What should authors who are lukewarm about FB and Twitter do? Where should readers go for their bookish news?? (#WritingLife #AmReading)

A few updates…

I just posted my thoughts on my June Reading Challenge choices. I’ll post July’s choices tomorrow. As much as I want you all to read with me (and tell me your thoughts on the books), the other reasons I’m continuing my 2017 Reading Challenge is to be more purposeful with my own reading and to just encourage reading in general. Hey, we all have to do our part, right?

I sent out my June newsletter on June 30th with only a few hours to spare. When I started the newsletter, I wanted to make it a little different than this blog and one thing I promised was less frequent, but more consistent, content. I was having a minor panic attack at the thought of getting that newsletter out late. What’s in it? See for yourself here (hint: there’s a quiz, a recipe contest, my quarterly giveaway, and a Noon #5 update).

In other news…

EarlyWord, the publisher/librarian connection, co-founded and edited by Nora Rawlinson, announced Monday that is was ceasing publication. I read the news that day at work (for any new followers, I moonlight as a part-time librarian at my local library) and my immediate, albeit childish, one word response to EarlyWord‘s last word was…

Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Admittedly, I was a late-on-the-scene reader, but I’ve faithfully followed nearly every post of EarlyWord‘s for a year now (since I first started working at the library). I even mentioned my love for it just two months ago here (toward the end of the post, buried under the Giveaway subheading). Geesh, the whole thing reminded me of when GalleyCat stopped publishing back in December. And who remembers the amazing SF Signal?! (At least they still tweet.) Just in the last two weeks, both Wendig and Scalzi shared that their blog traffic numbers were way down. So, upon further refection, I’m amending my earlier initial one word response to news like this to a more mature two word response a la Dana Freeling in 1982’s Poltergeist:

What’s happening?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Answer: Read their blogs… or just consult your own gut feelings about how the current political climate + the ways in which people read blog content now has changed things for authors. Again. Sigh.

So what’s an author who is lukewarm about Facebook and Twitter to do? Hell if I know. If you do, let me know in the comments. (This is not, btw, a shake down. I’m not asking yet again what people want to see from this blog. It’s really an invitation to any other writer out there who doesn’t love FB or Twitter to come whine with me.)

So where on earth are readers supposed to go today to get their bookish news?? Obviously, there are other sources (and, as always, I’m interested in hearing yours), but EarlyWord‘s loss will be deeply felt by me. I’m going to try to find an acceptable alternative, but it may take a while…

In the meantime, WordPress informed me that TODAY IS MY 6TH ANNIVERSARY WITH THEM. Happy Blogoversary to me! 😀

 

What else has been happening?

Our vampire eradication business is well underway. Last week, we brought home a huge trailer full of stakes and I spent the Fourth of July filling the kids’ water bottles with garlickly holy water. (Obviously, kidding. We replaced a bunch of fence posts and I made garlic chicken in my slow-cooker.)

I visited Ladew Gardens to check out their new and old art. To the left is Mary Ann Mears’ painted steel sculpture, “Queen.” (Literature provided to members says, “The queen has feminine curves; her pointed crown suggests power and she looks like she is armed with daggers; a warrior pawn stands by her side.” To me, it looks like the queen’s attendant is wielding a sickle. What do you think?) The sculpture is temporarily on display in the Wildflower Meadow until Halloween. As for the statue on the right, I couldn’t find a title, but you can help name it. Let’s take our inspiration from existing book titles…


Finally, I visited Annapolis, went to one of their First Sunday Arts Fests, and had the only piece of artwork I was interested in bought out from under me. And I watched Tugg unsuccessfully battle our lawn sprinkler. Afterward, he was soaked but happy. Hope you are too! 🙂

[Editor’s Note (i.e. my note – blogs have no editors, they are imperfect, bloggers even more so): An earlier version of this post referred to Dominique Dunne, the young actress who played Dana Freeling. At the time of the post, I hadn’t known that she was murdered the same year that Poltergeist came out. It was shocking, sad news for me, even almost forty years later.]

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8 Things I Learned from #Blogging Almost Every Day for Two Weeks

I’ve blogged nearly every day since June 1st. Here’s what I thought of it:

  1. Man, that was hard! And I even had most of the posts written before I started. Of course, things behind the scenes got hectic for me right around the time I ran out of pre-written posts so…
  2. I was unable to actually post once a day. I’ve often wondered if I’d be able to do the A-Z Challenge. Now I know — NO. (But that doesn’t mean I won’t try a modified version of it someday).
  3. My stats went up. I’ve also often wondered if consistently blogging would increase my stats, especially since I don’t overly emphasize follower participation. (Do I love comments? Yes! You bet I do. I don’t think there’s a writer out there who doesn’t love hearing from people who read their stuff. But I’ve actively avoided some practices that encourage more robust follower participation, e.g. offering weekly prizes, discussing politics and/or current events, etc.). I’M GRATEFUL FOR EVERY FOLLOWER AND I’M DOUBLY THANKFUL TO THOSE OF YOU THAT TAKE THE TIME TO COMMENT, but I know you have busy lives. I do too, which is why…
  4. Even though the stats went up, it wasn’t enough to justify blogging every day. And nor do I think you need me to. But I’m curious about your thoughts. There’s a poll below. Please stop by and fill it out if you have time. It’s anonymous and takes less than a minute.
  5. Blogging about TV nearly every day made me feel as if all I do is watch TV, which isn’t true!!! But it did make me realize that I’ve probably been watching more than I should. Summer will be a great time to READ MORE.
  6. Blogging nearly every day about TV made me wonder if Noon fans thought I’d deserted them. Nothing could be further from the truth! Pocket Full of Tinder is currently with a fantastic editor and the cover is 100% complete. I’ll have more details in July.
  7. Blogging nearly every day made me want/need some time off from blogging. I’m not going on a summer hiatus like I did last year, but I don’t plan on posting again until the end of the month.
  8. But I’ll definitely be back! I’ve mentioned before that I follow John Scalzi’s blog Whatever (me and everyone else 🙂 ). He wrote an interesting post recently called “How Blogs Work Today.” Ironically, one of his points was that not a lot of people discuss his posts on their personal blogs anymore, which is what I’m doing here. In any case, though we’re very different writers/bloggers and I’m always cautious about comparing dislike situations, he shared some anecdotal evidence that made me think. I’ve definitely seen a drop in follower engagement since I first started blogging, which is different than traffic. Admittedly, this could be because I took a hiatus from blogging last summer, haven’t published anything since 2014, and/or I don’t encourage robust follower participation. But I also think it’s due to the fact that people simply aren’t blogging as much as they used to. Blogging seems kind of old school when compared to Instagram, Pinterest, and Snap Chat. Today’s casual creators seem to prefer visual and/or short forms. For serious content creators, however, John’s takeaway is worth repeating: GET AND KEEP YOUR OWN BLOG.

So… I’ll be here… on and off… blogging about the things that interest me indefinitely… but not again until June 30th… probably.

In the meantime, take my poll and let me know your thoughts on blogging and commenting in the comments. 😀

Blogging Swan Song

You may have noticed that my posts here have dwindled lately. Months ago, I decided to take a break from blogging (originally, I thought I wouldn’t blog past June but my vaca got in the way of me posting these final hurrahs so now it’s nearly mid-summer and I’m just getting around to my bloggy swan song).

Why I’m Stopping

Mostly, because I want to focus on my books more than my blogging.

And it’s good to shake things up every now and then – to take a break and/or try something new. I think it’s been clear from the beginning that my goal was a casual, eclectic site where I could discuss things that I think are fun and neat and invite other writers to share their thoughts on the same.

It was important to me when I first entered the crazy world of social media that I be seen as a whole person and not just the author who wrote books about a world where the demons had won.

But now that four years and three books are behind me, I think lots of you know who I am and those that don’t… Maybe they just want books, not blog posts! 😀

I’ve achieved my goal, which was TO BLOG. Period. (Admittedly, I had some loose secondary goals like “at least once a week” “add guest bloggers” “increase traffic” “learn how to use WordPress” “reach 100 countries” … that sort of thing). But I’ve reached those goals too now.

I’ve loved the quirkiness of blogging, the random connections, how blogging isn’t perfect and no one expects it to be. I’ve loved its serendipity.

Who remembers that one of my top referrers for years was Sir Jog A Lot (a marathon runner!) or that one of my top posts in 2014 was my review of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (bc, it turns out, lots of people search the internet for… well… if not the meaning of life then at least the meaning of ghost cat metaphors) or that a vintage aircraft/WWII researcher contacted me with info about my grandfather seventy years after he died bc of a Veteran’s Day post I did back in 2013?

IF YOU HAVEN’T BLOGGED YET, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

That feeling of being part of a larger whole and using your blog as a tool to connect with others is powerfully addictive stuff.

I’ll miss it, that’s for sure.

But I’ll still be around (see below). And there’s nothing stopping me from starting up again in the fall. (Although, if I do, this blog may become more of an author newsletter with info about my upcoming releases, contests, cover reveals, and the like.)

Thank You for Following!

I very much appreciate everyone’s support with this blog. All the shares and comments, all the tweets and RTs, all the follows and likes. You guys are TRULY AWESOME!!! (Over the years, I’ve received many compliments about different posts. One reader told me she printed out all of my Disney park reviews so that she could save them for future trips. More recently, lots of people have told me how much they enjoyed the Five Photographs author interview series.) I always say I’m a novelist first and a blogger second, but it’s been fantastic hearing people say how much they’ve enjoyed blog posts that I wrote or hosted.

Final stats:

If you are a Noon Onyx fan, or if you want to know more about my future writing projects, stay tuned… I don’t expect to post any news this summer, but hopefully I’ll have an exciting update in the fall. In the meantime, I’ll be writing!!

If you are a writer, I’ll still be lurking on RWA’s FF&P loop (and occasionally PAN). And who knows? I just might storm the gates of SFWA’s forums this summer… 😉

Other Places You Can Find Me

Brought To You By…

the Noon Onyx Series

Gotta give a final shout out to my Noon Onyx series…

If you’ve enjoyed ANY of the posts I’ve written here over the last four years or so and you haven’t yet bought the books, PLEASE do so now! 😀

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

NOON ONYX #3

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return…

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race. Noon’s task, however, is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse – and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

“High stakes and powerful magic collide” —Publishers Weekly
“Demanding, powerful, full-flavored and utterly destructive” —Bitten by Books
“I was hooked from the beginning.” —Night Owl Reviews (TOP PICK)
 

Amazon Barnes and Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound


FIERY EDGE OF STEEL

NOON ONYX #2

Fiery Edge of Steel  Final

When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…

Noon Onyx is the first woman in memory to wield waning magic. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways. When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…

“Excitement and action leap from the page” —Publishers Weekly
“A fresh and fascinating series!” —RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)
“Danger, adventure, magic, love, and the quest for truth.” —The Qwillery

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound


DARK LIGHT OF DAY

NOON ONYX #1

Jill Archer's Dark Light of Day

Into the darkness, we bring light…

Noon Onyx has been accepted into the prestigious St. Lucifer’s Law School where her mother hopes she’ll be trained as a Maegester. But Noon doesn’t want to control demons, set fires, or destroy things. She wants to become a Mederi so she can grow gardens and heal people. Noon’s best friend, Peter Aster, is an angel spellcaster who thinks he has the answer to Noon’s predicament: an ancient, mysterious, lost spell that can turn Noon into the Mederi she always wanted to be. Only one person stands in the way of Noon’s dream – Ari Carmine, a fellow classmate who seems fascinated by Noon’s fiery side.

“A spectacular debut novel.”—USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter
“Set against the backdrop of university life, there is an abundance of adventure, mystery and passion!”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound

 

*****

STAY TUNED FOR MORE NEWS IN THE FALL!! HAVE A FANTASTIC SUMMER, EVERYONE!!!

Another “Why I Blog” Post (this one’s good, I promise)

Every now and then I share vintage pictures here. Some have been childhood pics, but a handful have been of my grandfather, who was a WWII pilot. He died in Okinawa after his plane crashed. About six weeks ago, I received an email from another writer who’d stumbled across a Veteran’s Day post I had written back in November 2013. (In that post I’d shared a picture of my grandfather and an excerpt from a local Oklahoma newspaper about his death).

The writer who recently contacted me is writing a book on the type of planes that my grandfather flew and he’s been researching, among other things, my grandfather’s squadron. Turns out, he not only knew who my grandfather was, but he had some information to share — one item being a very sobering photograph of my grandfather’s plane after the crash. It was a picture I’d never seen before. Needless to say, opening that email attachment and seeing the wreckage was a mildly profound moment for me. I’ve grown up hearing about the way my grandfather died, but hearing about something and seeing it are two different experiences. I showed my family the photograph and my father-in-law summed up why I think the blogging part of this story is so incredible:

I gotta say that is amazing.  A somber picture.  But what it took to get it here.  The internet had to be invented, the army had to archive pictures, the pilot’s granddaughter had to be an author & another writer had to read a blog she created, recognize the aircraft & contact her over 70 years later.

I’d share the photo here, but it’s not my photo. And it’s not a happy picture. The story of how it made its way to me, however, is inspiring.

In honor of Memorial Day, I spent a few hours yesterday going back through my grandmother’s album so that I could scan some old photos and war dept. letters for this researcher/writer. As I looked through everything, it was impossible not to wish that the crash hadn’t happened. How different my grandmother and my mother’s life would have been. That said, I’m aware that other families have suffered much more recent losses. And their Memorial Day this year was probably more sad than reflective.

That’s why I’m going to end this post by simply saying thank you to all those in the armed forces, past and present, and their family members too. I’m sorry for your losses and I deeply appreciate your loved ones’ sacrifices.

Island Command Cemetery  Southern Okinawa 1945
Island Command Cemetery
Southern Okinawa
1945

General Marshall Sympathy Card

Blogging Milestone: My 300th Post!

I mentioned earlier that I was nearing my 300th post and THIS IS IT!

I posted my first blog article – a review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – in September of 2011. At the time, I’m fairly certain only my agent saw it. Since 2012, I’ve averaged about a hundred posts a year (many of them written by fabulous guest bloggers), which means I’m once again celebrating a fun blogging milestone.

NEARLY 125 COUNTRIES!

One of the things that continues to amaze and delight me is the international nature of blogging. This year, people from nearly 125 countries visited my blog. Pretty darn cool, huh? 😀

Where are you all from? The Top Twenty

United States
Canada
United Kingdom
Australia
Brazil
France
Germany
India
New Zealand
Spain
Italy
Netherlands
Argentina
Philippines
Singapore
Romania
Belgium
Sweden
Mexico
Poland

WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? MOST POPULAR TOPICS

No surprises, but it was nice to see what the most popular categories and tags were because they nicely sum up what I want this blog to be:

CREEPY AND/OR FUN” posts about “WRITING” “BOOKS” and/or “FANTASY” stuff.

WHICH POSTS WERE YOUR FAVORITES? THE TOP FIVE

Fun “What’s Your Reaper Name?” Quiz by Boone Brux

7 Tips for Preparing for a Marathon (Oscar Movie Marathon, that is!)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

King’s Quest: Vintage Gaming on an IBM PCjr

Is there a market for #NewAdult Fantasy?

My Oscar Movie Marathon post is a perennial favorite, which always makes me smile because I never would have guessed that it would be one of my most viewed posts when I wrote it. Like last year, a lot of the credit goes to Sir Jog A Lot. I linked to a great post he wrote back in 2009 (5 Tips for Running a 10K Race) and there’s a trackback to my post in the comments section of that post. What did this experience teach me? One, to love the serendipitous nature of blogging. Two, to be grateful for trackbacks! Three, I should do more posts linking to others in fun (even better, meaningful) ways.

As for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty… I should rename that post “The Secret Sauce of Blogging is Discussing Ghost Cat Metaphors.” 😀

WHY DO I STILL BLOG?

Reaching post 300 was a natural point in time to step back and take stock. Why do I blog? Should I still blog? To help me decide, I took a Writer’s Digest webinar with Jane Friedman on “How to Blog Meaningfully and Grow Your Audience.” If you’re new to blogging, trying to decide if you should start blogging, or just a casual blogger like me who’s wondering what it would take to push your blog to the next level, I recommend it. I watched it in the car on Thanksgiving during a two-hour car ride. Here are a few of the things I decided after watching it:

Things I Do Well

  1. My name is in the header. 🙂
  2. I share my posts on Twitter and Facebook.
  3. I USE WORDPRESS! 😀

Things I Don’t Do Well

  1. My brand is a little muddled. My focus is not as tight as it could be. (You’ve heard these confessions before.)
  2. Lack of consistency in the timing of posts. (Although Jane did mention that once a week was probably ok for those of us who aren’t super-serious bloggers).
  3. Vague headlines (perhaps my most egregious sin; I’ve been trying to do better but make no promises about permanent abstention… ahem, just look at these subheadings!).

Things I’m Not Sure About

  1. Adding personal updates to the end of guest posts. I tend to do this when I haven’t posted something in a while and I just feel like updating everyone or saying hello with a little bit of news. But it detracts from the focus of the guest blogger’s content.

Things I Might Do/Should Do

  1. Add author interviews. I’ve done a few, but not many because I feel like there are lots of interview opportunities for authors out there. But it could be fun if I can think of a unique list of questions or an interesting interview angle.
  2. Add metadata to my images. Sometimes I do this, but I don’t always remember and sometimes I’m in a hurry and skip it.
  3. Add a newsletter option for readers who just want to know when my next novel or story is coming out.

 Things I Probably Won’t Do

  1. Monetize my site: This was one of the biggest reasons I took the webinar. To decide this. (You know, it’s the whole “Go big or get out?” question). But, nope, not gonna do either right now. (Good to know, however, that if I change my mind and want to “go big”, it would be relatively easy to switch from wordpress.com to a self-hosted site and start following blogging best practices instead of knowingly and willfully ignoring them. 🙂 )
  2. Nix the guest blogs: Structuring guest blogs as intermittent, themed series really works for me.
  3. Mix up the content: For now, I’m going to continue to blog about writing, movies, books, day trips, and whatever else I think might appeal to fantasy fans. It’s what I’m into. It’s the type of content I can sustain for the long haul (or, ya know, at least the next six months 😉 ).

Which brings us back to…

WHY BLOG?

Every blogger has to decide this for themselves. For me, my reasons haven’t changed too much from when I first started. And they can be summed up in one word: CONNECTIONS. With readers. With other writers. My blog is the hub of everything I do online. Sometimes, this blog is a quiet place. But that’s ok. Because I’m a novelist first and a blogger second.

THANK YOU!

I am ever appreciative of all of my followers. Just as with a story, a blog isn’t complete without readers. Thank you to all of you that take the time to read these posts, leave comments, like them, share them, or tell me in other ways that you value the information and stories you read here.

Click here for my 100th post (includes a silly little 100-themed quiz & a 1975 pic of me with my bro and a snowman) and here for my 200th post.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

P.S. another thing I do well is add images to my posts… although sometimes they have zippo to do with writing, books, or fantasy. 😀

My brother and me, standing by the Mississippi River circa 1979
My brother and me, standing by the Mississippi River circa 1979

How to Blog (Do As I Do, Not As They Say)

#1 MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT BLOG SCHEDULE

THEY say to get the most out of your blog, you should maintain a consistent blog schedule. You should blog every day or, at the very least, blog every week on the same day.

I say blog five times a week or more for a few months and then, with little to no notice, cut back to once a week or less.

EXAMPLES:

Five of my posts from the end of April this year:

Noon Onyx Series: Fun Tweets and Fantasy Book Giveaway (4/24)

Disney World: Magic for Everyone! (4/25)

White Heart of Justice: Great PW Review! (4/28)

Urban Fantasy Settings: Marcella Burnard on Remodeling Reality (4/29)

Disney World: Beyond Movies and Magic (5/2)

Five of my posts from the end of May this year:

RELEASE DAY PARTY: WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE! (5/27)

One to Grow On: Noon’s Mom + Cover Lovers Chat (5/28)

The Devil and His Fiddle (and the original titles of my Noon Onyx books) (5/29)

Fictional “Feast Masters,” Maleficent and Miscellaneous (6/3)

Auralee Wallace: An Exploration of Alpha vs Beta Heroes and Some Pretty Tasteless Fun (6/4)

My three posts for August this year:

C.L. Wilson: Ten Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Writing (8/8)

#Writing: Buildingbuilding – Overwhelmed by Worldbuilding? Try a more focused approach… (8/18)

MIND MELD: What’s Your Take on Author Legacies? Should Unfinished Series Remain Unfinished? (8/20)

#2 HAVE A GREAT HEADLINE

THEY say a blog headline should be like a news headline – attention grabbing, full of good key words that will aid SEO, and, if at all possible, have a number in it.

EXAMPLES:

17 Things To Do Before the End of Summer

40 Ways To Make An Amazing Ice Cream Sundae

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly

I say write whatever headline pops into your head first. No numbers, no key words, just a vague phrase that probably only means something to you.

EXAMPLES:

Life (6/4/13) (What was this post really about? Picture of a Life cereal box looking like rabid baby wolves had gotten to it (my kids) and some Noon Onyx updates)

Everything but the… (fav flav of Ben & Jerry’s… and all sorts of Other Stuff) (7/31/13) (What was this post really about? Among other things: the movie DANGEROUS BEAUTY, Rachel Neumeier’s HOUSE OF SHADOWS, HBO’s THE NEWSROOM.)

All Sorts of Good Stuff (5/24/14) (What was this post really about? Some pretty pictures from a hike I took, some links re: WHOJ, and a picture of my grandparents when they were young.)

Last Monday in May (5/26/14) (What was this post really about? Invitation to my online WHOJ release day party, a B&N eGC giveaway, and a story w pics about us being stranded in a broken down boat on the Chesapeake.)

The month of leaves and roses… and inclines, fountains, cakes, and columns… movies, mail, ducks, and dragons (6/30/14) (What was this post really about? A summer road trip to Pittsburgh, writing updates, my birthday, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2, and a cute picture of my friend’s bearded dragon.)

#3 KEEP POSTS SHORT

THEY say write blog posts that are somewhere between 300-500 words – basically enough for the search engines to see it as a substantive, meaty post but not enough to overwhelm followers who have busy lives and limited time.

I say write LONG posts… 1,000-2,500 word posts… posts that touch on all sorts of things… posts that cram unbelievable amounts of info into them.

EXAMPLES:

Is there a market for #NewAdult Fantasy? (1,798 words)

The Business of #Writing: Books and Writer’s Groups (1,043 words)

What to Read and Watch: 3 Fantasy Novels + 2 Futuristic Movies + 1 Horror Show #SFF (1,139 words)

#Writing: Revisions and WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE Snippets #SFF (1,876 words)

Dog Days of Summer (1,026 words) (Oh, and btw, since this post also violated rule #2… it’s actually about my summer 2013 road trip to Tennessee)

Debut Author’s Year End Thoughts on Being Published (2,432 words – whoa!)

Interview with Shamus Williams, New Jersey State Trooper and “River Cop” (2,366 words – yikes!)

A Writer’s Perspective: Why Titanic’s Story Endures (1,078 words)

#4 USE POSTS TO CREATE A BRAND

THEY say your posts should have something to do with who you are or what you write.

I say nah, go ahead and muddy the brand. If you write a series about a twenty-something postgrad magic user whose name rhymes with moon, you should definitely blog about:

Day tripping, museums, aviation, boating, biking, and hiking (my “On The Fly” posts)

Movies and movie marathons

Generally wacky, creepy and/or fun stuff

And don’t forget to throw in the odd vintage pic or two every now and then!

Obviously, this post is tongue-in-cheek. It’s half reminder to those of you that blog to do as they say, not as I do and half apology to my followers that I don’t follow the rules.

Hey, but you know what they say about rules, right? I’m gonna keep up with my horrible blog habits and hope you all forgive me.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

200th Post and Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

THIS is my 200th post! When I first started blogging two years or so ago, my goal was one post a week. And while there have been weeks when I’ve only posted once (and sometimes even less), other times I’ve posted daily. Lots of my posts have been articles written by my wonderful guest bloggers. Without them, my content would be less varied and I wouldn’t have been able to post as frequently. As I mentioned during my last post (Writer’s Water Cooler Round Up), I’m very grateful to them. But there’s another group, which is even more numerous and diverse, that I want to thank today for the success of this blog: YOU! Readers and followers, you are fantastic and awesome!

Over 120 Countries!

The international nature of blogging continues to amaze and delight me. I love that people from all over the world can come together online to discuss topics that interest them. Since February 25, 2012 (when WordPress first started tracking this stat) I’ve had visitors from 123 countries.

Top Ten

Here’s where most of the people who visit this blog are from:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia
  5. India
  6. Philippines
  7. Germany
  8. France
  9. Jamaica
  10. Netherlands

Favorite Topics

Unsurprisingly, people’s favorite topics are WRITING, PARANORMAL ROMANCE, and URBAN FANTASY.

Most Popular Post

Surprisingly, my top post is one I wrote very quickly, for fun — this somewhat tongue-in-cheek article: 7 Tips for Preparing for a Marathon (Oscar Movie Marathon, that is!) Since we’re heading into Oscar season once again, I figured I’d post the link in case any of you are planning on squeezing in more movies this winter. AND, if you do check out the post, please be sure to check out Sir Jog A Lot’s blog (ESPECIALLY if you are a runner!) In writing the slightly silly Oscar Movie Marathon post I quoted and linked to a bunch of bloggers who blog about running marathons. They are the real deal. And today I’m giving a Sir Jog A Lot a BIG HUGE THANK YOU for referring so many people to my site as a result of my linking to his. This is blogging at its best, people. Swapping fun stories and good advice, even if you blog about completely different topics. 😀

Happy Thanksgiving!

For those of us who live in the U.S., Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Naturally, it’s a time to be grateful for good fortune, friends and family, projects we feel passionate about, infinite cups of coffee, and WordPress. Wishing each and every one of you a wonderful week!

RELATED POST: 100th Post (small milestones can be fun to reach too!)

#Writing: Water Cooler Round Up ~ 13 Great Guest Posts

My latest guest blog series has wrapped. It’s been one of my favorites. A baker’s dozen of writers coming here to spotlight their favorite coffee shop, talk about their day jobs, post interesting pictures from day trips inspired by novels, and/or share their thoughts on writing life, the craft of writing or seasonal topics. Below is the list of writers and topics. THANK YOU to each and every one of them for participating. Everyone else, enjoy and stay tuned for more guest bloggers in 2014!

14 Fantastic Posts

  1. Karolyn James: “How Washing Dishes Put Her on the Bestseller Lists” ~ Bonus: Top 5 Turkey Day Foods!
  2. Michael S. Fedison: “Muses Versus Ghosts” ~ Perserverance
  3. KM Fawcett: “Can You Play Nice With Others” ~ Writing collaboration and working with a partner
  4. Casey Wyatt: “So You’ve Got A Doubt Monster” ~ Author Insecurity
  5. JC Hay: “Without Romance, Science Fiction Can Feel as Empty and Soulless as an Interstellar Void” ~ SFR
  6. Sapphire Phelan: A History of Witchcraft
  7. Debra Elise: Online Workshops
  8. Jami Gray: NaNoWriMo ~ “Opening Skirmish in One of the Toughest Battles You’ll Face”
  9. Kimberly Kincaid: “Give Me Some Space” ~ Why where you write is a big deal
  10. Isabella Norse: Bare Bulb Coffee Spotlight ~ “A shop with heart” in Kathleen, Georgia
  11. Lark Howard: “Pilgrimage to Marfa” ~ Road trip to small Texas town
  12. Cecilia Dominic: “A Writer on the Couch” ~ Psychologist by day, writer by night
  13. Celia Breslin: PNR Review ~ Larissa Ione’s ROGUE RIDER
  14. Jill Archer: Writers and Websites ~ 10 Neat “Extras”

Hope all of you are having a great Friday! I am writing/revising all day today and then tomorrow I’m meeting up with close friends I haven’t seen in far too long. We backpacked through Europe together back in 1995 (yikes! almost 20 years ago!). For fun, here are two pictures of us in Rome (at the Roman Forum and the Colosseum):

Rome I Rome II

Looking for #Writers (both pubbed and unpubbed)

Writer

In search of… Writers!

I’m putting together a new guest blog series for this fall. In the past, I’ve done guest blog series that focus on a particular type of story: romance, new adult, “dark stories” (UF, mystery, horror), but this time I’d love to do a guest blog series that unpublished writers could participate in too. I already have a handful of writers lined up with some great topics (interesting, different, and creative ones — love it!) but I’d like to find a few more, if possible.

Here are examples of the type of content I’m looking for in these future guest posts:

  • Writing craft / Writing process
  • Writing life
  • Speculative fiction/PNR book review (honest and fair, but generally positive)
  • SF/F movie review (especially ones that are adaptations from novels)
  • Product review (product needs to be related to writing or reading)
  • Spotlight your favorite Bookstore or Coffee Shop
  • Neat post about your day job (especially if it’s in an interesting career and/or something someone might base a character on)
  • Travel post related to books in some way – either a research trip you took or a trip to a place that was a setting in a book you read
  • Seasonal post related to Halloween: books, decorations, costumes, food, history, etc.

I’m NOT looking for posts about your WIP, current project, or published work but published authors can include their published work in their bio and I can share links to websites, blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. I’m hoping that some of you will think this idea is as fun as I do. I like blogging and am excited to see the posts for a guest blog series like this.

If you’re interested in participating, please e-mail me (archer at jillarcher dot com) and include the information below:

  • Title for the post
  • Description of what you want to talk about
  • Online contact info
  • Anything else you think is relevant

Please forward this post to anyone you think might be interested. Thanks, everyone!

Blog Readers: What’s Your Favorite Type of Content?

I blog for a variety of reasons: it’s a creative outlet, a way to connect with others online, and a way to update everyone on what’s up with me and the series I write. But it’s been a long time since I asked all of you what YOU want to see here. As I think about possible website/blog changes and a new guest blog series for fall, I figured it would be the perfect time to ask you…

Thanks, everyone! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Love Triangles, Swamp Tours, and the Noon Onyx Series

Jenn at Tynga’s Reviews interviewed me yesterday. She asked a lot of great questions – like why I named waning and waxing magic after the phases of the moon, my thoughts on love triangles, whether Noon and Ari would ever get a Happily Ever After ending, and whether we would see more of Peter and/or Noon’s family members in future books. If you haven’t read Dark Light of Day (what are you waiting for? :-D) the interview has some spoilers. Stop by to check out my answers and enter to win one of two prize packs which include copies of both Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel and a $10 eGC.

Today, I’m over at Suzanne Johnson’s Preternatura blog discussing the swampy inspirations for The Shallows, one of the settings in Fiery Edge of Steel. Want to see a semi-vintage photo that my husband took on our first (and only) swamp tour together? Interested in seeing my eclectic collection of fridge magnets? Stop by for a chance to win a copy of Fiery Edge of Steel.

The Fiery Edge of Steel Goodreads giveaway that my publisher sponsored ended last night with almost 900 people requesting a copy. Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and/or added the book to their Goodreads shelf!

THE MOON'S PHASES = PARTIAL INSPIRATION FOR WANING AND WAXING MAGIC
THE MOON’S PHASES = PARTIAL INSPIRATION FOR WANING AND WAXING MAGIC

Hope everyone is having a great week! 😀

Snakes, Sharks, and Planes: Lesley Carter of Bucket List Publications Encourages Us To Dream BIG

Lesley Carter is a travel adventure blogger I discovered through WordPress. She has posted about traveling all over the world, extreme adventures closer to home, as well as sporting events, spa days, and the importance of friends and family. Her online magazine, Bucket List Publications, is still relatively new and yet has an impressive number of subscribers and followers. Her core philosophy (live life to the fullest) is inspiring no matter what your age or tolerance for risk. She’s currently competing in an online competition to win a trip around the world and hopes to spread the word about it. So I asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions and share a few photos. She happily agreed. That’s her, upside down, in the biplane picture below.

Biplane

Jill Archer: Your blog is all about embracing life. You’ve often said that some people have a bucket list because they are dying, but you want one because you want to live. When did you first discover this unquenchable thirst for living life? Were you an adventurous child?

Lesley Carter: While other kids were playing dolls and dress-up, I was playing airline attendant and explorer. The passion to see, explore, and experience more was always there. Even at 8 years old, I planned a trip for my brother and I to fly and see my aunts who lived in a different province. I went as far as contacting the airline to see if we could travel alone. It’s in my blood.

JA: You write about pursuing life’s dreams. Bungee jumping, sky diving, adventure travel, etc. But what about the dreams you have while sleeping? Want to share one of your funniest, or scariest, nighttime dreams with us?

LC: Those are the things I dream about while sleeping. In most of my actual dreams, I can fly; not like with wings, but just fly. It’s peaceful and natural. Sometimes I’m flying to save someone from a burning building or sometimes I’m flying to get somewhere. I have a recurring dream that I’m flying to school but when I arrive I can’t stop flying, literally. I guess I’ve mastered the flight, just not the landing.

Snake

JA: Many of my followers are bibliophiles and book addicts. #39 on your personal Bucket List for this year is “Be a Motivational Speaker at an Event.” If you were speaking to a room of library and book lovers, how would you inspire them to pursue their passion in a new and unique way? In your extensive travels, have you discovered a place which would be “the perfect place to read” or “the best bookstore in the world”?

LC: In The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom, my favorite author, he says, “The true value of time is that you’ve got to make your decisions in each day count, otherwise you could live forever and it won’t make much difference.” I try to reflect on that quote or at least that philosophy daily. We are only given one shot at this life, as far as I know, so it’s important to live life to the fullest. If you dream of visiting Italy, go! If you dream of skydiving, get up there and do it. Make this life count. Don’t ever wake up and say, “I wish I would have….” Your older, happier self will thank you.

As for the perfect place to read – the airplane! All you have is time. 😉

JA: Although many of the things you’ve written about are extreme adventures (flying with a jet pack, swimming with sharks), some are about quieter moments (experiencing a spa day, seeing the sun rise)and some are just about the joys of being with family (giving birth to your daughter, returning to your childhood home, the importance of your husband and sister in your life). How do you stay so well-balanced?

LC: Each night, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished that day and what I’d like to accomplish in the days to come. I’ve learned that if I don’t find balance, I can’t truly enjoy the things that I love. For example, I wanted to swim with the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium a few months ago. Athena was sick, though, and the drive to Georgia was frustrating. She was fussy and I was starting to feel terrible myself. Darren and I were up all night and I hadn’t really slept in a few days. I decided that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity so I went anyway. I got into the tank, started to swim, and passed out. If I would have changed the date, it would have been the most memorable, positive experience; instead, I had to be pulled out of the pool and miss the swim. The next weekend we went to Asheville for a spa day. I learned my lesson.

Sharks

JA: I think one of the neatest things about your blog is that you’ve not only encouraged others to pursue their dreams through your posts, but you’ve also organized a handful of bucket list adventures for others. Please share a bit about how you make OTHER PEOPLE’S bucket list dreams come true.

LC: In the last year and a half, I’ve gained a substantial following and support. I currently have 16,032,115 page views and 58,685 subscribers. I’ve used those numbers and klout to help others make their dreams a reality. People send me their bucket lists regularly and I do everything in my power to make them a reality. You can see examples by clicking here. I organized and found a way to offer these experiences for free for my readers. One reader drove a NASCAR and hung out in the pit with the crew, another reader went skydiving, and another went heliskiing at one of the top resorts in Canada. These are just a few examples.

Mud

JA: You’re currently competing in My Destination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucket List Contest. (And you’re currently in FIRST PLACE). If you win, you’ll have a chance to win a trip around the world and $50,000 to help you pay for expenses along the way. What is your tentative travel plan? What do you hope to accomplish with this trip? Of course, we’re happy for you! You sound amazing and inspiring! But what can we look forward to READING while you’re on tour? What’s your plan for keeping in touch with the folks that voted for you?

LC: Once the winner, me, is selected, My Destination will help make the travel plans. There are some countries that I haven’t seen that will definitely make the cut including:

  • South Africa
  • Kenya
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Austria
  • Iceland
  • Russia
  • Brazil

Darren will not be able to join me on the trip, but I plan to bring Athena. I have a great friend, Jessica, who I’ve traveled with in the past. She will join me as Athena’s nanny. Most days we will participate in activities together, but when I want to experience extreme adventures, Jessica will take Athena for a playdate. With a lot of planning and organization, it is all possible and who better to help plan it than My Destination? During the trip, I will continue to post daily or as much as possible. I want my readers to experience the world with me. Maybe you physically can’t be there this year, but I’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing. Like when I was in Fiji, I will utilize all forms of social media including WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and my website. After all, this is my wildest dreams come true. Traveling the world and sharing my experiences with others… it doesn’t get any better.

[JA: Darren is Lesley’s husband and Athena is her daughter. She blogs about them too. :-)]

QUICKIE QUESTIONS

  1. Favorite comfort food? McDonalds
  2. Best food you’ve ever had while traveling? Anything and everything in Italy!
  3. Favorite book? The Five People You Meet in Heaven
  4. Top resource for travel info (besides you ;-)) Other bloggers or travelers

If you enjoyed this interview, please consider voting for Lesley’s entry in My Destination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucket List Contest by clicking here so she can stay in first place, win the competition, and keep inspiring and entertaining us! 😀 A big thanks to Lesley for doing this interview. Hope everyone is having a terrific week!

100th Post! (Small milestones can be fun to reach too)

The only purpose of this post is to celebrate the fact that it is my 100th WordPress post. That’s it. I could load up a picture of the number 100, but I figured it would be more fun to load up a vintage pic. Here’s one of my brother and me that was taken sometime during the winter of 1975 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For fun, I’ve also included a “100” themed poll.

Winter 1975
Winter 1975

I got the whole family involved in making up answers to this poll. My husband’s was a little melancholy (a la Five for Fighting‘s 100 Years) so I omitted it. But my kids got right into the spirit of this post, as you’ll see. 😉

Here’s hoping that each and every one of you has 100 moments of pure, unadulterated bliss today! 😀

Debut Author’s Year End Thoughts on Being Published

Last January I was an unpublished author who’d never worked with a professional editor. I’d just launched my website/blog. I’d never tweeted or guest blogged, produced creative work under the pressure of a deadline, and not many people had read my work (relative to the number of people who would after publication). In short, 2012 was a watershed year of change for me as a commercial fiction writer. Below are my thoughts on some aspects of the process. It is a long post, but there are subtitles so you can jump ahead to subject areas that interest you. Feel free to tell me your thoughts on my thoughts in the comments!

Great to see your story reaching people

Three of the biggest highlights were seeing professionally designed covers for my stories, seeing my book in a bookstore, and attending book signing events like New York Comic Con and a signing with Nora Roberts at her bookstore, Turn the Page. Other amazing moments were having strangers tell me how much they enjoyed the book or the characters and working with a professional editor. I meant what I said in my the Acknowledgements for Dark Light of Day that revisions and edits are kind of like boot camp for novels.  The process isn’t easy, especially the first time, but I don’t think any experience – no workshop, book, or class – can duplicate what you learn from the process.

Reviews

I spent some time hand wringing before my release. For good reason. Some reviews can be brutal. And, honestly, nothing can really prepare you for some of the harsher critiques. But I’m glad my initial reactions to other people’s initial reactions to my work is behind me. I continue to believe that every reader deserves the right to his or her own opinion. And, let’s face it commercial writers, if we can’t take criticism, we’re in the wrong business. But I also know that I’m more relaxed now about reviews than I was just three months ago. And – and this is the really important part – I’m so incredibly grateful for all of the positive feedback I’ve received. The four and five-star ratings and the heartfelt praise is beyond nice. It is sustaining. 🙂

Deadlines

Last year at New Year’s, we took a nice family flight to Cape May, New Jersey. The day was peaceful and reflective. I spent New Year’s Eve day this year writing. We still went to a friend’s house later that night to celebrate but my mood this year is slightly more… stressed. I took some time off for the holidays – I think every writer should – but you end up paying for it later because the deadlines don’t change. And when you’re traditionally published, you don’t have any say about when your books come out. (I found out the release date for Fiery Edge of Steel from Amazon).

That said, I can’t imagine self-pubbed authors don’t also have deadlines to meet. They may be softer or self-imposed, but all writers who treat their writing as a business are going to have deadlines. Learning how to manage the demands on your time (research, writing, revising, promoting – most authors say they have books in three stages at all times: the book they’re promoting, the book they’re doing revisions/edits for, and the book they’re prepping/writing) is a big part of a debut author’s learning curve.

Creative challenges

2012 had some creative challenges too. To be clear, when I use the word “challenge” I don’t mean something negative, I mean something that pushes you, stretches you, or helps you to grow as a writer. Among the creative challenges I faced in 2012 were: a change of title for the first book in the series and a change of gender for a secondary character (which significantly impacted my main character). Sasha de Rocca was originally another female waning magic user. I hadn’t wanted Noon to be the only one of her kind because I felt it was just too unbelievable. But too many people were confused by it so, after mulling it over for a while, I changed Sasha’s gender. And you know what? Not one person (that I know of) has expressed disbelief that Noon is the only one of her kind. I think it’s a concept we’re used to seeing in fiction, especially fantasy, so it was a good change to have made.

Another challenge I faced was how to market a genre-bending series. Dark Light of Day and the Noon Onyx series is unique. Its core is fantasy, as evidenced by the imprint under which it’s been published: Ace. But there are significant romantic elements and the voice is young. I’ve mentioned before that initially we pitched this story as “Scott Turow’s One L meets Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series” to YA editors. We received some terrific feedback but I would have had to age the characters down and do away with the law school aspect, which for me is a big part of what makes the series unique. And the way some of romantic scenes are written, as well as the premise for how the world came about and some of the themes and concepts, all meant I wouldn’t have been comfortable with marketing the series as a traditional YA. The Noon Onyx series will likely appeal to many YA readers, but they will be readers who are comfortable with the more mature scenes and themes. Bottom line: I was thrilled when my editor at Ace wanted to publish it.

Social media

A year ago, I was familiar with Facebook but Twitter was new to me. I didn’t know what I would think of tweeting and, due to unfamiliarity, I was skeptical. My editor was the one who convinced me to give Twitter a chance and I’m glad she did. I’m quite sure I’m not using Twitter as efficiently as I should, but I like it. But I see its power and potential. Whoever first said it’s like a newsy cocktail party was spot on. I like that you can have brief exchanges with people. And that 140 character limit is also a nice exercise for wordy writers like me. 😉

I’m neutral about Facebook. I continue to have a presence there because it’s expected and I want to be able to reach people on the social media platform of their choice. And, at times, the posts seem funnier and/or more personal than those on Twitter. But the constant changes make me leery of making it a significant part of any promotional plan. Frankly, I wasn’t at all surprised when FB started charging to promote posts. I don’t mind doing it for certain things (partially as an experiment, I paid to promote my post about my cover reveal for Fiery Edge of Steel), but I’m not going to pay to promote general status updates and I doubt anyone else will either. Which means the social aspect of Facebook may fade. [I’ll also admit that my Facebook presence is very limited, so my reactions may not be typical of other authors with a much greater friend/fan base].

I ended up loving WordPress. Adding guest bloggers to my already eclectic mix of blog topics turned out to be even more fun than I thought it would be. For anyone on the fence about adding guests to your blog, I think it’s definitely worth the time investment. I like getting a first hand glimpse at what other writers are working on and guest blogs tend to be more interactive. The themed guest blog series (Spring Into Summer Romance, Fall Into Winter Darkness, and the upcoming New Year, New Adult series) have worked great for me because both my personal reading tastes and my work as an author spans many genres. I’m looking forward to continuing the themed guest blogs in 2013.

I have a presence on Goodreads but I tend to let it do its thing without much involvement from me. I like to give readers space to discuss my books without worrying about me listening in all the time (although GR readers do not appear to be meek about expressing their opinions! :-D) The reviews there are passionate and mixed. Despite some negative reviews, I’ve been grateful for the exposure. The Goodreads giveaway that my publisher sponsored for Dark Light of Day led to many more readers hearing about the book than might have otherwise (almost 900 readers signed up for a chance to win 25 copies) and Goodreads continues to generate the most discussion of Dark Light of Day (far exceeding the number of reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

International nature of blogging

Looking back at the past year, I’m thrilled with this WordPress blog/website. (For anyone not familiar with blogging platforms, WordPress and Blogger are two of the biggest). My WordPress experience has been fantastic. First off, it’s a community, just like Twitter or Facebook, but you can get to know people and/or what they’re into better with a blogging platform. It’s the difference between saying hi to someone on the street and inviting them in for coffee and a chat around the kitchen table. Second, WordPress is free. So, right off the bat, I feel like if I just take the time to keep this site updated and continue to use it as a tool to reach out and connect with both readers and writers, it’s well worth it.

And I’ve been satisfied with my stats. I know other bloggers’ stats are higher, but I’m excited to have reached 99 countries and to have had over 12,000 views for my first year. I’d love to grow my reach, but I’m also mindful that my primary goal is to be a better fiction writer. This blog allows people to discover me and my work, and it gives me a needed creative break every now and then but ultimately it’s a side-show. So when traffic is slow or my stats appear unimpressive, I tell myself it’s okay – especially if the reason for the slow traffic or low stats is that I’ve ignored my blog to focus on my fiction writing. 🙂

Book blogs / blog tours

I’ve said quite a bit already about book blogs and blog tours (and that I am a fan of both) so I won’t belabor the point again here. It’s enough to just repeat that I definitely think blog tours are worth it, but the details (whether you use a blog tour company to help you plan, organize, and execute it; how many stops you should do; how long it should be; what stops you should visit, etc.) are the key to effectively utilizing this promotional tool. My deadline for Noon Onyx book #3 falls within days of the release date for Fiery Edge of Steel, so I already know I won’t be doing a big blog tour for Fiery Edge. But I’m okay with that. I think writers need to assess their guest blog/blog tour needs for each book separately.

Writer’s groups

Some writers have said writers groups aren’t worth the money. I am not one of them. I owe a debt of gratitude to Romance Writers of America. That group is one of the only national organizations that accepts unpublished members into their ranks. Through RWA’s chapters, workshops, and meetings, I learned how to structure a novel, come up with a good hook, draft a query letter, and much more. I met writer friends who are incredibly supportive and, albeit in a round about way, I was introduced to my agent through RWA. I wasn’t thrilled to hear that RWA is cutting the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category from the RITA (the highest award for romance fiction) because I think it sends a message to members like me, who write urban fantasy and other genre fiction with strong romantic elements but who do not write traditional romance, that we are no longer welcome in the organization. But I’m cognizant of my debt of gratitude. Even if I choose to leave RWA in 2013 (a decision I haven’t yet made) I will always be a romance fan. I will continue to support romance authors by buying their books and I will continue to suggest RWA as a resource for those writers writing traditional romance.

Agents

Another thing you hear writers question the value of from time to time are agents, especially now that the publishing climate is changing so dramatically. I realize it’s likely the ten years I spent in legal practice that contributes to my position on this (I occasionally met clients who should have consulted counsel MUCH sooner than they did about certain matters) but the fact is, all writers should have a professional advocate, someone who is in their corner no matter what. At the very least, all writers should have a professional advisor or mentor. My guess is that, as publishing changes, the role of agents will also evolve. But my advice to any writer signing a contract is: get an agent or, at the very least, have a literary attorney look at it before you sign.

Reading for pleasure

My personal reading plummeted in 2012. Mostly, it was due to time constraints. This, obviously, is not a trend I want to continue long-term. I’m hoping it’s just the result of being a debut author. As I become more familiar with the publishing process and the industry, I’m hoping there will be less trial and error time (Ha! I tweeted a link to a news article recently that was titled, “Change is the Only Constant in Today’s Publishing Industry“).

Future of publishing

Who knows? I wish I had a crystal ball! One thing I am absolutely certain of is that STORIES will never go away. Storytelling, and its prerequisite – imagination – is part of our collective human experience. What form stories take, how they are delivered to an audience, and how that audience finds them will continue to evolve at ever-increasing speed.

Always grateful

I never miss an opportunity to tell everyone how much I appreciate their support. So, of course, I can’t let a year-end post go by without once again telling each and every one of you how much I appreciate all that you’ve done to support me: all the shares, likes, and reviews. All of the purchases and positive word of mouth. All the visits and views, retweets, and ratings. To all of the blog hosts and bookstore employees, to all of my friends, family, followers, and fans – you are all amazing and awesome!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s! Best wishes for 2013!

Looking for Guest Bloggers for 2013 New Year #NewAdult Book Blast

Reading by the window in winter
Do you write New Adult books? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

A little over a week ago I ended my “Fall Into Winter Darkness” Book Blast. As with my “Spring Into Summer Romance” Book Blast, I had a lot of fun hosting fellow writers and getting to know more about them and their work. I want to give a final shout out to all of the authors who participated in my fall guest blog series. They are listed below in the order in which they posted or were interviewed.

For the next book blast I’d love to host authors who write “New Adult” books. Many of you have probably heard the term New Adult by now, but for those of you that haven’t, New Adult is an up and coming genre that’s getting increasing attention. Definitions vary (which is part of the reason it’s such an exciting topic), but basically NA fiction features protagonists who are slightly older than the typical YA character (18-24) and who grapple with the momentous life decisions that often occur early in one’s adult life (career choices, partner choices, finding one’s adult identity, path in life, etc.) I wrote a blog post about it, which posted here at Brinda Berry’s site, during my blog tour for Dark Light of Day. I enjoyed talking with other writers who write in this emerging genre and I thought it would be fun to host a New Adult themed book blast, which would start shortly after the New Year. So… if you write New Adult fiction and are interested in participating in my 2013 New Year / New Adult Book Blast, please contact me!

Thanks to the 2012 Fall Into Winter Darkness Book Blast Participants!

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! 😀

The Calm Before the Storm

I’m over at Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess today. Jody asked me how the digital revolution has affected my career as an author and I share my thoughts on the importance of book bloggers and review sites in the future landscape of publishing. The interview with Jody is one of the last handful of posts I’ll be doing for the DLOD blog tour. There will be a few more interviews and my last few posts will be me discussing DLOD’s settings, man’s endless fascination (some might even say obsession) with fire, and then a wrap up “Tales from the Cyber Road” post, which will have my reactions to the blog tour, etc.

Tomorrow, I’m hosting another guest blogger and next week I’ll probably do a Halloween post or two — and possibly even a FRANKENSTORM post! Geesh! I was kidding with my earlier Snowtober posts from last year, but apparently snow in October this year is not entirely out of the question. I hope anyone living in the Northeast is ready. (Although if you have kids, I’m betting you already have enough batteries to get you through three apocalypses. One itty, bitty hurricane is not going to put a dent in your pile of C’s and AA’s).

Regarding the possible RH Penguin merger, I’ll just quote Samuel L. Jackson from Jurassic Park, “Hold onto your butts.” :-/

I hope, despite all the “unsettling” news of impending storms, etc., that everyone is able to have a nice weekend.

Blog Tour for Dark Light of Day Starts Today!

Noon Onyx Book #1 Blog Tour

I’m over at P.W. Creighton’s place discussing how writers use folklore and myths as inspirations for their stories. I also talk a bit about the myriad sources of inspiration for Dark Light of Day. Do you use myth as inspiration for your writing? If so, which ones? Do you like stories inspired by folktales? If so, what are some of your favorites? Stop by and tell me if you love ABC’s Once Upon A Time or if you’ve read Meg Cabot’s Abandon or share some of your own reading and watching recommendations.

Tour prizes!

Here are the goodies I’m giving away during and after the Dark Light of Day tour:

  • Signed Copies of Dark Light of Day: Three signed copies of Dark Light of Day to the blog tour followers who visit the most stops. (U.S. only due to mailing costs).
  • Ace/Roc 2012 SF/F Samplers: At each stop, to be drawn randomly from that stop’s commenters, one Ace/Roc Science Fiction and Fantasy 2012 Sampler. These are bound, print samplers with a color cover and the first few pages of new work from the following authors/titles: Benedict Jacka’s FATED, Alex Hughes’ CLEAN, Jacqueline Carey’s DARK CURRENTS, Steve Bein’s DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD, Anton Strout’s ALCHEMYSTIC, and Jill Archer’s DARK LIGHT OF DAY. (U.S. only due to mailing costs).
  • $10 eGift Card: Either Amazon or Barnes & Noble $10 eGift Card, winner’s choice, to be drawn at random from all blog tour commenters.
  • $10 eGift Card: Either Amazon or Barnes & Noble $10 eGift Card, winner’s choice, to the person who brings the most people to the party. To enter to win this one, tell a friend about the tour (someone who hasn’t yet commented). You’ll be entered to win when your friend stops by at any spot on the tour and tells us that you told them about the tour.

Don’t forget: my publisher, Ace, is also giving away 25 copies of Dark Light of Day on Goodreads. Click HERE to enter to win one of those copies.

Thanks, everyone, for your encouragement and support! Hope to see you on the cyber road!! 😀

Looking for Guest Bloggers for 2012 “Fall Into Winter Darkness” Book Blast

What books are you most looking forward to reading this fall?

Thanks to the 2012 “Spring Into Summer Romance” Book Blast Participants

I had a blast hosting my 2012 Spring Into Summer Romance guest blog series. I loved how diverse the authors were who came to post and I very much enjoyed all of the wonderful discussions their posts generated. And, of course, it was great to hear more about their books! I want to give a final shout out to all of the participants (listed in the order in which they posted or were interviewed):

I had such a good time hosting the spring/summer romance series that I’d love to do it again — but this time with a darker theme. If I can gather enough participants, I’d love to host a 2012 FALL INTO WINTER DARKNESS series that would feature authors and books in any of these areas:

  • Supernatural thrillers
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Ghost Stories
  • Gothic
  • Mystery
  • Horror
  • Monsters

It would be great to feature some novellas, short stories, and poetry too. If you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks, everyone! Hope you’re having a great week. 🙂

eGift Card Winner and Some Musings on My First Twitter Contest

Me Catching My First Fish ~ Kansas Circa 1979

We have a winner!

The winner of the Amazon eGift Card is Casey Wyatt (@CaseyWyatt1)! Casey, I’ll be e-mailing your eGift Card to you later today. I hope you use it to buy books! 😀

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. Thanks also to those of you who requested samplers. I was happy to share them. For anyone who missed the giveaway, I’ll be giving away more samplers during my blog tour for Dark Light of Day, so stay tuned. (I ran the giveaway for only two weeks because I don’t want to constantly bombard people with my promo stuff, although I hope everyone realizes I need to do it from time to time. See below for more thoughts on that).

A few of you who requested samplers had some terrific blog ideas. I’m going to see what I can do about coming up with those posts. In the meantime, if any of you have suggestions about a topic you’d like to see here, feel free to let me know in the comments below or use my Contact page. After this, posts will slow down a bit. I’ll post something next weekend — likely some summery lagniappe “On the Fly” post unrelated to books or promo. I hope to also have another “Interesting People” interview up soon and the final guest blogger in my 2012 Spring Into Summer Romance Book Blast will post in August.

For Writers — A Note About My Twitter Contest

My recent Twitter contest was the first Twitter contest I’ve done and I was curious to see how it would work. For those of you who don’t know, I offered a $10 Amazon eGift Card as thanks to everyone who helped me spread the word about my recent sampler giveaway on Twitter. To be entered to win the eGift Card, all someone had to do was tweet about the sampler giveaway. The tweet had to include my Twitter handle (for tracking the entries) and, to help people out, I included a sample tweet on my giveaway page when I first announced the contest. (I don’t know about you, but that 140 character limit is constantly giving me headaches! Although, I admit, it’s probably good practice for someone who’s as wordy as I am!)

How did the contest work? Would I do it again?

Fairly well and yes. I’ve got a little under 300 Twitter followers. With the contest, I was able to reach almost 7,400 people. Now the question is, were all those followers listening when the tweet was made about the giveaway? Who knows? But what I do know is: (1) far more people were potentially exposed to my giveaway than might have been otherwise; and (2) those people are more likely to want a sampler than the general population because (granted, this is an assumption) the people who are following the people who tweeted about the giveaway are, more likely than not, science fiction and fantasy readers. Which means the reach was more targeted, which is better for both tweeters and receivers. 🙂 Lastly, and most importantly, a bunch of people requested samplers and they nicely answered many of my optional questions too.

My Attitude Toward Promo

Sometimes I think of author promo the way I think of fundraising drives. It’s necessary, but people don’t want to be bombarded with it all the time. I’m a debut author, so I have to work to get my name out there. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable. There’s a huge part of me that just wants to say, “If readers want to read my book, they’ll read it” and be done with it. But, the thing is, readers might not even know about the book if I don’t tell them about it. So, to make myself feel better, I try to think of promo as a somewhat self-serving PSA. It’s an introduction to the product, not a push to buy it. I put my reader hat on and realize how much I like discovering new authors and new books. If those authors didn’t tell me about their latest releases (through whatever promo mechanisms they’ve set up), I would miss out on some great new fiction.

Have a terrific week everyone! Take advantage of these longer days — more reading, more bike riding, more of whatever it is you’re into! 😀

Why I Blog — Some Foodie Metaphors for Thought

Blog posts are like butlered apps at the internet cocktail party

Today’s post is about why I blog, who I’ve connected with, a thank you to readers, a celebration of how many countries I’ve managed to reach, and an open invite to people I haven’t yet found.

Creative Intermezzo

Foodgeeks defines an intermezzo as something that “cleanses the palate in between courses.” It’s something you consume that is “small, light, and refreshing.” Writing a novel takes a long time. (Sometimes, longer than you want it to!) For me, the process is quite lengthy. There’s all the prep work: designing characters & settings, creating premises & plots, thinking up all that GMC, writing the synopsis, first draft, second draft… You get the idea. It takes FOREVER. Sometimes, I just want to read something that gives me a quick, refreshing break. Someone else’s blog post, especially if it’s about something I’m interested in, is perfect!

Amuse Bouche

An amuse bouche is an “amusement for the mouth.” It’s served at the very beginning of a meal, not in between courses. Instead of cleansing the palate as an intermezzo would, the amuse bouche seeks to invigorate it. More than the intermezzo, the amuse bouche seems to be a reflection of the chef’s tastes or current interests. But unlike appetizers or intermezzos where guests may be offered some choice, all guests are served the same amuse bouche. As One Chef’s Odyssey said, selection of the amuse bouche is determined entirely by “the Chef’s discretion and creativity.” Sometimes (when I’m in the mood to use fancy food words in lieu of actually cooking), I think of my blog posts as amuse bouches. I try to be creative in what I offer and each post gives guests a peek at my writer’s voice and life interests. Hopefully, visitors will also find them invigorating!

Some of the Interesting People I’ve Found So Far

Yesterday I posted my answers to fellow blogger Justjacqui2‘s excellent questions in the 11 Questions Game. It was a fun exercise and also a chance to highlight some of the interesting blogs I’ve found since I started blogging. Since I first “went live” with this blog five months ago, I’ve connected with all sorts of fascinating people: writers, book reviewers, movie reviewers, poets, life enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and documentary filmmakers. It’s been great!!

I want to give a late shout out to a blog I should have tagged yesterday and didn’t: the Storytelling Nomad, written by Katy Hulme from down under, who recently traveled through five European countries in four weeks, posting an A-Z blog series the entire way. Her posts were charming and informative, accompanied by great pics, and well worth reading. Katy is currently working on her first fantasy novel. I told her I hope she keeps us updated on her new journey through future blog updates! (For all of you women fantasy writers and fans of female fantasy protags, she wrote a great article, Heroes and Heroines: Females in Fantasy, which can be found here).

Thank You to Followers and Blog Readers — 40+ Countries is Awesome!!!

Part of today’s post is also a huge THANK YOU to readers. I’m extremely grateful for each and every subscriber. I’m also happy to see that this blog is reaching an international audience. How thrilling it’s been for me to see visits from people in:

Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam

Future Connections

If you have a blog (or any other online presence) focusing on any of the areas below, feel free to ‘like’ this post or comment below so that I can find you!

  • Books: Are you a writer? Avid reader? Do you love fantasy, science fiction, supernatural thrillers, romance, and/or mysteries?
  • Movies: Do you love to watch movies? Review them? Are you a screenwriter or independent filmmaker?
  • Outdoor Adventures: I’ll admit, I can be an armchair warrior at times, but my family is into recreational flying and in the summer we like to hike, bike, boat, and camp.
  • Interesting Career or Hobby: Do you have an interesting career or hobby? Something that’s unusual or unique that people might be interested in learning more about? If so, please e-mail me or get in touch with me through my contact page. I’d love to discuss the possibility of interviewing you.
  • Authors: I’d love to start working in guest posts and more author interviews. If you are interested, please contact me. If we both feel the fit is right, it would be great to discuss a possible future post!

What about you? Do you blog? If so, why? If not, why not? Have any recommendations about who I should be connecting with? Are you a blogger that blogs about books, movies, outdoor adventures, or anything else that I might find inspiring? If so, give yourself a shout out.  I’d love to connect with you!