Blog Comment Specialness and Link Party!

“Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” – Aristotle

Bourchercon is going on this weekend, and I’m not there. I’d be lying if I said that I was fine and dandy with that. It’s the first genre-specific conference I attended, after my brilliant friend Robert Ward demanded I go, and I’ve been in love ever since. I hadn’t yet started blogging (Wait… Life existed before then?!?), and where I learned the value of being submersed in a community who accepts, encourages and seems to truly get you.

My bit of blah has reminded me of my favorite perks of social media: friendships and community. From the time I started pursuing writing professionally until late 2011 B.B. (before blogging), I found myself in lonely slumps every so often. I was happy overall, mind you—more gratified by my creative and professional life than ever before. I still am. But even the most wondrous life events can’t fulfill us without cherished connectedness with others; I finally get that.

When those slumps occurred back then, writing seemed like necessary medicine and an escape. It was truthfully, at best, a temporary fix and a distraction. Everything benefits from connectedness with others, our work included. That’s where you all come in. While there’s no substitute for in-person mingling, I no longer have to wait months or more to feel a sense of community.

Helen Keller quote

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth articulating again. I’m crazy grateful for the support, friendships and interaction social media provides. You all are a special breed of awesome! There have been countless times when I’ve felt a bit down or frustrated about one of life’s bumps and someone (likely one of you!) on the inter-web uplifted me—often without have a clue that they did so. Difficult happenings seem more tolerable when we share them. Good news morphs into magnificence. And those of us who spend a heck of a lot of time working solo can rest easy, knowing we’re part of something spectacular—a community of likeminded, like-hearted people who have our backs.

Sure, social media also brings challenges. We’re just as likely to run into heated debates and rudeness as we are in “real” life. Sometimes it’s worse, as people feeling somewhat anonymous may spout out nastiness they’d never say to your face. But as with the rest of the world, we can choose what we focus on, and whatever we choose grows. Add to that the fact that we tend to attract people with commonalities, and I’d say that the social media world is a pretty dang magical place.

On Monday, I noticed that I’d received my 10,000th blog comment. The person who posted it is special for numerous reasons. Though we’ve never met in person, I consider him a pal. He’s friendly and supportive, has a keen sense of humor and posted one of my most cherished comments to date a while back. I hope I’m not embarrassing him by sharing it, but I think you’ll see why I value it so much:

Comments like these are fuel! Thank you, David.

Comments like these are fuel! Thank you, David.

*reaches for tissues* See what I mean??? David also has a blog you should all check out if you haven’t, and a brand-spankin’ new release! I hope you’ll pop by his blog living room and say hello. You can also follow him on twitter: @davidnwalkertx.

And now…

LET’S PARTY!

To take the celebration further, I’d like to have a little link-share party. To participate, post one link you’d like to promote in the comments below. (More than one will send your comment to spam-land, and that’s no place to party.)

You have two options: Share a blog post of your own that made you laugh, smile or SQUEEEE!, due to the post itself or people’s comments. Or share a post you read that totally made your day—then let that person know you did so. Then stick around or pop back later to check out others’ links and keep the support and fun flowing!

Thanks again to ALL of you for the continual support! The fact that you take time out of your day to consider my thoughts and words then share your own means more than I can say. To the many more of you who don’t post comments or interact with me elsewhere, please know that you mean just as much! It’s many writers’ dream to have their words and stories not only in existence, but read. You are magic. ♥

Thoughtful Blog Reading: Habits and Perks

Thoughtful readers can transform desert-like blogs into decadent desserts.

If you maintain a blog, you probably remember the first time you filled up a draft page then hit publish. Perhaps you worried that no one would read your post—or that everyone, including your mother-in-law, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and neighbor you pissed off, would. In either case, I bet you felt a rush when comments and subscribers trickled in. (Well, depending on the comments… ;)) Your readership has probably grown since then and with it, your appreciation.

When Raani York nominated me for the Reader’s Appreciation Award, I was giddy—and not just because she’s a terrific gal. Any chance to say THANKS to readers is well worth it. First I thought I’d share the makings of a thoughtful reader and the super perks of being one.

Thoughtful blog readers tend to…

…read, rather than glimpse at, posts.
…choose and read posts with titles or topics they’re intrigued by or care about.
…post genuine, heart-felt or hilarious comments.
…share desirable blog links on community sites, like Facebook, Twitter, WANA International and Google+.
…subscribe to blogs they enjoy.
…visit beloved blogs often.

Benefits of Thoughtful Blog-Reading

Fun, inspiration and education: With the many millions available to us, it’s not difficult to find blogs that strike our funny bones or hearts. We can learn about animals from Amy Shojai, glamping (glamour + camping) gear from Natalie Hartford, surviving a creative existence from Chuck Wendig and building online communities and platforms from Kristen Lamb. Doing research for a new novel? Why not seek out blogs related to your topic? Yes, we should keep in mind that we’re reading blogs, not textbooks or the New York Times. But  you know what? I’ve learned a heck of a lot from blogs and blogging friends.

Friendships and community: We can make friends, and not merely with the bloggers we follow. I’ve encountered fabulous new blogs I read regularly now, after admiring their thoughtful comments on others’ posts. Our comments could spark conversations, inspire more blog posts (hopefully with proper credit ;)) and gain attention from readers throughout the web. You just never know who’ll read your comments, follow you on Twitter or “Like” you on Facebook in response to your thoughtfulness.

Reciprocation: Supporting others through thoughtful comments and shares tends to bring that boomerang directly back. It’s not the main reason we should read and support blogs in my opinion, but it’s definitely an added perk. The more we give, the more we’re likely to receive.

Gratification: It feels good to support others, particularly when we believe in the work. I read posts by numerous bloggers who’ve never, to my knowledge, read mine. That’s fine with me. We should give for the sake of giving, IMO. I’m usually compelled to comment or share the links simply because they’re so darn awesome. (In this way, sharing makes US look good—quality links shared with our own readers. More “frosting.” ;))

I’d love to give this award to all of you. The fact that you’re reading this warms my heart. Please feel free to carry Reader Appreciation on via your blog. I’ve also selected a handful of recipients to highlight. As you’ll see, thoughtful blog commenting and fantastic blog writing go hand-in-hand.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you love most about blog reading? Have you been surprised by readers’ thoughtfulness (or lack thereof)? Do you consider yourself a thoughtful blog reader? Why or why not?