Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Blogs of 2013

Which of my 2013 blogs were the most popular based on number of times people accessed them? I’m always surprised to find out which ones they are.

Like I’ve done in the past, I’m going to count down the top 5, based on page views. At the end, I’ll share which ones were my favorite.

I haven’t written as many personal blogs this year for a few reasons. First, I released three books in 2013. Second, I’m blogging for Ronaldo Designer Jewelry which uses up some of my blogging time. Third, I’m working on a little something called my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing.

However I did write quite a few blogs. And people still read them. In fact, my blog has had over 140,000 hits since I started it.

Anyway, here are the top 5: (You can click on the name to read the blog.)

A blog about how many stories “borrow” ideas from other sources.

Yes, one of my books was banned from Facebook. Can you guess which one?

A little story about what happens when you are rude to a teacher (or so I would have the students believe.)

One of my teachers wanted me to write a short story out of my comfort zone. This was the result.

To be honest, I’m not sure why this one was so popular. Perhaps because I introduced people to something they had been living without.

And now for my favorite(s):

I couldn’t pick only one, so here are my personal favorites that didn’t make the list in no particular order:

A video / audio comparison of several songs and those that sound a lot like the original.

Because people who insist on using hyphenated last names have started down a path that could get quite interesting.

My response when the name of the new high school in the area was revealed to be “Apex Friendship High School.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To swear or not to swear in books

The question was recently raised by a fellow author who asked people’s opinions on using swearing in stories. Here is my reply:

Swearing. Yeah. Well, I think for me it boils down to two things:

      Who is your intended audience?
      Are you personally comfortable with using the word?

In my five novels, I’ve used swear words, let me double check, ok yeah … never. At the same time, I don’t shy away from some pretty gritty stuff, especially in Wall of Faith.

I’ve had writers tell me that unless swear words are used, the story won’t feel real. Meaning that swearing is part of life and so it should be included in books. I counter the argument that there are a lot of things in real life which aren’t generally included, like going to the bathroom, yet how often are they included in books where they aren’t a significant part of the story?

I write for an audience that is LDS friendly, meaning I believe anyone can read and enjoy my books if they are LDS or not. I choose not to use swearing because I’ve found I can write compelling stories and characters without using those words.

When I refer to swearing, I mean the main ones that the general public consider a swear word. There are also words that are crass, but are considered swear words by some people. (Examples: piss, crap, suck.) In general, I shy away from the crass words as well.

Lastly, and I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, this topic was discussed at length in one of my Master’s classes. (I’m almost done with my MFA in Creative Writing.) The consensus of the students and the teacher is that swearing is generally to be used sparingly, if at all. Once or twice here and there is like a punch to the gut. Too many uses desensitizes people to the words. My teacher went as far as to call using swear words as “lazy writing.”

So, I personally don’t use swearing and I’ve had many more readers thank me than people complain about the lack of swearing in my stories.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Marriage Midpoint

I don’t think there is a word or phrase for something I celebrated recently. For lack of a better term, I’m coining the phrase, “Marriage Midpoint.”

What does that even mean?

Well, December 6, 2013 marks the day that I’ve been married to my wife as long as I hadn’t been married to her. Stating it another way, I got married when I was 22 years, 1 month and 25 days old. As of December 6th, I’ve been married for 22 years, 1 month and 25 days.

It’s kind of freaky to think that I’ve spent as much time being married as not being married. My childhood seems to have lasted a long time, yet the years I’ve been married have flown by.

My wife has a theory about this. When you are four years old, a year is 25% of your life—therefore a year is a long time. When you are 40 years old, a year is only 2.5% of your life, so it can seem like a shorter period of time.

Certainly my wife and I have lasted longer than the average marriage in America. That hasn’t been by chance.

Yes, my wife and I have a lot in common, but there are a lot of things which we see differently. Often those differences have helped each of us to grow.

When we got married, my parents-in-law wrote one big word in our wedding card: “COMMUNICATE!” And it was great advice. Over the years, we’ve learned that some forms of communication work better than others.

One that is especially effective is the use of “I” statements as opposed to “You” statements. For example, it is better to say, “I felt frustrated when you kept changing your mind about where you wanted to go for dinner” than to say, “You are so frustrating and indecisive!”

Another thing we’ve learned to do which helps our relationship is to allow the other person to take the lead on something they feel strongly about.

Let me explain.

Say that my wife wants to paint the kitchen. She has some colors in mind, and asks for my opinion. She is the one that uses the kitchen more than I do, so as I look at the colors she’s picked out and I share which ones I like or don’t like as much, I keep in mind that basically unless it is something that really bothers me (like neon pink) I’m going to let her take the lead and go with what she likes. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. In fact, it can mean the opposite: it means that I care enough to support her on her decision.

The point? Couples don’t have to agree 100% on every little detail.

Lastly, the power of positive comments and selfless acts go a long way. I’m constantly telling my wife how beautiful she is. She’s constantly telling me that she loves me. In fact, whenever we leave to go our separate directions, we always tell each other, “I love you! Have a good day!”

Some people may think that saying “I love you” so much will make it lose its power and impact. However, after more than 22 years, I can honestly say that the opposite is true.