Monday, October 14, 2019

I've Been Busy On Pinterest, Too

In addition to the website and Twitter work I described yesterday, I updated my Pinterest board Connecticut Childlit Author Appearances. These are appearances that I attended, myself. Or, in a couple of cases, was part of.

They all have links back to Original Content posts covering the events.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Kitchens, Bathrooms, And Websites Don't Age Well

Author photo for new homepage.
It seems as if it was just four years and ten months ago that I was all excited about a website rework. Well, now I've done another. The latest one involved extensive changes to the homepage, some deletions and minor reworking on other pages.

What We Did Last Time

In 2015 I was interested in using color on both my Facebook page and Twitter banner as a sort of brand. I'd read an article on personal branding that said colors have attributes and yellow's is supposed to be creativity, intellect, and energy. But I am not a pastel person, so we went with gold, which I thought of as yellow-ish. That meant a tremendous amount of work for my computer guy, because he had to carry the color to every single page of the website, not just the homepage.

We kept the same color this time. We also kept the same fonts. This meant far less work and time.

What We Did Do This Time

I write and submit adult work, as well as children's, so I wanted my homepage to reflect that more. Additionally, while I like a homepage that contains information immediately, so users don't have to wait for some fancy work-of-art to load before looking for links, my homepage had become very text heavy. I was concerned that the amount of reading was turning visitors off, and that they weren't continuing deeper into the website where there was even more content.

What we have now is what I think of as a preview page. Each link has an image from the page it leads, too, which I hope will encourage visitors to move into the site, itself. And, of course, there are still images for each of my books, so that visitors can go directly to information about each of them.

Author Websites Need To Keep Changing

As a reader of other authors' websites, I've seen many changes over the years. Because so many websites change, the ones that don't begin to look very dated.

Much like kitchens and bathrooms. I'm very sensitive about old kitchens and bathrooms. And websites.

By the way, I've also done a little updating to my Twitter banner. It now has a photo image of my books, instead of a spread of book covers, and the same new picture of me that we're using on the website.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: Thursdays!

I stumbled upon 15 Time Management Strategies for Freelancers at while on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. As a general rule with these listicle time management things I find a lot of the same old, same old or they don't relate to things writers can use. Maybe I find one interesting offering.

And that was the case with this article. What did I find that was interesting, that I think writers can use?

"Thursday Debriefings: Use Thursday as your day to review your progress over the week and identify the projects you need to complete by the weekend."

Yes! I actually did this for quite a while a few years ago, in a What Did You Do This Week, Gail? feature here at the blog. Every Friday I would do a post on how I had used my time for that year's objectives. I would prepare it on Thursday nights, and if I found that I was behind on the social media related goals, I hustled to promote blog posts to Twitter, Facebook communities, Goodreads, and, at that time, Google+. Thursday night was a catch-up night.

What Can You Do With Thursdays?

  • Use them regularly to check in to make sure you're spending your time on your work goals.
  • Use them to catch up with small tasks.
  • Use them to to decide what you haven't done this week that you really wanted to do, that being how you'll spend the rest of your work week.
So, keep the Power of Thursdays in mind.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Weekend Writer: More Publishing Reality

Last month, How to Lose a Third of a Million Dollars Without Really Trying by Heather Demetrios was getting a lot of attention in the Twitter circles I travel in. If I didn't get e-mail notices from The Millions, I wouldn't have heard about Russell Rowland's article published there in mid-September about his publishing experience.

Russell (I am referring to him as Russell because we were kind of acquainted years ago through the Readerville writers' community) covers his twenty year experience as a writer in The Long, Winding Road to Publication. Why is his essay not getting a lot of attention, the way the essays on the writing life written by other authors have over the years? 

I think it's his acceptance of and appreciation of the reality of that writing life. "I ended up working with whoever would have me, in most cases regional publishers in Montana. And I have nothing negative to say about any of those people." He writes about what it's like to meet writers he admires and have them dismiss him as an unknown writer. But I don't get a sense of bitterness from him. It's more a "this is how it is" sort of thing.

He recognizes the seduction of the stereotypical big author's life, but at the same time, when he asks the question "Is it possible to be happy as someone who has a small, loyal following?" he answers, "As a matter of fact, yes it is."

For those of you starting out, this is the kind of publishing reality essay you want to end up writing in twenty years. 

Russell has a new book, Cold Country, coming out from Dzanc Books next month. According to the publisher's description, it involves a murder.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Multi-Media Fun

I've been watching Dix Pour Cent (known as Call My Agent on Netflix). It's a French TV show about an agency of actors' (not writers') agents. It's in French with English subtitles, which gives me a chance to pick up a (very) few French phrases ( parce que mon francais est tres mauvais).  It is a very entertaining show. Those agents do carry on.

Watching foreign TV shows with subtitles is relaxing, because I can't do anything while doing it excupt read said subtitles. This explains why I watched two seasons of a show from Iceland.

Today I listened to Suzie Townsend & Ten Questions with a Literary Agent, a Write or Die podcast. It's a totally different experience. Nothing to see, nothing to read. What Townsend has to say about agents' assistants made me think of the agents' assistants in  Dix Pour Cent, though.

Agents' assistants appear to do a great deal.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Boarding School Book Number 1

I picked up Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson because it falls into that YA mystery/thriller category I'm interested in this year. Additionally, I've read other books by Johnson that I've liked. What's more, this book deals with a contemporary character who is trying to solve a mystery in the past. I just happen to have a completed unsold middle grade manuscript with that scenario.

Stevie Bell has been accepted into Ellingham Academy in Vermont, which she wants to attend because of the murders connected with the place back in the 1930s. She's interested in becoming a detective and solving the Ellingham Academy case, she believes, will bring her closer to her goal.

I like the historical period in which the murders occurred. Yes, it's true. I have many historical periods I long as they're nineteenth into twentieth centuries.

The setting for this book is great for me, too. Stevie and her parents start out on I-89 from Burlington. I was just there at the end of August! I've done the I-89 route many times over the years. And when they get off the highway onto a "smaller road dotted with stores and farms and signs for skiing, glassblowing and maple sugar candy?" I bet that's the road that goes past Waterbury to Stowe.

Truly Devious works for me in almost all ways. My main complaint? It's the first in a serial. I've enjoyed serials in the past, but mainly completed ones that I could binge read. I will admit, I will keep my eye out for Book 2, The Vanishing Stair, which was reviewed in the March/April The Horn Book. The reviewer highly recommends reading Truly Devious first, though she also says it's a "fulfilling second volume."

And, she says, information is held back for a third volume.

Well, I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of The Vanishing Stair in the next month or so. Which I guess is why serials exist.

This is, as I said, a YA mystery/thriller, part of my study of the genre. What am I taking from this? So far, the romantic or physical attractions in this book do not overwhelm the story or world, as they so often do. The romances seem to exist because this is a teenage world, and teenagers do this sort of thing. There is a logic to it. It becomes part of the setting.