Time Off is Necessary.

If you’re like me, you take writing (or whatever hobby you happen to be into) seriously.  If I’m not actively writing, I’m usually editing.  If I’m not editing, I’m always marketing – usually in the form of Tumblr, facebook or similar.  In my loosely defined yearly ‘schedule,’ it is rare then, then I have long breaks or gaps.  My definition of  ‘long’ BTW, translates somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 weeks.  I like my mini-breaks (mostly because they coincide with an actual vacation), but sometimes it’s nice to wake up on a weekend and not feel the need to open my laptop and get down to business.  Call me lazy, but by mentally allowing myself a break, I can indulge in chilling out, having no agenda, and doing whatever the hell I want.

And of course, when I allow myself to relax, new ideas seem to come forward without so much as trying.  Hubs and I were lucky enough to travel to both Dubai and South Africa (to help celebrate friends’ weddings – yay!) and during the trip came up with:  a unique website idea, a children’s book (which became a running inside joke throughout the trip), and a television show (hello, Travel Channel).  A prior holiday yielded an idea for a podcast (not that we’ve done anything about it…).  I think the ideas this time around might marinate for awhile, but I do want to eventually get to them – especially the kids book.

Now, if I could just ensure that I get an idea for a sequel I need to write during an upcoming trip to the States in July, that would be awesome…

This name is relevant, I promise.

Are you type A enough like me to actually schedule time off?  Daily procrastination on the internet does not count.

 

Three Fates – Book Review.

I’m not entirely sure how I found Three Fates by Nora Roberts, but after reading the summary (a combination of romance, the Fates, and historical objects), I pretty much had to purchase the novel.  After all, based on the short description, I felt like this book would be a good fit for my own (hypothetical) readers.  Furthermore, as Ms. Roberts is a very successful author, I was interested to see how she handled one of my favorite mythological subjects.

While some readers might get a bit annoyed with the constant analogies and conversation about fate and destiny, I, of course, enjoyed every second of it.  The momentum was fairly decent and I liked most of the characters.  Furthermore, Ms. Roberts did an excellent job of handling seven main characters (plus additional supporting cast).  As I am always trying to balance and better develop my own group, I was impressed by her ability to easily and clearly define personalities, all while moving the story forward.  The ending was predictable, the romance was hot and overall, while not entirely the same as my own Fates project (thank goodness!), I was glad I paid over my usual price for a e-book.

So, who would I recommend the book to?  As I am not well read on the rest of Ms. Roberts’ library, I can’t definitively say the rest of her readers would enjoy this novel.  Additionally, while the novel has many elements of a thriller, I think the romantic storylines might turn off a potential reader.  As I’m sure Nora Roberts has no problem selling books, I don’t think she would have the same concerns I do about attracting as many audience members as possible.  As I returned to the Amazon page for the book, I read over the reviews (mostly positive, and plenty of them) and tried to find other books similar to this one, unfortunately, the ‘Readers who bought this…’ category listed only Nora Roberts books and no others.

I'm not really sure how this is a cover. It has literally NOTHING to do with the book.

Or this…

I want to be such a successful author that I do not require cover art!

The book, however, did come with some wonderful quotes about my favorite trio, so I thought I would share them with you:

“The first, who held the spindle spoke, ‘I spin the thread, but you will make what you will.’  The second held a silver tape for measuring and said, ‘I mark the length, but you use the time.’  And the third, with her silver scissors, told me this, ‘I cut the thread for nothing should last forever.  Don’t waste what you are given.:

“None could function alone.  A thread might be spun, but endlessly and without purpose or its natural course.  Or without the spinning, there’s nothing to measure, nothing to cut.  Three parts – one purpose.”

“We can’t escape fate, but we can do a great deal to carve our own mark in it – to turn it to our advantage or disadvantage.”

Over the years of working on this project, I’ve collected heaps of quotes about the Fates, maybe I’ll share them one day soon!

How much is too much social media?

As a self published author, there really is no choice but to market yourself.  I suppose you could have an amazing book that relied solely on word of mouth, but I’m not sure hiding under a rock and waiting for the world to embrace your tome is going to translate to great riches and book sales.  The other side of that spectrum is the one I feel I’m currently inhabiting, which feels like social media overload.

This is a current list of what I’m updating (on a weekly, daily or monthly basis):

This blog
Twitter account
Pinterest boards dedicated to respective projects (currently 4)
Facebook page for Ann Benjamin
Facebook page for YA series
Tumblr account for Marching Arts Photography
Tumblr account for Hotels
SheWrites Account (rarely updated, but linked to my blog)
Amazon Author page (linked to marching Tumblr account)
YouTube – YA Series specific, very rarely updated
Fanfiction account – yes, this can drive traffic to my original work
Figment / Inkpop Account – for YA series only
Vimeo – YA Series specific, would expect to start account under Ann Benjamin once book trailers are created

I know for a fact that the marching Tumblr has translated into more (if not significantly more) sales for my YA works.  The marching Tumblr has grown in leaps and bounds, and I am appreciative of each of my 2752 followers (as many of them have purchased my novels and given positive feedback).  Given the demographic I’m targeting for my Ann Benjamin books skews higher than the average age of Tumblr (which I would guess is 19), I’m not sure the effort is going to pay off in the same way.  Still, it’s the kind of mindless adding and reblogging that I can do almost anywhere, so I’ll probably continue it for the time being.

Having started Twitter in January, I’m not particularly convinced having an account is going to do something spectacular for me.  Then again, maybe I’m doing it wrong.  Basically, I’ve got Twitter in advance of contacting every hotel and travel connection I can once Room 702 is out for publicity.  Until then, the effort seems rather pointless.  Where Tumblr attracts people (and potential readers) interested in a particular subject, Twitter comes off as weirdly narcissistic and I feel like I’m back in high school, watching the “cool kids” (celebrities) exclude almost everyone else.

Facebook is ubiquitous and I would argue, at least worth having a presence.  I’ve actually linked my Twitter (which is connected to the WordPress account) to the facebook page, so at least the account looks active.  Additionally, a box for my Facebook page appears on both my blog and my Tumblr account.  Again, as I’ve seen growth for my YA stuff from Tumblr to facebook, I think I’m happy to keep up the relationship between the two.

Finally, and most recently, is Pinterest, which has been getting a lot of hype among authors and other branding specialists.  At the moment, I have dedicated boards to my various projects, but I don’t believe anyone is following them purely because of their interest in my upcoming work.  However, I love being able to virtually collect all my ideas, so absolutely plan on keeping this account active.

Pretty much on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts?  Is there an obvious form of social media I’m missing?  Or is a combination of sites the best way to build an audience?

Try This, Not That.

Try This, Not That.  Original article found here.

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After Katniss, can we get Alanna?

For all the faults I have with the adaptation of the Hunger Games to screen, I still love Katniss Everdeen as a protagonist.  My love of kick ass young women mostly stems from the Alanna quartet by the fantastic Tamora Pierce.  Ms. Pierce has written other novels in the Tortall universe, but the original series will always have a special place in my heart.  So, I have to wonder in Hollywood’s constant need to minimize risks, if they would start looking for other similar stories.  While Alanna’s world does not fall in a dystopian future, I think there is enough of an overlap for audiences to respond to her story.  Additionally, with the continued success of Game of Thrones, I think the time is right to adapt The Song of the Lioness to screen (or HBO series).

I chose the French cover because it looks more bad ass.

What book or series are you desperate to see adapted to screen?

Author Inspired Field Trips.

More so than today (hello, time), when I was younger I was a voracious reader.  From learning to read my first chapter book (Charlotte’s Web), I had particular favorites growing up.  Maybe every young girl goes through this face, maybe they don’t, but I latched onto Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series and didn’t let go.  I was fascinated by stories of her youth.  So, at some point in my life I can’t wait to make a trip to revisit some of the moments.  A brief search on google reveals there is a tour company that runs a four day trip through much of the territory Laura covered in her youth.  Definitely adding it to the bucket list!

Looking forward to my visit!

Additionally, I’ve shared my love of Maud Hart Lovelace in an earlier post, and don’t think my life will be complete without a trip to Mankato (near Minneapolis) and later Los Angeles to see where the author grew up and was inspired to write the Betsy-Tacy series.  Living abroad, both of these trips seem a bit far in the future, but I am looking forward to paying homage to the writers who inspired me to read and start writing from an early age.

 

Has any author inspired you in a similar way?

“God” books – why I avoid the faith genre.

Let’s face it, there are genres for nearly everyone’s taste.  Books galore.  Thousands of topics to choose from.  Fiction.  Non-fiction.  Biographical.  Textbooks.  The list goes on and on.  As readers, we can step into basically any world we want.  While I personally choose romance (Regency or other historical varieties are preferred) for what I like to refer to as ‘mind candy’ (my mental equivalent of Jersey Shore) and read thrillers as continual ‘research’ for the Fates project, there are certain genres I stay well away from.

One of those is faith.

This is my face when I read faith based fiction.

It’s rare that I accidentally purchase or download one these books, but when I do…meh.  Literally, at the moment a character goes off to some special internal religious place or thanks God or Jesus for getting them through whichever rough patch they’ve been through, I immediately stop reading.  If the book is romantic in nature, inevitably, the love interest with be a lapsed Christian who needs to find his way back into the fold.  Through prayer or some minor miracle, he (or she) will regain a deeper sense of peace and self once they return to the church.  Some authors are sneaky about weaving religion into the novel, and until they openly bring in faith, I feel suckered into having read further than I normally would.

I’ve tried.  I’ve really attempted to get into a few of the higher ranked Christian fiction novels, but haven’t found any I’ve connected with.  I suppose I should be more equal opportunity and give Judaic or Muslim centered fiction a shot as well, I’ve just never really run across any.  Ultimately, the only religious book I’ve ever enjoyed was Herman Hesse’s Siddartha.

Is there something I’m missing?  Or, is my mostly agnostic self never going to be able to connect to these characters and stories, no matter how well written they are?  Overall, I could understand a character questioning their place in the universe and (fictional) spiritual development, but I just don’t think I’m ever going to find a book in the genre that speaks to me.  Furthermore, I’m trying to think of any recent faith novel that’s crossed over to major success in publishing and coming up short.  Readers speak with their money and in fiction at least, religion doesn’t seem to lead to the top of any chart.