Group, Writing

Do you write women’s fiction?

Have you heard of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association? It’s a non-profit organization for those who write … well, I guess you figured that out. Their new site went live on September 9 and was jammed temporarily by so many writers trying to join at once. I’m now a proud member too.

wfwa_logo_smAll writers of women’s fiction are welcome: multi-published, debut, and aspiring. Among other things, the association will offer mentorship, critique groups, forums, online workshops, contests, and agent/editor pitch opportunities for members. They’ll also have an annual retreat.

The WFWA’s About Us statement:

We began this organization in 2013 with the idea to create a safe, nurturing place for male and female writers of women’s fiction. The publishing industry is morphing – with new opportunities and, as yet, unknown futures. Some of us came from the Romance Writers of America, where a shift of focus left many of us out in the rain. The founders of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association wanted somewhere to amass and disseminate information to and about our chosen genre.

Defining Women’s Fiction has proven as subjective as the types of books we prefer. For that reason, our guiding statement is broad and comprehensive:

An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey.

 Our stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds us together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.

As you may know, I’ve struggled with the definition of women’s fiction. It’s a very broad category, ranging from chick lit to near literary—but not straight romance. Not everything I write would be categorized as WF. Some would exclude my first published novel, but though Jalal dominates The Brevity of Roses, it’s definitely about Meredith’s and Renee’s emotional journeys as well as his. An Illusion of Trust, the sequel to Brevity, squares firmly with the WFWA definition, as will my next novel.

So, even if you don’t write women’s fiction exclusively, you’re still welcome to join us. Us. Yay! I’m excited to be a part of WFWA. And self-published authors are not considered second class citizens in this group. Another yay!

Linda

Writing

Are you a superstitious writer?

I’m a little worried to tell you that from Friday through Sunday, I added 5,000 words to my novel-in-progress. At the pace I’ve been working, that’s an amazing total. Yay me! But why do I hesitate to tell you that? Superstition.

What if saying the writing is going well jinxed the word flow? Should I have knocked wood when I typed that—or knocked paper, monitor, keyboard? How do you ward off bad luck for writing? Better yet, how do you bring good luck? Yeah, I know—sit your butt down and write.

As a child, I learned many superstitions. Don’t let a black cat cross your path. Don’t walk under a ladder. Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back. Even though I knew those didn’t make much sense—no sense in the last one—they gave me pause.

Some writers have superstitions, though some might say they’re only routines they observe. I’ll admit I’m superstitious about naming characters. I don’t use names of family and close friends, especially if that character might encounter a series of unfortunate events. Words have power. I don’t want to risk setting something in motion carelessly.

I slipped up once. When I named a character Jennie in The Brevity of Roses, it didn’t occur to me that was a form of my daughter-in-law’s name because I always call her Jennifer. Yeah, I know, how dense am I? At least nothing bad happened to the character.

I’m curious to know, do you admit to any superstitions concerning your writing? Or maybe you call it a routine—something like the need to eat five bites of chocolate before you type your first word of the day. Care to share?

Reflections, Writing

In the grand scheme of writing

I can be ridiculously petty, envious, and jealous. That’s something I wish I hadn’t learned about myself in the four years since I started writing for publication. And there’s no logic to these feelings.

Why envy the sales of an author who has fifteen published novels and a well-funded marketing team? And writes in a different genre—a hot one?

Why resent an author for being the darling of certain groups when I don’t even want to join those groups?

What sense does it make to be jealous of a writer who’s had umpteen stories published in literary magazines when I never submit any of mine?

And on and on and on. A waste of energy. A pathetic self-indulgence. A comparison of apples to oranges.

In all of life, a personal sense of success depends on your perspective. Pettiness, envy, jealousy, any negative emotion, keeps you lying in the dirt looking up. All writers publish because they want to share their work with others, and we all hope many others. There’s a larger market for some genres and types of writing than for others—apples and oranges.

One problem today is that authors, even traditionally published ones, are required to be more involved in the marketing side. It’s too easy to start comparing when so many authors are online shouting out sales figures and rankings, and giving advice—You too could be a publishing phenomenon, if you follow these six easy steps! Comparison leads to dissatisfaction. We see ourselves as less successful.

Too often, I let envy and jealousy steal any sense of success from me. My perspective skews. I wrote a book that already hundreds of people have read! How can I keep forgetting that? And I’m not finished writing. Who knows what I might accomplish a year or twenty from now? In the grand scheme of my writing career, I’m just beginning.

How’s the view from your perspective?

Blog Stuff, My Books, Questions, Social Media, Writing

Has my blog passed its Use By date?

Today, I’m questioning the continued existence of this blog. It’s reached the point where I can no longer deny that visitor stats are in decline. Ignoring the ludicrous bump they took after being Freshly Pressed in March (and the overflow to the following month) and the mysterious slight rise in October, my visitor counts have decreased since 2010.

I have no reliable way to know how many people might read my posts in email or a blog reader, so I tell myself that I still have tons of interested readers, they just don’t come online to be counted. But am I fooling myself?

It’s been a weird year on this blog, for many reasons. I admit my posts have deteriorated from hopeful excitement leading up to the publishing of The Brevity of Roses, to disappointment, grumbling, whining, and bewilderment. Hmmm … sounds like a good way to send readers scrambling, doesn’t it?

  • Novel thought—maybe I should work harder to write quality posts.
  • Maybe I should post less frequently. I, too, get overwhelmed trying to keep up with some bloggers.
  • Maybe it’s not my particular blog. (I’m grasping here.) Maybe blogs are passé. Maybe everyone has moved on to something else. Something shinier. If so, I didn’t get that memo.
  • Maybe it’s cyclical. Many of my earlier followers have gone on to be serious writers, and some of them serious bloggers. They have their hands full with their own followers. Others are still working toward publication and they want blogs with helpful writing advice, which they’re increasingly hard-pressed to find here.
  • Maybe that’s the thing— I’m comparing apples and oranges again. I blog, but I’m not a Blogger. I don’t have any clout—or should I say Klout? I’m not destined to have a big following. I shouldn’t expect a growing readership.  Accept that. Be thankful for the readers I have (and I am). Move on.

Many I know have quit blogging, or greatly curtailed it, so apparently they don’t miss it. But I believe I would. And since I’ve already concluded that I’m a bust at Twitter and Google+, my blog is my only real “public” presence. Still, I’d hate to be the last to realize it’s time to mark this blog expired and remove it from the shelf.

*sigh*

I’m stubborn. I’ll probably be the last blogger standing. But maybe some changes are due around here.

Any suggestions?

Marketing, Novel, Promotion, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

A whole lot of networking … too little socializing!

It doesn’t take much to find a friend nowadays. One mouse click and you’re someone’s Friend. Or not. One mouse click and you’re in someone’s Circle of trust. Or not. One mouse click and you’re Following someone like a devoted puppy. Or not.

“Social” networking is mostly illusion. Have you ever taken a pre-schooler to the park and noticed that after five minutes of play with a child they’ve never seen before, they refer to that child as “my friend”? Yeah, social networking is like that. Cute, isn’t it?

If you’re a writer and read many industry blogs, you’re probably familiar with the use-social-media-to-build-your-platform message. I’d already started blogging when I first read that, but I took their advice to heart and joined Twitter. The advice said that I needed to have at least 1,000 followers before my book release date.

So, for the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter, which is why I’m focusing on that today. Yes, I tweet links to all my blog posts and, more recently, some book promotion, but I also retweet at least three times as many links by others as well as RTing their quotes, witticisms, and announcements. I try to have fun. I try to start or join in conversations. Months ago, I hit 1,000 followers and kept going.

I’m now at the point where I can avoid Twitter for a week and still gain 20-30 new followers. It has nothing to do with my brilliant skills at tweeting. It has nothing to do with me at all. I expect at least half those people immediately punt me to a list they never check. They aren’t interested in seeing any of my tweets … in interacting with me at all. I’m just a number they hope will follow them back and increase their counts—and, of course, read their brilliant tweets and buy their products. That’s social networking for you.

Until recently, tweeting links to my blog posts always generated a fair amount of blog hits, but even so, I have a feeling most of those hits were from people who read my posts anyway. The biz blogs led me to believe being on Twitter would be a big help to book sales, but I question that now. I can’t track all sales, of course, so I could be wrong. Still I wonder if the effort put forth on Twitter equals the benefit gained. (I could write a whole post on this, and I may, but for now, back to the social side.)

In my experience, except for blogging, there’s very little socializing in social media. No matter how many new followers I gain, interaction seems to come only from the same small group. “Coincidently” that group contains the same few who interact with me here on this blog—most of them since the early days. And most of those, I’ve also corresponded with by email. We might have even shared a thing or two about our non-writing lives. If they lived near me, I’d invite them over for lunch. Friends.

I’m open to new friendships, of course, I just won’t be as naïve as a four-year-old in recognizing them. I’m extremely thankful for those I do call friends. That’s why I’m rethinking how much of my time and energy I devote to my social networking “friends.” I think I’ve been short-changing my real friends—and that’s just not nice.