I jump into worlds that I know little or nothing about and write about them like I've lived in them all my life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blogging again! How can we promote more imaginatively? Do we exclude new bloggers from the blogosphere?

Hi everyone!

When I posted about blogging here recently, I've never had so many LONG comments in all my time blogging. There are many concerns in the blogosphere, as bloggers adjust to more competitive social media, all of which seem to have morphed into selling machines. Twitter, Facebook etc, and blogging are cluttered with cover reveals, blog tours, book launches. While bloggers who have/have not published books understand the need for promo, it would be sensible to tone it down somewhat. Bloggers are weary of it--not just me.

Does the one-size-fits-all approach of social media promo blind authors to other ways of selling their books? Not so long ago I posted about how my Amazon Gift Card was so fat and unwieldy, I was in the market to buy books. I asked that authors recommend their book to me--ah, no one did. Strange...missed opportunities...

But I can't let all those comments go to waste. Please go to the post if you didn't visit it, but there were many comments on topics such as promo, about what we should blog about, and sadly, new bloggers who feel they can't break in to a tightly-established community, even though they tried the A-Z.

Alex J Cavanaugh: Talking about life is always interesting. Constantly talking about one's books is not...I do intend to adjust what I post about. You're right, too many cover reveals and such. I'll still do Ninja News, letting people know about new releases, but I'd like to shift back to more movies, music, games, and science fiction stuff. And trivia! It's been so long since I did any trivia.

Hilary Melton-Bucher wrote one of the longest comments. One said: I do get bored with repetitive posts as I move from one blogger to another … blog tours I guess are a necessary evil though .. but I wish people could be creative and just not regurgitate information … 

Southpaw: Blog Tours are weird too. So many of them repeat the same thing over and over. - Ha, so I decided to have one myself. I'm trying really hard to change up the tour idea so that I don't bore people

M Pax: I don't think the blasts are a waste. The author is trying to be seen and each blog gets readers the author couldn't otherwise reach.

Stephanie Faris:  I do wish more people would focus on content rather than book reviews and book blurbs. We all have to support each other, but every post doesn't have to be a book review. 

klahanie: Call me cynical, but a number of bloggers make out they are part of a sharing, caring community when all they really want is to accumulate superficial blog follower totals. I find that very sad.

Anne Gallagher: I skip posts of cover reveals and reviews. I skip posts that are too personal (some people overshare). I skip posts that don't appeal to me. As I'm sure that's why people skip my posts as well. (I know Anne is happy for her books to slowly sell themselves. I read that on her blog awhile ago).

Medeia Sharif: I'm having a harder time reciprocating comments, but by the end of the week I'm caught up. When I visit blogs I prefer short posts. If a post is long, it needs to be very interesting to hold my attention. I've stopped visiting some blogs because of excessive wordiness. 

Michael de GesuEbook publishing has changed our world DRAMATICALLY... Now authors are publishing two-twenty books a year. It's overwhelming. Who can possibly keep up...Plus I don't really see the need for COVER REVEALS...Yes, I know they are the Craze, and God only knows how many I have featured, BUT I put some creativity into the event and if Bloggers only chose THREE MAX bloggers to feature their cover that would be MORE than enough to get the word out. Being selective would give so much more meaning to this event.

AND to do them months before the release day, to me, is crazy. Why? If you want to do a reveal do it a week before, or even a few days, Get the community excited about it, then when your book launches we will be there celebrating with you.

Nilanjana Bose: ...I did participate in the A-Z this year, and I loved the work involved and grew as a poet and blogger, but as far as community building goes I don't think much happened. Blogging communities are pretty much established by now and tend to be tightly knit, and newcomers can feel out of place.

So there you have a selection of comments. Do you agree/disagree with some points of view? How can we make blogging more interesting again? I still LOVE blogging BTW. These posts are simply about where do we go from here?

I know some author blogs are set up just to sell their books, so all posts are about their books. This is interesting, maybe, if you're really into their books, but many aren't really hosted by the author, they're hosted by a paid tech-savvy blogger. Try getting a comment returned from one of them!!

We'll never satisfy everyone--I LOVE long posts which have something to say, helping me learn more about writing, but many skip long posts due to time constraints. I find so much of interest at Anne R Allen's blog and Karen Woodward's blog--check out my blogroll in my sidebar if you haven't visited them. I keep my blogroll up to date with those bloggers who interest me. If you're not on the list, don't worry. I probably visit you all the time anyway.

I always reciprocate comments. While I'm on someone's blog, I hit a random commenter I've not met before and pay them a visit. Sometimes I find a delightful blog, other times it's all about science fiction, lol! More I keep on a blogroll at Write...Edit...Publish.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Write...Edit...Publish #flashfiction - Together Again - #magicalrealism.

Hello there!

Thanks for your awesome discussion on blogging in my last post. I learned so much about your likes/dislikes, but overall I think blogging continues to be more than worthwhile. Those of us addicted to blogging need to find ways to reduce our blogging time, which means being more selective on which blogs to visit. Most of us agreed that we now only visit those who reciprocate. I am constantly amazed by bloggers who simply post and are rarely seen in the blogosphere. Anyway...

It's time for Write...Edit...Publish again. On the third week of each month writers post to a prompt. The July prompt is A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. I have found a fantasy picture and crafted my flash fiction to encapsulate the two lovers.

Do you have a photo you'd like to share? A story? A poem that uses a picture as a prompt? Entries can be posted anytime between July 23 and 25. You are most welcome. Sign up in my sidebar and we'll be around to read your entry. 

I hope you like my story. I based it on my mother and father who began their married life living and working in the bush. I hope you find it interesting and that you leave a comment for me.




‘Let me out, driver.’ Charlotte applied her bright red lipstick, then checked her hair in her compact mirror. She caressed the gold fob watch in its velvet pouch as the bus came to a shuddering halt.
‘Are you sure, lady? If you wander into the bush, there’s a good chance you’ll never wander out again.’
‘I’ll be fine.’
‘No luggage, love?’
‘Not this trip.’
‘Are you meeting someone, then? It’s not my business, but all the houses were bulldozed years ago.’
Charlotte slipped a pill under her tongue. ‘Yes.’ She stood up.
The driver held out his hand like he was partnering her in a quadrille.
“Thanks for bringing me this far.” She gave him a tiny red rose from the posy she carried.
He twirled the flower. ‘I could come back.’  
‘Thanks. No.’ Charlotte marched away, tugging her bright red coat around her shoulders. She shivered in the balmy evening as she began the last leg of her journey.
Long ago, the track was a gravel road. There’d been shacks amongst the trees. The Baker’s cabin was the first to be razed. That unspeakable brute shot his wife, then disappeared into the bush. Could he still be out there, a hoary old hermit with filthy grey hair down to his waist?
 She walked on to Gulliriviere, named by Irish ex-convicts. How flummoxed they were by a river that bore nothing but gravel year after bitter year.
Further into the bush, she saw the desolation of the little street where houses were sacrificed for a lumber mill that was never built. Logging. Controversial even then. The eucalyptus trees rustled their arms in salute.
Peace.
Home.
But home had left. Only the scraggly beauty of nature remained. Where once their petite cottage stood smugly, framed by its white picket fence and fragrant flowers, there was … nothing.
‘Jack, there’s no clue we ever lived here … oh … but I’m wrong ... look!’
Charlotte creaked to her knees before her tatty old rose bush. She pulled out weedy grasses, revealed tiny closed buds. Ah, that earthy smell. ‘Not everything’s gone, my darling.’ She lay the posy beside the rose bush.
Charlotte stared at the red roses and recalled the twenty-three-year old girl who’d followed her love to his rough-hewn shack in Outback Queensland—a few hours’ drive to the nearest town—a light plane to Brisbane twice a year. She loved the koala who lived in the tree that shaded their cabin, she loved the solitude and yes, she even loved the big red kangaroos who desecrated her garden.
The Australian bush was a great career move. Setting up her easel amongst the trees she would paint until the sun set on the far horizon. When she’d left Paris, she was a fledgling painter. Now she was the foremost Australian painter of miniatue bush flora. Her paintings would hang in art galleries in Australia and the Musée du Quai Branly long after she was gone.
Living in the bush had been good.
Leaving it had not.
The summer of 1975. She was fifty-three years old. They’d moved to Byron Bay after their cabin was resumed. Jack flew in and out to work each week.
‘Hello, Madam Charlie,’ Jack would greet her at the airport. Tossing his duffle bag in the *boot, he’d hurry to the passenger door, wrench it open— ‘Come here my Parisian beauty,’ he’d growl, kissing her while the security guard looked the other way.
Then the arguments began.
‘No, Charlotte, I won’t retire. I’m only sixty-one. Our experiment with the new Droughtmaster breed is ongoing. When it’s done…’
She understood. Nothing would stop her painting. Her week was taken up with bushwalks, gathering specimens, then painting all afternoon and into the night …
***
Midnight. Phone call. Frank Mangin, Jack’s boss.
‘I’m sorry, Mrs Sandilands ... Jack’s gone ... Heart attack.’
The bed caught her as she fell.
‘He wasn’t alone.’
A blessing.
‘Can I call someone?’
She and Jack had been tight. Just the two of them. Riches enough. ‘Um, no.’ A weight pressed her to the bed. Clunk! The phone hit the floor.

‘Mrs Sandilands? I must call someone.’

‘No!’ She yelled into the phone. No one could put her back together again.
            She chanted in French—

Un petit d'un petit S'étonne aux Halles…( Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall)
Un petit d'un petit Ah! degrés te fallen…(Humpty Dumpty had a great fall)
Indolent qui ne sort cesse…(All the king’s horses)
Indolent qui ne se mène…(All the king’s men)

‘Mrs Sandilands! Jack had a message for you.’
Qu'importe un petit d'un petit…(Couldn’t put Humpty)

Que? What?’

‘He said, and I wrote it down—’
Continuer.’
‘Tell Charlie to come to the shack.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes. I know your home at Gulliriviere is long gone. But that’s the message.’
Merci, Frank.”
If Jack wanted her at the shack, then to the shack she would go…
***
Kneeling at the rose bush, she reached for the gold fob watch. She’d bought it years ago to give it to Jack when he retired. She took it out of its velvet pouch and let it drop into her palm. It was a work of great artistry, with minute patterns painstakingly etched into every chain link. She read the inscription: To Jack, my wild Colonial Boy! Yours ever, Charlie. XX
She brought it to her lips, kissed it. The first pain hit.
***
The rose bush bloomed with blood-red roses. The fragrance enveloped her as it mingled with sweet summer smells.

‘Charlie!’

With the sweet fragrance of roses whirling around her, she ran through the tall grasses, trailing her fingers over the white, silky flowers. The creek was just ahead, beyond the grey houses.
She hesitated at the stand of weeping willows, their lush tendrils like dishevelled hair as they caressed the surface of the water.
She saw him—her Jack—running through the willows, pushing aside the graceful drapery. He hurried towards her—arms outstretched—welcoming her home.
She held out the fob watch and beckoned her love.
They gazed into each other’s light-kissed eyes, marvelled at their sun-painted limbs, overjoyed at the beauty they saw in each other. He took the gold object from her soft, smooth hand, then they strolled away across the sparkling water, fading from sight in a gentle swirl of silvery mist.
Tout Gai de Reguennes. (Together Again).

THE END
©DeniseCCovey2014

 WORDS: 1064
*trunk
And in case anyone is put off by the MC's use of the French language, I've heard that when in distress or dying, a person returns to their native language.

Click on the names in the sidebar for more entries.

And here is the August challenge:

Photo courtesy of Artist Liz Hess 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Trouble With Blogging. Has your blog moved with the times?

The Trouble with Blogging (Another post):

I've been reading several provocative posts about  blogging lately. How about you? Those who've been around the blogs for, like, forever, know how blogging has changed--so much more competition from other social media and it can interfere with our writing life.

Blogging is arguably the most time consuming of the social media, which is possibly why bloggers are becoming more discerning about who they visit, what they post...some bloggers I know are no longer blogging at all, or very infrequently, citing time constraints, boredom with the whole blogging scenario of cover promos, book promos, helicopter raffles etc etc., which is much the same on all social media.

When I started blogging in 2007, it was exciting. I had no idea who I was in the blogging world or what I wanted out of blogging, or what I could give back. I'm none the wiser, thus my ever-changing blog. My blog posts are becoming more sporadic--IWSG and WEP take care of 2 per month, then I just have to find the other two posts. Remember the days when we all blogged at least three times a week?

A few days ago, I read a post by Karen Jones Gowen. She posted her feelings about the current state of blogging, one of the many I have read recently, but Karen's resonated with me.  Go to her post to check out the full article for her exact words. My responses to Karen's points are italicized. I hope you will add your responses in the comments.

Karen highlighted:
  • Bloggers not reciprocating visits. 
    • It is social media, so we should interact.
  • She's become more selective over time on who she visits. 
    • We have to be because of time. Also, if I comment time and again on a blog and they never reciprocate, I might keep visiting, but I rarely comment.
  • She sees too many articles on areas she's not interested in, for example, self publishing, thus she often wipes those blogs off her visiting list. 
    • This would apply to any blog whose posts hammer away at something we ourselves find boring or uninspiring. I love posts on self-publishing as I may do this one day. But we should blog about what we want to--it is our blog after all, and our own fault if no one visits us.
  • She's fascinated by life, and loves to know about meals, workplaces, shopping habits, clothes, entertainment.
    • I found this fascinating.  So, Karen, hold me back! I like gourmet meals, my favourite being baked beans on toast, yum -- my workplace is the Brisbane State Library where I tutor eager International students in English as Aussies are bored with all that education -- I am bored with shopping, but I regularly hit the Op Shops in my suburb and delight in finding a designer jacket for $10 -- I love dressing up as long as it is in torn jeans, a shirt and a vest -- my entertainment is watching all the money I save by not going to live shows grow so I can travel and really be entertained...(I hope you don't take offense Karen. Cultural differences. Aussies are rarely serious, (except when someone blows a plane out of the sky, for example), but there is truth in all my responses).
  • Karen doesn't like book reviews on blogs, which she can get on Goodreads or Amazon etc (unless it's a blog set up solely for book reviews). 
    • Who else notices that their blog comments drop when they review/promote books? But I maintain that if I read 100+ books a year, I must tell you about a few??? Sure, I can do that on Goodreads and Amazon, can't I? But I do like to help selected bloggers promote their books -- it's just one of the ways to spread the word. And it's HARD!
  • She's right into blogs that blog about things relative to the stories they write, which keep to their author persona--citing our favourite chick lit author Talli Roland, whose blog posts are life lite (my expression) as are her books. Talli blogged about her latest thoughts on blogging here.
    • Basically if you write murder mystery, Karen doesn't relate to blog posts on flowers...well, bloggers, how about poisoned poppies in Amsterdam? Or black roses?
  • If you write romantic fiction, for example, Karen suggests your blog posts should be like a romance novel come to life. 
    • Perhaps I sounded a little light hearted above (gosh, my critiquers say I keep using 'little' more than a little, ugh, but I really relate to this point). Like many bloggers, I'm not quite sure what to blog about when it's not IWSG or when I'm not sharing my flash fiction once a month (which fits my writer persona in my romantic fiction genre and probably bores you silly if you're not into romance). But as I said, once upon a time I blogged about Travel and Paris on separate blogs, but now I've decided to incorporate that type of post here on my writing blog, as I set my stories in places I've visited. At least now my blog header typifies travel and romance. I don't just travel for entertainment, I travel with the intention of writing about it for travel magazines and for enhancing my fiction and my long-term goal of writing a travel narrative. The first novel I will publish...soon...is set in Fiji, so travel posts are quite apt.
      • My next visit is most probably going to be to Cuba, which I have romanticised in my mind over the years, and Mexico, likewise. Perhaps I will share with you some stories from those countries as I research them before I hit their shores. Dare I mention that I'm currently reading a great little book on travel in Cuba, Vultures Overhead by blogger Jo Carroll? I'm learning so much as Jo has just returned from Cuba, travelling alone, brave lady, and has already written about it.
So thank you Karen. You've helped me to consolidate my thoughts a little about how to make my blog better--more interesting? less boring? thought provoking? a romance novel come to life...??? Hmmm.

  • I hope that you will leave a comment about this topic so we can learn more about the blogging world.
  • Speaking of posting, please join me for the Write...Edit...Publish challenge next week, starting on Wednesday 23rd July. The prompt--A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. Go to WEP for details and to sign up, or you can sign up here in my sidebar. Your post can fit your blog persona quite easily.





I

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Australia has just celebrated N.A.I.D.O.C week, a celebration of our indigenous culture. Here is my favourite Aboriginal protest song -- Took The Children Away - ARCHIE ROACH





Archie Roach is an icon of the Australian music industry and his honest storytelling tells the sad truth of indigenous Australia. He wrote the landmark song 'Took the Children Away' in 1990, about his own childhood and being taken by authorities from his parents to a mission.

"You took the children away, Breaking their mothers heart, Tearing us all apart" the lyrics ring.

This heartbreaking account of the Stolen Generation became the anthem of indigenous activism in Australia-- It was awarded two ARIA Awards as well as an international Human Rights Achievement Award, cementing Roach as a powerful activist and storyteller.

Through the proceeding 20 years, Roach has sung with measured reason and heartfelt sorrow of his own deep experiences, as well of those of his ancestors.

This video is interspersed with archival footage along with clips from the movie, Rabbit Proof Fence, based on the true story written by a stolen child when she grew up. 


If you haven't heard this song before, I hope you love it as much as I do.


I have been busy blogging at my English Resources blog now that school is in again. 




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG post for July - Why do we write what we write?

Hello fellow IWSG bloggers!

This month I'm thinking about how we choose what we write--genre? category? Do we stay with one kind of writing where we feel secure, or do we take risks, or is writing risk enough?

Do we write to entertain, to inform, or to reflect, or something else? Do we want to entertain readers and leave it at that? Or do we want to entertain while weaving our story around an issue? An example, Jodi Picoult, who manages to hit on a throbbing nerve in society, puts her research team to work, then crafts a weighty contemporary novel to challenge readers. (I have unfinished novels that tackle issues such as whale slaughter, Afghanistan and rape, but I don't have Jodi's research team, so progress is a little slow, lol! One day...)

I confess I read about a hundred books in a year (sleep is over rated), and my tastes are eclectic. But my favourite kind of book in whatever genre is one that challenges me, one that exposes an issue, maybe not ripping open Pandora's Box, but one that makes me think. There are a wealth of writers who do just that--Jodi Picoult (current issues), Paulo Coelho (spirituality), Emma Donoghue (female sex slaves), Caroline Overington (families ruined through Social Services), John Green (living with a terminal illness) -- and many, many more -- please add to the list in comments!

I just finished a book that left me breathless. I could hardly talk for the day or so that it took me to immerse myself in A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik. This book is haunting and haunted. It left me staring into space when I finished; that indicates the sheer power of this story. A story that Maksik was confident enough to write, to show us that bad things happen to good people and good people either survive or they don't. It deals with many issues, but a major focus is homelessness.

The narrator, Jacqueline, is a young girl who has escaped from the horrors of war in Sierra Leone. On a holiday island in the Aegean Sea she fends off starvation. She builds a home of sorts in a cave overlooking the ocean, balancing the will to live with the crushing guilt of surviving when so many didn't.

Here is a small excerpt which invites us to consider food from a homeless person's POV:
"Jacqueline hadn't eaten since the flattened chocolate bar she'd found on the step of the pharmacy. God's will, her mother said. The fortune of finding food when it was most needed just when she didn't think she could stay upright any longer, here was food.
She watched the man slicing meat...could see him painting the bread with oil. There were tomatoes and onions. She watched him roll and wrap them with wax paper, and hand them across the counter with cans of Coca Cola. The smell of the meat, the smell of thyme and the grilling bread as it blew.
She watched the tourists waiting in line. She watched the bits of meat falling to the ground, the sandwiches thrown away half eaten. What it took for her not to stand up and cross the square and dig for food.
But she was not beyond pride, so instead she ate the chocolate bar and tried to appear happy and bored.
You must not appear desperate."

Thanks to the team at IWSG. Go here to read more posts for IWSG.

Meanwhile, please note the new prompt for Write...Edit...Publish -- A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. Use a favourite picture as a writing prompt. You can sign up here in my right-hand sidebar or visit WEP.