What’s Making Me Happy: August and September 2018

Does anyone else think the past two months have flown by? They have on my end. Life offline was especially busy in mid / late September, so all I remember of August now was that it was quiet and calm. (Unless I’m missing something! *lol*) This also means that while I’ve found time to write blog posts lately, it’s been a challenge to stay on top of comments or friends’ blogs. Hopefully this is only temporary, and I apologize for any delays in responding or returning the favor.

So, what are some of the fun events and “little things” that have brought me joy recently? I’ll share them below the jump. And as always, I love hearing what you’ve been up to and what’s been making you happy as well. So feel free to share that in your comments. 🙂

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On Breaking Habits, Managing Energy, and Extended Absences from Social Media

There’s a lot of discussion in the writerly blogosphere about the importance of social media, regardless of whether a writer is published. Much of the advice is valid: Social media is a great way of publicizing your work (books, blog, etc.), networking within the industry, and developing an audience. Personally, I’ve grown to appreciate Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest over the past couple years. They’ve either been instrumental with building the blog’s audience and driving more traffic, or helped me connect with other writers, bookworms, and SF&F fans. (In Twitter’s case, it’s been a blessing for both.)

So, why have I been absent from social media lately, apart from Goodreads? It’s not that I’ve given up on it. Rather, the absence began with an intention, then drew on longer for reasons I couldn’t pin down until recently, thanks to a book I’ve been reading and some recent reflection on the “energetic” toll this year has taken on me.
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A Look Back on My Growth as a Blogger (#MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop)

Recently I was nominated by the wonderfully bookish and insightful Nandini @ Pages That Rustle for the #MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop. (Thanks for nominating me, Nandini!) And having celebrated my eighth blogoversary last month, now seemed like a good time to look back on how I’ve grown as a blogger since the day I launched this site.

First things first, though. The #MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop was created by Sarah Brentyn @ Lemon Shark. And since every blog tag has rules, let’s go over them now: Continue reading

Six Words of Wisdom on Running a Crowdfunding Campaign (Plus, the “Final” Total for My GoFundMe for the Iceland Writers Retreat)

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Wow. Was it really two months ago when I launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for my trip to the 2017 Iceland Writers Retreat? Now, the “promotional” period is over (it ended this past Saturday), and thanks to people’s generosity I raised $2274. This falls short of the $3500 goal – but you know what? That’s still really good. It means that a dream-come-true overseas adventure and investment in my writing career is financially within reach for me. That is enough to say I’m DEFINITELY going now. 😀

To celebrate, I thought I’d offer insights on running a crowdfunding campaign. Because, well, it was one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever done – more than writing a novel! But it was also one of the most unique and rewarding learning experiences in my life. So, let me share six tips based on what I learned – some practical, and some attitudinal. Because in many ways, your mindset and definition of success might be more important than how close you come to your fundraising goal.
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New DIY MFA Article on Man and the Natural World, Plus Other Updates

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, January 26th.)

Nature can play a pivotal role in a story, from thrusting obstacles into the protagonist’s path to dazzling with its majesty beauty. This complicated relationship between the natural world and mankind can lead to incredible stories in real life as well as in literature. So, in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA, I explore how this idea is conveyed as a theme in Rae Carson’s Walk On Earth a Stranger and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. It turns out that wagon train journeys and survival on the high seas have more in common than we might think.

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New DIY MFA Articles, Plus Facebook and GoFundMe Updates

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, December 15th.)

Do you believe in destiny, or a higher power conspiring to help make things happen? Or are you convinced that our lives are what they are because of our choices? Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether fate or free will plays the greater role. This mystery, however, hasn’t prevented writers from exploring it through story.

Today I’m tackling “fate versus free will” for my Theme: A Story’s Soul column at DIY MFA. Using Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus as examples, we’ll discover the common elements that both books use to examine this enigmatic theme and brainstorm ideas of how we can write our own stories on an age-old debate. (See the link after the jump.) Continue reading

New DIY MFA Article on Friendship as a Literary Theme, Plus #WesleyWednesday on Twitter

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, November 3rd.)

I’ve been meaning to write a case study on friendship for my DIY MFA column for a while. And why not? Friendship has the power to change people’s lives in amazing ways – in real life, and in the stories we read. In fact, literature has shown us not only the ups and downs of these relationships, but also how they often defy boundaries such as age, race, and gender. And I couldn’t think of two better books to use as examples than Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because both explore this theme masterfully.

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What Do You Think?: E-Newsletters by Writers (Plus, A Quick Survey for You)

One of the most talked-about outreach tools for writers today is the email newsletter (or, e-newsletter). In fact, “start a newsletter” has been among the most suggested advice I’ve heard at Writer’s Digest Conference for the past two years – from authors, publicists, and publishing professionals alike. It seems valuable, especially since other writers have found success with them. Yet despite all the positive buzz, I’ve hesitated to create one.

Why? Well, up until now, it hasn’t been a priority. I’ve had enough going on that starting an e-newsletter would have taken time away from blogging and (more importantly) novel-writing. But now, with a slower blogging schedule and edits on the WIP’s third draft coming to a close, I have time to give it serious thought.

So, what are the benefits of an e-newsletter? What cautions should we keep in mind? Plus, I’m offering readers – yes, YOU – a chance to help me decide whether I should start my own e-newsletter and what content I may want to include. More details on that shortly.

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Time Flies!: February 2016

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

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So, February 2016. Wow. Not only did it soar by, but was it ever busy at the blog! For some reason, I don’t typically notice how much gets accomplished each month, but I felt it this time around. Maybe it’s because I was working on a few lengthy posts at the same time, but all the effort was worth it. So, I gave myself a short break last week, which gave me time to catch up on other things.

March already looks like it’ll be a ton of fun, btw. A new character interview is posting tomorrow, and I’m stopping by Pages Unbound in a few weeks for a fun interview about my love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. 🙂 For now, let’s recap the past month.

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Interview with Rachel E. Carter, Author of the Black Mage Series

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There are countless ways of discovering authors and their books online. In the past two years, my top three sources have been Twitter, blogs, and Goodreads. That last site is where I met YA fantasy author Rachel E. Carter. While her books are still on my TBR list, I’ve enjoyed reading her book reviews and watching her interact with fans there. She isn’t just an author who adores YA fantasy; she’s one who engages, encourages, and respects other readers, including those who review her work.

Today I’m thrilled to have Rachel here to talk about her Black Mage series, whose third installment Candidate comes out on Tuesday, October 27th. You’ll learn more about her love for kick-butt female protagonists and bad-boy love interests, how music influences her writing process, and her tips on writing and social media platforms. And maaaaybe some Harry Potter and Song of the Lioness fangirling – which I wholeheartedly approve of!

Also, if you like e-books, you can buy the debut Black Mage novel First Year for 99 cents from Kindle, Nook, iBooks / iTunes, and KOBO through October 31st! Look for the links at the end of this post. 😉

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