Get Readers, Keep Readers

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Writing for readers

Image courtesy of ‘gallure’ at stock.xchng

I have just had my very first guest post published! It’s The Big Time for me all the way from here on in my loyal readership – hoorah!!

The very smart and very talented Larissa and Casey over at the Megaphone Society asked me to contribute a piece to their Blogging Best Practice series. The post covers topics ranging from how to make your blog catch a new reader’s attention, to ensuring that you keep your existing audience engaged and loyal. And numerous points in-between.

Needless to say, I’m highly chuffed, as they surely wouldn’t be asking me if they thought my blog was as useful as a badger in a bag would they?

Each top-notch bloggers in their own right, L & C formed the Megaphone Society to help like-minded writers spread the word about each other’s work. A jolly fine enterprise I say and all power to their quartet of combined elbows.

Pop on over and have a read when you get a moment. That’s not to suggest that you aren’t already blogging blooming brilliantly, but there may be one or two tips in there that make you go “Oooh, that’s a splendid idea!”

Or even “Oooh, I need to employ this man as a full-time writer, paying him lavish sums of cash, endowing him with fabulous gifts and generally making all his dreams of escaping the 9-to-5 rat race come true.”

Either works for me.

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Wait… How Many??

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You mean to say you read the whole thing?

You mean to say you read the whole thing?

I stumbled upon this rather wonderful list today and was slightly shocked by how few I have actually read.

The 100 Greatest Novels Of All Time

My tally is 22.

Well, 21-and-a-half if I’m truthful. I’m ashamed to say I gave up on Moby Dick during one of the more turgid religious tracts. Or was it the 12-page description of the interior of a Massachussets chum-bucket? I forget.

What’s your score dear readers?

The Next Big Thing

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Way back at the start of December (where does the time go??), I was very kindly tagged in the Next Big Thing blog hop by Kristina over at The Bitter Sweet.

I’ve mentioned before that, whilst I’m always hugely honoured to be nominated for blog awards, blog hops and so on, I tend to pick and choose between the ones I take up, simply because many of them are about the blogger as a person rather than their work. I don’t want to use this blog as a forum to chunter on about what style of cravat I favour or the number of times I’ve been mistaken for Margaret Thatcher. It’s about writing, publishing and all that jazz.

That’s why I love TNBT – it’s a series of questions about a writer’s latest work, plus the opportunity to showcase other writers they admire. So here we go…

What is the working title of your book? Originally it was “Dark Energies”, but I feel that mis-represents the story and sounds too sci-fi. So I changed it to “Jumping From Cliffs” and I’m not comfortable with that either. So it’s back to “Dark Energies” as a working title for now.

What genre does your book fall under? It doesn’t really fall neatly into any single genre and, like many ‘new’ writers, I’m wary of getting pigeon-holed and missing out on a part of my potential audience, so I describe it in one of two ways:

A contemporary urban mystery

or

A quantum love story

One day I’ll combine those into a genre which takes less than 45 minutes to elaborate on.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? I wrote a really good one and then sort of lost it somewhere in the Internet. Hang on, I’ll have a rummage… Ah, there it was, down behind the virtual sofa (of course!)

Dan Carver is a man in his mid-thirties, in a relationship that is going nowhere and is looking for something to fill the gap in his existence. When he finds it, in the form of an unexpected contact from a mysterious stranger on a social network, it will prove to tear apart everything he thought he knew about reality…

Technically two sentences thanks to that full stop bang in the middle, but you get the gist.

Where did you get the idea for your book? From real life. Sitting at home one wet, grey, miserable March Monday, I logged into Facebook and hey presto, there was a ‘poke’ from a complete stranger. This was back in the days when you could still friend-surf before FB sorted out its privacy settings. There was just the poke and a profile picture of the most beautiful and intrigue-filled pair of eyes I had ever seen. I decided to reply…

Who or what inspired you to write this book? My muse, also known as the beautiful stranger who Facebooked me on that extraordinary evening almost 5 years ago.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took almost four years to reach a full first draft with no gaps. As so many other aspiring authors find, it can be impossible to get enough time to write, what with daily life happening all around you and the need to pay bills while you scribble your thoughts down.

What other books would you compare this story with in your genre? Wow, that’s a good one. I’d love to compare it to the work of Iain Banks (not his Iain M. Banks sci-fi novels, the ‘normal’ ones…) But that would imply I have an over-inflated sense of my own talent and give everyone just cause to point at me and laugh. Still, the mix of real-world characters and situations with an undertone of mystery and darkness is what I’m aspiring to, which is why I draw the comparison.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Oh, I’m so rubbish at knowing who’s who in the film world these days. I’d go with a young Richard E. Grant for Dan, the male lead in the book. Bizarrely, I’d have to choose Nigella Lawson for Kate, the mysterious stranger who leads Dan into a world he never imagined existed. Yes, I know Nigella’s not an actor, but she has the right kind of look and character. And as I said, I am really terribly ignorant of current film stars – I think I get so wrapped up in the story that I just see them as the characters rather than actors. Failing the two above, could I maybe choose Bogart and Bacall??

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? In an ideal world it would be represented by an agency. However, given the current climate and the agony of going the traditional route, probably self-published. My day-job that pays the bills is digital marketing, so I figure if I can market someone else’s products I should be able to market my own book, right?

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest? It contains a cat who can be in two places at the same time…

And now it’s time to play tag… I’m sure some of these wonderful people will have been tagged already but they inspire, entertain and motivate me on a daily basis, hence their inclusion. And if I haven’t included you, please accept my sincere apologies, I’m only allowed 5!

Andrew Toynbee: Andrew Toynbee’s Very Own Blog
Nicole Bross: Unravelling My Mind
Kisa Whipkey: Nightwolf’s Corner
Kurt R.A. Giambastiani: Seattle Author
Pat Wood: patwoodblogging

I hope you get as much pleasure from their work as I do – the connections I’ve made so far in my journey through the depths of the blogosphere have been of inestimable value to my writing. I look forward to encountering more of you in due course…

You Say You Want A Resolution

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Happy New Year!

This week, it seems every post I read has been expounding upon New Year’s resolutions, fresh beginnings and goals to be achieved.

Never one to allow a bandwagon to roll by un-jumped, I thought I’d share mine as well.

Quite simple really: writing.

Now, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Not since the year I failed to stop drinking, failed to give up caffeine, failed to get fit, failed to become wealthy and failed utterly to find myself driving a Rolls Royce Corniche around my private castle in Monaco flanked by a bevy of dancing girls force-feeding me chocolate mini-rolls.

So this year, I set myself one goal. I plan to write at least something every day for 365 days. Sounds easy, but is actually terrifically daunting. What if I’m busy, ill, tired, out socialising, etc. etc?? All the usual things which get in the way of all our writing aspirations.

I figure I should still be able to find just 10 minutes to write something… anything! It may be a few swift additions to a character back-story for Novel Number Two. It may be a more considered outline for a new short story (another sort-of resolution – turn some of those sketches that will never stretch to novels into short stories). Or it may, on the really good days, be a full 3 hours or more of charging joyfully through flowing prose.

Whichever way up, it’s the exercise that counts. Am I right people? Just like getting fit, or singing (I guess) or training your memory, it’s the act of doing something which improves your strengths therein. Or so I hope.

Some of that work may make its way onto this very blog. In fact, I may have to cheat very occasionally and say that a blog post counts as my writing for the day.

Bending the rules already and I’m only 4 days in.

Whatever your goals aspirations, dreams and self-promises for the year ahead, I wish you all a fantastically productive and fabulously creative 2013!

May the muse be with you.