As many of you know, I commit to a blog schedule at the end of each year for the up coming year. In 2021, my twice weekly posts will continue to be divided between writing topics and delving into my books and writing life for my readers.
I hope you will find the content interesting, enlightening and fun. I will post every Tuesday and Thursday each week as follows:
Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday
Stories behind my published books and also from works in progress.
Update on events I will be attending – if possible physically, if not virtually in 2021
Glimpses at my current writing project.
Sharing short stories or poem’s I have written from prompts or workshops.
My book reviews
Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday
Special Interviews with authors from Creative Edge
Author Toolbox – once a month
Monthly Author Interviews (please sign up for one – first Thursday of every month.)
I will continue with my monthly newsletter, so please sign up when prompted. I hope we can develop a great relationship with this new venture – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses. Thank you in anticipation.
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 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.
With the restrictions on events and social gatherings, it is difficult to launch a new book in the traditional way. However, there are ways to promote your newest novel.
Make sure to announce the book title, it’s genre and date of publication and issue date on online sites. This can be through subscriber emails, on social media or local newspaper editorials. Or a combination of all three!
A great way to get your new novel out is a virtual book tour. You can utilize your social media platform and post dates you will be answering questions about the book. There are many options to choose from: Instagram Chat, Facebook chat, Zoom or your own YouTube channel.
If you have fellow authors willing to post your book announcement on their blogs that would be great too.
Offer blog subscribers and/or local book clubs a virtual book reading with a Q&A session afterwards.
Depending on your book’s genre (children/YA) you can create an interactive activity based on your narrative theme.
If you have a local bookstore – offer to have several signed copies available in store.
Be creative and think outside the box! What can you utilize from the story to showcase the book?
Have you launched a new book during COVID19 – how did you do it?
My own steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift is set for release 26th September, so I am planning a virtual launch. I have already shared steampunk images on my social media and a few teasers. I even created a steampunk bird, which was a lot of fun. Not sure if I keep him or include him in a gift basket. We will see. Of course there will be a book cover reveal as well.
Now I have to create the six week pre-launch campaign.
Whether you spend time intricately plotting and creating your story line or let the story flow unbidden, one facet of all stories that must be created and created well are its characters. Your protagonist, antagonist and all the supporting characters have a ‘job’ to do. They must give our readers an insight into their personalities, their struggles, ambitions and fears. Characters build the ‘world’ you have set your characters within by showing it through their eyes, their thoughts and actions.
Every writer has his or her own methods, when it comes to the creation of a character.
For example, Setting: an alien being trapped in a spacecraft, a monster hunting its prey or specific behavior traits for period pieces.
Physical features: This primarily gives our readers an image but more importantly an idea of their personality. A thin, acne-faced teenager will not automatically give our readers the idea of a ‘superman’ kind of personality but a muscle bound, athletic type could.
Name: a good starting point for our creation, but it is also a minefield. Research into real persons, living or dead should be foremost, unless of course you are writing about that particular person.
Accent: a character’s voice says a lot about their location and background.
Real people or not: We can base characters on people we know or a combination of several or from people watching – an author’s favorite pastime. As writers situations, overheard conversation and life in general is a constant source of inspiration.
There are numerous ‘character development work sheets’ available on the Internet and it can be useful to fill them in for your main characters, if you have no clear ‘picture’ of them to begin with.
I tend to write the story letting my characters dictate how their story will unfold. In so doing the characters develop creating their own story. This tends to change the narrative from my initial perception. In this way they may develop characteristics I had not considered or react quite differently to a situation from my preconceived idea. This method may seem harder than having a detailed description of each pivotal character, their backstory and emotional compass, but it is my method.
We ‘live’ with our characters for a long time and they become ‘real’ to us. This enables us to write the story with ‘insider knowledge’ of our characters backstory, their emotional compass and their ultimate goal. This knowledge becomes paramount during the subsequent drafts and editing process, giving us a well-rounded character and a believable one for our readers. In truth, the initial draft is the testing ground for our characters, and revisions make them well rounded and ‘believable’.
How do you create your characters?
Recognize these characters? Remember how irate poor Wile E Coyote would become with Road Runner? No matter what he did he never succeeded in catching his ‘dinner’. Beep, beep would ring out as yet another ACME kit damaged the coyote instead of the bird. It was truly a lesson in perseverance. No matter how many times the speedy bird escaped the coyote he would try, try, try again. I actually went past a road sign to Acme on my way to Canmore one time and wished I could have made a detour just for the fun of it.
The art of creating such lovable and memorable characters is what every author strives for. We hope our creations will stay in our readers minds long after the last page has turned. Character profiles and back story play a large part in ensuring our characters are well rounded and believable. We delve into their personality type seeking out traits and habits to make them react to their crisis situations in an authentic way.
Do you make up scenarios for people you observe? Have any made it in to a manuscript?
Without characters our stories would have no real impact on our readers. We write to engage and intrigue them and hopefully make our protagonist the character our reader cares about. If your experience is anything like mine, there is usually one, or possibly two characters, that make their presence known in no uncertain terms. They want the starring role in our narrative. These characters are usually more defined in our minds and are ‘easier’ to relate to, whether because of a personality trait or that they are more fun to write. When creating the protagonist and antagonist in our stories, we give each opposing views and/or values. This is the basis of the conflict that carries our readers along their journey. Each character, whether major or minor, needs to have flaws and redeeming features, motivations, expectations, loyalties and deterrents.
With such a guideline our characters become clearer. A lot of the details will never reach the pages of our manuscript but knowing our characters well makes for a more believable personality as they struggle through the trials and tribulations, we subject them to. As most of you know I am a ‘free flow’ writer so everything is by the seat of my pants until the editing starts. This is where I find character flaws or great character traits that I can correct or build upon. My characters live with me during the writing process and usually lead me in directions I had never considered – I’m sure many of you can relate to that. As these personalities gain strength they become more ‘real’ and that is the moment their true selves appear.
When creating characters we must remember to ensure that each character acts and responds true to their given personality. Character profiles are a good way of ‘getting to know’ our characters. For example this sheet.