How New Author Bloggers can get Readers, Part 1

Imagine you just started your author-blog yesterday. You wrote a blog post that is really fine-and-dandy. But it will probably be a while before you start getting discovered by readers. What can you do, right now, to get your posts read?

One thing that has worked for me is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or IWSG. It is a monthly blog hop for writers which has really blossomed in to something big. It takes place the first Wednesday of every month. Here is where you sign up. http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

It’s a very LONG list of participants. And they weed out the people who forget to participate regularly. Now, just this list of subscribers is gold, because it is a list of active author bloggers.

Best Practices for IWSG Participants

     Your Post

The group is about sharing your insecurities as a writer. DON’T write a post that sounds like a blurb from your book. Write something that shares a little of yourself, and how you are not quite 100% confident about your writing. But— here’s an important hint— don’t sound TOO insecure. You want other people to have some confidence in your writing. So don’t write an ‘everything I write is utter dreck’ post because that encourages people to believe it! Write something about one little thing that is giving you trouble. Or that you worry about. As in my own case: I’m working on a zombie apocalypse story, and I finally have a good name for my Hero: Eirik, a Viking form of Erik. But in this case his birth name was Frederick. It’s great, and Frederick has resonance with me because I had a grandfather Frederick. And my other grandfather had the middle name of Friedrich, German for Frederick. But then I realized— the name Eric is close to Rick, the hero of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead. What is my subconscious mind trying to do to me?

Visiting blogs

The number one thing that the IWSG does for you is gets you to visit other people’s blogs. And the one thing you have to do is to write comments on blogs. Any blogs. All blogs. Except porn/erotic-romance writer’s blogs, of course. (Their writing world is not our world.)

Comments can and should be short, but they should show that you have actually read the blog post in question. ‘Nice post’ does not cut it. ‘Nice post about your cat’s flea infestation’ does.

There are four kinds of blogs on the IWSG that it pays to comment on:

  • The ones at the very bottom, who have just signed up and who may not be used to getting comments on their blog
  • The ones at the very top, who are regular participants and who get lots of comments on their IWSG posts (make yours memorable.)
  • The ones in the middle, who don’t get the attention that the bottom and top do
  • Your regulars. These are the people who, after a few months of participation, you think are good matches for you and your blog. Perhaps they are writing in your genre, or they share your worldview, or maybe they are just funny or have great content or share cute pictures of their cat. Make a list of these blogs you like and be sure to visit them each time.

Being visited

Remember to visit back on the blogs of your commenters. I’m really insecure about doing that because visiting back feels too much like social interaction and as a person with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) that’s difficult and scary.

Mark the Date

It’s easy to forget about the date of the IWSG, which is the first Wednesday of the month, so mark it on your calendar and put a note on the wall of your writing room. It’s a very worthwhile effort for those with new or rarely visited blogs.

 

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IWSG/Worldbuilding Wednesday: Original Enough?

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: Original Enough?

Have you ever felt that your worldbuilding wasn’t really original enough? I’ve read some works like that: a sci-fi where people had phasers and answered to ‘The Federation’ and had transporter beams that were called transporter beams…. It was really just a Star Trek fanfic without the beloved Star Trek characters.
But what if you try to be totally original on every possible aspect of worldbuilding? To the point where your characters are wearing their shoes on their heads, as hats? That goes past the point of ‘too original’ all the way to ‘peculiar stuff no one will read.’
What a reader, particularly a genre reader, is looking for is a reading experience that will be ‘the same, but different.’ What produces that, in worldbuilding, is to have some things that are familiar from other stories in the genre, some things that are similar-but-different, and some things that may well be unique to your work. That reduces the burden on those would-be writers that feel they aren’t original enough.
In my own work, I have a Terran space fleet sort of like Starfleet in Star Trek. But the civilian authority they answered to— a disaster similar to the United Nations— disbanded and the Fleet is on its own. No civilian authority, no taxpayers to pay the bills. So the ships of the Fleet carry cargo and escort cargo ships to earn their pay.

Worldbuilding Wednesdays: Judicial System

In my world for my current WIP, this comes out to being about interplanetary law. This is not a nice-and-neat category. One major authority is the Interplanetary Humanoid Archive. They classify the different humanoid races and their classification determines whether a humanoid race is able to colonize a planet by themselves or just a part of a planet. They keep records on claims made by the different races. This is useful since some humanoid races have been exploring space for a very long time and records can show whether a planet occupied by humanoids is its own thing or a failed colony from long ago.
Another authority for interplanetary law is the Fleet. The Fleet uses certain space stations and planets as regular stops for their ships. They insist on certain things in the law of these space stations and planets. They don’t want to do business with a place that thinks it’s OK to steal their stuff.
Tiberius Base, being a space city under construction, does not have its judicial system fully put together yet. Right now Fortunate Dragon, the corporation building the station, makes its own rules. But Fortunate Dragon is under the authority of the Terran interplanetary national entity called the Interplanetary People’s Republic which has a system similar to modern-day Communist China. Since business is important to them, they don’t enforce communist policy in free-trade districts as Tiberius Base will be when completed. They look to having freedom of speech and freedom of religion on the Base even though these conditions don’t prevail in other parts of their interplanetary nation.

This has been a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. AND in the Worldbuilding Wednesdays blog hop. Please visit the links for more information on the blog hops in question.

Book recommendations: I have been working through K. M. Weiland’s Outline Your Novel Workbook, which has been very helpful in getting to know my characters and my story. I have also purchased K. M. Weiland’s Structure Your Novel Workbook and hope that also will be useful. As I have Asperger Syndrome I am VERY disorganized and have not had much success in organizing my ideas into a complete novel. (It’s why I write poetry.) I am hopeful these books will help me upgrade my outlining and structuring skills.

IWSG: Reviving my 2006 blog in Esperanto

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. Join at: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

My latest ploy to avoid having enough time to work on my WIP is reviving my oldest blog— one from 2006. At that time, my main blog was called ‘Moreover the dog went with them’, after a line from the Biblical book of Tobit. (If you don’t have Tobit in your Bible, you need a better Bible. Tobit was in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible Jesus and his disciples used.)

In addition to Moreover, I started a second blog in Esperanto, the international language. It’s called ‘kaj la hundo iris kun ili’, which is the Biblical phrase from the Esperanto Bible.

The Bible in Esperanto translation.

Esperanto Bible

I have not posted in ‘kaj la hundo’ in years, but lately I decided to start again. The reason is that I am working on a science fiction novel in which Esperanto is the common language of the Terran Empire and also used as an intercommunication language by aliens, because it’s such an easy language to learn. Using Esperanto as a futuristic language used to be far more common in science fiction, but today’s science fiction writers are convinced that difficult English will be the One True Terran Language in the future. Not very logical, but…..

My revival of the ‘kaj la hundo’ blog is currently concerned with providing links to Esperanto learning material for English speakers. Here is the link, in case you want to have a look: http://kajlahundo.blogspot.com/  I welcome comments on any of the posts there in any language. Well, OK, if you are going to comment in Chinese or Swahili I won’t understand it a bit, but I welcome the comments anyway. 😉

I especially hope to find readers for that blog interested in learning a little Esperanto. Studies show that Esperanto can be learned in 1/10th the time it would take to learn another European language. So it’s a quick way to get a second language into your brain.

More recently I started a Facebook page in Esperanto called ‘La Sankta Biblio en Esperanto.’ As you may have guessed, it’s about the Bible. I try to regularly post verses or groups of verses from the Bible in Esperanto. I usually give the English as well, and for single verses a few other languages. I use the web page Jesus Army Multilingual Bible to help find the verses in different languages. Here is the link to La Sankta Biblio en Esperanto: https://www.facebook.com/sanktabiblio/

I’d really like it if language geeks and Bible geeks would ‘like’ that Facebook page and share it with their friends. Thanks!


Kitten Picture of the Day

juliannenorbertMy cat Julianne— the orange one— got pregnant this spring and had to have an emergency caesarian. All of her kittens died. During the grief period Julianne needed to cuddle a kitten, so I handed her the youngest cat we had— seven month old Norbert (who is a girl kitty.)

Julianne has got over losing her kittens, and she’s grown a lot. She was so tiny at two years old the vet thought she was a pregnant kitten. But now she’s almost as big as her brother and kitten-daddy Derek. Perhaps being neutered let her grow more.IWSG

IWSG: Will all our voices still be heard?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Join them here: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

The world of writing has changed. If a big publisher doesn’t want to publish your work, not because it’s bad, but because you don’t fit into their image of what a writer should be, think and write about, you have options— you can self-publish. That makes some of us feel that we are utterly free and can publish whatever we like, no matter what our point of view is on such matters as politics and religion. But that freedom may turn out to be quite restricted.

You may know that the publishing world has become more consolidated. Instead of dozens of independent publishers, there are a handful of publishers with dozens of imprints each. Many of these imprints were formerly independent publishers.

Does this matter if you are self-published? It might. Because the firms we use to self-publish— CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords— are also major publishers likely dominated by let’s-all-think-alike progressives. If you are a successful self-published author but don’t fit in to what big publishers have determined is mainstream enough, there is always a chance that someone might decree that  something you have written is ‘hateful’ or ‘extreme.’

Being careful may not help. During my Youthful Marxist Phase I wrote a sarcastic phrase ‘bullets and ballots mean much the same thing.’ The Communist that ran ‘Struggle’ magazine failed to recognize the sarcasm and rejected that poem on the ground that it was far too ‘extreme’ even for full-on Communists. Anyone can run afoul of these accusations, especially those who are independent thinkers.

Some may feel that the solution is to sell out. Be what the big-boy publishers want a writer to be, even if you are self-publishing. Write another me-too commonplace novel even though it’s something you don’t even want to READ much less write. But that seems to me to be just another way to sell your soul.

So, will our voices be heard? I know that there are a lot of people in the publishing world that would not particularly welcome my voice. I am a prolife Catholic Christian, a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, a chaste-and-loving-it lesbian, and a conservative-libertarian. They won’t know whether to call me a hater or claim to be ‘liberating’ me.

But I have something in me that is not easily silenced. Perhaps it’s just my Asperger’s Syndrome which makes me not know when to shut up. Perhaps it’s just that I want to be myself since I don’t know how to be anyone else. Will anyone hear my voice? If I don’t keep trying, I will never know. I hope that all who read these words will also keep trying, and being true to themselves. Don’t conform, create!

My Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/


Poem of the Day

Here’s one of my own poems that seemed appropriate.

msm

the place was full
of fences
to let us know
where to be

fences
meshing
in our minds
to keep us in
main
stream

(c) Nissa Annakindt

from my book ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’, 2010 edition. The title of the poem, ‘msm’ refers to the mainstream media. Just in case you didn’t guess.

If you can read this, it means you have read this post all the way to the bottom. Thanks! Please leave a comment, and, since you were kind enough to read my post, feel free to link to your book (if you have one) and perhaps give a short (1 or 2 sentence) summary of what your book is about.

IWSG: Writing insecurity due to amateur writing advice.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop.

Why are today’s writers so insecure? Well, why wouldn’t we be? We have an almost infinite supply of how-to-write advice available on the internet— and much of it is self-published material from amateur writers.

Now, just because a work is self-published doesn’t mean that it is bad. Lawrence Block has self-published both fiction and how-to-write nonfiction. James Scott Bell has self-published some how-to-write books, but also has professional publication through Writer’s Digest books and his fiction publisher. Both of these men, I would say, can prove that they can write well enough to get traditionally published and to be noted authors. They also have both served as a fiction writing columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine.

But the writing world has undergone big changes due to the availability of FREE self-publishing. The amateur writing stage is one we all go through— but the temptation today is to self-publish one’s youthful attempts and then begin promoting it as if it were more mature work. I’ve read a book review by a reader who thought a certain book was so amateurish it could have been written by a thirteen year old. Then the reader discovered it WAS written by a thirteen year old.

A writer still at the amateur/beginner stage may not know how unready his work is. So he plugs away at self-promoting with minimal success— perhaps joining blog hops like IWSG in order to get his writing blog noticed. For the audience of blog-hopping writers, one popular topic is how-to-write tips. And so the amateur-writer-blogger writes about how-to-write. He may even publish a book on how-to-write and it may outsell his amateur fiction by a good margin.

Now, advice from an established writer can make you insecure enough. I’ve read writing advice books by Stephen King, Jerry B. Jenkins, Holly Lisle and other writers I actually knew from their fiction. There advice may be good but it isn’t always the right advice for ME, or for the work I am currently attempting.

Much worse is advice from a writer who isn’t-there-yet as a writer. There are worlds of second-rate writing advice floating around there and many amateur writers can repeat it all as if it were Gospel. Some of the things that bad writing advice has you worrying about are things that skilled professional novelists don’t think about or plan, things that ‘just happen’.  Some will have you planning your novel for years, others will have you dashing ahead with a half-formed idea. For every type of young writer, there is a piece of bad advice out there that will convince you that the way YOU write naturally is wrong, wrong, wrong.

So— maybe it’s time to swear off running after writing advice. Read more books instead. Experience life a little. Learn a new language. Improve your knowledge of your native language. And remember that the only real key in becoming a confident writer is to write, and write, and write. Until you get good at it.

 

 

IWSG: Why Aren’t You Writing? Right Now?

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2Recently I signed up for a mini-course by Christian author Jerry B. Jenkins, author of more than 185 books. Today’s lesson was about finding time to write. The objections Mr. Jenkins expects include the following: ‘if only I had better equipment….’

I’ve fallen into that one a lot over the years. First I needed to drop the typewriter and get one of those newfangled word processing machines. Which helped in my early poetry life in that I could just print out two copies of each poem instead of resorting to carbon paper or typing a second copy (so I would have one copy to submit and one for my files.)

Later I ‘needed’  a personal computer, a better personal computer, internet access, several iterations of writing software…..

But, really, I could have gotten by with a lot less. It was mostly my mind’s way of delaying the time when I really faced the challenge of being a writer. Delaying the time at which I might find myself a failed wannabe writer instead of the real thing.

But, the thing is, a writer is one who WRITES. Not one who talks about writing. Not one who imagines good story ideas in their heads. One who sits down with fingers and keyboard or pen and paper and writes. Why aren’t you doing that right now?

Why am I not doing that right now? Well, at the moment I’m blogging in my much-neglected blog that was started as a method to build up an audience for my books (I have two poetry books out, one in paper, one an e-chapbook that is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Surly-Petunia-Nissa-Annakindt-ebook/dp/B00NZ96EYE)

Blogging is a kind of writing, too. For the past week or so, I’ve been blogging close to daily and that loosens up those writing muscles in your head. I’m hoping it will get me back to my former habit of writing a daily poem which I haven’t done for a couple of months. Which in turn leads to better and more frequent prose writing.

For me, I find that poetry writing precedes attempts at fiction.  A couple of decades back when I first became serious about my writing, I spent 2-3 years writing hundreds of poems and submitting them to small poetry magazines. And then one day I sat down and wrote a sci-fi short story which I also submitted somewhere, and got a personal rejection note instead of a form.

For you, it will be different. Each writer’s mind works differently. Perhaps you need a writing ritual that involves giving up social media and blogging for a week when starting a new project. Perhaps you need to read a poem every morning before starting your writing work. We are not all the same. You need to see what works for you.

There is a well-known writer, author of a great many books, who for years had a stressful full time job. She came home from the job, tended her children for a few hours, and when they went to bed she put in 3 or 4 hours of writing before going to bed. That’s what worked for her. But I couldn’t do that, especially now. As I get older I find that my brain is just not up to the writing game late at night. It’s really not up to much more than watching Dexter reruns at that hour.

Have you been a writer today? A blogger? A poet? If not now, when? The more you delay the beginning of your writing day, the more possible it is you won’t do it at all today. And if you don’t write today, you are not a writer. Today, anyway.

So, therefore…. Aw, heck with it. This blog post is done enough, and I got a poem in me that isn’t going to write itself. Goodbye, and see you next time.

This blog post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. If you are a blogger, join up. It gives you a lot of other blogs to visit and is likely to get you a new visitor or two to your own.



 

The Bible-Quran Challenge is Coming!

yes, I’m being mysterious

IWSG: Why Is There Just One ‘First Thing in the Morning?’

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. Click on the link to see more.

Some days I think we need more than one ‘first thing in the morning.’ Because one just doesn’t cut it for me.

First thing in the morning is the best time for me to write poetry, so some days I do that. But since people don’t much read my poetry (even when the poetry e-book is free at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/480237 ), sometimes I work on my prose writing. First thing in the morning is also the best time for that. Recently I actually completed a bit of prose, which is rare for me, by tapping in to the power of first thing in the morning. You can read the next-to-final draft of the story here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/nissa-annakindt-poet-aspie-cat-person/the-skin-shirt-a-short-story-thats-not-about-race/449762488528479

But first thing in the morning is also essential for other things. When I have gone off my ketogenic/low-carb diet and am having difficulty getting back on, I need to read inspirational bits from one of my ketogenic diet books, and perhaps discover a good low-carb recipe to try out. If I do that first thing in the morning, I am more likely to have a successful day.

First thing in the morning is also a good time to handle essential paperwork, or to get my bill paying chore over with. I don’t handle these things well— just ask my gas company— and so doing it first thing in the morning is best.

First thing in the morning is also the right time to tackle a big project around my house, either indoors or outdoors. Like a couple of days ago when I got serious about hauling some manure out of the barn to make a better living area for my 9 year old mama goat and her two out-of-season newborns.

First thing in the morning is also the right time to write blog posts. My writing energy is at its peak and morning-posted blog posts are more likely to get read.

It’s also a great time to attend to spiritual needs. To get in there and read my daily readings from the Bible and Catechism, and to pray a rosary or two. On Wednesday mornings I can even tap into the power of mornings to make it to the daily Mass before I go to the Legion of Mary meeting.

Some days, though, my first thing in the morning is taken up with things I didn’t plan for. Like Sunday morning when I got up early, looked out the window, and noticed that my sheep had escaped. Rounding them up, I noticed that my elderly female goat had given birth so I had to get her set up in a private location. (My goat seems to do her best work in the evening, when she must have jumped the fence— perhaps while already in labor— led the sheep to escape with her, and got into the barn through a door left open for the free-ranging ducks and turkey, where she had her babies.)

So sometimes I get frustrated. I’d really like to get my writing done first thing in the morning every day. But there are so many other things that also need the first thing in the morning treatment. We really need more than ONE first thing every  morning.


If you have a Twitter account and would like to help me out, you can click on the link below to send out a Tweet that promotes this blog post— I’m trying to get more blog readers. Thanks.
Click to tweet: Tweet: Need more than 1 ‘first thing in the morning?’ http://ctt.ec/pbacU+ #amwriting #IWSG