Erik Kuntz-One Bad Mouse

Today, Erik Kuntz comes over for a visit to talk about why he blogs. Erik is a designer, illustrator, comics artist,  teacher and, if you buy him lunch, he’ll tell the secret workings of the world wide web.

You can find Erik at several different sites on the Web: His professional design life is at 2 Bad Mice; His web comic is at Hex Libris and his 2008 art project is at A Dog A Day

Erik has been around the cyber block, so to speak, and I value his thoughts and comments so please join us for a wee visit. 

Why do you blog?

Sometimes it’s just to give something in my head a public airing. But I also blog to show off new art that I’m creating and to present tutorials on computer graphics and related subjects. And I think most bloggers would agree that there’s at least some vanity in posting your thoughts to the world.

What do you blog about?

I blog about my art, I create tutorial blogs for computer graphics and web issues, and I sometimes write about pop culture. I also post a regular webcomic, which is sort of a blog. My big experiment was creating a new dog every day (creative, mostly drawings but also poems, games, animations and the like) for the whole of 2008. I chose this in order to improve my drawing and keep my creativity sharp: it worked. I blog tutorials and information about computer graphics and web issues because it connects me to that community and sometimes brings work my way. When it comes to pop culture, sometimes I just have something I want to say.

Do you respond to comments?

If they have something in them that I can respond to. But I also reject comments from strangers when they say nothing at all but “i liked it” or “I enjoyed your blog and it has given me much to think about the subject”, as they are often spam just to create links back to a site in an attempt to improve Google rankings (you can often spot problems with the domain, because the have words such as “poker” and “cialis” in them).

What makes a good blog post?

An engaging writing style and information that will either help, inform, or entertain an audience. If it’s meant to help, then the information needs to be accurate, well presented and clear. If it’s meant to teach, then it’s successful if people can follow along and learn. If it’s meant to entertain, then you would judge success in the same way you would judge any sort of writing. Many people would say that a good blog will encourage discussion on the site… I’m not always sure, as being able to post on the Web often brings out the nasty lizard-brains in otherwise reasonable people.

What make a not so good blog post?

Political screeds that merely preach to the choir. Posts full of in-jokes only funny to the three people you were drinking with last night (and possibly not funny to them). Posts filled with whining and complaining about something without actually saying anything meaningful on the subject (dare I call those Andy Rooney blogs?). Blogs full of spelling, grammatical and factual errors.

What have you learned?

There are millions of people doing this, and you only gather an audience by posting consistently and often. And not just material that repeats itself, but fresh content. Promote yourself, but only in appropriate venues. Visit others who are doing similar work and comment on their work, but only if you actually have something to say (and often this creates a link back to you).

Are there any absolute no-no’s?

Don’t just go and comment on related sites if you don’t have something to say, and don’t try to promote when a site isn’t at all related (people will tell you that the more links you get, the higher you’re rated in Google, but they don’t tell you that Google can judge whether a link is junk or not). Don’t post without spell-checking and proofreading. Spell check won’t catch their, there, they’re, it’s, its, to, too, two type errors, or little things such as it instead of at or other wrong words spelled correctly. I fondly remember a piece about a wildflower destroying a house. I’m sure the author meant to type wildfire but the other word jumped from his subconscious. And proofreading helps you tighten up your work: make sure you pare down the number of words you use to keep the writing clear. And don’t write novels, people won’t read as much information on a computer screen as they would on paper.

What made you decide to do more than one blog?

I kept my dogs separate, as it was a focussed project. But I also write about computer graphics and web issues on my business site. I want to keep that focussed, so when I want to write about pop culture, I have a (somewhat neglected) blog for those. The different blogs don’t meld well.

Any tips about time management?

I would say that if you’re serious that you want to limit your number of blogs so that you can focus on the thing that is most important to you. You can often find little open times in your schedule, and if you can write a paragraph and come back later, you’re a paragraph ahead. If you’re working on a blog, don’t check your email every five minutes, stay focussed. Look at time you spend just surfing the web and replace it with productive blogging. And only do it if you actually care.

Bernadette Noll-Blogger, Mother, Ruler of Her World

Am I a wimp or what?

I can’t post a blog in four months. I send out a request to fellow writers to hang out with me in my blogging room to make it cozy and who are the first ones to respond? Women with not one, not two, but four children. Geez…

Today, Bernadette Noll (aka Bern) comes over for a visit. I have long admired this woman. Her easy going nature. Her big, unabashed laugh. Her Irish chutzpah. (There must be a Gaelic word for such a quality.)

It turns out that Bern write five blogs. Not singlehandedly. But still…

Here’s her thinking:

“I blog because it feels good to share the experience of life, living, the pursuit of happiness and all that encompasses. I blog because some people have told me that I seem “so together” and so I write it all down to show them that yes, sometimes I”m together and sometimes I’m scattered pieces on the floor and sometimes I’m together after sweeping up the scattered pieces. Sometimes the only reason we have it all together in the first place is because the together is the solution to the scattered. I blog about it all – whatever strikes me, moves me, amazes me, baffles me, infuriates me, pleases me, saddens me. I suppose I blog whenever I feel the feelings.
Sometimes I think of a great blog post and then I forget it by the time I sit down to write but if I ponder a moment it will come back in some form or another.
Sometime I use a photo as my inspiration to blog.
Sometimes I use the words for it all.
I blog to remind myself of life’s moments – both the sweet and not so sweet. It’s all information towards who we are today – all these little moments. So when I write them in my blog the information becomes more clear. Sometimes even clarifying itself as I write. Blogging comes in phases. Sometimes daily for a week, sometimes less. Rarely but occasionally more.
I write on 5 blogs. One is mine and mine alone. One is shared with my 8 siblings though I do most of the posting. It’s a blog to keep folks updated on my mom’s heart surgery. And three– Slow Family LivingSlow Planet and Future Craft Collective–are collaborative each with one other. Those are my “work” and my love. Collaboration is king.  I do a few others here and there. There is no order to the method. I blog on each as I am moved to do so. Sometimes all in one sitting on all because I sometimes get in the blogging mode and mood. It’s fun to prompt yourself if you are having trouble staying on it. You know, Monday interview, Tuesday link suggestion, Wordless Wednesday with a photo, etc.
Thanks for asking because it’s good to know why and how it all happens.”

To Blog or Not To…

Beginning today, I will begin posting blogging tips from fellow writers. Essentially I am inviting them over to hang out with me in this blogging corner. You see, even though writers create worlds, the act of writing can be a lonely experience. Sometimes blissfully so. Sometimes not so much…

When I added this blog to my writing world, it was like adding on a room to my house that I hadn’t decorated or done whatever one does to make it homey. 

What to do?

Invite writer friends around the world to tell me why they blog.

Today April Lurie shares her thoughts.

I first met April just after her first book, Dancing in the Street of Brooklyn, came out. As a picture book author, I am always awed when a writer pens something longer than 32 pages. I am stunned when that writer writes a novel and is a mother of four children with a good marriage. Talk about writing in the margins.

But that’s April. Calm, steady, almost always smiling.

When she talks about the blogging corner of her life, she says:

For me, having a blog is a way my readers can get to know me.  When something different or unusual pops into my head I’ll compose a short blog.  I like to add photos or pictures for color and variety.  Somtimes I brag about my kids.  When I’m working on a book I’ll post the trials and tribulations of being a writer.  If I have a book coming out, I’ll post the cover art and reviews.  Well, the nice ones anyway.

Since Dancing in the Street of Brooklyn came out, two more books followed: Boyfriends, Brothers and Other Criminal Minds and The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine. The fourth book is with her publisher, Delacorte, and she is working on her fifth. Again, I am awed.

Amadi’s Snowman

The World is getting more connected…

On November 2, my friend Katia Novet Saint Lot emailed me to say that she was beginning a virtual book tour with her first picture book, Amadi’s Snowman (Tilbury House) and asked if I would visit her blog from time to time and leave a note. Of course I would.

And then I began to think of way I could join her and Amadi on her tour…

Last night, the Austin Children’s Book Writing community gathered at Book People to celebrate their books with readings, panels and signings.

In the middle of it, we gathered around Amadi and Katia to say hello on her tour.


Me holding Amadi with gobs of Austin writers and illustrators around us

Me holding Amadi with gobs of Austin writers, illustrators and friends around us

A word about Amadi’s Snowman. It tells the story of a young Igbo (Nigerian) boy who resists reading until he sees a picture of a snowman in a book.

Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s quote on the book jacket says it best:

“Amadi’s first-ever glimpse at a snowman–one depicted in the pages of a book–inspires him to transform from a resistant to an enthusiastic student of reading. Children will identify with Amadi’s initial reluctance, his mixed feelings about a new challenge, and his attempts to rationalize staying the  same. Yet they will also likely be inspired as Amadi is, by the possibilities of reading, the way it can fill one’s heart and shine a light on the unknown.”

You can find Amadi’s snowman at the Austin Public Library.

A Dark Spot

For those of us who voted for Obama, the afterglow of election night is still going strong. What didn’t goes so well on November 4 was the rights of Gays and Lesbians to love whomever they choose. It’s appalling. Thank Goodness, Keith Olbermann is just as appalled as I am because he says it best.