Tag Archive for: blogs

Why Do You Read Blogs? by Debra H. Goldstein

Why Do You Read Blogs? by Debra
H. Goldstein

In the past, I’ve written about the reasons I write blogs.
Some include interacting with readers, hoping to attract new readers, sharing
my thoughts in a forum that reaches more people than journaling would, and
because I enjoy it.

I also subscribe to several blogs and read them religiously
for their humor, insight, or because I like the people who write them. At this
point, I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t sign up for another blog, but I
feel an obligation to follow friends or people who interest me. Of course, if
they tend to be too longwinded, I merely glance at the heading and hit delete
(do you ever do that?).


To me, the soft spot for a blog is 300-500 words. Just
enough to take in immediately. Just enough to make one major point that the
reader should leave with. Although a lot of bloggers do giveaways or share
personal tidbits, that’s not why I follow them (okay, maybe for the personal
tidbits. Let’s be honest, I also read People magazine and TV Guide from cover
to cover).


Why do you read blogs? Why do you follow this specific
blog? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my new Sarah Blair mystery,
Four Cuts Too Many (mass market or e-book, but U.S. only). I’ll look forward to
reading your answers.

Are Blogs Passe?

Blogs Passe? by Debra H. Goldstein

When my first book, Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the
University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s was about to be published, I was
advised to quickly create a website, social media presence, and a blog. The
result was:
Twitter: @DebraHGoldstein
Personal blog, “It’s Not
Always a Mystery” – www.DebraHGoldstein.com/blog
I was set, or so I
thought. What I discovered during the time that elapsed between the original
publication of my 2012 IPPY award winning Maze
in Blue
, its reissuance by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery as a May 2014
selection, and Five Star’s 2016 publication of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players
, was that technology changed what was needed to attract readers. Websites
had to be more interactive and mobile friendly, pictures and crafts demanded a
presence on Instagram and Pinterest, and besides having a personal blog, it was
beneficial for emotional support and reaching other readers to be part of a
group blog, like The Stiletto Gang.
Of course, even though it
meant redesigning my website, devoting more time to social media, and writing
three blog posts a month (I write the
Stiletto Gang
blogs posted on the 2nd and 4th Fridays
of the month and alternate having a guest post or one by me every other Monday
for It’s Not Always a Mystery), I
complied. In my free time, I enjoyed life, produced twenty short stories that
have been published and a few still looking for a home, and wrote the first
book for a new series that will soon be shopped by my agent.
In five years, both the
world of publishing and suggested means of connecting with readers has

significantly. One of the most discussed things is the role of the blog. Some
argue, there are simply too many, so none are being read. Others contend blogs
are the only thing giving readers a consistent way of interacting with an author
by providing an opportunity to read and comment on their thoughts and

Personally, making blog
deadlines is sometimes onerous, but I’m always glad when I complete one. I like
sharing a bit of myself with you. I also enjoy reading blogs written by others.
I always read everyone’s postings on The Stiletto Gang because we are all so
different. Although I may not always write a comment on the blog itself or when
it is reprinted on our Facebook page, I respect and value the different views
we express.
But, what do you think
about blogging? Do you think they have served their purpose? Do you look
forward to them? Do you prefer ones written by individuals like It’s Not Always a Mystery or group blogs
that appear more often, but are written by more authors like The Stiletto Gang?  

Bethany’s Rules for Marketing

by Bethany Maines

In my quest for world book domination I frequently peruse
tips on how to better market myself/books. 
Some come up with some interesting strategies that are worth pursuing
and then there’s this list…
I won’t mention the name of the blog I found it on because I
don’t believe in public shaming.  But let’s
just assess a few of the items on this list shall we? 
Comment on Blogs – The
theory is that you will become recognized and friends with other blog
commenters as well as those running the blog and then you will RISE TO
FAME!  Or… not.  Of course, having additional friends will help
you expand your fan base.  But pursuing
that strategy for the sake of selling books is so lacking in any genuine
feeling that it will actually turn people against you. 
Bethany Rule #1 –
always be your best self online.  Only
comment on a blog if you have something interesting and positive to add to the
conversation. Trolls don’t sell books.
Create a Viral Video –
Let’s just hop right on that shall we? 
We’ll get out or cell phones and film our cats and then, bam, done!  As this article on
indicates, only 10% of YouTube videos get more than 1000 views.  Videos these days are higher in quality and
there a simply MORE of them out there than in the beginning days of social
media. Here’s my attempt at a viral video
– it’s awesome, you should watch it.  But
I only paid for food for the crew and a make-up artist to make the video
happen, everything else was done in trade. 
I felt comfortable with my investment  and I view the video as a great sales tool to
introduce people to my book series, but I never counted on it going viral. 
Bethany Rule #2 –
if you have to pay a lot of money for a product that you’re going to giveaway
for free, it’s probably not worth it.
Go on National TV – Yup,
I’m just going to dial up Oprah right now, promise her some bread, and book
myself on National TV.  Getting air time,
particularly on a National level, is one of the things that happens when you’re
ALREADY famous.  There’s a reason Donald
Trump has ceased to advertise.  He’s
getting 15% of the national news time (according to a recent news piece I saw
on my local news) and 50% of the election coverage.  He doesn’t NEED to advertise.   I’m not recommending that you be Donald Trump
– one is more than enough – but being getting air time is something that you
either pay for, or you get because your famous for something already.

Rule #3 –
work to be
locally famous.  Join groups.  Send press releases.  Volunteer to judge writing contests.  Talk to people.  Network and connect – people sell books.

The internet is full of many tips, some are more helpful than others.  I just hope that you find mine a little more helpful than the one from the blog that shall remain nameless.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Tales from the City of
and An Unseen Current.
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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I Don’t Want to Blog Today by Debra H. Goldstein

I don’t want to blog today.

Plain and simple – I’m tired, cranky, out of ideas, and grumpy (is that the same as cranky?). I want to be snowed in so nothing will prevent me from lighting a fire, covering myself with Joel’s Alabama afghan, and either putting on a TV show DVR’d during the past the two weeks or finishing the Janet Bolin book I’m halfway through. It isn’t to be.

The book, TV shows, blanket and electric fireplace are all there waiting for me, but I live in the South so, thank goodness, the snow idea is out of the picture. Plus, I have lunch and afternoon meetings beginning two hours from now and then we’re hosting a dinner for twelve (don’t worry, we made reservations). Today is typical of my schedule for the past two weeks. Consequently, I don’t want to blog today.

Up to now, I haven’t minded that my days have been filled with meetings, doctor appointments, house guests, exercise classes, attending two wonderful mystery conferences (Murder in the Magic City and Murder on the Menu), visiting and hanging with dear friends, submitting a proposal, laundry and other mundane things. Add in attending a funeral, moderating a charity debate on the value of latkes vs. hamentashen, and judging a children’s writing contest and you can understand why I’ve been a little short of sleep. I haven’t had time to write a single word even though I know there are short story submission deadlines I would like to meet (I understand it helps to write the short story first) and a revision idea begging me to address it in the new novel I’m almost finished drafting.

I don’t want to blog today, but I will. That’s what writers do.

Debra H. Goldstein is the author of 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue.  Her second mystery, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery will be published by Five Star Publications in 2016. Her most recent short story, Power Play, appears in the new edition of The Birmingham Arts Journal (Volume 11, Issue 4 – 2015). Whether or not she wants to blog or introduce you to a guest blogger, you can find her thoughts expressed as a member of The Stiletto Gang every 2nd and 4th Friday and every other Monday on “It’s Not Always a Mystery”- http://debrahgoldstein.wordpress.com.

I Owe, I Owe, So Off to Blog I Go!

By Laura Spinella
Panic mode. I owe a blog. It’s two plus weeks until Christmas; I haven’t bought a single gift, and I owe a blog. My regular part-time job at the newspaper stops for no one. Ever work at a newspaper? News staffs endure worse hours than the ER at Cook County Hospital. My beat, while a tad tamer, isn’t much different with two front-burner stories slated for my byline. News stops for nothing, certainly not holidays, and definitely not a blog. But never mind that, I still owe one.

A couple of weeks ago, a dream job that is a dotted line to the publishing world fell into my lap. I’m not at liberty to spill the details, but let’s just say you couldn’t make it up. Hopefully, it will replace the newspaper gig, but in the meantime, I get to do both. Oh, yay! That and I also get to write a blog. So far, the new job is crazy hectic with bizarro hours and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants directives. I’m okay with that. While I wait for the Lifetime people to call, I can busy myself with a cash-in-hand challenge. The perks are kind of cool. Just this week, I spoke with two bestselling authors! Very nice peeps, those mega bestsellers. I get to do the new job from home, which you’d also think would be a plus. Actually, it’s been the bump in the road. Book writing and newspaper work moves at my pace, meaning I deal with interruptions as they pop up. There’s something about a six-month old kitten flying across your keyboard while taking copious author notes that isn’t quite as cute as it sounds. Well, like anything new, glitches are to be expected. In between working the insane and fascinating new job, I owe a blog.

Add to this the endless treadmill of promoting BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. (makes a great holiday gift!)I went on a binge a few weeks back and sent copies to bloggers we’d missed during its debut. I haven’t heard back from all of them, but one did manage to put it on her radar. Happily, luckily, gleefully, she found favor with the book. And while I could have spent a good chunk of this week trading complimentary emails with her, I had zero time penciled in for self-adoration. Two, “I need it yesterday,” jobs, plus, you guessed it, I owe a blog. Of course, strategically woven into the psychedelic tapestry of my day is a WIP. This past Tuesday, I started feeling the stress of my Ringling Brothers juggling act. I was tearing through a late chapter revision, having changed the name of a minor character. I’d decided too many characters’ names started with a vowel. A seared-to-my-mind memory from a book club reader prompted this fear: “I would have enjoyed your book more, but so many of the characters names started with an M, I got confused.” (I’m sure as an author you eventually reach a place where crap like this doesn’t stick. I’m not there yet.) So along with banning the letter M from my WIP, at least concerning names, I launched a preemptive strike to keep complaints about vowel sounds to a minimum. Only after completing the change did I realize I’d given both the character and Isabel’s cat the same name. What a mess. But I couldn’t fix it, as the alarm had sounded announcing the afternoon session of musical jobs. No worries, I’ll get back to my WIP soon. There I’ll spend a chunk of coveted writing time with a 377 page, one-by-one search and replace. In fact, I’ll relish it, because despite cash flow or an incredible opportunity, that WIP is what gets me moving. It’s important not to lose sight of that. A little stressed, slightly overwhelmed, wishing Rudolph would postpone until Valentine’s Day, I’ll still be excited to sit down with it. And I’m going to do just that… You got it, as soon as I don’t owe a blog. 
Happy Holidays to my fellow Stiletto Gang and all our wonderful readers!

Walking Naked Through the Mall

by Susan McBride

My good buddy Maggie Barbieri emailed the other day to say she’d had a dream about walking naked through the mall, and her husband had very astutely remarked, “You must be feeling vulnerable.” Which got me to thinking that as a writer in today’s instantly-connected society, I feel like I’m walking naked through the mall just about everyday!

I often say to my husband, “Someday, I just want to write and not worry about the other stuff.” Because I do worry, way too much. But that’s how it goes these days when you’re still building a career and haven’t quite reached the New York Times bestsellers list (and, perhaps, even after you have). When I daydream, I imagine doing nothing but composing more novels and enjoying my real-life without so many other frantic items on my to-do list. And the only instance when I’d feel especially vulnerable would be the release date for my latest opus, when I wonder how my readers will react.

In days of yore (okay, like ten years ago), everyone seemed to be reading their daily newspapers and most people depended on those for book reviews. Not today. The new daily paper is the Internet, for me and for a lot of other people around the planet. So turning on the computer, booting up, and getting online is what slapping open newsprint with our cereal used to be.

There are tons of web sites and blogs offering information and opinions. It’s almost scary how quickly “news” appears. Folks can pick up a book and review it within minutes after they’ve turned the last page. Interviews and articles can pop up within 24-hours and can remain cached for years and years and years.

So what makes me even more nervous than having to speak in front of 300 people at a fundraiser or appear on a local TV segment is my presence everyday on the Web. And it’s not just about seeing negative reviews (although that’s never pretty, and I’d love to tell the mean reviewers who ruin things for everyone by spilling plot points to go to–well, you get my drift).

I’m one of those “foot in mouth” people who speaks from the hip (and the heart). I don’t work from a script. What you see is what you get, and I know that–in the past–my bluntness has upset a few people. I tend toward sarcasm, and not everyone likes or gets that kind of humor. So every time I post on Facebook or write a blog entry (like this!), I hold my breath and hope that no one sends me hate mail.

I even debate whether or not to comment on posts at the various blogs I like to visit throughout the day. I’ve seen name-calling and flame wars in some comment sections that scorched my eyebrows. It’s gotten nasty out there, and often I decide to keep my opinion to myself, if only for my own peace of mind. I don’t think they make flak vests yet to wear when you’re online, ones that deflect angry rhetoric rather than bullets. Until they do, I’m going to try to stay out of conflict. I do love words, but I want to use them to tell stories, not to argue with someone I’ve never met face to face.

Even emails can make me nervous, especially the ones that come through my web site and seem to be waiting in my in-box every morning. Opening these are like tearing through wrapping paper on Christmas gifts. What will I get? Pearls? Or coal? A lovely note from a mystery fan who wonders if I’ll be writing any more Debutante Dropout books? (Sadly, no, I won’t be, not in the near future anyway.) Or a newly-divorced woman over-forty who discovered The Cougar Club and wants to say “thank you” because it hit the right spot? (Man, I love those!) Or an invitation to speak, a message from a childhood friend, an inquiry about foreign rights? (Thank heavens for web sites! Lots of wonderful gigs, friendships, and even business connections come to pass because of it.)

Or will it be a list of typos from my backlist mysteries (how I wish I could correct those after my books are in print, but I can’t)? Or might the message be like a finger shaken at me, describing something that made someone mad (say, a reader didn’t appreciate the opinion of a character so I emailed back to explain, “I’m sorry this struck you wrong, but I can’t control everything the characters in my books say or do. Sometimes, despite my best intentions, they act in a way I don’t expect. But the way they feel doesn’t necessarily reflect how everyone feels in the book, or how I feel for that matter. Please remember that”). Sigh.

Whatever I do online, I always get a little pang in my heart as I hit “comment” or “send.” I hope I said the right thing, what I meant to say, and I worry that maybe someone will take something the wrong way. Oy. Much as I appreciate the Internet for the ease with which I can grab information and/or communicate, it still makes me a wee bit uneasy. I often feel like I’m walking naked through the mall when I’m on the Web, just as I do when a new book I’ve written is out in bookstores (and on e-readers!), completely out of my hands.

So I’m wondering, what makes you feel most vulnerable? I’d love to hear some of your “walking naked through the mall” moments, if you’re willing to share!