Thus far my fiction posts are basically short stories. I haven’t used any mediums/aspects of blogs besides comments generating feedback. I’m not sure what this would even look like in a fiction post for myself. I know some fiction bloggers will have their characters using separate blogs so they can comment on posts adding another layer of fiction such as iJames has on his blog here. A commenter becomes part of the story.

Another aspect of non-fiction blogs that I haven’t used in my fiction posts are links. I’m not quite sure how to use links at this point to keep in tact with the storyline. Ok maybe I have an idea. Perhaps this week’s narrator will be a character who is more tech-savy, someone who can steal another’s thoughts and place them online…My character, Ryker, will be perfect for this. (Either way it’s worth a try whether it works or not…next week I switch up characters up anyways.)

Linking to your blog from other social mediums seems to be a norm too (maybe I’m wrong?) I might start doing that with my twitter account it’s worth a try to generate a readership centered towards people who want to read in those areas I hashtag.

Lots of new things to consider this week. I wonder how others have tackled this?

-Sarah D. 😉

 

No comments + Few Likes

In my class at Bemidji State University’s online magazine Cre8here we came across a problem we were running into that led to a discussion. Why aren’t people commenting?

Our Facebook page gathers follows and likes but not many comments. Even when we gave commentors a chance to win a prize not many people would leave comments. Instead several will like a status update and the occasional rare comment usually from someone in the class or from the author of a certain published piece.

On Cre8here’s webpage administrators can see how many hits the website gathers a day and although it is a rather high number with viewers from all over the world, with such a vast community surrounding this solid foundation of creativity it’s surprising that it’s such a rarity to come across a comment.

It’s also frustrating because what do likes really mean? Do people really like a piece, or are the just liking posts in hopes for a follow back? When I first came across that idea, I tried it out and liked a bunch of different posts but then I didn’t have any more hits on my blog then usual so maybe I did it wrong but that technique didn’t quite work out for me. Same thing with comments, I went around commenting others hoping for a comment back, but that didn’t quite work they just replied to my comment. So those theories don’t quite always work, also I tried linking to a two different bloggers and they never linked back. I think every situation is different some advice works some quick tips are just spitting in the wind.

Either way, alas, no comments. But why?

Cre8here is fairly new, and I’m even newer to the world of blogging and online literary magazines. Our class came up with several ideas and then moved on to more work. Here’s a glimpse into what we discussed as well as my own perspectives of possibilities on why we weren’t receiving comments…(Depending on a blogs content I see how these could vastly differ so I suppose I’m mostly thinking about fiction blogs or creative writing here.)

  1. Reader wants to remain anonymous online for various reasons.
  2. Reader doesn’t want their comment to be taken the wrong way.
  3. Reader isn’t sure how they felt after reading a piece.
  4. Reader is afraid they might interpret a piece differently than the authors intentions.
  5. Reader doesn’t have an emotional response to the piece thus not worthy of time to react past a simple ‘like’.
  6. Reader sees so many other comments maybe the feel they are just repeating what someone else already has mentioned.
  7. Reader doesn’t want to be the first comment to break the ice.
  8. Reader doesn’t want to take the time.
  9. Reader doesn’t know enough to defend their point of view in a specific genre.
  10. “…………..”

What other options are there? What could another reason be?

-Sarah D. 🙂

Research on Blogs

Get creative with Comments:

This blogger does an amazing job of using comments as another layer of the narrative in their fiction blog. This example I found in Axel Bruns’ book Uses of Blogs. (The example was pretty darn difficult to find on Google most likely because the post was dated for 2004.) These comments are hilarious. They weren’t mentioned in the book likely because of the foul langauge used. All in all, the comments seem to make the story more realistic as if the characters were really alive and argueing with each other and it’s fun to think we as readers can join in and be apart of their world.

(This sparked off ideas for my own fiction writing and I have a creative idea of how to use comments to add to my own narrative of Hardened Heart hopefully later sometime this week if not the next.)

Benefits for Emerging Writers:typeingedit

Simply fiction blogs are great place for experimentation. You can work with different styles until finding one that suits you best, explore opportunities to define skills, find a voice that works for your genre, and get immediate feedback from an audience–pray they are willing to comment.

A blog is a great way to keep yourself accountable as a writer. Your audience expects periodic posts otherwise you will loose their attention and they will move on to other more dedicated posters. Then again, I wouldn’t post too much, and fill up you readers RSS feeds. Those who are too noisy sometimes get ignored or ‘unfollowed’ if it is too much to keep up.

Best Illustration Example:

None one stands close to the artistic brilliance of Cheryl Moore. Wow! She does a fantastic job matching writing with her very own artwork. I could easily get lost in her weblog reading and admiring the illustrations that go along with them.

Finding/Editing Images:

Photoshop is sometimes just too expensive or time consuming. However pictures are important. An image should do several things with a piece of writing, it shouldn’t make a promise it can’t keep, give too much away, or be too weak for a piece. It’s hard to find free images though that work.

I usually take an image I find off of Microsoft clip art, since it’s free to use, then edit in the free photo editor at www.befunky.com. Which by the way, is the same photo editor the art group for the online literary magazine www.cre8here.com from Bemidji Sate University uses for their artwork. (I’m interning as one of the art contributors for this year) Befunky is a fun site to use and can easily become addicting.

-Sarah D.

#1 Research: Starting a Fiction Blog + Gathering an Audience

What works and what doesn’t work when writing a fiction blog? First step I took was to take a close look at other fiction blogs and learn from their example. How did they organize their site? How did they utilize images? How long should a post be? Part of the blogging experience is to gain an audience. But how?

(*Note: Feel free to comment different ideas or conflicting opinions this research post is to generate ideas on what works and what doesn’t. My views are short sighted since I’m a beginner blogger)

Tags

When I first published my piece I got zero hits. I added tags, and presto, hits! Got some likes and a few comments. Life is good. Using tags was more of a learn by experience thing for myself. I searched WordPress topics under the tag names I used for my posts and saw how mine looked alongside others. Something I noticed right away is that pictures made a huge difference.

Organization

As I read through fiction blogs that I found interesting I noticed that organization either attracted me deeper into a blog or drove me away. If someone had 20+ chapters and I couldn’t find the first one, I had no desire to look deeper.

What I liked was when the fiction bloggers did a series of short stories and each post included a fraction such as orpheusfiction did on their blog using a 1/3 for the first, 2/3 or the second post, and a 3/3 for a third on their Fear of Dragon’s series.

Pictureskeyboard2

I was especially drawn to posts that utilized images in different ways. Humor is always attractive, artwork is impressive, mysterious is nice. What didn’t work I thought were those that were tacky or didn’t relate to anything the rest of the post had to offer. I appreciate pictures that somehow illustrate beautifully what a piece is going to be about without being too obvious or too cutesy.

Length

Now for length I am unsure. I found it was easier to read posts that are 300-500 words long, but my posts are usually quite lengthy being over 1000 words. Skimming is what happens all too often and that is why I bold good one liners of my piece in order to keep a readers attention onto key points, (maybe its distracting?)  Length, I guess, depends on who your audience is. If you’re a person who loves to read then a long post will be welcome over a short and sweet post that would have a reader begging for more.

Other Helpful Resources

I searched on google to find out what suggestions were out there for gathering an audience some of the suggestions I would have never thought about. Such as on this website I learned that there is a way to submit your URL to search engines I’m not quite sure how that works but that is an interesting idea that would reach a wider audience outside of the blogosphere. On a side note that website was called ’15 tips’ but only had ten so perhaps that isn’t the most creditable site to look at.

Or this article suggested to utilize different social medias such as facebook, or twitter, and advertise yourself so to speak.

Conclusion

A lot of it seemed to generate around the idea of connecting to other bloggers in any way shape or form. By linking, liking, and commenting on another’s blogs will attract those bloggers back to yours.