Blogosphere.

Blogging has been a trend since the late-1990’s. Back then, it was an online diary. If no one knew your URL, you didn’t have to worry about your younger sibling stealing your diary and reading it at the dinner table.

AOL Hometown was a type of blog. Mine consisted of making dolls like these: tumblr_mkjzp4ibkb1qamzxso1_500
Then, Google introduced Blogger. blogger_login
Yep… that was the login page. Totally Y2K, don’t ya think?

In 2004, Xanga was it.
xanga

Just look at the ad! Britney Spears’ In The Zone was the #2 CD on Xanga.
Britney Spears on a Top 50 chart… CDs — I mean, when’s the last time you bought a CD?! (Besides Adele’s 25)… replacing S with and tYpiNgG liKe tHiSs (← that took me forever to do).

So, if blogging has been around for the last two decades and then some, why has it taken off like crazy nowadays? There are a lot of guesses I could take such as:

  • the advancement of technology and how easy it is to access the internet from anywhere
  • we are the nosiest generation (i.e. 1990’s babies) out there; before, people kept quiet about their lives for the most part. Today, we have social media to rant on (Twitter and Facebook) and we are able to take pictures of our meals to show everyone how good (or bad) you eat. On top of that, we are just so invested in other people’s lives. Watching or reading other people’s lives will do one of two things for us
    • 1: Make us feel really glad & thankful OR
    • 2: Make us feel sad & miserable

However, these are multiple up-sides to this.

We all have hobbies that we are incredibly good at, and we want to share our talent(s) with others—giving them inspiration, motivation, and perhaps even teaching them. Lifestyle blogs have popped up in huge amounts: cooking, health, fitness, sewing & crocheting—you think of it, there’s a blog for it.

Some bloggers, like myself, make a blog to keep a portfolio of our work. Photographers, writers, graphic designers. It’s just easier to give a link to a potential employer or a graduate school than spending tons of money on printed photos or a lengthy manuscript. Most photos come in computer-ready form, too.

But what about you?
If one of your resolutions for this poppin’ year of 2016 was to blog, I gotchu. Gotham has multiple blog courses to help you get started and stay connected to the blogging world.

  • Blog Basics: designed for new bloggers or those without much expierience, this course will help you with the entire process—concept, setup, content, and traffic in four short weeks (or one long day). We have a few instructors with so much experience and down-to-Earth personalities that’ll keep you involved in the class—
    • Mo Krochmalthe executive editor and founder of Social Media News NY & a founding producer for The New York Times website.
    • Tom Brennan, comedian, writer, blogger, etc. who has worked for Marvel Comics, Disney, Dynamic Forces and CBS News.
  • Blog Writing: you have a blog, but the content is dull. Or you don’t have a blog and need to figure out how to write to attract. Have we got a kickass course for you! Blog Writing will help you to write material that strangers will want to read, will subscribe to, will tell their friends about. As well as helping you maintain it by giving you a good idea of when & how often to post material. It’s all about conversation with your readers. If this doesn’t sell you, this will: Jen Armstrong, the instructor, has the perfect amount humor and personality that’ll keep you so, so engaged. She’s just great.
  • Blog Launch: the class aspect worked, but you need more. You want a personal teacher to sit with you and go through every nook and cranny of a chosen platform. Or you’re brand, spankin’ new and not in New York—so, our classes couldn’t benefit you. Blog Launch will. Why? Because it’s in NYC or long-distance via Skype (or Google Hangouts, etc.). This one-on-one learning is beneficial to all types of learners and by the end of the three-hour session, you’ll have the beautiful blog you’ve envisioned.

Whatever you need, Gotham’s got your back.

Blog on, peeps.
Nikki Quinn

Open Container Law

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(Photo caption: Drinking in Central Park)

It was a beautiful fall day in the big apple. A fellow graduate student and I decided to take a stroll and watch the sunset after a long day in class to try and clear our heads. As we sat down on the steps of the Belvedere Castle, overlooking the great lawn in the center of Central Park, I pulled out a cider to drink along with the bread and cheese we had brought along the way to the park. After I cracked open the bottle, he looked at me with shock and said, “you can’t do that.” I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, so I just continued to take a sip and say, “what are you talking about?” I was not privy to the knowledge that the open container law of New Orleans is not a countrywide stance.

Now I realize I grew up in Shreveport, but the open container law did not enter my vocabulary until I was about 18, when I went to college. It should be noted that I went to undergraduate in Savannah, Georgia where you can walk around with a drink in your hand in the historic district. But I only realized this was a privilege when everyone around me was so excited to hold a plastic cup. I had been doing that with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks since I was a child. For god’s sake, they throw them to us for free during the Mardi Gras season. I didn’t get the hoopla.

As I started to try and understand what the deal was, I was informed of the brown paper bag law or the plastic cup exception. This wasn’t my first encounter with this notion. During the summer I spent in DC, I went to a bar with my roommate and ordered a plain Coke. After only three sips, my roommate got the text that her friend couldn’t come meet us anymore and so we decided to leave. I grabbed my coke in the plastic cup and started to walk out the door, but I was stopped by the bouncer. He told me I couldn’t take the cup out of the bar and I proceeded to explain that it didn’t contain alcohol but he didn’t seem to care. He took the cup from me and threw it in the bin behind him. I then needed more of an explanation of the liquor laws from my roommate.

Outside the southern region, where alcohol is part of the day-to-day culture and in some ways embraced as part of the normalcy of the society, it seems strange to me to think that a brown bag is going to do anything or deter anyone from buying it. As a man walks down the street holding a brown bag with a glass bottleneck peeking out the top, we all know he has alcohol. I do not sit around thinking I wonder what’s in the bag. Even children know what’s in the bag because the bag makes the action of buying alcohol to be different and more unique than buying regular food or soda. And some people hold the neck of a bottle with the paper crinkled around it. You aren’t fooling anyone with that bag.

It seems to me that by making alcohol a taboo or something that’s instantly special in some ways, you are making the item more exciting and idolizing it into a “forbidden fruit.” I think the Europeans got it right when they decided alcohol was a normal part of life, children are introduced to it at a young age and it’s not a huge deal. They also have a smaller rate of drunk drivers because they learned how to hold their liquor before the car keys were in their hands. Nonetheless, I want to applaud the south on being so progressive in this regard and I can only hope the North will get on board because there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine with a picnic in the park–or in my case, a cider at Belvedere Castle.

-Mackenzie

Through a Southern Lense

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About this time last year was the first time I saw what it was to be an outsider from the South. I know I haven’t always been the one to follow norms, but it’s not as if I’m like one of those boys that are dropped off by their polygamist families without anything or without the knowledge of what a television is or who Oprah is. I like to think of myself as someone who is capable and understanding of new things, but in this instance, I wasn’t given the memo.

That morning I dressed as I always did for fall: jeans, pink suede pumas, a light green long sleeve shirt and a purple fleece jacket. Nothing prepared me for the moment I entered the subway car that morning. As I stepped on to the A train, I shuffled over to the vacant space at the end of the car and braced myself for the jolt of movement that happens when the subway starts up. Normally, I don’t take a large gander around, but on this particular day I did. What I saw in front of me was a sea of black coats, black jackets, black shoes, black hats, and the occasional black pants (but it was mostly dark wash jeans). I looked down at myself, and all I could see was the neon sign pasted to my chest that said, “I’m not from here.” The fact that I had lots of color in my wardrobe and that my jeans were light was apparently something you don’t really do around here.

I didn’t understand what was happening around me. I love to wear color for so many reasons, but the most important reason is because I think color can show off your style and personality. It seems my opinion was not shared with the North. I had to wonder why was there so much black. Was the whole city depressed? Did I miss out on a national tragedy that I was supposed to mourn? Does it represent the color of their hearts? Or was there a more practical reason like black retains more heat?

By the end of the day I had forgotten the incident since I was struggling to understand why I had decided to put myself through the hell that was graduate school. Three months passed and it was now into winter, or in Shreveport terms “the end of the world” since it was now snowing in the city. At this point, I was juggling an internship, four classes, and a part time job. Sometimes I would go from one to the other in the same day.

Only then did I realize the reason everyone wore black; it went with everything and the color was there for all of the people that wear many hats a day. This one color covered up whatever part of the day you had to dress for, the layers of clothing one wears and peels off throughout the day and it simplified the process of trying to make ends meet. One black coat goes with whatever is happening in your life. Not always is a yellow coat or mint green jacket appropriate at certain times. This revelation made sense of why I never see black scarves, because that’s the accessory of color that makes you an individual.

I now own a black coat. One might call me a sell out, claiming I didn’t stand my ground by sticking by my traditional southern color scheme, and calling me a turncoat. But I want to argue this, no matter what color my coat is, my heart glows with the colors of my personality. Isn’t that enough? You’re right, it’s probably not. New York won that round.

-Mackenzie Roberts

Writing Advice from Rachel Aaron

If you are a writer, and you have a novel idea that you are excited about writing, write it. Don’t go on message boards and ask random Internet denizens whether or not something is allowed…
Who is the writer here? YOU ARE.
Whose book is it? YOUR BOOK.
There are no writing police. No one is going to arrest you if you write a teen vampire novel post-Twilight. No one is going to send you off to a desert island to live a wretched life of worm-eating and regret because your book includes things that could be seen as cliché.

If you have a book that you want to write, just write the damn thing. Don’t worry about selling it; that comes later. Instead, worry about making your book good. Worry about the best way to order your scenes to create maximum tension; worry about if your character’s actions are actually in character; worry about your grammar.

DON’T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of My Little Ponies, don’t worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife—dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s getting published; keeping an eye on what’s going on in your market is part of being a smart and savvy writer. But remember that every book you see hitting the shelves today was sold over a year ago, maybe two. Even if you do hit a trend, there’s no guarantee the world won’t be totally different by the time that book comes out. The only certainty you have is your own enthusiasm and love for your work…

If your YA urban fantasy features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over-complicating the plot, that is an appropriate time to axe the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut them because you’re worried there are too many vampire books out right now, then you are betraying yourself, your dreams, and your art.

If you’re like pretty much every other author in the world, you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, and no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories until you have something you can be proud of. Write the stories that excite you, stories you can’t wait to share with the world because they’re just so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime-style mecha driven by cats, go for it. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly.

And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the shit that matters. There are no writing police. This is your story, no one else’s. Tell it like you want to.”