Thursday, May 29, 2008

To Blog or not to Blog...That is the Question

As a virtual book tour coordinator, I am constantly surfing the Internet for interesting, eye-catching, and frequently updated blogs to host Pump Up Your Book Promotion's clients.

Our tours typically consist of a healthy mix of book review, author interview, genre and/or topic, reader, and writer blogs. What never ceases to amaze me, however, is the number of writers who don't blog. It doesn't make sense when the Internet has opened up new and free avenues for writers to promote their work, that people out there aren't taking advantage of it.

I can understand why some writers don't have websites (I don't know much about HTML either), but blogs? Come on, you're missing a chance to promote your work for free and all you have to do is something you already love--write.

In the pre-blog world writers were told the importance of having a website--and they definitely have value. A blog, however, gives you the chance to have ongoing conversations with your readers in a way that just isn't possible with a website.

I always tell my clients, if you have to decide between creating a website and creating a blog, then I suggest a blog. I have both, and the number of visitors to my website doesn't even come close to the number of people stopping by The Book Connection.

So, my question to you is: do you have blog? If so, what do you like about it? What are some of the benefits that blogging has provided you? And if you don't have a blog, what's keeping you from starting one?

Cartoon image borrowed from

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are You Honest about Your Work?

During our discussions about what keeps aspiring authors from achieving published author status, one person gave this as a reason: "They aren't willing to be honest about the quality of their work. Every one can be a writer, but not everyone is willing to learn how to write. Just because you can put together a correct sentence doesn't mean you can make an interesting statement or create drama."

So, how are you on the honestly scale?

Do you accept feedback well or do you start throwing things around the room when someone dare criticize your baby? Can you face an editor's rejection and consider your piece might need some work?

I've been told by my editor that I'm very open to feedback. I like to believe that is true. Who wins if I shut off any and all suggestions on how to improve my work? Certainly not me.

The key is not to take a critique personally. Sometimes harder said than done...especially if the person who provides the feedback isn't too diplomatic about it. But no matter how the feedback is delivered, does the person make valid points? Can he see something you can't because he has no emotional ties to the piece? Are there areas that more than one person points out as needing improvement? If so, then they're probably right.

I'll be the first to admit that I am a non-fiction writer. I'm comfortable with it--probably because I think the whole world is waiting to hear my opinion on things. LOL! But I struggle like crazy with fiction. I can't get the whole show don't tell thing down right for one thing. I'm not always sure what descriptions should be included and which ones aren't important. My taglines usually need some work.

But I refuse to give up. I keep reading, I keep writing, and I figure a writing class or two is in my future. Speaking of writing classes, this is the remainder of what this person wrote when she was talking about people not being honest about the quality of their work: "Taking writing classes not only teaches the craft, but help to make contacts as well."

Hmmm...learning how to write better and networking too. Sure sounds like a win-win situation to me.

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So, how am I doing?

At the begining of January, I set some goals as part of the Achieve Your Dreams Virtual Book Tour. Since I'll be away at the end of June, I figured I would do my quarterly round up early. Besides, it will give me a chance to share some good news.

Goal #1: I will make more time for my own writing.

Believe it or not, I am starting to make progress. I've missed writing and I am slowly plugging away at a few children's stories while waiting for vacation so that I can concentrate on some other things.

Goal #2: I will post at this blog more often.

I've done better since the last time I posted, but I still have big plans for this blog that I haven't been able to implement yet. Stay tuned!

Goal #3: I will appreciate my family more.

My family suffered a lot these past couple of months as I suddenly became overcomitted and couldn't find my way out of it. Now that school is almost over for the girls, things should lighten least we hope so.

Goal #4: I will not over commit.

NOT! I'm still working on learning to say, "no", but it will come. I'm not volunteering for every project at the girls' schools, which helps, but I really want to find myself using that magic word to make more time for my writing and my family.

I continue to stay focused on my goals and know I can be successful. These little round ups help me to stay on track.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Anxiety and Self-Doubt Can Cripple an Aspiring Author

Here is a guest post that I provided to StoryCrafters last year. It flows nicely into some of the conversations we've been having about what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors.

In Heather Sellers' book Page after Page she says in order to learn how to write every day, "writers have to gently embrace ambivalence, anxiety, not-sure-ness."

Usually, I have my blog entry planned a week in advance; not the words, but the idea is formed in my head enough where I can type it up with ease, edit it a couple times, and then hit "publish post." But not this week. I drew a blank. What did I have to offer of value to anyone? There are many members on StoryCrafters whose experience in the field of writing surpasses mine. These peers--can I even call them that since I am so lame compared to them--post in the Bragging Rights section about their latest sales, while I have struggled along for the past three years squeaking out only one sale, a finished novel that might never go anywhere, and another whose progress seems destined to stay at the 15,200 words I wrote for NaNo. And yet, here is Sellers telling me I have to embrace these feelings. What kinds of drugs is this woman doing, and where in the heck can I get some?

"Anyone can start writing," claims Sellers. "To keep on creating and grow as a writer, you also believe you suck." Ok, now I'm sitting here screaming, "She understands me!" but she says it's a good thing I feel this way.

What? How can that possibly be? I must read more.

Then Sellers tells me, I have to start looking at self-doubt and anxiety in a whole new way. "Being unsure," she says, "is one of the things that helps you steer in revision." So, there is a good reason to feel this way. Hmmm...

What do you know, experiencing self-doubt and anxiety doesn't make me a worse writer, it actually helps me. Who would have thought? Now, I'll have to think of self-doubt and anxiety as my friends instead of my enemies. I'll have to be careful they don't move in and take over my house, but without them hanging by my side, I wouldn't be pushed into making every article, every paragraph, every sentence, each word, the best it can be.

I guess, I could hope to be one of those writers whose first drafts are close to their published works. Maybe I would feel better if my resume had a long string of impressive writing credits. But that doesn't make me a writer. The actual art of sitting down and putting pen to paper or typing out words on a keyboard is what makes me a writer. No one can tell my articles or stories the same way I can. And that is the value behind them.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Blog're it!

I've been blog tagged by Jamieson Wolf, so now you're going to have to read six random things about me that you don't particularly care about. Here's what I've been told to do:

Instructions: Write down six random things about yourself and then tag six bloggers with the same task.


· Link to the person who tagged you.
· Post the rules on your blog.
· Write six random things about yourself.
· Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blog
· Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
· Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things:

1. I cannot coordinate my hands and feet to play the piano. I have tried. It just doesn't work. I think I'll stick with a keyboard.

2. I can still do the splits all the way down to the floor. Not too bad for an old girl.

3. I can move the tendons under my hand and it grosses out everyone who has ever witnessed it.

4. I have several nervous twitches that become quite apparent during stressful moments--which lately is all the time.

5. I involuntarily cross my eyes when talking to people. It's quite odd and I'm sure many have wondered if my mother dropped me on my head too often. And for some reason, it gets worse when I wear my contact lenses.

6. Due to bearing children, the lowest part of my sternum (xyphoid process) can become dislodged, creating a bulge under my skin. It is very painful and almost always happens if I make the mistake of exercising. Sounds like the best reason not to exercise that I've ever heard. They actually have surgery to take care of this problem, and I was told that some people have surgery for a slightly protruding xyphoid process for cosmetic reasons.

Okay, six random facts, most of which you'll hope to forget by the next time you see me. Admit it, you'll be looking for those ticks.

I'm done now, so I am going to tag:

Dorothy Thompson

Rebecca Camerena

Karen Magill

Tanya Aviles-Horrach

Sadie J.

Jen Nipps

Let's hope they don't start sending me hate mail.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

May happenings at The Book Connection

May is going to be a month of guest bloggers at The Book Connection. Make sure you stop by all month long to find guest posts from the following writers:

David S. Grant
Michaela Riley
Jean Hackensmith
Heidi Saxton
Karen Harrington
Vina St. Fran
R. Leigh
Susan Crimp and Joel Richardson
Andrew Jalbert

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