Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Go-to Blogs for Writing Advice

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Of the scads of blogs out there aimed at writers, many of them useful and informative, a few rise to the top of my list when I need advice (what should the first paragraph of my query letter contain?), information (which agents are currently accepting unsolicited submissions?) or inspiration. Bookmark the blogs listed below. Or better yet, subscribe. You won’t regret it.

Kristin Lamb’s blog

Not only is this blog informative, with meaty posts on such topics as story structure, character, social media, and marketing, it’s also written in Kristin Lamb’s fun, hip style and peppered with lots of quirky visuals. Comment, and you could win discounted attendance to a webinar or a manuscript evaluation by Kristin herself.

Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating blog

This blog, aimed at both writers and illustrators of children’s and YA books, offers several weekly features including Illustrator Sunday, inspirational guest posts by Erika Wassall, The Jersey Farm Scribe, and – my favorite – first-page critiques by both new and longtime agents. It was through one of these critiques that I got the go-ahead to submit a full manuscript to a top agent. Even though she ultimately rejected it, I was grateful to the Writing and Illustrating blog for allowing me to get my foot in the door.

K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors blog

After following this author on Twitter and enjoying her interactive posts, I subscribed to her blog and found a treasure trove of writing resources, including informative articles and useful charts, as well as videos and podcasts on the craft of writing. If you subscribe as I did, she’ll send an instructive newsletter to your inbox every week and provide you with a free e-book download.

C.S. Lakin’s Live WriteThrive blog

A new favorite for me, C. S. Larkin’s blog is full of nitty-gritty information on how to structure your novel, make your writing sing, and rise to the top of bestseller lists. I found her posts so helpful that I checked out her book The Twelve Key Pillars of Novel Construction, which now ranks among my most-dogeared writing books.

I pop in and out of a lot of blogs, but these are the ones I’ve either subscribed to or bookmarked for frequent visits. How about you? Which writing blogs have you found most useful?

A decision

Friday, August 31st, 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, fall is a time when the pace of my life quickens. My preschool dance classes start up again, Pilates clients who’ve been on vacation return, and requests for school and library visits start to trickle in. The result of all this is that while, happily, my income goes up, the number of available hours for writing goes down. That’s why I’ve come to a decision.

I began this blog in July of 2010, and since then I’ve written 186 posts (including this one). I’ll be honest here and tell you that I started blogging because I thought that, as a writer with her first novel coming out in a little over a year, I had to in order to establish some online presence. At the time that seemed true, but now it’s not so much the case. There are so many avenues for connecting online, with blogging being only one of those. But like many debut authors, I thought I had to do it all.

At first thinking of something to blog about twice a week was a chore, but over time I started to enjoy writing my blog posts. I was always aware, though, that the time I spent blogging was time I could have been working on my latest draft or revision.While maintaining this blog has been fun (mostly), I don’t feel that the venture has been all that successful. I rarely get comments, and I don’t feel much more connected to the blogosphere than when I started. All of which is entirely my fault, since I know I haven’t made the effort I could have to reach out to other bloggers. But to tell the truth, I think that’s because blogging just isn’t where my heart lies.

My heart lies with writing novels, and I’ve decided that that is where I’m going to invest my scarce and precious writing time. One of the things I’ve learned about writing novels is that you have to write regularly, even when you don’t feel like it. But I’ve decided that that philosophy doesn’t have to apply to my blog.

 So I’m not planning to abandon this blog completely, but I do plan to blog only when I’m inspired to. I’ll be posting on an occasional basis to let you know about upcoming events and to share news and writing tips. But from now on, I plan to do most of my day-to-day online communication through Facebook and Twitter.

So to those of you who read my blog, thank you. I hope that my posts have been of value to you. And I’m not saying goodbye completely, so be sure to check in every one in a while to see what’s new.

But only if you feel like it.



Writing life vs. “real life”

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Yesterday my friend Megan Bostic wrote a post on her blog about whether writers market too much on social media. She mentioned a formula, which I’ve encountered before, that says you should share 25 percent about your books and writing on social media and 75 percent about “real life.”

I understand the principle, but I also started wondering if it’s really possible for most writers to separate their writing and their personal lives. I find that writing permeates every aspect of my existence. I adore my family, my pets, and my friends; I’m dedicated to my work as a dance and Pilates instructor; and there are plenty of activities besides writing that I enjoy doing in my spare time. But if I’m being really honest with myself, I’d have to say that when I wake up in the morning, my first thought isn’t about my family or my work or my hobbies – it’s about my plot or my characters.

I feel guilty saying that. Does the fact that I think more about the people I’ve created in my head than the actual human beings around me make me some kind of sociopath? Does it mean that I don’t care about the people in my life? I don’t think so. I think that, like many writers, I’m just hard-wired to make my creative work my top priority.

I try to share about my personal life on social media, I really do. Take this blog for instance. I’ve posted about cancer survival (and how it affects my writing), about my husband (and what he’s taught me about book promotion), and about trips we’ve taken together (and how I managed to write during said travels.) You see, writing is so interwoven with the rest of my life that I can’t simply set it aside or separate it out.

So I apologize if I’m talking to much about my writing process and too little about what I did on my weekend. That’s probably because I spent most of it writing.

What do you think? Do you wish writers would share more about their personal lives and less about their writing processes?


Facebook: a writer’s best friend

Friday, July 6th, 2012

I’m not ashamed to say it: I love Facebook. Not everyone does, and I understand that. But Facebook has done so much more for me than reconnect me with long lost cousins, high school buddies, and old boyfriends. I think of Facebook as a tool for my writing life, and not just because I can check out my favorite authors’ pages or friend agents and editors. The most useful aspect of Facebook for my writing, I’ve found, is the ability to poll friends and get expert opinions.

Here’s an example of one way I’ve used polling: When my editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt told me that my novel needed a new title, I asked my Facebook friends, in the form of a status update, what they’d suggest as a title for a Young Adult novel that dealt with both crystal meth addiction and bird rescue. Dozens of friends commented with title suggestions, some of them great and some of them not-so-great. Even though the title we eventually chose, FLYAWAY, came from another source, I was glad to have a chance to involve my Facebook friends in the process. Hopefully, it gave them more of a sense of collaboration with me and more of a stake in the book.

Recently, I put out this request, again in the form of a status update: “Okay, theater friends. Have any of you seen or been in a show where a woman with a leading role has a quick backstage costume change? This is for a scene in a Young Adult novel, so it would have to be a show that could be done at a high school. Any suggestions would be appreciated!” I got a number of great suggestions, along with an invitation to further contact a woman whom I’m sure will be helpful as an expert on the topic I’m writing about.

So if you’re a writer, don’t think of Facebook as just a time-sucking distraction. Next time you need some folks to brainstorm with or give you expert opinions, call on your Facebook friends!


Crash Course

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The other day on the phone, my mom asked me what it’s like to be a published writer. My reply was, “It feels like I’m taking a crash course in everything!”

I wasn’t referring to the actual writing of the book, the submitting to agents, or the revision and editing process. Instead, my proverbial crash course covers everything surrounding the promotion process – and most of its lessons have to do with technology. First there was the setting up of my author website, which I happily farmed out to the talented Barrett Dowell. Then there was the creation of a book trailer, which was handled with grace and flair by Megan Bostic of Angsty Girl Video.

But some stuff, I’ve simply had to do myself. In the past year, I’ve mastered (well, to some degree, at least) blogging and using Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, and Twitter. I’ve set up a Facebook Author Page, organized online events and giveaways, and learned the difference between low- and high-resolution photos.

For a child of the sixties like me, none of this was easy. I look around me and see younger people who seem to have technological know-how imprinted in their DNA. These are the people who laugh when I say I’m struggling to import a YouTube video into my blog. If they only knew!

What’s my next challenge? Creating a Powerpoint presentation for an upcoming high school visit. I know, I know. Powerpoint is a snap; even elementary school kids can put together a slide show in a matter of half an hour. But for us old folks who weren’t raised on technology, this is complicated stuff.

There’s something to be said for having to learn a boatload of new skills in a very short time. I’ve had to set my fears aside and simply plunge ahead. And there’s a kind of satisfaction in knowing that I can post to my blog, update my Facebook status, and check my Amazon sales figures now without batting an eyelash. But I’m looking forward to the day when my crash course is complete, and I can go back to doing what I do best: writing books.

Have you had to take a crash course in anything lately?