New Year’s Round-Up (Part 1)

This year my New Year’s round-up really needs to be split into two posts for thematic and length reasons. So today I’m going to cover blog statistics for 2017 and some cool author stuff coming up, and tomorrow you’ll get another post about resolutions and why that concept is such a mixed miasma of obligation and glory.

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I came late to the blogosphere. Sappho’s Torque has been around since August of 2011, and like many of the authors whose blogs I read, I try to do a summary of the year’s statistics here. 2017 saw my readership expand significantly, which is a trend I rather like and which I am grateful to be able to say about every year’s blog stats. It’s a slow way to build an audience, but it’s a worthwhile one. I’m grateful for all of my readers and hope you enjoy my work here. I wasn’t sure blogging would really be right for me when I started, but a friend in the publishing industry convinced me to do it, and I’m glad she did. My hope is that I will continue to post here, in a mix of thoughtful memoir writing and commentary and all of the very popular series connected to my other interests (reading, music, food, fashion, poetry, etc.).

In 2017, I posted to the blog 88 times. That’s not bad, I think. It averages out to more than once a week, though my daily poem series for every day in April and my 12 Days of Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck series in December do throw that timeline off a bit. (The links take you to the start of the 2017 editions of both of those.) The most I’ve ever posted here in one year is 99 times, in both 2013 and 2014, so I feel like I’m doing all right. Maybe in 2018 I’ll crack 100? Oh, watch my ambition climb!

Sappho’s Torque is being read in a lot of countries around the world, but as I write in English here, it’s no surprise that most of my readers are in English-speaking countries. The USA, the UK, and Canada have my biggest audiences, but my blog also has a healthy following in India and Germany. Welcome!

Most people find my blog through search engines, by far. This was a surprise to me. The next most common access portals are Facebook, WordPress Reader, and Twitter, with big gaps between them.

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So what else is going on in my artistic life these days? I’ve been considering resuming some of my old hobbies — in particular, making jewelry. You might remember that I am desperate to make art and have been my whole life. I can’t stop the urge. Writing is the art I’m most competent at, I think, and it’s definitely my primary vocation, but I also dance and paint and make stuff. I even have an Etsy shop, called Arts Eclectica. In this shop you can find my handmade cards, and soon you will also be able to find there journals and jewelry and my daughter’s art. She is already a much more accomplished visual artist that I am, and some of her watercolor paintings have been made into limited-edition print runs, which we’re going to make available there.

I also have an exciting author event coming up in a few weeks! I’ve been invited to speak at BrazCon, which is a combination teen book festival and comic con happening here in southeast Texas on Saturday, February 3rd. Last year it was extremely well attended for a relatively new event, and it should be even bigger this year. For those of you in the area who want to drop by, it’s going to be held at Shadow Creek High School in Pearland from 9:00 to 4:00. I’ll be speaking on a couple of author panels and also signing books. More details on my schedule closer to the event. If you’re there, drop by and say hello! More author events for 2018 are in the works, but I can’t say much about them just yet; rest assured you’ll read about them here when I have firmer details.

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Finally, because I think that a community thrives when its inhabitants are readers, and because I love the concept, this year we put up a Little Free Library in front of our house. Within a week it was full of not just my family’s contributions but also those of others who have passed by it. Our LFL has been particularly well received by the kids in the neighborhood, some of whom come by several times a week, which has been an absolute joy to witness. I even have a whole box of books in reserve to make sure I can rotate and restock as often as needed.

My husband built this charming Little Free Library. The roof was constructed and painted to look like an open book, and the doorknob is a tiny book he made on his 3D printer. One of his best anniversary gifts ever!

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Tomorrow I’ll post about my goals for 2018. Leave a note in the comments about what your resolutions are, if you have some — or whether, like many people, you’re not sure if the concept of resolutions works for you.

Thank you, every one of you, for reading my blog and making my forays in the blogosphere fun. Happy reading!

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2017 and the Concept of the Reset

Happy New Year! (Let it not suck.)

As is usually my wont at this time of year, I like to post with some fun statistics about my blog’s performance over the past year and with a discussion of my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ll get the stats out of the way first; I find them interesting and hope you will, too.

Even though I did not make nearly as many posts in 2016 as I’d hoped to, Sappho’s Torque was being read in 83 countries, with the vast majority of hits coming from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Germany, and India.

Most of my posts this past year happened during April and December, which is no surprise since those are the two months in which I have consistent daily series: the Poem-A-Day for National Poetry Month in April and 12 Days of Christmas Music (the description changes each year) in December. Look for those two series to continue, by the way, in 2017; I’m already curating them both.

But I had plenty of other posts which did well in 2016 that weren’t part of those series. Not all of them were written in 2016, but they did get a lot of attention. Perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few of the posts contain my critiques on society and culture, although if that’s all you looked at, you wouldn’t get a complete sense of who I am or what I do or think. Here’s a list of some of last year’s greatest hits:

A Graduation Message and the Fundamental Lies of Our Culture

This Ish Just Isn’t Fun Anymore

Observations on a Long Drive Through the Country

Our First Home

Thanksgiving 2016

Why Our Society Is Failing As A Collection Of Human Beings

Is It August Already?

Rocket Science at Bedtime

Waffle Wednesday and AP Gothic Lit.

Electric Car Diaries: The Inspection

It’s Time

A Rule-Breaking Poem for a Nail-Biting Vigil

Forbidden Cookbook: Can’t Complain Beef Stew

I also had quite a few queries from potential guest posters to my blog this year. Generally, I’m open to this, particularly in the areas of fashion, food, culture, writing, and literature, so if you want to query me to guest post, please send me an email at forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com.

Now, as to the Resolutions. I’m actually not making them anymore. Not entirely. They always fail. Instead I’ve been making Goals. That seems to be more successful, I guess because of some sort of subconscious semantic baggage? I don’t know. But recently I heard a really interesting piece on the radio with some commentary by nutritionist Roberta Anding (whose daughter I used to teach). Dr. Anding made an excellent presentation on food with regards to health and wellness at our school a few years back, and I think she generally has a lot of wisdom to share on the subject. Anyway, her basic idea was that a Reset is a better way of approaching the traditional New Year’s Resolution, because a Reset is a specific daily goal that you can evaluate every evening and then set a new one — or continue the same one — for the next day.

So what are my goals for 2017? Well, one goal for every day of 2017 is to write something. We shall see. I have several projects knocking around over here at the moment so we’ll hope for the best.

2016 was, not gonna lie, a rough year in many ways. I’m at an age where the cultural icons of my youth are at an age to be exceedingly mortal. That’s never a cheerful place to be. And anyone who knows me at all probably understands how very opposite of my values and hopes for the world the toxic results of our current political system’s brokenness is. Like many creative types, the last couple of months haven’t been super awesome for artistic output. But as other authors more famous and accomplished than I have pointed out, we must endure. We must make art. It is through art that we will retain our sanity and reflect our deeper purpose. So I’m making that my daily goal. Oh, and also to become even more politically active, which I’m doing like gangbusters, yo. That feels useful. And sometimes the results are immediate and positive, which feels good.

As rough and shocking as 2016 was, though, lots of good things happened too. Among those were a visit to see my dear friend Sarah Warburton, doing several Book Fair or other author events (with significant sales at each), and adopting my lovely kitten, Salaadin. Please to enjoy these charming cat pics.

 

Salaadin and me on September 6, 2016, the night I brought him home from the shelter. He was about two months old and weighed 2.3 pounds.
Salaadin and me on September 6, 2016, the night I brought him home from the shelter. He was about two months old and weighed 2.3 pounds.

 

And here he was this afternoon, just over six months old and weighting in at about nine pounds.
And here he was napping this afternoon, just over six months old and weighing in at about nine pounds. So much growing makes a kitty tired!

 

So what are your resolutions/goals/resets for 2017 or for today? I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.