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A Writing Prompt for Flash Fiction Writers

Writing prompts can help us get our fingers moving over a keyboard when we are fresh out of ideas. Photos often act as writing prompts for me, but I wanted to throw this one out for any of my readers who might want to use it.

A Bench Where Lovers Often Sit on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, © B. Radisavljevic
A Bench Where Lovers Often Sit on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, © B. Radisavljevic

Whenever I walk the boardwalk at Moonstone Beach, I can’t help looking to see who, if anyone, is sitting on what I call “Lovers Bench.” I don’t know if anyone else calls it that. It sits here close to and looking out at the ocean. It is partially hidden by a tree. It is a private hideaway, which although visible, seems to be respected. People may peak (or even take a photo from a respectful distance), but few would approach or disturb anyone sitting there. You can usually see a couple sitting on this bench, but I waited until they left before taking this picture because I didn’t want to cause embarrassment.

When we visited Moonstone Bach on another Sunday, the bench was empty and the light was right, so I took this shot of the bench itself, up close. That is how I happened to see all the hearts and initials. I am quite sure this bench would tell many stories if it could talk. I am not good at making up these stories, since I don’t write fiction. I would love to see what any flash fiction writers reading this are able to come up with. Perhaps someone with a good imagination might even use it as a seed idea for a novel. If you can’t see all the initials and hearts, just click to expand the photo.

Lovers Bench in Cambria, © B. Radisavljevic
Lovers Bench in Cambria, © B. Radisavljevic

So I throw out the challenge. Write a story this bench might tell and leave a link to it in the comments. If you are a member of BlogJob, you might leave a note on my wall that says you took my challenge and post your link to it. If you don’t belong to BlogJob yet, why not join today? I am looking forward to reading your stories.

Pictures and content are original and may not be used without permission, B. Radisavljevic, Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved . Permission is given for anyone who writes a story based on this bench photo as suggested here to use it in their story if they link back to this post at the bottom of the story and include this attribution near the photo where it is visible: © B. Radisavljevic, used by permission.

All About Groups on BlogJob

Groups Are a Great Way to Get to Know Other Members So You Can Help Each Other

BlogJob Group Members Help Each Other
BlogJob Group Members Help Each Other

If you recently joined BlogJob, you’ve probably been invited to join one or more groups. Maybe you have even started your own group. Groups are a wonderful way for those of us using BlogJob to get together and talk about a common interest. To help make the site function well for everyone, I have some suggestions for both those starting groups and using groups.

Should You Start a Group?

Before you start a group, click on the forums button at the top of whatever page you are on. This is especially important if you just have a question to ask. The place to ask it is in one of those forums. If you don’t see your question in one of them, start a new topic in the appropriate forum. Don’t rush to start a new group to ask a question like ‘How do I change the default tagline in my blog.” Those kinds of questions can be asked in the Website Design forum. There is also a Support Forum for questions about how the site works, payment, etc. Ask simple questions in the forums.

If you start a group just to ask a question, once it’s answered, there’s nothing left to discuss in your group and it will be dead. Groups are all about discussing subjects many people are interested in. If you start a group just to ask one question, many people will think you are just trying to get points. Your group will also die soon because there will be nothing to talk about anymore.

If you would like to get many members with a common interest together to discuss many aspects of that interest, it’s appropriate to start a group. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a good way to search for the existence of groups already formed here. I’d love to have a list of all public groups available so that all people with the same interest could join one large group that is more active. If you suspect a number of your friends share your interest, it might pay to start the group and invite them.

How to Manage a Group You Created

Starting a group and inviting people to join is just a beginning. The directions on how to set up your group are under the rewards tab. Some group leaders think that after they set a group up, their responsibilities are over. That’s simply not true if you want your group to thrive.

A group needs an active leader to keep the group healthy. One way to do this is to take leadership. Open the group forum. Start a few question topics. Use the group home page to link to new forum topics so that people will participate. Check your group for new activity at least every two days to respond to new questions and comments. Allow members to invite others to become members. The more people you have in a group the better the discussions will be.

How to Use Groups

Use BlogJob Groups wisely.
Use BlogJob Groups wisely.

Groups are a great way to get to know other BlogJob members with similar interests. Don’t join groups just to get points. Join groups with topics you are really interested in and then check them often and interact. See if there is a new topic in the forum. Maybe you could even start one and then announce it on the home page so other members will notice. Your group creator may not know how to use the forum yet. Help out. The more you are able to interact in the forum and encourage others to do so, the more points everyone will earn.

I would recommend that you only join groups with creators who have demonstrated they are active in participating in the discussions on people’s walls and in some of the established forums. Join just a few groups at first. After all, ten is plenty to help you make friends and get participation points if the groups are active.

I belong to 67 groups now and many of them were mistakes to join. I’d leave them, but I lose points if I do. If you reject an invitation for an iffy group, you will probably get another invitation later. You don’t have to decide immediately to accept or reject. Take some time to think it over. You won’t be sorry. I think 25 groups is a good number to ensure you always have an interesting topic to talk about.

Whether you create groups or join the groups of others, take an active part and have a good time. You will be helping each other meet your goals here while you learn from  each other.


Making Friends and Getting Followers At BlogJob and Other Writing Sites

Making Friends When You Are A Newbie on BlogJob

How to Make Friends in Online Writing Communities
How to Make Friends in Online Writing Communities

Everyone wants to make friends on a new site. That’s the first thing many people think about when they join. Just as in real life, online friends are the relationships that help you succeed in your writing life and on any given site. It would seem, then, that making as many friends as possible as soon as possible is good stategy. You should plan that strategy carefully.

There are many styles of making friends and accepting friend requests. Some people join a site and start sending friend requests to every name they see before they do anything else. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Many people are like me and only accept friend requests when they think  they will want to interact with that potential friend and read his writing. The only way to judge that is to have something to read. When I go to a potential friend’s wall, I want to see more than a row of “X and Y are now friends.” I want to see some activity in groups besides just starting or joining them. I want to see if you have set up a blogging site yet and posted to it so I can sample one of your posts. I want to see if your blogs will be on any subjects I’m interested in.

My Strategy for Making Online Friends in Writing Communities

Face on WallHere’s a stategy I recommend to newbies on any social site where one wants to become connected to others.

  • Send friend requests only to people who already know you from another site until you’ve posted something to read that tells people more about you.
  • Be sure you post your photo before trying to make friends. Otherwise it seems you aren’t serious about being active.
  • Post an update on your wall to introduce yourself. In it you might want to list the sites where you have been and your user names there so that old friends from other sites will recognize you. Mention the interests you will be likely to write about. You might want to mention whether you are young or old and your marital status or information about your family or job. Maybe you could mention a bit about where you live — urban or rural area, big city or small town. This gives potential friends an idea of what they may have in common with you.
  • Join a few existing groups and be active.
  • Send friend requests to people you see posting and commenting in groups and forums if you feel a connection with them. If in doubt, check their walls to see what’s there.  Respond to what they’ve posted on their walls. That gets you noticed in a positive way. Read a blog post they’ve written and comment. That will really get you noticed in a positive way, as long as your comment is thoughtful and not spammy.
  • Check the walls of people who send you friend requests before accepting if you haven’t noticed them being active. See the last dates of their activity. If it’s more than a week ago and they don’t have blogs, they may not be planning to hang around. People often have good reasons for an extended absence of a week or more when they are normally active, but if a person joins, makes a few friends and joins a few groups and doesn’t post much in those groups, chances are that person will drops out soon and the relationship won’t help either of you in the long run.

Maintaining Online Friendships

Share What Friends Write
Share What Friends Write

Once you have started making friends, pay attention to them. Try to visit the walls of at least three active friends a day and read their blog posts and updates. If they are good for a general audience you connect with on social media, share their work. You can see which friends have the most recent activity by looking under the ad under the points history on your wall, profile and invitation pages. Try to visit one or more of your groups every day and try to post or respond to something in them. Visit groups you have started every day to make sure they stay active.

If you do these things, you will soon have more geniune friends in writing communities than you can keep up with. Do the best you can to help others succeed, and they will help you, too. That’s how social networks and writing sites are supposed to work.

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