Blogging is possibly the most difficult aspect of a writer's platform. It takes commitment, work, and a constant flow of ideas. There are a number of points that I believe are important in keeping a successful writer's blog: Posting regularly, Choosing a topic, Staying on topic, Linking, Short length, and including your blog on your website.
When keeping a blog you can't just write a couple of posts one week, not write anything for two, write a post, then another a few days later… I doesn't work that way. Set yourself a schedule and try to stick to it (do as I preach not as I do). Pick a day of the week and try to ensure you post on this day. By doing this your regular readers will know to expect a post on this day and it may become a part of their routine to check in on your blog each week.
Choosing a Topic
As writers, we are generally trying to target potential readers for our books. You should choose a topic for your blog for which you can keep supplying posts and that are aimed at your target audience. What's the point in having a blog which is mostly based on what's on television, or gardening, or craft if these are not what your ideal readers are interested in.
Staying on Topic
Other writers will have different views on this point than I, however, I believe that you must attempt to stay on the topic you have chosen but with a little room to move. Changing your topics continuously could lose the interest of your target audience. Despite this however, I think that it is also important to include some posts that give insight in to your life, allow your readers to learn a bit about you as a person. In my case my main topic is the craft of writing and writing tips although I occasionally throw in a post which reflects what is happening in my life.
This is a point I too need to work on. It is a good idea to link to external sites from your blog posts. It is also productive to link to your post from your social media networks. This is a great way of bringing traffic to your blog and by doing this often you will see a large jump in the number of page hits you receive. Whenever it is logical also link to other pages within your website, including other blog posts, so that your readers may begin to browse to see what else you have to offer.
Have you ever opened an article, seen the number of words on the page, balked and closed it almost instantly? I'm pretty sure a lot of people do. Hence, try to keep your post around 500 words give or take. If it is a pretty long and comprehensive post then perhaps think about putting previews up on the main blog page. This will allow the readers to gain an interest from the preview and then open the full article to read its entirety.
Including your Blog on your Website
You will see many authors with blogs that are either on their personal website or are separate such as on Wordpress. I believe that having your blog on your personal website, as I have, is the best way to utilise its marketing power. My reasons for this are that, when readers come to your site to read your blog, the rest of your site and the information it provides is already there on the screen for them to access. Wouldn't it be best if those readers decided to have a read of your book excerpts or have a look at your books just by them being a single click away?
I hope this post alleviates any questions some of you may have about blogging. Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below, I'm sure others will be wondering the same things.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I attended Washington State University several years ago, I joined a local critique group called Writer’s Bloc. We were expected to read our work from the previous week aloud, getting not only written critiques but verbal ones as well. The expectation of regular submissions to critique along with the assignments due for my English and History courses since I was doing a “double major” meant there wasn’t time for me to opt out. I had to write every day either for class or for critique. As more experienced members told me, it’d be easier to listen to their advice if I brought in the “raw material” or “rough drafts.” After all, I’d be revising and polishing that work anyway.
It was a smart choice and one I follow to this day more than twenty years later. However, instead of carrying in the hard copies fresh from my typewriter, I email my rough draft chapters to my critique partners and beta readers. Since I write mainstream western romance, I have two people who read those. The kids at the family riding stable are my beta readers who get the rough drafts of my teen books too.
Multi-tasking comes naturally since I work on the family farm, a 113 acre riding stable. However, that’s not all I do. When I’m home at the riding stable, I organize most of the riding programs, teach horsemanship around my day-job as a substitute teacher, nurse sick horses, hold for the shoer, train whoever needs it – four-legged and two-legged. And write books in my spare time, usually from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week after a long day on the ranch. When I can’t write, due to the overwhelming needs and pressures of the “real” world, words and stories fill my mind. Even when I muck the barn, or drive my bulldozer, Frou-Frou, I think about books or short stories or pieces in progress and map out the writing in my mind.
While I have been writing for years, I am the first to admit it took a long time to learn my craft and more importantly find publishers who love my stories as much as I do. Thrill of thrills, Fire and Ice YA has brought out my Shamrock Stable series, horse stories that revolve around a riding stable – gee, sometimes I wonder where I get my ideas. No, I really don’t. What I loved the first book in the series was that my publisher let me dedicate it to the two ‘real-life’ horses that inspired the novel. One was the horse that we actually rescued and my mom rode him for more than thirty years. The other was my Quarterhorse mare who passed away from cancer in the spring of 2011.
No Horse Wanted, an August 2013 release was the story of Robin Gibson who desperately wanted a restored 1968 Presidential blue Mustang for her 16th birthday. She has issues when her parents promise her a horse instead and she decides to bring home the worst one she can find. An October release, No Time for Horses is about her best friend, Vicky Miller who must deal with her parents’ divorce. Mom gets the house and a job. Her stepdad gets the new car and a girlfriend. Vicky gets to take care of her five younger half-siblings and that means she doesn’t have time to train her special project horse. Deck The Stalls is my Christmas novella of what happens at the barn in December. Nothing But Horses will be out soon. I’m writing that now! It’s the story of Sierra McElroy who discovers that she can’t run from her problems. They will follow her until she deals with them and there is actually more to life than the horses at the family stable.
To find out more about Shamrock Stables visit, www.shannonkennedybooks.com or http://www.fireandiceya.com
Either way, it was good to meet you!
About Shannon Kennedy
As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. On rainy days, I headed for my fort in the hayloft. While the rain thudded on the cedar shingled roof, I read books, eventually trading Carolyn Keene for Georgette Heyer. Today, I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills, taking care of 32 horses, 4 dogs and the cats. I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years and I plan to write all about them.
1. Use the language in small amounts
Don't write massive paragraphs in your made up language. This, unfortunately, is one issue I have with the fantasy novel, Eragon. While reading such long paragraphs, which use words that don't mean anything to me, I find myself distracted by trying to pronounce the words in my mind. Often, the meaning of the paragraph is not fully explained and then do not benefit the story at all. If you believe your new language must be used, then only use it in short sentences or even single words. By doing this, the reader is still able to concentrate on the context within the story.
If you have a character, speaking in your new language, who must talk for a period of time, then write in English and explain. For example, '"May you always find happiness and peace when it seems there is none," Trallen said in the magical, ancient language.'
2. Make sure the words are pronounceable
If you can't speak the words without conscious effort then don't bother putting them down on paper. The reader will only get distracted and frustrated by these words and will be distracted from your story. If the point of the language is that it is unpronounceable by 'normal' people then perhaps it would be better to describe why it is so, perhaps explaining how it sounds (eg. 'The language used by the creatures sounded like a mixture of grunts and groans').
3. Explain the meaning often
Whenever you use a new word from your language make sure you explain its meaning. What is the point in using a fantasy language if your readers don't understand what is being said? Always give the meaning straight after or, as I said in point 1, perhaps merely write in English and explain that the character is speaking in your fantasy language. Another option is to write everything in your new language in italics, this way the reader will come to know that italics mean it's spoken in this language.
It may also become necessary to include a glossary at the back of your novel giving the meanings of words you have revealed.
When planning a new, fantasy language you must determine whether the language will benefit the story. Quite often it merely makes it difficult to read, confuses the reader, and causes unnecessary frustration. Of course, when used correctly, fantasy languages can add another layer of depth to your story and make it a more fulfilling read.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hey everyone. Lately I wrote a guest post for fellow author, Lauren Lynne. It's titled 'Write For You First' and is base on my view on why authors should write. Remember why you started in the first place!
Read it here:
Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful week!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Are you writing your novel in scenes?
If not, maybe you should be. Here's why:
Let's break it down further. There are two types of scenes: ACTIVE and REACTIVE
Each scene MUST have a purpose. What is it? What is your character's goal for that scene? If it's a step toward accomplishing the story goal then it's an ACTIVE scene.
Here's an example:
In The Hunger Games, when Katniss decides to go to the Cornucopia to get the medicine that will save Peeta's life, she's working toward her story goal--winning the Games. She knows she needs to cure Peeta if he's going to help her win. This is an ACTIVE scene.
A REACTIVE scene is when the author shows how the main character feels emotionally about something that happened to her. Usually it's something negative.
Remember when Rue died and Katniss took time to give her a decent burial? This is an example of a REACTIVE scene. When Katniss mourns Rue's loss, she's not working toward reaching her story goal. She's taking time to REACT emotionally to what happened to her in the previous ACTIVE scene--when Rue is killed.
In commercial fiction there are typically more ACTIVE scenes. In literary fiction it feels like there are more REACTIVE scenes because these novels explore more internal emotion in the main character.
Now it's your turn. Look at the following example and tell me if it's an ACTIVE or REACTIVE scene:
KATNISS AND PEETA DECIDE TO EAT THE BERRIES.
Note: This post was inspired by James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure.
About Michelle Weidenbenner
Michelle is an Amazon bestselling author. Her debut novel, CACHE a PREDATOR, a geocaching mystery, has been #1 in the crime/thriller and drama categories. Her young adult novel, SCATTERED LINKS has also been an Amazon #1 bestseller. You can read more about her novels here: http://www.amazon.com/Michelle-Weidenbenner/e/B00E21RMNG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1393339601&sr=1-2-ent
Michelle blogs at Random Writing Rants where she teaches teens and adults how to get published. On Fridays she enjoys featuring teen authors so she can be THEIR fan. It’s called FAN FRIDAY.
If you’d like to read more about DISSECTING The Hunger Games click here: http://randomwritingrants.com/category/dissection-of-the-hunger-games/
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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