I’m going on vacation #AmWriting #Editing

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This is NOT where I am

 

Don’t be jealous. I’m not actually going anywhere. I’m just taking a break from blogging. Don’t panic. It’s only for a week. If you’ve read any of my blog posts, tweets, or Facebook posts, you may have caught on to the fact that I’m having a hard time juggling life with writing at the moment. Okay, you would have heard me whine. There. I said it.

I’ve always worked or ran a business until we moved to Istanbul and I started the writing gig full-time. When I moved back to the Netherlands, I didn’t think I’d have any adjustment problems. After all, I worked my legal gig from home for two years before I managed to set-up my B&B. Writing at home is a different kettle of fish. I’m all alone in my – admittedly awesome – office writing away and don’t have contact with real, live human beings unless I make an effort. Trust me, the worker bees at the grocery store don’t count especially as they’ve all started avoid me. Long story.

So now I’m trying to juggle a growing social life with writing. It hasn’t gone well and, therefore, my current project, Fat girl Begone!, is taking way longer than I expected. I decided to take drastic measures yesterday and emailed my editor to see if she had time in the near future to take on my book for editing. Not only does she have time, a writer flaked on her so she has time now. Like. Right. Now. *Gulp* I told her I needed a week and she agreed.

There’s only this teensy problem. I haven’t actually finished the first draft. Oops. Thus, my decision to cancel the weekend and take a blogging vacation. I’ve loaded up on coffee and milk and I’m off.

See you guys next week. Wish me luck!

Sayings everyone (yes, me too) gets wrong #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

We all make mistakes. I probably make more than the average human, but that’s just because I’m a risk taker. Or at least that’s the lie I tell myself. There are certain sayings that us mere mortals get wrong again and again. Here are my favorites:

Epitome vs. Epitomy – Epitomy isn’t actually a word despite how often I try to write it. Luckily, I always doubt the spelling and google reminds me I’m an idiot because Epitomy is not a word.

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Blind-sided vs. blind sighted – I admit that I have no idea where the confusion with sighted comes from and, therefore, have no idea how to write a snarky comment about it.

I couldn’t care less vs. I could care less – If you say you could care less, you actually do care somewhat. If you don’t give a gosh darn, then you should say “I couldn’t care less”.

Regardless vs. Irregardless – Regardless means without regard. Throwing on “IR” on the beginning makes the word a double negative, which makes no sense since you end up with “without without regard”. Unfortunately, irregardless seems to flow off the tongue easier. Must. Stop. That.

Tongue in cheek vs tongue and cheek – Tongue in cheek means to be sarcastic or insincere. The idea arises from suppressed mirth like when you bite your tongue so as to not laugh out loud. Not sure what a tongue and cheek are supposed to symbolize.

Wreak havoc vs. wreck havoc – Let me tell you I’m not wrecking any havoc as that indicates I’m actually destroying that havoc. Oh no, not I. If you’re talking about wreaking havoc, you’re usually referring to someone creating havoc. In that case, wreak is correct.

One and the same vs. one in the same – ‘One in the same’ doesn’t really mean anything, does it? ‘One and the same’ means that the two things are the same, which is probably what you’re trying to convey.

Nip it in the bud vs nip it in the butt – A bud is just beginning so yeah nip that thing before it grows. Nipping it in the butt, on the other hand, just indicates you’re just dirty minded or something.

For all intents and purposes vs For all intensive purposes – No matter how strongly you feel about the subject, the phrase ‘for all intensive purposes’ is still wrong. ‘For all intents and purposes’ on the other hand means that you’re covering all the possibilities and isn’t that what you meant anyway?

I could go on and on, but the above are some of my favorites. What about you? Comment below with your favorite. (FYI: spellcheck caught most of the mistakes above. It’s a pain in the a$$, but spellcheck does help. Sometimes.)

The truth about blogging no one tells you #MondayBlogs #Blogging #AmWriting

Have a blog, they said. It will be fun, they said. Liars. Liars. Multiple pants on fire. Turns out that everyone really does have an opinion about everything. Many of those opinions will be misleading. Misleading is a politically correct word for lie. Yes, lie.

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Lie Number 1. If you write it, they will read it. I don’t care how funny, how moving, how well-written your blog post is, if you don’t have some kind of following whether it be social media, blog followers or devoted book readers, no one is going to read it, because they won’t be able to find it.

Lie Number 2. Blogging is easy. What exactly is supposed to be easy about blogging? Because none of it’s easy. From the setting up of the blog itself to writing blog posts to finding followers, easy is not the word to describe the work involved.

Lie Number 3. It will make you a better writer. Okay, I’m not saying that blogging will make you a worse writer, but what’s the goal here? Blog writing and novel writing are two completely different things. It has, in fact, taken me nearly a year to figure out how to write blogs. Don’t believe me? Check out this blog where I explain the torture that is finding your blogging voice.

Lie Number 4. It helps you build an audience. Um, no. The blog itself doesn’t help build the audience. All the work around the blog – networking, finding similar blogs, building that author platform – that helps you build an audience.

Lie Number 5. It makes you stand out. This one makes me wonder what the person was smoking. Because everyone has a blog nowadays. How does adding your blog to the sea of blogs out there make you stand out? Please, someone, explain this to me because I’m obviously doing everything wrong.

Lie Number 6. You’ll make some money. Seriously? Well, I guess ‘they’ never defined how much money. Sure, you can make some cash with your blog, but to make serious money, you need to put in serious time. You’ll also need to balance the appearance of ads with how it effects the look and feel of your blog. I’ve personally chosen not to have any ads on my blog (except for those WordPress ones I can’t avoid), because I think a lot of blogs get carried away with advertisements.

Lie Number 7. You’ll become more comfortable with being known. Oh wait, that’s actually true. Scratch that.

Lie Number 87. It makes you happy. I’m not even touching that lie with a ten-foot pole. No. Just no.

Yeah, so this is just a funny post that I dictated while walking the dog the other morning. And man, do you get funny looks if you dictate to your phone in a foreign language while in the park. Anyway, this post is also meant as a cautionary tale. Blogging is harder than it looks. Know the ‘facts’ before you get started or you’ll end up like those other so-called bloggers who haven’t updated their blog in years.

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Nasty comments and what to do about them #Blogging #Cyberbully #AmReading

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for a fun post. Unfortunately, not everything in life is fun and, in fact, a whole bunch of stuff is decidedly not fun. So, I thought I’d take this day to talk about something unfun with which I could use some help. I can totally admit I don’t know everything and do need help sometimes. Not that I always listen but, anyway, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

In addition to this blog, I have another blog (Readsalot) which has the sole purpose of promoting other (indie) writers. I try to promote books and writers who I believe my readers will enjoy. Of course, I also look for authors who I think have it going on – covers that look professional, well-written and typo-free synopses, etc. But now I’ve run into a problem I don’t know how to handle.

I share my blog postings on my Facebook Readsalot page as well (because I’m awesome like that). On a Facebook post promoting a book, someone commented: “Shit book. Not even worth the cup of coffee it sits under.” Um… what?

I wasn’t sure what to do and as it was 6 o’clock in the morning and the comment had been there all night, I was a bit panicked that I needed to do something – right now. But what? Luckily, my husband lives in a time zone that’s two hours ahead of mine (and he often has early flights so I can totally bug him at 4 a.m. if I want). My husband asked whether the comment was constructive. Nope, not at all. His answer was unequivocal. Then delete it. So, that’s what I did. I also sent a private message to the person to let him know I deleted his comment as it wasn’t constructive and explaining that the page is meant to promote others. I told him he’s welcome to comment, but comments need to be constructive.

Apparently, I’m now a liberal beaner (whatever that means) because I don’t want any nasty stuff on my Facebook page. As I promised not to get political on my blog, I’ll leave that comment right there.

I’m convinced I did the right thing. I have no problem with debating issues, books, movies, archaic tennis rules, you name it. There are those who would argue that I in fact get off on debating. But throwing out nasty comments benefits no one. Have we learned nothing from the recent elections? Oops! There I go getting political again. I think the above comment fits into the category of nasty remarks that people feel free to post online but would never say to someone in person. And that’s what it’s all about for me. If you wouldn’t say the words out loud to the person at whom they are aimed, then you shouldn’t post the remark online. End of.

What do other bloggers think? Should I allow these types of non-helpful comments?

How to do an author interview #WriterWednesday #AuthorMarketing #Amwriting

I spend time every day working on my Readsalot blog. I use the blog to help promote other (indie) writers. Part of that promotion often turns into author interviews. I am no way an expert on marketing, PR or any other field in which interviews would fall. I am, however, a big reader. Like, seriously, I average reading a book a day. What can I say? I don’t like television, and my husband lives in another country. I am always searching for another read. It’s second nature to me. Even if my Kindle is full of sample chapters and unread books, I’m checking out books and authors.

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I think this gives me enough authority to comment on what makes a good author interview from a reader’s perspective. (The last point below is probably more from a writer’s perspective, but we’ll just ignore that, shall we?) So, without further ado, here are my pointers on how to do an author interview:

author interview 2Do not repeat your author summary. It’s absolutely shocking how many authors merely repeat information from their author summary in their answers. I’m reading this interview because I want to know more information about the author. If an author can’t bother to come up with original information for an interview, I have to wonder how original their novel is.

Do not repeat your answers. Over the course of your author career, you are going to do a lot of author interviews. Often, these interviews occur over the same time period while you’re promoting a new release. There’s nothing worse (okay, world hunger and slavery and all that is way worse, but you get where I’m coming from) than following a blog tour and seeing that every interview contains the same questions and answers. BOR-ING! Now I know a lot of bloggers have a standard list of questions, and these questions overlap with other bloggers’ questions. I also know that most bloggers provide a long list of questions and ask the author to answer at least five questions. Pick different questions! And make sure your answers vary! My favorite book is never the same.

Be fun or at least interesting. I’m probably going to piss off a few people here, but I can’t seem to help that (contrary to what people think I do not live to argue). Yes, being a writer is a business as well as a creative outlet. Being a business and trying to make money in the form of royalties is serious stuff. Still, nothing turns me off more than an interview that is super serious. Life is serious enough (and beyond scary at the moment). If you write non-fiction, then by all means, go to town with your seriousness. If you write fiction, on the other hand, there’s no reason to be somber. You don’t need to be funny (although that’s my preference) but interesting and definitely not dull would be great and will likely pique my interest in your book.

author interview 3Don’t brag. There’s nothing worse for me than reading an author interview in which the author claims to have NEVER gotten a bad review. Seriously? I immediately jump to conclusions. Obviously, she doesn’t have many reviews. And all of the reviews must be from family and friends. Instead of going to Amazon to check out the book, I’m on there reading and analyzing the reviews. Is that a friend of family member who wrote that one? You might say I’m obsessed and you wouldn’t be completely wrong.

That’s it for now but y’all know I’ll be back in a few months with another ‘rant’ about author interviews. Live and learn and all that.

 

Super easy blogging tip: Adding a Site Icon to your WordPress Blog #MondayBlogs #Blogging

I spend a lot of time reading and just generally checking out blogs from book reviewers and other writers. My husband probably thinks I spend what too much time on my WordPress app while those who are fervent believers in the so-called author platform would argue I need to spend way more time communing with my blogger brethren. But that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve recently noticed quite a few bloggers don’t have a Site Icon. Back up – I hear you shout. What’s a Site Icon (also known as a favicon)? I admit to having to look the term up. In my notes, I used the term ‘icon thingy’. Anyway, a site icon is the tiny image on the left side of your website title in the browser. If you use WordPress, but don’t add your own Site Icon, you’ll see a tiny image of the WordPress logo here.

It’s possible, with just a tiny bit of work, to add your own Site Icon. But why should you?

  1. Professionalism – Having a site icon makes your website, and thus you, look like you’ve got it going on. Go you!
  2. Recognition – If your author brand has an icon or image with which it is associated, using this image as a Site Icon increases the recognition of your author brand. Win! Win!
  3. Visibility – Some of us always have like thirty tabs open (I closed a bunch of embarrassing tabs to take the picture below). If you use a Site Icon, your blog is easier to recognize. This also decreases the chance of accidental closure. Please tell me I’m not the only one constantly closing the wrong browser tab?

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Now that you’ve decided that Yes! You are going to add a Site Icon, you need to figure out how to do that. It’s easy. Seriously, I did it so how hard can it be?

Step 1. Make a favicon image.

Do you have an image with which you associate your author brand? I use the image from my Death by Cupcake series. It’s a knife stabbing a cupcake with some blood added in for effect. You’ll need to find an image that’s small yet detailed enough to be decipherable on a browser tab. According to WordPress, the image must be square and at least 512 pixels wide and tall. I used a rectangular image and WordPress helped me crop the image into a square.

Step 2. Add the image to your WordPress blog.

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If you’ve got your image figured out, this is the easy part. Just go to My site > Settings > General tab. Upload your picture, hit save settings, and voila! You now are the proud owner of a Site Icon. Go you!

 

 

How living in the Netherlands has reduced me to poverty #ExpatLiving #FridayFun

Okay, that’s a complete lie. I’m not poor or anything. In fact, I continue to argue with Dutch people about how their definition of ‘poor’ isn’t correct because having health care, a place to live, food to eat, and being able to go on vacation isn’t poor. And there I go – off on a tangent again. (FYI: It’s nice out here in tangent land. There’s a purple sky and everything.) What am I really talking about? I am referring to the fact that living in the Netherlands – a country where I speak the language and nearly everyone speaks English – is resulting in my disposable income disappearing faster than a piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party.

Here’s my proof that living in the The Netherlands is way expensive.

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Just a small selection of books I’ve recently acquired

Books, books, books. My life is all about books – reading them, writing them, smelling them, and sometimes just holding them to cop a feel. Not only does every bookstore in the Netherlands have an English section (as well as French and other romance languages), the little kiosks always have English magazines and newspapers as well as English paperbacks of the current bestsellers. As if that weren’t enough to stretch my pocketbook, The Hague also has an American Bookstore chock-full of English books and a used book section. They should have never put those chairs in the used book section. I never want to leave!

 

poverty 3Television. The Dutch only dub kiddie shows. All the American sitcoms and drama series are in the original language with Dutch subtitling. Even better? I can read Dutch so I can also watch the German krimis and French movies without taxing my limited vocabulary in those languages. All of this resulted in me getting an expensive television packet to make sure I got all of the good channels and had a huge hard drive to record tons of shows. I should probably be embarrassed over my excitement on having Discovery Science and the Travel Channel, but I’m not.

Social Life. Being totally honest here, I didn’t have much of a social life in Turkey. My hubby worked a ton of weird hours and getting around in the huge city was a pain in the butt for Turks and foreigners alike. You haven’t experienced traffic until it takes you three hours to drive 40 kilometers in the middle of the night. So now I’m living in a country where the beer is a reasonable price (in comparison with Istanbul), but I’m still spending more money because I can walk outside my door and be in the city center in twenty minutes – less if I take the bus (which – get this – comes when it’s supposed to).

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There’s a gala every year. Seriously.

Expats. I’m not an expat. Not really. My husband is Dutch, I have a Dutch passport, and we plan on settling here for the rest of our lives or until I …er… we get jumpy feet – whatever comes first. That doesn’t mean I’m not involved with the expat community. Living in a city like The Hague, which is filled to the gills with foreigners, it’s hard to avoid the expat community. And, let’s face it, it’s easy to make friends with the expat community. But there’s one big problem with the expat community – money. Expats have a better than average income to put it mildly, which means a lot of their activities are kind of pricey. And then there are the philanthropic activities. Apparently, expats do not adhere to the proverb – You can’t help everyone.

 

There you have it! Living in the Netherlands is expensive. And totally awesome. Don’t forget that part.