I keep trying to balance all these aspects of my life. I want to be a great secretary, an awesome fencer, a world traveler, a good daughter, healthier and slender, a well-loved author.
It’s a narrow platform, and I keep slipping off, scraping my knees, bruising my arms, and I shake myself off, and climb back on. And sometimes back on is only a few steps. And sometimes back on is a long drag back up. But I do it. And I try again, and try not to live in fear of the next slip, try not to flinch.
All these hopes, something is going to tear. But I keep going anyway. Things I really want to do slip aside…the scrolls I want to learn how to do, the Big Dress Project, the small doublet project, the beading and embroidery.
I actually broke down and bought a couple of eBooks on how to do stuff. How to build an author platform, how to use Goodreads to generate more readers and connections. It’s stuff I know I could sit and figure out, but why waste time trying to invent the wheel when the wheel is there and I can invent the wagon? I do admit I was a bit bored with the first part of the Goodreads one…I have an author account, I know how to navigate, etc, but I’m getting to the meat now.
OK. Gotta get back on the beam now.
Today we’re featuring The Author’s Guide to Working With Book Bloggers by Barb Drozdowich. This is written from the point of view of a book blogger. She wants to help author promote their books to her fellow book bloggers more effectively.
I agreed to do the review (my first in ages) because I wanted to see what I, as an author who has worked with book bloggers, could learn from her experience. She used social media to contact her fellows to gather information so it’s not just what’s happened to her.
Her approach is excellent. It’s laid out in a straight forward fashion, so you can have your e-reader of choice open and just follow along. (I would read it through completely first, then mark the things that you want to make sure you do.) I also think this will make it easy for newer authors to use the guide, though there is plenty here for the more experienced authors as well. She shows you how to find blogs that will work with your type of book…and if they will be worth your time. There is also a chapter on etiquette, which I thought would be kind of “no duh!”…be polite, be clear, etc, but there is more to it than that. And if you have been around a bit, some of her conclusions will be old news to you, but some of it solidifies things you ought to know, while adding a lot of information that you may not have run into. For example, she encourages people to thank bloggers who have reviewed your book, and I wondered if, when I did it, it was wrong because no-one ever said welcome! So I wondered if I was doing something unacceptable, though, since I have been on both sides of the fence, one would think I’d know. *grins* She also talks about different kinds of posts, blog tours, and gives a lot of really useful advice.
So, the low down is: this wonderful, well organized book will assist any author in their goals of self promoting their work. I highly recommend it, both for the almost step by step format the book follows, and for the perspectives it offers. Understanding your audience is the only way to be able to reach them, and this book will help in that. Right now the book is 3 bucks on Amazon, so that’s a really good buy.
Now, since I have not done a review in many moons, I have to tell you (thanks to FTC regulations) that I did receive a free copy of this book, my opinions are my own and were not paid for.
Though you should comment below, and check out the rest of the tour, as one lucky reader will receive a gift card from Barns and Noble! You can find the other stops, here.
More importantly, time for links!
Her book blog
Buy the book on Amazon (I do not have any affiliate thing set up, this is just to make your life easier if you want to look at it.)
I think I may have mentioned before that I used to write poetry. In fact, for years, it was really what got me through school. At first, I liked it because, well, I could finish a poem. Then, all I felt, all the ugliness and misery, the longing and hope, I could write. I could express it all, like lancing a boil.
Some of it was your usual drech, but, as I practiced with my poetry muscles and fed it Shakespeare and Sexton and Robinson and Plath, I became better. My first actual publication was in a Vampire Magazine for poetry.
At college, we would read our poems at soirees run by one of my favorite faculty members (Hello, Phil Coleman) and people loved my work. They’d want copies. We’d all bond and talk about out work over coffee and cookies. I was sure I would be a poet for the rest of my life.
But I wasn’t. I think trying to settle into life, trying to become a good wife, then trying to become a good divorcee…you would think it would be fodder, that it would have fed my muse and let me churn out lots of confessionalist, painful, honest and maybe even awesome stuff. But my nerve endings were too seared for the words to come out, and eventually my poetry muscle atrophied as I turned to short stories and novels.
Every once in a great while, I’ll write a poem. But both of the ones I actually finished are more story than poem.
Then last week, I wrote a poem that was more about the soul than about the story.
And today, I wrote another. It was short, but I like short ones, you do not need a huge word count to try and capture a feeling or situation. I used to write them all the time, and I called them mnemonic devices. And today, I wrote a poem in an email, and I thought, “I need to call it something.”
And then I realized. Not only had I written a poem, I’d written a mnemonic device for the first time in 13, 14 years. It fit all the personal rules I had set up for this series of poems.
You probably think I’m silly and a little pretentious, but I am so happy I might just weep. To steal a line from Anne Sexton, the music is swimming back to me. Now to nurture that flame.
So, I’m writing. It’s slow.
So I am taking some of my own advice, and thought I would share it with you…understanding, of course, that we are all different.
1. If you get stuck, go back a couple of chapters and see where you went wrong. I got this from an interview with Barbara Hambly, and it’s been very valuable.
2. If you are still stuck, go forward. Do you know what happens next? I tend to save scenes…every story is Important Scene or Fun Scene stitched together by Needful Scenes. The Needful scenes are sometimes a lot of work…I look over my glasses at anyone who doesn’t say that writing is a lot of work…and to make myself write the bones I wave the carrot of the awesome scenes in front of me. If I only get this written, I can do this really awesome scene.
But sometimes, if you are stuck good and tight, writing one of those fun scenes is the best way to go. It pulls you out of the mud and keeps you going. You can always write the skipped scene in draft two.
3. If you continue to be stuck, take time away. Not a lot…like, enough time for a walk, a nap, some secret vice TV, make dinner, craft…feed your muse. Look at things that make you happy. Your mind needs time to process, to catch up to you.
They say a truly disciplined author should be able to write 2,000 words a day. I believe this to be true.
I am not a truly disciplined author, and I’m grateful for whatever word count I get.
4. If none of these work, then write something else. It is better to write on something than nothing at all, because your mind needs to be exercised. Writing uses a section in your head that needs to be kept fit. And when you go back to the other story in a month you will a) have been very productive and b) be able to write a ton more on the story you left behind, because really, your muse just needed time to work out the intricacies.
I hope that helps!
Now that I have procrastinated…I’m off to go back to the grindstone!
Today I am featuring Emily Kimelman on my blog…she has written a series of mysteries that sound really fun!
She will also be giving away an Amazon Gift Card to one lucky (and randomly drawn) commenter. Enter below!
A little about the book…
STRINGS OF GLASS is the fourth novel in Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Series of dark murder mystery novels. This series features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don’t mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!
Sydney Rye is hanging out in India with her boyfriend, Dan, reading paperbacks and sipping beer. No violence and no reminders of her past. But when she and Blue, are attacked by a pact of wild dogs, Sydney starts to feel that old itch again; to do good by being bad.
Trouble finds Rye when she stops the attempted rape and murder of Anita, a reporter working on a story of corruption and human trafficking. The atrocities Anita describes send Sydney, Blue and Dan on a quest that takes them across India after a dangerous and, up until now, untouchable, figure. While Sydney struggles to accept her true nature she realizes that it is the only way to end decades of abuse and exploitation. But Rye fears that she will lose herself, becoming no better than the monster she fights against.
And an excerpt:
I’d been warned about this pack. Growing larger by the day, it was led by an aggressive alpha male the color of dirty water. This must be him, I thought, as the largest of the three, his head wide, fur the muddy brown of an engorged river, growled at Blue. The compactness of his body spoke of strength and survival. When he barked the saliva that shot from his mouth caught a ray of sunlight streaming through the thick foliage around us.
Muddy Water stepped forward, revving his growl like a teenager on a motorbike. The bitch in the brush flanked our left side and when I turned right, two young dogs, their ears still soft from puppyhood, glowered at me.
The owner of the guest house where I lived warned me to take a stick if I planned on running. “Just in case,” she’d said with a dip of her head and a flip of her hand. Because of her advice I carried a light but solid piece of bamboo about twice the thickness of my thumb. I tapped it on the ground in front of me as I backed toward Blue, keeping my eyes forward, focused on the alpha but paying close attention to my peripheral vision, watching the dogs to my sides.
When I reached Blue he moved backwards with me, slowly and deliberately. But the dogs started to follow with us. We stopped, and raising the stick over my head, I brought it down hard onto a rock. The loud sound and sudden movement spooked the pups to my right but the alpha male just growled louder.
The two dogs flanking Muddy Waters went crazy barking, the force of their calls lifting their front paws off the ground. The mother and the young ones joined in raising a ruckus that certainly beat mine. Blue, his front paws planted on the road, exposed his teeth and growled, his pitch wavering up and down. He wanted me to tell him it was OK to attack. I could feel his energy bundling up inside him, roiling around, soon I’d have no control.
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I have to confess, I have a love of social history books. I don’t care when so and so lead what to who during this date, but if you can help me compare and contrast different horse drawn conveyances in Victorian times, I’m a happy camper.
Especially if they are glossy and have lots of lovely pictures. I love text, don’t get me wrong…but I’m also visual and I love pictures.
So I am mad in love with these two books, and want them badly:
(I will note, I recognize some of the pictures from the Library of Congress files…)
Technically, they are useful writer’s reference books. I plan to set a series of murder mysteries in a traveling circus in that time. Fulfill my fascination with gypsy wagons, old time magic and old time circuses in one big swoop, right? They are very expensive (though most of my college student friends would look at the mid-40 buck price tag and laugh…) but still. There was an article with a lot of photos from this book…lots of awesome pictures of people from the time, so if i’m serious about the series…and I think it would be awesome…this would actually be an excellent buy.
Usually when a book is too expensive for me, I borrow it through Interlibrary Loan. For me, ILL is a way to test drive a book before I plop down the money. If it’s not worth it I take a few notes, photocopy the front matter for attribution’s sake, and move on with my life. But only a couple libraries have it, and they aren’t shipping…possibly because the books are rather oversized. So oversized that if I buy them off Amazon they don’t qualify for Super Saver Shipping, which is the first time I ever saw that for a book.
So, guess what I’m getting for Christmas?
Are there any quirky history books that are must haves for your bookshelves?
So, anyway, I posted a comment to the Bloggess today, because her newest post is hilarious (yes, yes it is, go here: http://thebloggess.com/2013/09/i-doesnt-take-much-to-make-me-happy/#comment-322176)
and the comment auto generated a link to the last thing I posted here…which, I realized, was in April. Actually, I sort of should have realized, as one of my non-Internet friends — one of the few who actively supports my career with helpful suggestions and encouragement visited and made someone of a comment in a subtle way (Hello Ivan) that should have made me twig sooner, especially since this is the friend who also has encouraged me to blog here instead of soley on Live Journal, but hey. And yes, I get lots of support from friends, really, but…I think it’s hard to actively encourage a friend who is an author. I think it’s part…you’re not a prophet in your own country thing (i.e. they know me so don’t think of me as some awesome author, it’s hard to believe in success if you don’t see it) and just…I don’t know. Guilt that they haven’t bought my books, or that they don’t want to so they avoid the topic altogether? Or that they don’t know me in a writer context? I don’t know…and I’m not particularly worried about it…I don’t want them to change and I’m not complaining. Just observing how things are.
The point is, I haven’t posted for awhile.
So, what shall I talk about, I ask as I dunk my Death Star shaped tea infuser…(Ok, that was a cruddy segue. But yes, they exist, and isn’t it so cool? http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ed08/) that one of my friends brought in yesterday. She’s actually my work study, but she’s also a good friend, I hired her because I knew she would work hard, I knew she would work hard because I got to know her through the Medieval Club. She shoots archery and delights in everything that’s good. She has a quiet magic about her, sometimes I wonder if she’s a fae changeling. It is so rare to find someone who opens herself up to joy and finds happiness in the smallest things. So I find her utterly delightful.
And that’s not just because she brought in loose tea for me to try to make my work day brighter, and her best infuser. I am determined this weekend to go through my loose tea at home and make her little baggies of some of my favorites. When I was in San Francisco I bought a TON of Uncle Filbert’s Desert Tea from the Spice Exchange on Pier 93, and maybe some rose marzipan…
This is why I do not post more often. My posts tend to be pretty random, and you know, I read all these things pretty much titled HOW TO BECOME A FAMOUS AUTHOR THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKING and they say that my posts are bunk. Which is why I tried to write about travel, then failed, then about writing, but failed because really, how many posts do you want about me sitting at a desk typing?
I think that the problem with the Internet is that there are SO MANY opinions. I know that’s a good thing but they have a side effect…they weigh you down. They make you doubt yourself, they make you rethink.
Sometimes I think about abandoning Apenandfire and buying…actually, I should buy it anyway…cindylynnspeer.com and starting a new blog there. Maybe archive this one and start over fresh, accessible so we can see my past but with a new main blog to unchain us. Start over fresh.
1. Please, tell us about your latest book.
This is book 2 in the Land’s End comic fantasy series, which some reviewers have called “Game of Thrones Lite” and “The Princess Bride with sex.”
When Rowena is abducted back to medieval Land’s End, all is in turmoil. Gareth is trapped in the middle-world. Cedric is losing his soul to the black arts. And her beloved Thane is stuck back in Arizona.
What’s a modern girl to do? Learn how to control her powers of magic, of course. Things go wrong when she accidently conjures up a Roman Legion in mid-battle. Now she has to prevent Roman and Land’s End warriors from killing each other.
A royal banquet quickly dissolves into a brutal battle. The Dark Lord appears and raises the stakes by trapping Rowena in a cyclone of lust and passion. Once again, Rowena is torn between the man she loves and the mage who fires her desire.
2. Tell us a little about one of your favorite minor characters. Will they show up in another book?
Yes! Look for Lars to play a major role in book 3, Rowena and the Viking Warlord. He just kinda grew on me. Oh yeah.
3. How do you go about picking your character’s names?
In my case, it was a natural. Rowena is a family name. The castle I write about in the Land’s End series was a real Norman castle in Shropshire, belonging to a distant relative (meaning he died a long time ago) Viscount Clegg-Hill. It burned down in 1550. But I was regaled with tales about it when I was young, and they stuck in my mind.
4. What is your favorite thing about writing?
I have complete control of the story. I sure don’t have control of my real life!
But also – and just as important – I love the people I meet; other writers and readers.
5. How did you get started in writing?
I won a national fiction writing contest over twenty years ago. Then I started writing freelance humor columns for newspapers. Picked up a regular column, and then was approached by a comedian who read it and liked my style. I started writing standup for comedians.
6. What does your family think about your writing?
They think I’m nuts. But then, they always did. I was the class clown.
7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go? How about anywhere in time?
Perfect question for me. I would be time traveler, of course! Able to visit all sorts of eras and have a lover in each of them . Make my Tardis fuchsia, please.
8. If you could have a truly unusual pet, what would it be?
A dragon named Cinders! She appears in book 3, Rowena and the Viking Warlord, out in the fall.
9. If people from the future could describe you or your career in one word, what word would you like it to be?
Hilarious. (okay, nuts.) My goal is to make people laugh – to lighten their day. Truly, there is no greater high for me than taking a reader out of real life for a few hours and giving them a fun escape.
10. Do you have any hobbies?
Eating. Okay, and fast cars. I blew my last advance on a 1992 white Corvette convertible. I know – completely irresponsible. Love the thing.
11. What writers have inspired you the most?
Douglas Adams. Janet Evanovich. Charlaine Harris. Yes, there’s a pattern here.
12. When did you realize that you were a story teller?
At the age of 4. My parents called it ‘lying.’ Really, that was so shortsighted.
13. What is the biggest mistake that new writers make?
Thinking it’s going to be easy. Writing is work – hard work. We all think it should be easier, but it’s not. Sometimes, in those magic moments, it doesn’t seem like work, and that is grand. Those are the moments we live for.
14. What is something that always makes you happy?
Animals. Dogs in particular, but all animals. This is reflected in my Land’s End series. Rowena is a veterinarian and animal whisperer.
Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best this year when Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich. She has over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories, and 4 novels. She has won 6 awards for fiction.
ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD, book 2 in the hilarious Land’s End fantasy series, is NOW AVAILABLE at the special introductory price of .99! (regular price $3.99, after May 1.) Buy Link:
And the one that started it all: ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL, book 1 in the Land’s End series
Today’s guest is Tina Smith, author of the Wolf Sirens series. I’ve posted both of her covers…aren’t they lovely? (You all know by now what a sucker I am for covers.) Tina will be awarding jewelry in theme of her books (wolf charms, charm bracelets etc), ThreeD book marks in shifter themes (Wolves, tigers, panthers etc) and Sun catchers (beaded glass and crystal) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour…the more you comment, the more likely you are to win!
Please, tell us about your latest book. Wolf Sirens is about a teenage girls coming of age, when she is moved to strange town after her parent’s divorce. A myth about a Demi Goddess and a legend about the wolves which haunt the valley forever change’s the course of her life. Caught between two worlds she must decide between duty, desire and love.
Tell us a little about one of your favorite minor characters. Will they show up in another book? Yes, I love to include a few names which I then develop into a more pivotal character in subsequent books in the series. Shelly Bealy is a favorite; she is a high school teacher that Lila, the MC, meets her first day in Shade. Unfortunately Shelly is not seen after that because she is rumored to have left her husband, but the truth is ultimately more grisly. In book three the reader finds her again and sees that she is in a very conflicting situation.
What inspired you to write this novel? Twilight took paranormal to a new level, as has Maggie Steifvater – so both of those writers. And every author who has left a piece of their heart on the page. Virginia Andrews and Emily Bronte.
How do you go about picking your character’s names? I like this question, no one has asked me this but I find it is a huge part of my writing process. It’s the issue of trying to use an individual name that suits the character that isn’t anyone you know and that doesn’t conflict with other names or seem too out there, I want my names to be believable but at the same time unique, like my characters. I spend a lot of my spare time collecting names. It’s odd really. I got the name Angele (Angie) from a book about a Indian man called Grey Owl, the book had a picture of Pierce Brosnan on the front because he played him the movie adaptation (which I haven’t seen)(that’s not to say I won’t).
What is your favorite thing about writing? You have some major highs and some lows, moments of inspiration and hours and hours of typing to get a scene just right with the imagery and dialogue to achieve the direction you desire. I love working with my good friend Sally on editing but it’s a long time before I get to that stage. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well. But that moment when you have got your word count, a good plot and interesting characters – you just feel elated. It’s when I think I might have something good, so that would be my favorite part. Then I go back in and perfect the scenes. A writer’s work is never done. Edit and edit again.
How did you get started in writing? I always kept journals – since I was eight. In primary school I rewrote fairytales for fun. I got awards for a story or two. Throughout troubled parts of my life I try to cope by writing but to be honest I really never wrote a novel until Wolf Sirens – I saved up all of my mojo for one great thing.
What does your family think about your writing? My mum and Dad are very proud. No one in my family reads, I would say they are all extroverts. I am the weird one. Others are dubious because they don’t get me and I have blind sighted them with my hobby. I wrote because I was lost, I knew if I put my all my artistry and heart into writing the best stuff I could that it would bring great and true people into my life, thus far that has been successful. I have discovered what I was meant to do.
How do you come up with your ideas? Do you start with an image, a character…? My process is organic I don’t do plans or time schedules. I work like crazy, I’m just not choleric. I drawer inspiration from all kinds of places, from life and my dreams and television and books and other artists. My higher brain sorts it out. The process is an enigma.
If you had a monster living under your bed, what would you name it? What genre are we talking? Children’s entertainment? Mr. Freckles? Thriller -Tommy, Horror – Meat grinder, Romance – Edward Cullen.
If you were an amusement park ride, what would you be? I hate roller coasters. If I was a ride it would be the car you put two dollars in that barely moves anywhere but makes some good noises, so it and the kids think they are getting a thrill.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go? How about anywhere in time? Anywhere in the world would be Paris with my daughter, she wants to see the Eiffel Tower and the snow. In time, Ancient Rome?
Do you have any writing rituals? Water and Lip balm, green tea is nice. It all help makes me comfy so the juices flow. My note book.
If you could have a truly unusual pet, what would it be? A hologram of a whale. Life size. It’s not really a pet. But if it had to be breathing, a dragon like Falcor from The Never Ending Story would be cool.
If you had to share a house with a vampire, a werewolf or a ghost, which would you pick? The ghost would watch you in the shower, but the other two could eat you alive. Maybe the ghost.
What are you working on now? Wolf Sirens Night Fall – which is the third in the series. I plan to write six in total. It has just about consumed me right now. Even when I’m cooking dinner I stare off into space. I imagine my daughter thinks the lights are on but no one’s home, it’s just that I can’t switch off the ideas. I’m home but I’m thinking.
If people from the future could describe you or your career in one word, what word would you like it to be? I’ll go with this. Fictional Deity, or as The Writer Who Changed Fantasy. It would be cool if in the year 3000, my books were paranormal classics and studied in university like Dickens and Bronte. I’m imagining a Futurama-type setting, where I am worshipped like a god. Maybe my head can be in a jar?
Do you have any personal catch phrases that you use a lot? Catch twenty two. There’s no doubt I have other phrases that I don’t realize I use. My mother always says it’s not what you know it’s who you know.
Do you have any hobbies? Soaping and beading. I make goat milk and olive oil soap. I sell it in a few shops in Adelaide.
What writers have inspired you the most? Emily Bronte, Jack London and Maggie Steifvater, Stephenie Meyer.
When did you realize that you were a story teller? When I was a kid I would read books on tape and sometimes I would read books but make up the stories when I was reading to other kids. So maybe there was something telling in that. My favorite story was Puss in Boots, even at five years old I appreciated the clever plot in that fairy tale.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be? Writing.
What is the best part of world building for you? Imagining unusual things and being able to use them were ever I want. That’s why Paranormal and fantasy is so great.
City or country? Suburbs
What is something that always makes you happy? My dog Billey.
Kind of cool…alright, the blog’s pretty low, but it’s nifty to be included!
An infographic by the team at CouponAudit