Freesound and Goodreads

I have a couple of links to share with you today, the first of interest to, well, anyone and everyone, really, and the second for the writers among you.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Hey, I wonder how I might go about adding the sound of a beer can being kicked around the street at 3:00 a.m.to my blog without running the risk of having the interwebby police bind and shackle me for copyright infringement”? Oh, come on, stop shaking your head. Of course you have. Who hasn’t?

And I’m sure you’ve also racked your brains for ways to regale your faithful blog readers with the clickety-clack-down-the-straight-line-track* sound of the daily train from Slavutich to Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. “If only,” you must have said to yourself with a wistful furrowing of your brow, “If only I could do this without ripping off the sound files from my favourite Chernobyl documentary or hopping on a plane to Russia with a suitcase full of recording equipment.”

Well, I’m happy to tell you that you can save the airfare and put the money aside for the that 22.5 carat gold crate your unutterably adorable little pocket dog has been coveting. You will be delighted to know that there is a fabulous repository of Creative Commons licensed sounds available for you to use as auditory decorations for your blog or to share via obnoxious emails and texts with your nearest and dearest as you see fit. Freesound.org can provide you with all manner of audio files from the sound of rain falling on an umbrella, to an old dog snoring, to wind blowing down a chimney.

Of interest to writers:

I don’t know about you, but I tend to find Goodreads just a tad overwhelming. So many groups and lists, so many people wanting to connect, so much email exploding into your inbox. What’s a person to do? Well, mostly I just ignore it and hope that some day all will become clear.

That day has come. Rinelle Grey  just posted a handy dandy primer on Being an Author on Goodreads. Some of the information is a bit premature for me, since I haven’t published yet, but when I get there, I’ll definitely be revisiting this clear, concise and informative post.

One of the things I love about Rinelle is her tact. Embedded in this article are several hints on how to comport oneself on Goodreads so as not to come across as an arrogant putz, but she frames these hints with such gentle diplomacy that no one could possibly take offence. If you’re a published (or soon to be published) author and are still trying to make sense of Goodreads, I urge you to pay Rinelle a visit.

A to Z Challenge: Reflections Post

survivor_[2013]Ah, dear Blogging from A to Z Challenge, how we will miss you, and how sad it was to see April come to a close. A huge relief, too, mind you, and it’s taken me a week to recover what passes for my sanity, but there you go. The yin and yang of thirty days of blogging mania.

I was going to skip the reflection post, because I figured others have probably said pretty much everything there is to say, and then I thought, well, that’s never stopped me before, so what the hey.

The good:

  • This was my second year doing the challenge, and I found it much easier this time around. I don’t know if this was because I knew what to expect or because I chose a theme that amused me, but I suspect it was probably a bit of both.
  • Late last year I switched to WordPress from Blogger and lost a lot of followers in the process (largely because I didn’t really know what I was doing), and I managed to reconnect with some of those bloggers during the 2013 challenge. I also met a lot of new people, some truly delightful and talented people, and it’s those connections and virtual friendships, old and new, that make this challenge so worthwhile.
  • Arlee Bird and the bevy of challenge hosts were all so very welcoming and generous, and on those days when it seemed that work had sucked the last creative spark out of my brain, their cheerleading posts helped spur me past the urge to crawl into bed and pull the blankies over my head.

The not so good, but who ever said life would be perfect:

  • Part way through the challenge, when I was responding to a couple of comments left on my blog, I noticed that the bloggers in question had only received a couple of comments on their posts–and their posts were interesting. It made me wonder if there were pockets of the linky list that were being ignored for one reason or another, so instead of following protocol and taking a linear approach to working my way down the list, I became more random in my reading–a few blogs here, a few there. I found LOTS of barren pockets, lots of bloggers who were soldiering on through the challenge even though some of their posts were receiving zero comments. How disheartening must that have been? And how is it even possible with over 1,500 people participating that so many blogs were overlooked?
  • Bloggers who were expecting that the number of comments they left on others’ blog posts would correlate exactly to the number of comments they’d find on their own sparkly blogs were likely sorely disappointed. For me it was about a 3 to 1 ratio. It’s entirely possible, of course, that people returned the visit and were so appalled by what they read on my blog that they were rendered speechless. I’m not ruling out that possibility.
  • Some people make it heinously difficult to follow their blogs or find them on social media. For a WordPress user, Google Friend Connect is virtually useless, and a startling number of bloggers don’t really provide other options, or if they do, those options are buried under a stack of ads or gizmos or titles of previous posts, and honestly, sometimes I just gave up.

 What I’d do differently next time:

I like the idea of being spontaneous with my posts, writing them the same day I publish them, keeping things fresh. That’s why I decided, like last year, not to write any of them ahead of time, or even to have much of an outline of what I’d be writing about. I had a theme, and that was good enough. Except, you know what? It really wasn’t. All the time I spent composing posts of an evening was time I could have been spending visiting blogs, making connections, doing my bloggy networking. Next year–if I participate next year–I’m writing those suckers ahead of time. I might be a slow learner, but I get there eventually.

Overall, the challenge was a blast, and I’m still riding that high of accomplishment and self-satisfaction that comes from making it through to the end. Thanks for the entertainment and the encouragement and for being your tasty blogging and commenting selves.