Blogging 101

Blogging 101 -The End Has Come

We’ve had a great journey over these past three weeks.  Many thanks to the following for great support:


There is also someone else who needs to be thanked:  YOU! 

Without your interest in learning and sharing, as well as helping others, a course like this would not be successful.  You have made it a success and I will be checking on your blogs to find out about the latest writings, travels, cooking, make-up (not so much for me, but you might be hearing from my son for an interview for his blog), general musings, and great inspiration.  Thank you!

Now, as I look out to the water, I can hardly see–must be getting some offshoots of the East Coast Storm! 

Time for a coffee–until we meet again.

Blogging 101

Blogging 101 – Day Fifteen

Randall’s Ramblings

Introducing my upcoming weekly blog post, Randall’s Ramblings, which will commence this Sunday, January 24, 2016. Topics will be related to writing in some way, shape, or form, but I’m open to all suggestions.

At present, I plan to include the following:

  1. Status of my personal works in progress.
  2. Snippets on why I want to write and what’s led me to this stage in my life.
  3. Blogs posts I’ve checked out and want to share.
  4. Books I’m reading.
  5. Authors I’ve found.
  6. Any new writing resources I’ve found or been introduced to.
  7. Anything else I can think of.

In addition to being posted here, it will also be posted on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts (FB too, once that’s back up and running).

Hope you’ll join me.  Your blog could be on my list:)



Blogging 101

Blogging 101 – Day Fourteen

Extending Your Brand

Social media is something I’ve never had a desire to use.  However, as it becomes more and more the norm, even dinosaurs like myself must change with the ages or become extinct. Since I want to write and one day have a work published, extending my brand will play a key role in advertising what I’m offering.

A few years ago, I lived on the East Coast of Scotland. Craft fairs were everywhere, within an easy reach.  Since I do pyrography (wood burning) and make a variety of candles, I joined the circuit.  After the first show, I knew I needed a banner for the table announcing who I was and business cards to add to purchases or provide to those requesting one. 

This is when I first started in social media–someone convinced me to join Facebook.  I did and had 44 crafting followers.  But since returning back to the U.S., I haven’t done much with crafting or FB.  I decided to revive my account after prompting from several authors and writers.  That didn’t go over so well.  My account had been labeled “grey” by FB and despite our joint efforts we were unable to overcome this label, so I made the decision to have the account deleted.  That’s in-progress now, so I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before I can create a new account.  Then as this lesson suggests, I’ll set up a fan page.

For now, my custom site icon will be my face.  Okay, I may need to get an updated photo, but many of the authors I know use their face as a brand.  So it’s been set up, I hope.

As so aptly put by there are plenty of social media networks to explore. I recently set up an account on Twitter–seems to be working as I have 51 followers and the account is less than a month old.  I also have one on Linkedin, but not sure how useful that will be in the long run.  A dozen connections there so far, but I haven’t worked to much on it yet. 

I think this blog, along with Twitter and FB (when it gets sorted out) will be my primary social media networking tools for expanding my brand.  Hope it works, but only time will tell.

Blogging 101

Bloggin 101 – Day Thirteen

For today’s assignment, I’ve selected ‘Write Anything Wednesday’ from the ‘Community Events Listing’ so I could share some thoughts about where we live.

By The Lake’s Shore

Today is another winter’s day, much like any other. Cold, overcast, snow predictions–a typical winter scenario. This morning when Tyson went outside, he thought he was in heaven–four white-tailed deer peered toward us before turning away, their tails high in the air as they scurried away.  Tyson wanted to give chase, but a command (or two or three) stopped him in his tracks.  He could never catch them, but I don’t want to encourage him.

Looking toward the water, another vision awaits. Because of the clouds reflecting, the water is varying shades of gray interspersed with a few areas of blue. The shoreline has extended upwards and outwards due to the formation of ice. As the waves push forward, the ice piles up. Now it’s about four feet higher along the water’s edge than normal. Beyond that, it looks like miniature icebergs waiting their turn to land.

In anticipation of flurries, the birds are busy pecking away at their seed and suet, while a lone squirrel sits among them, stuffing his cheeks. Three cats went to inspect but decided at 17F/-8C it was better to remain indoors. Old Ollie decided he wanted to go out. I opened the door just as a gust blew in.  He hissed and growled and walked away–not happy that I couldn’t warm things up so he could go outside to play.

Ollie wanders to a deck door, thinking the weather will be better on the opposite side of the house.  Not so, and he sauntered off in disgust.  I looked at the lake, and the clouds have lightened. As a result, the areas icing over toward the horizon have turned white, reflecting the new cloud cover, like floating marshmallows.

A last look inland and what do I see, but those heavy gray clouds bringing their debris. A gust shakes the clouds, and they sprinkle their burden–the flurries have started, and it’s time for a tea.

Lake Side

Road Side
Blogging 101, Uncategorized

Blogging 101 – Day Twelve

Increasing Your Commenting Confidence

Commenting with confidence is something that can take time. Should you be honest or tell someone what you think they want to hear?

Constrictive criticism is the best way forward. There’s no need to be harsh or sickly sweet. What matters is offering constructive thoughts it there might be something amiss or explain why something grabbed you in a particular way.

In the two writing groups I participate in, I’ve left over 700 inline critiques, meaning every sentence has been examined.  SP&G (spelling and grammar) are just one of the areas we’re asked to check.  Readability, flow, clarity, description, imagery, and engagement some of the other areas we’re asked to review, depending upon a writer’s request.

I’ve yet to find something written that I couldn’t find something positive to comment about and build upon.

With today assignment, I’ve looked back at several who responded to the ‘Learning Style’ prompt.  They all one thing in common: they all tell us a story and give us some insight into the author and how they grasp the world around them.

Here are a couple that I really enjoyed:

I hope you enjoy them, too.




Blogging 101

Blogging 101 – Day Eleven

What’s My Learning Style?

I learned in college that I preferred interactive small groups or one-on-one settings. When the opportunity arose for course projects that required groups, it wasn’t surprising that I gravitated to like-minded individuals, and vice versa. Although in hindsight, it started much earlier.

While I can retain information through nearly every possibly means, something that allows me to visualize or read works best. When I was in high school, I wanted to take a speed reading course.  Within the first thirty minutes of the start of the class, I was back in the admin office, searching for a new class.  Why? Because the class wasn’t going to help me–not my thinking, but the teacher’s.

The objective of the course was to be able to read 1,000 words a minute with at least ninety percent accuracy.  We were tested to determine our speed reading ability–I read 990 words a minute and had ninety-five percent accuracy. I ended up in a bookkeeping class.

Shortly after I met my wife, she asked me to read a two-page letter she had received.  I glanced at it and handed it back.  Boy, was she mad!  She thought I wasn’t interested in helping her respond to the letter.  She changed her mind when I was able to tell her what was each paragraph–not verbatim, but the gist of every one.

As I mentioned earlier, I can also learn one-on-one.  When I attended the Washington Language Center in the mid-80s, I was surprised to learn I was the sole Turkish language student for that year.  While it was tough being the only student, I did well. Onun icin Turkcem fena degil (as a result my Turkish isn’t bad), thirty years later.

As I progressed through my professional life, learning was a constant requirement. I attained a MBA and a Master of Science in Strategic Focus, both from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland.  I have no idea what the campus looks like–I never stepped foot on it.  Both degrees were done entirely through distance education, with proctors monitoring my exams.

When I watch the news, I find listening to the “talking heads” usually a slow and painful process.  It amazes my wife that I’ll watch the news with the sound off, but in reality I’m reading the text scrolling across the bottom.  When it becomes repetitive I switch news channels or move onto something else.

I still read–a lot.  Between the two online writing groups I participate in, I’m reading 50-60 novels at one time, moving between books, chapter by chapter. Not only does this provide me an opportunity to assist others with their writing, it also helps mine and aids in generating ideas when my brain cells are on empty or just too stubborn to work.

So how do you learn?


Blogging 101, Writing Muses

Found My Publicist

I’ve spent most of today either checking out blogs or working on The Kurdish Connection. When I went into my email, there was a notification that I had received a new critique on chapter 37.  Opening it up, I couldn’t believe what was written. The guy has given me good feedback before, but I think I need to hire him as my publicist. According to his profile, he’s retired from advertising after a forty year career.

Below is his critique.  I’m sure you’ll understand why I need to hire this guy:)

“This is getting boring. I am waiting for Randy to write a chapter that I can dislike. NO ! another ground breaking chapter. I love the way that the plot draws you in and it seems as though the reader is a fly on the wall able to see, hear and understand each characters’ thoughts and behaviour. The timeline is self evident and in view of current world events it is a story that is totally up to date. I have known military personnel , I have listened to their stories of real life events and blow me, Randy must have been in the thick of it.

The characters, events and actions are as real as life and very, very believable . I cannot praise this work too highly and I believe that all of Randy’s writing is becoming addictive, especially for me and I feel that many others will agree with me.

Finally, I have never been that far east, but with the descriptions in the story, I feel as though I have been there.

Keep up the excellent work Randy, you have a dedicated fan of your work and I won’t be the only one, trust me.”

Blogging 101

Blogging 101 – Day Ten

Good morning (or afternoon) everyone,

Another good assignment.  I’m starting out with the easier way (I think) just now using the “Blogs I Follow” widget.  It’s posted at the bottom of the side bar and is called Blogs to Check Out.  Since this widget only allows a maximum of 50 entries, if you don’t see yours listed doesn’t mean I’m not following.  A check in the Reader shows I’m following 69 at the moment.

As time permits I’ll switch to the “Links’ widget so I can add everyone in, plus some blogs I’m following.

Have a great day and I’ll read about you shortly.


Blogging 101

Blogging 101 – Day Nine

Another interesting assignment but in some ways a tough one because there are so many talented people posting articles that inspire, teach, provide a story, and give us pause for thought.  In yesterday’s blog I listed five that caught my attention, but I could easily have listed 15-20 blogs without blinking. 

In keeping with today’s assignment, I’m referring back to one from yesterday’s list. It’s an article titled, “Writing a Story Inspired by a Dream.” which can be found on

Ann talks about how dreams inspire her writing, whether shared through a story, a novel, or just a tweet.

So what inspires me to write?  It varies–I don’t think dreams have helped me thus far, but it’s likely they have by resurfacing later. Sometimes I’m inspired by my surroundings, other times through reading and conversations.

Case in point.  Last year I joined a website to work with other aspiring writers to improve my writing skills ( Shortly after I joined, a writing contest was announced–seemed simple, use the word apple at least once and keep the submission to exactly 99 words.  We have an apple tree, so I stood and looked out the window for a few minutes.  Words seemed to flow to me and within no time at all, I had my 99 words. They’re posted on my blog, under short stories (can’t get much shorter, I don’t think).

The next context they announced was about creating a superhero.  I thought, science fiction, not really for me, although there are a number of SF authors I’ll read.  The deadline was about 45 days away.  Didn’t give it another thought, until one afternoon, my neighbor’s father stopped by to say hello.  He did this from time to time and we always had a good chat.  No exception on this day and he was telling me about some of the things the people working for him experience while delivering the mail (he’s the post master).

That evening, I took a look at the criteria for the superhero contest. The idea came to me, write a different type of story about an ordinary hero.  Postal Man was created (also posted under short stories). Based on the feedback I received, I’ll be working this into a children/young adult novel, The Adventures of Postal Man.

The first novel I’m working on, The Kurdish Connection, is loosely based on real world events, augmented by some of my travels and experiences, as well as feedback from reviewers.  Earlier this week, I posted chapter 38 on and for review. Several readers are already waiting for the next chapter:)

In an earlier blog post I mentioned one of my readers sent me three sentences that she thought would make a good story.  I agree, and you can find the premise for A Cartel’s Revenge linked under novels.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are many things that give me reason to use my brain and see how I can craft something.  One day, perhaps I’ll be published. If not, it won’t be from lack of trying.  To sum up in one word what inspires me–life.

Look around you–something will always inspire you.

Blogging 101

Our Four-Legged Family

Early this morning one of our cats was very ill.  As soon as I could call the vet for an appointment, I did so.  Digging the vehicle from beneath a snowdrift, we ventured out in the cold, traveling thirty-five miles. 

A check-up, an IV, and three injections later, we returned home.  Two hours after receiving his treatment our feline family member began squeaking for food.  Fantastic–another recovery.  Why is the so special?  Most people would have put him to sleep when they received the news we did when we first gave Shadow a home.  Initial blood tests showed that he is FIV-positive, similar to HIV in humans. We brought him home, read up on FIV felines and discovered he could still live a long and happy life, given proper care.  So he is here to stay.

Let my introduce you to our current family of four-legged creatures:

Oliver (AKA Ollie)

Oliver is from England, twelve years old and a loner.  He probably was a feral kitten that someone couldn’t handle and passed him to us, knowing we had experience raising feral felines.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Hope (AKA Dosy)

Hope is about six now.  She came to us a couple of years ago from a no-kill shelter.  Always seems to be off in a world of her own, but a very loving addition to the family.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


Lola (AKA Little One)

Lola came to us from a vet.  She had been found in a dumpster, with a bloody ear and a dislocated hip.  The vet took care of her medical needs and we took care of her home.  Of out current crop of felines, she gets bored easily and will pick on the others for amusement.  Sometimes that works and other times, fur flies! Lola is around four.



Shadow (AKA Squeaky)

Destined for the pound, a friend who already has five cats told us about Shadow (unnamed at the time). He joined us December 2014.  Other information about him begins this post.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


Flora (AKA Lady Flora Fluff Bum)

Flora apparently accompanied Shadow to the pound.  Couldn’t leave her behind to a sad fate, so she’s part of out family, too.  Both are around two years old.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


Charley (AKA Pumpkin Boy

The end of January 2014 was bitter, with nearly two feet of snow on the ground.  We heard a commotion at one of the deck doors.  Outside, clawing to come indoors, was a handsome stray cat.  We hadn’t seem him before and living where we do, there was no possibility of him belonging to a neighbor, unless he traveled a long distance to find us.  Never saw a “missing” poster and he’s now one of the family.  Very skittish, hates loud noises, but plays well with others. According to the vet, he’ll be around two years old.



Tyson is the only canine in our family.  He joined us in October 2013, a few weeks after our thirteen-year old German Shepherd, Minnie, passed away.

Tyson had been turned over to the same no-kill shelter as Hope.  He apparently wasn’t good with young children, but we don’t know for sure.  Tyson, who brought his name with him, celebrated his seventh birthday earlier this month, on the sixth.  A great addition to the family, he breaks up any quarrels between the others, but is soft as anything.  Saying that, there is no way a stranger would get in the house, but once he knows someone, they’re good to go!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Hope you’ve enjoyed meeting out family!