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Dancing to Lady Gaga in jammies.

I remember high school. Almost everyone was a brand.

I remember the art geeks wearing black clothes and earrings high in the ear that looked like it hurt and I winced when I saw it.

I remember the football jocks who sat at the popular table, well, not all of them popular, but they liked to think so, or they hoped so.

I remember the popular crowd that started in middle school with only a small group of kids, all kids, all unsure, desperate to find a spot to call their own at the lunch table the first week.

As the years went by, the circle grew, and soon a large crowd of kids were friends by senior graduation. Some of those same kids who in middle school when alone at night in their bed, their covers pulled up to their chin, trying to ignore the tiny squeaking of a mosquito, dreamed of being in that crowd. And they made it.

Maybe it was the casual way they said hello to a certain girl every day after practicing for hours the night before. Maybe it was that they sat behind the right boy in French class. Maybe it was that they copied the clothing styles the best they could of the popular crowds. Who knows? But it happened.

Some never desired to be in that crowd. They were confident in who they were. Maybe their families went out for soft serve ice cream with sprinkles every Sunday night, they laughed, they talked. Maybe they played Monopoly on Friday nights and learned the value of not giving away all their valuables early on. Maybe a grandmother whispered in their ears that they didn’t need the validation of anyone else to feel important. And they believed it.

It was never about being popular even if they were convinced it was. It was about feeling loved, special, that they held a spot in this world and if they left, they’d be missed.

All kids move on from the bubble called high school and they realize it was all a game. They wish they could go back and tell themselves to not spend hours worrying.

Except then they enter the work world and they realize that the groups, the cliques, the popular crowds don’t fade away. They go to the Kindergarten playground and soon realize that certain mommies rule the school, even if it’s not obvious at first. They see it starting with their children, even at preschool, and realize that dealing with people is a part of life.

Maybe late one night, their kids tucked in bed, sleeping, they realize that the game always exists if one wants to play. This time, thankfully, they step back, away from the pressure, and choose their own course, their own happiness.

They stick their daughter’s earbuds into their ears and dance to Lady Gaga in their jammies, not caring if the neighbors can see through the window.

And they decide that’s the best place to be.

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Can you trust your gut?

I’ve seen that phrase thrown around lately, and I’m truly wondering – can we trust our gut when making decisions?

With some decisions, I trust my gut all the time. And it’s rarely wrong. For example, when the kids are tucked into their beds all cozy and asleep and a platter of homemade chocolate chip cookies lay on the counter…

Or when a book comes out with an awesome cover and a blurb to die for…

Or when a squirrel is running away with my wicker furniture filling in its mouth and I’m holding a BB gun… (What? Okay, scratch that. I’d never injure a cute little rodent.) (I’d get my husband.) (Okay, this has never happened because red squirrels are way too smart and know to steal when no one is looking.)

You get the point. What about when deciding which agents to query? What about deciding which agent to sign with – if you have options? What about when choosing your publishing path?

It’s so easy to read an agent’s information on Literary Rambles and then see his/her smiling face on the Twitter avatar and just know he/she is the one for you. For some writers this works out and maybe it was their gut. Or not.

Let’s take a closer look at guts. Is the gall bladder, intestinal tracts, and liver somehow connected to the decision making part of your brain?

Or do we convince ourselves of things because of a first impression?

Or is it just a feeling based on something we can’t quite define?

Just opening the floor up. How often do you base decisions on your gut feelings? Do you trust what your body is telling you?

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Is blogging effective? Or are we wasting our time?

A week or so ago I wrote a post – To blog or not to blog about writing. I left off that post wondering if it really matters what we blog about. How effective are blogs?

DGLM posted: Is blogging worth it? In it they reference Livia Blackburne ‘s posts where she compliments John Locke on his system. That more of us should be reaching our readers like that. Truly, his methods are genius. (But I don’t think genius can be copied and have the same outcomes.) So…

I say yes. Blogging is effective.

And no. Blogging is not effective.

Because, well, we have to know why we started blogging in the first place. You can only judge the success and failure of something based on pre-set measurable goals.

Possible reasons to blog:

  • We are extremely passionate about, let’s say, making snowmen out of marshmallows. Or about writing.
  • We want to appear professional to the publishing industry when they Google us, maybe, possibly, at some point in our journey. Hopefully, right?
  • All writers do it so we should too. (Okay, probably not the best reason.)
  • We want to tap in and connect to the writing community.
  • We want to support our fellow authors by promoting their books.
  • We want to reach our potential readers and sell zillions of books.

Okay, blogging is much bigger and about a lot more than just reaching potential readers outside of the writing world. (Feel free to disagree.)

And I heard to be effective in reaching readers and making a real impact in sales, then thousands of people should be reading your blog. Or a blog post needs to go viral and reach thousands of people who then buy your book. But will an active blog help show an acquisitions editor that you have a platform? Yes. That you are willing to promote your book and put yourself out there? Yes. And that might make a difference – if they love your writing.

Have I ever bought a book based on someone’s blog? (Outside of friendship.)

Yes and no. In most cases I “knew” the blogger first or just loved the premise and cover of their book.

Have I bought a book based on buzz through the blogosphere but not necessarily because of the author’s blog or website?

Yes. Almost every book I purchase is from online buzz – usually through friends of the author. But it is almost always something I would want to read anyways.

Have non-writers bought books because of an author’s website or super-emotionally charged blog post?

Probably. But I’m going to say that’s more likely to happen in the world of adult literature.

So, what should you do? Should you even be blogging?

That’s totally up to you. I’ve connected to other writers. Found beta readers. Learned about agents and editors and the industry. Processed what I’m learning through blogging. Found encouragement and inspiration. And the list goes on. It has been an extremely beneficial experience for me.

Blogging is not a guarantee that you will connect with an agent or sell lots of books.

Blogging is not a guarantee that you will connect with zillions of readers – no matter what you blog about.

Writing a page-turning fantastic story full of depth and heart will sell lots of books. And that magic thing called word of mouth? We can’t control. And that, my friends, has nothing to do with blogging.

So all I can say for sure is that you should be spending the majority of your time writing and learning the craft of writing – not blogging or on Twitter.

Has blogging been effective for you? Any thoughts?

(I’m not an expert nor claim to be. The opinions in this blog post are based on my observations. I see writers hit the bestseller list because they got a huge promotional push from their publishers, because they had a great high concept idea that hit the market at the right time. And they knew how to write. And not all of them started with a butt-kicking blog first. You do the math.)

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Judy Blume in tweets (from LASCBWI) and a winner!

Before we get to the awesomeness that is Judy Blume, we have a winner for P.J. Hoover’s SOLSTICE!

Jessica Bell!!! (I’ll send your email along to P.J. ) Congrats!

The following are quotes from Judy Blume tweeted from LASCBWI. Enjoy!

@storyconnection:  “I don’t think abt my legacy. That’s dangerous. But I want a tombstone that says, ‘Are u there God? It’s me, Judy.’”

@mbrockenbrough: “Telling a story is a quest. And questing involves questioning, doesn’t it?

@story connection: “I started writing not knowing what I was doing. That’s good.”

@LPP_Media: On self-censorship: “If it’s there because it’s important to the story or the character, include it.”

@alicepope: “Everybody who writes has to get out there and listen and observe.”

@shanasilver: Dialogue is the only thing @judyblume likes to write. She likes juxtaposing what they’re thinking versus what they’re saying.

@lishacauthen: “If I get up every morning and am excited to be in my little room with my characters I know I’m on to something.”

@mbrockenbrough: Judy Blume is 73. “We’re going to get her skincare regime shortly,” says Lin Oliver.

@LPP_Media: “How do you know how to write books if you don’t read books? Write the kind of books you like to read.”

@storyconnection: “Whatever works for you is the right way.”

@mbrockenbrough: “The first draft is finding the pieces to the puzzle. The next draft is putting the puzzle together.

@storyconnection: “Get yourself through it and write a whole draft.”

@story connection: “The stuff that matter, that works for you readers, comes from deep, deep inside.”

@ErinDealey: “I wanted to be the next Dr. Seuss. I wrote terribly awful rhymed pic books.”

@mbrockenbrough: “It never gets easier. The only thing that gets easier is that I know how to do this now.”

@alicepope: “It was fun to say, ‘I was the most banned author in America.”

@margorowder: “I open a book on the day something different happens.”

@alicepope: The first time Judy Blume got a rejection, she went into the closet and cried.

@mbrockenbrough: “It’s determination as much as any kind of talent that’s going to get you there.”

Which is you favorite one?

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To blog or not to blog about writing.

Okay, the whole thing started with this post by Kristen Lamb. Sacred Cow Tipping – Why writers blogging about writing is bad. Read it.

The gist of it says that by blogging about writing you only reach a small percentage of the population. You want to be reaching readers. Her one example made perfect sense: a paranormal author who blogs about wine and cooking.

It’s easy to read Kristen’s words and immediately scorn the blog you’ve put so much time into. A hot flush races across your skin as you realize you’ve been doing it all wrong.  You can’t blog about writing anymore! So maybe you better start watching soap operas – and fast! Or pick up knitting. Something. Anything.

I’m pretty sure that strategy won’t work either.

So is Kristen wrong or right?

She’s neither, just a little misunderstood. Blogging about writing is different than a pure writing blog. My takeaway is that she encourages your blog to be about you. Don’t limit your blog to just writing tips all the time. Be yourself. Include parts of you that you want to share. Funny stories. Book reviews. Your travels. Your research for your stories. Be you. Let your voice shine through. If you’re passionate about cute little green inch worms then blog about it. Or not.

No one can argue the success Jody Hedlund has had and her blog is primarily about writing. But she puts herself into each and every post. There is a difference.

I write for children and teens. Most of my targeted audience won’t read my blog unless I sell a book on the bestseller list or win an award. And then they’ll look me up to fill out a book report. So my next target would be teachers and librarians and moms. (No thanks. I’m not becoming a mommy blogger no matter how cute I think my kids are.)

I can think of a handful of authors who naturally embrace Kristen’s approach. Lisa and Laura Roecker (hilarious) blog about pop culture with self deprecating humor. But they are entertaining. Kirsten White used to blog about nothing in particular, but again, is extremely witty. And Elana Johnson not only has posts on writing but her blog is full of heart. She’s Elana. And those bloggers reached higher heights of followers through getting agents, giving back, book deals and almost dying (Kirsten).

So if you blog about nothing or pop culture or soap operas or cooking you better be ready to entertain. Or you won’t gain many followers even if they are potential readers. But the same holds true when blogging about writing. And entertaining doesn’t have to mean funny.

I return to the motto I uphold when blogging: unique, useful, and updated. Use your slant, your voice, your approach to any topic, even if it’s writing.

That’s what I think Kristen meant. Don’t dig yourself into a “writing” hole. #ofcourseicouldbewrong

Here are some great links to check out.

And Roz Morris answers my questions on the subject in this blog post. (How will she promote her fiction when she blogs about writing?)

Roni Loren recently wrote an incredible post on ten things she’d do differently. (In reference to her blogging journey) (Incredible post!)

The Bookshelf Muse wrote a terrific post about knowing your audience.

Livia Blackburn writes Author blogging: you’re doing it wrong.

And of course this brings up another scary question: How effective is blogging? Um yeah, that will be for another time. Maybe next Wednesday.

What do you all think? Are you going to start blogging about your lifetime obsession with the Smurfs? Make me laugh and I’ll read it.

Comments { 52 }