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People who use WordPress seem to love it or hate it.  Love it because it’s a simple, easy, accessible format.  Hate it because it’s formatted and hard to customize beyond rather narrow parameters.  Love it because it gives them easy access to other bloggers.  Hate it because it’s not easy to access bloggers in other systems.

I’ve been doing this weekly blogging thing for two years and mostly I’m content with the system.  I don’t have to bother with things I don’t want to worry about.  I’ve managed to learn to use the tools I need and the rest don’t get in my way.  I appreciate the editing check before publishing (even when I don’t agree).  I occasionally find a gem of a site in the recommended links.  I’ve also found some wonderful “blogging buddies” several of whom have since left the WordPress fold.

However, this week I’m apparently on WordPress’s “watch list”.  They closed down my second blog.  I’ve posted about it.   where I took on the challenge to write 50 book reviews in one year.  Apparently they think I’m either selling something or in serious copy-write violation.  Who knows?  They don’t actually say what the offense is, other than somewhere in their list of rules and guidelines a rule has been broken.  Or at least bent to the point of needing some checking.

How do they even figure this stuff out?  Maybe one of the authors or publishers of one of the book reviews I wrote googled themselves and didn’t like what I posted?  Three people this weekend posted questions to Facebook about books I’ve reviewed and I commented referring them to the site, was there a sudden spike in traffic?  (One NOT caused by being “freshly pressed”.)

I do use an Amazon affiliate link to post links to Amazon.  I mean it’s a book review site!  Where else are people going to find the books?  Anyone reading book reviews does not NEED an Amazon ad to know they are there!  Posting links this way is easy (it’s how I figured out how to DO IT.)  Posting links to the library (where I get most of the books I read) is HARD, and probably counts as an affiliate too since it would be MY library and not at all useful to readers.

I put up lots of links to Wikipedia too, but apparently that’s okay.  The “recommended links” at the bottom of the page are often paid sites as well, but I guess since I’m not getting a cut……..   Anyone on WordPress knows their spam folder is full of WordPress sites actively promoting “getting rich off your blog.”  Somehow there is a serious disconnect here and I don’t think it’s really mine to fix.

I’ve never actually been issued any money from Amazon since I never told them where to send the $0.33 credit on the account.  The obvious conclusion based on the evidence is that I’m running a business here without buying the business site!  Add to that I’m in Minnesota and Amazon (leading the pack)  has terminated payment to all affiliate accounts linked to the State because of a new tax law.  What a threat I am to profit-making.

Of course after this post they could close this site down as well.  I don’t think I did any name-calling, but I know you all heard the tone.  I probably did more “advertising” for Amazon affiliates in this one post – without any links to Amazon even the “recommended” one – than in total at the other site!  Hopefully this is all in error and the “surely you must be mistaken” email I sent will result in a quick return to access.  How else am I going to keep up with those reviews?In the meantime,  WordPress, you’re on MY “watch-list”!


****   Look, they got back to me before noon!  It’s nice to know that the review team is almost as on top of things as the automated “close down the blog” system.

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch.

Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. We have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

We greatly apologize for this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.

Little Stories

I watched I Remember Mama the other night.  The accents are off.  The audio was a little rough.  The movie itself is in black and white.  I loved it.   It struck me that this is a little story. I Remember Mama clip

from I Remember Mama

from I Remember Mama

I remember little stories growing up.  Rascal is a little story about a racoon.  There was another with pet skunk named Betelgeuse.  Erma Bombeck wrote simple stories, funny ones, about being a housewife.  The Little House on the Prairie series is really a collection of  little stories about growing up.  Even Profiles in Courage, whose author goes on to a large and dramatic life, tells a story simply.  (If you’re not smiling click the link and find out who that author is.)

We don’t see these little stories much any more.  There is still a human need for them, a demand.  The Chicken Soup for the Soul books are filled with stories that could be little, if they weren’t so dramatic or inspiring.  Reader’s Digest still prints an occasional “I’m just a normal every day person” drama with a rescue or recovery at the end of a great trauma.  Memoir has become a publishing niche.  That’s what I Remember Mama is, a memoir.  But the memoirs I have read seem written to highlight the unusual rather than the ordinary.  Every day, even painted with vivid colors and glorious language, is just not enough any more.

Are we part of someone else's little story or have we made it our own?

Are we part of someone else’s little story or have we made it our own?

But we all have our little stories and we still want to know we are not alone with them.  Where do we turn?  To the bloggers.  It is on-line in these blogs where our little stories play out.  They may not be as carefully crafted.  Time moves at a different pace in the blogosphere and the pressure to put something, ANYTHING, out there on a regular basis is pretty high.

The blogs we choose to read let us know that we are not alone in the world.  Other people have struggles, just like we do.  Other people have wonderful insights and moments of clarity, just like we do.  Other people can make us laugh, or cry, or reach out in sympathy.

The advantage of the blog is that most of them allow for comments.  The dialog is short.  But over time friendships form.  This is especially true when bloggers read and comment with their fellow bloggers.  There are several that I read regularly, a few I comment on pretty often but only one or two where I feel I’ve made a real friend.  That’s typical for me of friendships.

I know other bloggers who count everyone who’s a “regular” as a friend.   I feel that way too, but that’s a different kind of friendship.  Those are friends like a good book is a friend.  They are there to snuggle up with when I need a reminder that maybe my life isn’t so different from everyone else’s after all.  They are there to make me laugh or to remind me to look at the sun shinning through the clouds.  There are days when those commenters, those other bloggers, are my lifeline to the world.

I treasure the little stories.  I am grateful to share them, as well as my own.  I only hope that I can be that ray of hope, or little laugh, or small reassurance for someone else sometimes.  I like the idea of giving back when I have gotten so much from this blogging world.  So check out the other bloggers on my blogroll, and leave a comment here and there like breadcrumbs to a possible new friend.

Spring Fever

Old ferns and fiddleheads

When I started this blog it didn’t feel like I was doing a lot of writing.  Sure I was working on the book, sure I was doing my morning pages,  I was preparing for a workshop I was giving.  It just didn’t seem like a lot.  Today I feel like I’m doing a lot of writing.  I’m doing my morning pages.  I’m working on the next book.  I am trying to put together a workshop proposal or two.  What has changed?

Mostly what has changed is the season.  In the late summer and early autumn it makes sense to start pulling into yourself.  It feels “right” to be spending time putting your thoughts in order.  It feels good to be gathering and storing and bedding down for the long winter nights.

Now that it’s spring there are so many other things I’d rather be doing than sitting at my computer typing out words.  Even worse, editing and rewriting things that I’ve already put down onto my “pages”.

It's all about the attitude

Last week I talked about stepping out and I am really enjoying taking the time to get outside and walk.  I like having new things on my calendar.  Sadly, all these exciting new things make sitting down to write even harder.

My spiritual life is also taking another turn.  I am involved in a spiritual community project this week with the local COG council.  I’m taking on students again and need to prepare classes.  The workshop projects are expanding my circles.  I’ve found myself committing to working regularly with a new small group. (At least I’m not in charge of that one!)  Even my dreams are busy.

Pregnant with possibilities

Theoretically a writer needs input.  Something has to ‘prime the pump’ to get things started.  We’ve all seen blogs and Facebook postings that really have no impact or interest to anyone but the person writing.  I suspect I’ve written a fair share of those myself.  All the stepping out I’m doing will hopefully help keep my writing fresh, interesting and inspirational.

Beautiful Narcissus

I do want to connect.  I would like to inspire.  I love it when my readers “share” my blog on Facebook or recommend it to their friends.   I really appreciate the comments when my posts have been helpful.  (I also have appreciated a critique or two, but not quite the same way.)  I know that I can’t do that if I’m just stuck in my own head and my own house.

Two Tulips

I keep reminding myself that balance is not a static thing.  Balance is dynamic, always changing and adjusting. The balance that works in the fall is necessarily different than the balance that works in the spring.  With the season coming so early this year adjusting is just a little unfamiliar, but not impossible.

So I will find time to talk with friends.  I will find time to get outside and walk.  I will find time for my spiritual work.  I will find time to do some spring cleaning and maybe even gardening.  I will find time to read everyone’s blogs and post occasional comments.  I will find time, and inspiration, to write.

Hows that for an affirmation?

I'm usually digging through the snow hoping to find woodruff at the END of April!

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