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Hurricane Florence Pounding The Carolinas

As I write this, Hurricane Florence is wreaking its havoc on the coastal areas of North and South Carolina as it slowly makes its way inland. Particularly hardest hit are southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. Florence is tracking westward and if the forecasted track holds true, Tropical Storm Florence will be sitting on top of me here in the Midlands of South Carolina tomorrow evening.

Of course, as it weakens to a tropical storm, the destructive force of the wind is reduced, but a tropical storm can still pack a pretty good wallop. This area is carpeted with tall pine trees that take very little wind to uproot and topple. Within the city, there are scores, if not hundreds of huge, old oaks with broad branches to catch the wind like the canvas sails of the nineteenth century Clipper ships.

And let’s not forget about the rain. As we’ve learned to fear here in Columbia, this storm could bring torrential rains and the resulting flooding that comes with them. The historic “1000 Year Flood” occurred just three years ago, so plenty of people around here remember and don’t want to relive that devastation.

What I really hope is that Florence will just quickly fade away and no one else suffers, but maybe I am asking a bit too much from Mother Nature.

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Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day to all of my fellow Americans.

For those of you from other parts of the world, every year Americans celebrate the first Monday in September as Labor Day. I realize that many other countries set aside a day to honor labor and I applaud those of you that do. As a dedicated member of labor in the United States for over forty years, I’m taking this opportunity to celebrate all those workers in my country.

According to Wikipedia, the Labor Day holiday “… honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States. It is recognized as a federal holiday.

I’m not quite sure if we have an “official” start and end of summer in the United States, but when I was growing up, I know I learned in school that summer started on June 21st and ended on or about September 22 or 23. In the Northern Hemisphere, these are the dates of the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. These, combined with the winter solstice and the vernal equinox define the “astronomical seasons” and occur because of the “natural rotation of Earth around the sun.”

Here in America though, and I’m sure in other parts of the world, we define some unofficial seasons. For us, the summer season starts on May 31, which is the American Memorial Day holiday, and as stated earlier, it ends today. For many of us, it’s the last long weekend of summer weather so it’s the last opportunity to spend the day at the pool, the lake, the beach, or the mountains. Somewhere in the country, I’m sure there will be some parades, rallies, or other events to honor labor, but I’m equally sure that most of us are going to be at the pool, the lake, the beach, the mountains, or somewhere else barbecuing, drinking beer, and having a fine old time.

Oh yeah! One last thing about Labor Day. What would a US holiday be without sales. If you are an American, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you that don’t, this is what we do. Every store and business you can imagine has a big sale on every major American holiday. So, a whole bunch of us Americans are going to be shopping and spending bank loads of money on this Labor Day. Good for them! I’m not.

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Writing Success on WordPress

In my last post, I talked about the “Perfect Reader” from the point of view of the writer. I discussed several things that I believe define you and I as writers, because, truth be told, if you are reading this, you are probably writing something in your own blog – which makes you a writer. Maybe I have read it, maybe I haven’t; maybe I am your “perfect reader” and maybe I’m not. Either way, I applaud you for taking a chance writing and publishing what you wrote. Whether one person read it or one hundred thousand people read it, what does it matter? The most important thing is you wrote it and put it out in your little corner of cyberspace for someone else to read. For what you want is someone to read it. You really want someone to like it, maybe like it a lot, and in doing so, validate your existence as a writer. You might want to get paid for your writing – and in doing so, validate yourself even more as a writer.

I know I do. I would like that very much.

The question is, can you and how do you do it on WordPress? I don’t know if you can or not, but I believe I’ve figured out a couple of things in the nearly three years I have been blogging here. First thing is this: I believe writing your blog here on WordPress.com is probably the best place one can write and get the most exposure for their writing. Certainly it is for a novice writer. But, it is not the perfect place, and here is why.

Unless you are already an established writer with a huge following, your ability to capture readers, especially a lot of readers, is dependent on three things. First: your topic and the quality of the writing about your topic. Let’s face it, nobody is going to read atrocious writing, at least not for very long. Second: your timing and the tags you use must be spot on. Exposure, I believe, is a momentary piece of timing and luck. In other words, you have a very short period of time for readers to view your post and be compelled enough to read it and decide if it merits enough effort to investigate your blog further. Third: I believe anything you post is going to fail the timing and exposure tests unless you have a great, or at least good photo to go along with it. I believe this based on my own experience: To date, I have published 88 posts to this blog. Of those 88, the top three posts with the most “Likes” all included decent photographs. In descending order, they are: Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life | 2, “Super Sport” | Photo Challenge – Letters, and Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life.

So, there you have it – my little three cents worth on how we as writers might, if we are lucky, and we write well enough, and we can either take, borrow or steal a great photo, we might just make it as writers on WordPress…and if we are really, truly, remarkably lucky…we might just get our piece Freshly Pressed.

So go out there and do it. Give it your best shot. And, good luck!

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Blog Followers: Good and Bad

Four months ago, when I wrote regularly, I apparently wrote pieces that were informative or entertaining enough for readers to like them and want to see more. This may or may not have been the reason they decided to follow this blog. Regardless of the reason, I somehow managed to attract 165 followers: 131 following the blog and 34 following on Facebook.

So what is a follower? It seems to me that a follower is simply a reader that makes a conscious decision to follow and continue to read another person’s blog. As a follower, they can visit the blog as they see fit, or they can receive electronic notifications that the blog(s) they follow have been updated. It’s then their decision to actually read the blog or not.

Based on my experience as a blog follower and as a blogger with followers, I think many of us use the number of followers we have as a yardstick of how popular our blog is. In one respect, I think this is fine. It’s nice to have several hundred or several thousand followers of your blog. On the other hand, I believe the number is a bit misleading. Anyone can choose to follow a blog, but never read it again. So, without another way to measure readership, I think the number of followers a blog has is not a truly accurate representation of how popular a blog is.

Are their good followers and bad followers? I think there must be. According to everything I’ve read on WordPress, a good blog is one that attracts and builds a community – a community that gets readers and writers involved. They may be readers that just follow a blog because they share common interests, or they may engage by commenting on blog entries they find interesting, informative, or entertaining. According to WordPress, “A blog is just a diary unless there’s a community — start building yours.” So, I think that is what makes a good blog follower, one that actively engages the author and the readership by becoming involved in the blog with comments or by using an article as inspiration for their own article – by working to build a community.

To this point, I have done a so-so job of being a good follower. I have commented on a few, and at one point I was reading blogs I followed regularly. I’ve failed miserably to do either in the last few months, but I am committing myself now to do better. Whether you follow this blog or not, make the same commitment to be a good follower yourself.

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“Last Shot” | Flash Fiction – Six Words

Awake. Depressed. Fired Beretta. Fell dead.

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.~August Wilson

A six word tale for the Flash Fiction challenge.

Writing Again, Finally

Jim Rohn quote about lifeHere it is, nearly two thirds of the way through the year, and once again I find myself in my usual predicament of not having published anything here for months. You can’t publish what you haven’t written and I haven’t written a darned thing. It is high time to get started again – so here goes.

Once upon a time, on a dark night dreary, a blood red moon illumined the dead and the weary. No, no, no – that’s not what I meant to do. I’m not working on poetry, a novel, or a short story. This is supposed to be just a simple little post to get my writing bones greased up and working again. That’s just kind of how my brain seems to work these days – whatever random thought that’s next in line sends the messages to my fingers and whala! the words get written and I leave them like they are. Speaking of whala, I just looked it up to see if the spelling is correct, and found that the Urban Dictionary says that the word is often “used by morons in an attempt to sound more intelligent than they actually are.” Apparently, now I’m also a moron. Who wudda thunk it?

I guess this is a pretty good start. It’s short and sweet. I’ve accomplished a couple of the objectives that writers try to do but often fail miserably to accomplish – I have taught you something new and I have entertained you beyond your wildest expectations. I should charge money for you to read this.

As Arnold so famously said, “Ahllll be back!” See ya then.