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Once upon a time, when writers like me were well paid for their work, an editor I wrote for joked that just for fun, he’d like to print the next issue of the business research newsletter we were working on in Wingdings font. “Just to see if anyone will notice.”

Back then, writers didn’t interact with readers so much. This particular editor always enclosed a short thank you note when he mailed me my print copies, acknowledging a job well done, and any particular challenges we’d faced in completing the article. I miss him.

And while those checks and thank you notes are no longer rolling in, I have found that writing online comes with its own set of perks. For one thing, I am connected to my readers. They respond to my ideas and we have an online conversation. I also can reach out to other like-minded souls by commenting on their posts. Holed up in my little home office, I value those connections more than I can say.

Even better is that these connections are not limited by geography. One of my favorite online friends is Heather Robinson, whose blog, Lost in Arles provides a guided tour of Provence. And this tour doesn’t take you to the usual tourist spots. Mais non! When you tag along with Heather and her faithful dog, Ben, you are traveling with a local, eating as a local, and experiencing the region as a local.

Velvet eyes © Heather Robinson

Antiques Market © Heather Robinson

As a fellow redhead, lover of dogs, nature, and all things beautiful, I often wonder if Heather and I were separated at birth. So I was surprised, flattered, and delighted when Heather announced that she was awarding me and four others BOTH the Blog on Fire Award and the Liebster Blog Award. Thank you Heather, and bisous to you and Ben.

As part of accepting the Blog on Fire Award, I am asked  to share five things about myself that you may not know.

  1. I recently accepted a part-time job at a wonderful little store in Concord Center. What do I like most about this job? The fact that I can channel my inner fashionista and dress up two days a week.
  2. My 16-month old puppy Karina and I are taking a class in “household manners.” Here’s the question, Who is being trained: her or me?
  3. I secretly, desperately wish I could speak fluent French, how else will I ever move to France and have a regular coffee date with Heather?
  4. I swim 3/4 of a mile 3 times a week. After two years of consistent effort, I am still waiting for the chiseled upper arms to emerge.
  5. I don’t cook as much as my foodie friends might think. Without my husband to shop and cook, I’d probably exist on tofu, eggs, toast, and the occasional vegetable.

As a winner, I also get to pass these awards along to my own favorite five. As Heather noted in her post, “Something wonderful that both of these awards have in common is that they are in recognition of blogs with under 200 followers.” A couple of my own favorite five may have exceeded the 200-follower mark. However, they all meet my criteria:

  • I  faithfully “follow” each of them, rarely missing a post
  • They post regularly
  • Their topic makes my heart sing, challenges my brain, and/or whets my appetite
  • We are “connected” (see paragraph 3 above)

*For the winners, please see the “rules” at the bottom of this post. 

And the winners are:

Kathleen Volp artblog —Fine artist Kathleen Volp brings you into her exploration of language and image as she shares the process and thinking behind her artwork. Here’s your chance to learn what makes an extraordinary artist tick.

A Coastal Point of View — For those who know her, Cheryl Fuller Sparks exemplifies what it means to navigate life’s joys and sorrows with patience and grace.  Join her behind the camera as she explores life through her lens.

Food and Fiction — First and foremost, Jane A. Ward is a writer — but she also happens to be an amazing cook. Her blog is a delicious combination of engrossing writing, photographs, and recipes that make your stomach growl.

Econesting — Ronnie Citron-Fink shares her expertise of environmental issues ( the “eco” part of the equation) and her love of all things we use and do in our “nest.” Her posts help me understand the science and politics of air pollution, inspire me to become reacquainted with my knitting needles, and help me relax.

Martha’s Singapore Column — Follow writer and editor extraordinaire Martha Nichols as she explores Singapore alongside her intrepid 10-year-old son, Nick. Martha’s musings cover the food, culture, and daily challenges she encounters as an American abroad.

The Rules for the Winners

To keep these awards going (and I realize the slightly chain-mailedness of that phrase), please recognize blogs with under 200 followers and…

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog

2. Choose five blogs to nominate and let them know by leaving a comment

3. Request that the chosen blogs pass the Award on to their favorite five

4. Copy and paste the award on your blog post

5. List five things about yourself……

Number 5 is just for the Blog on Fire Award, so if you don’t want to divulge (it really isn’t that painful), there is always the Liebster Award…

Heather and Ben

Judith and Karina