Celebrating One Year!

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It’s hard to believe that one year ago today, I launched my blog.  The last 12 months have brought more milestones than I ever thought I’d reach and has allowed me to be part of an amazing community of writers and readers.  My gratitude goes to all of you for deciding to follow my journey as a writer and creative spirit.  Your presence as readers and commenters is so encouraging, inspiring, and very much appreciated.

As my muse and I grow, my blog continues to evolve, which means both new and old followers may not be aware of everything hiding in the nooks and crannies of C.B. Wentworth.  So, it seems the only fitting way to celebrate my one year anniversary is to take a look at how far I’ve come and where I’m heading next.  Let’s take a tour!

Along the Top: 

  • There is a small menu of page links that divide the content of my blog.
    • About – Like most bloggers, I wrote a little blurb about myself and the purpose of my blog. Perhaps I got a bit too whimsical, but I stand by the arguments I have with my muse!
    • My Bookshelf – Did you know I keep a log of all the books I read?  Books I’ve enjoyed from 2010, 2011, and the growing list of 2012 are all listed on My Bookshelf.  This year, I started writing snapshot reviews and providing links for each title.  I update this page regularly and leave comments open for book discussions, debates, and recommendations for further reading.
    • Home – The main page of my blog is where all new posts appear.  I write on a number topics, which are represented with category links below the main header.  Content is pretty random and that’s largely because I don’t believe in limiting where my muse can go.  If anything, I like the element of surprise for both myself as a writer and for readers.  My voice, however, is what ties everything together.  I’ve been told I have a unique personality and it comes through in everything I write!

On the main page:

  • Blog Schedule – I post three or four times a week, typically Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.  However, there are weeks where I’ll post every day.  It depends on how chatty my muse is and how much time is available to write.
  • Comments – Every post is open to comments and I make it a point to answer every single person who leaves a comment.  Reader thoughts are important to me and I enjoy the conversation.
  • Current Series/Projects:
    • Wreck This Journal – This series documents the pages I complete in Keri Smith’s groundbreaking book of the same title.  I’m happy to say this series has inspired a number of people to buy their own Wreck This Journal and embark on a similar journey of reckless creativity.
    • Project Art Journal – This series showcases pages from a journal I created with paper lunch bags.  Each page is constructed using mixed-media collage and I provide step by step instructions for the techniques I use to create each layout.
    • Sundays in London – A three week sojourn to London serves as the inspiration for poetry and musings.  Every Sunday I post a photograph from my adventure, along with the words it inspires.
    • 2012 Goals Status Report – At the end of every month, I hold myself accountable for the writing goals I’ve set for 2012.  I document both successes and failures as they occur to keep myself on track for the year.
  • In between these regular series is where random topics run rampant.  A post without the aforementioned titles is one where I’ve wandered into fiction, travel, books or any of the other categories listed under the main header.

Along the sidebar:

  • The main photograph is my actual bookshelf.  I took this shot with my cell phone and played with it on iPhoto until I got it to match the color scheme of my chosen theme. Every photograph on my blog is my own, unless otherwise noted.
  • Subscribing to my blog is as easy as clicking on the “sign me up” button.  Thanks again to those who have already done so!
  • Over on Facebook I’ve create a writer page, where I post blog updates, links to other blogs and sites, announcements, and general musings about writing.  Clicking “Like” button opens up these features and I love it when people write on my wall.
  • My Twitter Tweets chronicle my writing process, books I’m reading, and fantastic inspirational quotes I find in a variety of places. Click the button on my sidebar and we’ll tweet together!
  • Pinterest is my newest obsession.  The crafter and artist in me can’t get enough of the visual inspiration this site has to offer.  I pin everything from upcycling projects, photos of my dream flat in London, and art journal pages.  Click the red button on my sidebar to see what I’m pinning and to follow along.
  • I recently joined the World Literary Cafe to network with other writers and readers.  So far, it has been an amazing experience!  I’m still learning the ropes of all it has to offer, but I highly recommend it to anyone looking for information about how to network.
  • I joined goodreads a few months ago, because I loved the idea of the 2012 Reading Challenge.  I have a goal of reading at least 30 books this year and so far, I’m right on track.
  • Musings of a writer is a little section where I place random quotes that pop into my head.  I don’t change it very often, but I always try to come up with something that represents my philosophy of what it means to be a writer.
  • In the Recent Posts section, I keep a listing of the 50 most recent blog entries.
  • My tag cloud is just as random as my posts, so I guess that’s another indicator of how my muse works! Clicking on any one of those tags will take you to all my posts relating to that topic.
  • I’m sorry to say my Blogroll is in dire need of updating!  I have about 30 blogs to add, but the current list of blogs are still among my favorite.  I visit them daily for a great read and endless inspiration.
  • The Campaign Shield serves as my badge for surviving my first Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign.  The campaign was worth participating in as I met so many wonderful bloggers and I really enjoyed the challenge of tough writing prompts and competition. I’m still in shock that I won the last competition, (See Fatespeak)!
  • Thanks to some fabulous bloggers, I’ve been lucky enough to receive several blog awards.  There’s nothing quite as encouraging or gratifying as another blogger acknowledging my work.  I appreciate every single one and those who gave them to me.

Filling out the Footer:

  • I keep all the logistical information at the bottom.  This is where the archives, calendar, and blog stats reside.   I wish it was more exciting, but alas there is always a corner for the technical stuff!

Random Tidbits:

  • My gravatar photo is the same photo I use for all social media.  The meaning behind that black and white road can be found on a post entitled, One Photograph Changed Everything.

Photo by Robert Frank, (as featured in "The Americans.")

  • My icon photo is a collage I created and photographed.  I pieced together magazine photos of trees, cliffs, and petroglyphs.  The emphasis on the hand in the center is symbolic of the human journey in which we all travel.

Collage by c.b.w.

  • Back in August, my post The Best Souvenirs Are Free was chosen to be Freshly Pressed.   I wish I could properly convey how exciting that was, but I still can’t find the right words.

The Best Souvenirs Are Free

Coming Soon:

  • Project Flash Fiction – As summer approaches, I’ll be embarking on a challenge to write one piece of flash fiction every week.
  • Finish This Book – With Wreck This Journal winding down over the next couple of months, Keri Smith’s most recent book will be my next source of reckless creativity. Pages and experiences will be posted on a bi-weekly basis.
  • Pinhole Camera Adventure – On a whim, I bought a kit for a pinhole camera and I plan on documenting the experiment from start to  finish, including the photographs I take with this contraption!
  • Project Upcycle – Pinterest has turned me into an upcycling fanatic.  I have several projects lined up and I’ll be documenting each one as they are completed.
  • Q&A Journal – Another summer project where a question a day can lead to anything.  A weekly post will document my answers and the inspiration that will likely ensue.

Thanks again to all my readers, new and old!  This year has been an incredible experience and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.

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c.b. 2012

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1 Challenge, 7 Links

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One of my favorite bloggers, Random Acts of Writing [+ art], was kind enough to include me on something called the Seven Link Challenge. I’m honored to say the least that she felt I had a body of work worthy of such an endeavor.  The idea is to reflect on previous blog posts and share our favorite moments.

Blogging is a relatively new thing for me, but I have to say I’ve enjoyed every step of the process. From dismal failures to surprising successes the blogosphere has challenged me to grow as a writer. Since late April 2011, I’ve managed to write 80 posts covering a wide range of topics. Launching this blog was all about giving myself a reason to write and I’m happy to say I’m more motivated then ever.  Thank you to all my readers for joining me on this journey.

Most beautiful post:

  • Can You See Your Dreams?  Dreams are always beautiful.  In this post, I give an outline of a dream board I keep posted above my writing desk. I was delighted to hear from people who were inspired to create a dream board for themselves.  If that’s not beautiful I don’t know what is.

Most popular post:

  • The Best Souvenirs Are Free  Thanks to Freshly Pressed, this post takes an easy victory for most popular.  I’m still suffering from FPSS!  While the stats skyrocketed, I swear the most fun part of the whole thing was the long list of comments.  So many readers shared beautiful stories of travel and trinkets – their comments are well worth the read if you find yourself with a few extra minutes.

Most controversial post:

  • I Write Like . . .  The last word I would use to describe my blog is “controversial,” but this post got a few people to e-mail me personally.  I love how some viewed it as a fun game, while others are determined to figure out the secret algorithm of the program.  Either way, fun is had by all.

Post that didn’t get the attention I thought it deserved:

  • Ivan Klima: The Best Writer You’ve Never Read  This category gives me yet another opportunity to tout the genius of  Ivan Klima.  He is one of my favorite writers and I always feel like he doesn’t get enough attention.  In this post, I outline a few favorite works and include some quotes that showcase his unique point of view.

Surprisingly Successful Post: 

No matter what I do, I can’t narrow it down to one!

  • The Anatomy of My Pen Name  I had no idea so many people would be fascinated by my pen name process, but this post really struck a chord with writers and readers alike.

Most Helpful Post:

I can’t help it!  Two links fall under this category, too!

  • Books I Can’t Write Without  I posted this a while ago, but people still contact me with news of buying the books I listed.  Who would have thought my library would have such an impact?  I sincerely hope each book helps to keep the inspiration going.  Keep writing!
  • The Notebook that Built My Novel  I wrote this post because a friend of mine asked about my novel notebook and how it worked.  As a result of the post, a lot of people were inspired to make one of  their own and I can’t even begin to say how exciting it is to hear that.

Most Proud of Post:

Can I put the whole blog? Okay, okay, I’ll narrow it down to two.

  • The Bell Jar  This was the first book review where I feel like I finally found my groove in writing a synopsis.  Readers seemed to agree, as this was the first book post that got a steady stream of comments.
  • The Way Back  This is the post that launched my blog, so I have to include it on the list!  Thanks to this short story and those who read it, my blogging continues!

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I’d like to invite the following bloggers to take on the Seven Link Challenge:

RoughWaterJohn the Pirate

TBN Ranch

Tattered Past

slightlyignorant

Write Up My Life

You are all an inspiration to me and I hope you’ll take on the challenge!

c.b. 2011

Freshly Pressed Shock Syndrome

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This week I was afflicted by an ailment I hope every blogger will get to experience at some point.  It all began on Thursday¹ morning when I logged into WordPress and saw something very familiar on the homepage.  I blinked to make sure I wasn’t imagining it, I read the title three times just to be sure, and then my eyes bugged out of my head.  Oh. my. goodness.  I pointed at the screen and shouted, “Hey, that’s my blog on Freshly Pressed!”  That’s when I knew I had Freshly Pressed Shock Syndrome or FPSS.

The nerd in me couldn’t resist taking a screenshot to celebrate!  Congratulations to all the other Freshly Pressed bloggers who probably have FPSS as well!

Symptoms of FPSS include:

  • failure to blink
  • the inability to close a gaping mouth
  • a constant shaking of the head in disbelief
  • uncontrollable squealing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • hyperventilating
  • involuntary jumping up and down
  • immense gratitude

What followed the initial onset of FPSS was an incredible and exciting influx of traffic on my blog.  I honestly never expected or believed numbers could go that high.  Just two days before, I was ecstatic with a higher than usual double digit hit count.  My new bar graph obliterated that previous victory into a teeny tiny sliver.  The funny thing is I was a little sad to see all my previous achievements blasted into oblivion, but then I looked at the total hit count again and got excited all over again.  Hmmmm . . . . perhaps I should add emotional confusion to the list of FPSS symptoms.

Adding to the chaos of rapid traffic was e-mail overload.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many e-mail alerts in all my life!  Having everything funneled through your e-mail is fine when there’s 7 or 8 comments on a post and a couple likes, but several hundred stuffed my mailbox faster than I could process them!  It was insane, yet so much fun!

When I got around to checking out the post that caused all the commotion, (The Best Souvenirs Are Free), it was amazing to see a virtual patchwork quilt of gravatars situated under the “Like” button. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give that extra click.  It made this whole process that much more meaningful.

My sincere thanks goes to everyone who left comments.  I am in awe of how many of you shared your beautiful stories and souvenirs, (keep them coming!).  It’s such an honor to have those memories on my blog.  We may never meet, but the creation of a common thread between everyone who joined in the discussion will never be forgotten².  At the moment I’m a little overwhelmed, but in the coming days I will respond to every comment.

One of the side effects I wasn’t expecting was the massive jump in subscribers. I really appreciate that extra show of support and find it so inspiring.  I hope future posts will keep you all coming back again and again.  My blog can be a little random, but I do strive to make it as interesting and fun as possible.  Thank you so much for adding me to your reading list!

I wish I could say “The Best Souvenirs Are Free” was totally my idea, but I have to give credit to my muse.³  My incredibly fickle and random muse put the idea in my head ten minutes before I was planning to leave the house for a writing session.  My day shifted an entire hour so I could snap the picture, but I guess the rest is history.  I owe her a big one, (Greeaaat).  Extra muse juice, perhaps?

Last but certainly not least, thank you to the WordPress gods and readers for giving me the chance to feel like a real writer.  May every blogger know the thrill of FPSS.

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¹Actually, the hubbub started on Wednesday when Muse Juice was selected for The Daily Post.  Naturally, I broke out into a raging case of DPSS (Daily Post Shock Syndrome).

²Goosebumps are yet another symptom of FPSS.

³ FPSS also leads to unexpected groveling to your muse.

c.b. 2011