Author Interview: Alan Beechey

Beechey-cover-photo-192x276Like me, Alan Beechey was born in England and grew up in London, not far from where I lived, as it happens. He lives in the US now, and I met him at the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, where he was giving a talk on how to write crime novels. I wanted to read one of his books immediately, because he made me laugh. I know you’re thinking it’s all about that British sense of humor, but I think you’ll find his mysteries, which take place in London, refreshing and a bit off-beat. Being a person who likes to start a series at the beginning, I read his first book, An Embarrassment of Corpses, and enjoyed it so much that I’ve got the next two sitting on my electronic To Be Read pile.
And if you want a taste of his sense of humor, you could do worse than check out his blog.

GC: When did you start writing novels, and what made you choose crime as your genre?An-Embarassment-of-Corpses-177x276
AB: I dedicated my most recent book, This Private Plot, to my late parents, and I note there that my mother started it all by giving me The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Agatha Christie’s first Hercule Poirot whodunit) when I was twelve. I reconnected with the world of crime as a college student  when I read P.D. James’s Death of an Expert Witness, having heard it reviewed on the BBC. And after a couple of misguided attempts at get-rich-quick screenplays with friends, I switched my mystery-reading habit to a mystery-writing habit when I settled down to write my first novel, A Nasty Little Murder. Never heard of it? It’s crap, and it was rightly never published, despite being shunted around several British publishing houses. But it taught me what voice not to use.
GC: Do your fans love your books more for your characters and plot, or for your sense of humor?
AB: From the letters and emails I get, it’s clearly the characters, which is the way it should be. Plot and humor should flow from characters and their situations – or at least look like they do by the time you’re finished. Although I am pleased when readers note that there is, in fact, a plot, and I hope a good one. I’m writing a mystery, not a soap opera.

GC: How did you come up with the extraordinary names of your characters?

AB: I found several of them in the old four-volume London telephone directory. “Strongitharm” – presumably a contraction of “Strong in the arm” – which is the name of one of my lead characters, came from those. Ever since I was young, I’ve kept notes of good names, or words that aren’t typically names but could be – belfry, welkin, moldwarp, mormal.  The last review of This Private Plot that I posted on my blog was by the magnificently named Sue Millinocket. That’s going on the list. There are also a few bad jokes shoved in (Mark Sandys-Penza? Hoo, Watt and Eidenau? I mean, come on), including a particularly filthy one in the name of the company Oliver works for in the first book. Nobody’s noticed so far. (GC: Must go back and look…)

GC: Of all the characters in all the novels, which is your favorite?
AB: Effie. They’re called the “Oliver Swithin” mysteries, but she’s almost the co-hero. Effie Strongitharm is Oliver’s girlfriend, but also a Scotland Yard detective sergeant, who works for Oliver’s uncle. I work harder on Effie, because it’s a challenge for a male writer to create a convincing female character, especially a woman working in a sexist, male-dominated environment like the police. Her appearance, especially her unruly hair, is based on that of a much-loved girlfriend from my teenage years (who tolerates her fictional incarnation), but her character is every woman I’ve ever loved, and her insecurities are probably mine.

This-Private-Plot-cover-178x276GC: How much promotion did you have to do once your books were published? And what’s the most effective way to promote a book, in your view?
AB: How much did I do? Not enough. It’s never enough, these days. I have a blog, I contribute to other people’s blogs, I do signings and readings . . . Still not enough. I think I’m destined to be a boutique. Maybe it’s enough to have a few devoted fans. One of them even tattooed my initials on her back. (If you’re reading this, hi Rebecca!)

GC: What’s in the works? More of our hero, Oliver Swithin?
AB: I’ve started the next Oliver Swithin novel. I’ve also had a non-Swithinian short story published, one that started out as a romance, but inevitably became a mystery. But the past year has thrown up a few distractions, some good, some bad, so I don’t currently have a good chunk of writing time on my schedule. This will, of course, all change as soon as someone offers me a couple of million for the screen rights to An Embarrassment of Corpses, or the BBC decide the Swithin series is a worthy successor to “Lewis” or “Midsomer Murders.”

You can connect with Alan on Facebook, Goodreads, via his blog or through his publishers, Poisoned Pen Press

It’s the Look…

Those of you who read me regularly will know by now that Lisa Winkler of Cycling Grandma is the editor who included me in her anthology of women writers, Tangerine Tango. Her recent post about a blog game called the Look Challenge, caught my attention. Read on and you’ll see why…

Gratitude: The “Look” Challenge, Hurricane Sandy

It’s National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day, 50,000 word, novel-writing challenge.

I’m not participating but Tangerine Tango contributor Dawn Landau is.  Not only is she writing with abandon dawn to dusk, she tagged me in the blog game called the  “Look Challenge.”  Bloggers, who are writing beyond their blogs have a chance to offer a sneak peek of their work.

The rules require that you search your writing for the word “look” and share a few lines. Dawn suggested I provide excerpts from the book.

Here’s what I found:

From Gabi Coatsworth’s essay about her memories shrimping with her father:

“I used to wonder sometimes if the sea would ever come back again. I would look out of my bedroom window, under the eaves of Granny and Grandpa’s house, and sometimes the sea would be right up, covering the pebble beach, and at other times I couldn’t see it at all, it was so far away. All I could see was sand, stretching away to the end of the world. It felt a bit scary, but there is one wonderful thing about sand like that. In the summer, after we’d had supper, my father would take us out shrimping before bedtime.

We’d walk down the drive toward the main road in front of the house. Holding hands in a straggling chain, we would cross the road after repeating the incantation: “Look right, look left, look right again. If all clear, quick march.” This last was, I suspect, my mother’s variation on “cross the road”. She had been in the army, after all.”

From Chris Rosen’s experience in her first hot air balloon:

“Miss Bean, our two-year-old shelter dog, started barking furiously on the deck while I was finishing making the pesto. Looking out towards the mountains, I saw why. A beautiful hot air balloon was floating over the valley and heading towards us! If it wasn’t for our trees, they might have landed on our hill.

I remembered our hot air balloon ride…”

And from Patti Winker’s  memory about clotheslines:

“Most might find it hard to feel nostalgic about any kind of laundry, let alone having to lug heavy baskets outside to dry on lines. Line drying the wash is hard work and not often reliable. Mom watched the sky, constantly on the lookout for ominous dark clouds Read the rest here.

Maybe you’d like to join in? Here’s the idea:

The Look Challenge

Search your manuscript for the word “look” and copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post to let other bloggers read. Then you tag five blogger/authors.

You only have to provide some of your own writing, not for the others (but “Thank you,Lisa”).

So I’m tagging five other writing bloggers:

A. J. O’Connell

Carrie Nyman

Tricia Tierney

Linda Howard Urbach

Alex McNab

From Erin Bowman – A dystopian flowchart

As you know, I’m interested in (and rather fond of) dystopian literature. Some of the best being published right now is for teens. (You may remember my previous blog on this, which you can read here, if you’ve forgotten it.) Erin Bowman is a writer of YA fiction. Her debut novel Taken will be published by HarperTeen on April 16th, 2013. Here’s a quick description: There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone. It sounds intriguing. I found her website through another of my favorite blogs, Password Incorrect, who copied her flowchart of how to decode a dystopian novel.

I contacted Erin to ask if I might reprint it, and she graciously agreed. I’ve given you the beginning of her blog post on the topic, and I think you’ll find the whole post worth a look. Here’s the beginning:

A few days ago, the lovely Maureen Johnson started a conversation on Twitter about the dystopian genre and how it is defined. An #isitdystopia hashtag emerged. There were talks of flowcharts. One made the rounds, and while it was amusing and had me smiling, it made me think more critically about how I define the dystopian genre.

Personally, I believe that a true dystopia, at it’s core, has a lot to do with the main character discovering a fatal flaw in their otherwise perfect society. This means that at a book’s opening, the MC is usually blind to the injustices of their world. As readers we often see red flags off the bat, but the story becomes a journey, with the character moving from satisfied, to suspicious, to conflicted, and finally….click here to read the rest.

And here’s the chart:

Guest post: Alex Cavanaugh tells you how to do a blog tour

A couple of months ago, I became aware of one of the major new ways in which writers, especially indie writers, promote themselves and their latest book online – the blog tour. One of the bloggers I follow, Alex Cavanaugh, was launching his second book, and doing a blog tour. I dawned on me that since doing an actual book tour is often impossible, the blog tour is the next best thing. Actually, it may be better, because the information is all still out there after the blogging has happened. So I asked him to tell me how it worked.

Organizing a Blog Tour

Gabi asked me to explain how I organized my blog tour for my second book, CassaFire. Those two weeks were wild, as was the release date itself, February 28, and I’m happy to share. So, if the idea of cat wrangling doesn’t scare you, read on!

And to make it easier, I’ll give you a step-by-step account of the insanity.

About five-six months before the book’s release date, I started selecting hosts. Since this was my second book, I’d already experienced one tour and knew my book’s audience. I made a list of prospective bloggers with large followings and readers who might be interested in my book. Two weeks and ten stops seemed appropriate. (As opposed to my first tour, which was almost three weeks long with nineteen stops. Too much!)

I sent each host a request, offering either a guest post or interview, and a list of potential dates. I included my book’s full information and links to the cover art and book trailer. All ten said yes! Lucky me. (And I ended up with eleven hosts total. Bonus!)

Several hosts requested review copies, which my publisher sent.

I got permission to do a couple giveaways during the tour.

Three months before the release date, I announced my Catch Fire! Blog Party. (This is where the insanity began.) Those bloggers who signed up were eligible to win one of five copies of my book. Participants agreed to post about my latest book on its release date.

I completed all guest posts and interviews, sending everything to my hosts, along with a jpg of my cover art and all links, three weeks before my tour began. (I know I can procrastinate with the best of them so wanted to stay on top of things.)

I made sure my blog was ready, with a page devoted to CassaFire and to the Catch Fire! Blog Party

A week before the release date, I sent information to the Catch Fire! participants. (Cover art, book trailer code, synopsis, links – all that good stuff!)

The tour kicked off! I checked my host site several times during the day and for many days afterwards. I also had a contest running on my site for any who commented during those two weeks. (Prize package included both books, a mug, a tote bag, and promotional swag.)

Release day. This is where things exploded. In addition to my tour stop, close to three hundred Catch Fire! Blog Party participants posted about my book. (Some a day earlier or later, which was cool.) A lot of announcements went out on Twitter as well. I took the day off from work and spent eleven hours visiting every site that featured my book. (Those of you who read and type faster, I’m sure you could shave a few hours off that time.) I also announced the five winners of my book.

The tour continued, with something new and different every day.

I sent a thank you email to each of my hosts a few days after each stop.

Exhausted just reading that? (GC: Yes!)

It was fun, though, and a lot of people purchased my book. (And now both books are Amazon Sci-fi Best Sellers in the US and the UK.) I’m still doing guest posts and blogfests, keeping the momentum going. I probably won’t do such a massive one-day event again, but I’ll definitely do another tour for my third book.

Now I just have to think of some new Ninja tricks!

Alex has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He minored in music and plays several instruments, including guitar. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. He’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and a co-host of the 2011/2012 A to Z Challenges. His first book, CassaStar, was released on October 19, 2010. The sequel, CassaFire, was released February 28, 2012. He lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

June = 30 Days of creativity

Last year, in a rash moment, I signed up to do thirty creative things in the 30 days of June. I’m not sure where I heard about this idea, but I found the website and I was intrigued. I remember telling my writers’ group about it, and promising to share what I did, as a way of ensuring that I followed through. I encouraged them to do the same. There were murmurs of interest (I thought) and approval, but it turned out that I was the only one of us fool enough to do it.

And yet. It was one of the most unforgettable months in recent memory. I posted the results on my Facebook page and you’re welcome to check them out. They ranged from a not bad drawing of a lighthouse (left), to an OK weaving project, to a so-so papier mache bowl, to the world’s worst lanyard (below). I was desperate that day, having only an hour or so, and thought a lanyard would be easy. It took me an hour and three YouTube videos to work out how to start the damn thing. Anyway, point is, it’s a challenge but it’s very rewarding, and you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like. I used a great blog from a Canadian artist called Gail for a treasure trove of relatively easy ideas (Gail teaches art to elementary school children – don’t laugh, some of those projects were harder than they looked!).

Point is, it stretched my brain in a completely different way. This is the third year that the organization is running this project. here’s what they have to say about it:

30 Days of Creativity is a global social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June. 2012 is our 3rd year. We hope to make it a big one. Your brain is like a muscle. When you exercise it, it gets stronger.
Give it a try. I can’t do it this year, because I’m going to be away from June 3-13, which takes a chunk out of the moth, but I’ll be signing up again next year.

Guest Post from Mike Sicking – Software Tools you Can Use

Mike Sicking is an American writer who writes for an English blog called Limebird Writers. He’s one of several people writing for them, and his moniker there is LimebirdKaiser (don’t ask me why…). In the last year, he decided to get serious about his writing,so he warns people not to treat him like a guru. But this post of his was useful to me, since it gave me a quick rundown of some of the more useful software available to help writers get to where they’re going.
You can read all his current works-in-progress on his own WordPress blog, here.

Tools For Writers

We live in a wonderful world with full of ones and zeroes buzzing around the old internet. Are you taking full advantage of the tools available to you?

You might think: This sounds boring and dreary. I’m an artist, not an egghead! This kind of stuff isn’t for me!
Not for you? Read about the day that LimebirdKate lost her work in progress to see why this is for you.
And if saving your hard-earned words from being eaten by the void isn’t enough for you, maybe a few free tools for planning and organizing your work will get you interested.

DropBox

If you take only one thing away from this article, make it this: DOWNLOAD AND USE DROPBOX TO BACK UP YOUR WORK.

Dropbox runs in that “Cloud” you might have heard about lately. Install it on your desktop and write a few great pages. Then head to the coffee shop and pick up where you left off on your laptop without batting an eye. Forgot your laptop? Guess what: use your smartphone.

There’s a web interface too, so you don’t have to install any programs if you don’t want to. This also means that anything you save to your Dropbox is available on any computer with an internet connection. Download your opus to your great aunt’s PC and get to work while the rest of your family sleeps.

Dropbox syncs your files between all your computers in addition to the Dropbox servers. So, if Dropbox disappeared tomorrow, all your files would still be stored on all your local machines.

Dropbox has a “Public” folder which can generate URLs for each file inside it for easy sharing with, well, the public.

Non-Public folders can be shared with other Dropbox users on a per-user basis. So if you want to share your “Family Vacation Pics” folder with just your mom and sister you can. Or you can share your “Rough Drafts” folder with all the friends you meet on Limebird for easy peer feedback.

Dropbox also keeps a history of versions as you change the files in it. So if, in a fit of trusting, you share your folder with an unsavory character who Replace-Alls “the” with “boobsLOL”, you can restore your files pretty easily. This may or may not have happened to me or someone I know.

As far as security goes:

There’s always a risk when storing your files online. But, as we’ve seen, there’s a risk to storing your files only locally as well.

Dropbox isn’t a no-name start-up company run by amateurs with the threat of going out of business overnight. It’s a fairly large and respected site. I think you can trust it as much as you would any other site on the internet.

It’s available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, plus a browser-based interface. There’s no excuse not to be using this.

It’s free for 2 Gigabytes of storage, which is more than enough for any text files you want to store. Pictures and videos will eat up your space a lot faster. You can get more space by referring friends to Dropbox or you can just pay for it. You almost certainly won’t have to worry about that, though. Personally, I’ve been Dropboxing pretty liberally for over a year now and I’m using a little under 6% of my available space.

Simplenote

Go grab a Simplenote account here. Think “Dropbox Light”. It stores and syncs text files only. Simple text only, so no italics or bold allowed, sorry. But no frills means no distractions. Plain white space; you just fill it up with words.
I write just about everything in Simplenote to start with, including the rough drafts for NaNoWriMo, This year and last year.
Simplenote allows you to tag each note with multiple categories for easy organization. Make a tag for “Future Story Ideas” and never again forget a moment of inspiration. Tag your chapters with names to see a snapshot of your story by characters.

Simplenote.com is available anywhere you have an internet connection and a modern browser.
For fancy off-line solutions, you can download a number of front ends.
There’s something for whatever operating system you’re working on.
I can personally vouch for the official Simplenote iOS app and the Windows-only Resoph Notes.

The web app is free and most of the front ends are as well. The official iOS app and Resoph Notes are free for sure.

yWriter/Scrivener

Grab yWriter here and Scrivener here.

Where Simplenote’s beauty is in its simplicity, yWriter and Scrivener take the opposite approach: they do it all. Both programs allow you to organize your stories into chapters and scenes. Then reorder them easily. Then take notes, create an outline, get daily word counts and set goals. Tons of great features. Remember to save your working files in your Dropbox account so you can access them from anywhere.

yWriter is available for  Windows and Scrivener works on Mac and Windows although the Mac version is more robustly developed at the moment. yWriter is free although you can register your copy if you like the program.
Scrivener: free…for 30 days. Then $40 US.

WriteOrDie

Check it out here. WriteOrDie’s tagline claims that it’s “Putting the ‘Prod’ in Productivity”. Write as fast as you can. Pause for too long and your existing words are slowly deleted. While I can’t vouch for the quality of the work it will produce, it will help you achieve your daily word count. This is another web app, available wherever your internet is. There are downloadable versions for Windows, Mac and Linux, plus apps for iOS.

The online version is free, so why would you pay for the desktop versions or the iOS app? Both are about 10 bucks US, though, if you’re interested.

How about you? Any helpful tools or tips that you’d like to share with us? Leave ’em in the comments!

Guest Post from Susan Schoenberger: Books for your Valentine

Susan Schoenberger is a fellow blogger of mine at the Patch, a chain of online newspapers. Recently she published this blog about Valentine’s gifts for book-lovers, and since I know that in addition to writing you all read (you do, don’t you?) I thought I’d re-post it here. Susan has worked as a reporter, editor and copy editor at The Day in New London, The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C., The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant. And she still has time to read…and write. Her first novel, A Watershed Year was published by Guideposts Books in March 2011.

A Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Book Lovers

Does your significant other love to read? A thoughtfully chosen book can be far more intimate than flowers, candy or jewelry, and it can change the recipient’s perspective on life in ways that those more traditional gifts can’t.

With Valentine’s Day just a week away, it’s time to start thinking about how to impress the ones you love with a gift that shows just how well you know them.

Here are a few suggestions for the special person in your life:

The Novel Reader: “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, a tale of two magicians who must compete in a life-or-death contest even as they fall desperately in love with each other.

The Non-Fiction Enthusiast: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand. “Unbroken” is the harrowing account of a bombardier who survives a plane crash during the war and tests the limits of endurance on the open ocean.

The Sports Fan: “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis. Get even more details about the inside workings of the underdog 2002 Oakland A’s than in the Oscar-nominated movie starring Brad Pitt.

The Historian: “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman,” by Robert K. Massie, described by its publisher as “the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at 14 and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.”

The Kid at Heart: “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins. The movie is due out soon, so give the gift of the gripping tale of a stark future world and the resilient Katniss Everdeen before it hits the big screen.

The Aspiring Writer:”On Writing”: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. The master of the horror genre — one of the bestselling authors ever — offers his personal insights on the craft and the profession.

The Book Clubber: “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes, a short but powerful novel that describes how an Englishman’s life is upended in old age by repercussions from a long-ago relationship.

The Poetry Lover: “The 100 Best Love Poems of All Time” edited by Leslie Pockell. Shakespeare, Burns, Byron, Yeats and Dickinson, among the many greats.

The Self Helper: “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” by Gary D. Chapman, described by the publisher as a guide for “couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language — quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.”

Guest Post from Alex McNab of the Fairfield Writers’ Blog

Alex McNab has been a force for good in Fairfield’s writing circles for a number of years. The author of a novel and the leader of one of the (free) writing groups at the Fairfield Public Library, he also publishes the Fairfield Writers’ Blog. You can find it here:  http://fairfieldwriter.wordpress.com/ Recently he wrote  a blog about how he became converted to the e-reader. Read on!

One Man’s Introduction to E-Reading

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of an abiding interest in reading and writing must be in need of an e-reader.

Otherwise, that man would be unable to read The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life by Ann Patchett (State of Wonder, Bel Canto), a delightful “Original” from the digital publisher Byliner. It was the first work he downloaded and read on the Kindle Touch his household received for Christmas. It also was his first time reading Patchett, whose style as well as substance made that maiden voyage on an e-reader memorable.

Consider the charming way she describes the aspiring writer’s dilemma:

“Logic dictates that writing should be a natural act, a function of a well-operating human body, along the lines of speaking and walking and breathing,” Patchett writes. “We should be able to tap into the constant narrative flow our minds provide, the roaring river of words filling up our heads, and direct it out into a neat stream of organized thought so that other people can read it. Look at what we already have going for us: some level of education that has given us control of written and spoken language; the ability to use a computer or a pencil; and an imagination that naturally turns the events of our lives into stories that are both true and false. We all have ideas, sometimes good ones, not to mention the gift of emotional turmoil that every childhood provides. In short, the story is in us, and all we have to do is sit there and write it down.

“But it’s right about there, the part where we sit, that things fall apart.”

Byliner defines its digital offerings as running “at lengths that allow them to be read in a single sitting.” In that space, The Getaway Car blends Patchett’s personal development as a writer with astute advice in smooth prose. Here are two other for-instances:

“Novel writing, I soon discovered, is like channel swimming: a slow and steady stroke over a long distance in a cold, dark sea. If I thought too much about how far I’d come or the distance I still had to cover, I’d sink.”

And,

“Although my [first] novel [The Patron Saint of Liars] was written in three separate first-person sections, I wrote it linearly—that is to say, page two was started after page one was finished. . . .Even if you’re writing a book that jumps around in time, has ten points of view, and is chest-deep in flashbacks, do your best to write it in the order in which it will be read, because it will make the writing, and the later editing, incalculably easier.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading on the Kindle, and I certainly enjoyed paying only 99¢ each—at the time I downloaded them—for three titles about writing that are not available as printed books. Waiting (or is it still permissible to say “shelved”?) for later perusal in the e-reader are The Liar’s Bible: A Handbook for Fiction Writers and The Liar’s Companion: A Field Guide for Fiction Writers—from mystery maven Lawrence Block, whose trade paperback Telling Lies for Fun & Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers has long been a favorite.

And for future consideration there is another Byliner Original, Sara Davidson’s Joan: Forty Years of Life, Loss, and Friendship with Joan Didion. What piqued my interest in it was an update Davidson wrote, which you can read at the Byliner website, answering the question, What’s the most important thing you learned about writing from Joan Didion?

“Anything can be fixed,” Didion told her. There’s more good stuff there, so follow the link above. But let me leave you with Davidson’s final thought for us fellow writers:

“It took me 30 years to have faith that this is true. Once you’ve got something on paper—anything, no matter how bad it seems—you can fix it, steadily, one word or phrase at a time. You can turn something awful into something reasonably good.”

Oh. One final note: The Fairfield Library now has a digital collection from which you can borrow eBooks and more. And at the time of this writing, at least, you can download the prequel to the opening sentence of this post, along with the rest of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, from amazon.com to your Kindle for free.

Vote for your favorite writing blog

Write to Done, a writers’ website, runs a contest each year where people nominate their favorite writing blogs, and they publish a list of the top ones. Here’s last year’s list:

1. Storyfix:  http://www.storyfix.com

2. men with Pens: http://menwithpens.ca/

3. Make a Living Writing: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/

4. Cat’s Eye Writer: http://catseyewriter.com/

5. The Renegade Writer: http://www.therenegadewriter.com/

6. Writer Unboxed: http://writerunboxed.com/

7. Word Play: http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/

8. The Creative Penn: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

9. Victoria Mixon: http://victoriamixon.com/

10 Courage 2 Create: http://ollinmorales.wordpress.com/

If you check them out, you’ll find that they’re all different in tone, in style and in what they’re trying to do. I’m not suggesting you nominate one if you don’t know them, but they might prove useful as a starting point for help with your writing.

If you do have someone to nominate, here’s where you do it:

http://writetodone.com/2011/11/22/nominate-your-favorite-writing-blog-6th-annual-top-10-blogs-for-writers-contest/

Nominations are due by December 10th.

Extending the reach of your blog (while having fun…)

My internet friend Pauline writes a terrific blog about her life as a divorced mother. Here’s her own description:

I am a survivor of a world-class gnarly divorce. My dastardly ex-husband is suing me for full custody of my son, and more time with my daughter. He’s super-rich and I’m super-not. You get the picture.

The reason I mention this here is not just because Pauline is a wonderful writer (which she is) with a sense of humor that survives intact. But also because she’s had a brilliant idea for how to increase traffic to her blog, while helping other bloggers get some exposure too.

What she does is to invite other bloggers to describe their blogging space and why they write there. Once a week she runs this feature on her blog.  Naturally, these bloggers share it, ‘like’ it and re-post the piece on their own blog, thus getting Pauline’s blog out to a wider audience. It’s painless, it’s fun, and it works.

This week she asked me. Here’s what I wrote, and you can see other writers’ blogging spaces as well as Pauline’s own writing here:

http://perilsofdivorcedpauline.com/2011/09/25/gabi-coatsworths-blogger-space/

So how are you going to extend your blog’s reach (without stealing Pauline’s idea…)?