Revisiting the Blog…Again

I feel like I do this every year, either in December or January–come around and take another look at what I’m doing with my blog. I just spent an hour or so updating my website (about time!), and–boy–looking around, it was clear that I’m not blogging the way I want to. I’ve heard other people talking about this, from Kelly Fineman to Jen Robinson, both of who’s blogs I read and enjoy. So, once again, I’m trying for a reboot. I’ve got a few questions for you at the end of the post, so read through to the end. Or skip to the end, if you want.

I want to:

  • Blog regularly. At a minimum, once a week.
  • I’m going to blog shorter. Oh, sure, yes, you’ll get a thoughtful, perceptive, in-depth, long-winded post every now and then, but I’m going with the premise that shorter can be better and is definitely faster.
  • I want to do more reviews. If you look at my Reviews page, you’ll see that this isn’t a request for books. But when I fall in love with a book, I’m going to share that love.
  • I’m going to rebuild my blogroll and try to comment more. I have a great reader on my phone (WordPress), so I’ve got no excuse for saying “hi” when I stop by.
  • I’ll share more links to good posts at other blogs. It’s about a community, right? Right.

So those are my goals. And now a few questions for you.

  • Approximately how many blogs do you check in at each week (blogs, not posts)?
  • Do you prefer shorter or longer blog posts?
  • Got any favorite blogs? Please share away!

And in the spirit of my actually making the above list of goals happen, here’s a little Louis for your day…

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How I Use Facebook and Twitter…Differently

I’m sure this isn’t news to anybody, but I social-network. (Do you like the way I just turned that into a verb?!) I read blogs, post my own, play on Facebook & Twitter. I justify that I’m doing this because it’s good marketing for my book and a good way to keep up with what’s going on in the publishing industry, but at the root of it all is…I just have fun with it (criteria #1 for picking which, if any, social-networking form you want to step into).

One thing I like watching is how my own use of all these sites evolves and changes. Just as a for-example (look, another noun!), I still read lots of blogs, including the ones in my google reader as well as the ones I come across other places. I’m pretty sure, though, that I’m commenting less–either because I am busier, or because I tend to talk back & forth with a lot of the same people on Facebook and Twitter. Haven’t figured that one out for sure yet.

Anyway, thought I’d do a post not on reading blogs (redirection, much?), but another one about Facebook and Twitter–specifically on the different ways I use the two sites. So here you go…

1. For Facebook, I use the original Facebook site, both on my desktop and on my Blackberry. (Oh, yeah, did I mention the Blackberry–LOVE it!) For Twitter, I do not. Even though I’ve got my book up on my Twitter page, and it’s always fun to see that,  I do not like the interface there. Too…something? Maybe too much everything in one single thread and–even though the other stuff is often no more than a single click away, well, that’s a whole, entire click people. Don’t make me work. On my desktop, I use Tweetdeck, which lets me see regular tweets, tweets about & to me, and Direct Messages all at once, in separate columns. On my Blackberry, I’ve settled into Seesmic, despite the fact that its icon is a raccoon (not my happy animal). I like both of these apps a lot, but I’d dump both Tweetdeck and Seemic in a flash, if someone came along with a good, easy Twitter app that let me see threaded conversations in the same kind of display that Facebook uses.

2. I talk to different people. Well, okay, in essence, I pretty much talk to anybody & everybody who wants to listen. With Tweetdeck, I can send an update to Twitter AND Facebook at the same time.  But…I am one of the few people I know who plays and chats a lot at both sites. (I know you others are out there, jump in at the comments if you’re a tandem-FB/T-social networker & identify yourself!) So while I send my posts out into whichever world, I get responses and have conversations with some people on Facebook & some on Twitter. It’s one reason I have stayed with Twitter, even though I like the format less than Facebook–I have friends there that I want to keep talking to. I also really thing that I hear/learn more on Twitter about publishing and social media. I find my editors and agents there, although there are definitely some on Facebook, and I get links to more industry blogs and news. Oh, yeah, and I hear about it on Twitter first, when anybody famous dies. What’s THAT about?

3. I have different privacy “issues.” On Facebook, yes, I  have to keep going back to my privacy settings and changing things back to the way I really want them, not just some new way Facebook thinks I want them (Have you checked to make sure you are not now sharing your phone number with the entire planet?). Sure, this is a bit irritating and silly, but I hear about changes at the speed of light from other Facebook users, and–honestly–it feels more like a kind of slapstick version of 1984 to me than a really serious threat. I don’t put stuff out on the internet about myself that I don’t want people to know–which makes it my call, not Facebook’s, pretty much.

On Twitter, though, I have my tweets protected. I’m not sure what this means in terms of people who can/can’t see them, and I guess there’s something them showing up as “locked,” but again–I seem to be having plenty of conversations with people I like, so I’m not too worried about it. I do this, because it seems to be the only way not to get those “lovely” porn spammers following me. The only way I see this playing out is that, when you go to see my list of Followers, you do NOT think I’m sharing electronic lives with people who have nasty little “names” and profile pictures sharing WAY more than I want to look at. 

4. I write with people on Facebook; I chat with people on Twitter. On Facebook, writers will post that they’re digging into a project–either just to write, or with a specific goal in mind–and invite others to join in. We do, we “go away,” we write, and then we come back at a certain time to check in and post progress reports. Maybe there are people doing this on Twitter, too, but I haven’t come across it. It’s possible the threaded conversations on Facebook make it easier to see these writing gigs; I know they make it fun to participate. Oh,  yeah, and productive!

On Twitter, I have jumped into a few “formal” chats to get to know other writers and hear about what they’re doing. Different groups within the children’s writing gang (and probably a lot of others?) gets together on various days, at set times, uses a hashtag to let people find them, and chats on a set topic. So I’ll stop in at #pblitchat on Sunday night, or #kidlitchat and #yalitchat on other evenings. I don’t go every week, for sure, but it’s fun to catch up when I can.

5. I RT more than I Share. Tweetdeck makes it incredibly easy for me to retweet someone’s original tweet–it takes maybe 1/4 of a second. Seriously. Sharing on Facebook takes a couple of steps and a little more typing. Not a biggie, and if I really want people to know about something cool or important, I definitely click that Share link. But  I pass on more funny things, more links, more info on Twitter than I do on Facebook–simply because it is SO fast.

6. I “filter” just a little bit. There are times when I feel totally comfortable posting something on Facebook and maybe not so much on Twitter, so I’ll head over to Facebook and just status-update there, instead of via Tweetdeck. I don’t quite understand out why this is, what’s going on that makes me feel that way. Maybe because there are more people I know personally on Facebook? Maybe because there do seem to be fewer industry people on FB (cuz, you know, tbose guys are all reading my tweets with baited breath!), so I am at ease with a little more goofiness, a little less I-know-exactly-what-I’m-doing-out-here? Not sure. If you figure it out, let me know, okay?

I think those are the basics. I’d love to hear how you use either or both of these sites–leave a comment with your two cents. It’s social-networking, right? Jump into the conversation!

How Many Balls Should You Juggle…and Which?

Last year, I guest-posted over at Shrinking Violet Promotions about the pluses of saying Yes. I believe firmly that it’s a much better word than No. Especially when you’re talking to yourself.

But how many yes‘s can you handle? As you move further along your writing path, opportunities are going to multiply.  Here are just a few things you may want to jump into as you get deeper into your writing and your writing community:

  • Writing on multiple WIPs
  • Taking writing classes
  • Going to some writing conferences
  • Volunteering at a writing club or conference
  • Writing a blog
  • Getting out onto Facebook and/or Twitter
  • Contributing to a newsletter
  • JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP 🙂

And there are 24 hours in a day?

How many times can you say yes without feeling like those balls you have in the air are transforming into chainsaws and unhappy cats? How do you pick which things to say yes to, without a crystal ball to tell you how it will all work out.

You listen to your gut and accept that Baby Steps can win at “Mother May I” just as well as Giant Steps.

If something sounds fun or you really think it’ll help your writing (craft or career), say yes. If an opportunity has a sour “taste” to it, think twice. Or thrice. Either way, though, if you decide to go for it, remember you can go slowly. You can start with one class, not three. You can pick a local, one-day conference, not a four-day event that requires two days on a plane and another for recovery. Ask your conference coordinators if they can use another person at the registration desk, the day of the conference, instead of offering to handle catering for the entire event.

If you inch forward, even several inches at once, you get a chance to try things out, to test your gut with the reality, not just the picture your nervous imagination is painting. You’ll see what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and what makes you feel like you’re moving forward…versus hitting a dead-end.

You’ll be doing more and you’ll be enjoying it.

What about you? What yes’s are you considering this fall?

Why Blog?

Last week, around the time that Martha Alderson guest-posted over here, she and I were talking about blogging in general–why to do it, how to do it “right,” how to make your blog useful, to its readers and to yourself.

So I thought I’d talk about it a bit here. Just a bit, and then I’m going to give you some links to other people’s take on it.

I first started blogging for fun and to connect with other kids’ writers. I still have this other blog, where I talk more about my own projects–the ups and downs–and just silly life stuff.  This blog totally met its objectives–I’ve “met” such wonderful writers there (and even met some of them in person, too). I get support and education about writing for kids. And, honestly, I just have fun blogging.

Then I got the contract with Writer’s Digest to write The Critiquer’s Survival Guide, and I started thinking about promotion. Frankly, it’s a bit tough to think about blogging to promote your book, or yourself, but—equally frankly, it’s the smart thing to do. In my first blog entry here, I talked about what I wanted to do with this new blog. My overall goal is to provide truly helpful, supportive information about writing, marketing, and–yes–critiquing. I hope the blog becomes something just as important for my readers as it is for me.

And, yes, I want to keep having fun with both blogs.

I browsed around the web and found out a bit more about blogging–different reasons for doing it and some good ways to make your blog helpful. Take a look & see what these people have to say.

And let me (and everyone else!) hear from you. Do you blog? Why? What’s the best tip you’ve ever received about how to blog? Feel free to drop the URL to your blog in with your comment!