Things I Don’t Understand About Blogging

So I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and I feel like I’ve learn a lot in that time. However, there are still some things I don’t understand. Maybe some of you can help me out.

1. I don’t understand people who follow everyone they can.

I mean, I get the concept. If you follow people they may follow you back, and that can increase your audience. That’s great. Only, who cares about the numbers? A good number of my followers are fashion bloggers and lifestyle bloggers that clearly were just following to try to get a following of their own, but I didn’t follow them back. I don’t care about fashion. I don’t need posts like that showing up in my reader. If you follow me, it doesn’t mean I’m going to follow you back. If it seems like you blog about writing I may check you out, but it still doesn’t mean anything, and if I follow you I can still unfollow you if all you blog about is your grandpa’s dentures despite claiming to be a writing blog.

2. Why wordpress changed the stats page.

This really bugs me. I like the old one. At least move the “go to the old page” button to the top so I don’t have to scroll down each time. Seriously.

3. How to find bloggers who interest you.

I’m pretty sure that like half of the blogs I follow are Australian. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m American. I found one Australian blogger and that just led to more of them. I’ve looked for tags like “writing” and such, but I don’t want to follow blogs about poetry, I want to follow blogs similar to my own. The blogs wordpress suggests are useless, in my opinion. I don’t want to follow a blog with 10,000 followers. What are the chances of actually starting a conversation when 100 other people comment on their posts as well?

4. Why people keep trying to buy my kidney.

I’m not joking. And most of the comments get sent to spam. These are all ones that made it through.

5. Why so many writers write blog posts in purple prose.

My fingers caress the keyboard as my thoughts dictate the keystrokes of this post. The cars pass by my apartment as unaware of my life as I am of theirs, paths crossing but never intertwining. The small red line snakes under the word, and they greet each other like old friends. It is apparent that I am unable to correctly spell the word intertwining on my own. My face crumbles. Even as a writer, I struggle to arrange my letters in the correct order dictated by the dictionary.

I just… don’t get it. I’m want to read you blog for information, not poetry about your cup of coffee or your recent publisher rejection. I try to be eloquent, yeah, but sometimes being eloquent means saying, “I’m done with this shit.” It’s all about getting your point across while making it easy for the reader to understand… and that means no waxing lyrics about the deep web of depression that a spider of grief spun from your heart when your favorite novel series ended.

6. Whether or not my blog matters.

Is this something the rest of you have trouble with? As an author, I would love it if my blog promoted my book like crazy and I got rich, but that’s not really why I’m doing this. Now I just want to connect with other writers and share advice. I want to be able to help others who had the same self-publishing problems as I did, or to get marketing advice for someone who’s been self-published for a few years now. I expect my blog to keep growing, but how much will the numbers matter? Will I continue finding followers who interact with my blog, or more “I’m a hot model/musician/actor who’s following everyone I find, buy my stuff!”

What confuses you about blogging?

 

Dealing With a Bad Review

Some people will really hate your book.

Some people will really hate your book,

So today, I got a three star review. That might not seem so bad, but the review had almost nothing positive to say. I’m in no way trying to call that reviewer out or focus on the review itself, only to call attention to the fact that it’s hard to deal with a bad review, especially when you may disagree what the person said.

For instance, if they say, “Bob’s sister was Mary, not Jane! That’s a serious consistency error!” you’re not allowed to show them to page 58 where you introduce Jane and Mary as Bob’s sisters, plural, and throttle them until they take back your two-star rating. It doesn’t work like that.

People will find creative reasons why they didn't like your book.

and they’ll find creative reasons for why they hate it.

In a perfect world, people would only read books they liked, but unfortunately that doesn’t happen. People will read your book and not like it. It’s inevitable. They’ll read your book because they liked your cover then complain that they don’t like the genre. They’ll read it and hate it and speed through it just to finish and then complain that your story felt rushed. The only way past is to just get over it.

There will always be critics.

There will always be critics,

Harry Potter has tons of bad reviews. 50 Shades of Grey has tons of good reviews. One review either way will not make or break your story. Some people just aren’t going to like your story. It will be too sexy for them or too fantasy or your character’s name will remind them of their ex. Whatever it is, it’s not a big deal. They aren’t your target audience.

You will always have fans, though.

but you will always have fans, too.

First, you need to remind yourself: You wrote a book. That’s a big accomplishment, so good on you. At least you wrote it and got it out there.

Next, ignore the bad reviews. Look at all the nice ones you’ve gotten. Focus on the positive, not the negative. Every time a review is even slightly critical, I think about the one fan I have who requested to buy my book before it was published and has nothing but good things to say about it.

Your fans will always have something nice to say.

They’re the ones you’re writing for,

Lastly, remember that you can always take it back. If your book gets only bad reviews, maybe it isn’t ready for the world. You can take it down, do some serious rewriting, and then release it as a second edition. All the reviews, good or bad, will be wiped clean. You can have a fresh start.

So just move right past the bad stuff.

so just move right past the bad stuff.

How do you handle a bad review?

Your Characters Should Hold a Grudge

Your characters should be holding a grudge, possibly several of them. Not against you, of course, unless you’re George R. R. Martin, but against other characters. People that they could reasonably hold a grudge against.

I was thinking about how I owe some guy at my school named Nate a big FUCK YOU for something he did earlier last semester (deets here towards the top) and I realized that I am definitely the kind of person who holds grudges. However, my characters aren’t. They don’t remember that one time that girl got them detention in 4th grade for something they didn’t do or the time their “best friend” decided to ignore them for two year to join the popular kids. Now, just like not all people hold grudges, not all characters do. Some forgive and forget.

However, I think it’s much more fun not to have a character forgive and forget. It can give them motivation to do anything, really. Need your character to get to the next city over for the plot to progress? She has a grudge on an old bully and wants to go make him wash her car. Need your character to be caught by the hunky police officer she’s going to sleep with? Have her being caught egging the house of her ex. You know the one, the guy who stole her cat and cheated on her, not the nice one who wore sweaters. Sweater dude made nice pizza.

Grudges are a great way to add some depth to your character. Is Judy more relaxed but Sally is confrontational? Show that through a conversation about how Sally hasn’t forgiven her first grade teacher for playing favorites and Judy trying to talk her into forgetting about it. It can also add humor to a scene when Sally recounts how incredibly unfair it was that Timmy was given FOUR gummy bears but she was only give ONE. (And yes, these can be adults. Adults can be petty, and all characters need flaws.)

So, Nate, in honor of upcoming Valentine’s Day, here is my gift for you:

f

So now I don’t have to worry about flipping you off it I finally see you around campus, because all of my followers now know that I’m crazy.

What’s something one of your characters has held a grudge for?

My Writing Mentor

mentor-mentee-520x245

I have been writing since I was in first grade. I started identifying as a writer in third grade, and in fifth grade I started doing it regularly. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had finished a 50,000+ word “novel.” I kept writing, and I published my first novel in September.

I’m officially an author! It’s awesome, finally achieving this goal I’ve had all my life. I’m still just starting, but I’ve made about $40 so far. Yes, it’s not a lot, but that’s 4 pizzas I wouldn’t have been able to eat before publishing, and I’ll continue writing and continue building an audience and putting myself out there until it picks up, and I won’t give up. Because I honestly love writing. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Knowing that, some of you may be surprised to learn that in middle school, I hated English class. Absolutely hated it. Mrs. J was my English/history/7th grade teacher (it was a small school) and she installed a deep loathing of English class deep into my soul. Mrs. J, if you’re reading this, you suck. Seriously. I never remember hearing one nice word from her.

I worked hard in her class, at first. I admit that I sucked at history, but I loved writing, even non-fiction, and I remember specifically that we had an entire lesson on poetry that included filling out a whole huge packet on poems over the course of the semester. I wrote poem after poem, and I never got any praise or anything out of it. Mrs. J blatantly had favorites, and only they ever heard nice things from her.

Mrs. J, I’ll once again say that you suck. I was bullied in middle school, and she knew, and she still made no effort to be nice to me. She didn’t like my mom, and my family didn’t have money, so she hated me. She made me feel like an idiot in her class, and if it wasn’t for my 8th grade teacher sitting me down with my parents and telling me that my test scores indicated that I was a smart girl, I would have believed that I was stupid. So thanks, Mr. R, for being nice to me. A+ for you. I’m sorry about when I forgot you were in my living room last year and you heard me talking about sex with my boyfriend. My bad.

Going into high school, I didn’t have high hopes for English class. Freshman year was pretty boring, mostly Shakespeare and vocabulary words, but then sophomore year I had Mr. C. Mr. C, a writer himself, was one of those amazing teachers who actually enjoyed teaching. He wanted everyone to think and learn and grow as a person. His class was about discussions and expressing ourselves.

Mr. C was the first person who told me I was a good writer. He encouraged me to submit short stories for publishing (erm… still working on that…) and called me a wordsmith. In front of the whole class. I believe his exact wording was, “I may not be a wordsmith like Bethany, but…” Yeah. I freaked out. It’s probably the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. I put great effort into picking the right wording to make things sound just how I want them, and to have it recognized was amazing. He really gave me the encouragement to keep writing, even if he couldn’t revive my interest in the study of literature.

Has any one person significantly influenced your writing? If so, how?

Planning Ahead – Author Update

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I got four calenders for Christmas. FOUR. There are four rooms in my apartment, counting the bathroom. I have a calender surplus.

With the pug calender my boyfriend got me, I’ve written in important book dates from February to October. I’ve planned out when I need to finish writing Wildflower Crown (cough… cause that’s still not done… cough…), when I need to have the first and second rounds of editing done, when I need to start hyping it, when I need to have the second round of editing for Only in Whispers done, when I need to order my proof copies, when I’ll release them…

If all goes well, Wildflower Crown will come out this summer. Yes, I wrote it after Only in Whispers, and it’s further behind, but it takes place during the summer, and Only in Whispers takes place during fall, so I want to release them in their respective seasons. I know that I said some time ago that Only in Whispers was supposed to come out this month or so, and I lied, so hopefully my new plan works out better. It leaves ample time to get stuff done, and this summer is pretty much open to whatever I decide to write next.

At this point, it’s a toss up between Vica’s story and Enona’s story. Vica’s would be set in the same kingdom as Kiss of the Fey, but before Johara’s time, and Enona’s would be set in a new kingdom. Neither have titles, because the only planned books with titles have to wait. One is a sort of sequel to Wildflower Crown, but I don’t want it to seem like a sequel, since it can stand on it’s own, so I’m waiting a little to start it. The other is Kasmira’s story, so hers will come last after I’ve expanded ALL the ideas for the Fairy Curse Novels.

Beyond that, I have two more books planned, which would make for a total of nine (I think nine) books in the universe. It may end up being way more, who knows. I have sketchy plans for another medieval fantasy trilogy about a witch and a transexual vampire possibly set in the same universe as the Fairy Curse Novels so that I don’t have to make up another continent, and I have more solid plans for a modern paranormal series that I will give no details on >:D

-Charlotte Cyprus

My Guilty Pleasure

I watch real estate shows. House Hunters, Property Brothers, Love It or List It… I love ’em. When I’m at my parent’s house, I’ll change the channel to HGTV and subject my whole family to housing shows, and my mom will sit there are yell at the woman on Love It or List It for never renovating everything she promised to.

But further than that, I go on Craigslist to look at apartments in Seattle or Montana. I go to realtor.com to look at houses near Pittsburgh that fit all my wishes (out of the way, big lot, woods on the property, fireplace) and waste hours looking at houses and planning how I’d renovate them. No, I am not in the market for a house. I’m in college and will have a legitimate reason to look at apartments in about 6 months, but not before then.

This is just a hobby completely unrelated to writing. Does anyone else share a similar hobby? Something silly just to pass the time?

Editing Disaster

So I was all ready to edit Only in Whispers. I had everything printed and ready to go. I printed it a while ago, actually, but let’s not talk about how long I put off starting.

Editing the prologue? That was fine. Prologues are short. No big deal.

The first chapter? I realized oh, there are a lot of mistakes. Oops. I got out notebook paper to write down all the notes that didn’t fit on the page.

I got to the fifth chapter, and I realized I made a terrible mistake. You see, editing Kiss of The Fey was a very drawn out affair. I started the very first draft back in high school, but it was just published this September. I had a few years to run through it a few times and get rid of all the nonsense things before I actually printed it out and looked hard for errors.

Only I forgot that I did that. So now I have a printed first draft of complete poo. (Well, not complete poo, but it’s poo enough when trying to edit it by hand.)

I am officially throwing in the towel and typing up the corrections I made so far then doing the rest digitally. It will save me a lot of time and grief.

the horror

the horror

Author Dos

To accompany my previous post, Author Don’ts, I’ve compiled a list of things you, as a new author, should do.

  1. Be nice to everyone you come in contact with. I’m not talking about every John Doe you bump into on the street, but anyone you contact through your blog/Twitter/review requests, whatever. Always make an effort to sound polite and well-meaning, even if someone is being a twit.
  2. Unplug for a while. Always set aside time to just sit down and do what it is you need to do, whether it’s editing, rewriting, writing, outlining… whatever. Procrastination is your enemy, and Facebook and Twitter are leading the attack.
  3. Write something new. I’m not talking a new manuscript, but a new idea. Relying on cliches and old tropes might get you sales, but you can’t be afraid to be an innovative author!
  4. Keep organized! This applies to everything, from editing notes to review requests. Everything saved on your computer should have smart titles and everything in a physical copy should be together in one place. Keep track of who leaves good reviews and which blogs you come across who offer to do reviews for your genre. Also keep track of your sales and expenses down to the cent, so you can finally celebrate when you’re out of the red and know what your next novel will take.
  5. Edit, edit like the wind! … or something. You don’t want to publish a first draft, or a second draft, or a third draft. Maybe a fourth or fifth draft, depending on how things are going. You want to make your novel perfect to stand out from other novels. Literally anyone can self-publish these days, so you need to establish yourself as a serious author.
  6. Keep your feet on the ground. Most likely, your first novel isn’t going to sell enough copies to allow you to quit your day job. Don’t expect your first book to be a runaway success. Or your second. Or your third. Just keep writing until you build an audience, and watch as that audience grows. It may take some time, but if you try hard, good writing will stand out.
  7. Write a good author bio. Wherever your book is, there will be an author page. You want it to stand out, not read like a formula, 3 kids + cats + Michigan = author. Mine mentions pugs because they are my one true love. If people think of me and say, “Oh, she’s the pug author who wrote that romance book” I’ve succeeded. Don’t forget to link your blog to your page, which I know for a fact can be done both on Amazon and Goodreads.
  8. Keep learning. Not all of us writers majored in English. Even for those of you who did, you don’t know everything. If you’re uncertain about a certain aspect of grammar, look it up. Read essays on character development and the precision of language. It’s important to continue growing as a writer.
  9. Read like your life depends on it, because it does. Your life as a writer, that is. Reading is the best tool we have for increasing literacy, and that’s just what you need to do to be a competent writer.
  10. Help other authors! Without the help of fellow bloggers, I wouldn’t know how to number pages properly on Microsoft Word. For someone formatting their own book, that was an issue. You can build a vast network of reviewers, cover artists, and editors just by connecting with your fellow authors, and having friends who also know your craft is invaluable.

On the topic of number ten, Marigold over on Verses Blurb is giving away free copies of her book. Just click the picture to go to Smashwords, and you can download a free copy in honor of her awesome new cover!

the-black-swan-inheritance-final-cover

Also as a bonus, 21 Tips from Famous Authors.

Author Don’ts

As with anything, being a new author means making a few mistakes. With the help of the people in the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook, I’ve compiled a list of things new authors shouldn’t do.

  1. Publish a book too soon. Just because you want to get something out there doesn’t mean you should rush. If self-publishing, take the time to make sure that your story is ready. If putting out a sequel, make sure that it’s really at it’s best, and that you’re not just pushing it out there to appease fans.
  2. Never talk religion or politics on social media unless it directly relates to what you write. There is a fine line between supporting gay rights and posting incendiary comments and arguing with people. You don’t want to turn people off from your story just from some stupid comment on Twitter that they disagreed with.
  3. Another one on that front, never respond to a one-star review. Or a two-star review. Or any reviews, unless it’s to say thank you for the review. Never get into an argument with a reader over your book, even in private. You don’t want to be accused of attacking a reader, because that will inevitably turn readers off from your work. If someone gives you a bad review you don’t deserve, rant to your loved ones in private and keep it at that.
  4. Don’t criticize other authors. I have broken this one by ranting against Stephanie Meyer and E. L. James, but Stephanie Meyer will never see my posts again The Host and E. L. James is a bitch to her fans. If you must speak out, make sure it’s something you can stand behind. You don’t like their book? Do not slam them over it. They plagiarize and bash fans who give one-star reviews? I personally would not engage, but if you must say something, be sure to stress the fact that you don’t condone their actions.
  5. Never describe eyes as “orbs” unless they’ve been removed from the person’s head.
  6. Never beg people to buy your book. If people know you have a book out, don’t shove it down their throat. People will be annoyed if you see them as a dollar sign.
  7. Don’t follow every blog you come across. Sure, some of them might follow you back, but does that matter? Sure, follow writing blogs, author blogs, publishing blogs… but fashion blogs? Gardening blogs? These kinds of blogs follow me all the time, and that’s the end of their interaction with my blog. I don’t care about followers, I care about the people who actually read what I post and talk with me. I care about the people who also post relevant posts that I can continue the conversation with.
  8. Do not start or end the book with a dream sequence. That’s lazy.
  9. Don’t let yourself get distracted by talking writing. You can blog and hype your book all you want, but unless you actually write it, nothing is gonna get done.
  10. Don’t give up. Never put yourself down. No one can tell a story like you can, so be motivated! The world needs your story!

You know not the level of my hatred for 50 Shades of Grey

Alright, folks. Cosmo is running a 50 Shades of Grey fanfic contest on Wattpad. Or something. Found out about it from here.

Because I do so love writing weird fan fics, I entered as well. I titled it “Train Wreck” because that’s just what it is. My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy now, but here’s my entry. If you want to assist in derailing the contest, feel free to write your own piece.