Category Archives: General

Blast from the past…

#AccidentalPoet

Poem

Well, look what my Mum found while ‘spring cleaning’ – a cheeky poem, dropped into my Dad’s birthday card nearly 20 years ago – I think I’d have been seventeen or eighteen-ish. I’ll share it with you here and you’ll get the picture on why I don’t normally write poetry!

Happy Thursday! 😀

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The Reason Why People “Like” But They Don’t Comment

Interesting post here on why people ‘like’ but don’t always comment. (I’m not sure where ‘reblogging’ sits in this situation…?)

I think there are some valid ideas here in what makes people comment more than like, or do nothing at all. The only one I find that stops me commenting is when I follow blogs which aren’t WordPress and get into the horrible ‘sign in’ to comment thing, which has deleted my lengthy comments or requires me to set up a load of new user stuff just to comment back on something I found interesting…

What do you think, commenter, liker or invisible reader… which are you?

The Golden Lands

I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs recently where the authors have a MAD following.  I sigh and drool and faint whenever I see how many followers these people have.  They average at LEAST 40 likes a post.

But they also average MAYBE 2-3 comments a post.

Why?

These people have 5,000+ followers.  Some have 20,000+ followers.  Why is no one commenting?

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Let’s be honest.  Everybody likes to get Liked.  But I think we can agree that when people take the time to comment, this feedback means way more to us.  Because it’s easy for people to click the Like button, but it takes effort to comment.  And that means they are taking us seriously and actually paying attention.  We like comments more than Likes.

The question is then: What makes people comment?

Personality.

Sig and Armstrong

You might have a huge following, but if you don’t have a sense of personality

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TGIF Throw back!

Looking at old blogs and things last week got me thinking about ‘blogging’ things I used to do and I saw this! The TGIF Look Back was a meme idea, ideally it just took a few minutes to jot down and share how your week had been. For old times sake, this is how my week stacked up – how was yours?

It just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following questions with some Friday feeling…or come up with your own examples for the F R I D A Y letters!

FUNNY – What made you laugh this week?

READING – What were you reading this week?

INSPIRED – What inspired you this week? 

DREAM – What were you dreaming about this week?

ANGEL – Who was your angel of the week?

YUCK – What made you go ‘ewwww’ this week?
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My TGIF Look Back…

FUNNY – I watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard this week and was crying laughing at parts of it – I love Ryan Reynolds (esp. Deadpool) and his character in this was like a slightly toned down, smart-talking, kick-ass Deadpool – replacing the red stretchy suit with a natty grey one. If you like him in that, and Samuel L. Jackson in a role with shades of his Marvel counterpart, you’ll probably enjoy this.

READING – Currently reading my first David Estes book Slip and enjoying the shades of Philip K Dick that the first half of the novel has had…

INSPIRED – Maybe it’s the new year ‘blow out the cobwebs’ feeling I’ve been inspired by this week, but getting my latest book finished and coming fresh into the new year is leaving me in a generally writer-y mood! 🙂

DREAM – Oh – an absolutely crazy one last night about trying to get back to a friend’s wedding because I was her bridesmaid – but to get there I had to navigate the sewers by boat to get there, because that’s where she was holding it! I suggest that Co-Op’s garlic soft cheese roulade is yummy, but best not consumed after 9pm if you don’t want to get the crazy dreams!

ANGEL – Angel / star of the week for me are the lovely people who will have been in to Dogs Trust, RSPCA and other dogs homes in the last few days to rescue and give good homes to little puppies gifted at Christmas and already dumped. It’s astounding – and sad – how much this still happens… They’re for life!

YUCK – Yeah, my attempt at home made stroganoff did not go so well this week. It wasn’t awful, but it really wasn’t good!

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‘Thank you’ to Bloggers

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Coincidentally, another Melanie seems to appreciate bloggers too! 🙂

I’ve just been doing a little ‘spring cleaning’ on my laptop today, tidying up the bookmarks that I keep on here relating to all things books: I have YA book blogger lists, MG/kids blogger lists, blogs on writing that I follow as well as other general writing resources.

For once, instead of dipping in and out of blogs based on what Twitter flashed up at me and made me go ‘Ooh shiny shiny!’ *click* I started at the top of my list (around 40 YA blogs) and I began running down from the top, to see who was out there from when I first started blogging and reading blogs myself, back in 2011… There are six active blogs left posting today. Just six.

Some of the blogs that have gone were ‘big’ to me – they had between 1000-10,000 regular followers and the bloggers who ran them took part in everything from read/reviews to author giveaways, features, blog tours, interviews. Some of the blogs had hundreds of posts, reviewing hundreds of books, which will have meant thousands of hours reading and preparing posts…

I know how easy it is to beat yourself up when it comes to blogging: it starts out as a hobby, an extension of something you love (in my case reading and writing!) that you want to share with the wider world and it can very quickly snowball into a job. (One you don’t get paid for, funnily enough!)  If you already have a full time job, are in school, (have any kind of life), or maybe even trying to write yourself, maintaining a blog and keeping your passion for it can be difficult. It sets you objectives: what to post, what to read, running a giveaway, responding to emails/requests…

In recent years I had to choose, for my own available time – and maybe my sanity, a little – to reduce what I blogged on my own YA blog asidefromwriting.com because I couldn’t keep up with the pace needed. We used to run an annual Indie Author Month, but the volume of work to co-ordinate 30 authors and features for a one month block became absolutely impossible for me. I feel bad looking at it today – I really need to post some things in there! Even on my author blog, where I tend to post mainly now, I struggle to deliver new posts and content, because if I write here then I don’t write my own books.

And this is why I’m saying ‘thank you’ to the other book bloggers that are out there. It is a hard hobby you have set yourself and can often feel thankless, or like you’re writing to no one, but you aren’t – you are still writing for yourself, sharing what you love and helping people, authors probably more than readers, in the ever-growing world of books and e-books.

Please don’t let it become so much of a chore that you eventually turn your back on your blog – let it quiet down and give yourself some space, if you need it. Post less frequently and let the pressure off until you feel the spark return. Your readers will still be there, as will the books to read, it’s important that your blog is about you and what you wanted to share in the first place.

Most of the blogs I’ve seen today that disappeared lasted between 12-24months… If you’ve made it past that, then you’ve done an amazing job because this shows how hard being a blogger can be. If you’ve only been blogging for a week, I still say thank you – because you’re starting something that means something to you 🙂 keep it up!

Best wishes for 2018 and beyond x x

Blogging is HARD

 

 

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A little bit of marketing…

Well, this weekend I’ve done some editing (the good stuff, when you re-read your own writing and it feels like you’re reading something new to yourself, as if it’s not your own stuff) and re-jigged a whole lot of social media, marketing blog stuff. It’s surprising how long that takes! Let’s face it, I hadn’t posted on Facebook since February (!)

What can I say? I’m more of a Twitter person…

Anyway, I saw a really interesting post from someone who uses Pinterest a lot to market her blog (creating interesting visual pins for each of her posts and then linking them on to her blog). I spent quite a while juggling my boards and content around to be more ‘author’ and when I get a little more time I think I’ll do some test runs of this idea. In the past, I have created Pins of quotes from my books, which have circulated pretty well.

I had some good news on Saturday too, when I did the usual Amazon check of my book rankings, it was a nice surprise to see Faris and Jack at No. 4 in the Top 100 Horse books list!

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It was the sequel to this book that I had been editing and I am hoping from a ‘marketing’ perspective that when I get the second book out there that a number of the people who have picked up book one will try the follow-up. I remember reading a post about publishing books in series and how a body of work was generally better and easier to market, as if one reader likes what you do they are likely to read more than just your one book – you only need convince them once! 🙂

I think most independent authors (and lots of traditionally published ones too) would agree that marketing and PR-ing your work is hard – it’s a whole other skill set than writing and not always easy to pick up once you’ve finished your book. In the past I have spent a lot of time on trying to push the books and bring readers in – now, my focus is more on the actual writing. If it’s a hobby, then I’m happy to put it out there and see what happens, with whatever nudges I can do with marketing to help it along. Faris and Jack has had the least amount of push and is the most successful book I’ve published so far (in terms of both volume and ratings). I think continuing this experiment and seeing what happens to Faris and the Monoceros when that comes out will be interesting.

Anyway, enough of my weekend, it’s nearly bedtime here in the UK, but if you’d like some ideas for refreshing your own book marketing, check out the article below. It tells us that marketing is not a one-time effort, that you need to rearrange your thinking and find ways to reinvigorate your book marketing to keep the momentum for this – and other books – going. Good luck! 🙂

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2017/08/reinvigorate-book-marketing/

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June… Read something you wouldn’t normally

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I picked Monsters up in the library because of the quirky cover. Reading the very brief blurb on the back it reminded me of a film from years ago with Kate Winslet (I think), where two odd friends have an unsavoury interest in murder.
The actual story was a bit of a surprise and didn’t unfold as I thought it might.

I’m not actually convinced that I ever read the name of the narrator of the story – if I did it was so infrequent that I missed it – and so it is odd to share such intimate knowledge of her strange and rather unhappy life without giving her the label of a name. Perhaps that is part of what the author was looking for, that as the reader there is an uncomfortable voyeurism to reading about this person and their experiences.

The story is well-written, from the point of view of a 12-13 year old, which sees her drifting through points of immature misunderstanding of an adult world to moments of real clarity, seeing the truth of people that maybe sits between being a child and an adult. The way she looks at her friendships and others feels very black and white, more childlike, as do the tempers she has.

Overall, this is an interesting read with well-rounded characters and a view into the painful and odd world of the narrator. Often the murder mystery element of the book drifts into the background whilst trivial seeming things take the centre. It’s not comfortable or fun to read, you feel pity for the narrator in many ways, but also can’t say that she is ever likely to become someone you would want to meet. She’s already pretty broken. 4*

(In terms of the reading challenge, I actually started off reading a political biography on Barack Obama, I still have it but am only about 50 pages into and it has about 800 to go… I’m not overly convinced that I’ll make it to the end of that one, perhaps it’s too far out of my comfort zone!)

 

 

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Reading Challenge for May – Read a book recommended by a friend…

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Several friends have recommended If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, to me and it has sat languishing in my bedside table for a while now – this cover is for the version of the book I have and so must have been bought around the time of the film release. I can’t remember now if I bought this copy or if it was given to me to read – I have a feeling it’s the latter, but definitely can’t think who it came from. My author buddy Tony Talbot read and reviewed this on the Aside from Writing blog ages ago, so you can check out his thoughts there (spoiler alert!) if you like (also, it’s evidence of the recommendation!)

My thoughts… 

Before you are 20 pages in to this book, you are shocked into experiencing the same trauma as Mia. There’s so little pre-amble to the crash that it is shocking, even though you know that is what the book centres on before you start. You just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to characters like them – you feel how unfair and sad it is, when this type of tragedy strikes.

I found the comments and interviews (from the film actors) with Gayle Forman really interesting at the end, putting the story into context with her own experience of grief. There are so many facets of grief considered through the story: parental love for a child/younger sibling; romantic loss and that of losing your parents. Mia – sitting outside herself – is a very human, emotive vehicle for considering all these things, whilst reflecting back on the life she has lived and the relationships that have been built around her at that point.

This is, as you would expect, a difficult read in places. I think Gayle does a great job of managing the hard emotional parts of the present, with the backstory of the past. It has the mix in the book, just as you do with grief itself, of being overwhelmed by emotion and loss in one instant, then reminiscing and feeling the warmth of love, family and friends the next. I teared up a few times whilst reading, especially in the sections on Teddy, which Mia felt almost with a parental love for her much younger brother.

I think this is a story that will linger with you for a long time, whether it’s because of shared experiences of grief and how poignantly this is told within the story, or because of the emotion you feel for Mia’s fictional family and those of anyone in real life you experiences these similar freak tragedies.

This is a relatively short book and without formal chapters, you tend to read on through the scenes. Whilst very sad, I enjoyed this book, in so much as it has lingered with me the last few days since finishing and I’d like to read more about the characters I met.

5*

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