Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Anne Got Her Groove Back

I'm not sure if I could say with complete confidence that my groove is totally back, but I'm here and I guess I'm okay. During the last year, I lost sight of what blogging is supposed to be. For me, that's fun and a learning environment.

When I started blogging so many years ago, I likened it to my college years. I went to Vermont College  (distance learning where you're on campus for a week/10 days and then go home and continue your study) way back when, when distance learning was a radical thought. (Goddard College had started the idea in the late 80's early 90's and by the time I got to Vermont ('92) it was one of the fastest growing academic institutions on the East coast.) My father thought it was a waste of time and money. My mother said I would never learn anything. Well, you know what, they were both wrong. If I had the opportunity to do it all again I would do it in a heart beat.

Exchanging ideas and philosophies, talking about writing, authors, books, just being in the moment with other people who were BRILLIANT thinkers. Gah, it was life changing. Literally. (If you don't believe me, ask Les Edgerton. He went there too.)

Blogging is a lot like that. We exchange ideas, philosphies, discuss books, we learn from each other, we grow with each other. Some people are better at it than others, and can create these fantastic mind altering posts with thousands of followers, with follow up FB likes and Twitter runs. Then there are some people like me who try to keep up, falter from time to time, but just can't seem to find the right groove.

And just like in college, I get discouraged when I'm not as smart as I think I am or don't get comments, when I think I should. Yeah, we could call it jealousy, but it's not, really, more like disappointment in myself that I SHOULD have what THEY have, and why don't I? I'm smart, I'm likeable, I'm friendly, I can talk the talk and walk the walk like the rest of THEM. Why don't I have a zillion followers? Why don't any of my posts get hashtagged on Twitter?

But you know what, who cares. This last month away, I've thought a lot about what I want from my blog and I've come to the conclusion that deep down inside, I don't want THAT. It's not me. I'm a simple girl. I write romance novels. I have an 8 year old daughter, and two aging parents that I have to take care of. Those are my priorities. Blogging is just something I do because it's supposed to be fun for me.

So I'm not going to be disappointed in myself anymore with the way my blog is going. If you stop by, hey that's great. If you comment, well, hot dog, that's even better. But I've given up trying to kill myself for 80 comments. That's not what this experience is all about for me anymore.

This is supposed to be fun. And so it shall be. I'm going to write posts. I'm going to put them up. If you comment, I'll comment right back at ya. I'll try to get around and see what you're doing. Some weeks, I might make it, others, not so much. But I'm not promising anything, because like it or not, I'm a parent first, writer second, and blogger third. The first two take precedence over everything.

I'm a self-actualized woman. I know who I am and who my friends are. And my friends know that I'll give them the shirt off my back if they need it. My friends know that I'll drop everything for them if they need my opinion, or a critique, or help with a query. Because I can do the same to them. My friends also know that I take my writing seriously and they know when I only stop by once a month instead of every time they blog, it's not a slight against them. They know I'm busy. It doesn't mean I love them any less. I love them even more for their understanding.

So, for all you out there who think I'm dissing you, or I don't care because I've only commented once on your blog in the last 3 weeks, please don't think that way. I'm not. I'm just finding myself a new groove.

Tell me -- How long did it take you to find your groove?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hitting the Refresh Key

Well, Good Morning. Here I am once again, as you all probably knew that I would be. I know, I know, I say I'm going to quit blogging, and then I always come back. I love you guys too much to stay away.

I can't say it was a relaxing month, I still worked. I formatted and uploaded my last two books into paperback. I wrote up a boatload of blog posts. I spring cleaned my house. Ugh! Windows, carpets, got a shiny new Bot-Spot to shampoo my favorite chair and the love seat. I also started chopping down the trees in my backyard for the fence I'm going to build. Yup, I don't know what it is with me and fences, but I just gotta build them.

I've also finished THE LADY'S MASQUERADE. I had to make a lot of changes to it, so it will work with the last book in the series. It's in the hands of my fabulous critique partners now. However, I'm not rushing it. I'm not putting myself in that stressful environment again. When it looks good, I'll publish it.

I've also been toodling around with KATE, another romantic women's fiction. I love this book. It's kind of like REMEMBERING YOU, but not. You know. A lot of stuff happens to Kate and she needs to find herself before she can figure out what she wants. I do have the title, but sorry, I'm not sharing. Let me just say branding has become my middle name.

Anyway, what I've decided for the next several months is to start posting again M-W-F. Like I said, I've written up a load of posts, some I've reworked from previous posts, and I've also brought back my Friday's at the Piedmont Grille series. I have some fantastic authors to spotlight with new books, and interviews, so I hope you'll all stick around for those.

I also wanted to let you know, that this is the tentative schedule until around Memorial Day. I promised Monster a long time ago, I would only "work" when she was in school. When she's on vacation, then I'm on vacation. But I kind of think this is a good schedule. I can see the end of the tunnel as far as blogging goes -- a couple of months on, a couple of months off -- and I like it. Maybe I won't burn myself out.

So, that's all I've got. Oh, well, one more thing... about commenting. I believe that's where my trouble with burned out blogging started. I couldn't get around to all the blogs to comment. I like to reciprocate when you guys stop by here. But when I don't, I feel guilty, and it eats at me. So, I'm going to tell you now, when you comment on my blog, I will comment back here. I can't promise you I'll show up with any regularity on your blogs, but I will try. I'm not particularly fond of those bloggers who post and then never comment anywhere. I think it's rude. But if you comment on this blog, I will answer you. And rest assured, I will read your blogs as time permits. I like to keep my nose in everybody's business and Google Reader and I have become friends once again.

It's good to be back.

Tell me -- What have you been up to? Get an Agent? Requests? Published? Any shiny new ideas?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- An Essay on Time Management as it Pertains to This Writer

Back when I was a shiny new blogger, I implemented these Friday posts at the Grille because I wanted a way to showcase different things -- authors, essays, my writing excerpts, interviews, book reviews, stuff I wouldn't necessarily use on a regular blog post.

In all the turmoil of the last few years I've had to let this go, which is a shame because this was my favorite venue. Friday's were more or less play dates with myself. (Thoughts out of the gutter please. You know what I mean.) I got to do what I wanted.

Once I decided to self-publish, however, time seemed to get away from me. I went from blogging seven days a week, to five, to three, and now down to one. And it seems I can't even get a grip on that. Several writer pals who I used to frequent, finally decided enough was enough for them and gave up on blogging for good. Some had personal crisis they had to deal with, some just didn't want to be bothered anymore, some found agents and their writing career took off. I miss them terribly.

Blogging isn't like it used to be. If you're a newbie, it's still exciting. If you've done it for a few years like I have, it's a job. New posts, new ideas, commenting, finding new followers...all takes time. I really don't know how the super bloggers do it -- you know the ones I mean, those with kids, a full-time job, PTO, housework, laundry, those with a life.

I love blogging. I really do. I like interacting with other writers, reading their thoughts, their writing, celebrating with them when they finally get a contract, an agent, a book deal, or self-publish. That stuff never gets old.

For me though, I think I'm burned out. I have three blogs now. That being said, no one reads the other two. And hey, I don't blame you. There's only so much time you have for reading blogs. I don't really know why I started them. Probably just trying to keep my head on straight. I thought if I separated my blogs it would be easier for me to stay organized. How's that working for me? Not very well.

One thing I've learned through the blogs over the last couple of years is that no matter what, writing comes first. It's my career now. I used to be a chef. Now if I make macaroni and cheese out of a box, my daughter thinks it's Thanksgiving. (The microwave is my best friend.)

Writing is the number one priority I own these days. I've steadily built up a repertoire of books, I even think I have a small fan base. I actually get letters from people asking when the next book will be out. I'm happy about that. Ecstatic even, when one considers it's such a micro niche market.

Problem is, writing takes time. Last year I published three novels and eight short stories. Not only did I write them, I revised, edited, proof read, copy edited, formatted and then uploaded. For some, that might be a cake walk. For others, it's burn out. I'm tottering on the fence. This coming year, I hope to do the same. Huge undertaking, but it has to be done if I want to remain solvent. This writing business is my paycheck now.

And with the publishing market changing at lightning speed these days, who knows if blogging is anything other than an online journal. Does it help build a fan base? Not sure. Is Twitter more effective? Don't know. FaceBook? Possibly, but I can't say for certain. Agents don't have all the answers anymore. Some say yes, you MUST blog. Others say it's not worth it. However, ALL of them say, the only way to be successful as a writer is to WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

As a self-published author, I don't have the leisure of taking a year to write a book or even six months, if I want to be successful. I have to write all the time. I have to come out with something new every three or four months if I want to stay on top of the pile of all the books out there. Competition is fierce. And with the big name New York authors hogging all the #1 spots, a small town girl like me probably doesn't have much of a chance. But I'm working on it. Steadily working on it, book by book.

Also, as a self-published author, I don't have the "machine" of publicity departments, or agents, or publishing managers pulling for me. I have to create my own publicity. Personally, I'm a very shy creature. I don't like to call undo attention to myself. I've never done a blog tour, and quite frankly hate seeing them on the blogs. The same book cover splashed over the face of blog posts for a month is ridiculous. Honestly, it annoys the hell out of me and a few other bloggers as well. Which is why I refuse to do one.

That being said, I have to buckle down and make a commitment to myself, to my books, and come up with other strategies to market and promote my books. I have no idea how to do it, but it's a necessary evil. And that, takes time too.

Anyway, what this all boils down to is I'm taking a break. I'll be gone for the month of February. I have some commitments coming up in March and the first week in April. After that, it's anybody's guess if I'll continue to blog. I really have to get my act together. I don't want to give it up, but it's just not fun for me anymore, and one thing I've always said, "When it stops being fun, I'm done."

So, I'll see you later.