Sometimes we just need an award.

Buried in my comment folder over the holiday was a sweet little message:

Hi, I nominated you for the Liebster award. Please pass it on by seeing my post for directions.

It was from Meg of  Because I Said So (and Other Mommyisms). She is the queen of kid-focused, fun and cute crafts that are doable in an afternoon. One of my favorites are her paperback pumpkins. I am honored she nominated me for an award. Liebster is a German word meaning sweetheart, beloved person or darling. Sometimes a girl needs a little reminding that they are beloved, especially by people outside their family.

As a Liebster award receiver, I must do the following:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated/awarded me.
  • Answer 11 questions asked by the person who awarded me. (Meg only gave me 10.)
  • Nominate/award 11 other blogs with links.
  • Pose 11 of my own questions to my nominees.
  • Put the Liebster Award logo on my blog.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to come up with 11 interesting comments to pass on, but I can certainly do my best to answer the ones posed.

  1. If I had a million dollars, I would pay off my parents home, take my in-laws on a fabulous vacation and help my brothers with their student loans. (And pay mine off as well, of course.)
  2. What is the best gift you ever received? The best gift I ever received were meals from the many moms in my MOPS  group while on bed rest during my second pregnancy and for weeks after The Hare was born. It was such a relief to know that my family was taken care of while I was less than able to take care of them myself.
  3. What inspires you? I would honestly have to say my children inspire me the most. They inspire me to be a better person in order to model the type of women I hope them to be someday. Their determination, creativeness and athleticism also inspire me to step outside of my comfort zone, because after-all, if they can then why can’t I?
  4. If you could have a “do-over” in life, what would you try to do differently? That is such a hard question for anyone to answer, because by changing one thing in the past, you would change so much that came after. Of course I should have graduated college before getting married the first time, but then I wouldn’t have my beautiful Tortoise. And deep down I wish I had gotten a teaching certificate years ago, but then I might not have had the opportunity to stay home with The Hare. Of course, if I had made other choices, the life I had would be all I know.
  5. What is something that most people don’t know about you? As a blog writer, I don’t know if it is possible to have many secrets any more. I can tell you that I have eaten food that has dropped on the floor. It was of course, chocolate, enough said.
  6. What is your favorite magazine? I have two subscriptions, however, neither of them are a sit down with a cup of tea kind of reading. Runner’s World and  Experience Life 
  7. What is your proudest moment? Hands down, I felt the most proud crossing the finish line of my first half marathon this past June. It was well worth the effort.
  8. If your house was on fire, what one thing you would grab before getting out? The Hare and I recently had this conversation, actually. She of course wants to grab her favorite pillow and iPod. I just want my kids, husband and dog. Beyond that, everything else is either replaceable or just not that important.
  9. What are you most afraid of? I’ve always had a crazy fear of dying in front of my children. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I have had several terrible nightmares about all kinds of scenarios involving this fear.
  10. If you could have any job, just for a day, what would you do? I would be a travel writer on location at some fabulous beach-side spa resort. My day would include all the amenities the resort has to offer so that I could honestly write about them. Hmmm, I’m seeing a job change in my future.

Now it is my turn. I don’t like this part of receiving a blog award, because I have the hardest time narrowing down the list. There are too many people well deserving and I hate leaving anyone out. Hopefully all my regular bloggy buddies already know how amazing and dear they are to me. Here are 11 bloggers I think are pretty awesome, and many thanks for sticking with me this year even in my absence.

The Liebster Award goes to:

  1. What They Don’t Teach You in Deer River
  2. Agrigirl’s Blog
  3.  Not Just Another Mother Blogger
  4. idiosyncratic eye
  5. Mudpies and Sunshine
  6. Tuesday2’s Blog
  7. Nola Girl at Heart
  8. Inside Out
  9. Miriam Joy Writes
  10. Dances with Chaos
  11. Coming East

And as far as questions? Here are a few that are on my mind today, but please, feel free to write your own.

  1. How do you balance your creativity with your life?
  2. Why did you start blogging?
  3. Do you own more books in print or electronically?
  4. What kind of music do you listen to when you write?
  5. Which of your 5 senses would be the most devastating to lose?
  6. What is the worst advice you have ever received?
  7. What is the best advice you have ever received?
  8. What food comes to mind when you think of “comfort food”?
  9. Do you crave salt or sweet?
  10. What one thing are you most proud of from this past year?
  11. What one thing to you most hope to achieve in the next year?

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 56,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Guest Post by Emlyn Chand – 11 Steps to Better Blogging


For the full writing how-to series, click on this icon.

Blogging—the convention’s been around long enough that most of us are over how funny this quirky, little verb sounds. I’m sure you already know that a blog is; it’s an online journal in which people write and publish posts about their lives and hobbies and sometimes receive feedback from others. Knowing the definition of “blog” is the easy part—do you know what a blog can do for you as a writer? The answer’s simple: anything you want it to.

It happened for Julie Powell.  She began a blog, which got popular and became a book (and then the 2009 film “Julie & Julia”), and now she’s a career writer—the dream!

I’m definitely not guaranteeing that a big book-movie deal will spring from your blog, but it’s always a remote possibility (an important part of being a writer is holding out for greatness against infinitesimal odds—you have to be your own biggest fan).  At the very least, having a blog will boost your web presence, lead to valuable intra-craft connections, and keep you writing.

I’ve been blogging for for about a year and a half now but only recently set up my own private reading-writing blog on  Through trial and error and a lot of hard work, I’ve been able to get my blog to over 250 hits per day within less than two weeks.  You can’t put a price tag on that kind of visibility—especially if you’re an aspiring writer.

Here are 11 steps for getting the most out of your writing blog this year:

  1. Make your blog user-friendly—if your blog is easy to navigate, users are more likely to stick around and check out its offerings.  Tag and categorize your posts with clear and decisive labels.  Set up various subpages to further filter information, especially if your blog covers more than one topic.  It also helps to add in widgets that offer the viewer the option of jumping to posts by category or date.  These organizational steps combined with a bit of artistic flair give your site a more professional, authoritative feeling.
  2. Post regularly—you don’t want to be a sitting duck.  Make your blog interesting, dynamic, and relevant.  Post often, but not so often that you overwhelm your subscribers with update spam.  The biggest challenge for many would-be writers is getting into the habit of writing.  If you make it a point to blog 250 words per day, you’ll soon get into the writing groove.  Once you’re reliably posting that amount, you can increase the word count or designate some of your daily writing time to work on a novel or short story.
  3. Use the advanced spellchecker—this feature is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me as a writer—I’m not exaggerating! The advanced spelling and grammar checker is a God-sent.  Even though Microsoft Word’s standard spellchecker is a good thing to have, aren’t you sometimes frustrated when it doesn’t pick up a usage mistake (like “their,” “they’re” or “there”) just because the word is technically spelled correctly?  WordPress’s spellchecker can pick up on this type of usage error.  You can also customize its options to check for biased language, clichés, complex phrases, diacritical marks, double negatives, hidden verbs, jargon, passive voice, and redundant phrases.
  4. Pay attention to your site stats—Wordpress keeps track of a number of usage statistics, including your page views, top posts and pages, referrers (sites that led viewers to your blog via link), incoming links (other blogs or websites that permalink to your blog), clicks (links that viewers click on within your blog) and search engine terms. It’s easy to become mesmerized by the hit counter, watching it go up and up, and feeling giddy each time that it does.  However, the most useful stat is actually the list of top posts and pages.  It shows you which pieces of your site viewers are connecting with the most—pay attention and try to write more posts along those same lines.
  5. Engage your readership—if someone posts a comment on your blog, post one back.  Provide your viewers with advice, answers to their questions, and a sense of community.  Ask them what kind of content they would like to see on the site and listen to their answers.
  6. Add your site to blog search engines—blog search engines categorize blogs by topic and keyword, connecting those who have an interest in your blogging topic with your site and maximizing your visibility.  Some search engines require you to pay for their surfaces, some ask that you post a badge on your blog, and others ask for nothing in return.  If you want to see an example of search engine badges, click here and scroll down.
  7. Establish a fan page on Facebook—this will further increase your visibility and allow less web-savvy users access to your site.  Set up an RSS feed of your blog on your fan page and post regular status updates to intrigue users.  You can also guilt your friends and family into following you.
  8. Tweet, tweet, and tweet some more—I started using Twitter about a week ago.  At first I didn’t understand its benefits, but after reading an entire book which taught me how to mold Twitter into the platform that would best serve me (AKA “Twitter for Dummies”), I see that Twitter is perhaps my most useful networking tool for my work as a writer. Tweet about writing and topics on your blog.  Do a search of keywords and hashtags like #writing, #amwriting, #wip and the like to connect with other writers.  Build a following.  You can also channel your RSS feed to Twitter.
  9. Visit related blogs and post comments—it’s all about building a community of like-minded people.  Engage others who blog about the same topics that you do.  They just might come over and check out your blog.  Maybe you’ll find a new friend in the process.  One writing-publishing blog that I follow obsessively is  This site has a huge following with well-thought-out posts and an extremely active set of forums.
  10. Post on trendy or seasonal topics—I’m not asking you to completely change the focus of your blog and be a trend chaser.  Instead write posts about how the latest news or the current holiday season relates to your topic of choice.  One example would be the piece I wrote about resolving to read more in 2011.
  11. Create a team of blog contributors—by involving other writers on your blog, you’re doing something that is mutually beneficial for both parties. You’ll gain new content for your blog and maybe get a bit of rest for the day. Now let’s say that your guest writer has no blogging platform of his own—by posting on your site, he’ll reach the audience that frequents your blog, thus gaining some exposure for himself. If your guest writer does have a blog, he’ll reach your readership in addition to his own, plus his followers may hop on over to check out your blog. Win-win.

*Please note: Since I blog with (not .org—know the difference), some of my tips are WordPress-centric. You should still be able to take these tips and adapt them for other blogging platforms without too much difficulty.
That’s it!  As always I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have about this post or writing in general.  Happy blogging!

Emlyn Chand is the Lead Books Contributor for She is also an aspiring novelist, busily spinning her paranormal YA yarn, Farsighted, while seeking publication for her multicultural work of literary fiction, The Iron Pillar. You can learn more about Emlyn by visiting her website:

Pajama Days versus My Pajama Days

When I started this blog the name came easily. It had been imprinted on my mind for a long time before it ever came into fruition. I never gave much thought to a personalized header or logo and I especially didn’t think much of domain names or email addresses. Unfortunately, I wish I had.

Here I am six months later realizing that a simple google search of “Pajama Days” would have uncovered thousands of websites, blog entries, Facebook accounts and even a domain name (albeit undeveloped, someone own’s it!) There are a lot of blogging tips out there – some are high on my list while others really are just a matter of opinion and will probably not be implemented. This one though, my dear blogging friends – if you haven’t already, please take heed. Think about the blogs that you follow or recommend. I bet most of those have identical web addresses, emails and blog names, or at the very least their web address is simply the author’s name. Foolishly I didn’t do any of those things.

Here is my dilemma: Pajama Days or My Pajama Days? It is one silly little word, but would require a lot of changes. One of which, I can not change, of course, is my user name. That is actually the very least of my concerns since I have a web address reflecting that silly little word My. Besides, closing this account and reopening it under an updated user name seems ludicrous. What would happen to all of my subscriptions?  I really couldn’t believe how many places Pajama Days is used all over the internet…when this blog – these personal stories and observations all belong to me…this is My Pajama Days.

I wish I had read some of these blogs before I started blogging, and not after:

Things I wish I would’ve known by Amy Blam

Blogging Tips by Scary Mommy

A list of great writing resources found on Two Kinds of People

There are tons of other great blogging resources, but these just happen to be the ones I frequent the most. Let me know what resources you find notable.

So I am asking for help and advice from all of you veteran bloggers. What would you do? Would there be any great ramifications or confusion? What are my options?