WordPress is Losing its Place in my Heart


When my critique group began blogging nine years ago, WordPress led the industry in providing new bloggers with a good start. You could set up a basic WordPress blog for free. And they offered free courses to help you be a successful blogger. And they had provided a daily blogging prompt. To keep their costs down, they put an advertisement on the bottom of your posts. Eventually, as your blog grew, you would want to upgrade to a paid website, if for no other reason than the increased storage capabilities.

For many bloggers, a free website is the only one they can afford, especially if they don’t use their blogs to generate income. (I fall into that category, but after a year or so I upgraded ARHtistic License to the lowest level of paid blog because I use a lot of images in my posts, and I filled up my image storage.)

A couple of years ago, the WordPress ads changed to “Sponsored Content,” a grouping of links to nine articles and advertisements including images that were, frankly, disgusting, like a half-dressed torso with a protruding gut, or a cross-section of a prostate gland, or a woman wearing inappropriate clothing. Is it just me, or does it seem like WordPress is purposely trying to nudge people into upgrading to a paid plan? Unfortunately, it’s working. I recently sprang to upgrade a group blog that I contribute to, because I didn’t want readers to abandon us because of the aforementioned disgusting ads at the bottom of our posts.

But yesterday I visited one of my favorite WordPress blogs which is beautiful and artistic, and as I passed from paragraph to paragraph, video advertisements popped up. What the heck?! It was incredibly distracting and annoying. I closed it out and went back to the article again, and this time no ads popped up until I got to the very end.  

But, you know what? I don’t remember seeing ads on that blog before.

broken heart

It’s dissatisfying for me to see the WordPress experience change like this. As it unreasonable to expect an altruistic company to continue on the same path when it could be increasing profits?

I am thinking about making a change.

One reason is that a couple of years ago I filled up my 13 Gigs of storage space on my WordPress Premium Plan, for which I pay $96 a year. I could upgrade to a Business site with 200 Gigs of storage for $300 a year. But really, 100 Gigs would be plenty, if it were available for $150-200 a year. I even asked WordPress if they would consider creating an in-between plan like that for bloggers who are not businesses. But no.

WordPress suggested that I could store my photos on Flickr and import them to my blog posts. So I opened a free account on Flickr, and it is now almost full. Also, I don’t have the ability to arrange photos the way I could if they lived in my WordPress image library.

I can add unlimited storage on Flickr for $72 a year. I might just bite the bullet and do that.

Or I might switch to a different platform.

Readers who blog, I need your help. What blogging platform do you use? How much do you pay for it? Do you like it? Have you used more than one blogging platform? Compare your experiences with them. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Creative Juice #344: The Write Life Edition

Creative Juice #344: The Write Life Edition

Today’s helping of Creative Juice is for the writers.

If you are like me, you might have a file on your computer called “Blog posts that I really like.” That’s where I save links to articles online that I may want to reread. Sometimes I look in that file for articles to include in Creative Juice.

One of my weekly goals for CJ (Creative Juice) is to use 12 different sources for the articles I share. But sometimes I have an overabundance of cherished articles from one source, and I’ll create a special edition.

Often when I search the internet for material about a topic related to writing, I will find the perfect article on The Write Life. This website has often been on the Writer’s Digest list of 101 Best Websites for Writers. Here are some of the articles I especially appreciate:

Video of the Week: Taylor Swift Tiny Desk Concert


Wordless Wednesday: Desert Dandelion

Desert dandelion

My All-Time Most Popular Blog Posts

My All-Time Most Popular Blog Posts

Every so often, I try to figure out what kind of posts my readers like best. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t provide me an easy way to see which of my posts have the most “likes.” (I have to scroll down the list of posts. At this point, I’ve published 4,410 posts over the last eight years. That’s a lot of scrolling.) It’s much easier to determine the posts with the highest views, because they are listed first when I view my yearly stats. Reviewing the top posts of the last three years, I believe these are my all-time most viewed posts:

10. Monday Morning Wisdom #156. I can’t really claim any credit for this one. It’s a John F. Kennedy quote that I posted in 2018. It received most of its views in May of last year. I think people just wanted to read the words of a beloved president as Memorial Day approached.

9. Video of the Week #274: Ben Pratt Sings “River.” Ben gets all the credit for this one. Who doesn’t want to hear Ben Pratt sing “River”? Beautiful performance.

Zentangle; Christmas wreath

8. Tangles for Christmas. Every December, I post Christmasy zentangles that I’ve drawn.

7. Hawaiian Quilting with Pat Gorelangton. An interview I did with a wonderful quilter.

6. Quilting Frustration. I think the title resonated with a lot of quilters.

5. How to Make a Meme on a Mac. I was so excited when I figured out how to do this, that I wanted to share the process. It’s been viewed 1500 times.

4. How to Practice the Piano: Doh! Dohnányi. Piano students love to commiserate about these very challenging exercises.

Hawaiian quilt
Violet quilt by Pat Gorelangton

3. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web.

2. Ballet Feet. Not as pretty as you’d like to think.

1. Jan van Eyck’s The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee. This art history discussion about van Eyck’s diptych masterpiece and the Renaissance practice of the workshop apprenticeship has been viewed 3,300 times. Either I really got my SEO right, or some teachers are assigning it as homework (if so, I am honored).

The reason I did this exercise is to try to figure out what draws people to my site, so that I can do more of it. Well, my site is very eclectic, and people come for different reasons. These top articles are on eight different subjects. I’ve only posted one tech article, the one about how to make a meme. I post a quote and a video every week, and only one of each made the top ten. There are two quilting articles, and two zentangle articles; one piano article, one dance article, and one art history article. I try to post at least one quilting article, one art-related article, one dance article, one music article, one blogging article, and one writing article every month. I don’t think the data I’ve collected is telling me to do something different. What do you think?

Monday Morning Wisdom #413

Gratitude quote, Carmeon Hamilton

From the Creator’s Heart

Psalm 127:3

Engaging the Senses in Your Writing


Using sensory depictions in your fiction or nonfiction writing can pull your reader right into the scene. This works especially well for creating or describing your setting and for evoking your character’s emotions.

Employing the Senses in Setting

Sometimes your setting is so important to the story that it functions almost as a character (such as the marsh in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens or the mission site on Mars in The Martian by Andy Weir). Help your reader experience it fully.

To describe it visually, you can’t get away with saying “the grass was green and the sky was blue.” Instead, focus on what is unique about the setting. If it’s a real place, it helps to go there or to read a description written by someone who knows the area. If it’s the beach, what’s special about it? At Kuhio Beach Park in Waikiki, there’s an area within a wall set aside for swimmers, safely separating them from the surfers and paddleboarders. The sand is immaculate, groomed for the tourists early every morning. Some beaches have pink sand or black sand or white sand. Some are shell-covered. Some are garbage-strewn. Some are populated by dive-bombing seagulls.

Psychologists say that smell is the sense most connected to memory. I know that when I smell fresh-mown grass, I’m transported to the humid summers of my youth, when I’d roam the neighborhood all day. When describing your setting, be sure to include something that will evoke the sense of smell. At the beach, surely it’s the saltwater spray, and possibly the seaweed. Maybe the fragrance of sunscreen wafting over from the next beach blanket. Or the aroma of hot dogs on the grill at the snack bar. Or the stench of the bloated corpse washed up at the water’s edge.

Sound also helps to define the setting. During Fourth of July weekend when the beach is crowded, you’d likely hear children shouting, squealing, and laughing; music blaring; the high-pitched blast of the lifeguard’s whistle. Early on a March morning, you’d probably have the beach to yourself, and be aware of the roaring of the waves rolling into the shore, the whoosh of the wind, the calls of the seabirds, the crunching of your feet in the sand.

Include details that you can taste in your setting. Your character might have brought an insulated jug of iced tea along to the beach. Or while swimming, he may have swallowed a mouthful of salty seawater.

The sensations your character feels on her skin can also help define your setting. The heat of the sunrays, or the ice cold drops of a sun shower. The sting of sand blown into your character’s eyes. The driving power of the waves as she bodysurfs.

Use all your senses to make your setting vivid.

Conveying Emotions through the Senses

To help our readers experience our characters’ emotions, we must go beyond the cerebral. Tiffany Yates Martin says we need to get into our “lizard brain,” the amygdala, to portray states like terror. One way to put emotion into words is to describe how the character is processing stimuli with his senses.

One of my favorite tools for writing emotions is the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. (If you’d like to see if this book could be helpful to you, check out the entries on this webpage marked with open padlocks.) Many of the suggestions they give for expressing the emotions are sensory (though other suggestions involve actions).

Let’s go back to the beach early on a March morning. The beach is empty, and we’ve already described it. Now your character discovers the aforementioned bloated corpse. She smells the stench of the body, and that, combined with the sight of its condition (bleached skin, protruding tongue, bites torn out of the flesh, fishing line tangled around the legs) makes her feel like she’s going to vomit (light-headed, metallic taste in mouth, the sensation of bile rising from her stomach, the sound of her own breathing drowning out the cawing of the gulls). Pulling her phone out of her pocket, she dials 911, but when the dispatcher asks what her emergency is, she bursts into tears.

Now it’s your turn. Did my brief description in the paragraph above give you enough sensory material that you felt you were personally witnessing the scene and sharing the character’s emotions? What would you add that would make it more vivid? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

Creative Juice #343

Creative Juice #343

This week’s articles are diverse—something for everyone!

#ThursdayTreeLove – 145

I want to climb this tree

I want to climb this tree! Would it be undignified for a 70-year-old lady to do that? Or is it maybe too dangerous? This lovely gnarly tree (I don’t know what kind it is) stands outside the pharmacy making shade in my neighborhood near Phoenix, Arizona.

More Thursday Tree Love.