I don’t normally track my blog statistics but it was interesting to see how my blog has grown over the last nine years. From a tentative start to promote my first children’s book, Rumble’s First Scare, to currently connecting with my readers and the reading community ,as well as engaging and supporting the writing community, it has been a fascinating journey.
Through trail and error, I have found that posting twice a week is the most popular for my readership. As you know this year, I split the two weekly posts so they are specifically aimed at readers on Tuesday’s and writers on Thursday’s. This has proven very popular. Looking at the growth of my blog, the statistics speak for themselves.
First years stats: 2011 views 1424, visitors 0 posts 37
Last years stats 2019 views 14830 visitors 10640 posts 108
It has been a steep learning curve, and continues to be! I know there are things I should be doing, but with full time work, writing, publishing and promoting my books, as well as ‘normal life stuff’ there are never enough hours in the day. However, I am compiling a strategy to improve all aspects of my writing business, so watch this space.
For me the best part of having this blog is connecting with people from all over the world. It is so neat to see my flag map. I truly reach a global community.
In this time of COVID, we need connection and a blog is a way to gain that. Whether you post weekly, monthly or less frequently, you are reaching out to others. Stay safe, stay well.
I would love to know:
How did you start your blog?
How often do your post?
Do you have any tips for new and established bloggers?
I’ve held a fascination for all things paranormal, ever since I was a little girl. So, once I knew I wanted to pursue writing it was a natural fit for me to right in the horror/dark fantasy/speculative fiction genres.
Did writing for anthologies aid your writing style?
Absolutely! When you’re given specific word limits to adhere to, it teaches you to write concisely which I found a great skill to have once I moved forward with my novels.
Did you find the switch from short stories to novel length challenging?
Not at all, though they are certainly different. With novels you need to make sure there’s a lot more fleshing out of the characters/places etc.
What inspired your debut novel, Fates’ Fury?
I’m not sure when the idea first came to me. It wasn’t an ‘ah ha!’ moment, but more like an idea that simmered beneath the surface for awhile. It was in 2012, when there was a lot of talk of the Mayan Calendar, and it got me thinking about what would the ancients think if they could see us now?
Can you tell us about the story behind Fates’ Fury creation?
Essentially, the Fates’ have decided enough is enough and mankind have to go. They start killing people off as they hunt for the Tablet of Destinies, which will allow them to eradicate us for good. Three friends, Jonah, Tristan and Ava find themselves in the middle of it all, when they each have increasingly strange encounters before they’re approached by a man in the middle of a thunderstorm claiming he’s Zeus. He tells them of an Alliance of ancient gods and goddess prepared to help fight against the Fates. Yet the Fates are more powerful than man the gods combined…
Your follow up novel Leroux Manor is set in England. Did you visit England for research?
I wish! That would have been amazing! Just lots of research, I’m afraid. Though one day I’d love to visit for real.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I’m boring—it’s my desk! We moved into our first home a few months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve had a space solely dedicated to writing and I’ve loved setting it up.
Do you feel your environment affects your writing?
100% I hate feeling pent in by clutter or a stuffy room. I love fresh air (even in winter, but it gets super cold here.) and I often have oils in the diffuser to aid concentration and focus. I have drawings by my daughter on the wall, as well as a moon calendar, a framed copy of Fates’ Fury and a Dali print. I like greenery too, and have a little terrarium hubby put together for me, and a couple of potted palms. I’m also a massive procrastinator so I also have to make sure there’s nothing on hand to aid that.
Has your BA in psychology given you insights into how a character would react to a situation? Has it helped in the creative process?
Yes, I think it has. There’s just an overall deeper understanding of human behaviour and what motivates certain personalities. I think its especially helpful when writing in the darker genres.
Where can readers find your books?
On Amazon for both ebook and paperback, and anywhere else you can buy ebooks!
With the global effects of COVID19 restricting gatherings, how have you managed to promote your books?
By relying heavily on social media! I’ve also had some wonderful friends sharing it around, which I’m so appreciative of.
Is there any message you would like to send to your fans and readers? Thank you so much for your support!
Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and released her own collection, After Dark, in 2018.
Her debut novel, Fates’ Fury, released September 2019 and Leroux Manor in September 2020.
Not until I was a teenager when I wrote my first complete novel (“Caged-In World”—which later served as a very rough draft for my first published novel, “Darwin’s Paradox”). My first published work was my non-fiction article “Environmental Citizenship” which appeared in Shared Vision Magazine in 1995. My first fiction work was a short story entitled “Arc of Time”, which was published in Armchair Aesthete in 2002. However, I told stories long before I wrote them and long before any of them was published. I told stories in the form of cartoons. Since I was a small child, I wanted to be a cartoonist and write graphic novels (back then I knew them as comics). I created several strips with crazy characters that I drew, blending my love for drawing with my love for storytelling.
What made you decide on science fiction as a genre?
That goes back to my love for comics. I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid. While my older brother and sister devoured The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, I secreted myself in the back corner of Williams General store and read Superman and Superboy, Supergirl, Batman, The Fantastic Four, Flash, Magnus Robot Fighter and Green Lantern. I was obviously enamoured with the fantastic. When I earnestly started to read things other than comics, I came across the SF classics: Huxley, Orwell, Heinlein, Clarke, Silverberg and Asimov to name a few. Bradbury sent me over the moon and his “Martian Chronicles” made me cry. I wanted to write like him and move readers like he’d done with me.
The reason I continue to write in this genre is because of its ability to encompass the creative imagination and application of metaphor to story. Given its wide range of possibilities in creating a believable reality of the fantastic, science fiction provides a compelling platform for metaphoric storytelling. Possibilities for powerful archetypes abound. Where else can you make water an actual character?
Was the ecological aspect of your stories a gradual realization or your primary objective?
My primary objective was always to tell a compelling and meaningful story and hopefully to move readers. The ecological aspects slid in unannounced like a shadow character. It made sense: the environment and how we treat it (and ourselves by extension) has always been something important to me since I was a child. So, while I was writing science fiction, it was also eco-fiction. When the brand became more known, I realised that this was the kind of science fiction I was writing most of the time.
Do you prefer writing novels or short stories?
I love writing both forms. Each form challenges in a different way and each lends itself to a different kind of story. Since I was a child, I had wanted to write novels. But as I got older and became familiar with the publishing industry, I learned that one of the best ways to get exposure and credentials to successfully publish a first novel was to get known as a published short story writer. So, I started writing short stories. I didn’t write them very well at first; they read like novel-wannabies. And that’s exactly the feedback I got from the magazines I submitted to. Then I figured it all out and I started to sell my short stories. Lots of them. And reprints too. They’ve even won some awards! When I published my first novel in 2007, I didn’t stop writing short. While my love for the novel drives my writing (I have published nine novels so far), I love the short form for its challenges and need for discipline and its powerful platform of “short.” I am particularly proud of my two latest shorts: “Alien Landscape” in The Group of Seven Reimagined (2019); and “Out of the Silence” in subTerrain Magazine, Issue 85 (2020).
Does your teaching aid your writing or the other way around?
Both. I teach writing skills to scientists, medical students and engineers. I also teach creatives who are learning to write long and short fiction. What I find is that my writing and publishing experiences—both the successes and the failures—help me share more practical lessons with my students. Experiences with my students also help my writing. In fact, my latest non-fiction book—the third book of my Alien Guidebook Series on place as character (“The Ecology of Story: World as Character”)—came largely from my experiences with my students.
Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
I love both forms for different reasons. If I had to pick one from passion, I’d pick fiction and its expression of my imagination; if I had to pick one from utility and general satisfaction, I’d pick non-fiction for how it responds to and communicates reality. Having said that, they are more like each other than many readers realize. Both tell stories. Both use compelling narrative with a tease or hook and final conclusion. Both require research. Both must create a believable “reality” and both dispense truth—in non-fiction truth is literal and in fiction it is metaphoric. But then there are hybrids out there such as creative non-fiction and diaries or journals. And finally my latest piece of fiction—“A Diary in the Age of Water”—that reports on real events and real people.
Can you tell us about your newest book “A Diary in the Age of Water”?
The book is essentially a journey of four generations of women, who have a unique relationship with water, during climate change and water shortage. The book spans over forty years (from the 2020s to the 2060s) and into the far future, mostly through the diary of a limnologist (someone who studies freshwater), which is found by a future water-being. During the diarist’s lifetime, all things to do with water are overseen and controlled by the international giant water utility CanadaCorp—with powers to arrest and detain anyone. This is a world in which China owns America and America, in turn, owns Canada. The limnologist witnesses and suffers through severe water taxes and imposed restrictions, dark intrigue through neighbourhood water betrayals, corporate spying and espionage, and repression of her scientific freedoms. Some people die. Others disappear…
How did you come up with the concept for the book?
It started with a short story I was invited to write in 2015 about water and politics in Canada. I had long been thinking of potential ironies in Canada’s water-rich heritage. The premise I wanted to explore was the irony of people in a water-rich nation experiencing water scarcity: living under a government-imposed daily water quota of 5 litres as water bottling and utility companies took it all. I named the story “The Way of Water.” It was about a young woman (Hilda) in near-future Toronto who has run out of water credits for the public wTap; by this time houses no longer have potable water and their water taps have been cemented shut; the only way to get water is through the public wTaps—at great cost. She’s standing two metres from water—in a line of people waiting to use the tap—and dying of thirst.
“The Way of Water” captures a vision that explores the nuances of corporate and government corruption and deceit together with global resource warfare. In this near-future, Canada is mined of all its water by thirsty Chinese and US multinationals—leaving nothing for the Canadians. Rain has not fallen on Canadian soil in years due to advances in geoengineering and weather manipulation that prevent rain clouds from going anywhere north of the Canada-US border. If you’re wondering if this is possible, it’s already happening in China and surrounding countries.
Is there anything else you would like to mention or advise your readers?
I’m often also asked why I chose to write the fiction book as mostly a diary. I was writing about both the far and the near future and much of it was based—like Margaret Atwood and her books—on real events and even real people. I wanted personal relevance to what was going on, particularly with climate change. I also wanted to achieve a gritty realism of “the mundane” and a diary felt right. Lynna—the diarist—is also a reclusive inexpressive character, so I thought a personal diary would help bring out her thoughts and feelings more. There’s nothing like eves-dropping to make the mundane exciting. The diary-aspect of the book characterizes it as “mundane science fiction” by presenting an “ordinary” setting for characters to play out. The tension arises more from insidious cumulative events and circumstances that slowly grow into something incendiary.
Where can readers find your work?
In the usual places: in the local libraries or book stores, on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and through the publisher. You can also go to my writing / coaching website www.ninamunteanu.me where I keep an updated publication list and a bookstore window to other bookselling outlets. Most of my books are available in several formats: print, ebook, audiobook.
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and award-winning novelist and short story writer. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Nina’s non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. “A Diary in the Age of Water” is her thirteenth book.
I hosted a virtual workshop last Saturday for the Words in the Park event. It was fun to utilize Zoom so that participants from far and wide could join me. As the workshop was free, I thought I would share the bare bones of the workshop. Hopefully, it will give you some helpful information in creating a blog of your own.
There are numerous blogging sites but these tips cover the basics for you to start.
The number of blogs available on the internet is mind boggling – every topic you can imagine is covered. Whether factual, diarized, crafting, a myriad of interests or informational, you can find several postings about things you are interested in or want to know about.
So why should you blog? Or indeed why not!
The first and most important question is – why do you want to blog in the first place.
There is a huge range of reasons to blog but maybe the best idea is to ask yourself if any of the following relate to you.
1. To create something you are proud of
2. Challenge yourself
3. Strengthen your knowledge on a particular subject
4. Meet others with similar interests
5. Help other people in a specific field or topic
6. Gain confidence
7. To improve your writing ability
8. To learn new skills
Once you decide on starting a blog there are several key elements you need to decide on.
Name Your Blog
This may seem easy – however, you need to search what names are already in existence, will the name reflect the topic OR theme you will be writing about. Is it a personal blog, a business blog, or a specific interest blog? Does the blog name read OK when it’s in a domain URL format?
Later you may want to purchase your own domain name so consider how it will look.
Define Your Target Audience
For an author, this will be readers in your genre, for business people, it is who wants/needs your services. Will you mentor? Cover aspects of health, travel, personal training, or something else?
Tone Of Your Blog
What tone or voice will the writing reflect? Strictly business or more personal/friendly?
Reason For Your Blog
Will you be building your brand around your blog name or the other way around? Is the blog part of a website or standalone? What do you want to achieve with your blog? Choose one area you have the most expertise or interest in. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself straight out of the gate. Your passion about the subject will bring about the following benefits:
You’re more likely to put the time and effort into your blog to make it shine.
You’re less likely to abandon your blog in the future.
You’re less likely to run out of ideas.
It shows through in your writing, and your readers can feel that. This, in turn, will lead to a larger following.
Tips for Writing A Blog
Understand your audience
Write for yourself first
Love your existing readers/followers/clients
Focus on building an amazing call-to-action
Give away your knowledge
Be true to your voice
Give it time
Write catchy headlines
Keep it short
Positives to blogging:
1. You’ll gain confidence.
2. It’s a form of diary.
3. Blogging is great writing experience.
4. There is potential financial gain if that is your future goal.
5. The blogging community is great.
6. It allows potential for self growth.
7. It allows development of technological skills.
8. It gives people a creative outlet.
9. Blogging is the current way to market a business or product.
10. And it creates opportunities. Whether in the form of friendships, financial gain or self-growth.
Key Elements for a Blog Post
Make sure to include images in every post. A block of text is seldom read. (Attention spans are very short). Rule of thumb is to use one every 300 words or so.
Format your blog post – longer text should be divided with headers and sub-headers
Use bulleted and numbered lists
Bold and italicize key points
Use short paragraphs – 3-5 lines to prevent ‘skimming’ by your reader
Stick to a theme
Don’t wing your content. Make a plan and schedule your posts.
I either write several blog posts at a time and then schedule them or create a draft when an idea pops into my head.
You will see me interviewed for my book launch of The Commodore’s Gift as well as reading from my writers group new writing prompt book. P.S. I left it with a teaser LOL
Now this event is behind me, I will be waiting on reviews for The Commodore’s Gift but also making plans for my new project. Yes it is never ending!
I have decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month again this November and will be tackling another new genre – detective/crime. An idea popped into my head for a three book series covering three female detectives in three different cities. Apart from the Rython novellas, this will be my first book series. I;m looking forward to the challenge.
If you have not heard of NaNoWriMo it is a frantic 30 days of writing to achieve 50,000 words! Yep in the month of November. This will be my tenth year. I only missed 2017 since 2009. It is