Versatile Blogger Award!

Thanks to Tracey of Snagglewordz for sending along this versatile blogger award!

The odd coincidence in all this is that I was thinking about writing a post about a few of the blogs I follow, and the versatile blogger award gives me a chance to do that. So, in no particular order, here are some of the blogs that I’ve been enjoying lately:

  • X-Rated Don’t worry… It’s not really X-Rated! I think the title has something to do with the X chromosome, but I could be wrong about that.
  • The Eunejeune Daily Learn a new word every day! Find out whose birthday it is! And get some of this blogger’s opinions on every topic under the sun.
  • August McLaughlin’s Blog A blogger with a great sense of humor and a highly positive outlook on life. Always a pleasure to read this one!
  • The Cockeyed Pessimist Balancing out August McLaughlin’s optimism, here’s a blog by Permanent Press founder Martin Shepard on the ups and downs of life in the publishing industry.
  • Will Nixon’s Blog I love Will Nixon’s poetry collections, Love in the City of Grudges and My Mother as a Ruffed Grouse. I’m also a big fan of his blog.
  • Kourtney Heintz’s Journal Kourtney Heintz writes about everything from ingrown toenails to her life as an aspiring author — always with wit and grace!
  • Edward Hotspur Quoting from his “about” page: “Edward Hostpur is a world-famous author and witticist. The world just doesn’t know it yet.” A funny guy. And possibly an angry guy. Or at least a fairly cynical guy. There’s always something worth checking out on his blog.
  • Rant, With Occasional Music Anyone who borrows a title from Jonathan Lethem can’t be bad.
  • Kim Brittingham Kim’s memoir, Read My Hips, is a funny and poignant account of being overweight in America. Check out her blog and then buy her book!
  • Scriptor Obscura Writes Poetry and art. Who could ask for anything more?
  • D. Thomas Minton Minton is a gifted science-fiction and fantasy author. I started off reading his blog for his thoughts on writing, but soon I was swept up in the fantastic worlds he’s created. Check out his short story “Thief of Futures” for an introduction to his work!
  • Presents of Mind A great blog on reading, writing, and everything in between by a self-proclaimed “reluctant writer.”
  • The Lighter Side of the Moon “Phumor without the P” is how this blog is billed. The musings of a slightly snarky precocious high school student.
  • A Side of Writing Musings of an aspiring novelist who’s trying to fit writing (and editing!) into his busy life.
  • The Red Pen of Doom A blog designed to “cut through the nonsense and be a place for writers of all types — novelists and journalists, speechwriters and screenwriters, whoever — to strip away the window dressing and theories, to get down to the essential guts of all good writing.”

Congratulations to one and all for earning this coveted award! And apologies to anyone I left off the list.

Per the award’s dictates, here are seven random facts about myself:

  • I review books from independent presses at Small Press Reviews.
  • I’m allergic to peaches and all stone fruits.
  • Fusilli is my favorite kind of pasta.
  • I love teaching.
  • Monkeys fascinate me.
  • I’ve surprised myself by becoming an early riser.
  • I like when people read my books.

Harness The Power of Pitying the Fool to Increase Your Blog Traffic!

The funny thing I’ve learned about blogging over the past few years is that the number of hits a post receives has nothing to do with the amount of thought or effort I’ve put into it. It actually hinges on random things like making references to pop culture icons like Mr. T and Steve Urkel. And if you include photos, then so much the better. For example:

This photo is guaranteed to bring traffic to your blog.

Speaking from experience, I’ve noticed that I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 hits a week from people Googling Mr. T, the A-Team, and B.A. Baracus, and about 50 or 60 hits a week from people Googling Steve Urkel and/or Family Matters — all because I mentioned them in passing.

As a side note, I can only imagine how many hits this post will get for mentioning Mr. T and Steve Urkel at the same time.

And for including this clip of the commercial for Urkel-Os cereal…

…and — while we’re on the subject — this one for Mr. T cereal:

So take a cue from the Quaker Oats companyand  team up with Mr. T (or Steve Urkel) every morning to increase traffic to your blog! And for even more traffic, don’t forget to mention Pee Wee Herman.

More Mail for My Dearly Departed Dog

Apparently my dog Pete — gone from us now for over a year — had a life I knew nothing about. My first clue about his secret life was a letter from Strayer University mentioning that he’d earned a bachelor’s degree at some point in his past. Now Pete has received another letter, this one from Miller Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Springfield, Pennsylvania. As the executor of his estate, I had no choice but to open it.

Apparently, Miller Chrysler Dodge Jeep has been presented with the rare opportunity of making record sales this year, and they want Pete’s help to make it happen. Here’s a line directly from the letter:

So Pete, it turns out, not only earned a bachelor’s degree, but he was also a preferred customer at Miller Chryseler Dodge Jeep. At the very least, this explains the Dodge Charger that’s been moldering by the curb in front of my house for the past two years.* But it raises a series of significant issues, not the least of which is how Pete managed to get the line of credit he needed to procure the car.

My best guess at this point is that someone at Miller Chrysler Dodge Jeep somehow saw the following picture I painted and figured that there was no way such a classy dog could pose any kind of credit risk.

"Lord of the Manor" (painting by Marc Schuster)

The sad thing about all of this is that the letter also included a scratch-and-win game — and Pete loved scratching things! According to the letter, if Pete played the game, he had a chance of winning one of the following prizes: a 2011 Dodge Caliber, a three day/two night vacation, $10,000 cash, or five golden coins.** Even though Pete never got a chance to scratch the silver dot, he’ll always be a winner in my book.

* Note to my neighbors: Sorry for giving you the evil eye while pointing out said Dodge Charger. I thought it was your car!

** This last prize had me mystified until my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger Monica D’Antonio pointed out that 95 more gold coins would have earned Pete an extra life a la Super Mario Brothers. If only he’d gotten the letter sooner!