I’ve moved my blog to
so I’ll be posting there from now on.
All the old posts from here are copied there.
I won’t be putting any more new posts here, that’s all.
Go here to read my blog post about this.
This giveaway was hosted by me, Kella Campbell, and the prize package and shipping were provided by me. The giveaway ended at 12:00 AM Pacific Time on November 21, 2015.
Why? I’m not absolutely sure. Maybe it’s because newsletters give, instead of asking or taking: they come with content just for me (well, not just for me, but for the mailing list members), and I’m not expected to share or retweet or comment or vote or click “like” — these social media engagements aren’t bad things, of course, but there’s an expectation of visible support, and it’s obvious when not given. While I like to show as much enthusiastic public support as I can to authors I admire, there’s something nice and pressure-free about just opening an email and reading it without having to respond. Yes, a newsletter is technically a marketing tool, but it’s also a gift from author to readers, and the best ones don’t feel like self-promotion.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to have a newsletter of my own; however, one big thing was holding me back. I kept asking myself, “But am I newsworthy?”
Here I am, thinking that I would like to give the gift of a private, special newsletter to anyone who is interested in my stories — and I’m wondering whether I’m good enough to do that.
Since when did giving a gift depend on the giver being worthy?
I woke up to this thought at the beginning of the week, and realized that now is the time to go ahead and create a mailing list, with a goal of sending out a monthly newsletter. We hear all the time that smart writers establish mailing lists well in advance of any book release; there’s no way to do that and also achieve some kind of invisible goal of becoming Important Enough For A Newsletter before starting one.
No one is being forced to sign up. If I end up sending out, say, a flash fiction story or an excerpt from something I’m working on, and it only goes to a handful of people, so what? Those people get something no one else does. No one is imposed on by the mere existence of a newsletter, right? I keep telling myself this.
But this is exciting: I’ve realized I can do something with a newsletter that I can’t do on a blog or Facebook page or anywhere else — I can customize it to the preferences of those who sign up. One of the questions on my sign-up form is about comfort level: Sweet (prefer no explicit sex or swearing) or Tart (okay with sexy description and gritty language)? That way, I can send my Sweets an excerpt that won’t make them blush, and my Tarts can get something a little dirtier.
I still feel strangely guilty, greedy, and not newsworthy enough to have my own newsletter. But it’s time to stop validating those feelings and go forward.
Writers, have you hesitated to start a newsletter because of doubts about being worthy? Did you end up doing it?
And readers, what do you love best about newsletters? What makes the great ones so awesome?
Oh, back up a bit? What’s BIT? Boost It Tuesday!
Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog, and If These Books Could Talk are the main organizers and hosts of the weekly awesomeness. Every Tuesday, they post a link-up (powered by InLinkz) and invite book people — both authors and book bloggers — to add their Facebook pages. The idea is that everyone who participates goes to every other Facebook page on the list to “like” and comment on at least two or three posts, to help “boost” the pages’ visibility (since Facebook shows “popular” posts to more people).
This is my second week doing it. Here are five reasons why it’s awesome:
I’ve discovered a whole bunch of fun book blogs and authors I didn’t know about before.
It’s incentive to pay attention to my Facebook page and make sure there’s new content for BIT visitors to boost.
I can look at other authors’ social media strategies and see what appeals to me.
There are some fabulous giveaways to enter.
I feel like I’m helping other authors and book bloggers by boosting their stuff. Good karma.
It’s so positive! Everyone is there to say “Happy BIT” and click the like button. ALL the warm fuzzies!
If this sounds interesting, and you have a book-related Facebook page (not profile), go visit one of the hosts’ websites to join in. As I learned last week, Tuesday night or even Wednesday isn’t too late, and if this week doesn’t work for you, there’s always next week.
Also, there’s a giveaway every week as part of Boost It Tuesday, and you can apply to host the BIT giveaway on your own page (go visit one of the hosts’ sites to find the sign-up form).
So basically it’s all win-win and there’s no downside, only the time it takes to click on a bunch of Facebook pages and say hello — and it’s totally okay to spread that out over the week, you don’t have to get it all done on Tuesday. And really, looking at book covers and teaser graphics, and entering giveaways, and reading reviews and blurbs… it’s not what you’d call painful, you know?
Give it a try, and have fun. Maybe I’ll see you on the link-up?
I joined Wattpad seven months ago to follow Katie Cross, who at the time had just serialized her novella The Isadora Interviews and was preparing to start Bon Bons to Yoga Pants. I wasn’t sure what I thought about it, back then. Raw, unedited writing? Authors giving away whole novels for free? Anyone can join and post random stuff? Uhh… But I needed an account to read BBtYP — Wattpad is good like that, you can’t read unless you’re registered — so I signed up.
When I read Katie’s blog post about how Wattpad has extended her author brand, I realized that my assumptions about Wattpad were wrong. It’s not all fan fiction and erotica (although those are well represented), and even well-known authors have taken to the platform (all kinds, from Margaret Atwood to R.L. Stine), enough that Wattpad has an orange “verified” checkmark for them. I also had a chance to chat with Jing Jing Tan at Wattpad (honestly, it sounds like the coolest place in the world to work); she was super encouraging, and I learned that it’s truly about connecting readers and writers.
At the core, it’s a social media network, only instead of cat pictures and linkbait, everyone there is sharing and discussing stories. I’m loving the feedback and support and conversation. Where sometimes trying to connect with new people through Facebook and Twitter feels like work, Wattpad is making it fun to reach out again.
But… changing my life? How can that be?
Look, I don’t share my work easily, so I don’t have much to show out there for the length of time I’ve been writing. I find excuses for why I don’t submit stuff, and why I don’t self-publish, but the truth is I’m just scared. Wattpad is making it easier for me.
In the two weeks since I posted the first chapter of A Husband for Deva on Wattpad, I’ve more than doubled my total public word count (TPWC = words available to the general public, whether for free or by purchase). The best thing is, I feel fabulous about it.
Wattpad can’t and shouldn’t be a working writer’s only platform, but as part of a wider author-brand strategy it’s brilliant, and for those who fear jumping into the pool, it’s an awesome way to get our toes wet.
And remember, on Wattpad you make a writer’s day every time you click that little star in the upper right corner of a chapter.
It’s launch day for The High Priest’s Daughter, the third book in the Network Series by Katie Cross (though it’s sort of also the fifth book because there’s a prequel and an ancillary novella as well).
This is the best book in the series yet! If you’re new to the Network Series, you should probably start with either Miss Mabel’s School for Girls (book one) or Mildred’s Resistance (the prequel), depending on how you like to get into a series—original-first or chronological. Or you could just get this one today and then go back and start from the beginning afterward.
Having read the earlier books in the series, I knew even before I started reading this one that I was in for a treat.
The Central Network is preparing for war and Bianca is involved in some tense diplomatic action and political intrigue. The horrors of dark Almorran magic become more apparent as the conflict erupts. At the same time, Bianca and her best friends are growing into adulthood, and as the other girls begin dating, she fears she will lose them to love and marriage. Then her adored father starts to come on heavy about what she’s allowed to do and whom she’s allowed to spend time with, and an evil voice whispering in her dreams tries to force her to make an impossible deal.
As with the other books in this series, there are some darker elements (pain, death, evil spells, an amputated limb) that might be a bit much for very sensitive readers or those below middle school. The emerging romances are handled with such a light touch that I’d feel comfortable recommending it even to (advanced) readers as young as fifth grade, despite it being a complex enough story for mature readers to enjoy.
Also, I want a Volare.
The message? Change is hard, but inevitable, and the bonds of friendship and family grow stronger through it in the end.
Favourite quote? “I pressed my hands onto the Volare to test it, delighted when it rippled as fluidly and lightly as silk. It lowered itself so I could scoot on rear first. I slipped across the soft weave, expecting it to feel loose, like sitting on a piece of cloth suspended between two chairs. But the Volare remained sure and firm.”
How I found this book? The author is one of my e-book production clients; I read it while working. (Note: a review is NOT part of my client services.)
4.5 stars • rare • truly excellent, blew me away, unforgettable
KATIE CROSS grew up in the mountains of Idaho, where she still loves to play when she gets the chance. If she’s not writing, you can find her traveling, working as a pediatric nurse, trail running with her husband and two dogs, or curled up with a book and a cup of chai. Visit her at www.kcrosswriting.com.
Name twins. Such a problem for authors.
Since you can’t reserve or trademark your name, there’s a chance — a good chance, if your name isn’t an odd one — that another person out there shares your name and your literary ambitions. Maybe more than one. Not to mention the possibility that someone with your name isn’t a fiction writer but does publish books: scholarly treatises on some obscure point of economic history, say, or computer programming manuals.
Two problems: 1) you want/need to grab things like URLs and user/profile names before the other party does, and 2) search algorithms can’t tell the difference.
Now, the first one isn’t the worst of problems. If you don’t end up getting “yourname.com”, you can always go with “yournamewriter.com” or something to that effect. My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/WriterKella because that was the best available option by the time I went to create it, but… it’s okay. WriterKella is okay, maybe even good. It doesn’t match my Twitter, but I can live with that.
The second problem can be… more of a problem. For instance, the editor of Stamps, Vamps & Tramps is an award-winning author with stories in literary magazines like Joyland and Nimrod, but she shares a name with someone who writes western romances and the author of an art history textbook (as well as at least two fan fiction writers on Wattpad, who could venture into Amazon territory at any time).
Not that there’s anything wrong with any genre, but if you’ve worked hard to build up a readership and reputation in your genre and style, you don’t want your readers confused — and what if that person who shares your name isn’t a good writer, or has a sloppy publisher and terrible cover designer, or has made enemies on Goodreads, or stands for values or politics you abhor?
This is why I claim my profile across all the social reading sites as soon as I can, regardless of whether I like them or want to use them or think they have value.
Amazon is the easiest one to take care of (I blogged about it back when I set my author page up). Once you’ve set up your page and claimed your books, it’s clear which ones are yours, and you can easily direct readers to your Amazon page to see them. Plus, if readers can easily see that Mary Smith #1 has claimed a series of gritty sci-fi adventures while Mary Smith #2 writes sweet Christian romances and inspirational/devotional short stories (with author photos and bios that show the Marys are two completely different people), there’s no confusion.
Goodreads is probably the most important one after Amazon because so many people use it. It’s super easy (there’s a link on unclaimed author pages saying “Is this you?”) and you usually get your approved status and welcome email within a couple of hours. The profile set-up is very straightforward and you can just walk through it as easily as the Amazon one. It lets you display all the usual information and, as with Amazon, you can “claim” your books.
LibraryThing is a bit trickier to use, because it’s more like a library database; there’s a learning curve. You can ask to be a “LibraryThing Author” but it takes a while for the request to be approved (in fact, at first I thought I was being ignored because I just have one story in one anthology, but it’s apparently just slow due to a huge backlog). Even while you’re waiting for LT Author status, though, you can still add an author photo and edit biographical details — actually, you can do this for anyone, not just yourself (some publishers will even take care of this for their authors). Most importantly, if you share a name with some other author(s), LibraryThing lets you split off your works from those of your name twins.
Shelfari seems to be down or slow a lot these days, and I find its mechanics a bit frustrating, but I still think it’s worth checking on your book(s) and author profile there. I believe there’s a way to claim “Shelfari Author” status, but as far as I can tell, there’s no real reason to do so since you can edit everything for your author profile anyway without officially claiming it as a Shelfari user. As with LibraryThing, there’s the ability to combine or split author profiles if you’ve somehow ended up with two or you have a name twin.
Booklikes appears to be mostly a blogging platform for readers and reviewers, but it does have author profiles so it’s worth registering to add the usual photo, bio, website link, etc. Unfortunately, at the moment I don’t see a way to deal with name twins on the site, but perhaps an author in that situation could make a report and have it rectified.
Do you have a name twin in the books-and-publishing world? What have you done to differentiate yourself and make sure your readers aren’t confused?
Health for those who are ailing,
Some comfort for those who feel blue,
Good digestion for all who are feasting
And a deep night’s sleep too.
Love for those who are lonely,
Safe travels for those on the roads,
Only gifts that are actually wanted
And a lightening of loads.
Peace for all on this planet,
And joy of the season to you,
Celebrations without any drama
And your dreams coming true.
I don’t cook — no time, no inclination, no natural talent. But I’ve got to eat. So any food things I make need to be fairly low in their time commitment and domestic skills requirements.
Oh, bread pudding… staple of my university residence dining hall days… perhaps best known for its permanent grip on the dining hall ceiling in the wake of a bygone food fight and rumoured to be a rather fine hair conditioner. Also, it was surprisingly tasty. I seem to remember it was drizzled with syrup or honey (something sticky)? Anyway…
I never really thought about trying to make it until I came across a recipe for Raspberry Nutella Bread Pudding from Evil Shenanigans. And it actually looked easy enough for me to try!
Since then, I’ve found that this way of making bread pudding is almost infinitely adaptable to any kind of flavour/filling, and while the whole milk and 2 Tbsp of cream recommended by Evil Shenanigans makes it extra rich and, well, creamy, the recipe works just fine with 1% milk or even skim. Here’s my adaptation, but do go check out Evil Shenanigans if you want to try the original.
Heat the oven to 350ºF.
Prepare your baking dish — I usually use a 2.8 L Corningware one — to be non-sticky however you like to do it (I just butter mine).
Make four sandwiches with your bread and filling. You can spread the filling as thickly as you like. Cut the sandwiches into quarters and place them in the baking dish; you get a nice look from triangle-style pieces placed points-up as per the original recipe, but as long as the dish is pretty well crammed with an even layer of sandwich pieces, it should work fine.
Crack the eggs into a suitable container (I often use a 2-cup measuring cup as it pours nicely afterward) and whisk them a little, then add the sugar, milk, and flavouring — keep whisking till it’s all nicely blended.
Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sandwiches. You might need to tilt the dish around a bit to make sure the egg mixture gets into all the corners. Then dust/sprinkle your extra sugar and/or other toppings (orange zest? chocolate chips? rainbow sprinkles?) evenly over the sandwich pieces.
Let it stand for at least ten minutes so the bread can soak up the egg mixture. (This is important. Do not skip this wait time!)
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until set, then let it cool for at least ten minutes. After that, you can serve it warm, let it cool to room temperature, or chill it, as you wish.
Bread pudding can be served with a sauce drizzled over the top, though it’s totally not necessary and I usually don’t bother unless I’m trying to be fancy. Still, it’s one more option to add to this totally flexible dessert… which can also double as breakfast, since it’s mainly egg and milk and bread. And yes, I have eaten this for breakfast.