Blogging: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Revisiting the topic of improving blogging and blogs – including this one.

 I’m a member of the Codex writing group of pro, neo-pro and aspiring professional writers. The group, which has at least 130 members, includes one of last year’s Hugo and two of this year’s Nebula winners amongst their ranks; they are collectively and individually, a formidable group.

Perhaps arising out of the Codex Blog Tour which I’ve been participating in --along with Aliette, Gareth, Alathea, Gray and many, many others—there’s been a lot of discussion just lately about the quality of blogs, and how to improve them. And change starts at home; that is,  here.

Author Sandra Taylor, has started posting on the topic, while Amy Sundberg has started a series of posts titled Get A BackboneThis has led to me to do some more head scratching about my own blogging.

Based on stats that internet usage drops by 40% at weekends as people spend their time doing things rather than sitting in the office surfing the net, I’m going to drop one of the weekend posts, and perhaps one of the weekday ones.

I’m aware that this blog doesn’t really have an identity – in that respect, my earlier blog -Random Mumblings- was probably a good title for this one.

Is that eclectic nature a strength or a weakness? Do you prefer specilist blogs rather than my grasshoppering across subjects? Short blogs every day or long ones once a week? (Madeline Ashby and Tania Hershmann are examples of the latter sort, whereas the former is more the default setting)

If you’re posting a comment and your website has a commercial orientation (ie Wolverhampton computer repair dot com) you might want to leave your website off your comment, so that the ever hungry spam filter doesn’t eat it.

I’ll post more on this whole topic in a few days.

• May 30th, 2011 • Posted in Writing • Comments: 2

Glass Walls

This morning has been a real battle, in stark contrast to yesterday morning when I laid down a good four hours and ended up with about eight hundred words.

It shows how variable a writer’s output can be. This morning I feel like one of those birds that you sometimes see trapped in greenhouses or conservatories – they’ve flown in, and at every attempt to get out they fly into a glass door or wall.

I awoke with plans to do three or four jobs, and at every turn I’ve thudded into an invisible wall; that, or I managed to finish the job, but after several times as long as it should have taken. The delays have been tiny, but niggling; a phone call at an inopportune moment, a notebook that locks up and refuses to respond, a chequebook that isn’t where I think it should be and which takes ten minutes to find, my own inability to concentrate.

It’s probably that last factor that’s the real cause of the problem.

I may have had one beer too many, last night (the monthly meetings are on the whole becoming ever better attended), or that I’m tired. It may be that without the constant relentless pressure of assignments, but also without the structure that uni provides, I’m adrift. Whatever it is, it’s only with typing this that I’m starting to regain some clarity. That’s one of the many reasons why I blog – talking about it to someone helps me see where the problem is.

Years ago, on a course run by Bruce Holland Rogers*, he (or it may have been co-organizer Eric) observed that sometimes writers procrastinate, finding a million and one things to do rather than actually write. “That’s fine,” he said, “but you have to be honest with yourself. If you’re not getting much done, give yourself the day off.”

So I did. And since I gave myself the day off after I finish this post, the pressure and confusion has lifted. I have no idea why, but I’m just going to go with the flow; if I write one word today, it will be one word more than when I started this blog.

* I don’t normally link to Wikipedia, but Bruce has so many sites that it seemed sensible to link to a hub – you’ll find his websites at the base of the article there.

• May 24th, 2011 • Posted in Writing • Comments: 1

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three…

In an attempt to nail the WordPress / Facebook interface issue, I updated the Damage Time  page this morning; it was long overdue — I hadn’t realized that the pages still said April / June release. Me bad.

Of course, Damage Time  is out on Thursday. Bloody hell, that’s Thursday! It’s sort of snuck up on me. And the release date for the US is the 26th. Where Winter Song was recently the #1 selling title in Barnes & Noble! (so those drop bins worked then…)

The page cross-posted, so this blog is to see whether the blog is now cross-posting as well, or whether that’s where the problem lies…so here goes nothing.

I’ll stick one of the pictures that accompanied the extracts from Damage Time on here as well. Originally posted in April, I’ll have to re-issue them, so to speak. But that’s for another day — today I have Genre Fiction with the lovely Lucy English. Oh well, at least I should be spared the patronizing ‘I don’t mean to disparage Genre Fiction – but…’ that one of yesterday’s lecturers came out with.

Ta ra for now!

• October 5th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Goggle Eyes & Page Updates

Those of you on Facebook, LJ and other fora may have noticed updates for some of my book pages on the website yesterday. They were generated by my adding links to The Book Depository.

Partly this is to generate a little additional revenue, since I get a 5% commission where customers buy through the link –as well as royalties– but partly it’s also a little dig at Amazon. I missed a trick in that I’m not an Amazon affiliate, so any time you click on the ‘buy from Amazon’ link, I got the royalty on sales of new titles, but no commission.

However, I’ve held back at becoming an associate. I’m sure I’m not the only author tired of their recent bully-boy tactics; in removing the ‘buy buttons’ from our titles as a negotiating tactic with our publishers, it smacks of the way totalitarian regimes have parked their tanks alongside neighbours’ borders over the course of the last century or so prior to making demands or invading. 

So this is my little protest. It won’t amount to a hill of beans, but it makes me feel better.

Oh, and today’s review is Anne Fine’s classic Goggle Eyes, or The War Against Goggle Eyes as it was published in the USA. Part of my new reading regime….

• March 27th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Counting Down to P-Con

With the onset of spring, so ends the long winter hibernation of the SMOF (Secret Masters of Fandom) community, at least those who haven’t gone South to Florida. Although from what I’ve heard of the weather in Florida this year, hibernation might have been preferable.

But now they’re waking up, and so the con season begins, with Microcon in the UK, and P-Con 7 in Ireland. I’ll be going to this one. More tomorrow or Thursday.

• March 2nd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 1

A Good Day

As I mentioned on Facebook the other day, there’ll be a transition period of some posts not appearing, and duplicate posts. That may apply to Suite101, but meanwhile, here’s the link to today’s post.

• February 5th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0