Tag Archives: blogging

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. :-D

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! :-D


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! :-D 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! :-D


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! :-D


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