Looking Back, Looking Forward

New Years

Today is my three-year blogiversary. I started on Blogger, with a goal to write one post a week. It was 2011, the year I edited and published His Good Opinion.

One post a week quickly became two, and for a while three. I liked having a place to interact with the friends I made via Twitter. When I spent two weeks that spring in England, the blog gave me a place to share pictures.

Since then, I’ve moved to my own website and published three books. My blogging friends have helped me promote those new releases, and helped me work through tricky questions in the comment section.

This year will be my first full calendar year as a full time author. I’ve learned a lot about how self-publishing works since publishing His Good Opinion. To that end, I’ve created a rather dizzying schedule… but I just keep reminding myself that this year, I won’t have to contend with work.

Here are my goals:

  1. Write four books: one each in February, June, July, and November.
  2. Publish two of them, preferably in a series. These would have been my Robin Hood/pirates novels, but that’s changed slightly since I realized I don’t want to write about pirates. They might still be Robin Hood related though.
  3. Publish the Christmas novella that wraps up the Brides of Pemberley series.
  4. Be more proactive about marketing–try one marketing approach a month.
  5. Get back to blogging twice a week.
  6. Be more active in commenting on the blogs I follow.
  7. Take two scheduled vacations, one to England in April and one staycation in August. When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to work a year or more without scheduled breaks.
  8. Get my UK visa application together so I can apply at the end of 2014/beginning of 2015.

Slightly ambitious, perhaps, but with my friends by my side, I think I can do it.

Social Media Hiatus

I’ve never done one of these. Truth be told, this isn’t going to be a complete media blackout. I’m simply taking a break from my computer–both blogging and writing.

NaNoWriMo did a number on my shoulder. By the last week, the pain was so bad that for the first time in six years, I didn’t reach 50K. I haven’t touched my computer in five days, and after 90 minutes, I knew that wasn’t a long enough break.

So, keep an eye out for me on Twitter. I still have my phone and iPad after all! But don’t look for another blog post until mid-month at the earliest.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Blogging Doctor Who

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You know the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it?” They SAY this is because busy people know how to get things done. In reality, it’s because busy people don’t realize they’re busy. (Just my new theory, of course.)

In February, Lori tweeted at me, asking if I’d seen the twitter-call from Smitten by Britain, asking for Doctor Who bloggers. By the end of the week, I’d signed up to write two blog posts a month about Doctor Who for the website Smitten by Britain.

My first post went up two weeks ago. It summarizes the kind of Whovian I am, and closes with a quick little quiz/Q&A for the reader. We’ve had some great discussion in the comments.

Yesterday, I posted about Clara, the new companion. It was fun writing a post before Saturday’s episode that I knew would be read afterward. Come over and offer your guesses on who Clara is.

There’s no RSS feed on the blog, but I do tweet and Facebook every time a post of mine goes up. If you’re an Anglophile (or Britophile as Melissa puts it), you should definitely take a look at the website. If you’re on Twitter, her account has been a goldmine of places to visit while I’m in England this fall.

So yes, for a few minutes after agreeing to do this, I wondered what on earth I was thinking. I already blog for two sites and write books and have a full-time job. Why did I add another responsibility? But now I am so glad I did, and I hope you’ll follow along with my Doctor Who posts.

Blog Vacation

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy–

Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high…

And the blog world slows down, and there are so many things to do… In light of all those things, plus the pressing deadlines I’ve got coming up, I’ve decided to take the month of July off from blogging. You can still find me over on Indie Jane of course, and I will occasionally be tweeting about my writing progress. If you want to keep up with the good Colonel, follow me on Twitter. His hashtag is #sexyfitzwilliam.

Tuesday I’ll post July’s On My Bookshelf, and then hopefully I’ll disappear for the month. I’m hoping to really clear out a large stack of my TBR pile, so do come back on Tuesday for the list of books I’ll be reading.

Have a fabulous July, everyone!

How to Lose Blog Commenters

And conversely, of course, how to keep them.

I follow several blogs, and I like to comment on the posts as often  as possible. However, there is one thing that cuts the chances of me posting a comment in half, and far to many bloggers use it.

I am referring to the dreaded, evil Captcha. Those little squiggly letters and numbers that robots can’t read… well, neither can anyone else. If I start to comment on a blog and notice that I’ll have to translate the Captcha into real English, I’m quite likely to just move on.

That’s not what you want your reader to do. A reader who doesn’t engage is less likely to return. You want readers to comment, to become invested in your site.

I realize Captcha serves a purpose. My new site has only been up five days, and I’m already getting occasional spam comments. However, I have moderating turned on. It’s an easy thing to just mark them as spam and then forget they existed.

On a WordPress site (which this is), you have an additional option: Akismet. Akismet will catch comments it suspects of being spam, so you don’t even see them in your pending comment list.

Do you use Captcha on your blog? If you’re a reader, how do you feel about it? Are there other spam solutions out there?

ETA: I was just reminded that there is such a thing as legible Captcha. If I can tell what it says without squinting and tilting my head just right, I don’t mind it… much. ;)

 

If you comment on this post, don’t forget to go back and add an entry for the Kindle Fire.

Blogiversary!




Happy One Year Blogiversary to Me!



What I have learned in my first year of blogging:

  1. Blogging takes time. I don’t just mean the actual time to sit down and write a post, or even the time I spend reading other blogs. Building a readership takes time–months, even. 
  2. Fun events draw people in. I got a huge stats jump last February, thanks to my Romance Title Generator. People who don’t read my blog on a regular basis came by every day just to see what the new category was, and to offer suggestions.
  3. You get out of it what you put into it. If you want people to read your blog, you’ve got to read theirs. It’s as simple as that.

And the biggest thing I learned this year?

Shakespeare Sells.

Yep, Madison Avenue is wrong. It’s not sex that sells, it’s Shakespeare. Last April, I wrote a blog post about how to write like Shakespeare. That post has received far, far more page views than any other. Part of that is because I discussed the authorship controversy, right before Anonymous came out in theaters. That was just dumb luck, frankly.

I am amazed, however, at the number of people who’ve found my site by searching for variations of “write like Shakespeare.”

So what’s in store for 2012? Well, the biggest news is that I’ll be moving to a WordPress blog in February, with my own domain name. I’ve been putting this off for a while, but with some help from my brilliant cousin, it’s finally going to happen.

That’s the only real plan for the blog. I’ve got a set of goals for the new year though. Why don’t you share yours in the comments?

1) Pay off my credit cards. (Gotta put the boring one first.)
2) Revise and publish my Colonel Fitzwilliam story.
3) Go to NYC for JASNA this October.
4) Go to San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously in November.
5) Write book 3.
6) Plan a trip to England for fall 2013.

ETA @ 12:00: Cause for even more celebration! I just passed 2500 sales! *cue streamers and balloons*

What I Blogged On My Summer Vacation

I learned something about blogging this summer, friends: The entire blogosphere goes on vacation for two months. Comments slow to a trickle, new posts are few and far between, and site traffic goes way down. On the one hand, this made it easy to keep up with everything. After all, I didn’t go on vacation (sigh), so I didn’t miss a thing. On the other hand, I know there are a lot of good posts out there that people might have missed.

I’m going to highlight a few of mine, and then if you wrote an awesome blog post that got lost in the summer shuffle, please post a link to it in the comment thread.

The big news of the summer was the launch of Indiejane.org. Jessica Melendez and I started this site with the vision of it becoming a home for both readers and indie authors of Jane Austen fiction. As of tomorrow, we’ve been up and running for two months, and things are off to a great start. We’re just wrapping up our read-a-long of Sense and Sensibility, and we have a Northanger Abbey event slated for the last two weeks of October.

Indie Jane also took part in this summer’s Austenesque Extravaganza, a blog event put on by Meredith of Austenesque Reviews. In our post, we announced a new project, yet again aimed at connecting authors and readers. Dear Jane will link Jane Austen fans with a pen pal for six months. Sign ups go through September 15, so if you’re interested, go on over!

And finally, in my posts for the Austenesque Extravaganza, I put together a blog series called Build Your Own Austenesque Novel. I led readers through the various elements of story and plot, and ended with an encouragement to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve since brought those five blog posts together on their own page, Build Your Own Novel.

Now it’s time for the rest of the class to share. Show us your favorite blog posts of the summer!

Build Your Own Austenesque Novel: The Set-Up

During the month of August, I’m running a series for Austenesque fans. We’re going to build our own Austenesque novels, from the ground up. Each week, we’ll discuss another story aspect until we have a complete toolkit for writing an Austenesque novel.

The Set-up

The first thing you have to decide when you sit down to write a piece of Jane Austen fiction is what do you want your story to be? What novel do you want to focus on? Do you want to write a sequel, a variation, a POV story, or an alternate universe?

If you came over today from Meredith’s Austenesque Extravaganza, you might be familiar with those terms. I’ll define them very quickly for those who aren’t.

  • Sequel: The most obvious, this type of novel starts where one of Jane’s leaves off. It might follow the primary couple (for instance, Darcy and Elizabeth), or it might follow a secondary character, like Charlotte Collins.
  • Variation: This novel takes the original Austen story and deviates from it at some point. Maybe Elizabeth never heard Darcy’s first insult, or maybe Captain Wentworth did come back to court Anne in 1810. It branches off from that point of departure to create its own story.
  • POV story: These tell the same story as Jane, but from the POV of a different character. My current novel, His Good Opinion, is a POV story.
  • Alternate Universe: AU stories take the characters and situations from the original novel and places it in a completely foreign setting. This might be a modernization, or Jane Austen Does Outer Space. The sky is truly the limit with AU stories.

So, what kind of Austenesque novel do you want to write? My next novel is a sequel, based on Pride and Prejudice once again. This time, I’m telling Colonel Fitzwilliam’s story. Some interesting bits of back story surfaced while I wrote His Good Opinion, and I’m eager to explore his adventures.

Week 2: Conflict.
Week 3: Character

REMEMBER!

Commenting on this post will enter you in the Amazing Austenesque Giveaway. Make sure you’ve filled out the form on Meredith’s blog, and then any post you make on her blog or on the posts she links to throughout the month will count as another entry in the giveaway. Thank you, and good luck!

Graphic designed by Drew Parsons

May I Have the Envelope, Please?

On my birthday, I received three blog awards: The Versatile Blogger Award, One Lovely Blog, and The Stylish Blogger Award. The rules for receiving a blog award are:

  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
  4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award. 

At the time I’d only been blogging for a month and I didn’t really feel qualified to pass the award on. Now it’s been almost six months–I might not be an Experienced Blogger yet, but at least I’m no longer the new kid on the block. Besides, I finished my draft on Saturday and what better way to celebrate than by throwing an awards ceremony?

  1. Thank you Charissa! Those awards gave my confidence a definite boost, and they were a fantastic birthday present too.
  2. Seven things about me:
    1. I am completely addicted to chocolate.
    2. I have a cat named Smokey who might actually be smarter than I am.
    3. I’ve traveled more extensively than the average American, both within the US and abroad.
    4. My love for Austen is rivaled only by my love for Tolkien. The one disappointment of my England trip was the complete lack of Tolkien geekery.
    5. Some might call me an obsessive planner. I like to think I’m just prepared for the coming zombie apocalypse.
    6. I organize things by date–either when I last used them, or when I will need them. Thus, when my roommate straightens the house, I cannot find a thing.
    7. Like Charissa, I too am a pastor’s daughter.
  3. Fifteen people to whom I gift these awards:
    1. Jessica at Narniamum
    2. Jennifer at Skidding in Sideways
    3. Rebecca at A Word’s Worth
    4. Kaydee at For the Love of Austen
    5. Debra at English Epochs 101
    6. Kals at At Pemberley
    7. Julia at wordsxo
    8. Sarah Allen at From Sarah, With Joy
    9. Amber Rose at Laughing With Broken Eyes
    10. Jen at Neptune Butterfly
    11. Austen in Bath at Austen in Bath
    12. Rosita at A Writer Forever… 
    13. Shannon at Jane Austen Says…
    14. Susan at Loves Jane Austen
    15. Alexa at First Impressions
  4. I’ve contacted all these lovely ladies (and they are all ladies, interesting!) via Twitter. If you’ll notice, I’ve linked each of them not only to their blogs but also to their Twitter accounts. Please take a moment and follow them–you won’t regret it.