Acts of Bloggery

Still thinking through what it means to use our gifts (in my case writing, for example) to be a blessing to others. Every so often I feel this overwhelming need to justify my blog. It’s probably guilt because I assume I should be doing more writerly things on here. So here’s another reset on my blog.

Now, don’t get me wrong, blogging is sooooooo 2003, especially in the age of FaceBook and Twitter. There’s a discipline to writing and it’s probably the only disciplined thing I do in my life. I’ve watched my blog morph over the years. Lots of random essays (a smarter writer would just sell them) and for a long time a series on singleness and dating (which a smarter writer might have packaged as a non-fiction book … and sold). It’s pretty much whatever I’m thinking about at the time:

-writing related stuff (which at the moment would boil down to my incessant need to procrastinate with projects when there is no looming deadline)
-race related stuff (which considering that I’m leading a discussion on this topic at a church in a couple days would explain why various issues are on my mind)
-random interviews and profiles (which gives me an excuse to talk to interesting people)
-pop culture stuff (I still write reviews for
-church/religion (every time I get out, they keep pulling me back in)
-life stuff (since the Interwebz are forever, I figure if I write enough gibberish, my kids can get a sense of how I think after I’m gone)

Again, a smarter writer might have spun these out into dedicated blogs. Especially when said writer is astutely aware of the fact that he has two very different audiences: one largely comprised of followers of his spiritual musings; the other a fan of his fiction (with the two usually overlapping at Mo*Con)

But I’m lazy.

So I can get all angst-ridden about this being more writerly, even though I know that it is. I write about the stuff that interests me and undergirds the worlds I run in. Plus, if I’m thinking about it enough for it to end up in a blog, chances are it is a theme in whatever fiction I’m writing.

Some of My Highlight Blogs of 2009

I’m still stunned about how many words I commit to this blog in a year. As is the tradition around this time, each year I manage to summon enough ego to come up with a list of my best or favorite blogs that I’ve written over the course of the year. I define “favorite” as blogs which elicited the most discussion/angry e-mails. It’s a bit of a jump on point and, as usual, there’s a mix of spiritual, race, and writing discussions. In no particular order:

Emotional Affairs (AKA No Longer Just Friends) – Might as well get this elephant out of the room right off. There was much debate about whether I should have gone so public with so private a matter. Then again, have you met me?

Obviously, the blog took an introspective turn in light of this: Walls, Forgiveness Takes Time, God’s Failed Ambassadors, and Wounded Story Tellers. And I Hate(d) Nicknames.

“Just a Servant” – A few ideas on the idea of leadership.

Post-Racial Church: the myth and the hope – with all this talk about things being “post-racial”, the more things change … the more they stay the same

I’m Just Praying – Sometimes I just struggle with what it means to pray in faith

RaceFail ’09: Why horror ignores the elephant in the room – I keep saying I’m not going to wade into these debates, then somehow someone (read: Chesya) pushes the right button …

FNDP: Believing the Lie and Embracing the Truth – I still get requests to resurrect the Friday Night Date Place column. Maybe one day. However, this was a fave.

Belly Pride (Eat THAT Kate Moss) – Ok, I still giggle that my wife posed for that pic.

Oddest Places – My essay for the Spirit and Place Festival. You can also hear it read by me.

Happy Blogiversary

Today marks my five year blogiversary. Five years ago today, I declared that I hate blogs and LiveJournals because “I think that they destroy the writer’s mystique.” Of course, I follow that blog entry with a rant about “crazy @$$ squirrels” and then affirmative action before the space also doubled as a repository for my reviews for Hollywood Jesus. That pretty much set the tone for my first year.

As for a brief overview for the rest of the years:
My top ten best/favorite blogs of 2005
My top ten best/favorite blogs of 2006
My top ten best/favorite blogs of 2007
My top ten best/favorite blogs of 2008

In short, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve done enough “blogging about blogging” posts and am still stunned by the amount of words I put up on this space.

I pretty much imagine my blog as part magazine (one I’d call “M” similar to the way Oprah subtlely named her magazine), a mix of reviews, rantings, writing observations and personal stuff. Have I mentioned that I have no idea what I’m doing?

But I’d like to thank all of you who have kept reading this space.

Enjoying My Cigar

Ok, I don’t smoke, but I need some sort of after the novel ritual. I’m only in a quasi-honeymoon period. To catch those playing along at home up, I signed a three book deal with Angry Robot (HarperCollins UK), for an urban fantasy series entitled The Knights of Breton Court (a re-telling of the legend of King Arthur set in the streets of modern America). Imagine The Wire meets Excalibur. I just turned in Book One: Kingmaker. By December, I need to have Book Two: King’s Justice written as well as my anthology, Dark Faith, edited. Not to mention the inevitable re-writes (unless I can successfully convince my publisher that I indeed can crap gold).

(I love this “A Man and His Muse” photo taken by Surreal Photography)

So far I’m on schedule. Actually, I’m ahead of schedule (why editors love me). Then take a month to finish researching and plotting out the second one. Then I’ll take a couple months to do the writing. In the mean time, I’m allowing myself a couple weeks off. Probably catch up on a few blogs I have been intending to write.

So if you notice the blog postings getting a little erratic, you’ll know why. I may have the occasional guest blogger take over (anyone interested, drop me an e-mail) since I tend to go blog silent during the final push on a project. I get all focused on crossing the finish line.

Did I miss anything good?

[BIB/ReadersRoom] – Blogging about Blogging*

Today’s writing related question: Bloggers: how do you blog? Toss out a post whenever inspiration strikes, build up a reserve? Or have a set time of day? If so, when?

This is almost a twist on the question “how do you find the time to write?” (okay, it’s not really, I just really like that blog post). Actually, this question gave me all the excuse I needed to answer a different question: just how many words to I blog in a year. I finally got around to doing that math:

2005 – 168,000
2006 – 238,000
2007 – 189,000
2008 – 143,000

In short, I write about two novels worth of words a year in blogs (and now I also see why I fondly remember 2006 as my best blogging year. I went nuts with reviews and thinking A LOT about stuff, mostly my faith. Also that year my family faced A LOT of tragedy so I was

working through a lot of that. I find that a good chunk of the blogs I write today end up linking to blogs I wrote that year. I can also note that my production went down considerably in 2008 as I had more work to do in terms of stories requested by editors).

My blog started off as a weird competition between me and a friend of mine. It has since evolved (… uh, no, there was no scene involving an “I win! I win” dance) because blogging gave me a way to build an audience for my writing when I didn’t have much published at the time. And it has given me many other writing opportunities to do other writing. So, does blogging take away from my real writing time? No, I consider blogging PART of my real writing time.

I understand that the time I spend blogging is time that I could be working on a novel or a short story or an article. Last year I began being more methodical about my blog that would allow for regular updates, spontaneous blogs, and getting more story/paid writing done (since as of last year, I had a lot more editors asking me for stories).

I try to have a reserve of blogs set up in advance. Since there are times when I have more time to blog (usually between story/novel projects: I have found that it’s hard for me to blog regularly while “creating” new words/universe but I have no problems blogging while editing or revising a story). Unless it’s time sensitive, I spread them out over a period of weeks (if I’ve truly worked ahead). Right now, I have 2 – 3 week’s worth of blogs done as I gear up to write a story I promised an editor (more on that later if she likes the end result).

If inspiration (or need) arises, I go with it. But I’ve found that having a surplus helps because there are times when I have spent a lot of time thinking on one topic, say for example race relations, and end up writing a series of blogs on that topic. Then I spend a lot of time thinking about something else, for example, faith, and produce a lot of blogs on that topic. I’m well aware that I have a cross-pollinated audience who might not be interested in a protracted series on one topic, so by working on them in advance, I can sort them better (so that it’s not all blocks of reviews, or theology, or race stuff, or writing).

I also set things to post between 6 and 8 a.m. that way they are there first thing in the morning … when people arrive at work and are goofing off by cruising the internet (and also why you want you “big” blogs coming out on Mondays). However, I regularly violate another blog rule: the best blog length is about 300 words (500 at the outside). With pictures.

So yes, my blogging is part me being conscious of marketing myself.** However, as much of a bump as my blog traffic gets with regular posting or a particular blog getting a lot of links/exposure, it’s nothing like the marketing that comes with, you know, actual stories being released.

*“That’s like jerking off by thinking about masturbating.” –Richard Danksy
** “And wasted if you don’t have enough to market.” –Richard Danksy, in the name of tough love, because blogging shouldn’t become a replacement for the other writing I should be doing.

My Best Blogs 2008

As you can imagine, this is a busy time of year for me. Teh Interwebz rejoice at the fact that I haven’t been blogging at nearly my regular clip (though, I have found that if I’m working on new fiction, as opposed to editing, I can’t put my head towards any blogs or reviews).

Anyway, between Christmas parties, Christmas preparation, church and family duties, our church moving and making some major changes, Kwanzaa, New Years Eve party preparation, and Christmas deadlines as I wrap up a few projects to clear the deck for next year, I’ve been swamped (and weary). Although, now that I’ve wrapped up the most recent fiction project and before I begin my next, I’ve been thinking about a few blog themes for next year. I know that race will be a recurring theme probably tying in with the administration of our first Black president. I’m sure I’ll be having the spiritual thought or two, and I am waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind on reviews.

With that in mind, I see that everyone is turning in their best of 2008 lists. The only subject I can speak with any authority on is … me. So I give you, in no particular order, my best blogs of 2008 (a wholly subjective list with me defining “best” as the blogs which received either the most comments, most hits, or were simply my personal favorites):

Emerging Frustrations – as always, I both love and am frustrated by the church.

Spiritual Perspective on Culture – it’s just something I love to do. Ironically, a “criticism” I often get is that I can “find Jesus in anything.” I don’t really see that as a bad thing.

My Name is Earl: A Doubter’s Faith – this just spoke to where I can find myself all too often. And it’s not necessarily a bad place.

Fundamentalist Atheism – I really liked this blog though apparently some of my atheist friends weren’t as keen on it as I. Then again, once I posted my An Atheist and a Pastor Go to a Convention series, I think it became more apparent the kind of atheism I was talking about. Sure, I could have simply called it “Militant Atheism”, I just love the juxtaposition of some atheists adopting the worst of the tactics they call out about religion.

Notepad Worship? – I just like it.

Why I Haven’t Self-Published – yeah, I got letters on this one.

Not Dancing to the Tune of the Pied Dobson – okay, I got hate mail on this one.

The situation of homelessness weighs on me, be they Panhandlers or simply their state of Invisibility.

Some Fools Exhaust Me – During my nearly three year tenure writing for, no column was praised more. Though it’s strange sitting in a restaurant and having white men in business suits come up to you and say “black people, we do not get to pee on our youth!”

Yes, I’m Still Pro-Life. Are You? – um, did I mention the hate mail?
The Burning Ceremony – a personal favorite. Dedicated to far too many of the ladies in my life. (True Beauty was another personal favorite though).
God of the Boobies. Come on, you HAD to see that coming.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

From the Weekend Reach Around: I DECLARED AN ANTI-EMO TWEET DAY!!!

Consider me invoking what I call the Brian Keene disclaimer: “The following people should not read this entry … People who often read themselves into the things I say, even when I wasn’t talking about them. Seriously, if you are the type that says, “Oh, I wonder if he means me?’ then stop reading now … Indeed, the people I’m talking about probably won’t even realize that I’m talking about them. So don’t start inserting your name.” Then again, if you see yourself in this, do something about it.*

Saturday I declared a random anti-emo tweet day (yes, similar to my random declaration of a South Park Day) over on my Twitter account. One of the reasons I didn’t want to get a Twitter was because it was another avenue for needless, self-created drama to enter my life. Tweets that may indicate dramatic behavior:

“I would like to dedicate this half line of lyric… to… you know who you are…”

[insert vague emo tweet to rile folks up enough to IM, text, and e-mail me]

no, this mysterious tweet is not just me attention whoring …

why yes unfriending me on facebook and/or myspace constitutes real drama in my life

tweeting melodramatically sure beats a person just being honest and saying “could someone check in on me?”

as my final tweet on anti-emo tweet day, is there a word to describe twitter drama or emo tweeting?

By the way, here were some of the suggestions: twitter flouncers, twama, twemo and referring to those emo tweeters as twaddicts, theatwits or twats.

It’s just another sign of how the Internet is not everyone’s friend, leaves people prone to blog gossip, and allows keyboard courage to emo types. Yes, it had been a frustrating week.

*It was either that or invoke the John Scalzi disclaimer: As advance warning, this entry might be douchebaggishly egotistical, but, well. You should be used to that by now.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

What if I had a Twitter …

“I ranted about this on my LJ a while back–I find it aggravating and pointless reading about the inconsequential minutiae of people’s lives, even people I like. What’s the point?” –Jack Haringa

Mmmm. Snuggle blanket.
I spend way too much time talking to the fish at my job.
The key to eating Total is warm milk and letting it sit for a while.
Losing at Killer Instinct to the six year old.
On my way to church. Again.
I’m blogging.
God save me … I might have to go to a Tweet Up now.
I just had to yell “Quit being so obnoxious with your love” to my son.
Do not make direct eye contact with me until you reach puberty.
I’m clipping my fingernails. And every other toe nail.
I’ve really got to call my mother.
Why am I on Shocklines?
I’m craving BW-3 teriyaki wings.
I’m blogging.
It’s naked daddy time. It’s naked daddy time! Where ya at?
I’m ashy.
Point, shoot, dribble, tuck to the left.
My laptop’s battery is overheating my crotch.
I’m twittering my life rather than living one.
Why, Lord, am I in the Taco Bell drive thru? Hast Thou forsaken me?
Crap! I have 57 hours and 9 minutes available on my DVR.
I’m blogging.
I obviously need more bran in my diet.
And now … a Hypnotiq break.
Something vague which causes all of my Twitter buddies to text me with concern.
Knowing my every movement is relational masturbation.
My, that’s a lot of lint in my belly button.
This has been an hour that I can’t get back.

“Twitter’s minutiae is the logical extension of blogging, social networking and texting. Soon everyone will know what everyone else is doing right this minute, whether it’s tying one’s shoe or eating an orange or being a little sleepy after class. Everyone will know, and no one will care.” –Nick Kaufmann

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Blog Comments

Blog Comments

I’m still getting caught up on life AMC (After Mo*Con). And I’ve been having computer issues.

Some of you have noticed that I turned the comments back on my blogger site. My original thought when I turned them off was that I wanted to drive the conversations from the various places this thing pops up in to a central location, my message board.

Still, as I’ve slowly come to realize, some tribes feel comfortable only on their own turf. Thus myspace folks only comment in myspace. LiveJournal folks only on LJ. And blogger folks on blogger.

But we’ll still be carrying on our conversations on my message board. Probably talking about you there.

Though I’ve undoubtedly missed out on some good conversations, I count on catching up in the long-tail. Yes, party people, the Internet is forever and new folks will always be stumbling over your blog posts.

(It also means that those naked pictures you thought were a great idea to take when you were twenty will still be around for your grand kids to see. Yay Interwebz!!!)

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Bob Freeman is Nuts

So I am going through my normal procrastination ritual of reading some of the hundred or so blogs I’m subscribed to, when I run across Bob Freeman’s blog entry on how he blogs. It’s a question folks like Bob and I get from time to time that I know quite a few folks wrestle with: how do you blog?

I blog just like Bob.

Except completely different.

God bless the writers who can just sit down to a blank page, completely unintimidated, with just an idea, and just start writing, because I couldn’t do that. I need a map, some sort of guide even if it’s just a rough sketch to keep me somewhat on point (or at least make sure I reach a point). It’s not always the case, but I bet you can tell when I don’t at least sketch out my thoughts first, else they pretty much stay the same half thought out idea they began with (this blog began with “Bob is nuts”).

Does blogging take away from my real writing time? No, blogging is PART of my real writing time. I understand what the asker is aiming at. The time I spend blogging is time that I could be working on a novel or a short story or an article, and that’s quite true. But it is still writing (and one day I’m going to calculate just how many words a year I generate in blogging alone and compare that with my “actual” writing output).

I blog on a variety of topics, mostly just whatever I’m thinking about at the time and I publish them in a variety of venues (Indy.Com, Blogging in Black, Hollywood Jesus) for greater exposure and because if I can make money by my writing I most certainly will (heck, I’ve even sold ad space on some of my older blog entries). But I can’t write the way Bob does.

My blog mentors, whether they realized it or not, were/are Nick Mamatas, Brian Keene, and Lauren David (she hates it when I point out that I began blogging as a weird sort of competition with her), thus the weird mix of topics. My blog is my professional face, often the first thing prospective editors and agents look at when they visit my site. I also blog with a distant eye on one day bundling up various blog posts and packaging them as non-fiction book proposals.

But I like I tell folks, there’s no hard and fast rule to this. Half the time I envy those folks who can sit down and write because (and this is my issue) I see them as more authentically artistic. The other half of the time, I wonder if they’re the same folks who talk about their works in progress in the blogs saying things like “I had to cut out 20K of words that didn’t work”. And then I thank God for my map (he says knowing that he’s about to sit down to re-work his first novel to cut 40K out of it because, like a typical guy, he didn’t stop to ask directions when he got lost).

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.