Sunday, 31 May 2015

Thought Of The Day - Week 3

This is the round up of my #ThoughtOfTheDay tweets, week 3. Check out week 2 here:

Live Love Laugh and Be Happy Smiley
Live, love, laugh and be happy!
Cartoon people hugging
Sometimes all you need is some to tell you everything is ok - and then it is.
Bird in flight
If you don't spread your wings, how do you expect to fly?
Sihouette of tree and people jumping for joy
Allow yourself to be happy!
Exclamation mark
Live like the person you aspire to be not the person others think you should be.
One day you will only be a memory, make sure you are remembered for the right reasons!

Aim high, push yourself, and if it doesn't work the first time, keep pushing yourself. You will get there!
Which is your favourite?
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Fictional Fun Linky Number 1

Here goes! My first ever linky! To say I'm a little nervous would be an understatement, but I'm also really excited!

The theme is Fictional Fun! Link up your short stories or poems, your posts about fiction, books, writing, authors, book reviews, literally anything about fiction or books. Any genre, any age group!

I will read and comment on every post linked.

The rules.
1. Please make sure the posts fit the theme.
2. Link up to 3 posts, old or new.
3. Please add my badge to any linked up posts - copy and paste the code into the HTML section of your post.
4. Please read and comment on at least 2 other posts, but feel free to do as many as you want to! Share the love!
5. To keep up to date with what's happening when, feel free to follow me on Twitter @randommusings29
6. Share your post's URL on Twitter using #fictionalfun and @randommusings29 and I will retweet them all!
The last 2 aren't rules as such: number 5 is just a polite request ;) and as for number 6, after you go to the effort of linking up, you may as well get a bit of extra publicity for your posts :)

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Saturday, 30 May 2015

June theme reveal - Fictional Fun

Man holding a book

I am very excited to announce June's theme officially. It is (drum roll please) Fictional Fun!
There's going to be so much going on, all of which I'm very excited to share with you all!

*As a lot of you will know by now, there will be a linky starting each Monday for you to link up any fiction themed posts. It can be a story or poem, a post about authors, books, reading lists, book reviews, kids, adults, YA, literally anything fiction/book related. So please do stop by and link up your posts! Full details can be found here:

*Every Tuesday, there will be a short story, the first will be from me, then each Tuesday after that there will be one from some other fabulous writers. Featuring stories from Janet Cooper, Adeem Sadiq, E.L Whicker, and Lucy Connors, this is one not to be missed!

*There will also be a four part story running every Friday!

*There will also be book reviews, posts about general fiction, guest posts, an extract from a YA charity book and more!

*Also a few old favourites will still be running alongside the theme, and I will be amazed if I get through the month without doing a couple of opinion/topical pieces!

It's not too late to get involved! If you would like to submit a guest post (on this theme or one of the upcoming themes) check here for all the details:

What do you think? Are you excited by what's to come?

There will be a lot going so to make sure you don't miss anything, follow me by email or on Bloglovin, links to follow me are just to the right of this post!

Follow me on Twitter @randommusings29 and feel free to comment :)

Friday, 29 May 2015

My Monthly Reflections - May

reflection of the sun setting

This has been a really good month for me. It's been the month where I've sat down and really reflected on what I want to do with my blog. I've got loads of ideas about what is going to be happening over the next couple of months and beyond, but this is a post on looking back, not forward, so I won't go into that here (stayed tuned though, tomorrow will be the official reveal of June's themes and what to expect!)
May saw the second half of the A-Z challenge, followed by the Desert Island Favourites mini theme, with a fair few bonus posts thrown in for good measure. It's the month for me when everything clicked into place. I hit my 10,000 page views, which I am so excited about! My readership per post more than trebled since last month, with a lot of readers returning several times over the course of the month. It also brought a lot of comments, which I love reading and replying to. So thank you to each every one of you who has read my posts, commented on them, shared them - it means so much to me that people visit my little corner of the internet world.
Before I get too slushy, here's my monthly round up:

My most viewed posts:
1. Election: The results and the fallout
2. V is for Victim Blaming
3. T is for Twitter

The posts I most enjoyed writing:
1. S is for Signs you are addicted to blogging - This post was very light hearted and a lot of fun to write
2. When blogging goes bad - There's nothing like sharing your own stupidity and tantrums with the world!
3. Ireland: Leading the way into equality for all - I was so happy to learn that the "Yes" vote went through, and writing this post was such a positive experience. Even though I'm not Irish, I felt strangely proud writing it

My least viewed posts:
1. U is For Uncle Sam
2. Z is for Zealot
3. My One Lovely Blog Award part 2
Technically, mu least viewed post was My New Blog Button but that one doesn't really count as I didn't promote it at all, it was more just an experiment to see how the button looked in a post!

The post I least enjoyed writing:
X is for the X factor of writing I would love to say none of them. I write because I love it, and usually I wouldn't write about something that held no interest for me. However, as part of the A to Z Challenge, the rule is to do a post for each letter of the alphabet. X didn't have a lot of options, and this post felt "forced". It got pretty well read though, so hopefully that didn't come across in the way it was written.

I'm not going to get too hung up on the less popular posts - after all if you have 10 readers or 10 million readers, something has to come last, and I'm trying to convince myself this is the case here rather than the posts being terrible! It could also be that the titles didn't sound as interesting as some of the others.

If you have a spare few minutes, why not check out my best posts - or show a little love to less popular ones!

What were your best and worst posts this month?

Follow me on Twitter @randommusings29 and feel free to comment :)
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My Peek - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly!

A few weeks ago I read a blog post about a website called Peek (I'm sorry I can't credit the blogger, it was so long ago I can't remember where I read it). It was one of those things I thought looked interesting but never got around to trying. Until yesterday.
Yesterday I finally tried it, and it is fantastic!

An eye

Peek is a website (find it here that allows you to really get a feel for how visitors to your blog or website use your site. It's really simple. You enter your url and your email address and within a couple of hours, you get mailed a video.
The video is a real time video of a real person viewing your site. You get to see the screen of their computer as they do, where they click etc. It has also a commentary by them on areas such as what they think the website they are viewing is all about, what they like, what they don't like and their general opinions. You can do up to 3 peeks a month for free. If you haven't tried it, I would highly recommend it.

My Peek - The Good
* The lady viewing my blog instantly recognised it as a blog.
* She liked my "about me" page because she said she likes to have a feel for the person she is reading about, something I've never really considered.
* She said I sound open and honest in what I write which is fantastic as that is pretty much the whole concept of my blog!
* She said if she had longer than five minutes to spend on the site (that's the approx. length of the peek video) there was some posts which caught her eye and she would like to read!
My Peek - The Bad
* She thought my font was too plain. While I do try to take on board any constructive criticism, this is one area I just can't change - I can't stand fussy fonts, so I would never subject my readers to them!
* She said my images didn't really convey what the posts where about. In hindsight I agree on that, and it is something I will be working on.
* She wanted more images. Again this is something I will work on. For more serious posts, I think a lot of images can distract from the meaning behind the post, but on some of the more light hearted posts, I will try and incorporate this.
My Peek - The Ugly!
This is a bit of a strange one. The lady really didn't like my background theme picture. She said that's because it's too abstract. I purposely chose the theme I did because it looked abstract and I thought that perfectly represented the random nature of the blog, so I'm not sure what to read into that one really!
To the Peek lady - If you did decide to come back and read those posts that caught your eye, and are now reading this, I would like to say thank you for some really useful insights!
Have you tried Peek? Did you love it? Hate it? Did you get anything useful from your video?
Follow me on Twitter @randommusings29, and feel free to comment :)

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Desert Island Favourites - Books

I thought I would finish my Desert Island Favourites mini series with the five books I would take to a desert island, as that's the perfect lead in to June's theme. I feel these books should be things like Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Chaucer, Bronte etc, but I am going to be honest, and tell you the ones I would actually take because I enjoy reading them, not ones I think I should be seen to read.
The books I would take have to be books I can happily read over and over again. So, on that note, the 5 books I would take are:

1. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel. This book is one of my all time favourites. I've read it more times than I can remember and every time I come away with something I had previously missed!
2. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. I remember being about 11 when I first read this, and I was truly horrified. I think it was the first adult horror book I ever read, and it certainly got me hooked on the genre.
3. The Pact by Jodi Picoult. This is one of those books that stay with you long after you put it down. I talk a little more about it here:
4.The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I know a trilogy is maybe cheating a little, but I love this series and I couldn't take one without the others!
5. The Shining by Stephen King. This is the closest I can come to having a classic on my list, and many people will argue the point of the book being a classic. To me it is and always will be. I love Stephen King and this is a fine example of him doing what he does best.

Which books would you take?

Follow me on Twitter @randommusings29 and feel free to comment :)
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Desert Island Favourites - TV box sets

The latest in the Desert Island Favourites series is TV boxsets! I love this magic island, where there seems to be all the latest electrical equipment, power to it, but no way to escape, don't you?
I'm not saying these are top 5 favourite programmes (although some might make top 10), but these are the ones I can watch over and over again without getting bored, and I think that would be a major factor! So without further ado, the 5 TV boxsets I would take to a desert island are:

1. Friends - This is my all time favourite comedy series. It's so watchable. I have seen every episode more times than I can count, but I still keep watching them over and over. They still make me laugh, and the line "I got off the plane" still brings a lump to my throat. Every single time.
2. The Inbetweeners - I find this hilarious. I think it's so relatable because everyone knows someone who could fit each if the characters (or maybe that's just me!)
3. Father Ted - I think this is so well done. They manage to explore all the stereotypes found in the Catholic church without being overly offensive!
4. Outnumbered - I find this funny, yet also pretty realistic. The kids in it are brilliant!
5. The Good Wife - I thought I better have something on the list that's not comedy! I could watch this more than once I think, and there's loads of episodes, each one almost an hour long so it would take a while to get through!

Which ones would you choose?

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Blame One Not All!

Just today, I came across the #BlameOneNotAll thread on Twitter. It is quite an eye opener to see men posting using the hashtag! Needless to say, it got me quite annoyed. To find out why, pop on over to Zusterschap Collective and read my post!


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Desert Island Favourites - Albums

Today's desert island favourites post is the 5 music albums I would take to a desert island, again I'm assuming this is a magic island that has something I can listen to music on!

1. Mothership by Led Zeppelin
2. Greatest Hits by The Foo Fighters
3. Red by Taylor Swift
4. Greatest Hits by Blink 182
5. American Wedding Soundtrack by Various

These are 5 of the albums I never ever get sick of listening to! I had trouble narrowing it down to 5 though, there are so many great albums out there.

Which albums would you choose?

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Monday, 25 May 2015

When Blogging Goes Bad!

On Wednesday night/Thursday morning, around 3am, I almost deleted my blog! The picture above represents perfectly how I felt at that moment.

Around 10pm Wednesday night, I was happily scrolling through my Twitter feed, not a care in the world, when one of my pre-scheduled tweets for the day's new post happened to pop up. Bear in mind this tweet, or a variation of it, had been going out once an hour since 10am. Something looked weird about it, and as I looked I realised to my horror the link to the post was wrong!
Through the day I had noticed the views the post was getting were a lot less than a new post normally gets, but I put it down to the fact the post was a reflection piece on the A to Z challenge I had just completed - maybe it was only of interest to other people who had completed the challenge? My other posts were getting viewed so I hadn't been overly worried. It didn't even occur to me to check the link I was posting - talk about a rookie mistake!
After the initial shouting, swearing and generally morphing into a crazy person, I took a deep breath sent out a couple of frantic tweets explaining what had happened and told myself it couldn't get any worse. I didn't know the universe was going to take that as a challenge!
I've hearing a lot recently about Google Analytics and been meaning to give it a try. I figured now was a good a time as any - maybe I would get some useful insights as to how badly the link issue had affected the day!
I went off and looked into it. I wasn't prepared for how much of a mammoth task it was going to be. Seriously, if you're blog is still relatively new, and you think there's even the tiniest chance you might want to use this feature in the future, I would highly recommend you start now.
The site generates a bit of code which, unless you are a confident enough web designer to embed this in the mainframe of the website, (which I am not so much can go wrong fiddling about with this if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing) you then need to go paste the bit of code into every single blog post and every single page.
As it's now getting on for 1am, I had nothing better to do so off I went, on my pasting journey. Now for most of my posts and all of my pages, this was uneventful - edit, HTML, paste, update, move on. A little boring, but simple enough.
However, for around 10 posts (I still don't know why these were different, or what happened) pasting in the code somehow made my blog decide these were new posts, which had to be displayed right at the top of my blog with a time code that said they had just been published! And of course, they had to be the oldest posts, some of them about topical things that are by now three months out of date!
Luckily, of all the posts this happened to, only one had comments on (if someone has taken the time to write a comment, deleting that post seems awfully rude) and they were so old, they probably bore no relevance to my blog today. So I deleted them. It wasn't something I wanted to do and I was unhappy about it to say the least, but needs must I suppose.
So code added, old posts deleted I eagerly went off to check my analysis - and it hadn't worked. The last two hours of pasting in code had all been in vain, I had deleted posts for nothing! It just wasn't worth it! It was the final straw in a day of blogging mishaps, and I went back to my blog with the full intention of deleting it altogether and putting the whole blogging thing down to experience - I figured if that many things went wrong all at once, I clearly wasn't cut out for this. I was over it and I was done with it!
Something stopped me - I don't know what, maybe the thought of all the hours of work that went into it, maybe the fact that analysing my stats wasn't that big a deal, I'm not sure, but I decided to close down, and if I still felt the same way the next morning I would delete it then and not look back.
Thursday morning came around, and I had had a change of heart. I put on my big girl pants, and gave myself a right good talking to. I'm not one for spitting my dummy out, and in that moment I didn't like how easily I was willing to quit (I'm detoxing this week, so maybe it was lack of carbs and sugar making me a bit irritable?).
I decided to pop back to Google Analytics, and see if I had missed any steps, if not, I would delete the code from all the posts and live without the stats!
I opened the site, and lo and behold, there it was - my first report. Somehow I had managed to miss the part where it says the first report can take up to 24 hours to generate! I'm glad I added the analytics and I would recommend it if you just want an in depth look at the demographic of your readers. But I urge you to read it all properly first!
I really can't believe how close I came to throwing in the towel because of a few set backs. I'm glad the rational part of mind eventually put in an appearance and stopped me deleting it - I how would have been gutted Thursday morning if I'd have gone through with it.
So what have I learned from this?
1. Sometimes, you are going to have days like this one. When it gets to the point where you are this angry, nothing is going to go right, and the smallest thing will feel like the end of the world. Walk away. Switch the computer off and don't go back until you are in a better frame of mind.
2. Never give up! In the moment, you will want to - that feeling won't last forever, just wait it out!
3. Never make decisions in anger! I already knew this one, but that night sure brought it home to me!
Sometimes, you just have to remember my favourite saying - worse things happen at sea!

Have you had a day like this? How did you overcome it?
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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Desert Island Favourites - Essential Items

Part 2 of my Desert Island Favourites series - my top 5 essential items I would take to a desert island!

1. A knife: A knife is so versatile. I could use it to cut down branches to use to build some sort of shelter, to cut firewood, to cut pretty much anything! I'm sure if I turned my mind to it, I could even use it to shave my legs!
2. Some very strong string: To be used to bind the wood along with some leaves to hold my shelter together!
3. A lighter/matches: Just until I get the hang of using a couple of sticks of course.
4. Some heavy duty sun block: I really don't like the idea of being burnt to a crisp while I'm stranded!
5. Water purifying tablets: For obvious reasons!

Two posts on this and I think I'm Bear Grylls - building shelters, fires, the works. I think I could manage the fire ok. And the shelter, well, if I can do a flat pack wardrobe, this should be child's play! I just hope there are a lot of fruit trees, because standing knee deep in the sea trying to spear a fish doesn't sound like my idea of a fun day!

What would your 5 essential items be?

Stay tuned, the mini theme continues on Wednesday!

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