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Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Rebecca Bradley for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. It feels undeserved but I’m really grateful. The truth is, very much like writing, I would still blog even without readers because I really enjoy it. The process helps me to order my thoughts, and I’m the kind of person who thinks through my writing, in other words the ideas come to me as I write. I find inspiration everywhere and I enjoy the interaction with other bloggers and hearing from readers. For me it is a really interactive community. So, thank you to Rebecca. You can find her Crime Writing Blog here.

 

Inspiring

The award comes with the following instructions :

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

So, here are seven facts about me that you might not know:

  1. I love acoustic guitar and live concerts, and am seeing one of my favourite singers in Vienna LIVE tonight! (A FREE eBook of my novel or two of my short stories goes to anyone who can figure out who I’m going to see.)
  2. I live for a steaming hot coffee in the mornings. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee just makes my heart glad; a coffee shop is even better.
  3. I’ve flown in a helicopter. Yes, a chopper, and I really enjoyed it. I would go again in a flash. The fact that you can just lift off and fly at an angle, the openness and the view from them is awesome!
  4. I can windsurf and water ski. It’s hard to know which is more difficult, but I prefer the speed and the adrenalin rush of waterskiing.
  5. I shook hands with the Queen when she visited our home town. I was at primary school and we lined up outside Colchester Town Hall to see her.
  6. I never imagined being a writer or ever writing a book. I wanted to be a vet (until I discovered that you have to actually operate on animals). I then wanted to join the Police! I think there was a part of me that wanted to help people (or animals!)
  7.  I can play the piano, clarinet and guitar, but I spend more of my time singing.

Now to pass on the award to some inspiring bloggers who you might also want to follow:

Elizabeth Craig

Elaine Aldred

Avril Joy

Jen Harvey

Vicky Newham

Belinda Pollard

Ruth Hunt

Shirley Golden

Tania Hershman

Sarah Hilary 

Paul McVeigh

Susi Holliday

Natalie Bowers

Carys Bray

Vanessa Gebbie

 

 


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What Can You Learn From Writing Blogs?

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There are many writing blogs with an array of articles on different aspects of the craft of writing. I read a range of them and have learned a great deal about writing, publishing, editing and much more. The writing blog WRITE TO DONE is searching for the Top 10 Blogs for Writers in 2013.  Edited by Mary Jaksch, Write to Done posts regular articles on writing fiction, copywriting, freelancing, blogging, creativity, and the art of writing. It is an invaluable resource for writers, so if you haven’t yet browsed their pages I would recommend having a look. It will be well worth your time. Their top 10 chosen blogs from previous years have led me to many new and useful blogs.
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Those of you who read this blog regularly know that there are a range of author interviews, book reviews, guest posts and writing posts, and despite advice from some bloggers not to blog about writing, they are precisely the posts which receive the highest number of hits on this blog. The difference between a post on writing and a book review, or a post on something less related to fiction is surprising. Many writers obviously read posts about writing, although some prefer not to, and readers are also curious to know about the inside workings of the craft of writing. Give me someone who loves Formula One racing who wouldn’t want to step inside a Ferrari or a Lotus, or a person who loves classical music who wouldn’t want to sit in an orchestra pit and watch the conductor at close range, and the bows of the string section moving in time to the conductor as he sets the tempo for the sound. Are you with me?
download (16) So, now is the time to vote for any writing blogs which have inspired you over the year. Here’s how you can nominate a blog:

How to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Blog:

→ Nominate your favorite blog in the comment section.
→ You have only one vote (only your first will be counted).
→ Please include the web address of the blog.
→ Explain why you think the blog is worthy of winning this year’s award.
To make the cut, a blog must be nominated more than once. Nominations must be received by 12th December, 2013.
The top 10 list will be incredibly helpful for other writers once it is compiled. Here is a brief list of some of the blogs which have inspired me.
http://annerallen.blogspot.co.uk which is written by Anne Allen and Ruth Harris. It is one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers and is full of honestly and humour, and is really informative.
http://writershelpingwriters.net which used to be http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.co.uk written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.
http://www.jonathanpinnock.com This blog, Jonathan Pinnock’s Write Stuff has a great range of information and thoughts on writing and, again, is very honest. He also covers short stories, which keeps me happy.
http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.co.uk Written by Nicola Morgan, who has had 90 books published (!) and knows what she’s talking about. She also self-publishes.
http://www.claire-king.com/blog Claire’s advice and insights are to-the-point and given from the perspective of a writer who is rigorous and, again, honest. Do you see a theme emerging here?
Don’t forget to vote for your favourite writing blogs and do add any others in the comments.


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Blogging for Readers

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Last week’s post was on blogging for writers and I promised a post this week on blogging for readers. They deserve two separate posts in order to do them both justice. I post a few reviews, in amongst author interviews and I discuss different aspects of writing. Book bloggers do a wonderful job of reviewing and sharing books. I have bought several books based on the recommendations of bloggers whose opinions I trust. Some bloggers share books in one genre, be it crime, historical romance, literary fiction, young adult or science fiction, others read and review a vast range of books in one blog. In a previous post I shared a list of bloggers who I follow and whose posts are varied and informative.

So, what do you write and how?

I don’t want to be formulaic because the joy of different blogs lies in their individuality and their unique voice and layout. But the key points are important:

Book Cover

Ask the author or publisher for a high resolution image of the book, and make sure that it is clear and not too large or small for the post. Thumbnails can get lost in amongst your words but a billboard sized image can overtake the review.

Book Information

Include the ISBN number, publication date and publisher information to make it easy for people to locate the book. The genre of the book can also be a helpful indication for the reader. If a reader really enjoys, or doesn’t enjoy, a particular genre, it can help them to make a quick decision about whether to read your review or buy the book.

Synopsis

This is a crucial part of the review and, if you don’t want to include a whole synopsis, at least give a snapshot of the book to frame it for the reader. You probably wouldn’t see a film or a play unless you had a rough idea of the plot or the style, especially if you haven’t previously heard anything about it. Most people go on recommendations before they watch or read anything new, and your introduction can make or break their decision to read a book. Either take the full review or give an outline, and preferably before you give your candid opinion.

Your review

This is the meat of the post. It is your take on the book, your view of the style, the language and the story. Be honest, but it is best to avoid scathing comments. Some bloggers are asked by agents or publishers to review books, and others pick up books to review themselves. If you have been asked to review a book that you don’t connect with, be honest about what didn’t work and try to find the positives. If you really enjoyed the book your enthusiasm will be clear, and hopefully it will encourage others to pick up the book. Try to look at different aspects: the characters, their interaction with each other and the situations in which they are placed, the pace and style, the plot with it’s twists and turns, or the descriptive prose. Have fun and let your journalist’s hat run free.

Other reviews

Has the book been reviewed by the national press or magazines? Are there reviews by other well-known authors? These are worth sharing as they give the reader a better idea of the substance of the book. Quote from other reviews or from the press release. Most books have these quotes on Amazon, which will make them easier to find.

Author info

Does the author have credits or other publications? It is always interesting, although not essential, to gain some background knowledge on the person behind the cover. Do they enjoy travel? Do they have a PhD in an unusual subject? Have they previously been involved in an interesting job? Part of the reason why people enjoy author interviews is because we are all essentially curious (nosey) and it is intriguing to find out about the author or their reasons for writing the book. If readers enjoy the book, they will want to know where to find other material by the writer. Some readers find novels through reading short stories that they enjoy and then searching for books by the same author, and sometimes it works the other way around.

Contact info

This is helpful but not essential. In an age of what I would call ‘the social media explosion,’ many authors have blogs and websites and are on twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any of the other social media sites. Readers like to connect with authors. Some authors are fiercely private, and little can be found out about them or their lives and writing, but most will at least have a website. Many author websites will have widgets which take you to their other sites.

Can you recommend any good book blogs? Do you review books? How has it helped you to find what you are looking for or, perhaps, surprise you with something new?


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Blogging for Writers

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My earlier post about blogging received a huge amount of interest and it appears to be a subject close to the hearts of many readers. I promised to come back to it, so I’d like to start with a post on blogging for writers. I’m aiming to look at blogging for readers in a separate post.

Many people warn against blogging about writing, or blogging at all if you write fiction. I would disagree, for the following reasons:

I have gained a huge insight into writing and publishing from a range of authors who blog about the process of writing, editing or publishing. I have learned about both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Some agents and agencies also blog and their comments can be really helpful in finding your way through the rabbit warren that is the publishing industry.

Drawing in other writers who understand the process, and can support you, is essential. I would go so far as to say it as essential as gaining readers. Writing can be an isolating business and blogging can help you to connect with others with a certain level of freedom. I have gained so much from the comments on this blog from other writers, and by following blogs written by writers.

It limbers you up and keeps your words flowing. The process of writing for a blog is very different to the process of novel writing and it can teach you things that you won’t necessarily learn from writing your manuscript.

Reader responses are immediate and interactive. I would say that this is one of the biggest joys of writing blog posts. I really enjoy the comments and suggestions. I like to meet new blog readers and discover new blogs and books. The debates which are sometimes struck up from a particular topic can be really invigorating and will challenge your various perceptions.

Although you can blog about your subject area – crime, if you are a crime writer; relationships, if you write women’s commercial fiction; a specific area of expertise if you write non-fiction – I find that blogging about writing helps me to formulate ideas and to share what I have learned with others who are travelling along the same path.

I find that readers are also interested in finding out about the writing process and I receive emails from people who are just starting out or who would love to write but are nervous about putting their ideas down onto paper. Some readers are just interested in how writers tick and like to know what goes on behind the pages.

Any thoughts? Do any of you find blogging about writing helpful?