My original intention for the series of interviews I do here was to focus on agents (BBCHAT) and successful authors (SAT). In the course of internet wanderings though, I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.
This particular BOA is even more awesome because it's a BOA WoW! (We're Ohio Writers). Yeah, that's right. We grow 'em here.
BBC: So you run an excellent blog over at Honestly YA. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?
Melissa: We agreed from the get-go that the way to make our blog stand out from the masses was to keep it personal. We share secrets with our readers—embarrassing, poignant, and sometimes hilarious experiences from our teen years. And we have a helluva lot of fun doing it!
Lorie: What Mel said.
Carey: Author Shelley Coriell deserves some serious credit for the honestly approach. When we were first talking about forming a grog, Shelley shared her marketing plan that focused on organic activities. It fit into our overall concept of rehashing our teen angst, not to sell books or ourselves, but because teen experiences connect YA readers.
BBC: I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time. Honestly YA is a group blog, do you find that helpful in balancing the time investment?
Melissa: Um, blogging every six weeks versus blogging every week? Yes, please! Group blogs are the way to go. You just have to find a combination that works.
Lorie: Absolutely! Blogging on a six person rotation is not only helpful from a time budgeting standpoint, but it’s also a great moral support. I was extremely leery about blogging, especially on personal topics, but being part of a great team makes it easier.
Carey: If helps that try to have our rotation topics locked in 6-12 months in advance. With Blogger, I can write my posts and schedule them to publish at a later date. So hypothetically, I could spend 1 day to write and load a whole year’s worth of posts. Geez-I wish I was that organized! But I do try to draft 3 or 4 posts at a time…What’s 6 weeks times 4 posts??? ANYONE? Well, anyone except Lorie. We’re so not math girls.
*breaks down and asks hubby* ME: “What’s 6x4?” HUBBY: “24” ME: “What’s 24 in months?” HUBBY: “I don’t understand the question.” ME: “If I have 24 weeks, how many months is that?” Hubby begins a long explanation of why it’s not exactly a round number of months and how it depends on—I wonder what unicorns eat? Did my son pack sock for gym class tomorrow? —blah, blah, blah— Why are dust bunnies devouring that brain shaped eraser? Are they zombie dust bunnies?—hubby stops talking. ME: “So how many months was that?” HUBBY: “5 and a half.” Wow, that nearly half a year of posts!
BBC: Do any of you have personal blogs as well? Do you approach them differently than you do your group blog?
Melissa: Yes, my blog is called The Unrepentant Escapist. It’s where I promote my entire body of work (my adult romance in addition to YA). I don’t blog there regularly, but that’s where I run all my giveaways and link posts when I guest blog at other sites.
Carey: Mine is My Own Brand of Madness and it’s geared toward my indie publishing experiences as a YA author.
BBC: Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?
Melissa: Eh…sometimes I think blogging helps. Other days, especially when nobody comments on a post, I wonder if we bloggers are just talking to ourselves. But you know what? It’s free, so why not partake? You never know who you’ll reach.
Lorie: I was skeptical at first, but yes, Honestly YA has given me an online presence that I couldn’t have achieved on my own.
Carey: What they said. Our agent/editor interview series does get us a lot of attention. But we’re also always eager to read our blogmates takes on a topic—so if we’re the only ones talking, that’s okay.
BBC: Sometimes social media feels like a do-or-die. How do you approach Twitter or Facebook on days when you really don’t feel like you have much to say?
Melissa: It’s simple. On days when I don’t have much to say, I shut up. J
Lorie: I don’t say anything. J I post most days, but I don’t feel pressure to tweet or post on facebook every single day.
Carey: Ditto – I take a weekly, when I’ve something of quality to say, approach. J
BBC: What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?
Melissa: I highly recommend the Absolute Write forums for everything from connecting with beta readers to learning the best query strategies.
Lorie: Storywonk.com has excellent online classes that are entertaining and informative. http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ is a blog I’ve followed for years and it continues to be a source of inspiration for me.
Carey: I’m a fan of Literary Rambles. And I visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab or OWL on a daily basis.
BBC: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?
Melissa: Don’t get so bogged down with building an online presence that you neglect your writing. You can’t tweet your way into a book deal.
Lorie: The keys for me are discipline and determination.
Write every day, even if you have dishes piled in the sink or laundry to do, make it a priority to write at least one paragraph every single day. You’ll find that some days creating a single sentence is painful. Do it anyway. Most of the time once you start writing you won’t want to stop and you’ll end up writing much more than a paragraph.
I can’t stress determination enough. Don’t let rejection break you, stare it in the face and keep walking. Keep reading, writing, and perfecting your skills. In short, don’t ever give up.
Carey: One great project will net you more than a dozen mediocre ones. Don’t rush to submit/indie publish your early drafts or first manuscripts. Hide them under your bed and keep writing. Leverage your writing community to perfect your craft and ensure your manuscripts shine. Once you reach mastery, you can dust off the early stuff and rework it into something brilliant.
Bios: Check us out on Honestly YA
Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in February 2014 from Disney Hyperion. You can learn more about her on www.melissa-landers.com, and she’d love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf!
Carey Corp’s debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction. It is available in print and eBook. For more information, visit her at careycorp.com.
|l-r: Carey, Melissa, Lorie|