Commenting Etiquette 101

Good Monday, everyone. Instead of the usual Monday lesson or information article, I felt compelled to step on my soapbox and have a wee rant about Blog Etiquette, specifically, visiting blogs and responding to posts.

I love to visit my friends’ blogs. I enjoy reading about their adventures, vacations, family moments, or whatever lessons they feel are important. Reading about what others feel and do broadens my perspective and also helps me to stay in touch with people in a more personal way. Some are like digital newsletters while others are like family scrapbooks. But what is important to remember is that they are sharing personal things, whether it is a lesson or an intimate family vacation, the blog is theirs, their thoughts, their impressions, theirs.

It’s a little like visiting someone’s home. When you go to another’s house, I was taught to behave. In other words, you don’t put your feet on the table, or shoes on the furniture. You mind your manners and be gracious. And blogs are much the same as going to someone’s house — you are a guest to them.

Problem is people visiting blogs have forgotten how to act. Guests behave badly these days.

So let’s review some fundamentals and bone up on our manners.

1. When visiting a blog or posting on someone’s social media page, remember it is THEIR page, not yours. They have a right to write what they will.

2. If you don’t like what is written, you have the right to leave, move on, pass over the post.

3. If you don’t like what is written, and it is a public forum, you have the right to your own opinion and may offer a dissenting viewpoint. But remember to mind your manners. You may NOT attack the author. Just as you would not attack someone in a person’s home, so you do not do it in a public forum. 

4. Do not show up to sell something. That’s rude and spamming. Never use someone’s invitation to their blog as a means to solicit. If I invite you to my house, you don’t get to have a Tupperware sale, or a Come-To-Jesus meeting. That’s inappropriate, rude, and disrespectful to use people that way, in case no one ever told you that.

5. In today’s world, everyone seems to be a writer. That’s great! Do not use a shared connection (we’re both writers or painters or singers or mothers, etc.) to ask for help. That is inappropriate to solicit in public in a comment. If you want to reach out to a person because you want help or need to share, use contact forms or send private messages or use email (if known). Stop using comments to ask for help or solicit anything.

6. Remember that your comments should address what the post is about. If the person writes about a recipe, then comment about how you tried it, how it sounds, if your family makes something similar, or ask a question about the recipe. Do NOT branch out into how the recipe is used by politicians to solicit votes (just a far flung example, folks). In other words, be in the moment and focus on what the person is saying/writing about. Reminder, this is THEIR house, not yours.

7. Do NOT come to people’s posts to ask them to buy your products or view your page. That is spamming. Do you know the sign that says NO SOLICITING?

8. Mind your manners. If the poster speaks about winning an award, congratulate them. If you don’t feel the love, move on. No one said you had to be there. If you won the award too, share! If you are jealous and don’t feel the award program was worthwhile, don’t spew your negativity. That’s rude and is meant to drag down the other person. Take your hate elsewhere or write your own post about it. Remember you are to comment on what is, not what should be or wasn’t. Don’t be a troll.

9. If the poster asks for your opinion, by all means give one. But remember to mind your manners and watch your language. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom to disparage or be foul. Would you do this inside of someone’s house as a guest? (If you would, then you need more manners than I can remind you of here!).

10. Remember that there are other means of expanding conversations if you feel it is warranted. Do NOT use other people’s posts as a means to advance yourself. Get your own blog for that, ok? Then maybe I’ll come and visit you.

11. Behavior as a commentor also defines you as a person. Are you trying to be seen as a professional in a like field as the poster? Perhaps in a field that may be of interest to the blog writer? Then act professional! People will notice those who carry themselves with a welcoming and professional attitude. Be a putz if you wish, but that will be your forever reputation. Is that what you really want? I hope not because that behavior can also get you deleted and blocked. That’s a huge UNWELCOME mat and people hear about folks who earned one.

Blogs are a good way to disseminate information, share photos, expand awareness, even approach controversy. I like them, and I like visiting them. But I never forget to mind my manners when I do.

I hope you will use and share these basic etiquette tips going forward. I think it will improve everyone’s experience as a poster and as a commentor.

Don’t forget that the owner of the residence has the right to toss you out on your ear should you be disruptive or unruly or downright nasty. The same holds true for online social media locations.

And as my mother always said, “always bring a gift when you are a guest.” If you can’t literally bring a gift, then let good manners be your present and the example for others.

__________________________________________

Did you participate in my NAME MY BAR CONTEST??  We have a winner!  Ann Nedich came up with the best idea and the new, trendy New Orleans bar will be called CLUB MALACHITE.

Rather appropriate since Dra’s eyes are green, the bar lights are green, and Dra just happens to own a malachite necklace which no one knew. I took that as Serendipity.

Congratulations Ann! You are now immortal. Have a Mini Malachite on the house!

_____________________________________

ATTENTION!   Going to do a FACEBOOK LIVE event on Wednesday March 29 at 7:30pm EDT.  It will be my first solo event, so come see me be foolish on my Facebook Author page.  I will be announcing something SPECIAL for April’s National Poetry Month. Remember to check out the archived video if you can’t join me live.

In honor of National Poetry Month, next Monday I will begin a series of articles about poetry, along with a schedule of when things will appear and special freebie book days! FREE! Stay tuned.

Thanks for joining me again. Please feel free to leave comments or use the contact form if you wish to reach me!

I remain, Yours Between the Lines,
Sherry

World Poetry Day is March 21

Tomorrow is World Poetry Day. Created in 1999 by UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the day was designed to promote poetry throughout the world, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements”.

On World Poetry Day there will be festivals, celebrations, mic events, random readings. Check with your local schools, libraries, community centers, universities to see what is going on near you. Look for open mic nights and show up to support those brave souls who recite aloud.

And don’t forget to try your hand at poetry tomorrow. After all, poetry is the music of the soul.  I’m telling you now in order for you to seek out some poetic fun.

Years ago, I knew a lady online who wrote some fabulous poetry. She did a poem I’ve kept with me that had a line in it, “just for one day, because we’re all poets.”

Well that’s World Poetry Day!  Because deep down we’re all a bit of a poet, reach in and tap into that crazy, secret part of you and write something funny, odd, serious, sad, wild, unusual or normal! But just for one day let your inner poet have free reign. And leave me something to read later, please?  So here I offer this for you. (Thanks K.K.)

Spring Haiku

Blooming daffodil,
yellow ink of Springtime tales
written for the heart.

-Sherry Rentschler

Ok, how about a CLEAN Limerick?

There once was a girl they called “Sherry,”
Whose poetry was really quite scary.
But you count on good times,
Despite her bad rhymes,
‘Cause at least her poems weren’t hairy!

Now, leave me one of yours! Go on, play! Release your poetic cracken and be a titan, if just for one day.

Don’t forget April is coming and that is National Poetry Month! I plan to share lots of goodies with you, so stay tuned.

_________________

Now for some odds and ends:

  • The winner of the Name My Bar contest will be announced this week. I hope you entered! All the details will be revealed — I hope I got a name that I will like!
  • Breaking The Glass Slipper won The Book Designer’s Ebook Cover Contest for Jan 2017. I was very excited and psyched! Enter those contests! Here’s my award:
 
  • Finally, look for a LIVE FACEBOOK event coming at the end of the month. Don’t know where to find me. Follow me here and watch for an announcement. I’ll also put a note here in the blog.

Before I go, I want to wish you all a Happy Spring! Wherever you are, know that winter is being pushed aside and the world is turning to a new season. The winds of change are here; the rains, the flowers, and the twitterpation of birds follows. This is the season of love and color. Allow yourself to be enchanted.

Thank you for dropping by.
I remain, Yours Between the Lines,
Sherry

Writers Need SenSEnces

At a recent Writers’ Group meeting, we went around the table and introduced our work-in-progress, genre, and what we hoped to achieve in the group. There we were chatting about our “stuff” and I overheard one writer make a comment, “I realized my character went through the entire book and never changed clothes.” We all had a good belly laugh at this but then – you know me – I turned that into a discussion about what characters have to have or do to be relatable, for the story to actually live and breathe.

And yes, your character needs to change clothes. More, your characters should do what you do, eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, shower, drive, be ill, burn food, shovel snow, etc. There should be food and dining — sleeping, relaxing, sex (do not have to have scenes but couples do mention it), accidents, arguments — well, the list goes on forever.

The reason for these “life events” is twofold. First, these real events give truth to your characters (even ones on odd, new worlds). Second, they can be the catalysts for moving your story forward.

I am particularly aware of my “scenes” when I write. How do you show and not tell when your character is listening to others? Maybe it is in the food. Does it remind your character of something unpleasant? Maybe the smell of Lysol from the kitchen brings back a hospital stay, so your character cannot eat because the smell drives him/her from the room. Remember you don’t have to outline every nuance for your readers; hopefully the subtle meaning will be enough.

Everyone is good at sights and sounds. What about the way a person speaks? Are characters’ voices clearly understood? Maybe a drawl gives a false perception to your character that causes them to jump to conclusions or say something untoward to the other person. Let those things happen and suddenly you have a much richer moment and your character has character (good or bad). Church bells, car alarms, screaming, laughter — all are important aspects to character but can also move action forward with purpose, too.

Do you use touch in your moments? Perhaps the silk of a flower against a cheek or the rough skein or a woolen scarf in winter reminds a little boy of being wet and cold and scolded by his mother. Or a single finger tracing over a woman’s knuckle by a reticent lover enlarges her pupils. Often these activities tell more than any dialogue could. Use them to advantage and let the action explain the character (he was a romantic man is better understood through the touch of a rose to her lips).

Back to that character who never changed clothes during the entire book. Of course, the writer is going back to fix this, but when the fixing is happening, so much more will result because of the change! Nakedness can have an important voice (mind out of gutter now) for babies, surely, but for adults the bare necessity holds a myriad of possibilities. A dress chosen instead of a pantsuit by a pants-wearing character. A pair of jeans and a Henley instead of Mr. Wall Street’s usual Armani suit. Hmm, casual Friday, weekend getaway or…something more nefarious afoot? Maybe an allergy to silk can lead to murder or laughter. How you need to develop the tale can depend on how your clothes feel to your character. Maybe she changed her hose because it wasn’t her skin color or there was a hole in the sock.

Sometimes, the senses can let your character down, and you should allow it to happen. What about the guard dog that failed to pick up a critical scent, the speeding driver who didn’t hear the fire truck for the loud music in the car with the screaming pregnant woman in the back seat, the little child who holds a first dandelion (stares at it and promptly eats it), the plastic surgery gone awry and the moment a patient gets that first look? The failures can be critical too. Use them but use the sensory part of it to tell your tale. Don’t simply tell us about it. That’s so boring and not nearly as fun.

So, you ask, why didn’t the character change clothes? Did the writer lack the talent to do this? No, the writer spent more time on the surroundings instead of the intimacies of the character. The writer made a lush, active sci-fi world but forgot to let the character live fully within it.

That’s why you need to let your character use all the senses and become a real person. Change the clothes; maybe do the laundry. Notice the stinky socks. Your story will thank you for it and we, the readers, will be begging you for more stories that we can’t forget or stop reading.

***

Coming in April, I’m going to do a series on understanding poetry. So be sure to tune in for a perspective that I promise you have not seen!

***

I’M RUNNING A BAR/CLUB NAMING CONTEST!  Are you clever? I’m running a contest to find a very cool, not cliché, name of a vampire bar/club in New Orleans. This establishment belongs to my redheaded vampire Drahomira from my urban fantasy novella, Midnight Assassin – A Tale of Lust and Revenge.  There will be permanent name recognition to the winner and signed books too. Contest ends on March 19.  So ENTER HERE!  And Good Luck!  Winners will be announced on March 21.

***

LOOK FOR A LIVE CHAT ON FACEBOOK COMING AT THE END OF THE MONTH!

As always, thanks for dropping by. Leave a comment and say hello.

Yours Between the Lines,
Sherry