Blog Tour

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Thanks to my good friend, Terry Tyler, for inviting me to take part in this tour. I met Terry on Twitter; she was one of the first reach out & help me as a writer on Twitter. Because there’s a special way to interact as a writer on social media, and there are rules of etiquette, as well as accepted marketing practices, just like in any other social or business situation. Right. The questions:

What am I working on now?

I’m currently working on three books, all at differing levels:

♥ I’m doing tasks like filling out the art fact sheet and writing blurbs for my next Wild Rose Press release, Luke’s #1 Rule. Awaiting edits that should land on my desk any day now. I expect Luke out sometime this summer.

♥ I am also revising my indie paranormal, Sweet Melissa after receiving comments from beta-readers. Sweet Melissa will released on or before June 1 of this year.

♥ Finally, I am writing the first draft of Fast Eddie, my third book in the Blue Lake series with Wild Rose Press. Eddie and his bar and grill have made cameos in both previous Blue Lake books. I’m finding out some very interesting things about this mystery man. The secondary plot fills in Bob and Lily’s love story from Blue Heaven, cut short then by college and Lily’s issues. That deadline is October, so my plan is to write fresh material every day and have a great opening chapter for my critique group May 9.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I have two genres: contemporary romance and paranormal. One is e-published with POD and the other is indie and e-book only. I think that’s different right there. But my romances are different in that TWRP has let me grow beyond the normal boundaries of romance. I have subplots. I have other POVs. I am closer to women’s fiction than romance, but they’re just labels. My paranormals are different in that there are no vampires. I’ve created a unique world, at least one I’ve not seen done in fiction before. My world is a  mix of science (super string theory) and fantasy (flying and a talking moon mother).

Having said what’s different, I prefer paranormals that take place in an almost recognizable world. So my people do visit their other world and it helps them catch bad guys, but most of the story is set in our contemporary American world.

Why do I write what I do?

I love to read everything: blogs, magazines, poetry, short stories, novels, memoirs, physics, metaphysics, self-help, biography and the Sunday New York Times, mostly for book reviews.

And that might be why I have written in so many different categories. My first book, and only full length non-fiction work, Your Words, Your Story, is part writing memoir, part writing manual. I wrote it for a specific audience, my creative writing students, who would come to class all wanting to write different things. So I covered all the stuff I’d written and published to that point (2007), a wide spectrum from journalism and criticism to poetry and short stories to creative non-fiction. Even a screenplay treatment. And of course my blog, here since 2002.

After YWYS came out, I focused on getting my many novels published. Again, I didn’t stick to one kind of novel, but Luke’s #1 Rule is the book of my heart, the book I always wanted to write but also feared writing. That’s when I know I should write something. If it scares me, pushes my boundaries, it’s good.

How does my writing process work?

It’s a bit chaotic, as I also teach and tweet. Plus I’m on a quest for better health via food and exercise. So I try to write first thing. Often, I have to check for email from my publisher before “first thing” 🙂 Many days I end up tweeting for an hour or blogging for two before I manage to get those new pages written, but that is the plan right now. New pages for next novel every day. Start on them early.

So far, I’ve been writing longhand. I bought a new pen and notebook, a ritual for each new book. I researched some background on Eddie and his first love (they meet again at their 20th high school reunion) and wrote a bit from each of the four POVs. After I fill the notebook, it’s time to write a draft in Word docx.

I’ve tagged Edith Andersen, and Sylvia Hubbard, and Gretchen Riley, three wonderful — and wildly different — writers.

Spring Cleaning Inside

Still working on the site. Molly has a set of instructions for linking inside images I printed out for tomorrow, because, while working on the website is fun, today Linda is on the front burner.  If you’re a Michigan writer (or, hey, come on up from Chicago or Toledo) and want to get published, sign up here for our free team talk.

So much happening and this is my “go slow” month. There are signs in the stars that say I need to do things more mindfully this month, and things inside my own body and brain tell me that, too.

For example: I mistakenly double-dosed myself with hormones for a couple of weeks and my mind has been jumping around like a wild monkey through constantly moving hoops. My body, the body I love but mindlessly abused for so long, has been feeling the pain as I age and continue to carry extra belly fat.

Feeling desperate, I decided to spring clean from the inside out. I’m reading “How to Live for Life: The End of Dieting” by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. and beginning to change the way I eat. I had no trouble becoming a vegetarian, and I’m hoping this next step will come naturally, too, scooping out those stubborn pounds.

Also I’m making a point of getting more exercise, including my beloved yoga. But I need cardio, need to get the blood pumping, and that means walking. I walked outside today, it’s sunny and warm, hooray! but yesterday I was so into other things I took a short break to run up and down my stairs until I was panting.

Exercise helps brain chemistry, as does daily meditation despite the monkeys, also focusing on positive feelings and letting the sad things go. Eating the right foods help clean up brain chemistry as well.  It’s a two-for-one. That mind/body connection.

I’ve needed to make some changes in my diet, permanent changes, for a very long time. My strong, sweet body took me a long way without complaint even as I filled it with toxins. But now it complains. Regularly. So I have to do this. I want to do this. And for the first time in a very long time, I feel like I CAN do this, with a bit of mindful attention.

And now I must sweep the front porch before Linda arrives.

Popular!

1BH

When I was in 8th grade, the most popular girl in school approached me on the first day of classes and invited me to an event. My excitement must have showed because she kind of chuckled. It didn’t take long before we were BFFs and just like that, I was popular. In with the clique. On the fringes, for sure, but suddenly everybody in the school knew my name. One day, we were in my room, just hanging out, and she picked up my diary. “Where’s the key?”

I had written extensively about this girl and my thrill at being popular in this diary and would not allow her read about how much her friendship meant to me. Also, I might have said a few things I didn’t want anyone to know about my ever-changing love life. For whatever reason, I would not give her the key. She persisted. She got a little angry, even.

“Why can’t I see it?”

She was thinking the opposite of the truth. That I had written bad things about her. Nope. I had gushed out my gratitude for finally being accepted with the In crowd and my utter adoration of her. I thought she’d laugh at me and tell everyone all the details of my diary. That should have been my first clue that trouble was brewing.

I stayed semi-popular until I dropped out of that bitchy crowd to bond with a new group of friends who liked listening to music, smoking pot, and disdained the whole idea of “popular.” I stopped writing journalism and started writing poetry. In my head, I was beyond cool.

Something similar happened within the last few weeks. For ten years, every time I typed my name into Google’s search engine, there would be “A Writer’s Diary” right on top. Ahead of Virginia Woolf, from whom I’d borrowed my blog title. Ahead of a lot of people way more important than me. Just like with that popular girl suddenly deciding to befriend me, I couldn’t figure out “why me?”

But, again, like those feelings of old, it felt good. After awhile, I took it for granted, to be honest. I don’t know who follows my blog or how many or any of that stuff. I never wanted to know. But I got a little thrill when I periodically checked my name on Google.

Then a few weeks ago, I typed in my name and I was #5. After a film producer with my  name, assorted other Cynthia Harrisons had inexplicably leapt ahead of me. I thought about it for awhile and then shrugged. At least I was still on the first page. Then yesterday I checked again, typing in my name  as usual and “A Writer’s Diary” was nowhere to be found.

My Twitter handle was there, a few reviews of my novels, my Amazon author page. But no blog. I thought about why this had happened. I have no clue, just like I had no clue why I was #1 when there were no such things as tags, I knew a little code, and swiped photos and ran hot links with abandon.

Finally, I had reached the goal I set for myself when I started my blog. I was a published author with five books. But I was less, not more, popular with Google. Seems like an ironic contradiction. When I was in junior high, it took me at least a year to figure out I didn’t need the In crowd. This time it took less than 24 hours to realize that, for me, Google ranking is not a big deal. And now I am going to check Bing:)

Something New

For a really long time, I didn’t post reviews on Amazon. Part of that was because I was a professional reviewer, used to getting paid for my reviews and any old enemy can post a snarky review on Amazon. I thought it was just a bad way to handle book reviews.

But I know when I’m licked, and while I quit reviewing professionally years ago, I started to review again on the blog, on Goodreads, and yes, on Amazon. Since I’ve been hanging out with writers on social media sites, that’s been a big topic of conversation. You need Amazon reviews. Lots of them. “Verified Purchase” if possible.

That hasn’t worked out so well for my author self. At least not yet. I get review envy for writers like Niecey Roy who has about a hundred reviews for her romantic comedy Fender Bender Blues. And the only way I know how to cure that jelly is to move toward it, not away. So, I’m posting reviews on Amazon first, then linking them to my 5 Star Review page.

I do love trying new things, and I for sure love writing reviews any way I want to instead of following a magazine’s format. Plus on my blog birthday month, I always try to spiff things up. And I didn’t forget about that giveaway. It’s coming…soon.

Blog It! the author’s guide to building a successful online brand

Molly

Molly Greene

Ever wanted to start a blog? Already have one and can’t get excited about it? Molly Greene’s  power tool of a book is all you’ll ever need. Molly, an author I follow on Twitter, and have reviewed before, sent me an advance copy of Blog It! and I ate it up like brain candy. Which is weird because I’ve had a blog for ten years. Ten years sounds impressive, but after reading Molly’s guide,  it felt as if having a ten year old blog is similar to having a pair of ten year old blue jeans. You want an update every decade or so.

Molly’s book taught me so much. When I read it, I was pretty much blogged out. I’d said everything I had to say about the art and craft of writing and publishing. But Molly re-energized me with her concrete solutions for bloggers in need of new topics. I had to stop reading to jot down ideas for posts, that’s how fast this book works.

Blog It! is easy to follow and packed with pertinent information. Molly gives clear, concise instructions for beginning bloggers and those of us in need of a blog-lift. I’d recommend this book to any blogger, from seasoned pro to newbie to not quite there yet.

Having found (at least) twenty things I want to try,  I’m already implementing Molly’s suggestions, like using widgets to build a tag cloud, adding social media icons, and joining Google+. Don’t let these terms scare you off; if you follow Molly’s step-by-step instructions, their meanings will become crystal clear.

Blog It! teaches more than how to navigate a Word Press dashboard. There are sections on building readership, blogging a book, and how to shoot page views through the roof. But the biggest thing I learned is that you CAN teach an old blogger new tricks.