It’s 2am… let’s blog!

It’s 2am, I can’t get back to sleep. What to do? My super alert 2am brain has the answer:

Let’s blog!

Sometimes I get asked about blogging: where do the ideas come from; when do I get time to blog;  what’s the whole process? In a nutshell, I believe –  if it’s keeping me awake at 2am, it’s probably something other people will relate to and maybe want to read.

Cover of Yoga BitchHere’s this morning’s 2am musings – all eminently bloggable in my opinion:

  • How can I be a fantastic granny? Where’s the book on The Dummies’ Guide to Grannyhood? I can generate quite a bit of brain-play on this topic, but it never sends me to sleep. Next.
  • Why are good things so often earnest, so humourless: Organic this, Spiritual that, Dietary whatever. Where’s the light-hearted look at Rammed-Earth Housing or Climate Change or Yoga. But wait, what about Yoga Bitch? I read the subtitle: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Scepticism, Cynicism and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment. Next topic please.
  • Cover of PlainsongWhat is the relationship between isolation and polarisation of behaviour? Take The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin and Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Lone men in isolated places and the arrival of pregnant, feral teenage girls. Is there a blog on mirror-image books? Not tired yet. Next.
  • Why doesn’t anyone tell young people that once you have kids you can’t really travel for ages? OK, you might manage a trip to Hanmer Springs – with military precision planning. Either that or you do travel with kids and spoil everyone else’s holiday. Try reading What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. Almost there, but Next.
  • Cover of Contents May Have ShiftedHow come we think we have to travel all over the world to gain spiritual enlightenment, when it could probably just as easily happen from home? Because it makes for a better read? A good book on this (and with a terrific title) is Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston. Brain winding down now.

Finally drift off to sleep. Leap out of bed (OK, drag self out of bed) at 7-ish. Bash out blog before brekkie and submit it.

That’s my way.

How do other bloggers get it all together?

Breathe in – twenty fifteen. Breathe out – twenty fourteen

Cover of Breathing LessonsWhat better time of the year than the very start of a new one to reassess who we are and who we would very much prefer to be. This year I am throwing my focus onto things that I am not doing right, in the hope that this will be the year when I finally get myself sorted.

Let’s start with breathing. Can you believe it – something this basic and I got it all wrong.  Turns out it’s not as simple as inhale/exhale, and if you do it properly, good breathing can sort out all your life problems. You can read about how to breathe although it does feel a tiny bit silly. On a more practical note, The Press (December 16th 2014, p. A14) informs of a breathing course in Christchurch, and it may well come to that. But if all else fails, you could just immerse yourself in a good fiction book like Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler or Breath by Tim Winton.

Cover of I'll Have What She's HavingWhat’s more, I have also been eating incorrectly, but it’s not strictly speaking my fault. Oh, the conflicting instructions I have been given: eat butter, don’t eat butter, eat margarine, don’t touch margarine – eat butter again. Watch out for sugar, go vegan, lower your salt, up your roughage, eat 5 days a week, fast two, never fast, eat small meals all day, eat Ancient Grains (whatever they may be). The library has an amazing array of food books: here’s a selection already published in 2015. I’m so worn down by it all though, that I’m falling back on the Taoist option of Winnie the Pooh and eating whatever I like.

The final indignity is that I’m apparently not blogging correctly either. An entire issue of Mollie Makes (Blogging: The guide to Creative Content*) is devoted to this topic and I fail on most counts – possibly because blogging is one of the few things I don’t over think. I can summarise blogging in 50 words: get an idea that has your brain wired – this usually happens at 2am. Make the naive leap of faith that if it interests you it will also captivate others. Write the entire thing in your head. Go back to sleep, wake up, bash out a draft, submit it. Move on. Mollie Makes, on the other hand, takes 178 pages packed full of admittedly very good tips.

So here’s what I’m going to do: take a deep breath, eat exactly what I like, and blog on. That’s my 2015 – all done and dusted.


*To find Mollie Makes: Blogging: The guide to Creative Content in the catalogue, click on View subscription and availability details and look for call number 745.5 MOL BLOGGING 2014.

Could your blog become a book?

I have written before about blogs being turned into books. At that time it was a bit of a novelty, but no longer. A very random check of the library catalogue comes up with 44 blog titles bought for this year, so far!  These titles range from self-help books to craft and travel. Some are only available as eBooks and are quite possibly self-published.  Others have been picked up by very mainstream publishers.  It makes sense then that when a blog has thousands of followers it will create quite a buzz for the book, creating an easy marketing exercise for publishers perhaps?

Cover of Design Bloggers at HomeCooking, crafting, travelling or dealing with addiction and health issues etc., lend themselves well to a blog format. Alongside the ideas and information around their chosen topic the blogger often includes plenty of human interest; small titbits about their life making the  blog all the more enjoyable as you feel part of the their daily existence. The joy of the blog is therefore the interaction between the reader and the blogger, the up-to-the-minute experiences that you can click into on a daily basis, the highs and the lows shared, not to mention plenty of photos and tutorials.

Cover of Mrs D Is Going WithoutDoes this translate well into a book? I’m not sure. The book enables the author to present the parts of their blog, for example the recipes, crafts or experiences that have had the most online success, and this sounds like a good process. Not so good if you have been an avid follower of the blog as no doubt there will be plenty of repetition. The missing ingredient for me would be what makes the blog unique, and that is the human interaction, the comments from readers and the community that develops around the blog.  That said, the book will reach a different audience perhaps and will of course bring more readers to the blog. A Win-Win as they say.

So if you are interested in giving blogging a go, and are perhaps thinking that you might get picked up by some huge publisher and make your millions, here are some titles to get you started.

Cover of Picture Perfect Social MediaMollie Makes: Blogging: The guide to Creative Content.*  This is a special edition of the Mollie Makes magazine and has some great ideas for those of you interested in the creative crafty side of things.

Picture Perfect Social Media. Great advice for the all important visual impact of your blog.

Blog Wonderful. The author spent a year growing her following and documenting what worked, and what didn’t.

Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued. Sounds like a sensible book to read before you get started!

Every time you post a blog or tweet you may be subject to the laws of more than 200 jurisdictions throughout cyberspace. As more than a few bloggers or tweeters have discovered, you can be sued in your own country, or arrested at the airport heading off to a holiday in another country.

WordPress, the platform we use for this blog also has some handy hints on how to turn a blog into a book.

*To find Mollie Makes: Blogging: The guide to Creative Content in the catalogue, click on View subscription and availability details and look for call number 745.5 MOL BLOGGING 2014.

Learning to blog

book coverToday I have learned about blogging, something I never thought I would do.  But then I didn’t think I would ever use a mobile phone to text. Now I sit happily in bed at night texting flat out. I have found friends and family find it more convenient and I get quite a surprise when I find out how many texts I have sent each month.

I ask myself if it will be the same with blogging. I wonder if in the night I will be suddenly inspired and instead of just writing in my head I will leap out of bed, go directly to my laptop and start writing my blog.

Time will tell…..I hope that some of my blogs might be of interest and not just some rant.  Certainly a lot to be said about saving the draft and perusing the next morning!

I found a book about blogging called Creative blogging that looked useful however it is an e-book which is a whole other story!

Just one question where did the word blog come from?

Crabby library bloggers celebrate 3000 posts

Oh hai blog readers, we are happy to bring you post #3000 on the Christchurch City Libraries blog!

On 10 May 2011 we celebrated our 2000th blog post with 2001 a bloggy odyssey. Today we are a millennia on from that.

And in more statistical stuff, here are some of our figures from last year (courtesy of our buddies at WordPress). In 2012, there were 595 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 2,983 posts. The busiest day of the year was 17 February 2012. The most popular post that day was Librarians get crabby.
Most viewed posts in 2012
1.    Rescued from the rubble: Read the first 50 years of The Press on Papers Past
2.    Librarians get crabby
3.    Words for Christchurch: Atka Reid and Hana Schofield
4.    Peterborough’s the name of my latest flame – The Displaced Reader goes to town
5.    Sexy Avocados and Shocking Books

Thanks to our team of bloggers and readers and commenters. Love. Your. Work. Stay tuned.

In so many words (in quite a lot of words)

Thursday 4.30 at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival saw a small but select group attending a panel discussion about social media. Donna’s already talked here about her fellow panellists, and interviewed them as well, so I will just try to give you a bit of a flavour of the actual event. Cheating, I know, but hey, it’s the new social media, where everyone shares everything, and no-one owns anything. That’s right, isn’t it?

Just before we begin, in a happy little piece of meta, panellist Moata takes a photo of the audience and tweets it, turning the tables on those of us who think we are there to report on them.  I find this train of thought so distracting that I completely fail to take a photo of them. You will have to picture for yourselves, then, the small geodome in Hagley Park, a couple of comfy couches, and a lineup that includes Chair Graham Bookman Beattie, and guests Moata, Donna, Lara and Will, all looking and sounding incredibly calm and relaxed.

Each of the panellists here today spend a large part of their lives online, personally and professionally.  The first question (How has your internet life changed from five years ago?), brings some great comments. Lara points out that the small black portable notebooks she always carried have now changed to a small black portable phone that she always carries; and that F Scott Fitzgerald (the inspiration for this habit of hers of recording the “cognitive surplus” of her life) would have been brilliant on Twitter.

Moata notes that where the internet used to be a kind of “go, look, read” kind of place, there’s now a real depth to it, and you can go, look, read but then keep going, get deeper in, be more involved and interactive. Donna talks about starting with her own personal blog, but then very quickly developing the CCL blog – launched at the 2007 Auckland Writers Festival, it had a sense of immediacy that was new in terms of coverage of festivals and events. She also makes the point that we used to think that technology was cold and impersonal, but the events of 2010 and 2011 have shown us that social media brings the ability for us to share more, help more, and build community in ways that wouldn’t have been possible in the past.

Will notes that the biggest change for him professionally has been the speed at which The Press has had to move – the expectation now from readers is that the news is being reported as it happens. He also notes that online comments have changed the game: where the Letters page of the newspaper is a very groomed product, online commenting is a completely different animal.

Looking five years into the future, Lara quotes Gibson and Mieville, talks about a crackdown on online piracy and DRM, and points out that although we think the internet is free, when we agree to the terms and conditions of websites like Facebook and Twitter, these sites are then able to monetize our thoughts and ideas for their own profit.

Moata hopes that the future will see bloggers recognised as ‘real’ writers, rather than being thought of as vaguely unsavoury lower ranks. Donna thinks that the idea of the death of the book is a load of bollocks, and that libraries will become a place of increased connectivity and interactivity, with more collaboration between galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Will asserts that The Press will still be here, still be on paper, and still be delivered to the door of anyone who wants it; but also that most people will get their news on a device, that they will happily pay for it, and that the best and most successful papers will be the ones that deliver intensely local news.

A round  of mostly great questions, with the seemingly mandatory That’s-Not-A-Question as well, and the session is over.  I must just run out now and see if I feature in that photo that Moata took …

Craft blogs into crafty books

I have written before about the newish trend of blogs becoming books. This trend is not ending, in fact if anything it is growing. Crafters seem to be particularly good at using this technique. The beauty of the blog/book scenario is that you get double the bang for your buck, in that you can read the book and then log onto the blog and get more recent updates and ideas.

To go with this publishing trend we also now have a rather nausea inducing term “Mommy bloggers” as this quote from Hand in Hand states:

Mommy bloggers are a hugely popular source of advice for parents on everything from discipline to which stores have the best deals. And one of the top trending topics is crafting with your kids. In this title, 20 superstar mommy bloggers share exclusive, photo-rich insights into their creative lives.

However, publishing blurbs aside these new books do look rather enticing.

If you are interested in starting your own blog, perhaps with money-making in mind these books should be able to help you on your way.

2001: a library bloggy odyssey

Kia ora and welcome to our 2001st post.
Four years ago we dipped our toes in – blogging from the 2007 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

We started with two mild-mannered bloggers. Now we now have a team of keen bloggers. Our alumni includes Moata Tamaira, Blog Idol who has a popular blog on Stuff (and a Qantas Media Award to boot!)

In 2009 we brought you  Post#1000: Richard Till and Heston Blumenthal – A Culinary mashup.

In 2011 we have a small (but perfectly formed) team going to the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, so look forward to posts, interviews and festival goss galore – and lots of reading ideas.

Thanks to Christchurch City Libraries, and all our bloggers and readers and commenters. Keep your comments, suggestions and ideas coming.
Christmas in the Old Childrens Library Workroom

You can do it: the Dummies Guide to Blogging

coverOver a pile of books that included two mosaic titles, a make-your-own-jewellery manual and the idiots guide to felt animals or some such thing, a customer  asked if I had any hobbies. This is a question I dread – reading so does not count and meeting friends in coffee shops only works if I’m writing my next novel there – thanks J.K.Rowling. Then it came to me in a nanosecond:

I blog.

It’s a terrific little hobby, it really is. You can do it anywhere and anytime – post earthquake it  turns out that 3am is quite good. There’s no law against doing it, and it involves no outlay on expensive equipment that then lies around gathering dust; i-Pads way off to one side here if you will! If you blog for the library it even comes with its own built- in buddy so you are guaranteed an audience of at least one. My buddy is large and lovely and lives in Lyttelton. I wish his name was Lionel – that would make a really bloggy sentence.

In fact the only thing I don’t like about blogging is the word: blog. Why didn’t we get bling – an altogether better word. Whereas “I blog” falls out of the mouth like a dead pachyderm, “I bling” takes wing and flies. Right now is the point at which my buddy will be anxiously scanning for links – aka computer witchcraft.  So here they are:

So how do you get started? Dead easy, scroll up to the top of this blog post. Click on ‘Leave a comment’. Write something. Click ‘Post comment’ and voila – you have taken your first step in the blog world. Well done!

The Guardian’s worst books of the decade

Being a modest sort of outfit, Christchurch City Libraries blog has recently only been asking our readers for the best and worst books of 2009.

Not so the Guardian. This cultural behemoth has been taxing its readers with the vexatious question: what were your worst books of the decade? With 878 blog comments so far, this has clearly struck a chord and some of the responses are hilarious in a book-geeky kind of way. Several well-known authors and titles have been turning up with almost monotonous  regularity: Ian McEwan’s Saturday has quite rightly taken a good kickin’, as has Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, John Updike’s Terrorist, Don DeLillo’s The falling man, David Mitchell’s Cloud atlas and anything published by Martin Amis, Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer.

I too felt compelled to put my ten cents worth in and poured scorn on The divine secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. It was actually published in 1996 but I have never been able to shake off my absolute and profound hatred for this book. Anyway, have a chuckle at the sight of high-brow, prize-winning authors being shredded and roundly abused by the good readers of the Guardian.

And remember to get your Best and Worst reads of 2009 into us before December 16th and be in to win a lovely $50 book voucher.