Book View Café Authors On Blogging

Stevens_The_LetterCome listen in as we discuss blogging and its role in an author’s career and life.


Patricia Burroughs (Pooks): We’ve discussed blogging and how to make it work. I think the biggest problem with any advice on ‘how to build a platform’ is that it reads like a checklist that you tick off and then wait for people to read you, but as many have pointed out, you really have to find things to do that you actually enjoy doing, or you’re unlikely to be successful.


Sherwood Smith: Being passionate is not enough. There are plenty of passionate bloggers out there earnestly going on about themselves. Successful bloggers are interesting about what others are interested in. People have known for centuries (salonistes) that being interested in others and their interests is the first step in causing one to be interesting, then one either has to have interesting info or be clever.

Not two days ago I heard a highly regarded blogger talking about posts that begin with something shocking, like human trafficking and how to stop it, but then comes the deadly phrase, “In my science fiction novel . . .” And then the poster goes on and on about their book. Cue rolling eyes.

Someone else pointed out that that is classic bait and switch.

We have been dunned with commercial bait and switch so much that there is strong resistance: as soon as the switch happens, the channel changer clicks. Or in the case of blogs, as soon as the deadly phrase appears, we click to the next blog.

Very few can be interesting about their own work. Someone else has to do that. Being interesting all the way through about human trafficking and how to stop it is more likely to cause readers to finish the post thinking, “Hmmm, I need to check this blog out more often”—and maybe  “check this person out, see what else they’ve written.”

The problem is, what if you aren’t interested in what the majority of others are interested in? 100 million Americans are interested in, say, sports. What if the very mention of football makes your brain shut down out of boredom? You have to work that much harder . . . and most writers would rather work that much harder at their fiction. Continue reading

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BVC Announces Center Stage by Mindy Klasky

Center Stage by Mindy KlaskyCenter Stage
Diamond Brides Series 8
by Mindy Klasky

Actress Lindsey Ormond has always followed the rules – be nice, keep quiet, and never, ever get involved with a bad boy. But her good behavior has yielded lousy results – she was just left at the altar for the second time in two years.

Raleigh Rockets center fielder Ryan Green keeps life simple – play ball, have fun, and keep an eye on his recently widowed father. When Ryan attends Lindsey’s disaster of a wedding, another sizzling task hits his to-do list – help Lindsey learn how to break the rules.

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BVC Announces Triple Play II by Mindy Klasky

Triple Play II by Mindy KlaskyTriple Play II
Diamond Brides Series
by Mindy Klasky

Three hot contemporary baseball romances by Mindy Klasky, in one sizzling volume:

Second Thoughts: In an unexpected reunion, career-driven second baseman Nick Durban discovers that he is the father of photographer Jamie Martin’s six-year-old daughter, but Jamie can’t trust the ex-fiance who walked out on her years before.

Third Degree: Chef Ashley Harris and third baseman Josh Cantor are competing in a cooking reality show, and the flames in the bedroom roar even higher than the ones in the kitchen.

Stopping Short: Bad-boy shortstop Drew Marshall will be cut by the team unless widowed spin doctor Jessica Barnes manages to save his career — a tall order after a well-intentioned teammate announces Drew and Jessica are engaged.

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On Naming

by Brenda W. Clough

mermaid You write a novel. Naturally it has characters. And those characters need names! Let us set aside for some other day the issue of creating fantasy names, and consider today only naming characters with cognomens that already exist.

Depending upon how you roll, this usually comes very early in the writing process. For me it comes before beginning the writing at all; if I don’t know the character’s name I cannot write. I can get away without looking at my hero for many thousands of words. I was more than halfway through the first draft of How Like A God before I thought to actually cast the authorial gaze upon my hero; I knew what all the other characters looked like because I was using his viewpoint, but he had never done the old look-in-a-mirror stunt. (When I did look I was astonished, and marked the place in the text.)

But there are a number of factors to consider. The most important of course is time and place. A work that takes place on Mars in AD 2502 is going to have a differently-named cast than a work that is set in 1741 in Wales. Given names especially come and go in fashion in an easily-charted way. You can search on it and kick up sites that will graph for you the popularity of, say, John as a name for boys over the centuries. Certain names are highly redolent of their time. Consider my own. Every Brenda you are ever likely to meet is between 50 and 70, because that was when that given name was in fashion. Nearly all Lindas are the same, whereas a Madison was surely born the year after Splash and is around 30 years old today. You therefore are foolish indeed to name your Elizabethan heroine Brenda or Madison, and if the novel is set in ancient Rome, all I can say is for god’s sake don’t! Rome, like many other non-Western cultures, had its own naming conventions which you should research carefully.

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Catching Up, Ha Ha

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischCatching Up, Ha Ha

by Ursula K. Le Guin

It’s been two months since I blogged. Considering that it’s the eve of my 85th birthday, and that anyone over 75 who isn’t continuously and conspicuously active is liable to be considered dead, I thought I should make some signs of life. Wave from the grave, as it were. Hello, out there! How are things in the Land of Youth? Here in the Land of Age they are rather weird.

The weirdness includes being called a liar by Hugh Woolly, the famous self-publisher of How, because I was rude to amazondotcom, the famous philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting publishers, encouraging writers, and greasing the skids of the American Dream. Various other weirdnesses have arisen in my life as a writer, some quite enjoyable. But the important and dominant weirdness of life this autumn consists of not having a car — a condition that to a lot of people is the American Nightmare. Continue reading

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Consideration of Works Past: The Fittest

(Picture from here.)

I’d pretty much given up on this one. It was one of those stories where you remember bits and pieces but can’t recall the title or author. I’d put up phrases I remembered and got nothing.

Then I was reading an article on “cozy catastrophes” (see here. for the article and here for the wiki.) The phrase is attributed to Brian Aldiss. It means different things to different people. To some, it’s a catastrophe that ends with a whimper rather than a bang. The result may or may not be horrific but it leaves behind people who are trying to live in the resulting world and the result isn’t all that bad– for them.

One of the premiere examples– Oh, wait a minute. Forgot to introduce the novel. The book is The Fittest, by J. T. McIntosh.

Back to cozy catastrophes.  Continue reading

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Story Excerpt Sunday: from Fool’s Paradise by Jennifer Stevenson

Fools ParadiseFools Paradise

Backstage Boys Book 2

by Jennifer Stevenson

The fat lady was about to sing. Up in the followspot booth, sixty feet over the audience, Bobbyjay Morton aimed his darkened Supertrouper spotlight at her. The music swelled. He heard the stage manager on his headset.

“Warning. Number two spot in color six to pick up Brunnhilde.”

In the same moment, his cell phone vibrated on his hip.

“Spot two go.”

Cursing silently, he powered up the Supertrouper. Bang, he nailed the fat lady with a beam of bright pink light. She wouldn’t move now. This was Wagner.

He checked his phone.

“What is it?” he hissed, stepping away from the window into darkness. Continue reading

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Rambles in England, Part 3

Oxford, Harry Potter Hall, and Tolkien’s Grave

BodleianOxford teems with literary connections, and as a lifelong reader of British lit, I couldn’t wait to wander the lanes connecting Town and Gown in this concretion of shops, inns, and venerable walled colleges.

Having survived our first left-hand driving terrors (“Drifting! Drifting!”), Thor and I located our charming B&B, then followed a public footpath through a cow field and along a brook featuring picturesque swans. Continue reading

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Evita: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

TPTSB_Evita_400x400 This warhorse of the musical theater was revived in 2012 on Broadway and is now on tour. I caught it at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. I have seen the movie, which is a different and IMO a lesser work, but for some reason have never seen the stage musical until now.

And wow, what a perfect musical this is! As Hal Prince famously said of it, how can you go wrong with a work that begins with a funeral? And biographical material has a natural through line that is very congenial. Meanwhile, the score is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best, blending pop with Latin and tango rhythms.

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Crisis Mode

packingOne of my talents – perhaps my best one – is that I respond well to crises. Faced with an emergency situation, I know instinctively what things must be done and which ones can be postponed or jettisoned.

I do the same thing with deadlines. I rarely finish something early, but I also rarely blow a deadline. If something is due by 5 pm, it will be filed on time. Other things will be put aside because they can be done at another time.

Under pressure, I know what is important and what isn’t. And I act on it.

Unfortunately, when I’m not under pressure, that skill disappears. Faced with my three-page, single-spaced, probably incomplete list of things to do for my move, I find myself meandering around, doing the tasks that don’t drive me crazy or the ones that are pushed to the top by outside forces.

And I’m afraid that’s going to continue until the move hits the crisis point. Continue reading

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