Off-Topic

(c) CLAMP/Dark Horse – a picture I took from my English translation of “Cardcaptor Sakura”

As long-time readers of my site know, I am fond of Cardcaptor Sakura, and in particular of Touya and Yukito, who are probably my favorite fictional couple. After almost twenty years, CCS is back in a new series called “Clear Card.” The above shot of Yue (Yukito’s alter ego) and Touya aired this past weekend. It was a lovely scene, but I did have one problem with it. Touya tells Yue that Yuki told him Yue’s name. But in the manga (and, I thought, also in the original animated series—though I could be misremembering), Yue tells Touya his name when they first meet. So someone failed to check the continuity.

That aside, it’s a lovely, tense scene. Though I’m not sure why Touya is being so cagey about his new powers. Is he worried Yue will want them, too?

IWSG: Spring Fever

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Still hammering away at Faebourne! Looking down the barrel at that August 7th pub date . . . Also nervous but excited to have started doing Facebook videos. So if you have any questions you’d like answered, ask away and I’ll answer in my next video!

Question of the Month: It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring lights a fire under me in terms of writing because I realize that the kids will be out of school soon and my chances to write will become smaller. At the same time, I find myself wanting to be out in the warm weather (when we have it). Why not write outside? For whatever reason I find that nearly impossible. The glare on my screen or off the paper in particular makes it difficult for me. And I have to sit in the sun; for me, that’s the point of being outside to begin with. So writing in spring usually ends up being a kind of internal tug-of-war. A real need to sit down and get some work done versus a restlessness and desire to be out and about.

New Tricks

I’m not an early adopter. By which I mean, it takes me a while to warm to new technology and/or upgrades. If what I’m using works for me, I hesitate to throw my groove off by having to possibly learn all new modes of working.

Yet as an author I’m told I must engage in all the latest. A Facebook page, a Twitter account, Instagram, etc. And the more I use these and get comfortable with them, the more I enjoy them. (Also, they’re addictive. I’m pretty sure studies have shown that. We all want our dose of gratification served up as “Likes” and “Retweets” and whatnot. It’s just like the lab rat pushing the button to get its cheese.)

So here is an article on social media for authors (or, specifically, updates that might help authors), and now I’m wondering if I should add Snapchat to my roster. Sigh. Who has the time to write any more when there’s all this to keep up with?

Now on Facebook!

I’ve finally bitten the bullet and created an official Facebook page. Really, what I’ve done is succumbed to pressure. Everyone says you have to have a Facebook page, but I resisted because I already keep up with Twitter, and then have this site and my reviews site, and I dabble in Instagram . . . And I have an Amazon author page, and I think there’s a Goodreads page languishing somewhere . . . So much stuff! I need a staff to keep up with it all.

But anyway, I do hope you’ll join me on Facebook. I promise not to shower you with anything more than the fun, funny, and (hopefully) meaningful. Stuff for writers, and fans of mystery and YA fantasy. And occasional updates on my own stuff. That kind of thing.

Come on. You’re already on FB anyway. Just go click “Like.”

See there? I can apply a little pressure, too. 😛

DFW Con: Social Media

Okay, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the DFW Con sessions I attended. After the opening remarks, Me Ra Koh came out to give a talk on social media. I’ll admit, I had no idea who she was. Even though I have young ones, Me Ra was not on my radar. But she was energetic, which was a good way to wake up, and she gave some nice, concrete pointers for upping my social media game.

First thing: the Amazon author page. I think I have a pretty nice one, but Me Ra said to add a video to it that gives maybe an inside look at me as an author. So be prepared, because I’ll be making a video tour of Little London soon!

And of course reviews for your books are key, too. Me Ra suggests giving away books to reviewers. Maybe promise signed copies (if you have print books) to the first few people who post a review. (Maybe I’ll give away a copy of Peter when it comes out to the first person to review “Sherlock Holmes and the Monumental Horror”?)

Me Ra said that many authors want to hide. They don’t want to put themselves out there or reveal themselves as real people. This is not a problem I have; I’m a ham. I love attention. But I can agree that it’s hard to put yourselves in the line of fire, by which I mean, it’s difficult to face criticism. And every writer will. No one gets all good reviews all the time because only the lowest common denominator of work is going to please everyone. And I don’t want to be a LCD writer.

Meanwhile, what to blog about? What to put out there as content? It can’t all be about your book. You have to be providing readers with something more than a sales pitch. Me Ra says the key is to figure out what you’re about—what is your life’s theme? She gave us a huge list of possible themes and told us to circle the ones (only as many as three) that jumped out at us.

Sample themes:
Skill versus Strength
Compassion as Heroic
The Mystery of Death
Loss of a Loved One
Betrayal
Social Class
Secrecy
Coming of Age
Pitfalls of Temptation
Dangerous Knowledge
Survival
Pride
Lost Dreams
The Quest
Fate
Death and Rebirth

The list goes on and on, and is not exhaustive. Thing is, I’ve thought about this even before hearing Me Ra’s talk because I do seem to come back to similar themes in my work, and they are the themes that also occupy my real life. Ideas of destiny and “meant to be,” and also proximity to greatness, or “almost but not quite” making it. I’m not sure how I’d turn these themes into regular blog posts or whatever, but I am very aware of their prevalence in my work.

Identity, too, is a major theme for me: discovering and embracing who you really are.

Me Ra says to blog only a couple times a week but then push those posts out to Facebook and Twitter, and always include a photo. Things to blog about include:

1. Sharing excerpts from your work
2. Personal stories and anecdotes that relate to your theme(s)
3. Extras that don’t make it into the book
4. Anything that inspires you
5. Anything you can teach
6. Talking about your creative process

But DON’T ask your readers for anything. Only post once you’ve personally worked through something and can tell a complete story, rather than dumping on your readers and asking them to deal with your bad day. Avoid negativity or else no one will want to read it.

Me Ra went on to show us some ways to get Facebook to work better for us. I don’t have an author page on FB yet, but I’ll be starting one soon, and I hope you’ll all come like me! (In the meantime you can like my Tarot FB page if you want.) She says to post 8–10 times a day (you can schedule the posts to go up throughout the day) and to share others’ content because if you don’t, Facebook limits your reach. Good to know!

This was the point at which we were out of time. But I think Me Ra gave really good tips, and I appreciate her being able to kind of, sort of wake us up. Next it would be time for me to go pitch . . . The butterflies were winging it through my stomach . . .