Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Let's Talk Blogging!
Today my interview is with a fellow blogger, Liberty Speidel. We have a lot in common as we both love to write (which we have been doing for years) have an affinity for politics, write book reviews, and are both part of the same monthly blog chain. Since I’m coming up to my 100th blog post, I thought it would be interesting to talk about blogging and how it is a part of our writing. So let’s get to the questions for today.
How long have you been blogging?
I started Word Wanderings in late May/early June of 2009. Before that, I had a semi-regular personal blog that was an outlet for whatever happened to be on my mind. Gratefully, I've shut that blog down.
Is Word Wanderings your only blog outlet?
I have just Word Wanderings, although I do book reviews for Christian Children's Book Review, which is in a blog format. CCBReview.blogspot.com. I've also served as a communications chair for a statewide political group, so I've done a teeny, tiny bit of blogging for that group--though my last year has been so crazy, I didn't do nearly as much as I should have.
How has your blog writing changed since it began/evolved?
While I think I still have a lot to learn, and the focus of Word Wanderings is evolving, I think just by the act of writing, I've developed a better focus. I'm starting to figure out what works, what doesn't. My monthly posts for ChristianWriters.com are always popular... I wish I could say the same for the rest of the month!
What have you learned about writing from blogging?
How to make things more succinct. I've been a novelist for a very, very long time, close to half my life. When you're dealing with stories that range in span from 50,000 - 120,000 words, you have a lot of freedom to meander through your story.
In blogging, I have about 1,000 words (usually less) to make my point. Sometimes, I have to really think about what my point is, and how to make it effectively. It definitely has made me appreciate the value of each word and how they're strung together.
Do you have any special tips that you’ve learned about blogging that you would like to share?
Blog regularly. Tell your readers what they can expect from you. Be open and honest. Work on creating a dialogue with your readers. You want to engage them so they'll comment, or at least come back. And, if they are kind enough to leave a comment, respond back. It goes a long way if they know you'll be responding to their comments or questions.
What do you do to promote your blog and grow your following?
This is something I'm working on right now. For a long time, I've been stagnant at around 60 - 70 followers. Sometimes, having a contest has helped. But, I tend to hit the social networking a little harder, though I should be better about it than I am.
Utilizing Twitter (twitter.com/righter1) and my Facebook page (facebook.com/LibertySpeidel) have helped, as long as I am working the process to make people aware I'm out there. Since I never really know day-to-day (sometimes hour-to-hour!) what is going to happen, having a minimal amount of scheduled tweets/posts throughout the week that highlight my current blog post or the fact I've got a Facebook fan page really helps. Hootsuite (and other programs like it) are a God-send for busy moms/writers like me.
What is the “networked blogs” link on your blog page?
Networked Blogs is a Facebook application that a growing number of bloggers are utilizing to highlight their blogs on Facebook pages. It creates a stream--as soon as you publish your blog, and as soon as Networked Blogs reviews your blog, a post is created on whatever page or pages you have it set to run on.
In my case, it runs on my personal Facebook page, as well as my author page. It's just one more tool for bloggers to use to promote their blog and get the "sticky eyeballs" effect. The reason why it's good is the fact that not everyone has a Blogger.com or Wordpress.com account, nor do they want to create one. But, they can still follow you through Facebook by using Networked Blogs.
On your blog you show details of some of your stories and you note that you have “beta readers.” How did that come about?
Author K.M. Weiland was a big influence on me starting a blog. Around the time I started Word Wanderings, she and authors, Lynnette Bonner and Linda Yezak, started AuthorCulture.(It now includes Johne Cook and John Robinson. All 5 are ChristianWriters.com alumni.) When I was looking around the various blogs to figure out what to include on mine, I noticed how Ms. Weiland noted what her current projects were and their statuses. I thought this would be a good thing to include on my blog. Initially, this was in a sidebar on my homepage. I recently tweaked my blog appearance for a cleaner, less cluttered look, and it shifted to being included on my "About Liberty" page.
How have your beta readers helped you?
I love my beta readers. Most of them are in my local critique group, but I have a handful of folks in the cyber world who have agreed to look at my stories as well. They've helped me refine my stories; see my stories in a different way, allowed me to be me in some ways. They'll tell me when I've gotten off on a tangent and when something's just not working with a story. I don't think I'd be the writer I am today without having beta readers.
Have you sent out any of these books to agents or publishers yet?
Two of these books are still in the first and second drafts, so they are nowhere near going out. The third book, I sent out--about 3 - 4 years ago, I think. It was entirely too early, and the story has taken shape in some ways I hadn't seen. It's also gotten a bit of a "haircut" so to speak. When I was sending it out, it had a word count right around 110,000, which is lengthy, and near the top end of allowable for a mystery by a first-time author. It's since gotten trimmed to around 90 – 95,000. I haven't gotten any feedback on it--all the responses from agents were either non-responses or form letters. I'm gearing up to (hopefully) send it back out sometime in the next six months--but that's dependent on a lot of factors, mostly familial.
What do you mean when you say one of your books is mild sci-fi?
I am primarily a mystery/suspense writer. But, since I was a little girl and I would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on TV with my Dad, I've had a huge interest in science fiction. That only got stronger as I was introduced to Star Wars and, as of late, the superhero movies by Marvel Comics. It seemed like it was only natural for my creativity to start leaking a sci-fi story at sometime!
When I say mild sci-fi, I'm referring to the fact that there are aspects in this story that are most certainly of a sci-fi genre, but the primary story is a mystery. It's more setting that makes it tickle the sci-fi side of things. I try not to get into the technical aspects of the science thing--I'm interested in it, but it's not the focus of my stories--so I kind of do the Star Wars thing on how they explain the Force in Episode V. (I am *so* hearing Yoda in my head now! :D)
In the synopsis of Beyond Dead, your work in progress, you note that the main character can resuscitate murder victims. Tell me a little more about the story.
Beyond Dead was my first attempt at writing a book that could fit squarely within the guidelines of the CBA market--everything else I've written is almost fully ABA. So, there's a definite spiritual component with this story, and the sequel I've been poking at off and on the last six months or so. For instance, my main character, Detective Darby Shaw, is a Born Again Christian, but she's been "gifted" with the ability to resuscitate murder victims (there's a lot of factors, but it has to be, generally, within a week of death.) She constantly questions why God gave her this gift, and it's something her partner Detective Mark Herman, who's not a Christian, watches her struggle with it.
Beyond Dead was a blast to write--I did it as part of the National Novel Writing Month in November 2009. I've sworn off NaNo--twice when I've done a NaNo, I've gotten pregnant! I didn't know I was pregnant while writing Beyond Dead, and I honestly have no idea how I managed to get it done between the morning sickness and extreme fatigue--but I did, and with time to spare. I finished it on Thanksgiving Day.
To learn more about Liberty and her writing go to http://libertywordwanderings.blogspot.com