7 Reasons Why Nobody Is Reading Your Blog.

New Moon visited my blog, so I returned the favor and found this delightful and informative post on improving your blog traffic. Always Write is a hobby blog, but traffic is still important because interactions with others drive our enthusiasm. But New Moon drives home some deeper ideas, and I think you will enjoy them.

New Lune

One of the most common struggles every blogger faces is probably not gaining traffic or followers as much as they would like to. For some bloggers, that’s not a problem at all whilst for others, it is. There is nothing to feel embarrassed or ashamed of for wanting to grow your blog. We all have been there. My first year of blogging was pretty much non-existent. I either published multiple articles or I didn’t post anything for months. I believe I had around 500 followers by the time I hit my first bloganniversary.

As I always say, numbers aren’t everything. When I hit 100 followers on my blog, it felt like I hit 100k followers! Now, that I’ve been blogging consistently for a couple of years – I try not to focus or look at numbers that much since it can get quite unhealthy. With that said, if…

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#Haiban: Illusion of Magic



This week’s Tanka Tuesday poetry challenge was an Ekphrastic #PhotoPrompt provided by Lisa Thompson. Thanks Lisa.

“Don’t Eat the Toadstools.”

… called her grandfather as three-year-old Sarah ran ahead of him across the park lawn to peek at the little fairy tables. “They’re poisonous.”

“They’re fairy tables. I don’t eat tables, Silly Grandpa,” Sarah called back at her grandpa as the wind whipped her words and carried them far away from him where he couldn’t hear them.

She reached the trees where the toadstools grew. All around the mushrooms growing in the ground were larger cement “fairy tables” that beckoned to children to step into their magic circle with a posted sign that said, “Never step inside a fairy ring.”

Sarah was only three and couldn’t read. She touched the sign. It was rough where the someone scratched out curly words. Sarah had questions that would hardly wait. Did fairies write the sign in magical writing? Could her grandpa even read the fairy writing? Where were the fairies?

Getting down on all fours, as three-year-olds are prone to do, she turned her head from side to side looking under the heavy toadstools for a sign of winged magic. She pushed the cement fungi. They didn’t move.

“Hurry up, Grandpa,” she called. “I need help.”

“Don’t go in there, Sarah,” Grandpa warned as he leaned against a tree and panted.

“Does this sign say when the fairies will come to eat?”

“It does not. It says to stay out. Which of the toadstools do you think are real, Sarah, the little or the big ones?”

Polar opposites
Old teaches young teaches old
Different perspectives

“They both are. Grandpa. I could sit on those big ones.”

“And you’re not even a toad.”

Sarah swiped her hand against her grandpa’s sweatered arm and pulled him closer to the sign.

“You’re a toad, Grandpa. You didn’t read the sign. What does it say? Do toads like fairies?”

Storybook fairies
In the eyes of a child
Illusions alive

As an answer, her grandpa sat down on a bench near the cluster of mushroom statues.

“It’s a very old sign, little one. The writing is almost cursive but not quite. Maybe old English. You explore under the big trees while I sit here and rest. But don’t go near the big mushrooms. How many real toadstools do you think you can find? I see one already. “

He pointed to a small orange mushroom with a slanted stem under a tree.

Myths about these mystical fungi pass from generation to generation and back again. Photo – Wolfgang Hasselmann

Sarah squatted and looked under the tiny mushroom. No fairies. She pushed it. It bounced. She pinched it. It squished and left black fairy dust on her fingers.

Sparking investigation
Yielding first failure

“I killed the fairy’s table, Grandpa.” Sarah cried as she ran to her grandpa wiping her tears with her spore-coated fingers. “Now the fairy won’t have a place to eat. She will die.”

Grandpa took out his handkerchief, because this happened a very long time ago when grandpa’s had handkies with them at all times in case of emergencies. As he wiped Sarah’s face, five kids about six or seven years of age ran up to the cement toadstools, bumping into each other as they stopped to read the sign.

One girl couldn’t stop in time and fell into the ring of the fairies. Suddenly the toadstools came to life and fog spilled out from under them and the little girl was immersed in cold, wet clouds.

Mechanical toadstools
Concocted to ignite dreams
And delight children

Sarah jumped up and down, screeching like little girls do as she ran into the center of the fairy ring of toadstools. She grabbed the bigger girl’s hands and they spun around as all the kids danced in the fairy’s fog.

Fairies forgotten
In the joy of children's play
Expectations changed
by Marsha Ingrao

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Announcing the Start of Rodeo Contest Month at Carrot Ranch

Flash fiction and poetry with a western flare. Starts October 5th. Mark your calendars.

As a Photographer You must Be Interested Not Interesting

You may have wondered how great photographers find the spectacular shots. Read this post and you will know. Don’t forget to read the comments.

This entire subject could really fill a book and could reasonably extend into a discussion on the meaning of life but… let’s just stick to …

As a Photographer You must Be Interested Not Interesting

#Lens Artist 114 #SundayStills The Inside Scoop on Negative Space

#Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #114Negative space #SundayStills Inside

Fire News on the Home Front

“I often find that people confuse inner peace with some sense of insensibility whenever something goes wrong. In such cases inner peace is a permit for destruction: The unyielding optimist will pretend that the forest is not burning either because he is too lazy or too afraid to go and put the fire out.”

Criss Jami, Killosophy

Please pray for all the brave firefighters battling the many blazes in Oregon and California. Without them our own house would be in the midst of the fire instead receiving the ashes from someone else’s tragedy.

A picture of the ashes in the air with a flashlight shining on it at about 8:00 in the evening.

Would you want to go outside in that air? Hugh’s challenge of inside was a welcome one.

The air was a negative space today, but not in a photographic sense. Looking out the window was like looking through a filtered lens that made the grass look greener and the sun a brilliant orange – perfect for Hugh’s Sunday Still’s theme of orange last week.

The weather outside was frightful, and the fire was not delightful. We had no other place to go because the ashes were falling as snow. 

The words may be a little too flippant and insensible for the occasion, but I couldn’t keep myself from hearing this Christmas song in my head. My dad made up stupid words to songs embarrassing me when I was a child. His silliness wore off on me. Sorry!

You could watch the ashes and tree bits fall all day long – from the safety of inside our house.

In Fresno County, just about forty miles north of us the Creek Fire burns the Shaver Lake area. They don’t expect the Creek Fire to be contained until October 15th.

The Creek Fire was first sparked on Friday evening (September 11) and was 182,225 acres as of Friday morning with 6% containment. At least 377 structures have been damaged or destroyed, and more than 14,000 are threatened. Officials say 30,000 residents of Fresno County and 15,000 residents of Madera County have been evacuated.”

Using Negative Space

According to Amy from Lens-Artists, “Negative space is the area around the main subject of your photograph. This space is empty or unoccupied. Spencer Cox at Photography Life explains, “Photos with high amounts of negative space are: empty, subdued, peaceful, calm, and isolated.”

Sue works with children, so she put clear plastic in her mask so that they could see her mouth.

This photo didn’t start out with a lot of negative space, but I wanted to show you this great mask for teachers that my friend, Sue had made. To create negative space, I began by cropping the printing off Sue’s shirt. The Photoshop clone tool covered the the arm of the man and a post next to her with mulch. I guarantee that this negative background will NOT grow weeds.

However, since the real focus is the fact that you can see her mouth through the mask, I thought I could do better. So, I cropped the photo again close to the mask then smudged out Sue’s eyes to create more negative space. Her mouth isn’t digitized, the plastic is steamy. I get so hot working in masks, I can’t breathe – that’s negative space, too. But the next picture is a breath of fresh air.

Prescott Valley

“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. For purple mountains majesty…”

In July a real estate friend and I traveled to Prescott, AZ to look at property. What we really loved were the skies.

This flag in the middle of nowhere made me want to get outside the car and salute. It wasn’t exactly nowhere, it was on Road 5 North, not Interstate 5 North, which for some reason struck me as funny because this was no freeway.

Then the skies charcoaled and we pulled over to capture their magnificence. Within minutes they performed the miracle we are praying for in California and Oregon right now. 

We sat inside the car and marveled at how good it felt to have a little downpour. The rest of the picture blurred, giving the picture some negative space and concentrating more attention to the raindrops on the window. The temperature instantly dropped from about 95 to 75. We felt like we had been transported to heaven and were ready to move in that instant.

But we didn’t. We came back and my friend Sally and I walked three miles around Bravo Lake lake at 6:30 in the morning to beat the 110 degree heat. The reflection of the foothills on the glassy surface stopped us in our tracks.

This photo was taken as part Cee’s challenge on horns, but it is the perfect photo to play taps for these two challenges. Looking at the horn from the inside of the bugler’s head revealed that our trumpeter had very little gray matter between his ears. You can see his webbed synapses, and the little Charlotte that keeps his brain spinning. The background blurred giving the picture lots of negative space, as I zoomed in on the inside of his head and his eyes and spidery thoughts horned into focus.

“Where Do You Find These Photo Challenges?” a friend asked.

Click the links to join my friends Hugh Roberts subbing for Terri Webster Schrandt with #SundayStills and Amy with the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #114.

Do You Host a Writing or Photography Challenge?

If you would like to do an interview on my blog, Always Write about your writing or photography challenge, please contact me below. I’d love to chat with you. 

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#Cinquain Poetry: Audacious Photography

Click to participate.

#TANKA TUESDAY! #cinquain poetry

This week, Annette Rochelle Aben selected the words for the syllables only challenge. That means you can’t use those two words. You must find synonyms to replace them. Fun, right?

Here are your two words:

Hint & Bold

Hint: clue, inking, suggestion, sign, signal, indicator, indication, pointer, insinuation, innuendo, mention, illusion, whisper

Bold: daring, intrepid, courageous, brave, valiant, unafraid, dauntless, audacious, valorous, adventurous, dashing, striking, bright, prominent, eye catching, conspicuous, outstanding, obvious, showy

Focus on Cinquain

Butterfly cinquaina nine-line syllabic form with the pattern two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two.
Photo by Tina Schell of the Lens-Artists

Can you imagine taking this picture – even with a telephoto lens at a zoo? Tina managed to make it look like nothing came between her and this huge, nimble predator. That’s audacious photography.

Audacious Photography

by Marsha Ingrao


Don’t make a move

Brilliant, eye-catching shot

Exposed belly, paws embracing

The rocks

Grave stare, like a fashion model

Daring the camera

To capture her


To read more poetry submissions, or write one yourself, check out Colleen’s blog, Word Craft Prose & Poetry.

Coming Up on Always Write in October

Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest Month

Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch honored me by asking me to host one week of this year’s Rodeo Writing Contest. I have week three, October 20-26.

Colleen Chesebro invited me to take over one of her writing challenges. I am looking for partners to collaborate with on this project, which I’d like to start in October or November. If you have ever considered hosting a writing challenge, but don’t want all the responsibility, email me at marshaalwayswrite@tchistorygal.net.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

September 26th marks the one year anniversary of my final breast cancer surgery. So far I remain cancer free, but it comes at a price beyond surgery as those who have fought cancer know.

A mammogram caught my cancer early – stage one (sort of). Because of horror stories of cancer returning unannounced and metastasizing, I will take my anti-hormone pill daily for the next seven years, whether or not I have any hair left by the time I’m totally cured. I will see my oncologist for the next ten years. He does not take the disease lightly.

Abigail Johnson was not so lucky. Read her story here. There is not nearly as much help for people whose cancer metastasizes or spreads to other parts of the body. She plans to blog every day in October during breast cancer awareness month. I want to help her spread the word, so I will be reblogging some of her daily posts on No Half Measures. Please help by reblogging or sharing on social media.


I try to participate in as many challenges as I have time to do. Even if I do not write a response to your challenge, I am committed to visiting the blogs of those I’ve interviewed on a regular basis.

I am so SLOW! Writing a blog post takes me several hours to create, and I enjoy visiting blogs connected with the challenge as well. So please forgive me if I do not contribute regularly.

If you would like to do an interview here about your writing or photography challenge, please contact me below. I’d love to chat about your challenge.