Tag Archives: blogging

Writing Wednesday: The Art of Discovering What You Believe

11 Apr

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

— Gustave Flaubert

I love this quote on so many levels. As I struggle with writing my book(s), I realize that sometimes you have to write a whole lot in order to figure out what it is you’re really trying to say, because sometimes the idea you go in to write about isn’t really the true heart of your story. It’s there. You’re onto it. It’s just buried deep inside your original idea. Sometimes, as you write, you learn something about yourself, about who you are and what you believe.

I think this is true even for those who don’t write for a living, but who enjoy keeping a diary or blogging. There have been many times I’ve scribbled into my journal and come to some revelation or at least clarity on something that had been on my heart.

You and Me and Blogging in 2011

11 Jan

That’s you and me on top of the ferris wheel!

I’m so thankful for all the readers who have dropped by my blog and all who read regularly.  It’s been fun sharing stories with you as well as hearing yours on your own blogs.  I always love discovering new blogs from you.  What incredible writers and thinkers you all are!

A special thanks to all of you who have subscribed, left comments for me, and mentioned my blog to your friends!  In case you didn’t know, you can subscribe to my blog for FREE! by typing your email address where it says Email Subscription on the right hand side of this page.

Blogger sent me a sweet happy New Year!  They mentioned a curious fact about the amount of times this blog has been reviewed:

If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Pretty cool!  The Sydney Opera House is an amazing work of architecture.  I hope to make it out to Australia sometime soon!

It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for only one year here.  Because of your support and encouragement, I actually exceeded my 2011 blogging resolutions.  They were:

1.  Blog about writing at least once  a month.

2.  Blog about Greek identity, Greek culture, or Greece at least once a month.

3.  Update blog whenever I publish a new article elsewhere.

Somehow, between working full time, going to grad school full time, freelancing, and occasionally showering, I usually managed to post a blog entry every week instead of just twice a week.  Some weeks I even had multiple posts!  Because of the hectic schedule I’ll be keeping in 2012 (hello, thesis!), I won’t be changing my blogging resolutions much.  I’ll still aim to bring you as much free quality content as possible.  If my posting slows down at all, rest assured I’m working on something bigger and better that I can’t wait to share with you!  Seriously, I’ve got some really exciting projects coming up.  As dedicated readers, you’ll be among the first to know so stay tuned!!

What about you?  Any blogging resolutions for 2012?  Writing resolutions in general?  Anyone traveling to Sydney??

Top Posts from 2011

4 Jan


One of the most bewildering aspects of blogging is how readers find your blog and which blog entries become the most popular.  My first year of blogging, I discovered I have a lot of stalkers.  “Stephanie Nikolopoulos” was one of the most common phrases that brought readers to my blog.  I’m only kidding when I call you stalkers.  I know that a lot of you landed here after hearing me speak or reading my writing elsewhere, and I’m so excited that you took the time to find my personal site.  Welcome!

Okay, so the blog entry that seems to bring an awful lot of readers here is Gripster: The Greek Michael Scott.  A lot of people who search for “michael scott mykonos” or “michael scott greek character” end up here.  Hey, I’m a big fan of The Office too obviously and miss Steve Carrell.  I’m just surprised by the amount of people searching for information on one of Michael Scott’s alter-egos.  I wonder if I should post more on Greek characters on tv….

Less surprisingly, my coverage of the Gabby Awards also brought a lot of readers to the site.  That was such a fun event to write about.  I hope I’ll get a chance to cover the 2013 Gabby Awards in LA.

The interesting thing is that although the Greek Michael Scott post among the most popular, it never received a single comment!  The most commented on blog post isn’t one that brings people to the site usually.  It was My Material World Project.  As I start to think about blog posts for 2012, I’ll be keeping this information in the back of my head.  It’s fun having such varied readers, but I want to make sure I’m writing content that makes readers want to subscribe and come back to read more.

That said, I’ll leave you with a quote from Michael Scott:

Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this, compulsive, need, to be liked. Like my need to be praised.


Writing Wednesday: Becoming a New Media Innovator

16 Nov

Success isn’t just about doing—it’s about innovating.  It’s about creating something new or doing something in a new way.  It’s not always mind-blowing.  Sometimes it’s so obvious that it’s surprising no one had done it before.  And yet, it’s the game changer.  It’s the concept that makes you rise above all the hi-ho, hi-ho dwarves.

The New York Times recently published an article called “21 New Media Innovators.”

The article shows how writers—mainly journalists—use Twitter, “the art of multipurposed multi-platforming,” aggregated data, video, ereaders, text messages, crowd-sourcing, message boards, citizen journalism, sponsored posts (aka advertorials), widgets, slideshows, and other technological mumbojumbo to bring stories to you in new and relevant ways.

So, what does this mean for writers?  How does a memoirist become a new media innovator?

For one, multi-platforming allows a memoirist to represent different facets of herself and her conversation.  Here on my blog, you get my personal stories as well as updates and tools for writers, but if you “friend” me on Facebook you are privy to the more day-to-day goings on in my life and you have more opportunity to interact with me through comments and even live chats.  I’ve also brought you audio via Broadcastr, as an experiment in whether voice allows for more connectivity.

What sort of new media do you think is particularly relevant for memoirists?  Most of the memoirists I know stick to blogging and Tweeting, and I’d love to hear about any memoirists that are utilizing new media in creative ways.

How would you like to see me use new media?

Writing Wednesday: The Frugalista™ Writer Natalie P. McNeal

19 Oct

One of my summer reads was Natalie P. McNeal’s The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving up the Fabulous Life.  Now, I don’t struggle with debt, but as I just plunked down a too-big-to-say sum of money on next semester’s tuition, I can say this book touches on a sensitive issue we can all relate to: finances.

When the economy took its nosedive, Natalie had been working for years at a newspaper.  That means that not only was she facing the possibility of losing her job, but even if she remained employed at the print publication she could only wonder how long that would last in this age of digital media.

Oh, how her story hit home!  I too was working in print media (in my case, books) when the economy tanked.  And just like Natalie, I had been at my cozy, security-blanket position for years.

What I liked about Natalie’s book, therefore, wasn’t so much the get-out-of-debt plot, but the story of reexamining and refocusing one’s career in the midst of a bad economy.  By telling her own story, Natalie offered some savvy wisdom for writers:::

  • Make yourself relevant to today’s new-media world.
  • Learn video editing, even if you’re a writer, so you can add video to your blog.
  • Make friends with the online community.
  • Socialize!  Go places, meet people.  Connect IRL.
  • Build your own career, instead of just accepting the job you’re given.  (Example: Natalie asked to start a blog for the newspaper, and that blog led to her book!)
  • Connect to larger media outlets.  (Natalie blogged for The Miami Herald.)
  • Make media appearances.  (Natalie served as an expert on frugalasta™ living for larger media outlets.)
  • Write a blog to build your platform for a full-length book.

The Frugalista Files, a money memoir, is a super-quick read.  It’s not so much a how-to book as it is an encouraging and inspiring memoir.

MFAism: Hosting Summer Writing Workshop

22 Jun

Even though the MFA writing program is officially on summer break — whoo-hoo! — some of us from the creative-nonfiction writing workshop decided we were having so much fun (or something like that) that wanted to keep on meeting.  Last Tuesday we had our first informal workshop.  It was so nice to catch up with everyone and to chat about our writing.

As I’ve alluded, everyone in my classes always recommends I read David Sedaris when they find out I write about growing up Greek American.  I do get a kick out of David Sedaris, but it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who captured my heart with her book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. There’s just something about us Greek women — we love hosting and feeding people.  I barely had anyone over during the semester so I was super-excited to volunteer hosting the writing workshop in my apartment.

Since my classmates have been giving me feedback all semester on the Greek American memoir I’m writing — and since I’m the Queen of Theme Parties — I of course prepared Greek meze for them.  I served feta cheese (imported from Greece!  I’m stimulating the Greek economy!), sliced tomatoes with sea salt, pita, red pepper & eggplant dip, dried apricots, and almonds.  The other writers graciously brought delicious homemade (!) scones and sumptuous red wine.  I pretty much gorged!

We had a great conversation about nonfiction vs. fiction writing and talked about the role of blogging in our writing.  Then we spent some time critiquing each other’s works.  I got helpful feedback on a short reflection I’d written about my experience at the 2011 Gabby Awards.  I really enjoyed reading their new pieces too.  Everyone has such interesting stories to tell!

Now I’ve got to get to work on the next chapter to submit!

In the meantime, if anyone has any tips on how to run a writing workshop, please post in the comments section.

Writing Wednesday: Consider This Me Updating My Website

26 Jan

Barbara Vey recently wrote a blog entry called “Update That Website” for PW.  The article is aimed at authors who either don’t have a website at all or fail to update it.  She suggested that even writing one blog entry a month is enough to keep readers interested and let them know that you are indeed alive and working on your next writing project.

Well, consider this me updating my website.

Given the publishing industry’s emphasis on writers using social media, I’ve gotten the impression that writers should be in constant communication with our readers.  I wonder, though, what readers really want to hear about from their favorite authors.

How often do you think authors should update their websites?

What sort of content do you want authors (meaning ME!) to update their website with?  Do you only want to hear news related to the specifics of an upcoming book and speaking engagements?  Do you want to read about the creative processes?  Do you want to know what was for dinner last night?

Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple with Asphalt Eden

6 Jan

After a few months’ hiatus, Asphalt Eden is back!  Asphalt Eden is a blog I founded in January 2009 that is a source for art, entertainment, sports, food, and Christianity in New York City.  It’s updated every week with event listings going on throughout the city.  You’ll find out about efforts to make the lives of the homeless more comfortable and dignified, major conferences that bring different churches and denominations together, and how faith and work are related.