Major Announcement

Hi everyone! So as I’ve been promising, I have a major announcement to make. (Along with a request that you – yes, you – help me.)

Because this is coming out on 30 April: 

First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.


Launch Date will be 30 April, which means that I’m looking for people to help spread the word in May. (I won’t be asking people to host me during A to Z Madness.) Pretty pretty please with a million sprinkles on top?

I’m looking for cover revealers, interviewers, guest post host, reviewers…. oh… you know, everyone. All you need to do is fill in this form and I’ll get back to you. (Also, you can pick to do two or more things too, if you’re feeling like being SUPER DUPER helpful.)

Eep! I’m so excited!

Thoughts? Want to help a girl out? 

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Ian Bott on The Shifting Sands of Blogdom

When I entered the blogging world six years ago, first as a lurker and occasional commenter, then with a blog of my own, I was looking for information and advice. I lapped up posts on the writing craft. I devoured advice on querying and looking for agents and publishers. I followed endless numbers of blogs by big name agents, and then started hanging out with other writers.

The blogging world was alive with posts, comments, awards, tags, and blogfests. Then, maybe two or three years ago, I noticed things started changing. Once-vibrant well-known sites like Query Shark, The Public Query Slushpile, The Intern, and Flogging the Quill, are either dormant or very quiet. Many writers’ blogs I follow that used to be hives of activity have either slowed or died.
I’ve seen a spate of posts recently about this topic, so I don’t want to rehash old news. I’m looking for hope and positive thoughts in all of this and I’d love to hear your collective wisdom in the comments.
First off, I know my own relationship with blogging has changed over time.

As a blogger, I’ve always mixed in life and hobbies alongside writing-related topics. The latter has tailed off as I concluded that the world will survive without yet another post on the correct use of the apostrophe. 
As a blog reader, I barely touch blogs by industry professionals any longer. I will occasionally read posts on the craft of writing, but these days they have to be offering some new perspective to make me sit up and take notice.
But that’s just me. One small drop in a very large pond. It doesn’t explain the overall slowdown. Or is that slowdown just an illusion? Maybe it’s just that the group of writers I connected with in the early days have moved on as a group. Maybe there are other hives of activity out there beyond my horizon, where people are beginning the cycle all over again. 
What do you think? Is the slowdown widespread, or just patchy? Or am I imagining it all?
Blogging remains my chosen social media outlet. I shudder at the thought of FaceBook and Twitter. But in order to keep blogging fresh and alive, people need to be posting things that other people want to read.
So…

What attracts you to a blog? When you follow a blog, what enticed you return to it? What do you look for, and how has that changed over the years?

Ian Bott is a science fiction writer who successfully evaded the writing bug until it bit him, late in life, by means of a sneak stealth attack. As a software developer he rebelled against narcolepsy-inducing software specifications and resolved to write technical documents fit for ordinary human consumption. From there, it was a small step to speculative fiction.

He lives in beautiful British Columbia with his wife, two children, and a steadily expanding menagerie of pets.

Ghosts of Innocence is his first novel. See details on his website: http://www.iansbott.com/

Or connect with Ian on his blog: http://www.thebaldpatch.blogspot.ca/

Welcome to April 2012!

In a few hours, the A to Z Challenge will start. Whooo hooo!!!

Welcome to all my new blogging buddies. To the old ones, welcome back.

Last year, I cruised through the challenge, hitting over a thousand blogs and finishing every single post on time.

This year, I went bonkers and entered a second blog as well. WHILE I have a countdown timer to the completion of my edits.

Yeah… every ticking second pokes at my heart.

But I digress.

Since I am so incredibly creative, I’m doing the A-Z of edits and revisions this year. Yep… I’m going to list every single thing I’ve learnt while editing and revising my first book. In alphabetical order.

Yep… this girl has some major ambitions…

Sadly, this will mean that I won’t be visiting back blog commentors until May, since I really really won’t have time. But I will follow back as close to immediately as I can.

If I’m scarce on your blog, please think of me and know that I’m missing you.

See you on the other side! X

Starting Out Blogging

Hi all! For today’s GPF, I welcome (again) Golden Eagle. She’s one of my favorite bloggers out there, so her advice is well worth reading today. 😉 Take it away, Golden.

First, thank you so much for having me today, Misha! It’s an honor to be here at My First Book.

When I started blogging, I didn’t know that there were writing blogs—nor did I have any idea that it was considered common for a writer to have a blog and/or a social media platform. It was only after several months of blogging and trying to find some kind of niche that I stumbled upon a popular writing blog. It started snowballing from there, and now the great majority of the sites I follow are written by writers.

Personally, I’m glad I found that writing blog back when The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective was still relatively new to the blogosphere. Other writers are a great source of encouragement and traveling companions along the path from first draft to finished novel (whether published or not). Blogging is also excellent for doing something with words that doesn’t involve a novel—everyone needs a break from their projects now and then—while also challenging you to produce content on varying schedules, depending on your style.

Furthermore, blogs are good places to learn. Everyone is moving along with their own goals and ideas, their own failures and successes, and it’s likely that someone somewhere has tried what you’re planning to do. It’s easy to find advice, help, or even just similar circumstances by rifling through someone’s archives or even using a search engine—and if the exact thing you’re looking for doesn’t exist yet, most people (I’ve found) are willing to share what they’ve experienced. Or you can strike out on your own and chronicle your adventures through your own posts, which is always interesting and helpful for readers.

And finally? Another benefit to the online writer community is that it is online. I’m very introverted in person—I don’t like to say much and I don’t really enjoy small talk. However, unlike good old Real Life, when it comes to blog posts there’s time to think about responding and no need for immediate, constant feedback. With my own posts, I find that there’s much more room for exploring a topic than there usually is in person. Other important or interesting things can be saved or bookmarked to be revisited later, and if something strikes you as particularly good, it’s easy to link to content to share with everyone else you know virtually.

The blogosphere is a fascinating, ever-changing place. Whether blogs will still be as popular in ten years (or even just a few) is unknown, but for the moment, I’d definitely recommend branching out into it—even if you aren’t a writer, though writers have a lot to gain. There’s a great community in this corner of the web.

Thanks so much for visiting, Golden. Anyone else who wants to do a GPF post, please check here for details.

Anyone have any tips for beginning bloggers?
 

A short post about doing nothing.

I must say, this is a nice change. I sent in some more work to be critiqued, so now I’m sort of stuck with nothing to do.

I could probably go on with the sequel, but I just didn’t feel like it today. So… instead of worrying and moping about the fact, I decided to take the day to catch up on some blogs that I’ve been meaning to visit.

It works doubly as well because of the fact that my day is sliced in little bits and pieces.

Still, that doesn’t mean that I’m avoiding everything writing related. No, today I finally get to have that meeting about the libretto that I’m supposed to write. So hopefully I’ll be able to start with it very soon.

What are you doing today? Anyone else being as lazy as me?

Officially, my goals for 2012

Since this is the last Friday of the year, I thought I’d handle the New Year’s admin now. If you want to see how I fared with the 2011 “guidelines”, you’re more than welcome to go check out my other blog, Taking Charge of My Life.

Without further ado, my goals for 2012:

Writing:

I want to finish Doorways before 30 June.

I will query Doorways on 1 July.

I want to finish the WiP2 rewrite by 30 September.

I want to finish the Don’t Look Back draft by 31 December.

I want to finish at least one draft of the musical libretto by 31 December.

I might want to look at Guardian again.

Reading:

I want to read more (crit partners’ manuscripts don’t count).

I want to read Shakespeare, Austen and Martin.

Life:

Auditions, auditions, auditions.

I want to master at least intermediate cooking.

I want to spend more time designing.

I want to brush up on my French and Mandarin (at least one of the two) and take another language.

I want to take classes in a musical instrument. Either piano or guitar.

I also want to get out more next year. Cabin fever never did suit me.

Since I achieved four goals in 2011, I want to achieve six in 2012.

So that’s me for the year. I hope you enjoyed my blog as much as I enjoyed all of yours.

Before I sign off, I just want to say cheers.

2011 was more than a little bumpy, but your support made it much easier to get through the year. Here’s to 2012. If it’s the last one, know I wouldn’t want to spend it without you. If it isn’t, thank goodness, because then I’ll see you for 2013.

See you on the other side. 😉

Blog Day: Scroll Bar Layout

Before we start off, I just want to remind you that there’s only one week left before the competition closes, so if you want The Story Book by David Baboulene, you better head over there fast.








Today is the second installment of Blog Day, my crash course on blogging. Last week, we dealt with the two rules: BE YOURSELF and THINK OF YOUR AUDIENCE.


Today, I’ll be pointing out how this extends to something as seemingly trivial as the Scroll Bar.


Silly, you think? Not really. See your blog is pretty much your own personal web-page. A web-page to some aspect of your life, you might say. An aspect of your life that you very much want people to explore (Why else would you blog?). Not to mention that you really really want them to come back.


So… knowing that you want your audience to come back it becomes obvious that you want to make interaction with your blog as easy as possible. And… importantly, as FAST as possible.


Think about yourself now. When you head over to other blogs (I will discuss why this is imperative next week), how much time do you spend? An hour? Two hours? Will three hours push the borders of your capacity? No matter how long you have, you want to hit as many blogs as possible. Thus, speed is of the essence. You need to be able to open the web-page, click follow, read and comment in as little time as possible.


Back to your own blog. Let’s say (because I tend to post longish blogs) that the cut-off point is ten minutes. Do you really want your reader to wait for five minutes before your blog actually loads? Do you really want your reader to spend another three minutes looking for a way to subscribe/follow?


DON’T tell me: “Go to Google Reader, click add subscriptions and copy/paste the address.” Have you any idea what a pain in the arse that is when I have to do it TWENTY times in one day? By twenty-one, I stop following blogs without working subscription/follow widgets. In fact, I think I deserve a medal for following the ones I did. Point is: Do you want to be number twenty-one for a hundred or so people?


Other questions to consider:


Wouldn’t you like for your reader to know what your blog (and you) are about? Once again, I have gotten people telling me that the reader should read previous blogs for an indication. Uhm… No. The reader has ten minutes and let’s face it, no one cares that much about someone they don’t know. You need a short introduction of some sort.


Wouldn’t you like for your reader to know when you post? After all, you can’t expect them to come back ever day to check, can you?


And finally, don’t you think that it would be great for the reader to have easy access to older posts, should they have fifteen minutes instead of ten?


So now that we have this down, we can look at our approach to layout.


Firstly, I believe in KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. It can be incredibly annoying if you have a slow Internet connection and the blog loading times out rather than completes loading. It gets more so when I hit the same blog with a faster connection and discover that the reason why it didn’t load was because there are a hundred thousand animations on the blog. So… if you want to add something, please think about why it is necessary. If it isn’t saying something about the blog and doesn’t suit the theme you’re going for, leave it ALONE. Think about that ten minutes. I don’t think all than many people spend their blog time feeding fish or stroking cats. But… if you feel that it MUST go on, revert to rule number one. BE YOURSELF. Just make sure that the animation isn’t ruining the reader’s experience.


That’s my say on that, now I’m going to use my own scroll-bar and explain why everything is where it is. Overall, I should mention something. When I started blogging, I decided that my scroll-bar should be aimed at helping the reader in every way possible. Knowing this, I think most of what I’m going to say makes sense.


Above all, people are going to come to this blog to read about me and my experiences/opinions. So… I go to the top with my personal profile to introduce myself. Then people want to know what the blog is about. So the About This Blog section is next. Follow button is next, because who wants to have to look for it way at the bottom of the page? After that, I help readers out with my blogging schedule. After that, I plug the blog-fests that I joined, because I know some readers would love to join in too. Then I plug my open dates for GPF slots, so that people can pick a date and contact me. Note that I also have my e-mail address (used solely for blogging and writing). Next is Write-on-Con, because everyone should want to be there. It’s going to be awesome. Then comes the posts most read in the past week, in the event that someone else finds those topics intriguing. Then the archive and labels, in case the above wasn’t enough. Then the writing/book/agent blogs I follow. The most recent ten out of every single one I follow. You can see all of them too. Finally I have some websites that I visit for various writing related reasons.


A place for everything and everything in its place.


One more thing to mention, if you want multiple scroll-bars, I suggest you keep the important stuff on the right. That’s where the eye falls first.


So… what are your pet-peeves and loves when it comes to scroll-bar lay-outs?