Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The 100th Post: A Journey in Frosting, Surprises and Prizes

Join the party and have a virtual cupcake as we celebrate the 100th post on Hot Flashbacks, and I round the bend on nearly two years of blogging. Something you might notice about Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. We celebrate milestones.

Past festivities include our first birthday party on September 17, 2008. On June 17, 2009, we had a rebirthday celebration, marking a new blog direction. This 100th blog post is close enough to our second birthday—it’s a two-fer!

100th Post Giveaway: The first 10 people to Comment on this post will receive a free copy of "The Training Tape," Joyce’s new e-book.

Now’s a great time to put into perspective what you’ve most liked to read here, what you were looking for that led you here, and, and how our cool saging to spirited living community has grown. Statistics can be a bit of a bore, so I’ll keep it short but sweet like cupcake frosting for the bigger substance later about blogging as a journey.

Growth and Recognition

Visits have quadrupled over the past year and readers have more than tripled. People from twice as many countries read Hot Flashbacks now. Most readers wave the following flags by frequency of visits: US, UK, Brazil, Canada, Belgium, and Australia. I am grateful that Hot Flashbacks has been recognized by fellow bloggers, who double as some of the world’s most avid blog readers, with both Lemonade and Kreativ Blogger Awards. In Fall 2008, I was named one of the 101 Women Bloggers to Watch by WE Magazine for busy women on the move.

Top 10 Articles

In case you’ve missed any of the Top 10, here’s an annotated blogography of the best of Hot Flashbacks based on popularity by volume of visits.

1. The No Soliciting Sign - The popularity of this post—five times the hits of any other and the post with the most accessed via search terms—made me realize I’d hit a nerve and had the potential to fill a need. My sign requests, “No soliciting—religion and religious literature included,” and many people were searching for something like it. While the post shares how I evolved from an angry to a gentle place with my request to respect my privacy and spiritual path, I saw an opportunity to serve. In the near future, I will be selling newly arted version of “my sign” and another one recently designed with a similar, gentle sentiment about solicitations. Watch for it!

2. Venus Girls, Boomer Beauty – The perennial question of how much we “help” nature to maintain our good looks as we age hit a chord with readers of all ages.

3. Auntie Mame: A Tale for Today, Tomorrow and Always – My heroine and favorite character of all time has the one philosophy that says it all, “Live, live, live!” Mame not only tells us about how to live life with pizzazz, but her story covers how she handled the 1929 crash of the stock market and its aftermath, a timely parallel for today.

4. It Runs Downhill - How my dog got literal about a popular expression and continuously proved that dogs are among the funniest beings on earth. They outsmart us, sometimes by playing dumb, while we’re cleaning up after them or laughing at their antics.

5. Boomer Tube Babies – How early TV influenced the first generation that cut its teeth on Howdy Doody and a host of other characters revisited on this nostalgia trip. We were the first kids who were exposed to advertising early in life. How did it form us?

6. Penny Candy: Sweet Memories – A nostalgia trip down Memory Lane with a big color illustration of the stuff we often saved up, and walked miles for, to satisfy our sweet tooth. Flashbacks on Mary Janes, Bazooka Gum, Laffy Taffy, and Tootsie Rolls, just for starters. Includes links to places online where vintage treats are still available.

7. Flower Essences: Emotional First Aid, Boomer Plus Edition – Before I became a certified flower essence practitioner in 1989, I would have said you were crazy if you had told me that a few drops of liquid containing the vital energy of flowers could calm my emotions. A tool for a cool life that’s good to the last drop.

8. The Fairy Godmother – I have the gift for gifts, and in this Christmas season post, I share some of my most original gift ideas. Plan ahead to surprise your loved ones with some nifty gifties!

9. Tone Deaf – How to buy a custom ring tone without breaking the bank, deal with hearing loss and irritating rings, and navigate all kinds of cell phone and hearing things.

10. Dreams—Waking and Sleeping – A primer on decoding the messages in your night movies.

Born to Blog

According to my research, Justin Hall, is widely recognized as one of the earliest personal bloggers. He started in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College. Like anyone before his time, it took the rest of us awhile to catch up with him. When I was first advised to start a blog in 2007 as a way to begin to get readers, ultimately of my books, I had to look up the definition of blog. I had no idea that I’d take to this medium like a duck to water, mostly because I didn’t have any idea what kind of pond we were taking about. Thanks to some fabulous friends I made at Boomer Diva Nation, I got a quick how-to course and was a fast study. Lots of jumping in and swimming in the waters of trial-and-error honed my skills. With a little help from my friends, I became good enough at it to take some huge leaps of faith …

… like starting my second blog, The Radical Virgo. I made that jump blindfolded in March 2009, thanks to encouragement by an avid reader of my astrology articles, housed on other Internet sites. Soon I realized I could repost them and draw people into current contact with me, since the primary site where they were archived was no longer being updated and my contact information there was dated. My return to astrology, at least as a writer, if not a consultant, gave me the strongest feedback that I had really “become a blogger.” I knew I wasn’t just trying my hand at it anymore when the Radical Virgo’s visitor statstics began surpassing those of this more established Hot Flashbacks blog right out of the gate. The Radical Virgo hasn’t even celebrated its four-month anniversary and it has been running in the top 20 of Post Rank’s Top 100 Astrology Blogs, #14 as of this writing. To say I am honored is an understatement. I was beginning to realize that blogging for me is like eating potato chips; can’t eat or have just one, and the more you eat the more you want!

The Problem and the Gift

Therein lies both the problem and the gift. I now enjoy blogging so much, I am neglecting book writing. I keep joking that by the time I get around to doing some redirection and editing of both my memoir and mystery novel, paper books might be passé. Part of me feels I’m in the medium of the future, yet being a baby boomer, I love the feel of paper books and the medium of the past. The great news is that publishing is becoming multi-media. It took me awhile to “get” that all bloggers are not just writers; we are also publishers.

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts. ~ Richard Bach

One wonderful aspect of blogging: It’s a test balloon. If it weren’t for my blog, I would have continued focusing my memoir toward a baby boomer audience. It took that forum for experimentation to clarify to me that the real essence of my book is sharing how I learned to play the symbols and the guidance we are presented constantly on how to make the best choices for ourselves. I can’t imagine where I’d be today without dreams, meaningful coincidences, and an assortment of cosmic nudges. Cool saging—yes!—but we can’t even do that in a customized way without those personalized hints from On High.

My adventure into my astrology blog reminded me that I’d been there and done it before in the old paper medium. From 1992-95, I co-edited—later edited and published—a high-quality astrological newsletter called Chironicles. It was dedicated to helping astrologers share information on the relatively new planetary body discovered in 1977, Chiron. (There is so much information on Chiron on The Radical Virgo, I refer you there if you’re interested in learning more about the planet associated with healing, life’s purpose, and wholeness.)

To be able to compare blogging to the publication of Chironicles a decade and a half ago makes me understand why I am so much more at home and in love with electronic media. Things I had to pay a graphic artist and Kinko’s copying service to do back then, I can do myself and enjoy thoroughly. With incredible effort, I don’t think our subscription base at Chironicles ever exceeded 150 paid subscribers. Granted, Chiron was a new astrological entity that appealed to the leading edge and was not yet everyone’s cup of tea, but our following was international. I keep thinking of the costs I save with my electronic blogs, including pricey overseas postage. I am pleasantly surprised how The Radical Virgo has taken off and exceeded in four months by five-fold the readership I worked so hard to build over a four-year period in with Chironicles. If I hadn’t stepped out on faith to create The Radical Virgo, I’m not sure I would have ever connected the dots to realize how much past experience I brought to blogging and how much better it is than the way of the past.

New Vistas

With the launch of my first short fiction e-book, The Training Tape, and an astrology e-book on the near horizon, I seem to be deepening my commitment to what I like to call the eclectic, electronic ink of Joyce Mason.

Where I go from here is a bit up in the air, determined by my good old GPS (God Positioning System), but as the transferability from one writing medium to another becomes more fluid day by day, I can only say: I’m loving this wild ride. I hope you’re “in” for the continued adventure!


Photo credit: CELEBRATION CUPCAKE - NUMBER 100 © Dehooks


Jason said...

This is a great site you have. I have a paranormal blog myself and I would like to exchange links with you. Please let me know if this is possible. You can contact me through either email or simply by a comment on my site. Talk to you later. Jason

Joyce Mason said...

Hi, Jason--Thanks for leaving comments on both my blogs today. The first 10 people to comment during this 100th post party at Hot Flashbacks win a free copy of my e-book, "The Training Tape." I'll need an e-mail address to send it to you. Please e-mail me. I think I'll start a new blogroll category for those interested in paranormal.

Eileen Williams said...


Congratulations on your 100th post! As you know, I'm a great fan of your writing and I know you 'll continue inspiring us, your readers.

As far as blogging vs. writing a book, that can be a dilemma. You need to keep up the blogs to build a platform and an audience, but that leaves little time for writing in other ways. The good news is, however you choose to spend the bulk of your time, you are a talented and thoughtful artist. You can and do touch our hearts and souls with your words.

Joyce Mason said...

Eileen, we belong to a mutual admiration society--and a mutual inspiration one, too! Thanks for reminding me that substance is more important than form when it comes to writing, although I'm still bound and determined, at least of this writing, to get that paper book in print, even if I have to kiss up to Father Time and ask for an advance on my hours in the day allowance. :)

Christopher Laney said...

I'm a little late to the party, but congrats! After writing 100 posts, have you seen an improvement in your writing? I'd think with that much time and attention on it, you've probably seen a lot of growth as a writer.

Joyce Mason said...

Christopher, thanks for stopping by, even if the cupcakes are a little stale by now. Today's my birthday, so you can have some fresher, virtual BD cake!

To answer your question, nothing has honed my writing skills better than blogging. In two years, I have seen my writing become more concise with fewer edits needed and generally speaking, to flow with ease. Between my two blogs and website, I have posted some 150 articles in two years. Practice makes perfect! :)