2013 Blogging Year-in-Review

Happy New Year!  🙂

Yes, I know New Year’s was a while ago.  As far as I’m concerned, all of January is New Year’s.  I call it New Year’s Month, because that’s about how long it takes me to recover from the holidays, undecorate my house, get my family’s New Year’s cards out, and get back into the swing of things at school.

Happy New Year’s Month!  🙂

WordPress kindly sends out annual reports to their bloggers every December 31st with stats for the blog’s year-in-review, and I like to share a few of those things with you, delightful readers.  (Here’s a peek at last year’s; this year’s will be different.)

Sappho’s Torque is being read in 75 countries now.  That’s pretty cool.

Here are my most popular posts of 2013.  The thing I find most interesting about this short list is that it encompasses really well the directions my blog took in 2013.

*  Government Shutdown Haiku Contest:  I love to sponsor haiku contests — in fact, look for another one coming soon!

*  Why Our Society is Failing as a Collection of Human Beings:  Sometimes things happen out there in the world that drive me to my computer to sound off about them in public.  I try to keep this to a minimum, but sometimes the issue and my breaking point must not be ignored.

*  May Rêveuses in Bloom:  For thirteen months I conducted the Rêveurs Revelation Fashion Project in celebration of Erin Morgenstern’s novel The Night Circus — an excellent book and one which affected me deeply — and, although I’m not still doing it here on the blog, I’m delighted and astounded to have been told just a week ago that some of those who were participating in it around the country while it was a feature here on this blog still do so just for fun.  So amazing!

*  100 Days of School:  Sometimes I share stories about my family, and this post about my son’s kindergarten homework remains one of the most giggle-inducing and cheer-you-up posts ever.

*  Fashion Friday 8/9/13:  Another blog project I had going on for a while was my Fashion Friday series, which was a wonderful way to merge one of my hobbies (fashion, especially the quirky kind) with an opportunity to host guest bloggers.  I’m not still doing this weekly, but I am still taking queries for Fashion Friday guest posts and even working on a couple myself.  This particular post (from 8/9/13) was written by Sarah Warburton about the Tardis socks she knitted.

Life here is busy.  I have many writing projects on the proverbial stove, and some are nearly done cooking.  I continue to strive for work-life balance — something I’m not entirely convinced even exists — and have resolved this year not to make any big resolutions, but rather to make one smart decision at a time.  Sometimes this even works out.

Thank you all, so much, for being here.  I wouldn’t bother blogging without an audience, and I’m glad you’re here, because despite my initial reservations about getting into this practice, I’ve been enjoying it immensely.

Cheers.  🙂

 

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Happy Hallowe’en!

Happy Hallowe’en!

Remember my son’s blueprint for his eyeball costume?  (If you missed it before, click here.)

Well, Talented Engineer Dad made it happen.

 

Tiny Beowulf Zombie Eye
Tiny Beowulf looks so impressed by the impressionistic finesse with which Dear Husband painted that iris. And by the small motorized fan installed in the back so it doesn’t get too warm inside there.

 

And lest you think his grim expression means that we browbeat him into posing for this picture, check this out.

 

That's right, he was just pretending to be a zombie in that last picture!
That’s right, he was just pretending to be a zombie in that last picture!

 

I hope you’re all having a splendid costume day yourselves!

 

Go ahead, let your freak flag fly.
Go ahead, let your freak flag fly.

 

And just one final reminder:  you can still vote in our Government Shutdown Haiku Contest.  It’s approval voting, so click here to knock yourself out on all the entries you love best.

Try not to get too sick on candy this weekend.  Have fun!

Haiku Contest Closure and Some Changes ’round Here

So now that the US government is back open for business, the Government Shutdown Haiku Contest is officially closed.  We had so many great entries!  Thank you to everyone who participated.  And in the comments this contest elicited from across my various social media, the general consensus from many, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, could be summed up in this non-competing poem:

“Crisis averted
in the eleventh hour.”
Nice work, pudknockers.

Later this weekend, I’ll be posting all the entries for the contest and giving you, the readers, an opportunity to vote on your favorites.  Majority wins in this poll, and the winner will receive a copy of TimeSlice.  Look for more details and the actual voting in my next blog post.

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You might have noticed there was no Fashion Friday post yesterday.  I thought about doing one on lariats, which are a fun and versatile jewelry accessory, but I couldn’t get a decent picture of the one I’d made.  I thought about doing one on the trauma of haircuts — yes, really — but it felt too indulgent even for me.  I thought about featuring a hat, but the cool weather we had at the start of the week dissipated again.  In short, nothing was really coming together in time for yesterday’s scheduled post.  So I let it go.  Maybe I’ll revisit those ideas again later.

In my realm, Fashion Friday is a “blog project,” something (much like the Rêveurs Revelation Fashion Project) that I find entertaining and fun and which gets me posting on a regular basis even when I don’t have something more literary to share.  And periodically I evaluate how those blog projects are doing.  The inciting incident for Fashion Friday was that I wanted to bring hats back into fashion, and then it just expanded into other accessories.  It’s been a way for me to indulge a hobby of mine while also, sometimes, writing about more meaningful things (such as body image or beauty or self-confidence), and it’s been a fun way to get other writers involved in my site as guest contributors.

Now that autumn is here and hats are back on the horizon, we will see more of those, because I do still want to see them make a bigger comeback even in places where it doesn’t get snowy and cold for several months out of the year.  And I’m still very much open to having guest bloggers contribute to this series.  I will still, from time to time, write pieces about those issues I mentioned.  But I’m not going to go nuts trying to post something every week for the sake of posting something every week.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with weekly posts — that is, ultimately, my goal in general — but these other things are just taking up more of my time than I have right now.

The reason for this is actually a good thing:  I have a bunch of pots on the writing stove, as it were.  Look for news about a magic realism novelette coming out in the not-too-distant future.  I may also be re-releasing one of my books of poetry that’s gone out of print.  I’m continuing work on the fantasy series I’m in the middle of — the first novel of which is currently being shopped around and which is sitting on about half a dozen agents’ desks at the moment.  The book review assignments are piling up around me.  I’m also itching to start a new novel, a stand-alone, and the NaNoWriMo‘s siren song has already begun its perilous waft to my ears.

So yeah, there’s a lot going on.  But it’s good stuff, and as much as I love my hobby, I want to devote more time to the literary stuff.

I am intensely grateful for all the new readers who have joined the Sappho’s Torque community since the inception of Fashion Fridays.  All of you, please feel free to query me if you’d like to do a guest post!  I hope you continue to enjoy the other treats on the blog between future Fashion Friday posts.

I’m considering some other changes around here, too.  You might have noticed a few little tweaks to its appearance over the last couple of months.  (Maybe not, though, as they’ve been subtle.)  I’m looking to spruce things up even more in the near future.

Exciting developments are afoot in the world of Angélique.  Stay tuned.

And watch over the next couple of days for the Government Shutdown Haiku Contest voting opportunity.  Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Cheers.

Government Shutdown Haiku Contest

While the government shutdown may or may not have been inevitable, you probably knew I’d find some way to attach a haiku contest to it, especially after the 2012 Republican Primary Haiku Contest and the 2012 National Political Conventions Haiku Contest both did so well.

Here’s a little refresher on what constitutes a haiku:  It’s a very short poem whose origins are primarily Japanese, whose three lines are measured in syllables numbering 5-7-5, and which (as we often learn in elementary school) traditionally has something to do with nature.  There are a couple of other considerations here, too, for the poetic purists.  A good haiku will entertain a play between pure description and commentary on the subject matter.

So here we go!  Enter as many haiku as you like, in the comments section below.  Contest is open for as long as the government isn’t.  (And who knows how long that will be?  Better get your entries in soon!)

The prize is a book of poems:  TimeSlice.  This anthology of poets who live in or are connected to Houston, some through their teaching in The University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, was published by Mutabilis Press and contains a wide array of gorgeous verse from both the “literary” and “underground” poetry scenes in 21st-century Houston.  A few of the poets featured include Edward Hirsch, Carolyn Adams, Tony Hoagland, Varsha Shah, Adam Zagajewski, Robert Phillips, Iris Rozencwajg, and Ken Jones*.   (Click on the above link to MP’s site to see a list of all the poets included.  It’s quite a list.  It’s quite a book.)

Ready?  Get set…  Haiku!

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*  Full disclosure:  I’m in the book, too.

 

 

Anniversary Rêveuse

So believe it or not, today is the one-year anniversary of the Rêveurs Revelation Fashion Project!  Fabulous, right?

First, I want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has participated in this along with me, either in pictures or on their blogs or just by doing it in their shy, subtle way, dressing the part with a whisper in my ear and a Mona Lisa smile each month.

Second, congratulations to the people who found out about this jaunt and then read The Night Circus and fell in love with it.  (You’re welcome.)

Third, thank you also to the people who have encouraged me to keep doing it.  I have been thinking about this project quite a bit lately, what with the anniversary of it approaching and all, and I’ve decided Continue reading “Anniversary Rêveuse”

Periodic Sappho’s Torque Best Commenter Awards

A little over a year ago, I earned a Best Commenter Award from the lovely SJ and Meg over at Snobbery.  It was a delightful moment because I hadn’t been part of the blogosphere long but felt like I had, at least, done something useful enough to connect with other people.  And without a doubt, connections with other people, especially writers and avid readers, has been one of the best parts about having a blog.  I have loved that.

Anyway, I thought this concept was fun and paid the award forward, as I was supposed to do, and it occurred to me that I could continue having a Best Commenter Awards recognition on my own blog regularly.  I don’t know how often it will be — annual?  semi-annual?  quarterly? — but I’ve come up with my own badge and my own set of interview questions (with SJ’s blessing, since the format, though not its content, is shamelessly stolen from Snobbery’s awards).

So here’s how this works:  I will list the award recipients below along with the interview the recipients are asked answer.  We at Sappho’s Torque love and appreciate all our commenters, and winning this most excellent honor is based, very simply, on how much one participates in this blog.  All recipients should please answer the interview questions in the comments section of this post, then post the Best Commenter Awards on their blogs and choose their top 5 commenters to pass the honor and the interview along to, if they so choose, and thanks for playing.  (If they do not so choose, well, boo.  Frowny face.)

So without further ado, here they are!

best commenter badge

Our top 5 commenters (and their blogs, because this time the top 5 are all bloggers as well) are…

*  kvennarad

*  sj

*  David Jón Fuller

*  The Byronic Man

*  laine

Congratulations!

And here are the interview questions:

  1. What was the first food you ever learned how to make?
  2. What’s your favorite movie, and why?
  3. Do you own a melon baller?
  4. DC or Marvel or indie?
  5. If you had the time to be a novelist, would you want to be?
  6. What’s your favorite fashion accessory?  Would you be interested in sharing it with us on a Fashion Friday post?
  7. What is the best book you’ve ever read that you really didn’t enjoy while you were reading it?
  8. What are you listening to today?
  9. Do you remember when and how you first discovered Sappho’s Torque?  Will you please tell us the story?
  10. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  11. What’s your preferred variety of Munchkin card?
  12. Complete this lyric:  “If I had $1,000,000, I would buy you…”

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And that’s it!  Have a good weekend.

Book Spine Poetry Contest — DEADLINE

Hey there.  So today’s the last day of April.  How did it sneak up on us so quickly?  Well, if you’re in education, the answer is easy:  we’ve hit that point in the school year when no one can get any traction because everything is so hectic and stressful.  Ah well.

Because I’m in this position, too — and because I didn’t announce this contest until April 6th — I’m extending the deadline for this contest till the end of this coming weekend.  We’ve had several wonderful entries so far — and thanks to all who’ve submitted! — but I’m getting ready for a writers’ conference this weekend and buried in grading.  Like I tell my students when they want an extension, “Sure, take an extra day, because I wasn’t going to be grading this paper tonight anyway.”

New deadline is this Sunday night, May 5th.  Winner gets a t-shirt.  Submit as many entries as you like.  There is no age requirement to enter.  Click here for the full details.

Have a good week!