Monday, December 31, 2012

December Photo Challenge: Week 4

With Christmas over and New Years Eve prep in the works, I have found myself some time to add another week of December Photo Challenge pictures. I've had a lovely holiday week seeing family and eating (too much) delicious food. However, now it's time to get back to blogging! Here's the list of pictures:

And here are the pictures!
Dec. 21
No, I don't image it was peaceful when Jesus was born. However, I think it was
peaceful in those late moments of that night when Jesus was sleeping and Mary
rested, knowing that she delivered the son of God. Scary, yes, but peaceful

Dec. 22
We always read the Christmas story from the Bible Christmas morning.
That's our tradition.
 Dec. 23
Self explanatory. 

Dec. 24
Favourite part of Christmas Eve
My favourite part is really the candle lit service we have at church.
However, I forgot to bring my camera, so I settled for the second
best thing. The food. We have all sorts of finger foods and munchies.

Dec. 25
This is a picture of part of a gift that my sister and I gave my parents.
We wrapped up all the money gifts in different ways and this one was
my favourite. Its no fun just handing over the bills!

Dec. 26
This is a picture of my grandparents. I'm grateful for them, and they
are some of the most grateful people I know. 

Dec. 27
Night Time
This is a picture taken out the window of my grandparents
apartment. They just had a heavy snow and there was ice on the windows
and snow in the air still. 

Dec. 28
This is kind of an opposite picture. We were
playing Christmas Carol Pictionary. When we
guessed the song, then we sang it.

Dec. 29
Sky View
Driving home. 

There we go! The last two will be up sooner or later. I hope everyone's had a great 2012 and will have a very happy new year! So go and enjoy your New Years Eve celebrations!

What I'm reading: Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
What I'm watching: Arrow
What I'm listening to: Philip Phillips "Home" (What a name!)

Monday, December 24, 2012

December Photo Challenge: Week 3

With all the flurry and hurry of December it's hard to believe Christmas is here tomorrow!!! I wanted to squeeze in one last post before the festivities go into full swing and give you last week's pictures. As for the writing aspect of this blog, which has been sorely ignored this past month, I'm happy to announce that I am a proud winner of the 100 for 100 challenge. I wrote 100 words everyday for 100 days! Have we got any other winners or participants out there?

Dec. 15
Favourite Holiday Song
This is more of an abstract one, but my favourite Christmas song is Ding Dong Merrily on High.
I just put some bells on top a card I made using an old hymnal. You've got music and bells;
I figured you all were smart you could see the connection! What's your favourite song?

Dec. 16
Outdoor Christmas Lights
You may or may not remember the story I told you a few posts back
about my dad's Christmas lights. Well, here they are again. Unfortunately
that day we had no snow. We've got some now though! Yay!

December 17
Self explanatory. 

Dec. 18
My grandparents gave my sister and I these stockings many years ago.
They actually sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" in mouse
voices. However, the batteries are dying so it sounds more like
a possessed stocking. It's not creepy at all.

Dec. 19
Candy Cane
Self explanatory. A Candy Cane on the tree.
Dec. 20
Tree Topper

This is our angel that goes on top of our tree. We've had a couple
different ones over the years, but I like this one the best! Also,
this day was my birthday! 
There you go! Another set of pictures. We're not quite up to date, but I didn't want to overload this post. Normally I have something intelligent to say at the end of a post, but I'm aching to get into bed with my book. Christmas morning will come soon enough! Merry Christmas everybody! Enjoy whatever time you get off!

A question for the comments: What's your favourite holiday song? Angel or star tree topper or something else entirely? 

What I'm reading: Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
What I'm listening to: Mumford and Sons
What I'm watching: Christmas concerts

Monday, December 17, 2012

December Photo Challenge: Week 2

It's time for another episode of December Photo Challenge! After a crazy week that seemed to be filled to the brim with European History (a course I'm taking right now) and Marie Antoinette in particular. Blogging is a nice break from my formal essay, that is current staring a me like I'm guilty of something from underneath my internet browser. Minimized it. There I feel less guilty about procrastinating, tehe.
Anyways, this is the list of the pictures that I'm following for each day:

And here's the pictures for this week!

Dec. 9
"Something You're Reading"
I read this book for school and since have finished it.
I have mixed opinions about this book. I may or may not
write a blog post in the near future on how I feel about classic

Dec. 10
Wrapping Paper

This worked out perfectly! I had to take a wrapping paper shot,
and I also had to do a studio lighting assignment for a photography
course I'm taking. So there ya go! A friend of my was a very willing
subject and I'm quite grateful that she was willing to go along with
my crazy ideas.

Dec. 11

This is one of the trees that we had up at our Youth Christmas Banquet for church.
I just realized that they used the same decorations we used for our wreath! It was
quite a nice time. 

Dec. 12
A Beautiful Sight

Ahhh, pointsettas. 
Dec. 13
My father, Christmas tree shopping.

 Dec. 14
Christmas Tree
This is the tree we ended up picking! It's not quite decorated;
it's a process with us. I think it looks quite nice, with no big
gaps or bare spots. We've had some pretty....uh charming
trees over the years and my mom says this one is the best!
 There you go! The pictures aren't quite up to date, but I figured that I'd better stop while I was ahead. Since this blog has been absent of writer-y things for a few weeks, I wanted to send you to a short article that I've found quite interesting about cultivating your inner critic.

I also wanted to give you all a tip for helping your blog get more traffic that I forgot to include in this post. When you upload a picture, instead of leaving it with the automatic camera mumbo-jumbo name, give it a descriptive name. Before uploading a file like IMG_1234, rename it an appropriate name like "Decorated Christmas Tree". This is kind of a strange way of attracting traffic, but when people do a Google images search, your pictures are more likely to pop up if they're named. When people click on your picture, they are also seeing your blog in the background.

So to keep with the theme of things, a Christmas question for the comments:

Real vs. Fake Christmas tree? Which do you have?

What I'm reading: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
What I'm listening to: Mumford and Sons, and Florence + Machine
What I'm watching: Elementary

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December Photo Challenge: Week 1

I have decided to condense a whole week of pictures into one post for the sake of your blog feeds and for the sake of my sanity! As for the usual, here's the post that explains what's going on in the last few paragraphs.

Date: Dec. 4
Theme: Joyous
"The angel said to them 'I bring you great news of
great joy that will be for all people'" Luke 2:10 

Date: Dec. 5 
Theme: Today's Temperature 
Self explanatory, tehe. Not too cold that day!

 Date: Dec. 6
Theme: Shopping

This one is kind of lame, haha. I haven't been Christmas shopping
 all month, because I've been working so much! My sister went to the mall, and this
 is what she brought back. So this is my small encounter with shopping so far. 
Date: Dec. 7
Theme: Bright
Speaking of my sis, this is her. I got her to smile on the front step with the lights
 that my dad just put on the tree in the background. He's been going on about his
 grand idea to wrap the lights around the tree since last year, and he finally did it!
Date: Dec. 8
Theme: Ornaments

Remember the close up picture of this wreath in the last post? Well,
I finished it! We just bent a  hanger in a circle then attached the little
ornaments, in it in bunches of three, with wire. We haven't got
our Christmas tree yet, so these are my ornaments!

There you go, the pictures of this week! I thought I would link you back to a post I did last December about writer-y things you can do this Christmas in case you want to check that out. A question for the comments:
I have obviously not been Christmas shopping yet, but have you?

What I'm reading: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Has anyone seen the trailer for the 2013 film version yet? Doesn't it look great?!)
What I'm listening to: Mumford and Sons - Babel (FINALLY!)
What I'm watching: Haven

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Photo Challenge: Day 3

Today's subject: "Red"
This picture is of a half finished wreath that my mother and I are making. We're attaching a bunch of cheap globe decorations to a bent-into-a-circle-clothes-hanger. Our colours are red and silver, a stylish pair if I do say so myself. Yes, we picked those colours with a higher design in mind...*cough* that's all the dollar store had *cough* Maybe the finished product will show up again this month!

In case you're wondering what's happening here, let me fill you in. For December I'm doing the photo-a-day challenge that I found on Pinterest. Here's the topics for each day:

Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your blog if you're doing this as well! Has anyone else got the DIY decorating bug this year? 

What I'm reading: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey 
What I'm listening to: Casey Abrams and New Orleans Christmas album
What I'm watching: Castle

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Photo Challenge: Day 2

If you don't know what's going on, read the bottom of this post. As always, if you want to participate feel free to leave a link in the comments. Today I decided to post the master list as well as my picture for today.

The Master List

Favourite Holiday Movie

So this was a toughy. How do you take a picture of your fav holiday movie? I'm sure there is more creative ways, but this is what I came up with. A little illustration by moi! What's your favourite Holiday movie?

What I'm reading: Uglies Scott Westerfeld
What I`m listening to: Phillip Phillips
What I'm watching: Improv Everywhere

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How to Increase Blog Traffic: Part 2

As you might remember last week I did part one of increasing blog traffic, so now we're onto part two. Check out last week's post here. In addition to the blog traffic tips in this post, I am going to introduce new a blogging event I'm doing in December, so stay tuned for that!

Anyways, lets get on with the tips!

2. Publish posts regularly.
If you want people to read your blog, you have to put content on it. Some people like to have a schedule (eg. twice a week) and some people don't. I would personally suggest having a lose schedule, especially when you're just starting a blog. For me, I try to post at least once a week, sometimes I don't get around to doing it, and sometimes I post more than once. However, I do not by any means have a rigid schedule where I post every week on a certain day. Find what works for you and gets posts turned out.

3. Have a niche, but let yourself evolve over time
Have a topic or subject that you want to write about, but don't be too specific. For this blog, I write about writing and books. It's general enough that I have many options for posting, but specific enough to target an audience that will keep coming back for more. That being said, if you start a niche and see that you're limiting yourself or don't have enough content to write about, let your blog change and adjust. SOI went through a little expansion a while back, to include more than just writing advice. You can read my post about limitless blogging here, if you're interested.

4. Be Genuine
Don't self censor yourself too much, allow yourself to have a voice. It's way to hard to try to write and think like someone else, besides blogs that are too-correct are boring.

5. Don't have any surprises on your homepage
This is a pet peeve of mine. I click on someone's blog, and I'm assaulted with loud background music or a popup graphic. My first reaction is to close the page, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this.
So avoid any surprises that will immediately turn people off, even before they read your content. If you want to have music, have it as an option not a must (see my song of the week in the sidebar).

6. Interact with your readers/followers
This goes with what I was mentioning in part one of this post, but I thought it good to expand on this. A huge way that I try to interact with my readers and make them feel important is to respond to their comments. I also like to comment on their blogs and get involved with their blogging events.

7. Don't Ramble
I am the biggest hypocrite to say this, but try to be concise. Split posts into parts if you feel that you have more to say on a topic, and narrow in on one particular topic. Don't try to say everything to be said about character development in one post, instead focus on a sub-topic like developing character's backgrounds. This is easier to read and gives you more content to write about in the long run.
BONUS TIP: Use lots of short paragraphs. White space is good!

8. Be search engine friendly
a) Keywords.
Use the "money" words that relate to what you're writing about. Are you writing about photography? Use words like shutter-speed, aperture  etc. Think of keywords that relate to your topic, that people might be looking up.
b) Titles
When you title a post, think about what questions you're answering and what help you are giving. I haven't always done this; I used to try to come up with clever snappy titles (see my first few posts), but I've learned that the most viewed posts are the ones that have titles that clearly say what's in the post. I like to think about what people might be Googling and make it my post title. Example: How to increase blog traffic; Summer story starters; and How to develop a character's back story.

9. Link Back
Put links to other posts that you've written that are relevant to the current post. This will lead people to other posts you've written, generating traffic. See examples in this post.

10. Be Visual
I love pictures, and I love seeing pictures with posts. This can be a tricky business with copyrights and the such, but I highly recommend putting in the effort to either take your own pictures to put with blog posts or looking through free pictures.
Another thing to consider is how the blog is laid out. Don't cram and clutter up your sidebar with distracting, tacky widgets. Think about everything you put there and make sure it fits. If you want to add bigger items like pictures in sidebars, consider making a new page for that. I always tend to hang around longer on blogs that are pretty, it shows me that the writer actually cares about the appearance and thus cares about their content.

If you're still with me, I applaud. The last tip is the perfect segway into the bit of news I promised at the beginning of the post. In December, I will be doing something a little different. To get on with Christmas cheer I will be taking place in a picture a day challenge and posting my shoots to SOI. If you want to do the same on your blog, leave me a link in the comments I'd be happy to check it out! Here's the pin that the idea's from. Without further adieu my picture and the topic:

Your View Today

What I'm reading: Uglies Scott Westerfeld
What I'm listening to: Regina Spektor's album "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats"
What I'm watching: Haven
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