But Am I Newsworthy?

newsletter subscribe buttonI love getting newsletters from writers.

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?”

candy heartHere 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.

candy heartBut 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 candy heartTart (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.

Be a sweetheart; sign up!
(But only if you want to. No pressure.)

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?

Stamps, Vamps & Tramps Anthology

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is the official release day for Stamps, Vamps & Tramps, edited by Shannon Robinson — a Three Little Words anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media. I’m beyond thrilled to have a story included alongside those from so many amazing authors, and it was a privilege to work with such a fine editor.

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The anthology is, of course, built around stories about tattoos, vampires, and tramps (of any definition). I particularly enjoyed working a tiny postage stamp into my story to max out the theme with two types of stamp, two types of vamp, and two types of tramp… and I apparently wasn’t the only author thinking that way — I was absurdly pleased to see a mention of postage in Sandra Kasturi‘s “Mungo the Vampire” as well (one of the funniest vampire stories I’ve ever read).

There are so many excellent stories in this anthology (again, I’m just awed to be in such fine company), it’s hard to pick and choose between them, so I’ll just mention a few more favourites.

The opening story, “Easy Mark” by Rachel Caine, is outstanding, as one might expect, with a unique yet traditional take on vampires and a deeper look at good and evil and humanity in the context of hobos and the Great Depression. Second up, Barbara A. Barnett‘s “The Whole of His History” is much less traditional in its take on vampires, but equally moving — a story about outcasts and a longing to live without secrets. In “Follow Me”, Christine Morgan held my attention with her protagonist, a strong and intelligent prostitute named Euterpe, and a rich setting in ancient Athens. I particularly enjoyed “A Virgin Hand Disarm’d” by Mary A. Turzillo for the gradually revealed identity of Will, since I’m a bit of a sucker for origin/explanation/identity stories about… him. I also loved “Summer Night in Durham” by Cat Rambo for its unexpected and utterly perfect ending. Finally, the closing story — Gemma Files’ “His Face, All Red” — engaged me and drew me along with suspenseful action and vividly unique characters.

There’s some occasional gritty language sprinkled throughout the anthology, and a few sexual encounters (to be expected in a book of stories about vampires, really), but if you’re the sort of reader who gets freaked out by that, you’re probably not interested in reading about non-sparkly vampires anyway. Fair warning.

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My story “From the Heart” is third from the end of the anthology. You could say it’s got some grit going on — it involves a boozy stripper, a coffee-slinging hipster, a homeless ex-programmer, a lost corset, and… you get the idea. I kept coming back to the idea of “judge not, lest ye be judged”, and the story just grew from there.

The anthology as a whole is definitely worth reading, and I hope “From the Heart” plays a small part in that. Happy reading!