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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Helps You Blog Better?

Hey everyone. It is me, Tim Brannan from The Other Side, again!  I am a Role-Playing game author so I use my blog as a platform to talk about my books, but also to share with others in my blogging community to sorts of things I like to write about.  So RPGs, horror and geek-culture.

Often times when we write about writing in general and blogging in particular we talk a lot about where ideas come from, how to get more readers or even how much writing everyday is important.  This is all true, and important, but that is not the type of tools I mean today.


Look down.  There. See it, it's your keyboard.  What is your relationship with your keyboard?

I blog every day.  I write in addition to that and there is that day job too.  I spend a lot of time with my fingers on my keyboard.  My favorite keyboard is the one I have at home, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. It is the silver one and long, long out of stock.  I wrote Ghosts of Albion on it and it is by far the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.  I never expected to find a replacement for my old beatup Gateway 2000 124 key programmable keyboard, but this one is fantastic.

Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer (I built it from spare parts).  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

This is my second 6000 keyboard in truth.  I bought this one off of eBay for an ungodly price and still consider it money well spent.  It has the right curve for my hands and can elevate to the right height so I don't get fatigue while typing. Plus it is the same keyboard Weird Al has in his song "White & Nerdy".  A song that is not about me at all. Really. Honest.


I was reading the other day that George R. R. Martin, when he is not plotting to kill every character you love, sits in front of his old DOS machine and types his books into WordStar 4.0.  Piers Anthony once mentioned that back in the day he paid a programmer to reverse engineer his favorite word processor from CP/M to MS-DOS. Laurel K. Hamilton did her first writing on a manual typewriter and still thinks of things in terms of page counts and not word counts.  I am sure there are many more examples, but the point is clear. We get used to something for our writing and we like to stick with it.   Myself, I am an Microsoft Word fan.  I have been using it for years, since version 1.1 and Office 4.3.  I have gotten very comfortable with it and have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in it.

So then am I switching over to Google Drive?
Well while I still use Word one of the things it promised and never really delivered on was real time collaboration.   With the Google Drive word processor I can work with others and see their edits real time. We can chat and discuss what it is we are doing and why.  Plus I have lost count of the number of docs I have lost carting them from one computer to another, either on floppy disk or flash drive. And then when I manage to get it to another computer (say from work to home) I have to deal with whether or not the computer can read the file format and version control.  The only thing worse than loosing a document is to spend hours adding to a draft that is already 3 revisions old.

So how about you?
What are your writing needs? Special keyboard? Software? Maybe it is your best comfy chair.

Tell us all about it.

Like what I do?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnie Awards for Role-Playing Games.
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!
Voting ends on July 30.

About the Author  
Timothy S. Brannan is the author of The Other Side blog, He has worked on a number of games including the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG", and is the author of “The Ghosts of Albion RPG”, “The Witch”, “Eldritch Witchery” and the upcoming “Strange Brew” which is currently in a Kickstarter Campaign.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Themes That Rocked! Hauntings with Lexa Cain

Please welcome the awesome Lexa Cain, author of Soul Cutter.

You posted about hauntings for the Challenge – what made you choose that theme?

When Julie Flanders was releasing her novel, THE GHOSTS OF AQUINNAH, she did a bunch of blog posts and guest posts about haunted places. I loved those! I was sorry to see them end, so I did my part to take up where she left off.

I think many readers assumed I believe in ghosts and that’s why I did the posts. That isn’t true -- I just adore a good ghost story and like to wonder, “What if…?”

When searching for hauntings, which one surprised you the most?

All of them surprised and intrigued me! Sometimes I came across several for one letter and had a tough time choosing which one to write about.

Which letter was the most difficult?

“X” and “Z” were the hardest, but I’m pretty sure everyone had the same problem, and we all just did the best we could.

What country or area seemed to have the most hauntings?

I think the US had the most hauntings, but I think that’s probably because Americans really enjoy that kind of stuff and promote it. America even has a bunch of reality TV shows devoted to haunted places, mediums, psychics, debunking sightings, etc.

Where did you come across Kutna Hora's 'Bone' church?

I honestly can’t recall. I was surfing the net like the baddest big wave rider ever and whooshed through a lot of sites! All I know is when I stumbled across Kutna Hora -- it freaked me out! Of course, I had to include it. I put up several pictures because the sight of all those bones turned into furniture and chandeliers was just unbelievable!

Did you use any sites or just Google to find the haunted places?

Both. There are a ton of sites that have articles on haunted places. Most only detail hauntings in the US, but some have international places too.

Have you ever been to any of the places you featured?

No, although several people made comments on my blog about visiting the places I wrote about. None had supernatural encounters though. (And they sounded disappointed that they didn’t. lol)

If you participate in the Challenge next year, do you have a theme in mind?

No, but luckily, there’s a lot of time left for me to think about it.

I’m sure it will be just as cool as your theme this year. Thanks, Lexa!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE

Friday, July 25, 2014

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy keeps the rubber on the road.

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields

Running on - running on empty
Running on - running blind

(Running on Empty - Jackson Browne)

Welcome to leg six of the Post A-to-Z Road Trip!

Stormy the Weather Gnome and I are going to try to hit at least 20 new blogs a week from the Challenge list and tell you about a few of them in each of my posts.

When you go visit these awesome blogs, please make sure you tell them that you're visiting on the Post A to Z Road Trip!

Jeremy Hawkins - [Being Retro]

One of my favorite blogs any month of the year but this past April was especially wonderful!

26 letters devoted to my favorite Marvel movies, shows, characters and actors! I LOVE IT! Thank you, Jeremy! It's a magical place!

In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don't know when that road turned onto the road I'm on

Nicki Elson - Nicki Elson's Not So Deep Thoughts

Nicki's theme was a constant stream of awesomeness. 90s Pop Culture Favorites! Books, movies and music to name just a few! And, of course, X for The X-Files!

Mina Burrows

Mina didn't pull any punches with her A-Z: Classic Monsters theme! Dragons, Kong, Orcs and The Thing are all highlighted in her April posts!

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels

Running on - running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Lexa Cain

Lexa scared the crap out of me with her April theme. Hauntings: haunted places around the world! No place is safe!

Really, I don't believe in ghosts.
Well, I didn't.

Spacer Guy - Star Trek - Sci Fi Blog

This one may seem self explanatory, but its not. These 26 Star Trek posts are funny and interesting behind the scenes bits and other pieces of insightful information about all the Star Trek shows.

Thanks for visiting with us today!
Are you finding any great blogs on your trip?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Season of Blogging

Do you know what it's like to sometimes feel like there’s not enough time in the day to post new content? Those of us who have had blogs for longer than a year have likely become broken down at one time or another, for one reason or another, in the struggle to keep our blogs going. Once it starts, the wave of procrastination, doubt and lack of interest in blogging can make us believe that our world doesn’t have room for our blogs at the moment.

It’s like a blogging breakdown happens, especially when writer’s block has reared its ugly head….again. Yet, it’s rarely noticeable as dirty dishes are piled mountain high in the kitchen sink because all the time spent working for the man required overtime this week. Plus, laundry needs to be done, dinner must be served and little Jimmy has baseball tryouts this weekend. Then there’s that sudden feeling technology overload once the cell phone starts ringing, alarms go buzzing and social media notifications pop up on the little screen. Oh wait…“The Real Housewives of Orange County” is coming on tonight and, well, the mere thought of blogging just elicits one big sigh, or maybe even a sense of sheer panic. 

Updating ones blog used to be a fun activity but now it just seems sooo last season. If this sounds like you and if you ever find yourself neglecting your blog or letting it fall by the wayside because, hey, life happens after all, remember this…
There is no right season or special sauce that determines when the time is right to get back into the swing of blogging.

As bloggers, we have to constantly work at putting out fresh content, out of respect for our readers, the platforms that we’ve built and for ourselves. We must find a way to make blogging fun again. This can be done by approaching our blog in a way that is hassle free, given our schedule and interests.

Maybe time and life duties won’t allow you to write that epic blog post today but what’s stopping you from posting a photo and a simple caption? Or perhaps, a roundup style blog post containing links to other bloggers that may be of interest to your readers? Or, maybe list style posts describing all of the things/people/places keeping you from blogging like a rockstar?

Blogging is never out of season, so we must do what we can to make sure that our corner of the web is always trending.

What are YOUR blogging struggles that YOU would like to overcome?

Nicole Ayers is an A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host who operates The Madlab Post and chats on Twitter. Her short narrative drama film “ABYSS: THE GREATEST PROPOSAL EVER,” is available on DVD (Limited Sneak PreviewEdition) as she works further relief efforts for disaster survivors including U.S. Military Veterans. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

What Does Your blog mean to You? #blogging

A to Z Challenge is about promoting the blogging community-- we're all bloggers here-- a friendly, supportive bunch, who would like to help each other grow.

That's the purpose of this A to Z blog-- to give voice to other bloggers, to promote their work, to give advice and support, to feature guest bloggers, and foster a sense of community.

This clarity of vision is very important when blogging-- bloggers need to clearly understand what the goals of their blogs are. Their mission statements, if you like.

It could be random, it could have a niche, but every blog needs to mean something to its owner, in order to thrive. Both my blogs, six-years old each, are my playground-- Amlokiblogs is all about writing and reading, whereas Daily (w)rite has become about questions and answers-- I often have weird or useful questions, and I look to my audience to educate me, give me answers.

So what does your blog mean to you? What is is about? Fire away in the comments!