5 Awesome Blog Features

We are in a lull with our Monday content this week, and I had a crazy weekend of chattering on threads so I don’t have anything substantial loaded. But I don’t want to publish just a photo on a Monday, so here are five regular features at other blogs that I just love. And by the way, regular features are very helpful for keeping a blog rolling and developing a regular audience.

Taylor Grace’s “Posts I Loved this Week” is great for finding new blogs to read. It always features excellent blogs, and sometimes my own posts make the list.

Therefore I Geek’s “Around the Web” always includes a collection of geeky and interesting stories from (you guessed it!) around the web.

The Comic-Verse: Awesome Art and & The Top 15 Featured Links” at the Speech Bubble combines a roundup of comics links with high-quality images from Deviant Art. It’s an awesome feature, and our comics posts have landed on the list many times.weekendcoffeeshare

“#WeekendCoffeeShare” is a feature a lot of bloggers do on the weekend. The posts can be about practically anything, and the idea is to write them as though you were having coffee with someone and chatting. Part Time Monster (run by my sister Diana) hosts a weekend link-up for the coffee posts.

You can find “Top Ten Tuesdays” at several blogs, including the always-fabulous Write On! Sisters. It’s sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish, which hosts a weekly link-up for the posts and announces the topics in advance.

Got a favorite feature you try not to miss or one you use for your own blog? Tell us about it on the thread!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I own the most books from.

Each week the good folks at The Broke and The Bookish host a meme post called Top Ten Tuesday. This week, we’re listing the top ten authors we own the most books from. Here are mine:

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1. Stephen King tops the list because, when I was a senior in high school, someone I knew was cleaning out her library and sold me first edition hardbacks of most of his early work (Carrie through It) for $0.50 apiece. I’ve added to the collection since then. I also have the illustrated Plume Book Club editions of the first four volumes of the Dark Tower series. He’s the only author who rates two complete bookshelves in my very small apartment library.

2. J.R.R. Tolkien is second because I just have a lot of his work. I have two copies of LOTR: The groovy 1970s boxed set that was read to me as a child, and which no one is allowed to touch; and an indexed hardback version I use for reading. I also have The Silmarillion, The 2-volume Book of Lost Tales, Unfinished Tales, and The Tolkien Reader, a collection of his poems and essays.

3. Ernest Hemingway, surprisingly, is third. I have a ton of his novels. The Hemingway books I go back to are For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Moveable Feast, a series of vignettes about his life in Paris in the 20s. For Whom the Bell Tolls contains perhaps the greatest single chapter of fiction in all of 20th Century American literature, and I consider A Moveable Feast to be Hemingway’s finest work.

4. Neil Gaiman may actually be third. I didn’t really count, but I know some of these books are actually Diana’s, so I just put him in as #4. I have both of his short story collections, Coraline, electronic versions of the entire Sandman Series, both American Gods novels, and Stardust. I’ve read Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which I recommend), but don’t own them at the moment.

5. Jasper Fforde makes the list because I fell in love with his Thursday Next series a couple of years ago and either bought or downloaded them all. I enjoy his brand of humor and his meta-fictional approach to these novels. They’re quick reads, and they are worth it.

6. Roger Zelazny‘s Chronicles of Amber and Second Chronicles of Amber are important reads if you want to understand the fantasy genre — especially the development of low fantasy. I have both in two hardbound editions, and it adds up to 9 or 10 novels, all told. I’m counting each novel separately, just to get him on the list.

7. Fritz Leiber is just as important as Zelazny, but in a different way. I have all his Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser novels in hardback, as well. If I ever find time to write more about books, I’ll certainly dive into them for some blog posts. They are extremely problematic, and ahead of their time. Popular fantasy would be entirely different if not for these books.

8. C.S. Lewis should probably rank higher. I have his Narnia series and several of his more overt tracts. I’ve read all of his fiction and most of his Christian apologetics. I ended up with copies of many of them, though I haven’t actually turned a page of Lewis’ work in more than a decade.

9. Flannery O’Connor is here because I am sure I have all her short stories and both her novels. She’s the best writer on the list, in my mind. She’d be #1 if her work didn’t fit into so few volumes. I consciously collected every word she ever published when I was in my late 20s.

10. Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman are the co-authors of the first few novels in the Dragonlance series.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the first two Dragonlance Trilogies (Chronicles and Legends), despite the fact that they are some of the most poorly-edited published novels I’ve ever encountered. They’re just what you want in pulp fantasy. TSR turned the franchise into a money pump, and it really went downhill when they did, but Weiss and Hickman have a fantastic command of basic storytelling. The characters in the first six novels have real relationships, and when Dragonlance characters die, it actually makes you sad.

Honorable Mentions:

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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Blogging Confessions

The good folks at The Broke and the Bookish have a weekly meme post called Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s topic is blogging confessions, so I really must join in. Here are ten confessions from me.

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1. I need absolute silence to write. I can tolerate a low level of white noise such as an aquarium pump. Music, never. If there’s noise around and I must write, I tune it out and write more slowly.

2. Sometimes I blog about political things. I am always conflicted about that, right up to the moment I press the publish button. I have a strict rule (80/20 max) about the ratio of pop culture and social media content to political content here. I don’t want to be a political blogger. Usually, when I write about political stuff, it’s because I’m looking at something that I view as either too ugly to let pass or patently ridiculous.

3. I’m not really a social media wizard, despite the persona. I’m a speed-reader, I’m good at research, and I have a talent for figuring out what works and sticking with it until it doesn’t. I also have a talent for letting things go when they don’t work.

4. I’m always stressing out about not reading and commenting on other blogs more. The kind of social media network I want is one that runs on interaction and reciprocity. I often feel like I am not holding up my end.

5. I blogged at Blogspot, years ago, under a pseudonym. Later I had a WordPress blog for a few years that I’ve since deleted. During that first WordPress phase, I was experimenting with cross-network engagement, but the tools weren’t there to make it workable for a guy with a full-time job to manage.

6. Diana, my sister, credits me with the idea for these blogs. I suppose that’s fair enough. I never would have jumped back into blogging, though, if I hadn’t had contributors offering to pitch in and if Diana hadn’t pushed me along. When she called me last October and told me she’d started blogging, I kicked my own plans into high gear.

7. I wish we’d blogged for the first month, but not published anything. We’d likely still be a couple of weeks ahead and the last 8 months would have gone much more smoothly. I also wish I’d taken the number of photos I’ve taken this summer last summer before we started. An archive of original images is a real asset.

8. My goal from the beginning has been to get three blogs posting every day, keep them posting every day, and answer comments. Aside from a couple of hiccups, I’ve managed to do that with the help of contributors and by virtue of the fact that one of those blogs is Diana’s responsibility. I’m proud of this accomplishment.

9. I just love Twitter. If I suddenly found myself the sole content producer for all the blogs I contribute to, I’d keep one going, post every couple of days, Tweet like a madman on the days I wasn’t posting, and grow my Twitter following to 100k.

10. I am amazed at the awesomeness of the bloggers I’ve met since I started. Absolutely amazed. The conviviality and the conversations on the threads are my favorite part of blogging.

10 Memorable Fantasy Books and Series: Top Ten Tuesday

The great folks at The Broke and The Bookish have a feature they call Top Ten Tuesdays. I’ve wanted to join in for a couple of weeks, and since today’s theme is “Choose Your Own Topic,” I decided to whip something up. These are the ten fantasy books/series that I find most memorable.

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Hands-down my favorite fantasy book of all time.  It’s packed with beauty, tragedy, altruism, and hubris. It’s the book that made me want to write fantasy.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.  It’s a series of stories about Dream of the Endless, known to some cultures as Morpheus 😉 Dream has six siblings: Destiny, Death, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium. Destiny’s as old as the universe, and the rest are only slightly younger. As you might imagine, their family dramas can be intense.

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire doesn’t need much of an introduction. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment. I like the intrigue and the elements of realism he brings in, such as having a lot of maimed and disfigured characters. You’d totally expect that in a world that’s wracked by war and plague, but not all fantasy is this well-drawn.

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