Moving Day! Time for a Site Relaunch

Tags

, , , , ,

MovingTruck

It’s moving day at Writing and Rambling. My little site is all grown up and ready to get its very own space, so I’m relocating it to http://nepheletempest.com. It makes a lot of sense for so many reasons — easier to remember, shorter, properly branded, etc. And let’s face it, the move is way overdue.

When I first started this blog, it was a casual thing hosted at Live Journal. Then the levels of spam and other issues there drove me to make a fast switch to WordPress, which I’ve never regretted. But as my audience has grown, I’ve realized a self-hosted site will give me the flexibility to develop and change Writing and Rambling with greater ease. I hope to bring you some exciting new features going forward, so it’s time to move.

In a day or two you will no longer be able to access this site here — you’ll be automatically redirected to the new URL. But the welcome mat is already out and everything has been migrated, so have no fear. The party’s just starting. See you on the flip side, and don’t forget to update your bookmarks!

Advertisements

Friday Links: On Taking Over the (Writing) World

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Friday, everyone! As January winds down, it’s a good time to take a quick look at some of those goals you set at the start of the year, just to make sure you’re still on track. I know it can be difficult once the holidays are over to keep your plans in mind, especially when your boss and your family have goals of their own that often involve you. Make it a habit to check in with yourself pretty regularly so you don’t forget that your goals are a priority, too.

And with those words of wisdom, I want to give everyone a heads up that this blog will soon be migrating to a designated URL — one of my goals for the new year (and long overdue). Everything will stay live here until I’m satisfied that the new site is up and running properly, with the links functioning and so on, and then there will be a forwarding message to take you to the new location. So don’t be surprised if things look a little different on a near-future visit.

But enough of all that. It’s time for Friday Links! If there’s a theme this week, it’s world domination — at least the world of books. I hope these encourage you to get out there and read and write great things, ignore the naysayers, and take risks with your career. The only one who can do it is you.

14 Secret Habits Every Book-Lover Is Guilty of Having – I know I am. Particularly the one about buying pretty new editions of books I already own.

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing – A look at how very white the publishing industry still is behind the scenes, and how that affects the diversity of books.

World’s First Free Online Course Dedicated to the Exploration of Literature and Mental Health – Sounds very interesting. Starts Monday, Feb. 1, so get a move on if you want to join.

CTRL-F, DELETE: Word-Trends, Sneaky Clichés, and Other Turns of Phrase You Should Immediately Delete from Your Manuscript – A look at recent trends in incorrect or overly frequent word usage.

What Was Lost? Why Writers Should Value Their Working Drafts – How digitalization has changed the writing — and rewriting — process and what that means for posterity.

Talking Black History and Love Stories with Romance Writing Pioneer Beverly Jenkins – A great interview looking at historical research, diversity in the romance genre, and how Beverly Jenkins got her start.

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators – An intriguing theory, with a bit of a push for all of you putting off getting your words down.

Opportunities for Writers: February and March 2016 – A list of contests and calls for work with deadlines coming up in the next two months.

Writers and the Social Media Dance

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse for writers, especially those who feel ill at ease when it comes to tackling new technology. But even as it morphs and changes, with new platforms rising to prominence and others becoming less popular, as an overall concept, it is undoubtedly here to stay. And as more and more of the burden of self-promotion falls on a writer’s shoulders, social media remains one of the most important means of getting the word out about new releases, book giveaways, readings, and other bookish events.

The downsides of social media? It can take a lot of time, especially when you’re new to a platform and still trying to get the hang of how to use it. Even once you’re experienced, each form of social media has its own way of sucking you in and eating up hours that might be better spent in writing. Social media can also backfire spectacularly if you say or post the wrong thing; word spreads at monumental speeds online, and never faster than when you’ve put your foot in your mouth. Plus the internet is forever. Deleting a poorly phrased Tweet or taking down a blog post is very much like closing the barn door after the horse has headed for the hills, and in this case the horse loves to gossip.

But the upsides are equally obvious, and not the sort of things a writer can ignore. Social media lets you connect with readers, reviewers, and industry professionals. It lets you talk about your project and build excitement, show off great cover art, announce signings, and squeal publicly when your book hits a major milestone. But it also lets you engage in a community that knows where you’re coming from and what you’re up against, which means you can garner a great deal of knowledge by paying attention to other writers and their experiences through social media.

If social media intimidates you, or if you think you’re fine with just one corner of the internet — your blog, a simple Facebook page — there are still ways to interact that won’t leave you scratching your head in confusion or feeling completely overwhelmed. Here are a few simple tips for tackling new forms of social media and building your online presence:

Start small. Don’t try to master them all at once (though if you have a common name/pen name, you might consider signing up at the same time in order to make sure you can get a consistent handle on all the major platforms). Choose one and play around with it for a couple of months and see how it goes. Keep in mind where your ideal audience likes to hang out. Many YA authors have blogs through Tumblr, for instance. Do a little digging to see where you might want to begin.

Pay attention to how others use the platform, both the good and the bad. Follow a few writers you like on Twitter and see what percent of their Tweets are promotional and what proportion are chatty/sharing more general knowledge/helping out other writers, etc. See how often writers update their blogs or Facebook pages. What do writers share on their Goodreads page? Observe what works, and also what seems to annoy.

Remember your manners. Just because the other person is somewhere behind a far-away computer, doesn’t give you the right to be mean. Try to respond to others in the same way you would in person; the internet doesn’t need any more trolls.

Don’t repeat yourself across platforms. Once you’re engaging in several forms of social media, try not to post the same thing on all of them. Determine what each platform is good for in terms of your own goals, and then stick with those. Twitter might be great for chatting and driving traffic to your blog when you have a post, whereas you might use Facebook for contests/giveaways, and Instagram to post cover art and photos of your work space, books you’ve bought, etc. Keep the medium in mind, and remember that you want your fans to follow you on more than one platform. If they constantly see the same thing everywhere you post, they’ll be less likely to engage with you in multiple places.

Take advantage of the ability to schedule things ahead. Depending on the software you use, you can schedule posts for your blog ahead of time. A number of Twitter platforms, such as TweetDeck and HootSuite, allow you to schedule Tweets days in advance. Tumblr lets you set up a queue for posts. This way you can remain present in social media, even if you’re traveling or under deadline and can’t take the time to post live.

Remember that the key word is social. Yes, you want to share your news and promote your work, but first and foremost, you want to be a member of the social media community, whatever platform you’re using. Engage with people. Ask and answer questions. Comment. Share your excitement about non-career things, like that great movie you just saw or the new recipe you tried. Be a person, not a sales drone.

No doubt social media will continue to grow and change, as will how writers use it. But the sooner you become accustomed to using social media platforms in general, the easier you will find it to adapt with the technology. Start now, start small, and take it one step at a time. And for those of you already adept at using social media, keep your eyes open for the next big thing.

Friday Links: The Visual Side of Book Publishing

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week and are ready for a weekend of reading and writing, or perhaps some creative time to spark your imagination and refill that well. A good chunk of the northeastern U.S. seems to be battening down for the first snow storm of the winter, and all I can say to that is it’s perfect weather for a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Stay warm, or cool, wherever you are, and take a little time for yourself and your goals.

All of that said, I have a bit of an art theme going on this week for Friday Links. It wasn’t intentional, but sometimes these things just develop over the course of the week. Not all the links are art-related, of course, but I think you’ll see what I mean. It’s a bit of a different look at the world of publishing, so I hope you enjoy.

By the Cover: Meet Will Staehle, Freelance Designer – A look at the work of a freelance book designer, formerly the Art Director at HarperCollins.

A Brief History of Book Illustration – Pretty much what it says.

R.I.P: Select Literary Obituaries from 2015 – A good round-up, and for reference if you’re looking to see whose work you might have missed reading.

Whom Do You Write For? ‘Pandering’ Essay Sparks a Conversation – NPR conversation between Clare Vaye Watkins and Marlon James that follows up on Watkins’s somewhat controversial essay for Tin House. A very interesting look at the writing process, and the audience a writer considers inside their head while they work.

Meet Jill Weber, artist and book illustrator/designer. In this short video (intended as a promo for a recent class at Sketchbook Skool), she shares a tiny handmade book she created to tell the story of her garden. A charming look at one of the amazing, creative forms books can take.

Neil Gaiman in Conversation with Junot Díaz

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Last November, Neil Gaiman sat down and had a long chat with author Junot Díaz, one of his final appearances before he takes 2016 off to be just a writer and a father to his new baby with wife Amanda Palmer. This interview kicks off with a great rundown of the history of Sandman, which is well worth watching whether you’re familiar with the comics series or not. If you prefer to just get right to Neil, you can jump to about the 6:30 mark, where the video moves to the interview venue. This is a longish interview — nearly an hour and a half — so be sure to carve out a bit of time to watch.

Friday Links: People and Places Behind the Books We Love

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

TGIF! It’s been a long, kind of sad week, what with the passing of first David Bowie and then Alan Rickman. The first made me teary; the latter made me cry into my coffee on and off all day. Both were hugely creative individuals who left us with so much to remember them by, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t left a hollow space now they’ve gone, as well.

But as I said, it’s Friday, and time to look forward to the weekend. It’s a long one here in the U.S., as Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means I can both get work done and also participate in the 24 in 48 Readathon. (There’s still time to sign up if you want to join in!) But before the weekend can kick off, I’ve got this week’s Friday Links to share. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Robert Kilpatrick on The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers – A thoughtful look and review over at the LA Review of Books.

New Map Explores the Streets of Fictional London – Fun map incorporating locations from over 600 books, plays, etc.

Association of American Publishers Partners with United Negro College Fund to Enhance Diversity Recruiting Efforts in Publishing – A new plan to help diversify the publishing world from behind the scenes.

28 Authors on the Books that Changed Their Lives – Pretty much as written.

Alan Rickman’s Best Bookish Roles – I will forever love Colonel Brandon best.

The Time My Grown-Up Novel Was Marketed as Young Adult – A look at shifts in literary genres.

Not Just in Cafés: An L–Z of Places to Write – For those of you who like to write in public and with a little background noise.

Recapturing Momentum: Don’t Let Your New Year Slip Away

Tags

, , , , ,

Remember that list of writing goals you made at the end of 2015? Is it already starting to feel like a long time ago? In reality, it was probably about two weeks, but time flies when you’re facing the realities of a new year. Your shiny goals tend to get put on the back burner when they come up against your boss’s goals for the new year, or your kid’s flu, or the realization that you have no idea where to put all those books you got with your Christmas gift cards. Whether it’s real life or procrastination or a little bit of both, old habits die hard, and the most stubborn is likely your own inclination to put other things before your own ambitions. But only you can make your writing a priority.

So, I’m here to poke you. Check out that list of goals. Choose something. And do a little bit of work on it today. Whether that means making a point of actually writing, researching an agent, finding a short story contest to enter, or submitting your work to an online magazine. Go for it. One thing, one little step. I dare you to make this year different.

Friday Links: Reading and Writing into the New Year

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Friday! I’m excited to resume Friday Links today. It felt strange having the holidays fall on Friday the last two weeks, but between blogging daily for the December Writing Challenge and also being in Connecticut visiting my parents, it was also nice to take a little breather.

This week, however, I have a great collection of links to start the year off with a bang. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful few days and that reentry hasn’t been too painful. Personally, I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind. It’s amazing what piles up even when most people aren’t working. So I’m going to get right to the good stuff, and then vanish back beneath my slowly shrinking avalanche of submissions and client projects and emails.

Wishing you a wonderful, productive week, filled with all things reading and writing!

24 in 48 Readathon – It’s back, and scheduled for January 16th and 17th. Frequent readers will be familiar with my discovery of readathons a year or so ago, and this is my favorite one. The aim is to spend 24 hours reading out of a 48-hour period, quite doable and still leaving time for sleeping and such. Scroll on the site for complete details and to sign up if you’re interested.

The New York Public Library Just Uploaded Nearly 200,000 Images You Can Use for Free – Rundown of the new public domain images that the library has digitized for everyone’s use. Great for use on blogs/websites, etc., but also just really fun and inspiring to browse.

52 Short Stories in 52 Weeks – 52 short prompts to use for short stories, the idea being to write one per week over the course of the year. Of course, we’re a week behind, but that’s no reason not to dive in anyway if you’re interested in a year-long writing challenge.

Did you know that no novels from Madagascar have been translated into English? – Until now. Nice short piece with a small excerpt.

Inspiration Tuesday: Michael Nobbs – Artist and writer Danny Gregory interviews artist Michael Nobbs on how he’s creative in very short spurts daily, and how much one can accomplish when those short spurts add up. (Video linked, not embedded, per request of creators.)

Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2016 Book Preview – The annual preview of books being released in the first half of the year. Mostly upmarket and literary, but a fabulous overview of upcoming titles regardless.

Opportunities for Writers: January and February 2016 – A list of contests, publishing opportunities, and other deadline-oriented goodies for writers.

 

The Struggle for Success: What Are You Willing to Do?

Tags

, , , , ,

I read an interesting article over the weekend that talked about the difference between asking yourself what you want and asking yourself what pain and struggle you’re willing to endure in order to get it. The first question demands you respond with a result, and we all have very similar results on our wish lists: money, health, love, a nice home, wonderful trips for vacation, and so on. The second question demands you think about what level of effort you’re willing to put forth, what struggle is required, what pain you must endure in order to achieve your goal — and it makes you consider whether you want that thing enough to do the hard work necessary.

At the start of the new year, it’s natural to set goals. I’ve discussed them several times here on the blog leading up to the end of 2015, as well as the importance of planning out the steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals. But we rarely discuss what those steps entail.

Most things don’t come easily. It’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Whether you want to train to run a marathon or write a novel, you’re going to have to put in hours and hours of effort, and say no to the distractions that might mean putting in less of the time your goal demands. And the reality is that you’ll spend far more time in the lead up to your goal than you will enjoying the goal itself. A marathon requires hours of training and at least a few hours to run the day of the event, but the joy and excitement of crossing the finish line will be brief, and the bragging rights you earn will be temporary (unless you want to drive your friends and family crazy). Likewise, writing a novel and getting it published is a long, difficult road, often with frustrating set backs. At the end, you have a beautiful finished book in your hands, but then comes the concern about sales figures and writing the next book and the entire process starts all over again.

Writing, like certain other careers, has this strange illusion of glamour attached to it. But in truth it is a hard job, one that requires a great deal of time and patience, and that, in most cases, yields a very small financial reward. If you don’t enjoy the process at least part of the time, if your primary motivation is that end result, you might want to consider carefully whether you love writing, or if you love the fantasy of having written. I don’t want to discourage anyone who truly wishes to write; the world would be a smaller, sadder place without all the stories being written each year. But I also want people to find their truest dreams to follow, the ones that light them up every step of the way. Whether that is writing for you or some other thing you’ve yet to discover, I wish you a fascinating and successful journey.

Still here? Then go write.