Navigating the Blogosphere

Probably the first time most of us heard the word blog was in the book  Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, a cooking memoir in 220px-Julie_and_juliawhich Powell recounts her year of attempting each recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  The daily web log (blog) she wrote, she discovered well into her experiment, found quite a following. She turned it into her best-selling book, and then  Nora Ephron expanded it into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

And blogs took off. The blogosphere, a term coined in 1999 as a joke, is a joke no more. The population of this community of writers, now estimated at 172 million, has one million posts per day. There are different hosts, like Blogger, Blogspot, and WordPress, that  serve as platforms.  Blogging can be no more than an online diary–and probably not read by many more than the diarist–or a serious business with advertisements and real revenue. And since regular well-written posting is work, there’s no surprise that the blogosphere is now populated by zombie blogs, that is, blogs that died from neglect yet still stalk the internet super highway.

One of the pleasures of writing for Readers Unbound is that it has introduced me to other blogs, some by people I know, some I’ve stumbled across in my novel writing, and some that “follow” our blog, and so we often reciprocate. Today, I’m going to share a small sample. Perhaps you’ll find one or more you’d like to follow. You can look for other suggestions on the blogroll listed on the left side of this page.

Writer Unboxed: “Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. They often dissected complex books and movies, trying to hone in on what made them work so well… they decided to create their own forum where they could broadcast their observations anytime they wished. Writer Unboxed was born. They’re thrilled the site now includes contributors from all walks–from the not-yet-published to bestselling authors and industry leaders–and that it’s grown into such a rich community for writers.” (intro on About page)

My favorite part of this site is its craft articles, and my favorite contributor, bar none, is Donald Maass. What I love about his writing is first, his common sense explanations. Even better is the way he conveys his point–not by dry definition, but by vivid detail. Take for instance his discussion of a novel’s mid-point,  “The Bridge and the Tunnel.” In brief, he describes riding a subway train to work and observing the East River: “All that came before is falling behind. All that lies ahead still is indistinct.” But he uses this journey to demonstrate ways to find and use the novel’s mid-point. When I finish one of his articles, I feel as if I’ve both read a story and grasped its secrets.

Issue 35: Amanojako, Part 3, original art  by Cheryl Moore

Issue 35: Amanojako, Part 3, original art
by Cheryl Moore

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods : The Writer Gives Life to the Story, The Reader Keeps It Alive:“Unbound Boxes Limping Gods is the first in a series of speculative fiction manuscripts, for which I’m seeking publication. These short stories feature some of the characters in a time set before the novels.” (intro What Is This?)

Written by Cheryl Moore, this blog mixes short stories and illustration. There are multiple story lines with characters such as Abouna Panak, Desmond Naylor, The Guild Master’s General, and Patient “H.” I discovered Cheryl’s blog when she chose to follow ours. Hers is one of the most imaginative blogs I’ve seen. Dip your toes in it, and your feet will follow.

Southpaw Beagle Uncut: An Irreverent Spoofing of Right-Wing Bufoonery: The subtitle says it all. This blog would probably give Karl Rove apoplexy. A friend of mine is a contributor, but like mild-mannered Clark Kent, when she writes for this blog, she steps into a phone booth and sheds her clothes to reveal Gordita, the take-no-prisoners plus-size underwear model. Here’s part of her satire of the Anthony Weiner scandal, “Weiner’s Weiner Seeks Redress”:

A week after another sexting partner, Sydney Leathers, came forward with allegations against former Congressman Anthony Weiner, Weiner’s weiner has filed a complaint with the Fair Labor Standards Board asking to be paid for time he put in during his boss’ phone sex with twenty-something-year-olds across America. “And that doesn’t even touch on my right to be paid for my image being displayed to millions of people across the internet,” says Weiner’s weiner. “I mean, didn’t the chicks in Girls Gone Wild win some sort of lawsuit because they did not sign a release?”

Former Congressman Weiner maintains that his weiner’s charges are “complete bullsh*t.” “My weiner was a willing volunteer. At no time was there an employer-employee relationship…”

Hmm…Come to think of it, Karl Rove might like this one.

Eating Appalachia: Welcome to Eating Appalachia! I’m Jes, a lover of food, the outdoors, poetry, bicycles, my ex-feral cat Miss Dorian Gray, and a host of other things. …[In Eating Appalachia,] I wanted to explore more of the region I now call home. I’m a Georgia girl at heart, but Virginia has captured my imagination. Not to mention a certain lovely fellow named G. So what will you find on this blog? You’ll find oogles of delicious, creative, sometimes healthy & sometimes not so healthy vegan recipes—I love veganizing other’s recipes, I love hunting around for the most creative and soul-satisfying vegan recipes on the internet and in cookbooks, and I love love love inspiration from fellow bloggers (I love what blogging is all about—community & sharing & relationships). You’ll also find restaurant reviews of restaurants in Roanoke, the region, and across the globe. Eating out is a big thing in my life—I love food. Period, end of statement…” (from About)

Jes is a former student, and I love seeing how she’s changed over the eight years I’ve known her. This blog demonstrates her writing, cooking, and photography talents, but she’s a fine poet as well.

FYI:  Readers Unbound happens to use WordPress. The blog was free, except that I purchased the domain name. So…blog on and start writing, if you’re a mind. biosphere_centre_500_11578

What sort of blogs do you like to read? Have you ever thought about starting one yourself?


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