Hi Writers,
It’s the fourth week in my ongoing quest to add one writer’s blog to my blogroll each week for 20 weeks.

If you’ve been following my Project 20/20, one thing you’ve probably noticed is that I have eclectic tastes. After last week’s choice of J.A. Konrath’s blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, there was some discussion on our forum about whether a writer’s blog should offer entry into their personal/writing life.

I think there is a place for it. If you’re able to craft scenes from your life into writing for your blog that’s relevant to others, I say go for it.

The number one problem I see though, is that many writers, when writing for their blog, seem to forget the number one prerogative for all writers: respect your reader.

They’re including lots of mundane, undigested, stream-of-conscious type stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense or have relevance to anyone outside of their circle of acquaintances. I’d strongly recommend that if you’re keeping a blog as a highly personal journal or diary—keep a password on it so it’s out of the public domain. You don’t want to offer the world a poor reflection of your writing.

There are some writers, however, who are doing a spectacular job of incorporating their personal/writing life into their blogs.

Here’s a good example of a writer who’s doing it well. The Week 4 add to my blogroll:
Shanghai Adventures of a Trailing Spouse by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

This link takes you to the home page of Kristin’s website, which is stunning. This is one great looking website/blog. But lest you writers think I’m choosing style over substance, check out her blog. Her posts are well-crafted and offer great insight into her adventurous writing life as she writes her first novel.

There’s much here to offer inspiration to other writers. I especially love this post she did recently, Writing: On Process. The Novel as Pie Crust.

Kristin, please tell us: Did you design this site on your own? Do you take these beautiful photographs? And has keeping the blog helped motivate you to keep pushing forward on your novel?

Shanghai Adventures of a Trailing Spouse is now, forever and always, emblazoned on my blogroll hall of fame.

There’s still 16 weeks/16 blogs to go, so keep the nominations coming!

Keep Writing,


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3 thoughts on “PROJECT 20/20 BUILD MY BLOGROLL: WEEK 4 ADD!

  1. The Writer Mama

    Hey, Maria, you have awesome taste to pick Kristin O’Keeffe’s blog, Shanghai Adventures of a Trailing Spouse. Of course, we already knew that you had great taste and what a fabulous blogroll contest. I love it.

    I’ve known Kristin for fifteen years (we met in grad school at Columbia College Chicago…same school that J.A. Konrath attended BTW) and she is not just a talented blogger (that’s fairly recent), she is also the liveliest writer I know of in both fiction and nonfiction. You should see her novels…

    Kristin, congratulation on your blogination!

  2. Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

    Hey Maria,

    Thanks for spotlighting my website/blog. Right now, here in Shanghai, I’m doing the “I’m forever emblazoned on Maria’s blogroll” dance! (And thanks, too, for turning me on to Brock Clarke’s “An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England.” It’s now at the top of my next-order-from-amazon list.)

    Kudos to you and the folks on the forum for pointing out that blogging writers need to keep their readers in mind as they blog. Obviously (as you’ll see if you read my blog) I’m a big advocate of blogging writers dipping into their personal lives, but whenever I sit down to write an entry, I imagine my reader—a writer in Boise, Idaho, or an armchair traveler in Luxembourg who may never get to visit China—and I keep that reader in my head the whole time I’m writing. If I forget her and accidentally start to wax poetic about the way my toothbrush gleams in the smoggy morning light of new millennium Shanghai (I mean, who really cares?), I pinch myself on the arse, hit the delete key, and get back to the topic at hand.

    As a writing teacher, I’m always talking process with my students, but to write about my own process as I progress through this novel has been profound. The big question for me as I plan blog entries is, How do I get a non-writer (like my husband, the engineer) or a beginning writer or even a seasoned writer to really understand how to write a novel? And then, how do I make that entertaining? These two questions drive me forward in both the blog and the book. The two projects work together in my head, and there’s a relationship between them that I didn’t plan or expect.

    Finally, thanks for the kind words about my website. Yep, the design is all mine (thanks to iWeb and my dearly beloved Mac). The photos are mine, too. There’s nothing better than wandering around China with my camera. This country is beautiful, quirky, and so compelling. I’m pretty darn lucky to get to live here for a while.

    So thanks again! Can’t wait to see who your lucky Week 5 add will be!


  3. Michael


    This entry prompted a marketing question.

    I read your blog entry above, and thought this was an excellent comment–"The number one problem I see though, is that many writers, when writing for their blog, seem to forget the number one prerogative for all writers: respect your reader."

    Then I opened Kristin’s blog and noticed that one of her twelve links is to "The Al Gore-Initiated Live Earth Concerts," and I wondered how much a writer’s political views, when made public, define who their readers will be.

    I realize some writers do it intentionally in order to attract a certain market group. If Al Franken says something to offend conservatives, it will only endear him to liberals and make them more likely to buy his book. Ann Coulter knows if she takes a jab at liberals, conservatives will be more likely to buy her books. In other words, they do what they do to make points that can lead to more "controversy," which can lead to more coverage, which can finally lead to more sales.

    What about writers who write stories without any apparent political agenda? Do we risk alienating some potential readers if we post a link to politicians or other controversial people, or does it matter?