Category Archives: Blogging

The Cell Phone: Unsuccessful Short Story Entry #2

During your weekly housecleaning you find and unfamiliar cell phone in the cushions of your couch—but can’t recall having had any recent visitors. It rings.

That was the Writer’s Digest short story contest prompt that I tackled this month. I had to wait a full two weeks to experience the head shake that followed the manic clicks through the the semi-finalist list. Out of 670+ entries, I ended up in the bottom 666. It was statistically interesting, but not quite the professional validation I was looking for.

I read through all of the chosen entries to see what they had that I didn’t, and then spent a little time wondering if an electronic glitch had diverted my entry before it arrived, gleaming, in the Writer’s Digest inbox. That devolved into me staring out the window and contemplating what level of illegal it would be to naturally brine my computer. I eventually leaned back in my squeaky office chair, my fingers interlaced on my forehead as if trying to trap any remaining confidence from evaporating into the salty sea air.

I unlaced my fingers, scratched my hair more than I needed to, and went back to reread my contest entry. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. I wanted to rearrange and tighten up a lot of what I thought was already arranged and tight, but working on it further felt like searching for the perfect rebuttal while lying in bed alone.

Below is my submission. Comments, suggestions, and cleverly combined swear words are welcome.
Continue reading The Cell Phone: Unsuccessful Short Story Entry #2

The Ladybug: My Unsuccessful Short Story Entry

I recently entered a 750 word short story contest where the submission had to start with “I never would’ve purchased this house if I’d known that…” and end with “That’s why tomorrow I’m setting it on fire.”

The story was written in 45 minutes, edited over a few days, and submitted to Writer’s Digest with a strange (but misplaced) sense of confidence. The story failed to make the top five, but I figured I’d post it here before I lose the original text file.

Comments, edits, and miraculously combined swear words are welcome.
Continue reading The Ladybug: My Unsuccessful Short Story Entry Turns Forty-Eight (In Web Years)

Robot Cupcake At a time when my feedreader is choking on the bones of abandoned blogs that are being voraciously devoured 140 characters at a time, my blog is turning eight years old. That’s a long time for something to exist on the web without a viable business model. I think I know how the dinosaurs felt.

I had to drop to a weekly posting schedule to make room for a book and new baby, but 548,083 unique visitors still managed to drop by here in 2009. Even though that was down from 1.3 million visitors in 2008, I still feel the same awe that I felt in early 2002 when there were twenty-nine people a day reading along: I still wonder who those other twenty-six people are.

So, Thank You (Yes, You)!

The blogsphere is now packed with leaner, funnier, and better marketed blogs than this one, so I want you to know that I appreciate you spending some of your time here sifting through the literary rubble for something amusing to pocket week after week. I really do. So even though I can’t pay you in money, when you die, on your deathbed, you’ll receive total consciousness. So you got that going for you…which is nice.

Whether your one of the site’s 400 subscribers or just someone who checks in once and a while, thanks for helping to make this another great year.

Gunga galunga…gunga — Gunga galunga.

-Jon Dyer

How To Reward Your Fans (And Make The Web A Nicer Place)

When someone links to your blog, do you think:

Another link? I’m so awesome. I deserved that link because I’m hotter than Hasselhoff and twice as entertaining. Sometimes I wish I were someone else just so that I could experience the awesome feeling that comes with linking to me. Wait. No, I’d cry if I were someone else. Other people are so lucky that I let them link to me. I’m remarkable, I’m amazing, and it’s no wonder that I’m huge in Scandinavia.

Continue reading How To Reward Your Fans (And Make The Web A Nicer Place)

The Real Reason Your Blog Needs A Niche

NichemeupI’ve read a million different articles about making money on the web, and they all have one mantra in common: Start with a niche. Start with a niche. Start with a niche. Niche niche niche niche niche.

For personal bloggers, this piece of money making scripture almost seems to guarantee that personal bloggers will never make money from their personal site. Unfortunately, no one ever mentions why.
Continue reading The Real Reason Your Blog Needs A Niche

9 Ways to Beat Writers Block on a Personal Blog

Sometimes writing a personal blog is like being sent to the supermarket with a note that simply says “Get dinner.” While it’s great to be able to write whatever you want, that ultimate freedom to find the topic du jour can often leave you overloaded and staring at a blank screen.

Instead of giving up and writing another “I’m tired, so no post today” posts, try these ideas to help beat your writer’s block once and for all.

1. Write Daily

“Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it’s so hurtful to think about writing.”
-Heather B. Armstrong

To get better at something, you have to practice, and writing is no exception. If you write every day, you will create momentum that will push you over the potholes that used to bring your writing to a dead stop. If you’re worried about publishing every day, don’t. If at the end of the day your writing doesn’t seem like it’s ready to publish, then put it aside and let it stew. It just might provide a starting point for a great post at some point in the future. Remember: writing every day is the important part, regardless of whether you publish or not.

2. Read Daily

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
-Stephen King

If you’re feeling stuck, forget writing for a while and just read. Odds are that you’ll find something inspiring that will kick you into gear. Reading will not only provide you with new topics to write about, but it will also help to give you stylistic ideas on how to write. If you dedicate as much time to reading as you do to writing, you may find that you have more ideas than time to write them down.

3. Experiment

“My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, and a communist, but he is not a porn star.”
-Grandpa Simpson

Because you’re the writer of a personal blog, you can write about anything, so expand beyond what you think your blog is. You don’t have to tell a hilarious or heartbreaking story in every post. Your blog can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t let your preception of what your readers think your blog is dictate what it will become. Try something new. It may not end up being classic literature, but every post has the possibility to push you in new directions.
Continue reading 9 Ways to Beat Writers Block on a Personal Blog

Free (As In Beer) E-Mail Subscription Icons

Although e-mail subscriptions are related to RSS feeds, I didn’t like using the standard RSS icon next to my “Get Updates by E-Mail” link. I had trouble finding an icon that matched the standard RSS icon being offered for free, so I created the icon to the left for my own use.

Recently, I noticed that one of my favorite “how to make money” bloggers (Maki from, was using the standard RSS icon next to his “Get Updates By E-mail” link. Because I take a lot of free information from DoshDosh, I thought I’d offer him the email icon as a small token of my appreciation. He graciously accepted it, and you can see it in action by visiting his site.

If any of you have been looking for a similar icon, I packed eight different sizes of the icon pictured above into a .zip file for you to download and use on your website for free, no strings attached.

Download the free email subscription icon pack here.

If you found this useful, be sure to let me know in the comments.