C is for Creative Content – Build a Blog

This entry is part 5 of the series Build a Better Blog

Today we reach C as we seek to Build a Bettter Blog.


  • Choose a theme you know will interest your reader

    ….and that is in line with your blog. For example, there would be no point in me writing a series of favorite recipes. Visitors to my blog do not come looking for those. It doesn’t matter how good then recipes may be, they don’t fit the reason why people come to my site.

    So ask the question:
    Why do people come to my site? What will interest them?

C is for Creative Content - Build a Better Blog #blogging Click To Tweet


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B is for Blog a Book – Build a Better Blog

This entry is part 4 of the series Build a Better Blog

We’re continuing to work through the alphabet, looking for ways to Build a Better Blog. Posted so far:

Today, we look at B. 

B is for BLOG A BOOK

You can use your blog to write a book. After all, what’s the difference between reading a series on a blog, or reading a book online?

  • Start with a strong introduction

If you were writing a book, your first chapter would introduce the subject (or the main characters) and build a sense of expectancy for the reader. You need to make them WANT to read on.
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A is for Awareness Alert – Build a Better Blog

This entry is part 3 of the series Build a Better Blog

We’re working through the alphabet looking at ways to Build a Better Blog. The previous post was an Introduction to the Series. Today we begin with A. 


  • People need to be aware of you

As writers, we’re always hearing of the importance of “branding”, or making it clear what type of writer you are. Readers need to know about you, about your brand, and what you’re doing. Blogging does that for you. It gets you out there, sharing your brand, without consciously having to think about it.

  • Others need to know about your posts.

There is no point in blogging in a vacuum. If you’re a writer, the more people who know about you, the better. If you’re writing for family and friends, they need to know when, where and how to keep up to date with your posts. There are a number of ways to help your readers be aware of your posts, and we’ll look at them over the next month. read more

Build a Better Blog – Introduction to Series

This entry is part 2 of the series Build a Better Blog

How popular are blogs?

Did you know there are more than 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet? (That is according to statistics in 2013!)

And somewhere a new blog is born every 30 seconds?

Blogging is clearly worthwhile!


This is the introduction to a series in which I will share how you can build a better blog, one that people will reach those for whom it’s written, and one that you will enjoy creating.

You don't have to be a writer to blog. New series on blogging begins today. Click To Tweet
  • If you are a writer, there are many reasons why you should be blogging, and we’ll cover those in the next few weeks.
  • If you’re not a writer, what better way to keep in touch with your friends and family?

The term, BLOG, is a contracted word from WEB LOG. That’s all it is. A log, diary, journal, whatever you want to call it, which you publish on the web.

What better way to get known and further your writing dreams?

But . . .

It doesn’t have to be public. If you’re doing it to keep the family informed,
you can restrict it to members of the family or to your group of friends.

Building a Better Blog A to Z

This series was originally done as part of an A to Z challenge, which I love as it forces me to think out of the box. So each post will contain ideas that will encourage and inspire you as you look at your own blog. I will give you a week to read it and put the ideas into practice before I post the next one. Sign up to receive notification of the next post, so you don’t miss it.

I’d love you to leave a comment or question at the end of each post. If you include a URL in your comment, I will get back to you.

Coming next: Awareness Alert!

Introduction to Build a Better Blog. Start reading today. Click To Tweet

Please Note:

I plan to turn this into an eBook when I’m finished, so is there anything I haven’t covered under the various headings? When you read, please comment if you think of anything I should include. Thank you!

These posts were originally posted as part of the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Because I’m re-posting them with updates, I have reverted the originals to draft. I apologize if this causes any problems with missing links, but all the posts WILL repeat – on an approximately weekly basis.

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THEME REVEAL Build a Better Blog – A-Z Challenge

This entry is part 1 of the series Build a Better Blog

How popular are blogs?

Did you know there are more than 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet? (That is according to statistics in 2013!)

 And somewhere a new blog is born every 30 seconds?

Blogging is clearly worthwhile!

Throughout the month of April, 2017, I’m going to share how you can build a better blog, one that people will reach those for whom it’s written, and one that you will enjoy creating.

  • If you are a writer, there are many reasons why you should be blogging, and we’ll cover those in the next few weeks.
  • If you’re not a writer, what better way to keep in touch with your friends and family?

read more

Instagram and What I Learned This Week

instagram-logoWhen I used to hear about a new form of Social Media, I would jump in headfirst. The result is I belong to things I know nothing about and I don’t have time to learn.

So when I noticed that more and more people were using Instagram, one which I haven’t signed up for yet, I decided to change my tactic. I would first learn whether I wanted to use it, and what I would gain by it.

I scheduled five questions to appear on my Facebook Author page throughout the week. Although the questions had plenty views not many answered, so I decided to put them out here in the hope that I get some more insight from you my readers.

Instagram_1So here we go:

Instagram: Do you use it?

This required a simple “Yes” or “No.” Four people said YES. and four gave definite  “No’s!” Two others dabble.

All I can see is this is a chance to show off your photographs and look at other people’s. Have I got this right? I’m an author, and I see an increasing number of authors using Instagram to promote their work—but I can’t see how that works.

That brings us to the next two questions:Instagram_2

Instagram: How do you use it? 

A. To share my posts
B. To encourage people to visit a link
C. It’s fun!

D. It doesn’t take much time
E. It works well in conjunction with other Social Media
F. For connecting with family.

I received one response to A, B, C and D. One person commented that although it’s easy to share on multiple Social Media when posting a photo, it is not so easy to share another person’s post.

Moving on .Instagram_4 . . I asked

Instagram: If You Don’t Use It, Why Not?

A. I know nothing about it and don’t have time to learn.
B. It’s just one more social media challenge. I don’t have time for it.
C. I don’t have a good enough cellphone.

Two responses – both said B. Seeing that’s closest to how I feel, this doesn’t encourage me to go for it.

And on to the final question:


Instagram: What, For You, Is the Best or Worst Thing about Instagram?

No initial response. Then I received a comment from Wendy Marshall, a cyber friend, writer and editor: “Here’s something I just learned: you cannot post from a computer. I’m not sure if you can post from an Android device.”

That could definitely be a deal breaker for me. I have an Android smartphone, an Android tablet, and do most of my work, especially with pictures, on my desktop computer as I have two monitors.

The next day, Wendy posted again: “I did some more research and there is an app for android phones. As well there are bridging apps for computers.” This link takes you to the site of David Coleman, a photographer.

He offers three apps which work well to bridge your photos on your cellphone (mobile) with your computer. Here they are with a short excerpt from the site:


“The simplest of these two is Uplet. It’s available in the Mac App Store and is only available for Mac.

“I’ve found it to be lightweight, easy to use, and to work as advertised. It doesn’t have any filters or advanced editing features, but that simplicity is a big part of its appeal.”


Grambler takes a quite different approach. It’s more complicated, but it also offers a lot more features. There are versions for Mac and Windows.

“There are two parts to it, an app that you install on your computer and a web service. They work together in getting your photos from your desktop to posting on Instagram.”


“This is a desktop app for interacting with Instagram. There are versions for PC and Mac.

The reason I say “interacting” is that there are two versions that allow different things, although that’s not as clear as it could be.”

Thank you David Coleman! And thank you Wendy Marshall!

Now it’s over to you.

Please add one or more comments below about your experience of Instagram. How do you use it? Or if you don’t, why not? I think I’ve reached my personal verdict, but the jury is still out. Convince me—or confirm I’m right. Thank you!

Please Tweet one or more of these:

Here's what I found out about Instagram: http://tinyurl.com/koofeht Please add your thoughts. Thanks. Click To Tweet Instagram looks like fun, but is it good for authors? http://tinyurl.com/koofeht Click To Tweet I decided to find out about Instagram. Here's what I found. http://tinyurl.com/koofeht Click To Tweet

Outside Your Comfort Zone – Chicken Soup for the Soul Callout

Chicken Soup logo

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

101 Stories about Trying New Things, Overcoming Fears, and Broadening Your World

Step outside your comfort zone. We all have a tendency to get in a rut. We start to say no to new things, and that can only lead to a narrower and narrower life. When we try new things, we end up feeling energized and pleased with ourselves. There is tremendous power in saying “yes” to new things, new places, and new experiences. It makes you feel more dynamic, younger, and more of a participant in the world. You’re not distancing yourself from change any more. Start now!

Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did do.”

Tell us your own stories about stepping outside your comfort zone and how that changed your life. We know you’ll think of many more topics, but here are some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:

• Meeting new people
• Wearing different kinds of clothing
• Traveling to new places
• Trying a new sport or activity
• Eating a food you didn’t think you would like
• Doing something that you were afraid of
• Convincing a friend or family member to do something that made them step outside their own comfort zone
• Advice on how to get yourself to step outside your comfort zone
• How doing something new made you feel
• What new things/places/foods/activities you are planning for the future
• What it was like to stay stuck in a rut and not try new things
• Epiphanies and prompts — what caused you to try new things
• Switching careers
• Trying a new volunteer activity
• Watching television channels you never saw before
• Going to a different kind of movie
• Picking up a different kind of book
• Shopping at a different grocery store
• Trying new things on your computer or phone and on the Internet
• Trying new technology/appliances
• How trying new things affected your marriage/your relationship with your children or other family members
• Trying a new church or other place of worship/joining a new congregation
• Overcoming agoraphobia or other fears

Please remember

We no longer publish “as told to” stories. Write your story or poem in the first person. Do not ghostwrite a story for someone else unless you list that person as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the “Comments” section of the submission form.

All stories should be true — we do not publish fiction — and should be no longer than 1,200 words. If your story was already published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it. We will not publish it again. If you submitted a story for one of our previous books and we did not publish it, please feel free to submit it to this book if you think it will fit. That way we will be sure it is considered for this new edition.

If your story is chosen –

You will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it or self-publish it.


Select the Submit Your Story link at the bottom of the page and follow the directions.

Please note the short deadline date for story and poems submissions of MARCH 31, 2017. This title is a last-minute addition to the schedule for release in Fall 2017.


Please do not reply or send questions to this address. For any further questions or correspondence, contact webmaster@chickensoupforthesoul.com or visit our website at http://www.chickensoup.com.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 700
Cos Cob, CT 06807-0700

OVER TO YOU: Share below if you’ve ever been published in Chicken Soup anthologies, and if so, which ones. Tell us if you’re going to give this one a try. Let’s see how many of us can be accepted for this publication.

International Cost of Living

This entry is part 6 of the series International English

potatoes-no-attrib“How much do potatoes cost in South Africa?” a cyber friend asked in an online group discussion on cost of living in our various countries. I gave the current price in rands (South African Currency) then converted it to dollars for the benefit of the others in the group.

“That’s for a 10 kg bag, or a ‘pocket’ as we call it here,” I added.

“Goodness! That’s nothing,” came the reply. “We pay far more.” As we continued to share prices, the Americans in the group became convinced that South Africa was the cheapest place on earth to live.

I wish!

You see, it’s not just about cost, or financial output. It’s about wages, or income compared to the output.

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Different Words for Common Items

This entry is part 4 of the series International English



Writing for the international market is a tremendous opportunity to educate people about your own country—or the country you’ve chosen to write about. If you’re writing about your own country, remember that others don’t have your inside knowledge. Your English-speaking reader may use different words to yours to refer to a common item.

I'd never heard of the Twin Towers before 9/11. Click To Tweet

I’d never heard of the Twin Towers before 9/11.

Dare I admit this? On the original 9/11, I heard of the Twin Towers of America for the first time. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

Yes, I’m well educated. Yes, I knew quite a bit about America, especially through my many cyber friends. I knew of the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, the White House, and many more buildings. But I’d never heard of the Twin Towers. Why would I have? Today the whole world knows of them, but only as a result of that tragedy.

I once enjoyed a book by a well-known author. Half way through the story, his main characters visited an extinct volcano in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). I immediately lost interest in the book. Although to that point I had enjoyed the story, I found I could no longer follow it. Why? I grew up in Rhodesia. There is no such thing as a volcano, extinct or otherwise. Even though this was a novel, the writer lost my respect. He hadn’t done his homework, and the story was spoiled for me.

Learn different words by chatting with folk who live in another country

One good way to learn what “the world” knows or believes about your own country is to strike up conversations with those from other lands. If we can’t go in person, the World Wide Web presents us with a tremendous learning opportunity.

During my first visit to America, I was amazed at how often I was asked if I was afraid to live in South Africa with all the wild animals roaming around. (The only wild animals of the dangerous variety who roam around South Africa are in game reserves or private game parks.)

A number of folk made comments like, “Perhaps you know the Barrett family. They live in Africa.” (So do millions of other people.) Or “Do you live near the Nile?” (Umm. No. We’re in South Africa, hundreds of miles or kilometers away.)

Over and over again I was asked how I could be South African and yet have a white skin. Many people thought the only white-skinned people here are missionaries or tourists. When I said I was born in Scotland, that made them happy. But when I said my husband was a 2nd generation South African (and yes, he’s white) and my children are 3rd generation, they were amazed.

What about the way we speak?

I was also told on a number of occasions that I “don’t have a South African accent”. And what would that accent be? Those listening to me had probably heard Nelson Mandela speak on television, and yes, he has a very different accent to me. He was a Xhosa-speaking South African who also spoke excellent English. But he had a Xhosa accent.

Or perhaps my critics had heard some of our white-skinned Afrikaans actors. Their native language is Afrikaans, although they speak excellent English with an Afrikaans accent. I am of British descent, and English is my first language. Although I’ve lived in Southern Africa since I was four-years-old, I have an English / South African accent.

Like many countries, America included, South Africa has many accents and dialects. (We have eleven official languages!)

We think we know a country from the things we’ve seen on TV, watched in films, read in books, or heard from others. If we’re going to write about it, we need to make sure of our facts.

Other cultures may not understand ours

International writer, LeAnne Hardy, recently ran a writing course for a group in Awasi, Kenya. A woman in the group was amazed that LeAnne had two daughters and no sons, yet her husband hadn’t taken another wife. That’s how it would be in Kenya. (For some more amusing insights from this writing adventure, visit her post on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog.)

When my two sons were growing up in our home, one day they caused an abrupt halt in a family discussion. We were all talking about something that clearly didn’t interest them, and all of a sudden one announce, “Talking about bicycles . . .” We weren’t talking about bicycles. We all stopped talking and looked at them as if they’d said something really strange. (They had of course!) We got to know this expression meant, “Moving on . . .” because whoever said it wanted us to change the subject. It has become a family joke. When we want to get everyone’s attention, there is no better way to get it than to say, “Talking about bicycles . . .”


Talking about toilets . . . frog-1037252_640

Just recently, my international critique group held a discussion on . . . toilets. Some years ago, my little grandson, who had been on the mission field in South America, came home on furlough. He was in tears as he couldn’t “find the bathroom”. He asked his granny (that would be me) and “she sent me to the wrong room.”

I had sent him to the bathroom, which was what he’d asked for. He wanted the toilet, which was in another room. That incident sparked off an interesting discussion in our crit group on what the different countries called the little room that only has a toilet and no bath or shower.

Because people don’t know a word or have wrong ideas about our culture does not make them ignorant or uneducated. It simply means they don’t know . . . and writing is a great place to tell them all about how your country lives.

Do you have an example of confused words from another form of English that you can share with us? What do you call the little room in your home? Please put it in a comment box below.
What do you call the little room if it's only a toilet with no bath? Click To Tweet

What’s an Idiom?

This entry is part 3 of the series International English

potatos-and-mashBangers and Mash?

When you hear the term “bangers and mash,” does your mouth water or does it go dry? British readers with know the idiom means sausages and mashed potatoes. Readers in other countries may imagine a scene of extreme violence.

To clarify this expression, the British writer could say, “We’ll have bangers and mash for supper— I have some nice pork sausages.” The International reader now knows what’s on the menu.

Street Children?

A South African may write about “The street children,” and the local readers will immediately recognise the tragedy of children who live without adult supervision, sleeping under bridges or in the bushes. Readers from other countries may not understand. The S.African writer could rather call them “homeless orphans” and everyone will know what is meant.

These phrases, understood by the native speakers of a language, are called idioms. As writers, we need to be aware of them, and clarify their meaning for our international readers.

A common idiom

Most people world wide understand the meaning of the noun, bucket, and the verb, kick. But what happens when you put them together? Click To Tweet

Most people world wide, no matter what form of English they speak, will understand the meaning of the noun, bucket, and the verb, kick. Now let’s see how these two words can cause confusion. read more