This blog — November 30, 2009

This blog

Hello!  *waves*

My, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I had a lovely break from blogging last week.  But I did miss it.

That said, I’ve been putting some small amount of thought into this blog.  I no longer feel that it meets the expectations I set up in the title and information bar below it.  I’ve yet to come up with a solution to the problem, but expect a bit of blahgy action as I work it out.

You see, the name of the blog is “Chronicles of a Novice Writer.”  Outside of my WiP Wednesday posts, I am not sure I’m achieving the goal here.

The information bar reads, “My place to explore my personal voice, update on my works-in-progress, and generally converse with potential readers and fellow authors.”

I’ve got #2 and #3 down pat.  But I’m not so certain on #1.

I know this post sounds like a repeat of things I’ve written before.  And subconsciously that’s perhaps true.  But I’m just trying to figure out what direction to take things from here.  I may have to go down to only posting on Wednesdays and Fridays until I figure it out.

I’m just not sure what to blog about in lieu of trying to sound halfway intelligent when talking about writing.  I’m just starting out on this treacherous journey and I have very little of value to impart with the world.  Just my words.  For whatever they’re worth.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, if you live somewhere that recently celebrated one, or that you all had a wonderful week while I was away.

Social networking for writers — November 19, 2009

Social networking for writers

The dreaded word- platform.

How important is it, really?  I’m not going into that portion of the argument today.  Maybe another day, but not today.

“For many writers marketing is almost a dirty word–an ugly truth that must be dealt with in order to make money as a writer.”  (Novel Writing a Writer’s Digest Yearbook publication from sometime over the summer, page 60.)

Several social networking sites exist which can help us build a platform, connect with an audience, and interact with our peers.  And it’s not just for non-fiction writers.  The same magazine I quoted above also had a feature on why novelists need platforms.  But there are different ways fiction writers can build a platform.  You build it through critique groups, memberships in professional organizations, interactions in the local literary community, named connections that you could use discreetly to your advantage, and the stuff you write about.

There are many social networking sites to join and utilize in building your platform, be it fiction or non.

First up, is blogging.  Yeah, I’m going to talk about blogging in a blog.  Talk about meta.  (Sorry, academic nerd.)

The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest had a feature on online marketing plans.  The first step is to create a website and/or a blog.  The article says that the website is mandatory while the blog is optional.

I’m going to disagree.  I think that when starting, in the earliest stages of your career, the website is not mandatory.  What are you going to put in there?  You don’t have a book.  You don’t have a cover.  Unless you’ve got short story credits out there, the website at this point is useless.

The blog, on the other hand, is an amazing tool.  But be careful.  See Kiersten’s post about blahgs, blarghs, and blogs.  Never put something in there you might regret later.

As always, budget your time carefully.  Writing is most important at any stage in your career.

Moving on to Facebook.  I have an account over there.  And I’m very accepting.  If you friend me, I’ll accept.  Then your feed will get inundated with posts about Farmville.  But it’s the current facebook fad, so I’m kind of hip.

Some tips for Facbook:
1- Join groups that you’re interested in.  Anything and everything related to your writing.  Writing a book about zombie pirate overlords who spend their days in general debauchery?  Find a group for pirate lovers.  Join a group for zombie lovers.  Then start your own group for your zombie pirates.  (Assuming one doesn’t exist.)
2- Really into pirates?  Change your facebook default language to English (Pirate).  It’s really funny.
3- Update photos and status routinely.  Don’t let your profile page get stagnant.
4- Spend your facebook time wisely.

(All above, save the zombie pirates engaging in debaucheries taken from May/June Writer’s Digest.)

For YA authors, Facebook is going to be one of the best ways to reach that target demographic.

Twitter.  Ah, Twitter.  How I vacillate over thee.  There are so many reasons why I can’t decide on Twitter.  I know I should just stake out my little corner of it, but I’m intimidated for some reason.

From the May/June issue, again, I take the following ways of using Twitter:

1- Follow feeds of those persons or industries relevant to your audience and your writing.  Or start your own Twitter feed as the captain of your zombie pirate ship.  It can be a good way to practice your pirate talk skills.
2- If you follow, they will come- same goes for blogging
3- Have a clear goal from the outset for how you want your Twitter account to work for you.
4- Take full advantage of Twitter shortcuts to save on characters.  Things like “tinyurl”
5- Use the search function to find related feeds
6- Monitor your broadcast ability through twittergrader.com
7- Tweet from anywhere you can.  Your iPhone, your regular phone, your computer, etc.

The May/June issue of Poets and Writers featured an article titled “Are Authors Who Twitter Any Fitter?”

I’d like to quote from it a little bit.  First up, the author says, “…joining Twitter doesn’t mean automatic recognition.  It helps to have a game plan in advance: a specific reason to follow specific users’ updates and an incentive for them to follow yours.”

There are a lot of things you can do with Twitter.  Tour schedules, calls for submissions (for agents and editors), links to your works, etc.  There’s also the blahg idea where you can reveal little bits about your everyday life through Twitter.  Or you can write a mini-novel, like John Wray did.  (The article in P&W talks about it.)

Lastly, there’s LinkedIn.

I used to be on this site.  But I dropped it.  I deleted the account.  It just didn’t seem like a productive use of time.  LinkedIn is more the professional networking route.  It’s not going to help you find an audience, but it can help you connect with professionals such as editors and agents.

4 steps to using LinkedIn successfully:
1- Make a great profile that will highlight your achievements and assets.
2- Ask for recommendations.  That’s how you build your network on LinkedIn.
3- Use it as a platform for professional articles and such.  Build the logos and the ethos will follow.
4- Link everything that’s yours to your profile.

So, there you have it.  I’ve been planning this post for a while, but hadn’t gotten to it yet.  I’ll be on hiatus next week.  It’s a very busy week and I just need to let myself take a break.  I need to re-prioritize.  Plus, I work in retail and next week is a hard one.  I will still try to get a WiP Wednesday up, but that will be the only post in the week.

Q4U: Which social networking sites do you take full advantage of?  Which do you wish you were on?  Are there any you now regret having a profile on?

My blog — September 29, 2009

My blog

I’m worried I’m going away from what I intended on this blog.  I’m not an expert at the craft of writing and yet I persist in writing about the craft.  My information bar at the top states that my blog is “My place to explore my personal voice, update on my works-in-progress, and generally converse” yada yada yada.  (You can read the whole thing if you want.)  I’ve got the second one covered with my WiP Wednesdays posts.

But the first one?  I’m not so sure on.  After this week, I may be taking a break from my regular Tuesday and Thursday posts to think hard about what I want this blog to really be.  It’s titled “Chronicles of a Novice Writer” but I don’t feel I’m really chronicling anything.  You’ll still get WiP Wednesdays and Fiction Fridays.  For a time, anyways.

But I need to take some time away to think about what I truly want this blog to be about.  I worry I’m not being true to who I am to try to be the fount of advice on all things writerly.  Because I’m certainly not an endless fount of wisdom.  I don’t think I have any wisdom to part with on this blog, really.  But maybe that’s the best wisdom- find what you like and stick with it.

I don’t know.  But I just wanted to let you all know about the break so you don’t think I fell into the toilet or something.  (Though I do sometimes wonder if I’d really end up in Australia or China if that happened.)

Networking and Platforming Tools — August 27, 2009

Networking and Platforming Tools

OK, so ages ago I blogged about platforming. I asked the question “When is it all too much?” regarding whether a platform should stay really general if an author is writing in multiple genres or multiple forms or if said author needs to create multiple platforms for each aspect. This is especially apropos to me as I am a poet and a novelist.

But if you do the latter, platforming will take over and there will be no time to write.

Rachelle Gardner recently blogged about social networking in 15 minutes a day. It’s a great article so you really should go check it out. She discusses a plethora of tools to use to cut down on the networking side and get the butt in the chair. These are particularly of use for the debut novelist as the writing is more important at this stage than the platform. (Really only if you’re in fiction. Non-fiction is a whole ‘nother can of worms.)

I’d like to add one more:

iGoogle

The September issue of Writer’s Digest had an article devoted to how to use iGoogle to help cut down on the wasted time and allow you to get the butt in the chair so you are writing.

I only read this article on Monday. iGoogle is my official web browser homepage. And it remembers my google name and password so I don’t have to log in to start using it in the morning.

There are literally thousands of gadgets to put on there.

My page has google reader, gmail, literary quote of the day, the date and time, and little eyeballs that follow my mouse cursor everywhere it goes on the page.

But you can put Yahoo! mail or Hotmail on there. Facebook and Twitter have gadgets for iGoogle.

It’s an amazing little tool to put everything all together in one place. You can see instantly what needs your attention.

So try it out. Get the latest issue of Writer’s Digest for more.

And don’t forget to read Rachelle’s post.

Striking a balance — August 18, 2009

Striking a balance

Achieving my daily word count is becoming a burden. It’s taking over my life, leaving no time to do anything else.

I’m chained to my writing pen.

How is this about finding balance, you ask?

It’s about balance because I am going to talk about it that way, that’s why.

So, balance. A definition: Well, there are several. But here’s the one that really matters. (It’s #9 in the noun definition of balance.)

Mental and emotional steadiness.

Oxymoronic in relation to writing a novel, right? I mean, a novel is all about tugging at those heartstrings and pulling your readers through a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Or maybe it’s more like switching from the roller coaster the carousel to the bumper cars and back again.

Anyways. I need to find balance.

Balance can be achieved in many ways. One of them is not a 2,000 words per day minimum pace in writing. Because that takes too many hours in the day.

I’m trying to keep this from sounding like I’m complaining. But I think it’s going to come out a little bit that I’m whining.

Writing that many words a day takes time. Sometimes several hours. Usually I type up what I wrote that day and go to bed because it’s taken me that long.

Blogging and platforming are taking another chunk of time. But none of it is balanced. Eventually I’m not going to have all the time in the world to write and blog. There will be other things I have to do, like go to work. (Fingers crossed.) Balance will be key in maintaining my sanity in the long process and throughout the remainder of my life.

My first two steps toward achieving balance are these:

1- I am no longer holding myself to a minimum word count or rigid schedule. Remember those authorial goals and the fial pictures? (I know it’s misspelled. That’s the whole point.) Yeah, no more of those. Rigid goals and deadlines are out the window.

2- Saturday goals updates (corollary to #1) are going away. As are Sunday’s Author’s Bookshelf posts. They both put too much pressure on me in the week and I thus don’t work toward balance or enjoy the processes I’m going through.

Blogging will now be as follows: Tuesday and Thursday will be my usual thought-provoking posts that I began this blog with. Once per month Tuesday will be replaced by Tantalus Tuesday. WiP Wednesday will be there as a motivator for me to actually write during the week and make progress. Fiction Friday will likely be implemented beginning this Friday. Those posts at least for a time I can write up and have scheduled far in advance. But do keep in mind that this is subject to change at any time and for any random reason.

My hope is that in limiting myself to four days of blogging and eliminating the rigid goals and deadlines I can begin to balance my life and find enjoyment in writing and blogging again.

But if I disappear for a while, either from blogging, responding to comments, or commenting on y’all’s blogs, it’s because I’m losing my sanity and am perhaps locked away in the looney bin.

Semi-related in the blogosphere:
Ultimate irony @ Cake Wrecks
Balance @ my cozy book nook

Poll- Please answer — August 5, 2009

Poll- Please answer

To my friends and followers:

Please take a moment to vote in my poll in the sidebar. I’m always looking for ways to improve this blog and I’d like your input in the matter of WiP Wednesdays vs. my regular Saturday evening posts updating on my goals progress. Thanks for all the wonderfulness you provide the blogosphere.

NWA