blogging

What’s Your Favorite Scary Story?

I’ve spent enough time working commissions that my phone autocorrects everything to scarf or mitten.

I will be pulling this blog out of retirement.

Including the horror and folklore content.

Tell me about your favorite scary stories bonus points for things that came out of 2016.

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Memories

I don’t want to set up a theme for this month.

I have a love/hate relationship with themes. I love them in theory, it gives me something to work off of (especially for times like now, when I have no idea what to do and end up not doing anything). But I also tend to then get stuck and not do anything.

The idea of ‘past’ keeps coming up for me this week. That’s one of those statements that tends to end up scarily close to melodrama, but it’s true. The Edmund Fitzgerald went down 40 years ago yesterday. People have started uneasily talking about past storms because we’ve made it to snow season whether we want to admit it or not.

My readership base has shifted over the past few years, so I’m going to go through and repost seasonally appropriate posts and recipes-things that I still like, but haven’t seen the light of day in forever. And I’ll try to get new projects up on the site as well. Maybe this will help get me out of the noodle rut I’ve been in.

The Battle of the Monster Jars

Via Pixabay

Via Pixabay

I knew I had been gone from the blog for awhile but I hadn’t realized that it had been this long. My computer is slowly dying and it’s not making blogging a pleasant experience-and Mid needs to be gone for me to use the desktop. I also have been ‘doing things’, so while I do have things to blog about the time has been spent actually doing things.

I need to start to listen to my gut instinct.

I somehow was tasked with putting together a Halloween party. Nothing too over the top, nothing complicated, nothing horribly scary (the gore hound me began to cry). I saw an idea somewhere for monster faced jars-I won’t link a photo because you know at least some level of ethics. They were mass produced  however so I don’t feel totally horrible for taking the idea. The jar is beyond simple, just burlap ribbon, googly eyes and the jars.

Yeah. Well. If it doesn’t involve a wheel, sticks, or string. I’m going to fail at it.

That’s not exactly true. I would like to reattempt the project when I have glass bonding glue. I bought glue that didn’t -not- say that it worked on glass,  but I spent an hour making and remaking two jars, watching them fall apart over and over. You don’t know angst until you’ve started swearing at googly eyes.

Eventually I decided I like my blood pressure more than I like the idea of cutesy jars, so I layered orange burlap, yellow tissue paper, and parchment paper in the jars to make ‘candy corn jars’.

I’ll admit that they’re not my best effort. But I’m not having a stroke over them either.

Art and the Folkloric Mind

tumblr_nrajfwneSl1qkevp7o1_500I choose my Facebook cover art by what calls to me-the image has to instill some sort of intense, almost knee jerk intense, reaction.

I change the art roughly around the sabbats, though there’s no religious or spiritual angle to that. It takes me a couple of months to get tired enough of a picture to want to change it.

My current cover is the drawing above- Skull Crowned with Snakes by Henry Weston Keene. It is an illustration dating to 1930 for a novel by John Webster.

There is something about this image that makes me feel that this is the best fit for the period between Mabon and Samhain. Not for the obvious death/skull connection to the season, though it seems like everyone and their stock lists have thrown themselves into a frenzy over the sugar skull craze (a craze I’m of two minds about-I would love to find Samhain merchandise so I’m all for the extension beyond the secular Halloween, but on the other hand…I doubt Walgreens cares much for religious exposure. They do care about profit, though).

We have been watching Hell on Wheels (…and I might have already watched Depp’s Sleepy Hollow three times in the next week) and I have a weird personal theory that deliberately or not the show is telling Norse mythologies. That’s the type of mind set I’m in right now-I’m planning October’s blog theme in my head and while I want to do my normal ‘scary’ folklore I keep finding myself on what is sometimes called the Shadow path-where it’s not so much as scary as dark, and the dark is only scary because we’re trained to see it as such. The Shadow is actually a Jungian concept and its presence in our lives is actually an extension of our selves.

There’s definitely darkness to this piece, and admittedly something slightly overblown and overly ripe. But it’s also regal in a way, like if Death held Himself iron rod straight because He knows that regardless of how we play, He’s always going to win that hand. Snake is a personal symbol of mine, and Snake for me stands for awareness of self. I know I’m projecting, but art for me is about the personal as much as it is the intended symbolism. This is the Shadow for me.

I’m tempted to use the Hermit card as my blog image for next month. Let’s light these shadows, and see what the next spoke brings.

 

How I Beat Blogger Burn Out

blogger burnout

[This entry should be subtitled: or, housekeeping explaining the changes around here]

I’ve been mentioning off and on for the past few months that I’ve been under a lot of blogging related stress-in large part because of something I call blogger-plague.

Blogger-plague is the emotional firestorm that comes when you decide that since all the big name bloggers seem to be able to have professional grade photography, viral worthy projects, perfect personal lives, and an absolutely loving, supportive we’re-going-to-share-everything-you-post-even-if-it’s-an-out-of-context-photo-of-an-apple-core blogging network (I have honestly seen the same link shared 10 times by 10 different bloggers in my Facebook feed within a three hour period. As a reader, not a blogger, I can tell you I was annoyed enough by the end of the day, I didn’t click on it at all. Blunt, harsh, and probably against the whole point of a link share, but true-overexposure can tip into spam if you’re not careful), you must be doing something wrong as a blogger. I -know- I’m not the only one that faces this, I’ve read multiple entries on this subject from different people across the web about this during this summer and fall.

I seriously considered walking away from blogging, which I do because I enjoy it and ironically it’s supposed to be stress relief, because I felt like I was faking it and unworthy. If the Internet doesn’t care about me, why should I care about me?

But ultimately, I didn’t because I actually enjoy it. I did take a couple of steps to address it. This is what I did:

1. Confession: random number generators

Yes. That’s why, while I run two blog hops, the second only appears, well, randomly. Whether or not I post two hops is dependent on what a coin flip tells me. Whether or not I post a given day (other than Sundays or Tuesdays) is because of what a coin flip tells me. It’s a weird system, but it works for me, and keeps the blog up to date because there’s a 50-50 chance of posting that day.

2. Write What You Like

At some point I started writing about what I thought blog hop readers, ‘big’ bloggers, and social media wanted-and not what I wanted. I went the entire month of February without writing a single horror entry. Which is pretty impressive since this is as much a HORROR blog as it is a lifestyle blog. I gave up and decided to stop chasing trends-especially since I don’t like washi tape, bacon, or honey sriracha lime dishes-and suddenly found myself happier with the process.

3. Find the appropriate social media

I have about doubled my yearly hits, just between August and now. How? I found out that StumbleUpon loves paranormal entries and anything tagged bizarre/oddities. Loves it. I started sharing that content over there and suddenly achieve ‘normal’ blog status. This ties into #2-it’s not that nobody wants to read what I write, but there’s no point in denying I’m never going to be huge on Pinterest for my food entries.

4. Stop caring about stats-and especially stop caring about other people’s stats.

I’ve heard people complaining that they only got 10,000 hits a week. Dude, that’s what I get most months. Calm down. I hate being that blunt about it, but I’m not sure what we’re supposed to feel when I read these ‘confessions’. I became a happier person when I stopped caring. And that applies to my own blog-I’m already sitting at more than double the hits for November 2014 than for November 2013. I think I’m doing okay, and a slow day is just that-a slow day. They’re not all going to be record setters.

5. Don’t follow trends

I do fiber. I don’t do Pinterest crafts. We don’t have a huge family, so the Thanksgiving entries with huge amounts of food are sort of irrelevant in my life. I can’t have kids […ha, ha, nothing like dropping huge confessions, right? But seriously, it’s not a big deal. It might be for other people, and I understand why, but it’s not for me-but that’s a whole other series of entries] so parenting entries aren’t going to happen. I have issues with gluten but I don’t have Celiacs, I have no issues with meat though I acknowledge that we need to change the meat industry, and please don’t get me started on Paleo as a social historian. What I’m saying is that I was trying to be something that I’m not, and it was driving me crazy-and the quality of my writing was suffering. When I stopped, I was suddenly a happier person.

So the short of it is, I started writing about what I wanted-including the horror of Horrific Knits-when I wanted and a lot less often, and I was suddenly a happier, more productive blogger.

 

The Dark Side of Blogging: Why Blogging Shouldn’t Define You

keyboard-453795_1280

I’m driving myself insane.

I wish I meant that as an exaggeration, but there is a large chunk of me that is contemplating walking away from blogging for a very long time.

I need to re-center myself, and I need to not make this blog the center of that being.

One of the warnings that some of the more experienced bloggers will give you, and I think that it really needs to be stressed again, is that you need to be a person that blogs, not a blogger-or you’re rapidly going to find yourself frustrated, hurt, and ultimately dissatisfied with something that should be an enjoyable experience.

A lot of bloggers will monetize, and then they spend their time chasing statistics. I don’t monetize in part because I don’t want that pressure-but I don’t avoid my statistics and that’s part of the issue. I have somehow linked my value as a person to the number of hits I get in a day (because that’s totally logical, am I right? Your voice is only worth reading if it gets 1,000 hits an hour, isn’t that a truth?)

Of course it’s not. And the blogging world has gotten a little whackadoodle over the whole thing. A blogger that I respect pointed out recently that part of the problem with the blogging world is how similar its become-there really is no thing as a voice. It’s the same three giveaways working their way around, the same sponsors asking people to make cheese dishes, the same themes showing up at the same time.

I admit that maybe I’m swimming against the stream, but it’s very frustrating to put a lot of time (a LOT of time, when this isn’t your primary job)  to then feel like I’m failing. For something that’s supposed to be a stress relief and an outlet, it causes a LOT of stress. So much second guessing, so much wondering, so much questioning. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be an effort, but I shouldn’t feel like less of a person because I haven’t hit on the ‘perfect’ balance of PR and the rest of my life to get 5,000 people to want to link up to my blog hops.

Here is the question that needs to be asked when you start thinking that because your blog is slow (or no one wants to link up to your blog hop, or someone makes a snide comment on Pinterest about your photography): who would you be if your blog was just to disappear? What would you want to be known for if you woke up and the Internet just didn’t exist? Those are the things that are important, not the statistics of your blog. If you run a blog hop, can you tell someone how many people linked up to the entry the 3rd week in October last year without looking it up? That’s the point: if in six months, or a year, or five years, you can’t remember  your day to day statistics, then it shouldn’t be front and center of your social life.

I really don’t want someone to stand up at my funeral and say, Katie was an awesome blogger. The world is a better place because she tried to run two blog hops a week. Such dedication. And man, did she know how to run Picmonkey. I want them to talk about my volunteer activities, my dedication to my friends, maybe my intelligence or grace.

This is a very large Internet, and people flow like water-just because they’re not here now doesn’t mean that they won’t ever be. Don’t let the darker parts of blogging steal your light.

For the sake of full disclosure, it’s not just this blog that’s suffering. I burned a cake for the first time in close to a year. It’s been a frustrating day all the way around.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends (Friday)  and  Fall into the Holidays (Tuesdays)

Linked to-

carolyn’s homework

Stumbling Into Stumbleupon

stumbling into stumbleupon

Yes. I know.

Yet another social media platform.

I have to admit, I’m really, really late in adopting Stumbleupon. I understand that getting page views and unique visits is dependent on getting your links out to as many places as you can as quickly as you can, but I don’t, frankly, have time to play the social media network game the way that it needs to be played to be effective.

Then someone liked my pickled onion post on Stumbleupon and I suddenly was looking at stats that were up to a 1,000 hits higher a day than before. For a blog this size of mine, that’s huge. Absolutely huge.

This is not a primer on Stumbleupon usage, because I’m still too new at this for it to really function that way. And I will say that I’ve heard that it’s really variable; some people will have a wonderful experience with a flood of hits and other people will just have a trickle. But a hit’s a hit, so if you have time, it might be worthwhile.

1. Set up an account

You do have to have an account-and for more reasons than just uploading your own links (which you have to be careful with doing, anyway-but more on that in a minute). Stumbleupon seems to like feeding your links to more people the more you like other people’s links.

2. The dreaded browser bar

Yes, stumbling is easier if you download their bar. There’s also a free phone app for stumbling other people’s links. And then actually use it.

3. You have to stumble other people’s content

I have to admit, stumbling a few times a day is not a huge deal for me. I use the phone app when I’m on break or lunch, and I actually like looking at random web pages so for killing some time at home, it’s not a huge deal.

This is completely unscientific, but I have noticed that I get a lot more Stumble traffic on the day that I’ve stumbled and liked other site’s materials.

4. Don’t stumble too much of your own material

This is one of the big issues with stumbling over pinning. Stumbleupon doesn’t like too much self-promotion. You really have to make sure that you weight your likes and additions heavily towards other people’s media.

5. It’s really, really, really variable

There are some people who have told me that the majority of their traffic comes from stumbles. There are some people who have told me that Stumbleupon usage did nothing but clog their spam filter and gave them litte to no hits. I think that any hits are good hits, but there are some days where Stumbleupon will give me close to 2000 hits and other days where I don’t get any.

6. Networking

Networking doesn’t seem to matter as much on the site proper (though like point 5, everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter and they’re all different) but it matters a LOT offsite. Because you really have to have a light hand with your own content (think: a link or less a week, not a link or less an hour) you have to have people willing to upload your link onto the site. Depending on how you do your blogging networking, that may or may not be an issue for you.

7. Click throughs

Stumbleupon users do tend to seem to engage more than other platform users. I have noticed that since I started using Stumbleupon, my blog roll gets a lot more activity, I get a lot more entries opened, and there seems to be more shares onto Pinterest.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends!

Linked to-

delineate your dwelling

a round tuit

that’s what che said

huckleberry love

flour me with love

frugal by choice

memories by the mile

mamaldiane

mabey she made it

someday crafts

lambert’s lately