Not the A to Z Blog

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If you followed my avatar here looking for my April A to Z Challenge, then I have led you astray. This year, I’m featuring my mother’s memory blog for the challenge. You can see that at Discovering My Mom: Gail Martin, Gone But Not Forgotten.

Discovering Mom   Gail Lee Martin… gone but not forgotten.png

The blog that you’ve landed on here is my general purpose blog where I write about my writing, my photography, my politics and whatever else comes to mind. You are welcome to explore here, but don’t forget to go onward to see the A to Z blog posts about my mother.

a to z challenge

A is for Vintage AUTOS

B is for Brown Sugar Syrup

C is for Cedar Chests

D is for Dandelion Wine

pixabay computer write

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

E is for Eastern Phoebe

F is for Favorite Foods of the 1950s

G is for Gail’s Bookshelf – Slacks and Calluses

H is for Hamilton (where Mom went to high school)

I Remember Our 1940s Homes

J is for Journaling

K is for Keeping an Old Car Running (Gail’s advice)

L is for Liking the Book

M is for Memories of the Flood of 1951

N is for No-Bake Cookies (a family favorite)

O is for Obituary (my mother’s)

P is for Pancakes Made from Scratch

Q is for Quilts in the Family

R is for Ruth’s Sympathy Cards

S is for Someone Has to be the Family Historian

T is for Tornado Memories

U is for Undaunted by the Microphone (Gail’s speaking engagements)

V is for Vases from Old Bottles

W is for Washday Blues

X is for eXplorer

Y is for Yarn and Rags Crafts


Customize GlassGiant Graphics

You’re ready to post on your blog but don’t have a suitable picture for your topic. Here’s a solution for that problem.

The keyboard you see here is just one of the graphics that a site called GlassGiant  has. You can change the wording to whatever you want, then save the resulting image to your computer. I keep mine in a folder called graphics so I can find them easily and use them again.
post keyboard
I created keyboards graphics with words like “review,” “search,” and “post.” Those work for a variety of topics that I might not have a photo to match from my own collection.

The site is free to use and enables bloggers or content writers to make pinnable images to use online. I never post on my blog without a photo, since pinning to Pinterest is such good advertising and that requires a picture. Keep this site in mind when you don’t have an image of your own that suits your posting.

Take a look at some of my other images I made using GlassGiant. You can customize the message on the chalkboard, on the neon sign and on the diamond bling.

GlassGiant bling graphic “unclutter” created by Virginia Allain


The neon words can be anything you want and you can change the background for it and the color of the neon. Cool, isn’t it!

pet peeves neon
Neon graphic created by Virginia Allain using GlassGiant

Spell out your name or your topic in shiny diamonds.         vallain bling

You can customize the words on the cookie and even the shape of the cookie. The heart shaped cookie looks good. I also like the bar of chocolate with your words added on it.

glass giant favorite cookie
GlassGiant cookie graphic with the words, “What’s Your Favorite?”

The blackboard graphic that they have proves useful for many topics. I could have used the keyboard graphic, but used this blackboard instead. Check out the site and have some fun creating your own images to use with online content writing. pet peeves blackboard

(Previously published on Bubblews by vallain on November 11th, 2013)

Writing for the A to Z Blog Challenge

  • Last year was quite productive, so I signed up again for the A to Z Blog Challenge. Over 1500 bloggers participate in this challenge to write a new post daily following the alphabet. If you’re a blogger and haven’t tried a challenge, it’s a marvelous way to build a habit of writing.

It started April 1st, so my first effort was A Is for Aviatrix. It’s posted on my Discovering Mom blog where I write about my mother. I started that blog after her death as a tribute to her and to store my memories

On the 2nd day, I wrote B Is for Big Rocks. The blog gives me a place to share photos from the family album so my sisters and cousins can add them to their albums.

Day 3, the post was C Is for Company’s Coming. It’s an essay that Mom wrote that hadn’t been published before.

D is for Depression Era Cooking features another of Mom’s essays that I tracked down on the Wayback Machine. I’ve had fairly good success finding some of her articles previously published on eHow. Hopefully it finds a safe place online with the blog.

For Easter Sunday, I pulled out some of my 1950s memories and some of Mom’s 1930s stories to share in E is for Easter Memories.

A concern of mine matched up with an old article of Mom’s in F is for Fear of Falling. You don’t have to be old, as any age can benefit from her recommendations.

Did you know that there is such a thing as a ghost cat? Read about the one that lived with my parents in G Is for Ghost Cat – Little Cat and TC.

I worried about keeping up with the daily posts. My sister came to the rescue with this recipe and memory H is for Hash and Other Economies.

Here’s the 9th post for the challenge, I is for In-the-News. Check it out to see what Mom did that was newsworthy.

There’s more to come, so if you’d like to follow along, you can subscribe to the blog, Discovering Mom, or join her Facebook Fan Club where links are posted.

Here’s the rest of the alphabet:

Getting Discouraged with Hubpages

Four months ago, my 595 web pages transferred over from Squidoo to Hubpages. Within a few weeks, the site was slapped by a Penguin update with Google suppressing Hubpages in its searches. This resulted in very low traffic for everyone there. Long-time hubbers quickly blamed the Squidoo content for the attack. I think it was just poor timing and not necessarily directed at former Squidoo pages.

Being used to ranking in the top 20 lensmasters on the Squidoo site, I had expectations for doing well on Hubpages too. I figured that after learning the ropes and making required adjustments to my pages, that I’d steadily regain traffic and sales.

Alas, this is not to be. Hubpages only seems to like my stodgiest pages and has hidden about 50% of the ones it considers low quality or lacking in engagement. Many of the low traffic ones are holiday topics, but it will require much work to get those back in service. Given the shunning from Google, hardly any traffic is finding its way to hubs.

It seems lately that any featured hubs with red skulls that I correct the issues, immediately go to unfeatured for quality. When the ones lacking engagement get updated, they do the same. I’m not sure what guidelines the reviewers are using but I’m not on the right track with my fixes.

Enough is enough. It appear from the forum discussions that a batch of old-time hubbers are brandishing flaming torches and vowing to report all sub-standard hubs. They needn’t come around trying to burn down my barn, I seem to be doing a fine job on my own getting my hubs out-of-commission.

On the brighter side, I’m just about finished with the prep work on my first ebook. It contains the content from 5 former lenses, now hubs that I’m deleting. Onward and upward.

Why Bother to Edit Hubs?

The first 3 months after the Squidoo content transferred to Hubpages, I made a valiant effort to adjust the articles to match the new site’s wishes. It bothered me to see red skulls signifying violations and bothered me even more to see the gaping holes from missing elements in my transferred hubs.

It was hard work, taking as much as an hour or even two or three hours per hub. Then the day came when Hubpages lost patience with its new acquisitions and overnight set hundreds of hubs (former lenses) to unfeatured status. “What happened?” we all asked, as we had been promised a grace period of 4 months.

We were told that our pages were spammy and low quality, even ones with high hub scores. I decided to soldier on, but must admit I was losing heart.It’s hard to see much reason to keep editing, as the next day shows many of the revamped hubs are still not acceptable. Here’s a screen shot of my recently changed hubs:

These are my recently edited hubs. The big red X shows the ones that went to Not Featured - Quality the next day.
These are my recently edited hubs. The big red X shows the ones that went to Not Featured – Quality the next day.


It seems the few that make it past the editing and remain featured are more personal, family topics. Those are also the ones that are unlikely to earn a penny or even draw much traffic. A couple of sales oriented hubs made it through (Easter baskets and pancake pens). I can’t see that they are any higher in quality than some of the other rejected ones.

It makes me think that the rating process is whimsical at best and probably skewed against former Squidoo content particularly if you have any Amazon capsules in them.

I’ve plunged into creating my own sites, well, only one so far. Also, I’m working on an eBook that will take the content from 5 hubs. As I gain confidence in these new playing fields, more and more of my hubs will disappear from Hubpages. About half of them are hidden right now, so they might as well leave completely and go somewhere that gives them a new lease on life.

Writing Goals for September 2014

Often goals for writers might involve producing a certain number of words or articles in a given time frame. My goals for September involve a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that writers do.

Editing – As soon as my web pages from Squidoo transfer to their new home at Hubpages, I’ll do a damage assessment. I’m hearing that certain modules won’t transfer into Hubpages’ capsules. The worst pages I’ll just have to unpublish until I have time to do remedial work on them. In some cases, they may not suit Hubpages and later I’ll repurpose them to my blogs or other sites.

Finding New Markets – I mentioned this above, that some of my Squidoo topics won’t stay at Hubpages. Some friends are starting new sites, so I may join in with them. It is past time for me to set up a commercial web page of my own and stop counting on space at sites like Squidoo and eHow.

Saving – Two other sites have considerable content that’s crucial for my future writing. One is the MyFamily site which is closing at the end of September. There’s considerable urgency for me to salvage our family photos and memories stored there. The other site, Our Echo, seems stable, but I need to preserve my mother’s writing and my own from there as well.

Researching – I need to ramp up my research on the Civil War and on my Tower family genealogy. The book about my great-great grandfather depends on thorough work here.

My Blogs

I probably diversify too much and end up not giving any of my blogs proper attention. The one you’re viewing now is my catch-all. I might promote one of my niche topics from Hubpages or write about a trip I took.

Here are my other blogs:

Discovering Mom is my blog about facets of my mother’s life. She died in 2013 and I’m working my way through the loss.

Discovering Mom Gail Lee Martin… gone but not forgotten

Finding My Civil War Ancestor follows the searching I’m doing on my great-great grandfather’s life. Hopefully, my search methods will help others in their family history project.

Summer in New Hampshire extolls the joys of summer at the lake and in the woods in that beautiful state.

Then and Now shares the family history of the Martin, Joy, Vining, McGhee family lines. My distant cousin and my sister are helping me with it.

I’ve recently started a photo blog on Tumblr called My Solivita. It gives me a place to share my Florida photos and to tell about the lovely retirement community we live in.

In December 2014, I created my first stand-alone website. The topic is Florida Decorating Ideas. I hope you’ll check it out too.

Another site where I journal is called Niume. It gets all the bits and pieces that are too short, too personal or somehow don’t fit elsewhere.