Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spam: The Temptress

I'm a bit allergic to certain kinds of promotion. It just seems like advertising has become the ugly wallpaper of our whole world, and I tend to fight that trend in small, essentially harmless ways such as cutting off/covering the logos on my clothing.

Right now, however, I'm feeling a bit guilty because I just did something similar to my blog, but this time, it affects another person.

I deleted a handful of comments. They were all from the same person, and relevant to the posts they were on, but they were also one-sentence affairs that ended with a link advertising the commenter's product.

On one leg o' the chicken, that was not particularly obtrusive, and at least the resourceful advertiser was taking the time to read my post and personally comment. I do appreciate that it wasn't a robot blindly spamming me.

On the other dirt-scratcher du poulet, my comment trail is for discussion. It's not anyone's billboard.

A lot of the people who visit this blog are writers, and a good part of why they're on Blogger is to network and--yes--to self-promote, but I really do buy into the idea that content is king. Promoting a weak product only makes it fail faster, so as far as I'm concerned, if you want people to check out your online presence, you accomplish that by commenting on their blog/website/forum and consistently saying intelligent or interesting things. Eventually, people will remember your name and get curious to see what else you have to say. At that point, they'll click your link.

Just putting the link in front of people's eyeballs doesn't garner much interest, because these days, we're all cynical about advertising. We don't click unless we have a reason to. Content trumps both temerity and ubiquitousness.

However! Having just made my own website, (whoops! Flagrant self-promotion; what a hypocrite) and having also learned most of what I know from The Site Wizard, I realize now there's another reason to put those adverts on the bottom of every post.

It ups your Google ranking.

Holy macaroni, that creeps me out. It had never occurred to me before that there might be another reason to advertise than--y'know--because you wanted to advertise.

Oh, self-promotion, you wily and disreputable temptress! Now that I actually understand why people slap a superfluous link at the bottom of their blog comments, I'm kinda considering doing it even though I still think this sort of thing is crass and transparent.

So please, lovely readers, tell me if this would be revolting:

Author website: JJ DeBenedictis

That's a link to my website. No text, no self-promotion; just a splash of pretty. Would this be offensive to you if you saw it on someone's blog? If you clicked it, only to find it led to a self-promoting website, would that seem skeevy? (Assume the oh-so-hypothetical blog commenter actually said something of interest and wasn't just spamming.)

Also, does that little blip look like anything embarrassing? Go on, you can tell me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It just has big bones.

There's a song that I don't even think I've heard all of, which has the lyrics:

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire...

I'm currently hearing that in my head as:

My book, my book, my book is too big...

I'm getting to the mid-way point, story-wise. But I'm also at 78,000 words. Oops.

Time to prune, because even if this novel winds up being two books instead of one, I still need to make certain there's no extra fat in it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What, that twit again?

A few years back, SNL used to have these "Deep Thoughts" skits that featured a man saying something really odd in a very calm and meditative voice.

For some reason, many Twitter comments give me the same sense of disconnect. Can't you imagine the following read in that murmuring, reassuring Deep Thoughts voice?

"A wasp just committed suicide in my scrambled eggs."

Better yet, however, is to imagine everyone's tweets read by William Shatner as free verse beat poetry:

Monday, August 10, 2009

File Under: Small Victories

I cracked up Janet Reid! Yay!

Of course, I'm just paying back the favour. Her blog regularly does likewise to me. Here's my "semi-finalist" haiku:

My client is fab
Look, Godiva chocolates!
Keep your damn' fangs off

*crawls out of the coal mine*

I had a project this weekend; an epic project.

You can view the results of that epicaliciousness here.

Tell me if anything looks weird on your browser, 'kay? (And just for kicks, click your mouse on those blue thingies at the top.)

Thank you!

*crawls off to bed*

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Yay for New Toys!


I try to make this blog about writing, but darn it: I haven't had much to say about writing lately. Submissions of my previous novel continue, and my current novel trundles along happily.

Wait--upon closer inspection, that latter thing is worth further comment.

Claws are your friends. Especially Koala claws.

Back when McKoala proposed her Public Humilation Challenge, my second novel was going miserably. But the thought--oh, the unbearable thought--of someone looking over my shoulder and frowning in disapproval if I didn't squirt off 100 words a day got my fingers a-bobbling in terror-stricken self-defence.

Occasionally, all they bobbled was 103 rather lousy words squeezed off at 11:54PM. Other times, their bobble was only bupkiss, and The Koala nipped-and-gored me down a "badge".

Sweet Zachary Quinto, how I hated going down a badge. We're talking shake-your-fist-at-the-screen-argh-argh-NO kind of hate.

But, as the physics teacher in me would say, momentum is conserved. Once you've got some, it lasts--so long as you don't trip up. The argh-argh-NO served its purpose.

I kept slogging, and 100 words a day became several hundred. Then several hundred a day slid toward a thousand. This past month, I've been regularly getting over a thousand words a day, and today, I hit a personal best with over 2100 words. Woot!

Aaaaaand I'm superstitious I'm going to jinx the good progress just by mentioning it, but hey: I am brave. Or foolhardy. Anyhoot, I had to preen; somebody pat me on the head and whisper "good doggie", quick.

Besides the Koala claws (of which we speak only with abject reverence), three things have helped with my recent happy progress:

1) I kinda know where the story is going now. Heh. Funny how that helps.

2) I've finally lapsed into "first draft" mode, i.e. I'm just splattering it all on the page and not going back to re-read anything. It was tough to break out of "edit" mode, where I polished everything fully before moving on.

And 3), I got this:

Isn't she pretty? My little powerpuff here--while not negligible--is light enough and small enough she trots along with me daily. Now, when things get quiet in the lab, I have a third option alongside brain-melting boredom and furtively surfing the web. I can write! Hurray!

She's definitely a luxury, and I know I'm fortunate to be able to buy an extra computer just for the sake of convenience, especially in this economy. That said, if any of my writer buddies are considering getting one of these, I recommend you spend the extra $50 to get the HP Mini. As you can see, the keyboard goes right to the edges of the computer, which makes it 91% the size of a regular keyboard and very nice for typing. The other "netbook" computers I tried had very cramped keyboards; it felt like trying to type on a credit card. Also, please note that these computers don't come with a word processor; I had to install an older version of MS Office on mine.

Ahem. I R a Geek. But I really am feeling very sweet on my little baby computer. ♥

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