Blog Archives

But what is the question?

Metalhead, dreamer, animal lover

Metalhead, dreamer, animal lover

After more than a year of searching for the perfect name for my blog (which explains the previous name, “…”), I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally found The One. Looks like I was looking at answers in the wrong place, for it was the question that mattered more.

The first step to finding an answer is asking the right question.

Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Why? Why not? These are questions that have brought profound changes into many lives.

We blog because we crave for readers to connect with us through our writings, and to accomplish that, we put in a little of ourselves into every post, every article, like some kind of intellectual striptease. This blog is no different. More eloquent in writing and a self-styled misfit otherwise, I like to look deep into life’s little things and find more reasons to appreciate them; this blog helps me find more people to celebrate them with. Rolling this out on April fool’s day is perfect too, for I believe nothing should be taken too seriously 🙂

Thanks for stopping by, Hope to see you here again.

PS: I’m still mustering up the guts to change my URL and risk losing my modest rankings/followers. One step at a time, I think, but it’s very tempting. If you did so successfully, please give me a pep talk!

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Seven Deadly Whines of Blogging

I’ve been blogging for 7 months now, so I think I’m allowed one PMS post.

If you think I’m complaining about you, remember, it’s not just you. I visit at least 3-5 new blogs every day, and many other blogs have similar attributes as yours. And before you hate me, remember, it’s not just me. If one reader had an issue, chances are, other readers encountered the same problem too. Bottom-line, being unique is unique.

  1. Closed Circle: You blog because you have something to say. I comment on your posts because I have something to say. When I read an awesome post but can’t compliment/discuss with the author because I don’t have a G+ or Disqus or some other kind of lame profile that I’ve tried very hard to stay away from, I growl so viciously I’d scare a bear away. Your blog is public, why not open out your comments to the public too? We Fabo-Twitto-Gpluso-phobes are people too.
  2. Insomniac’s corner: When I can’t sleep, I find blogs that take so long to load, I can count all the pixel-sheep on my screen. At other times, I growl again (bears obviously fear me) and click out vehemently. If the title is really interesting, though, I take a little nap to kill time and do some yoga to calm down while it loads. When it comes to blogs, everyone prefers the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am way. How about some spring-cleaning and downsizing?
  3. Plug-in slugs: A major cause of the insomniac’s corner, some blogs have so many plug-ins, it conjures up creepy images of the Matrix. Too many ‘efficiency boosting’ plug-ins not only load pages after eternity, but also freeze our browsers and crash it. Growl. Remember, a plug-in a day drives the reader away.
  4. Blog of no return: I’ve encountered this mostly on websites but also on some over-enthusiastic, well-established blogs. I don’t see the reasoning behind disabling backspace, because it annoys more readers than it retains. It’s a free world, and your nasty little tactic can be overcome by a simple CTRL-T, or pointedly visiting another blog. Nobody’s indispensable.
  5. Blog hijackers: I plead guilty to having done this many times. As a newbie blogger, I’d carefully read every word in a blog post, reflect on it and comment with my views/counterviews, citing examples and even adding my own twist to the article. I was often miffed that the authors only said “thanks” or didn’t even reply to my thoughtful comments. It took me fifteen minutes to just type that! Now I know why. If you have so much to say, blog about it instead and send the author the link. Or share your email ID privately and have heated intellectual discussions. Don’t hijack their post with a mini-blog in their comments section.
  6. Stiff upper lip authors: Remember, you blog because you have something to say? Well, your readers spent their precious time reading your thoughts and sharing their 2-cents in the comments section, when they could have been popping corn or jumping on bubble-wrap to unwind. The least you can do is reply. And a mass manufactured “thanks”, “thanks for dropping by” or their variations just show you’re a pizza hut in the world of hand-crafted pizzerias.

So, what’s your seventh deadly whine?

My Liebster blog award. I’m a Liebster Blogster!

liebsterThey say your first time is always the best. And my very first Liebster, given to me by Namrota, arrived on the heels of the dismal end to the short story contest I’ve raved and ranted about in my previous post, and made me feel like the Universe was conspiring for me. Thanks a ton for reading and appreciating my blog, Namrota, and hope you continue to enjoy reading my blog!

Jumping, shouting, celebrating is done. Now back to business.

What is a Liebster? It’s a blogger-to-blogger award that tells a fellow newbie blogger that they are making the world a more interesting /intellectual /funny /better place. For a lot of us, it comes just when we’re facing that first blogger’s block or wondering if it’s all worth it. For the rest, it’s a shower of accolades. Either way, it’s a great thing. There are no certificates or trophies, but hey, appreciation from a fellow blogger is always valued.

Borrowed from Namrota’s blog, The Liebster Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. 

So here’s my Liebster questions, answers and nominations.

11 random facts about me:

  1. Music is my soul. I’m a die-hard metalhead. I also love classic rock, psy-trance and of course, 80’s hair bands. When other teenage girls were daydreaming of movie stars, I was busy daydreaming of jamming with Dave Ellefson and meeting Steve Harris. It saved me many heartbreaks.
  2. I love animals, and HAVE to make friends with every animal around me. It’s gotten me into trouble many times, because not every animal wants to be friends with me.
  3. I’m a giganormous Sci-fi geek. I grew up reading Doctor Who. My favorite TV shows are Firefly and Futurama. My favorite books still are Brave New World, Hitchhiker’s guide and Dune. Star Wars is for lightweights, Dune is the real thing.
  4. I was the bassist in my Undergrad semi-pro band, BellCanto. We even released an album!
  5. I wrote a Rock n’ Roll book last year. I’m happily slacking off on its revision now.
  6. I have an organization OCD. All my spice boxes are labeled and arranged alphabetically. My undies are rolled meticulously and ordered by color or brand in the drawer. I once even tried ironing them but that made me feel a little stupid.
  7. I hate sharing my food or drink. I’m a caveman (cave woman?) at the dinner table.
  8. I’m that crazy girl hopping and screeching on top of the chair with her eyes squeezed shut, when there is a teeny weeny caterpillar in my line of vision. Even a vivid photograph will do.
  9. I’m a wimp. ‘Scary Movie’ scares me.
  10. I always count in 4’s. I have no idea why.
  11. It’s very hard to gross me out. Seriously.

Questions for me from Namrota:

1) When did you start blogging and why?

I started blogging seriously in late 2012 with the goal of promoting my book, but then fell in love with blogging. Now I use blogging as an excuse to procrastinate revising my book. And I’ve done nothing to meet my original goal!

 2)   What inspires you to write?

I love writing. I’ve been composing limericks, poems, song and prose since 5th grade. This is the first time I’m writing for a real-time audience, so that excites and inspires me. It also scares me a bit, so I strive to make every blog post better than the previous one.

 3)   When you become a world renowned writer, would you give up blogging?

I’d probably blog more, because more people would read my blogs!

4)   How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

One sentence? I have one word for myself- Weird.

 5)   Which is your most cherished memory till now?

If I had to pick one, it’d be the day my dog at the undergrad hostel, Baby, had babies (pun intended). We were meeting after 2 years as I’d already graduated, and she came up to me slowly, limping in her post-delivery pain, and licked my face. I could have cried when I looked into her eyes. She had just told me who among the 80-odd girls at the hostel she considered her mama.

6)   Something that you learned recently…

Strawberries will curdle milk. So much so for my experiments with hot strawberry-chocolate tea.

7)   What is your pet peeve?

Smelling Pistakes.

8)   Did you ever have an imaginary friend? If yes, tell us something about him/her.

Never needed an imaginary friend because I have lots of real ones. No one seems to ever see them or talk to them, so I’m guessing they’re either poorly dressed or smell bad.

9)   What is your idea of heaven?

My heaven would have blue skies, snow-capped mountains, acres of wildflowers, a serene waterbody, and a clean, white, sparkling toilet. Seriously.

10) Which fictional character from a book would you like to be and why?

Alice in Wonderland, if only there’s a version without the giant caterpillar. Otherwise, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Why? Alice’s and Dorothy’s lives are so much more exciting than mine!

11) Whom would you like to play you, in a movie on your life and why?

The movie on my life will be an animated movie, so that it captures all my daydreams. It would be somewhat on the lines of Simpsons meets Family Guy meets Wizard of Oz.

My nominations for the Liebster: Now I know why all the Liebster posts apologize for having taken so long. There are lots of cool blogs around, but they all have more than 200 followers. And my biggest problem was that a lot of blogs don’t even show the number of followers.

Plus, although Google will spew out hundreds of blogs that received the award, I couldn’t find the official website (if there is any) or the nomination criteria. Some blogs state the criteria is <3k followers, some state <200 followers. I’ve gone with the latter, but there are some blogs that are just over 200 followers that I’d love to give the Liebster to. Please feel free to shed light on this!

So aspiring Liebster bloggers? Don’t forget to put your following count on your blog so a Liebster stalker like me knows for sure that you qualify! I promise to complete the 11 nominations in the next few weeks or so!

  1. http://tomatotwist.blogspot.com/
  2. http://avalleyofdreams.blogspot.in/ Neelima Chakraborty
  3. http://www.jambudweepam.blogspot.in/ C Suresh (Yes, yet another one to answer and forward. Evil laugh)
  4. http://kookydom.blogspot.in/ Sreedev Soman
  5. http://miraarvind.blogspot.com/ Easwar Arunmugam
  6. http://sakshinanda.blogspot.in/   Sakshi Nanda

My questions to the above winners:

  1. I blog because I want to…
  2. We all have articles we wrote with gusto but never published onto our blogs. What’s yours and why didn’t you publish it?
  3. What’s your idea of the perfect blog?
  4. Who do you wish would compliment you on your blog?
  5. Describe your writing style in 5 words.

Whew! The tough ones are over! Now for the more fun ones.

  1. If you weren’t in the career that you are now, what would you be doing?
  2. If you were an item on a restaurant menu, what would you be and why?
  3. What would you do if no one’s watching?
  4. There’s always a song, a book or a movie that changes our lives. What’s yours and how did it change your life?
  5. What’s that memory that haunts you and makes you cringe in embarrassment?
  6. What does the inner child in you enjoy doing the most?

The next steps: Again, borrowed from Namrota’s blog because I’m lazy.

  1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
  3. Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.
  4. Go to their page and tell them about the award.
  5. No tag backs.

Congratulations and Good Luck, dear bloggers!

I know who you copied last summer

So you’re on your 200th blog post of the year. You need to update your blog every other day because that’s the expectations you’ve set with your readers, but you’re running out of ideas. Or maybe while researching for your latest idea, you came across this interesting article. So you ‘borrow’ a few ideas, reword them, add your own spin and use them in your blog post. After all, it’s all about the storytelling and a different point of view, right?

Wrong. Plagiarism is stealing. Writers reveal themselves to the world through their writings, so plagiarism isn’t like parading around in stolen shoes… it’s like pretending to be someone else. It’s an intellectual identity theft.

In my short blogging experience, I have seen bloggers brazenly lift off entire sections from popular blogs like The grammar girl, use key ideas from a reasonably well-known book and steal original word-coinage without giving credit. Why is plagiarism more prevalent in blogging than other forms of publishing like books and white papers?

  • Bloggers have a smaller and more niche base than mainstream authors.  The internet is a huge smoke-screen; they think the original author will never find their blog. Heck, you can’t even find your own blog!
  • Bloggers self-proof and self-publish, which means that they miss out on the due diligence an author goes through with editors, agents and publishing houses before publishing, who guide them on when to cite and when to redo entire sections of their work.
  • Bloggers have a more volatile reader base, which means that they are under pressure to write more often or be forgotten. So bloggers write more, both in volume and frequency. It’s hard to stay original when you’re blogging three times a week, with or without a niche focus.

What constitutes plagiarism? I’m no expert, so please do your due diligence here. Don’t let the legalities scare you—just like stealing that extra cookie, writing something that’s not yours will give you a guilty conscience. Listen to it, it might just save you from a lawsuit and/or embarrassment many years from now, when an ancient, almost-original work can end your writing days. And if you think lawsuits only happen to bestselling authors and mainstream bloggers, think again. What if you become a popular blogger five years from now? What will happen to your credibility?

So how do you stay current, stay trendy and still stay original? I’m still fairly new to the blogging world, but I also write privately apart from blogging and only post the best ones onto my blog. I stay fresh by following the plan I laid out when I started blogging, addressed to the future myself, for the time when I finally do reach my 200th blog. Here’s the plan, hope it helps someone, and please feel free to share your thoughts on it, as experience always beats the best educated guess!

  • Dear me, the best answer is the simplest. Be yourself. Write what you can talk about intelligently. I believe that the main goal of blogging is to add value to my readers, and value can either be educational or something that makes them smile.
  • If you’re a blogger who’s categorized in the ‘personal’ or ‘creative’ sections, yay for you! You have endless possibilities for the next 42 million blog posts you may write. In fact, your biggest enemy isn’t inspiration, it’s boring your readers to death. Trust me, a blog a day keeps the reader away! So go beyond how your cat’s meow is a symphony and think harder. Don’t just write… create.
  • Sometimes, having a niche can also mean you can write yourself into a dead-end. Some niches are more flexible than others—finance, photography, current events have infinite possibilities. Computer skills and language skills are very informative but what will you do 5 years and 400 blog posts from now? If you’re a niche blogger, you need to get creative. Think ahead. Stay current. Be willing to experiment and diversify. Your blog probably has loyal readers. Don’t let them down.
  • Take the pressure off. Choose quality over quantity. How about writing a kickass post twice a week instead of five hastily written ones?  Blog at the speed of (a good) thought, and allow for the time it takes to shape that thought into something worth remembering. (Note: As a newbie, I now get away with blogging twice a month or less, but if and when my reader base grows, I plan to keep a buffer of at least one or two blogs so I can create without the pressures of missing self-appointed deadlines. In fact, I have a buffer right now, too. It buffers for my laziness.)
  • Lastly, forget everything I said and do what you best—write, and write honestly. There’s always a chance that someone somewhere WILL have written about this before, but it’s unlikely that your views will be exactly the same. But if you write in good faith and do your reasonable bit to stay original, chances are, you’ll be lawsuit-free. And the best part? Your readers will appreciate you for it.

I hope to fine tune the plan as I go along and find my blogging personality, but as of now, I continue to double check with Google every time I coin a new word or use a name for my characters, just in case!

So this blogger walks into a bar…

If blogging was like walking into a bar, then bloggers would be that girl on top of the bar counter double fisting b-52s and tequila shots, that girl whispering to her BFFs, that girl at the corner pretending to like being alone but really hoping someone buys her a drink, and finally, that girl you just want to kiss and fall madly in love with. And what about male bloggers? For this post, you get to wear those fishnet stockings and 4-inch heels and live your fantasies, cos I’m serious… bloggers are like that girl at the bar.

  • The slut: These bloggers have an opinion on everything, and they love to talk about it. They flirt with many fancies—cooking, memoirs, current events, you name it, they’ve already blogged about it. They update their blogs thrice a day on a slow day, and are always on top of all categories. A lot of them are part of blogging directories, and take up every blogging contest/challenge in the community with gusto. They read (or at least pretend to have read) every blog that’s updated and leave short, encouraging comments on all of them. Needless to say, they have great traffic to their blog owing to the sheer number of blogs and topics they cover. They’re ranked high on the blogging directories, but they’re not taken very seriously by their peers who wonder, do these bloggers have a life?
  • The prude: These bloggers think their opinion is special, and that it should be shared with the chosen few who really deserve it. So they blog selectively, read other blogs selectively and leave intellectually superior comments on them to distinguish themselves from other casual readers. If their inspiration ever wanders from their favorite topic, they quickly rein it back in, or write about it on another blog… dedicated to that topic. These bloggers are quite passionate about their topic, and are often quite good. They have a relatively smaller but loyal following, because readers either love their blog or go “yawn”!
  • The babe: These bloggers have it nailed. They may or may not be extraordinarily intellectual or creative, but they are certainly loved by all. They are consistent but not afraid to experiment. They read a lot of other blogs and leave insightful comments. They flirt too, they wing it too, but they pull it off so well that you feel they really read your blog and empathize with you. They have mastered the delicate and slightly flaky ways of the blogging world. These bloggers have everything—high traffic, high directory rankings, genuine readers and genuine admirers… including me. I wanna be you!
  • The wallflower: These bloggers are a little shy, a little conscious of their writing skills and a little too proud to market themselves. After all, their blog rocks! They lurk at the corners of the blogging world, quietly typing away at blogs, upset that there is no respect for talent anymore. They detest the sluts for getting all the glory, pity the prudes for their superiority complex and love-hate the babes for being so perfect. The wallflowers often have well-designed, intricately thought of blogs, and if you ever chance upon one, you’ll probably stay a while. If you ever find them, that is. Blowing your own trumpet isn’t so bad all the time.
  • And finally, the hot-cold: These bloggers—and I’m one of them—are confused. We passionately write four blogs in three days and then disappear for a month. We write about this and that. We pounce on one or two blogging contests but feel like we’re intellectually whoring by participating in too many of those. We sometimes leave inspiring comments on blogs we really enjoy, and sometimes leave comments on lukewarm blogs because that blogger did so on ours. We often lose the opportunity to repeat traffic because we’re either forgotten by the time we write again or write about something entirely different. So our traffic is often sporadic and our blog makes you wonder what it’s all about. Thankfully, most hot-cold bloggers are often new in town and eventually find their own personality, their own gang and hopefully, their muse.

So who are you going home with tonight?

Blog Directory BlogJunta- where Bloggers meet

5 ways Cosmo can help you be a better blogger

Like reading that infamous magazine at salons or secretly flip thru your spouse’s flush-tank library in the privacy of your bathroom? If you learn a few tricks from them, you just might get more clicks and likes on your blog.

1. Catchy titles. If you’ve read at least two Cosmos, you know what catches your attention. No, you don’t need to restrict yourself to writing about sex or steamy secrets to grab those (eye) balls, but choose a fascinating topic or a fascinating title to sell your un-fascinating topic. If it sounds controversial or like a self-help guide, it will arouse people’s curiosity, for curiosity doesn’t just kill cats. It kills time, too.
2. Philosophy-proof it. Ever had Cosmo preach you on morality or attempt a profound topic on your place in the universe? If people wanted to know the answer to life, they surely wouldn’t be browsing through their Facebook newsfeed or Gmail notifications to click into your blog. They want an easy, mildly intellectual entertainment. So entertain them. And keep a private journal of your philosophical arguments so you can laugh at them decades later. (Really? You thought they served single malt scotch in heaven?)
3. Timing is everything. See how they publish articles on how to keep your man from straying just when a celebrity cheating scandal hits the stands? Stay updated. Also, if you’re a FB blog promoter, remember that most people only see the top few items on their Facebook newsfeed, so put yours in the top five when they have the time to actually read it. Do not post just as office hours are starting or ending, or as weekends are beginning or ending, or when people are most likely catching their workouts or sleeping.
4. Photos. A picture speaks a thousand words, right? And no one has time or patience to read a thousand words. Admit it, you didn’t really pick up your first Cosmo for reading. So get clicking.
5. Lists, lists, lists. Cosmo has immortalized lists, and for a good reason. Your friends would rather get in on the hot gossip on their newsfeed than read a lengthy, wordy blog on why you love dolphins. So keep it short and bullet-point it to make it easier to browse through. Choose a nice-sounding number of steps (5,7 and10 sound better than 4,6 and 8; 3 is too short and anything more than 10 is too long) and make sure your title says ‘x-steps to …’ to tell people it’s a list.

Never thought that the quintessential waiting room mag could actually do more than help you kill time, right?
You’re now ready to celebrate this in 7 ways…

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