Monday, February 28, 2011

Win a Book!!!

I have to give a huge shout out to my friend and fellow YAFF'er Vanessa Barger!  Her new book INTO THE ETHER comes out tomorrow and you can win a copy on her blog.
I've had the pleasure of reading INTO THE ETHER and have to say it is an extremely enjoyable read. So what are you waiting for? Go on over there (yes, I'm giving you permission to leave my blog) and win your loot!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - #2

Six Sentence Sunday is a blog ring (no, not a chain letter - remember those?) founded and kept up by the Six Sentence Sunday blogger. Check it out, and visit the other participants!

This is the first paragraph of my YA magical realism short story from a YAFF Muse called ANOTHER TURN. You can see the full post here.

I thought I tucked the insult safe inside my mouth. Still, on exhale the words escaped, the last slipping past my lips before I could catch my breath. Three syllables hung in the air, they snapped and crackled with all the anger and pain that had propelled them forward. I hate you. I wanted to take it back, but pride isn’t pretty. Instead I allowed them to gain substance in the silence and walked away.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Go Around

Six Sentence Sunday is a blog ring (no, not a chain letter - remember those?) founded and kept up by the Six Sentence Sunday blogger. Check it out, and visit the other participants!

My first post will be from my work in progress, YA dystopian/teenage assassin manuscript, LACED.

Images of the boy on the platform, of Andy, and the man in the tweed jacket play against my eyelids and I’m forced to open them again. By now the man is slouched over on a train to New-New York. No one will notice he’s dead until they stop, and round up the passengers up like cattle to force them through the security check point. By tomorrow the reports will say Chancellor Adkins died of a massive heart attack. No one will question the media, no one will think of me bumping into him, no one will wonder how a man of thirty-five died so young. It’s the beauty of the job, I guess.

That's it. Hope you enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Huge Congrats!

I have to give out big a round of applause, scream of congratulations, throwing of hats, releasing of balloons, and some Tom Cruise jumping up and down to my friend and fellow writer, Cambria Dillon.  Cam's amazing manuscript, LIFE AFTER SEND, has landed her an agent!  (As we all knew it would)  Also, it wouldn't be a proper congrats without a shirtless guy, right? So here ya go, lady!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Finally, I can have chocolate cake - Happy Birthday Never as the Crow Flies!

Okay, okay. So I'm a few days late on wishing my blog a happy birthday.  One year and four days ago, I sent my first thoughts out into the great wide web. I started with one lovely follower, who happened to also be my mother, and now I've got 26 of you! Thank you all so much for following me on this crazy, yet completely wonderful journey.

So, what have I learned from blogging in this last year? Number one is, I should probably blog more often and that, even the limited amount takes a lot of time. You can't just put any 'ol thing out there... well, you can, but not without making an ass of yourself.  Which is fine and dandy, but if you've got a goal with your blog, maybe you shouldn't. At least not on purpose. Here are my lessons learned through one year of blogging:

Read other blogs first, decide what works.
No, I'm not advocating for you to go out and copy other's blogs. What I am advocating is finding blogs you love (Fiction Groupie, Totally4YA, Pat Rothfuss, Read Now Sleep Later) and really think about why you love them. What do they do that makes you want to tune in each week? Are they professional? Are their blogs a tool, or do they have a goal (such as getting published, promoting their books) or are they help oriented (such as Guide to Literary Agents)? Which do you want your blog to reflect? Do you have lots of information to share with your community? Do you want to show off your voice and promote yourself as a writer/photographer/artist?

Reading other blogs can help you define what you'd like to put out into the world. I wished I had paid more attention to other blogs before starting my own.  Not that mine went all scary or anything, or I made really horrible mistake of venting about the industry, but I didn't have a direction.  I struggled with what to write, feeling nothing really was interesting enough.

Find a theme and stick with it.
Okay, I'm not saying you can't change your background... every once in a while. But know that as you get more readers, the background and theme of your blog becomes a comfort. Weekly readers become used to the look of your blog and there is something to be said for consistency.

When I go to goodreads I know where everything is. I know what to expect when I click on a button. And as a user, I like that.  The same goes for a blog.  When I visit one of my favorite blogs, I know where the comment buttons are. I know that if I pull up my email and my browser is behind that, I can see the edges of the blog I was reading/exploring and am quicker about getting back to it.

I used to change my background to match the pictures for the YAFF Muse series.  Each week I had a new one.  Sure, my buttons stayed in the same locations, but after a while, I realized that it wasn't staying with my central theme of the blog.  The changes didn't fit with the blog identity. 

Of course every once in a while it's okay to change something about your blog, make it better. For instance, I changed my blog and website so that the background color was white with dark letters. Having worked in PR and spent time designing pamphlets, websites, etc, I should have known better anyway - anything else is too hard to read.  Nevertheless, I had a black background and white letters.

Comment & connect with other bloggers.
One thing I was very slow about was connecting with other bloggers.  (hence the very first suggestion) But I found once I started commenting and engaging with other bloggers, it helped direct traffic to mine. (okay, I know 26 doesn't seem like a ton of traffic, but I love each and every one of you, and for my first year, seems pretty darn good)

Overall, you'll thank yourself for getting involved and talking to others.

Blog about something important/interesting or skate by on your funny.
Yeah, yeah, I know I don't always adhere to this sentiment either.  But, I'm working on it (see... hints/tips on what I learned right now!). If you can engage your readers, you'll gain more traffic. People will talk/type, refer to your blog. It's either that, or be super, super funny.  The best blogs, have both of course.

What doesn't work is random ramblings (yikes!) that have no clear direction or purpose. When I read these types of blogs, I tune out and turn the "channel" never getting halfway through.  You've got to hold your reader's attention (um, are you guys still with me? hope so or this would be pretty embarrassing... er... you're not here so I guess it's not - see!?! who wants to read that?).

Do something that gets you to blog at least once a week.
Try to post at least once a week.  I know, sometimes it might feel like you're blogging for/to no one. But that doesn't matter. Keep doing it. If you blog it, they will come. LOL sorry!  For me, that's the YAFF Muse series. Sure, I post last minute on Wednesdays (which especially seems like the case because I'm west coast compared to almost all of my east coast/middle partners) but it's worth it. Plus, for you writer types it's a fun way to exercise your short story muscles and step outside your comfort zone.  Though, I think there's a lot of debate among the industry-set that maybe you shouldn't post your work online because, agents/editors will go and check out your blog and you wouldn't want to embarrass yourself, right? Well, that might be. But it's still your blog and if posting a short story now and then gets you to post something during the week, then so be it.  Just make sure you do spell check, 'kay?

If you aren't into short stories, then post something you learned recently.  Been to a conference lately? Read something in the news or on another blog that made you think? Pose a question to your audience, engage them. And make sure to refer back to whatever your inspiration is too (especially if it's another blog).

Maybe you didn't learn anything this week (that's sad), but you did just finish a book.  Write a review. Or maybe you're not too much of a reader (though if you're a writer, you should be) and you watch more T.V. Why don't you write a review on the latest episode of your favorite show? Crushing on Castle? Great title, huh? You can use it.  Provided you watch Castle.

And the most important lesson ever? Have fun!
That's right. We all know that writing, editing, cutting, writing, and editing some more can be both fun and difficult. But we love it anyway.  Look at your blog the same way.  You might have to give some thought to what you want to blog about this week, and it might cause some sweat and or tears, but do it anyway. After a while it gets easier.  Or at least it has in my case.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me, my lovely followers and Never as the Crow Flies!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Book by My Fellow YAFF'er!

My good friend and fellow critique group partner (YA Fiction Fanatics) has a new book out today!  I haven't gotten to read this one yet, but I can tell you, from having read her other work, I CAN'T wait!!  So go and check out this awesome debut book here.