Tag Archives: blogging

Do You Like Me? Yes or No: Love Notes from SEO

All writers and bloggers know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a crucial part of establishing your online brand. Tags and Keywords are required in order for the Internet Gods to find you and connect you with readers. With tags, we have a say. We can edit our own tags to include the subject matter we blog about in hopes that interested readers will search those tags and find us. For example, I’ve tagged this post to come up in searches for my name, my blog’s name, SEO, blogging, and writers.

We can influence keywords as well, but the Internet Gods that be (on the seventh day they tweeted) will also pull things from our posts based on wording we’ve used and formatting.

Every now and then I like to take a peak at my blog stats to see what search terms led people to find my little hub in the great wide blogosphere. And the randomness of some of the search terms never ceases to amuse me.

In the past, you may have found my blog by searching one or all of the following phrases:

  • how to do the Peanuts dance
  • dino erotica
  • what defined the 80’s
  • things to blog about that start with ‘S’
  • vampire attacks
  • claimed vampire attacks in 2013
  • covered up vampire attacks

Why, YES I CAN instruct you how to do the Peanuts dance, why you SHOULDN’T buy dino erotica, what defined the 80’s (I’ll save you the read – it’s fanny packs), things to blog about that start with ‘S’ (you could also consult a dictionary, but I’ve got some ideas – Snuggies, sleep, sloths, the character Sloth from the movie The Goonies…). And I can tell you about ONE claimed vampire attack in 2013 that may in fact be a cover up by a moderately well known band.

Now, I like to imagine you, Dear Readers, opening your Google search engines and writing to me personally, like Dear Abby, all of your quizzical interweb wonderings. I think of your search terms as love notes. And I hope that I can answer your questions.

Yes I Can

My Campaign Slogan – just in time for election day!

But lately, I’m beginning to feel like we should see other people. Your requests have gotten out of hand. And I think it’s time we introduce a safe word. You know, something to say when one of us feels the other has the crossed the line.  How about ‘parakeet‘? I think it works because I dislike them too.

A week ago when I looked at the search terms that led you here, I was flummoxed. And more than a little uncomfortable.

Recent Search Terms That Led You to the Happiness Project:

  • inside LDS temples
  • scary ouija board conversations
  • what to wear in the tundra
  • what does it mean if you draw a swing
  • dragon hill spa placenta
  • i dreamed there was 5 little orphan baby bats all snuffling dreams
  • girls and boars
  • sideshow freak posters
  • queens drinking tea
  • Tia Carrere’s legs
  • Jonathan Crombie’s girlfriend
  • inflatable handcuffs hahaha
  • how to fix a box fan
  • ideas of how to dress like The Hulk
  • hippies, gypsies, no bras and no squares
  • absurdist quirky films
  • Willoughby “the slime”
  • German women in dirndls
  • absurdly romantic things to say to a woman
  • what causes super human hearing
  • sex free friendship with old Indian woman

Huh???

Who am I to you, SEO? Do you even know me? I thought we loved one another.

SEO love letter

I think it’s time we slow things down, SEO. NaNoWriMo is starting and I just don’t have time for this. Come talk to me when you’re not drunk. You’ve got my number.

*****

Follow up Request to the Internet Gods

Dear Internet Lords,

I just called for a break between me and my SEO. Lately I feel like he doesn’t get me anymore. And he’s always asking me for the strangest requests. I’m tired and I feel like he doesn’t respect me anymore. What should I do? Oh, and how do I change my blog relationship status to ‘It’s Complicated’?

Sincerely,

Baffled and Blogging

*****

What’s your SEO relationship like?
or Write me your best Dear Abby response!

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The TRUTH Behind Five Truths and a Lie: Vlog Edition

Hey Everyone!

I had so much fun chatting with you all over my last post, Five Truths and a Lie. What a hoot watching you all guess which of the 6 stories were real and which one wasn’t. If you haven’t guessed yet, go ahead and click the link to submit your answer. I’ll wait!

*****

Final submissions in? Good!

On to the fun and giggles! I decided to reveal the answers via vlog. And good news for you, I haven’t been drinking before this one, so it should make a lot more sense than my past vlog when I was touring the Beer, Wine, and Cheese Festival. Yaaaaaaah, good times!

So here’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

So how did you do? Did you guess right?
Are you shocked about my past life?
Nah, you knew I was scandalous! 😉

Five Truths and a Lie

Mandi

This is Mandi.

Thanks to the sweetest mother-daughter blogger duo, InionNMathair, I’ve been introduced to some awesome new bloggers via their post, The Sisterwives. One of these amazing women is Mandi of the fabulously named blog – Cellulite Looks Better Tan.

I’ll have to take your word on that, Mandi!

*stretches toes into ray of sunlight* Sizzle *withdraws immediately*

For now, this redhead is still sun-combustible. And my cellulite looks like a  marshmallow.

Then again, Mandi prides herself on being a good liar. Perhaps this is true about sun-baked cellulite. I can’t be sure.

What I am sure of is that Mandi is a really funny gal. And she just shared five truths and a lie in her blog post, True Story…,  for readers to figure out which thing on her list is the lie. Interested yet? You should be. After all she includes tuna, stitches, and dead people! What more could you want?!

Inspired to play along, I’m sharing five truths and a lie for all of YOU to guess which one is the lie about me.

Have at it!

1.  I once won a year’s worth of chicken wings.

2. My first boyfriend collected horse figurines.

3. I quit smoking by drinking tea.

4. My parents’ backyard once kept 7 toilets, 1 urinal, a washing machine, a keyboard, and a caution – slow down – crosswalk person inside it.

5. I love to cartwheel.

6. I whistle by breathing in instead of out.

So, whatd’ya think?
Which one is the lie?

Top 5 Reasons To Go To BlogHer

This weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending Blogher ’14.

I can’t even begin to decompress and describe the mind bomb that is this conference. 4,000 bloggers, most of them women, in scenic California, partying it up, networking, and honoring each others’ voices.

I arrived in San Jose, CA on Thursday afternoon and was greeted by cupcakes (made out of lentils???) in a beautiful city. I ask you, does it get any better than that?

San Jose CollageWell yes, it does. Because there are keynotes. AMAZING, funny, gorgeous, talented, and freaking cool keynotes!

Who was on the list?

Jenny Lawson – who you may know as The Bloggess, and author of the hilarious memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I met her, and we talked about funny female authors, and we both just finished reading Nora Ephron for the first time, and she signed my book “Knock Knock, Mofo”. Isn’t she great?

Tig Notaro – the comedian best known for her stand up show discussing the humor and heft of having breast cancer. You can download free tracks of her stand up at her site here, including clips from her famous show, Live.

Arianna Huffington – as in the founder of The Huffington Post! Best speech of the keynotes; she was inspiring, charming, funny, and flawless. And you know what? I met her too, and I spoke to her in Greek! *seriously might faint just thinking how awesome that was*

Kerry Washington – the actor and activist. She shared behind the scenes stories from her show, Scandal, as well as why civil rights and philanthropy are so important.

Keynote CollageWhy go to BlogHer?

BlogHer is drastically different than writers conferences, in my opinion. When you go to a writers conference, there’s a pretty strict schedule of classes to attend. It’s more about learning, networking, and deciding about indie vs. traditional publishing routes. It’s awesome and definitely motivating, but different.

1. BlogHer is basically a giant party.

No I’m not kidding. That’s how it feels. Everyone is smiling. Everyone wants to meet people. Everyone wants to know what you blog about and which classes you attended, and which yogurt you picked in the Yoplait #tasteoff challenge!

Shocker! We picked Yoplait.

YoplaitThat’s me and the illustrious August McLaughlin
hanging out with a giant spoon. #GoodTimes

The Expo room with all the vendors is fun to bum around. And for those looking to write sponsored posts, the connections are yours for the making!

2. The Keynotes

See above. Then wipe the drool from your chin. I can’t wait to see who’s on board for next year’s keynotes.

3. Voices of the Year Community Keynote

If you want to hear the voices that are groundbreaking in the blogosphere, attend the VOTY celebration. I was in awe of these women. And I want to share them all with you. Here are the 12 Voices of the Year that spoke at the conference. (All were phenomenal, but I starred the ones that spoke the most to me personally.)

*Parri Sontag ~ Her Royal Thighness ~ Leisure Suits, Braces, and Beanies: My Life as a Dodgeball Target

Kristin Vanderhey Shaw ~ Two Cannoli ~ More Than Words

Tammy Soong ~ World’s Worst Moms ~ First Reason Not to Get a Tattoo: Your Mom Probably Has One

*A’driane Nieves ~ Butterfly Confessions ~ America’s Not Here For Us

*Meredith Bland ~ Pile of Babies ~ 9 Awesome Things About Having a Physical Disability

*Janelle Hanchett ~ Renegade Mothering ~ We Don’t Start With Needles in Our Arms

Phyllis Myung ~ The Napkin Hoarder ~ Sometimes I Still Wish I Was White

Ashley Garrett ~ Baddest Mother Ever ~ It’s All One Life

*August McLaughlin ~ August McLaughlin’s Blog ~ My Big Brindle Heart: A Love Story

*Grace Sandra ~ Grace Sandra’s Blog ~ Letting The Stupid Little Ni**er Go

Jenna Hatfield ~ Stop, Drop, & Blog ~ The Bridge That is Any Bridge

Lisa Page Rosenberg ~ Smacksy ~ The View From Here

4. Networking and Friendships

Business CardsHoly business cards, Batman!

There are 4,000 bloggers in one building and you get to hang out with them!!! I actually ran out of business cards.

Also, meet bloggers you follow online.

After using Twitter as a ginger beacon homing device, I met up with Aussa Lorens from Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.

Photo credit - Aussa Lorens

Photo credit – Aussa Lorens

You know who else I Twitter stalked?

Hege and Cotille from StitchFix! Photo coming soon as it’s on Cotille’s phone, but the girls will be sharing their photos from BlogHer and all the StitchFix fashionistas at the conference using the hashtag #StitchFixInTheWild.

*double squeeee* I even went out to dinner with them! And we leisured on Santana Row, San Jose’s trendy hot spot for restaurants and clothing boutiques.

But best of all was meeting fellow blogger, longtime friend, and founder of #GirlBoner radio – August McLaughlin!

August and Jess

Photo credit – August McLaughlin

Truth.

Truth.

5. BlogHer is literally a giant party.

The end of the conference is a big, outdoor party. And Rev Run from Run DMC was the dj. #ILoveThe90s

Rev Run Run DMC

Do you need any more reasons than that?
So, will I see you at BlogHer next year?

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Do What I Do

Many writers have been blogging about their writing process lately, and I got tagged by YA Fantasy author, Valerie Biel to do so. Valerie’s author of the young adult novel, Circle of Nine – Beltany—which is coming out this summer! Check it out!

For this blog hop, I’m channeling my inner “Dusty” from Twister, and sharing…

Well alright.

What am I working on?

I am working on a humorous non-fiction book called Oops Baby.

Oops BabyThat’d be me.

I’m writing it in the style of David Sedaris, with each chapter more of a humorous essay. All of them tie together in that they illustrate my attempts to fit in – “making pathetic look cool since 1985.”  I am in the deep edits phase and have a deadline for sending it out in July, which means I’m going a little crazy right now.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Humorous essays are pretty common in most humor books/comical memoirs. I guess mine varies because it’s like Anne of Green Gables meets Saturday Night Live, and Anne is tossed into bizarre situational scenes like making an entire glacial replica out of cake or finding an evil donkey in her bed.

#TrueStory

Why do I write what I do?

I firmly believe that everyone has a story. For years, I’ve wanted to share mine, but had always been told that since I’m not famous, who would care about me or what I had to say? So I started a fiction book. A paranormal YA book. When that didn’t work, I started a women’s fiction book. I made it about 35,000 words into that story before I gave up too. This cost me two years.

One year and one month ago, I quit my job and started writing a new book. My book. Now, with a new job, and just under half my chapters to finish editing, I feel like I’m on the right path.

How does my writing process work?

Coffee TimeI’m a social butterfly when I’m in my element. I like connecting with people and need the recognition and motivation to keep going, so what worked best for me when I was writing the first draft was Twitter sprints!

I loved doing timed writing sprints and congratulating the other writers participating with me. A group of us connected weekly, if not daily, and all championed each others’ work.

A big A-Ha moment in my writing process was learning I don’t have to write linearly. I can’t. I get stuck and then don’t know where to go with my story. What I did this time was write a long list of story ideas for each chapter, and each day I just picked one. Whatever inspired me most that day. Then when I finished the draft, I arranged them like a puzzle, and looked for what was missing.

Coffee Shop 1For editing, having a writers group has been priceless. I value and appreciate the honesty with which the women in my group generate critique. All of it comes from them wanting to help make each others’ writing the best possible, and that is a precious gift – to learn not just from what they say about my piece, but to each other, about all our works. I always leave with things to think about and ways to strengthen my writing.

I recently gained a new critique partner as well, and it is a joy beta reading for her and receiving her notes back to me. We write in the same genre, so of course it’s a hoot to help each other out!

*****

Tag! If they would like to participate, I’m going to tag the following writers, and they can share their writing process if they want to:

My amazing critique partner and fellow Wisconsinite, Deanne M. Schultz.

The sassy and sensual erotica author, Kitt Crescendo.

and the philosophical, world traveler, Liz, of Be Love Live.

*****

Why do you do what you do?

 

 

10 Links To Inspire Love and a Larger Wordcount

There have been some great blog posts lately, all of which are motivating me to stay focused on my goals. I hope to be 3/4 of the way done with edits by my April writers conference. I’m also working on author branding and hope to create new business cards as well as start up a pinterest page. Any advice from you all is greatly appreciated.

I know many of you are hard at work on your own goal list: figuring out which conferences to attend, starting new novels, finishing drafts, or maybe just planning a romantic night out with your honey.

If so, I’ve got you covered! Pull up a chair, wrap your fingers around a mug of your fave beverage, and happy reading!

In Preparation for Valentine’s Day:

I made a Valentine's picture, but the rings are so big they look like handcuffs. Haha!

I made a Valentine’s picture, but the rings are so big they look like handcuffs. Haha!

  • Emma Meade interviewed erotica author Kitt Crescendo on her latest release (of the literature sort) in Blogger Pal and Author of Steamy Fiction. *Bring a glass of water to cool down after you read Kitt’s book excerpt!
  • Shannon Donnelly guests at Writers in the Storm to answer What Makes a Romance? with seven tips for helping anyone on the fence about whether their book fits.
  • Liz from Be.Love.Live. is celebrating February by Learning to Love Yourself Through a Photo a Day. She’s hosting a photo a day challenge to take 28 selfies that share something beautiful about you! Aww.
  • Shameless plug: Stay tuned for a Valentine’s Day guest post from pet behavioralist and thriller writer, Amy Shojai, right here on the Happiness Project!

Writer’s Hub:

  • Adam from Roof Beam Reader gives his take on the J.K. Rowling interview in J.K. Rowling Can Say What She Wants. Have you heard about this?! Rowling was interviewed (by Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films) and commented that intended for Hermione and Harry to end up together in the end, NOT Hermione and Ron. It’s a fascinating conversation and I would LOVE to hear your opinions on it.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, author Ginger Calem’s daughter snapped the cutest picture of a Harry Potter fan ever. Check this adorbs out! And follow Ginger on Instagram!

Is this cute or the cutest?

  • Piper Bayard and co-blogger/author, Holmes, kidnapped invited bestselling author Ellie Ann to their blog to discuss the Steampunk trend as well as Enhanced Books. Fab interview on these new medias. Steampunk and Books That Sing
  • Julie Glover discusses the power of book’s first line with great examples from both classics and her own works. I love that she includes Daphne du Maurier’s wicked character Mrs. Danvers to illustrate! Kickin’ It Off Right: A Novel’s First Line
  • Bradley Somer posted in Wordbitches What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Writing, which is filled with great tips for anyone who has, or wants to have, speaking engagements like book readings or presentations.
  • Kristen Lamb shares Why All Writers Should Attend a Writers Conference which is full of useful networking advice, tools and updates on the publishing industry, as well as information about an upcoming online conference!

What goals are you working on? What are your Valentine’s plans? And what blog posts inspired you this past week? Feel free to share links!

The Happiness Project: Now An Educational Blog Series!

Hello Friends!

I know, it’s been awhile. I’ve been a naughty blogger. I didn’t post at all last week cause I was sick with a cold and pretty much had no idea what to write about. I did get some work done on my book though, which is good and bad. Good – because my goal is to be a published, professional writer. But bad – or maybe more accurately sad, because I missed you all and felt guilty for ignoring you in favor of sweatpants, Echinacea, kleenex, and the Harry Potter marathon that was on all day Saturday.

Which leads me to an update. As much as I hate to say it, and I really do, I’ll be cutting my posts back to once a week. I have to focus on edits right now, and I need the extra time to get them done. There’s going to be a lot of this going on…

Life of a WriterI will have some awesome guest bloggers joining me next month so stay tuned for guest posts from animal expert Amy Shojai and mystery writer extraordinaire Kathy Owen – both of whom have new books coming out! Holla!

In procrastinating writing a new blog post, I perused my recent blog stats page to see what amazing search terms led people to my blog.

You know what I learned?

I’m apparently writing an educational blog series!

I mean, people are popping over here to learn all kinds of information. Just in the last 30 days, here’s a list of topics I’ve been their go to source for:

  • Mount Rushmore holes in eyes – um, ok
  • how to do the Peanuts dance – well sure
  • dino erotica – this will not be on next year’s syllabus
  • Barret Oliver
  • what defined the 80’s
  • things to blog about that start with ‘S’ – don’t ask me about the letter ‘E’, I have no idea!
  • do older ouija boards work better – I don’t know, I don’t plan to touch one ever again.
  • wicked musical party supplies – I’m better with Oscar parties.
  • reports of vampire attacks in 2013
  • claimed vampire attacks in 2013
  • covered up vampire attacks
  • vampire attacks – For. Realz.
  • missing your dad who died from positive quotes – I have a question for you, how does one die from the power of affirmation phrases?
  • travel necessities in Korea
  • how long does it take for a tarot reading to come true
  • how many nominations did The Hobbit get

I’m so pleased I could be your reference on so many broad topics. I shall strive to elaborate and educate on many more in 2014.

Now, raise those hands. Who’s got a topic they want to talk about in class?

 

 

 

3 Lessons Learned From 3 Years of Blogging

Last month was my blog anniversary. I started blogging 3 years ago on a dare. I had just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I was talking about it with my boyfriend and how I wanted to start writing again when he dared me to…

“Start a blog.”

I can do that!

So I did.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.

1. The Blogosphere Rocks and Comments are Verbal Gold

I am forever grateful to those first few people who started commenting on my blog, and even more so to the ones still around today. I’ve been given amazing opportunity to connect with other bloggers/writers on various projects and it’s always rewarding. Groups like the WANAs, ROW80, and the Life List Club have all helped me push forward with not just my writing goals, but personal goals as well.

Hanging with the WANAs at DFWcon

Hanging with the WANAs at DFWcon

When I made the difficult decision to quit my job, without a back up plan, my blog friends supported me and some even contacted me with potential job leads. They didn’t have to do that, and that’s why it meant the world. When I’ve shared vulnerable posts about writing slumps, not going back to school, and heck – shitting my pants! – you’ve stuck by me and your comments keep me going. Thank you!

2. Trust Your Gut

My blog has transformed many times over the years. And so has my writing. The first book I started, and consequently restarted and rewrote 10+ times, was a paranormal YA!

Noooo, there were not vampires in it. (Although, I think it would be fine if there were!)

I always wanted to write a comical memoir, but I let people or situations get in the way. When I made it a priority to “tell my story” I had the first draft written in 4 months time. I’ve never been as far in the writing process or felt like I was on the right track as I do now.

Life of a Writer

3. Change is inevitable.

Similar to the previous lesson, change is inevitable. If I stopped moving forward just because I worried about how a topic or change on my blog would go over, I probably wouldn’t be celebrating a blog anniversary right now. Allowing my blog to grow with me as I learn and reflect, benefits not just me, but my readers as well.

*****

Thank you everyone for reading!

And for joining me on my journey to make pathetic look cool. 😀

What’s a life lesson that’s been on your mind lately?

Tune in Monday to join me and my guest, Amber West, discussing cats vs. dogs, parenting advice, what to watch on television, and her thriller with a twist – The Ruth Valley Missing!

Weekend Mash-up and Feel Good Posts

Time for another mash up of awesomeness on The Happiness Project!

Halloween CollageFor the Halloween Fans

Did you catch this month’s Original Vs. Remake series? Tiffany A. White blogged about John Carpenter’s Halloween, Catie Rhodes posted on the Rob Zombie remake, and I blogged about the 20th Anniversary comeback film!

Kassandra Lamb did a post for Misterio Press on Why Being Scared Out of Our Wits is So Much Fun!

Book News and Word Play

Damian Trasler shared a post on The Future of Libraries. I’m always at the library on my days off, so I found this insider’s take extremely interesting.  I learned some libraries are getting liquor licenses to boost attendance at events!

Julie Glover shared in her Wise Words Wednesday post How Shakespeare Added to Our Language. I’ll bet you’ve heard a ton of these phrases that all came from the great bard himself!

Ever question whether to use profanity or not? Madge Madigan shared her take on the issue in The Art of Naughty Words.

Leanne Shirtliffe, humor writer and children’s book author, shares Why You Should Write in Multiple Genres.

Feels Good to Laugh

Piper Bayard has been stuck in bed, but she’s finding exceptionally creative ways to keep preoccupied. Check out her fabulous list in Having Fun in Bed.

Kait Nolan shared Three Awesome Things – one of which is a funny video about a voice recognition elevator and a few guys with Scottish accents. It’s pretty awesome.

My pal Misty Laws has declared herself Best Wife Ever after buying her husband a new car for their anniversary. Read all about it!

What did I miss? What blog posts have you loved this week?

Share links in the comments below!

On the Road Again…

Road Trip

Hello Mates,

I know it seems like I just got back from my travels. Or have you forgotten this?

Boston Harbor

Ah yes, the vacation with my parents. What a treasure that was!

But I have other plans this time. Joe and I are off on our own adventure for 2 weeks! So you might say I’m taking a “Blogcation”.

We’re roadtripping east this year and you can catch my edition of “Where in the world is Jess Witkins’s Happiness Project?” by following me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where I promise to post pictures from the trip!

Until then, please keep yourselves occupied by crossing off some of my summer fun suggestions in 51 Things to Do Before Summer’s Over and entering to win a FREE book From My Shelf To Yours.

See you later, alligators!

-Jess

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