Learning to ghostwrite a blog

A few more linky things, guaranteed not tecchy. The Grumpy Old Bookman is always worth reading. I love all his posts. Here is a very good one about ghostwriting, with revleations about Nicole Richie, Roy Keane and an interesting Sarah Weinman link.

I’m going to attempt to enrol my children in Minx’s school for budding agents and publishers. She probably won’t take them in, but, apart from Hogwarts, it’s the best educational option I’ve heard of.

And David Thayer on The Untrained Eye reminds us that we should definitely, absolutely, not be enjoying blogging. No excuses are satisfactory.

Daily sudokus 1 June

Daily killer sudoku of 1 June is here. Rating, easy again. Downloadable.

Daily online sudoku of 1 June is here. Rating, easy. Interactive.

Web news and features

Roaming round the bits of the tecchosphere that I can understand, lying low under all the rows about who is allowed to use the term "2.0" in "Web 2.0", I bring you less contentious news. Did you know, for example, that the latest new word on the web is freemium, to describe a web company that offers a free basic service, with add-ons and extras for a fee? The term has only just been proposed, and if you look at the link (a posting on Content Matters) you’ll see a Technorati search that shows just how quickly usage of the term ripped round the blogosphere.

Geeking with Greg has a couple of updates about search. Ask has a new blog search which has been integrated into Bloglines. When I first began blogging and wondered if there were any bloggers out there that might be slightly like me, Bloglines search was how I found Books, Inq. and Light Reading, among others, so I’m not complaining about what was there before! But apparently Bloglines search is now much improved, including the advanced search function. Greg’s second posting is about what sounds like a fascinating development, Yahoo! video search with tagging. A natural step after Yahoo!’s purchase of Flickr I imagine. I don’t use Yahoo! search and am probably not part of the target demographic for video search (even though Greg says "simple enough so Grandma can use it"), but I can imagine vast swathes of audience who will love it.

Melanie on John Battelle’s searchblog has a round-up of various items, but what struck my attention was a link to a Pew study (which I’ve since seen reported elsewhere) concluding that "nearly 50 million American [sic] adults, or about 35 per cent of Internet users, have contributed user-generated content." That’s us bloggers, in the main, I presume. The Pew study also reports an increase in broadband use, including 73 per cent of bloggers and online self-publishers. (I’m surprised it is so small, actually, I did very little on the Internet before installing broadband as it was all so slow.) Incidentally, the reason for the [sic] after "American" a couple of sentences ago is that people in the USA have this annoying habit of using "American" to mean "people in the US", whereas really it includes Canadians and South Americans.

If you want traffic to your blog, one way to increase it is to run a poll. Darren Rowse of Problogger has two recent posts, one about how and why to use polls on your blog ; and the other being nine techniques for using polls effectively on your blog. Can’t see it happening any time soon on this blog, but anyone with a spare few days might care to pore over these posts.

Incidentally, for those bored with the standard templates provided for your blog, Problogger links to several sites where you can obtain WordPress templates, but also to a new list of Blogger templates that he recommends — they are free. If you read blogs with an rss reader they all look the same, but I know two people in this house who like changing the designs of their blogs often, and I am sure there are many more out there.

From the big picture to the little picture: is this serious or what? Someone has invented a book fob (described on Library Stuff) — a memory stick for e-books (e-book reader included) that you attach to your key chain. Saves you having to put actual books in your luggage. It had to happen, I suppose. (Sigh.)

Light on snow

If you have read Anita Shreve before, you will know what to expect from Light on Snow. It is the fifth book I have read by this author, and like the others, it is quick to read, written in plain yet intense style — no digressions or ornateness of prose, laying bare the emotions of the characters. The author has the gift of setting up an apparently simple situation and describing it compellingly, in this case from the point of view of a 12-year-old girl. A man and his daughter live alone together in a remote cabin in cold New Hampshire. They go out for a walk one evening and find a tiny infant abandoned in the snow. The literal and metaphorical rescue of the baby from a frozen grave triggers the book’s portrayal of what lies beneath the snow and ice of the girl’s and her father’s internal landscapes.

I loved the book and highly recommend it. Although I enjoyed the previous book of Shreve’s I read, A Wedding in December (which she wrote after Light on Snow), I prefer Light on Snow, perhaps because there are fewer characters. (Shreve being one of those novelists who inhabits each of her characters, so she has to get it right.)  Certainly I found the protagonist in Light on Snow more naturally realistic than the bride of A Wedding in December. Another feature about Shreve, or at least Light on Snow and the Pilot’s Wife, another book of hers that I loved, is that she writes very well about children. I think it was David Lodge who said that literature is 90 per cent about sex and 10 per cent about children, whereas real life is diametrically the opposite. I enjoy reading books that integrate children into the story without cuteness and sentimentality going along with it.