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I want to thank everyone who has visited my blog for the encouraging comments and support. Blogging is my favorite hobby, and I feel very blessed that so many of you have signed up to follow my posts via e-mail or have returned repeatedly despite my haphazard posting schedule. I’ve been distracted by family matters during the last few months, but things are settling down and I’m hoping for a more normal posting pattern in the upcoming year.

Rather than making a New Year’s Resolution post with promises to myself that I probably won’t keep, I’ve decided to list a few of the blessings I’ve received during the past year. Being grateful for what I have and for what I’ve accomplished is more important to me than listing things I wish I could change. So, not necessarily in order of importance, here are the top 10 blessings 2011 brought to me:

I’ve learned to trust that God’s plans are better than my plans.

My husband survived a delicate heart procedure.

My kids have been home to share the good times as well as the tough ones.

I am physically in better shape than I’ve been in several years.

My family and friends have been unwavering in their support through some difficult times.

There is currently nothing I really need that I don’t have or can’t get.

The future looks bright for my 3 children.

My 91-year-old mother is in good health.

I’ve made the decision to focus on the positive in every situation rather than on the negatives, and so far I’ve been able to stick with that decision.

I’ve realized that some things just aren’t important enough to waste my life worrying about.

 

None of these things relate to writing—that’s somewhere farther down my list of blessings. Due to the fact I haven’t been writing anything, I have no accomplishments to list in that area. However, I do still have a passion for the book I was working on last year, and I’m determined to devote more time to writing during 2012.  (That’s not a Resolution! It’s a goal. ;) )

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At Grandmother's house

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What are some of the things you’ve been blessed with during 2011? Do you have some goals for 2012 you’d like to share? Did you have a pleasant holiday season this year?

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My daughter turned 21 last month. She’s a full-time college student, works 2 jobs, and is moving into her own apartment this weekend. One of her brothers is an honors student working as an intern on a government-funded study with one of his college professors. Her other brother has been working part-time while trying to get a computer-related business started.

Each of my children is awesome. Each is also different, with ideas and goals of their own. Looking at them now, I’m amazed by how quickly time has flown. They’ve grown from babies dependent upon me for just about everything, to young adults. I’m extremely proud of them.

 

Looking at my own life, I’ve grown, too. I’m at the stage where statistically speaking there are more years behind me than ahead of me. I’ve changed in many ways, hopefully for the better. Yet some of my ideas, dreams, and goals are still the same ones I had as a child. As I approach my own birthday this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that I’ve achieved and what I still hope to accomplish.

Though there are several things I still want to do, the one that’s relevant to this blog’s theme is this: I want to write a novel that brings warmth and hope to another person’s heart.

I’m working toward that goal slowly, but surely. It’s been sidetracked this spring due to family commitments, but I’m getting back to it today. I’m also trying to get back to blogging regularly, but may still be a bit sporadic with my posts until my kids get into their summer routine (and the laundry gets caught up!)

Please be patient with me as I get it all together. And to those of you who’ve asked me questions I haven’t answered yet, I apologize, and will respond as quickly as I can gather some useful resources for you.

Thanks all!

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What are your goals? Are you making progress toward them? What is holding you back from achieving what you hope/plan to do?

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I’ve been participating in the Build a Better Blog in 31 Days project, and trying to apply what I’ve read to a writing-related blog. Some things are more relevant for people trying to sell products or services, but others apply to any type of blog.

You may have noticed that I’ve used lists and revamped my blog’s pitch; I’ve also visited other blogs and left comments, which is a form of networking. Blatant promotion isn’t my style (READ MY BLOG!!!), but there are simple ways of making the site more appealing to the type of readers I’m hoping will visit regularly.

A few tips were subtle enough I wanted to give them a little oomph. First, did you notice how people have key words with links embedded in them inserted within their articles or blog posts? This is a good way to promote other posts on your blog. For instance, in the I Got a Ping post I embedded a link to Library Thing, hoping visitors would click on it and read that, too. I chose that one for a link because it had received the most hits—apparently the favorite. Emphasize the best of the bunch; hopefully that will entice people to come back to read more.

I also embedded a link to Creative Nonfiction in a newer post called More on Creative Writing. They discuss related topics, and pointing that out may be useful to readers wanting to know more about creative writing.

This post follows up on an earlier one, 5 Reasons I Shouldn’t Blog, which should give momentum to the concept of building a better blog, a theme of both posts. It also shows that there is some unity in my topics; this blog isn’t a series of random, unrelated subjects.

There are other suggestions, some of which I was already doing—like visiting forums that discuss writing, and reading other blogs related to writing. I’m sure there will be more ways of promoting our blogs mentioned later this month, and I’ll consider doing another post about this after the 31 days are over.

No matter how much promotion we do, though, no one will bother returning if the content doesn’t appeal to them. Focus on providing good content, and post regularly so there is something to draw readers back.

Do any of you have other suggestions for improving blog readership?

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Thousands of people already know about the assignment Darren Rowse posted on his ProBlogger website. For those who don’t, today’s exercise for learning how to Build a Better Blog is to practice writing a list. Lists can be useful tools for attracting readers as they help people skim for useful information, break things down into bite-sized pieces, and keep things organized. It’s also much harder to ramble when forced to contain one’s thoughts in small chunks.

In keeping with the spirit of the assignment, I’m making a list post. I strongly recommend that you check out the ProBlogger site for how to do this right; I’m simply too busy to explain, because:

1. I haven’t done my kid’s tax returns yet, and they’re pestering me for their refunds.

2. My mother says it’s been 3 weeks since I visited her, and at age 88, every day matters. (Actually they matter at any age, and she didn’t tell me that—she never whines.)

3. I need to go buy Easter candy for my 3 young-adult children. I thought sure I could stop that tradition once they started college, but no. Now they want the goodies and gift cards.

4. I missed the mailman this morning because I was reading about how to make my blog better. Now I have to drive 12 miles to the post office to mail the bills I forgot to put in the mailbox. Thankfully I can buy the candy at the same time; I believe that’s considered multi-tasking. Aren’t I the organized one?

5. Good blog posts require thinking, and seldom get read anyway. Even doing spontaneous, mindless posts like this one take up valuable time that we’ll never get back.

There you go; 5 reasons I shouldn’t blog. Assignment complete!

 

Edited to clarify: This tongue-in-cheek post is a Shoutout compliment to the ProBlogger site of Darren Rowse, http://www.problogger.net/ which contains fantastic info for bloggers. Check it out.

Carol

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