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Three Years Ago Today

November 19, 2012

Three years ago today, I started blogging. I thought I’d better share something insightful about what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown, or what’s ahead for this blog.

Sorry everyone. Maybe I’m not feeling insightful. Or, maybe this blog is simpler than that, just stories and thoughts, sometimes random.

I’m indebted to the inventor of blogging (need to find out who that is) for providing a format that’s become my favorite. A fiction writer I’m not and I gave up personal diaries after high school. And, I’m indebted to you for reading. It keeps me motivated to know someone will read.

Over the past three years, here’s the post that generated the most views: https://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/restoration-historic-stone-house-barn/

Here is one of my least read posts: https://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/butterflying/

And, here’s the post that led to the most exploration around my blog: https://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/kansas-wind-2-cattle-shed-0/

Today, my anniversary post shows one of my favorite places: Walking with Cesar along our country road. Here’s to another year of blogging.

Country walking with Cesar.

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This seems to be the year of grammar. I see grammar articles everywhere — how to do it right, what we’re doing wrong, and even one from “The Wall Street Journal” that says, “Grammar’s all a big sham.”

For some reason, I’ve been stuck on guidelines regarding semicolons. I’ve never used them much, so thought I’d give them a whirl. Now, I see them everywhere, too.

From Jane Austen in “Anne of Green Gables:”

“So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.”

Five semicolons, one sentence.

The next week, I see this on Twitter:

Kurt Vonnegut

@Kurt_Vonnegut
Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.
For risk of disappointing Jane or irritating Kurt, I think I’ll stick with periods.
Roberta Seiwert Lampe and Ramona Lampe

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and Ramona Lampe

Good storytellers write about what they know and what they love. For Roberta and Ramona, what they know is that prairie dogs can be pets, calves can sometimes find their way into the kitchen and a Clydesdale named Ruby was destined for divadom. What they love is turning these stories into children’s books about farm life.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and her daughter Ramona Lampe together have written two novels, six children’s books, four books of poetry books — with several more in the works. I wrote about Roberta last year (https://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/strong-women-and-their-stories/ ) and was lucky to meet Ramona this spring.

Roberta has written throughout  her career, but started writing her first novel later in life, as a way to cope with her husband’s cancer and other family tragedies.

Agnes was a story I wanted to write for years. I thought ‘This story has to be told,’ ” says Roberta. Agnes was her grandmother, who emigrated from Germany, moved to Kansas and married a widower with six children.

Ramona started writing her first story, Ruby the Diva Clydesdale, at Roberta’s urging. “I kept saying she should write this story, but she said, ‘I don’t know anything about Clydesdales. You write it.’ So, I did.” Ramona drew upon the personality of a real-life Clydesdale from a horse farm where she works.

Their author relationship is separate from their mother-daughter relationship. Ramona says they’re not a creative team, but a marketing team. They write separately, but share book signings and speaking engagements. Both are good talkers and good listeners, so they enjoy conversations with strangers as well as friends.

I believe their mother-daughter relationship strengthens both their creativity and marketing efforts. And, it’s heartwarming to see their mutual admiration. For instance, Ramona warmly refers to Roberta as her “rebel mother.” Roberta tears up when she says  how proud she was of Ramona at a recent book signing, when Ramona shared her personal struggles after a head injury.

They share a common goal, too: Draw upon their own experiences on their family farm to help educate children about agriculture — and bring a smile or two.

A testimonial from my own farm girl (and artist): “The stories are funny and cute and the drawings are very inspirational. My favorites are Prairie Dog Pet and Calves in the Kitchen.”

You can learn more Roberta, Ramona and their books here: http:\\lampebooks.tateauthor.com.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and Ramona Lampe

Unlikely content

January 15, 2011

This post is one of confession and admission.

I confess I haven’t officially made my New Year’s resolutions.
I admit that I’m not setting the blogosphere on fire with subscribers to this blog.

Enter this flyer. I’m not sure how it landed on my kitchen table, or why I was drawn to it while enjoying my usual bagel-and-peanut-butter breakfast (with a chocolate chaser). I’m glad I flipped through it, though. I found common-sense, easy-to-remember  nutrition info. And, it reminded me that healthy eating should be a no-brainer when it comes to resolutions.

I found this tidbit:

What is a whole grain? Wheat flour itself is not a whole grain so make sure that the product uses the word “whole” in front of wheat. Look at the ingredients for “enriched flour.” If it is the first listed ingredient, there is more white flour than any other flour in the product. Whole grain must be listed first for it to qualify.

And this:

“Look for items with at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving. The adequate intake for fiber is 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women.

Use the % Daily Values as a guide for vitamins and minerals. 5% or less is low and 20% or more is high.”

Like you, I check food labels. However, I mostly check calorie counts or fat grams. These simple guidelines will help me better decipher  labels — and make healthier food choices.

The other lesson? Good content can stand on its own, no matter where it lives. Another resolution for me, then: Strive to write great content. Make sure it gives back and is worthy of the pixels or ink it requires, even if nobody reads it or it’s nestled among coupons.

Wheat flourAndy Goodman, an expert in public interest communications, drew me in to his newsletter with this headline: What all good stories have in common. I’m a seeker — and, hopefully, a writer — of good stories, so thought this to be a must-read. It was.

In his recent newsletter, Goodman shares Brian McDonald’s thoughts on “The Golden Theme.” McDonald teaches screenwriting and storytelling. He asserts in his book of the same name that all good stories have this  main message: We are all the same.

McDonald’s theme has been sloshing around in my brain. It’s settled on how I share agriculture’s story. Perhaps I’ve been doing it all wrong. I’ve been telling stories from a farm family’s point of view. Here’s what we plant, how we plant it, why we plant it. Here’s the livestock we raise, how we raise it, why we raise it. Because I told you that, you should care about agriculture.

Who can relate, except maybe other farm families? Instead, I should focus on what we all have in common. Very few of us are farmers and many could care less if they ever step foot on a farm. However, we do all eat. We do all want safe, healthy and delicious food.

As one eater to another, that’s exactly why I’ll continue sharing stories from the farm,  keeping that golden theme in mind.

A conversation

July 15, 2010

A big deal happened for me this week — I was featured in the “A Conversation With…” feature in the Wichita Eagle’s Sunday business section: http://bit.ly/9750Gz. I was flattered, flabbergasted and flushed. What would we talk about?

The business reporter, Karen Shideler, was interested in my roles as a writer and PR counselor — and that of a farm wife.  Karen is a pro and very easy to talk with, so it was a fun conversation. I greatly appreciated her take on my life here on Woolf Farms.

The conversations after the Conversation have been just as fun. Two families are planning visits to our farm. I’m meeting with one soon-to-be ag journalist and connected with a colleague, who is also doing ag advocacy, on the ethanol front. Others sent notes detailing  fond memories of their grandparents’ farms. This note from retired schoolteacher and farm wife Kay Wulf made my day.

Today’s Americans may be generations removed, but the family farm is still very much embedded in our culture. Let’s keep it that way.

So, what do you think of the term? I saw it a few weeks back in a Twitter post. Sorry to say that I lost its owner. (Please claim if it’s yours.) It spoke to me. One day, I’m a PR counselor, the next day a journalist. And, on the third day, I’m both, writing journalistic copy for a client.

I’ve written before about this mini identity crisis. Am I not an authentic journalist if I also do PR? I’ve moved on. I’m claiming the title. Good communication, whether it’s for editorial or PR, is all about finding a good story, conducting solid research, following ethical guidelines and convincing an audience why they should care.

My goal as a writer isn’t to fit a category, but to excel regardless of the format. Here are some resources and experts that are helping me become a better communicator. Thought you might find them helpful, too:

Poynter News University – Online journalism and media training center

Mindy McAdams – Professor of online journalism at the University of Florida

Society of Pofessional Journalists Digital Media Handbook – First part published in March, second half by year-end: http://bit.ly/9CsIv8

Mashable.com

 Ann Wylie – Writing and business communications expert

Andy Goodman – Expert in public interest communications

Public Relations Society of America

AgChat Foundation – Site to educate the ag sector re: social media tools, www.agchat.org

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