Tag Archive | Guest bloggers

Wanted: Guest Bloggers!

Calling all writers—how would you like to be a guest blogger on this site? And how would you like to host me on yours? Beginning Friday, April lst, I plan to start featuring fellow authors on a weekly basis.

woman writing sunny room Bonnard style

 

This spring I’ve vowed to ramp up my online presence so as to spread the word about my three published novels. When it comes to social media, I’ve been AWOL for far too long, and that has to change. Effective immediately, I’m reconnecting with the wonderful online authors’ networks I drifted away from, and I hope to discover some new ones as well.

What can you blog about? I’m especially interested in explorations of the creative process—what works for you, what doesn’t. As I wrote in my last post, I’m developing workshops on creative blocks and how to blast through them, so I welcome helpful hints and musings that focus on this area. Self-publishing and marketing are also of interest. You’ll be able to promote your own books, of course, but the emphasis will be on creativity and the ups and downs of the writing life.

brain creativity starry sky

Since I first published Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders a decade ago, there have been enormous advances in scientific research on how the brain works and how we can tap into that knowledge to enhance our own creativity and productivity. And the sophistication of online communication and networking has grown tremendously as well. I’ll delve into those topics in upcoming blogs, and I’d welcome your contributions on those subjects as well.

In my next two posts I’ll explore the role of habit in creativity, focusing on books by two authors whom I heard recently at the Writers Institute of the State University of New York at Albany: Charles Duhigg and Twyla Tharp. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link in the menu on the right. I plan to publish new posts at least three times a week, and I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

Note to authors: If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, please get in touch by writing me at julielomoe@gmail.com. I’m also looking for someone creative and not too expensive to help with a new website, and I’d be grateful for any suggestions you may have. Please include a link to your own site as well as theirs so I can check them out!

brain-exchange profiles.jpg

 

 

Conquering my Internet angst

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]Hallelujah! I just updated the signature that goes out with my e-mails, and it took me only an hour and a half to figure out how! Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, says e-mail signatures are one of the most effective and easiest ways to market your work, but for me, when it comes to internet technology, nothing comes easy.

Lest you think I’m a total ignoramus, I’ve known how to create signatures for ages, but they’ve been tiny and self-effacing, in the plain text that’s standard with Thunderbird. To promote my new book, Hope Dawns Eternal, and let people know it’s for sale on Amazon, I wanted something flashier that will jump out at viewers, and for that, Thunderbird told me I need to use – insert gasps of horror, hyperventilating and pounding heart – HTML code. For the uninitiated, that stands for hypertext markup language.

I’m proud to say I didn’t have an anxiety attack. I’ve come a long way since acute panic made me drop out of a web design course at Hudson Valley Community College a few years back. Instead, I calmly clicked on Thunderbird’s HELP menu, found the information on creating custom signatures, and printed it out for further study. Call me old-fashioned, but for truly assimilating new knowledge, I still prefer paper.

The Thunderbird tutorial took me part of the way, but my signature didn’t look right, so I Googled “HTML code beginners.” That brought up millions of hits, and some further surfing turned up what I needed to know.

<Insert break here. It’s time for General Hospital.> 

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Okay, I’m back. Luke Spencer saved one of his sons from a grisly death by defusing a bomb, only to face armed gunmen who – oh, never mind. Michael Easton, my favorite actor on GH, isn’t on this week. They’re concentrating on Luke because the actor who plays him, Anthony Geary, is retiring and moving to Amsterdam, and they want to give him a spectacular send-off. I doubt they’ll kill him, though, because he may get bored and want to come back for a visit.

But I digress. True, Hope Dawns Eternal is about soap operas, but it isn’t about General

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Hospital. The hero, Jonah McQuarry, is a police lieutenant played by the reclusive actor Mark Westgate, who used to play a vampire on a long-gone soap called Oak Bluff. When a talk show host turns up dead, drained of blood, suspicion soon falls on Mark . . . You can learn more by checking out previous posts, or still better, by reading the Prologue and Chapter One right here on this blog. Then, of course, I hope you’ll buy it.

The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the years since I published my two previous books, and indie authors like me have more opportunities than ever before. But the trick lies in learning to harness the infinite power of the Internet, and for technophobes like me, the challenge is daunting. The learning curve is steep, fraught with perils and frustrations, but I’m determined to hang in there and master at least the rudiments of self-publishing.

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

When I published Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, a small firm in Texas handled the formatting and design. They did a beautiful job, and I loved the finished product, but they took a huge percentage of whatever measly sales income I managed to accrue, and my royalty checks were minimal. Though I can probably never prove it, I’m convinced they swindled me out of some earnings.

Now, with the generous royalty arrangements available through Amazon, Smashwords and other distributors, I won’t get fooled again. By summer’s end, Eldercide and Mood Swing will be available in new editions, in a variety of e-book and paperback formats. I’ll be in total control, but the learning curve is less a curve than a raggedy zig zag line. The overall trajectory tends slowly upward, but there are lots of hidden hazards and pitfalls. Often I feel the way all those cops must have felt bushwhacking through the Adirondack woods in search of the killers Matt and Sweat, wary of ambushes and sometimes doubling back on their own tracks.

One example: The design of this blog. Notice how the headers at the top are superimposed on each other like a double exposure? I know exactly when the problem arose; it was when I changed “themes,” as WordPress calls its design templates, from “Misty Look” to “Koi.” While my blog was relatively inactive, I let it go, but recently I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it, in every way I could think of, but to no avail.

Finally I clicked on the WordPress link that says “Contact Us” and arrived at a site called “Happiness Engineers.” There I texted back and forth with a friendly fellow named Amal, who gave me all kinds of hints and suggestions to try. Alas, he couldn’t fix it either, and after a couple of hours, I thanked him for his efforts and signed off. The next day WordPress sent me an email with a questionnaire asking how the experience had been, and I didn’t answer, not wanting to get Amal in trouble.

Learning the rudiments of HTML is another challenge, but I’m hanging in there. I’ve got all summer to fine tune my marketing campaign and expand my online network. For example, once again I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, beginning around Bastille Day – but that’s a topic for another blog. Right now, I’m heading out to enjoy my shade garden and a gin and tonic.

Hosting Guest Bloggers: 20 questions about best practices

Butterfly on pink flowerThis past Friday, I hosted my first guest blogger, Sunny Frazier. How did she get the gig? Simple – she sent me an e-mail attachment with an engaging essay titled “Am I A Writer?” I read it, liked it, and voila – my first guest. I’ve heard from other potential guests as well, but Sunny was the first to send me a post that was ready to cut and paste.

All of a sudden, I have more empathy for agents and editors who have to handle queries. I’ve received several e-mails from people saying they’d like to be guests on my blog. Sometimes they include the name of a book they’ve written, sometimes not. This tells me next to nothing. Often they ask what I’d like them to write about. Damned if I know – if I did, I’d write it myself! If they would read my blog, react to it, and then send me something they think would be a good fit, I’d be a lot more likely to invite them as guests. If I have to send them individualized e-mails explaining what to do and offering suggested topics, their odds diminish radically.

Gosh, I’m sounding grouchy – please don’t take it personally, anyone. Today I’d planned to post some guidelines for guest bloggers, but I’ve realized I have more questions than answers. Here are some of them:

How do you decide whom to invite as a guest blogger? How would you rank the following in order of importance?

Reputation and/or quality of their published books?

Quality and/or entertainment value of the writing on their blogs?

Number of stats they get on their blogs?

Relevance of the genre they write in?

Reciprocity – the fact that they’ve been a faithful visitor to your blog?

Personal friendship?

What if someone sends you a post you consider mediocre or worse? Do you publish it anyway? Do you think the quality of your guests will influence people not to revisit your blog?

What if someone sends you a review copy and you really dislike it?

Do you encourage guests to submit posts that consist primarily of promoting their own books?

Are you willing to run posts people have already published elsewhere?

How much do you edit and/or cut your guests’ posts?

How much should you expect them to promote their visit to your blog? Where would you like them to promote it, and when should they start?

What about comments? Should they visit on the day of their posting to reply to peoples’ comments?

For that matter, how important is it for the blog host to reply to comments in general? I know it’s common courtesy, but does anyone really expect those comments about comments? (This is a bit off-topic, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about.)

Is there something else I’ve forgotten that I should be asking about?

 There, that’s 20 questions, more or less. I was going to number them so that people could comment by the number, but that would mess up the formatting, so I won’t be that compulsive. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll respond by commenting on those questions that may strike your fancy, or by contributing new questions of your own. Once I’ve sifted through all the answers, maybe I’ll be ready to write up my guidelines for guest bloggers. Oh, and I still haven’t decided on a guest for Friday. If you send me an essay of 400 to 600 words ASAP, maybe you can be the chosen one! Send them to me by email: julielomoe@nycap.rr.com.

Stay tuned for my next post, when I’ll revert to my 60’s nostalgia thread and talk about my close encounters with Jimi Hendrix and other superstars (SPOILER ALERT: don’t get your hopes up – the encounters weren’t all THAT close!)

Calling guest bloggers: my virtual door is open!

Chihuly florabunda rose

Chihuly florabunda rose

My trip to Wisconsin for my 50th high school reunion was a great success – I’ll post more about it soon. In the new schedule I envision for my blog, Fridays will be reserved for my own miscellaneous musings. I see the rest of the week shaping up according to the schedule below. As always, this site is a work in progress, but I’m ready to open it up to guest bloggers. Your posts might be appropriate under any of the Monday through Thursday headings. Topics in parentheses are suggestions; they’re not all-inclusive.

 

MONDAYS: THE ART OF MARKETING (finding agents and publishers; publicizing and selling your work)

TUESDAYS: THE ART OF WRITING (creative approaches to overcoming writers’ block; plotting, character development, editing)

WEDNESDAYS: SOCIAL JUSTICE (topics of social concern, including the causes I’m most involved with – overcoming the stigma of mental illness, attitudes to illness and aging, funeral consumers’ issues)

THURSDAYS: MYSTERY WRITING (interviews and articles featuring my mystery-writing colleagues)

FRIDAYS: JULIE’S RANDOM MUSINGS (my day for self-indulgence, posting about my personal experience, memories and whatever suits my fancy) 

Although mystery writing is my primary passion, I want to reach out to a wider audience with this blog, and with a different focus for each day, there’ll be opportunities for those of you who aren’t mystery writers to post as well. I spent May and June learning about blogging with the Blog Book Tours class, and in those two months, an average of 37 people visited my blog each day. Not bad for a novice, but I plan to do far better. Please join me on this exciting journey – together we can take it to the next level!

As always, I welcome your comments here. But if you’d like to discuss being a guest blogger on this site, please e-mail me separately at julielomoe@nycap.rr.com. Read my own posts to get an idea of the tone of this site. Your contributions should be 400 to 700 words, and it’s OK with me if you’ve already posted them elsewhere. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Fourth of July postscript: I will start this schedule in earnest right after Labor Day. I was feeling super-ambitious when I posted two days ago, but realistically, I want to enjoy my summer – if it ever stops raining here in upstate New York. So until September, I’ll be aiming for three days a week, probably Mon-Wed-Fri. But even with this abbreviated schedule, I welcome your contributions. Within a couple of days I’ll post submission guidelines on a new page.