Monday, October 21, 2013

Focusing My NaNo Project

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. I've got a LENGTHY to-do list for October that, if accomplished, will allow me to get ahead in life enough to focus on my NaNo project. NaNo is often a great learning exercise, and with that I wanted to focus on some of my writing weaknesses.

One thing I can improve on is dialogue. Coincidently, this week's podcast features one of my favorite writers when it comes to writing witty dialogue, Larry Correia, and he shared some great tips on that topic. He also said he has two cardinal rules when it comes to writing (all writing, not just dialogue):

1) Keep it interesting. If it's boring, take it out.
2) Keep it clear. If you confuse people, take it out.

A little insider's secret: we record these shows weeks and even months before they are released. I tend to forget which order the shows come out in and was happy to see this week was Larry's show because I just finished another book by him two days ago. Plus, I've been giving dialogue a lot of thought lately as I plot out my NaNo project.

I **LOVE** the way  his characters talk!! He writes the perfect amount of geeky humor that keeps me laughing throughout the entire novel. He also blows a lot of things up... always a bonus!

One piece of advice he gave is to read good dialogue in order to learn how to do it better. I would highly suggest his works without hesitation. A word of warning, however, he does use--what some would consider--salty language. But it is well written, so it is sweet and salty. Like a Payday Bar.

So, that's it, Larry Correia is a Payday Bar.

Let's have some fun. Write ONE LINE of dialogue in the comments on what comes next:

My door flew open and Dad charged in the room like a train late for its next stop. Well, my fun was officially over. Dad saw what laid on the table and he halted with a look of confusion crossing his face. Realization hit, and he barked, "What are you doing in here?"

No sense in hiding it, I could only respond with the truth. I looked him in the eye and said, "...(this is where you, dear reader, come in)..."

Oh, and please, keep it clean. :)

I'm hungry now for a candy bar for some reason, so I'll click on that "Publish" button and see how you guys do.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Awakening by Christy Dorrity, An Interview and an Ebook Giveaway

Giveaway

Yesterday, Christy Dorrity released her debut album, Awakening. So, of course, I asked myself, "That's good and all, but what's in it for me?"

Well, first I get to give away an eBook copy of Awakening. How cool is that? So, I get the God-like powers of choosing a winner. BUAHAHAHAAHA!!!

Just kidding, I'll let Excel hold those powers. To enter, just comment below with the name of your favorite form of dance. No cheating by copying somebody else's answer. I want YOUR favorite dance. Don't think I'll know. *stern look*

The winner will get a copy of the book in eBook format. I'll stalk you until I get your email address, and then the author will contact you. I'll close the contest and announce a winner Thursday night when the comments slow down.

If you need inspiration, here is one of my favorite Youtube videos, the evolution of dance:


Interview

I also got to interview Christy after I read the book. So here goes:

JD: Welcome to my blog. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Christy Dorrity: Hi James! Thanks for having me. Well, my name is Christy. I’m a stay-at-home mom to five amazing kids. I love to spend time with them and my best friend, and husband, Devon. In my ‘spare’ time, I love to write, and Irish dance.

My debut novel, AWAKENING, has just released and I am so excited to share it with the world!

JD: What inspired you to write Awakening?

CD: I began Irish dancing about eleven years ago and I was fascinated by the Irish culture, music, and mythology. When I began writing part time a few years later, it felt natural to write about something I am so passionate about.

There was a little girl in the class I taught at church whose name was similar to what is now my main character’s name. I thought, ‘McKayla McCleery. I could write a story about an Irish dancer with that name.’

JD: There is a large focus on Celtic mythology, do you have Celtic roots?

CD: I have no Irish roots, all of my Celtic roots come from Scotland. My husband’s family comes from the O’ Dochartaigh clan in Ireland.

JD: There is also a focus on dancing, both ballet and Celtic dancing. You write like you know what is involved in these dances. Do you have a dance background?

CD: Yes, I’ve been dancing as long as I could walk. When I was four years old I begged my mom to put me in ballet. I danced all through school and into college.

When I was an adult, my husband bought us tickets to see Riverdance and I was hooked. I found lessons and now, eleven years later, my thirteen-year-old son and I have recently advanced to the championship level in our competitive Irish dance training.

JD: I really liked this magic system. How did you put it together?

CD: I love the quote, ‘Music is the language of the heart’, and I wanted to extend this to dance. I didn’t want the magic system to be too heavy-handed, instead I focused on the reality that we all have gifts that when used to help others can be magical. For instance, have you ever been affected by a movie, or a dance performance, or a vocal performance that touched you emotionally?

In AWAKENING, the characters have gifts that can be found in our lives, but are magically enhanced. For instance, McKayla can instill that emotion in others through her dance. In book two you will see more of the magic come out through motion, song, and the senses.

JD: This appears to be written as a series. Any idea when the next book will be released? How much of it is already written?

CD: I have two more books planned in The Geis series, and ideas for other books or series in the same world. Book two is in the outline stage right now and the ideas are fast and flowing!

In book two, which I plan to have out in 2014, we will follow Zoey to Tír na nÓg, where she will rescue her sister McKayla, who has been missing for four years, from those who would use McKayla’s gift for evil.

Book Description



About the Book

. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.


When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities. After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened.

When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy. A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.


Awakening (The Geis, #1)

Praise for Awakening

"AWAKENING is a wonder and a delight. Christy Dorrity is a talent to watch."
~David Farland, New York Times bestselling author of Nightingale


"I thoroughly enjoyed AWAKENING, a captivating and unique debut novel that creatively integrates Irish dance."
~ CHRIS NAISH, Riverdance member and Creative Director of Fusion Fighters Irish dancers.
About the Author

Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Purchase Awakening by Christy Dorrity:

Purchase Kindle Book Purchase Nook Book 



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Appreciating Change

Story Time


When I was getting my degree in business, I learned of a science experiment that I’m sure is fictitious. I’ve heard variations on the story, but this is how I remember it:

Take five monkeys and put them in a cage. There is food and living necessities, but there is also a ladder that leads to a basket of fruit at the top of the cage. After the monkeys settle into the cage they are going to notice the fruit and attempt to climb up to it. When they do, spray that monkey with cold water from a hose AND spray the other four monkeys. Do this every time a monkey makes a mad dash for the fruit. Soon, all five monkeys learn that everybody pays the price of getting cold, wet, and uncomfortable any time another monkey tried to use the ladder.

At this point, you can take the hose out of the equation.

After this, take one of the monkeys and replace him/her with a fresh new monkey (let’s just assume all the monkeys are male). Within minutes of scanning his new home, he’s going to see the fruit and start climbing the ladder, wondering how he was fortunate enough to be the first to notice the delicious looking fruit.

Do you spray the monkey? Nope! The other four monkeys will attack the new one, until it also learns to keep his distance from the ladder.

Now replace another one of the original monkeys with a new monkey, and you’ll find that the same thing happens. The new monkey starts to climb the ladder and the other monkeys attack, including the one that had never even been sprayed with cold water. Interestingly, he’s the most enthusiastic of the bunch, grateful to no longer be on the receiving end of these beatings.

One by one, replace the other three monkeys until you have five monkeys that have never been sprayed, yet refuse to go for the fruit in fear they’ll all pay the price.

The story goes that while the fifth newcomer is getting monkeysmacked around, one of the monkeys turn to another and says, “Hey, why do we beat up anybody who tries to climb the ladder?”

The second monkey just says, “I dunno. It’s just the way we’ve always done it around here.”

Then my instructor deadpanned, “And that, my students, is how corporate culture gets established.”

Application


My professor encouraged us to look at everything we do and question, “Hey, why do we do this?” If the answer is the same as the monkey’s, “Beats me, that’s how it’s always been done,” then you could be sitting on an excellent opportunity for change.

I worked for a company where you had to hand in your timecards two days before the end of the workweek. This obviously caused problems, because illness and other unforeseeable events often necessitated changing it after the fact. When a newcomer asked why we did this, especially since they didn’t start processing the timecards until THREE days after we turned them in, it turned out it was a holdover from a former employee who demanded it in case a surprise ended up in HER schedule. The process was changed and it saved time because it negated the need to adjust it later.

I know, it’s so simple, but don’t laugh too much. We all do weird things just because it is the way everyone’s always done it.

Take typing for example. Why do 99% of us type on the QWERTY keyboard? After all, it was actually designed to slow down typing speed. I’ve got a friend who questioned this and decided to learn the Dvorak keyboard. His typing speed went from 80 words per minute to 120! If you spend most of your day typing, imaging your productivity level if you could do it all 50% faster.

Speaking of keyboards, here’s a post a couple of years ago where I learned I was using the spacebar wrong for decades. Never questioning, only assuming that everybody did it this way.

And there are traditions we continue because most people don't question them.

We make resolutions every January 1st. What, you can’t decide to improve your life in the middle of September? Go ahead. Try it. You aren’t breaking any laws. Making life changes are more effective when you get prompted and motivated instead of waiting after Christmas and settling on, “Oh, I could lose a few pounds. Let’s join a gym at the most expensive time to do it!”

How often should you change your oil? If you said either 3,000 or 5,000 miles, you are most likely wrong. Have you looked at your owner’s manual? New cars can go multitudes of that without an oil change. Last time I changed my oil, my dealership said, “See ya’ in 10,000 miles.” That’s one maintenance that costs me a third of my time and money now.

A year ago, I asked somebody why she commuted to work a certain way. “I don’t know, I’ve been
going this route for nearly 8 years.” I encouraged her to try another route because a few new roads have opened up since she got her job. Ever since, she saves five minutes of driving each direction. That’s ten minutes of her life she gets back every time she goes to work. That’s nearly 2,500 minutes saved every year. And since she changes her oil every 3,000 miles, she can now go another week or so between oil changes.

Can anybody make a suitable argument for learning cursive, especially in this day of (albeit QWERTY) keyboards and printers? In college, most of my professors wouldn’t accept homework in cursive. Imagine if we spent that class time learning something else instead. I’d be surprised if somebody actually said that learning cursive is more important than getting a little bit further in math, science, and reading comprehension. Have you seen kids with their status updates on social media sites? I’d love to see a few more spelling lessons!

Did you have a best man at your wedding? Did you know that it’s a tradition where the groom had his strongest muscleman by his side to enforce the marriage if the bride got cold feet?

We shake hands as a way to show we aren’t carrying a sword, yet people are more likely to die from
the germs that are spread than a surprise beheading. I envy the oriental customs of bowing. I’m starting to fist-bump people more often now, I guess that’s better than a handshake from a germ perspective. Right? Well, baby steps.

And don’t get me started on daylights saving time.

What Should I Do About It?


We all do some weird things without questioning it.

Well, question it!

Think outside the box. You might learn something new if there is a valid reason a process should remain unchanged. Most likely, you’ll find a way to improve a process. Talk to others about it. Some of my best group brainstorming experiences started with, “Hey, why…..?”

Do this at work, at home, and in any organization you are a part of and you’ll start making your life easier, save money, and find extra nuggets of time to do the things you enjoy.

Unrelated note: If you’re ever thrown into a cage with some rough-looking characters, a ladder, and a basket of fruit at the top, I’d probably start asking a few questions.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Relaunch Coming Soon

If you visited yesterday, you got a sneak peek at how I'm re-branding this blog. I reverted back this morning, but you might catch me testing some changes beforehand. I'm getting excited, and I hope you are too.

Stay tuned, I hope to relaunch it soon-I'm just getting some details squared away before I nail down a date. There will be prizes and fun posts everybody can enjoy and appreciate. Did I mention prizes? If I can figure out how to email food, I'll do that as well!

Monday, August 12, 2013

POV Writing

Today I posted on LDS Writer's Blogck with a tip on writing from a specific point of view. Click here to see the post.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Divided by Ryan Hunter

Remember that author interview I did with Ryan Hunter? Well, her new book, The Divided, is being released today. The tagline, I think, is pretty awesome:

What would you do if you had the power to teach freedom, but such actions could start a war?


This is the sequel to inDIVISBLE. If you haven't read that yet, start with the interview I hyperlinked above to learn more. Honestly, I haven't read The Divided yet--I have it, I just haven't been able to fit it in yet. But I did review inDIVISIBLE about a year ago:

This is one of the better dystopians I've read. Ryan Hunter has dreamed up an amazing future where technology is heavily used to control and manipulate their public, but technology was not ready for teenager Brynn Aberdie who's world crumbles around here after her father is shot and she starts learning the secrets that the One United government fought to keep hidden. With her friend, known as T, their only hope to stopping the government is to find and align themselves with the Freemen after she is armed with knowledge that could be used against One United. What ensues is a wild adventure. You'll find yourself cheering for Brynn and T, especially as romantic feelings for each other begin to surface.

Ryan Hunter does a great job of inventing technologies that take this beyond what George Orwell could imagine when he wrote 1984. There is tension throughout the book, beginning from the first page and only allowing small chances to catch your breath until you reach a satisfying ending. If you are looking for the next great dystopian then look no further, you've found it in inDIVISIBLE.
I'm looking forward to picking this up sometime soon. You can also add it to your Goodread shelves by clicking here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Podcasts, Blogging, and Reinvention

I've mentioned this briefly before, but I haven't officially announced it.

I'm a podcaster!!

Every Monday, I kick out a new episode of the show and interview great guests about aspects of writing. It's been an incredible experience... I've befriended some incredible writers and learned a lot from the experience.

You can listen to our podcast at http://www.foreverwriters.com/category/podcast/, and this morning I released the latest show.

It's about blogging.

I've thought about this show a lot since we recorded back in May. It was the show that inspired my post on social media. I had vowed to cut back on my social media networking and focus more on writing and blogging.

Notice the phrase "cut back". I didn't eliminate it completely, nor did I intend to, but I am spending less time there. And writing-wise, put a big check mark there!! I'd say my writing productivity has increased significantly. I still have more cutting back to do and hope to see more words appear in my word processor.

But my blogging activities haven't increased. I would  like to start blogging more, and I think it is time for a reinvention. I'll post on this again soon as I revise my focus and commit myself to a schedule.

So, stay tuned. I hope that you'll find this a more interesting place to hang out!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What I've Done This Summer

This blog post makes me think of those "what I did this summer" reports we always had to write in school. Most of mine lacked a lot of details because the statute of limitations hadn't passed yet. But, here goes...

I did some traveling this weekend. I think that was "vacation" #5. Vacation is put in quotes because most vacations are just me being a chauffeur for somebody else and, if I'm lucky, I might be able to put in some reading or catch a movie.

I'm rarely lucky.

This weekend, I got to drive up to Orem and attend a writing convention (yay!), then I recorded a podcast (yay!), and then went to my high school reunion to catch up with old friends (yay!). Then, I drove home (boo!). I just really needed to be back home for a number of things on Sunday.

Despite being up for about 24 hours there and spending a third of that time behind the wheel of a car, I quite enjoyed myself. It is nice to socialize with others, learn, and catch up with old friends. And I didn't have to drive anybody around except myself. I was the master of my happiness.

Just sayin'... sometimes I think it is important to do something for yourself. Most vacations are me trying to spend time with the family, which is important. You can't put a price on pleasant memories, and I wouldn't trade any of my "vacations" for anything else.

I just need occasional me time, and I think most people do. If you feel yourself burning out, you might not need a vacation, you might just need to get away from it all for a few hours or a day or two and pamper yourself. It is an excellent opportunity to recharge your batteries for all the other things you have in life.

How about everybody else? What are you guys doing? And how do you hide and recover from the stresses in your life?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Emblazon Launch

Today, a new website launches called Emblazon, a website dedicated to the writers for 11-14 year olds. I think this is great, I often hear of people struggling to find reading for children of this age. They are hungry readers with little to turn to to satisfy their reading cravings.

Also, I'm happy to see two of my personal friends at Emblezon (stuff below is shamelessly pilfered from their website):

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books including BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series, and the author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. Website  | Blog  | Facebook  | Twitter  | Goodreads | Amazon Page |


When Monique Bucheger isn’t writing, you can find her playing taxi driver to one or more of her 12 children, plotting her next novel, scrapbooking, or being the “Mamarazzi” at any number of child-oriented events. Even though she realizes there will never be enough hours in any given day, Monique tries very hard to enjoy the journey that is her life. She shares it with a terrific husband, her dozen children, one adorable granddaughter, two cats, and many real and imaginary friends. She is the author of the GINNIE WEST ADVENTURE series. Website Facebook  | Twitter  | Goodreads |Amazon Page |

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quick Review: The Dream Keeper by Mikey Brooks

If you guys haven't seen it yet, Mikey Brooks has come out with his latest book, The Dream Keeper.

Mikey and I have gotten to know each little a lot more the last year. We are both hosts of the Authors' Think Tank podcast, we are both active in the ATT group, we are in the same critique group, and we shared a room at LTUE back in February.

But this is where things go crazy: he is my brother-in-law, a fact we didn't know until after we had become friends. After realizing this, it turns out that we've been to a few family events and weddings and didn't even know each other. Seriously, what are the odds?

While chatting over story ideas, I was excited to pick up The Dream Keepers when I got a blurb from Mikey. Here is the book description:
Dreams: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME. When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world? THE DREAM KEEPER is an upper middle-grade fantasy-adventure that will keep you turning the pages.

It is right about one thing, it WILL keep the pages turning. The pace of this book is very fast as it seems like a lot of things is happening all at once. The characters do take little pauses to reflect on the events that are happening, which is nice because we get a chance to catch our breaths, but then excitement ensues again. I think this is a great book if you are looking for a good way to pace an adventure novel.

I found the book to be a fun and humorous middle grade read. I know, I know, you are thinking I'm a little biased because Mikey is family. Well, I might be, but here are what others are saying about the book:

"The Dream Keeper is a fun, fantastic ride through both Dream and Nightmare. Brooks has written a book that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Bravo!" —Michaelbrent Collings, bestselling author of The Billy Saga and Hooked: A True Faerie Tale

“This really is a cracking novel. Action-packed and spellbinding!”—Cas Peace, author of The Artisans of Albia series.

"If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you'll love this!" -Brooklyn

"Mikey spins such a magical tale that will sweep you off your feet." - Konstanz Silverbow

You can pick it up at Amazon by clicking here. You can also visit Mikey's website to get to know him better and to find out his other projects by visiting http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.



Monday, June 10, 2013

A CONTEST!!!

I haven't had a contest in a long time, it's due. On today's Authors' Think Tank podcast we had Adam Sidwell join us on the show (YAY!!). Adam is a blast! He has written Evertaster and The Buttersmiths' Gold and hope we can have him visit the podcast again in the future.

I have an extra *SIGNED* copy of his first book, Evertaster, and thought that a giveaway would be an excellent tie-in to the show.

So check out the show at:

http://www.foreverwriters.com/2013/06/10/episode-16-marketing-with-adam-sidwell/

And enter below for your chance to win your own copy of Evertaster*. Contest ends this weekend, but you can tweet about it every day for extra entries. May the cupcakes be forever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Apologies to my friends outside of The States, but I can only afford to make this available to people within the United States. Enter more legalese here for any exploits that hasn't occurred to me yet. (If you have a question, I'm easy to find so ask away).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Character Growth Through Trials

I'll explain why some other time, but due to my latest focus of writing projects, I find myself looking at people and thinking, "I wonder what their story is. What hardships did they have to endure in order to get where they are." Every interesting person in life has a history of trial they had to overcome in order to be great.

I love stories of overcoming hardships like this one. It's so beautiful, it brought a tear to my eye:


So, my advice to you is that while you are writing your characters who are AWESOME and INTERESTING, it is rarely that they were born that way. Usually, they have to overcome hardships in order to be the character that your readers want to cheer for and care about. Ask yourself what hardships they had to overcome.

An example is this video. I don't know who this mother is, but I have no doubt that the hardships she has had to ENDURE and OVERCOME (two things that build great characters) since having her son have made her a better person. But so much of that is choices. She could have chosen the easy way "out" in so man cases. Not just the abortion, but she could have put Christian up for adoption, or drop the waddled baby at the steps of the corner church, or just ignored him and make him society's problem. I think taking the baby out of the picture would have broken her. Destroyed her. Made her a lessor person. She choose the hard road and her choices has lead to a blessed  family and a child that knows love. For those we care about this in this story, it is a win!! Who here is still hung up on the woman who came over and said, "You should have aborted that thing when you had the chance."? Who remembers her. Who cares about such a heartless, uncaring person? I'm sure she has had hardships in her life as well, but her hardships has led her to saying this to somebody who held a beautiful, giggling child in her arms.

Find a character in all of your stories who has to choose this type of life, a life path that leads them to excellence. Even better, get a few of these characters.  And, you've got a story on your hands that people will cheer for and not want to put down.

Just for fun, have two or three such characters with the same goals but different means in order to achieve them. Get them to fight about it. In their own minds, the choices they make are the most correct ones. Look at The Council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings. They are all great and powerful people who have had to overcome hardships, and they all had one goal, and that was to keep the ring of power out of the hands of the enemy. Some wanted to use it, some wanted to hide it or protect it, while others wanted to destroy it. Gimli wanted to--and tried to--take an axe to it. Ultimately, the bravest and more interesting choice, was to give the ring to the most humblest creature of all so he could simply walk into Mordor and destroy it. But, didn't you love that conflict? Didn't it put you on the edge of your seat?

Same with The Avengers. All of the Avengers were pow-wowwing in the science room talking about what should be done with the tesseract and the Avengers and I think there was a second of disagreement between Coke and Pepsi. All great heroes with phenomenal backstories of trial, endurance, choices, and not taking the easy road. All of them had the same goal. They all had different approaches on what to do next.

You don't have to tell your readers what those hardships are, but you really should SHOW it in one way or another. Let those experiences shine in their eyes. Let the reader know what they went through, even if you never, ever have the character come out and say, "My Dad chopped off my hand and I had to convert him to my religion without getting angry." (Spoiler alert: The was Star Wars episodes 5 & 6)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vacation!!

It's that time of year. The time to get the kids out of the house and away from the computer. It's time to vacation!!

Actually, it's more like it's time to be a chauffeur for a week. Honestly, I don't look forward to these "vacations", they are never for me.. But, when I look back on past trips and reflect on the memories or click through the pictures that are taken, it is worth it. Worth every penny. Worth every second. After all, two more years and I'm an empty nester, so I don't get too many opportunities like this anymore. I can go on the vacations I want to do, and will probably spend most of it wishing my son was with me.

We're in California throughout the week, getting all we can out of two season passes to Six Flags. In a few weeks, we head for Washington D.C. Actually, I'm looking forward to the D.C. trip. It will be great to visit some American history.

I know I'm not the only one cooking up a vacation. What are you guys doing this summer?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Social Media

I pretty much began my writing journey two years ago when I attended the 2011 LDS Storymakers in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the time, everybody kept saying that if you want to be a writer, you need a social presence. Specifically, get a blog, be active on Facebook, and become one with Twitter.

But most of all, blog.

So, I became a blogger, having no idea what I was doing. Well... let's be honest, I still have no idea.

Fast forward a year, and I had noticed that the fever to open blogs had toned down a bit. I still heard a lot about getting an online presence, so I kept active on Facebook and Twitter. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed this blog, too, which is why the posts still come, though not regularly.

Every few months, I take inventory of my time and look for ways to cut back. I cancelled cable, watching less TV, and playing less video games. I even reduced my obsession with the news, an emotional investment I've bee fond of for 15 years. I've also adjusted to waking up a o'dark thirty in the morning to write. But a week ago, I started looking at social media. Is the time worth it? I've pitched to two agents, and neither of them asked how active I was online.

When I went to Storymakers this year, I went contemplating an abandonment of my social media presence. I ran into a couple of people who got me thinking.

I had David Powers King (DPK) on the podcast and I asked him if blogging is still a good thing. His answer: it works for him. He has kept a loyal following after finding how he wanted to blog and being consistent with it.
DPK, The King of Blogging
Another author I had on my show, Abel Keogh, said he has written four books because the people on his blog strong-armed him into writing it. Again, another example of how blogging worked. He still blogs regularly and has a loyal following.
Abel Keogh
Side note: I rarely see DPK and Keogh on Facebook.

I met an author who taught a class on marketing. She mostly pushed social media, because it is "free." While DPK suggests blogging 2-3 times per week, she stated you should be posting 4-5 times per week. Holy Mamma!!!

She then went on to say she gets most of her traffic from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn? You mean the site with the resume I haven't updated in nearly 6 years? That place?

Apparently, she spent a lot of time on LinkedIn, and it is now her biggest source of finding purchasers for her books. How interesting...
Chas Hathaway
While interviewing DPK, fellow podcaster and friend Chas Hathaway mentioned that when he posts something on his blog, he will post the link on Facebook and get few to no comments on his blog, but a conversation will start flourish on Facebook.

So, wait, what is going on here? What should I take from this?

I have a theory. Well, since I'm very opinionated, I have two theories (actually, I have more, but I'll stop myself)...

1) You will reap the most reward depending where you focus your online presence. If I focus on my blog, I'll get a strong following here. Same for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or standing on a busy street corner in my tighty-whities strumming with a banjo. If people expect to find you somewhere consistently, you'll pick up a following.
For the ladies. Seriously though... mock him if you want, but he's on Wikipedia and I'm not.
The key word here is consistently!

I'm pretty consistent on Facebook and Twitter. A little less so on Google+. As far as Blogger goes, I don't think I'm cut out for consistent. I enjoy it, but having a set time every day/week/whatever is not for me. All I can promise is "when I have time for it." Sorry.

My suggestion for you is to focus on what you enjoy. Where you sow the most seeds is where most of your fruit will grow. I'd avoid the shotgun approach of hitting everything because 1) you'll spread yourself too thin, and 2) you'll never/rarely find the time to write.

Which brings me to...

2) As much as people proclaim social media, I think a writer's time is best spent (are you sitting down?) WRITING! That's right, BICHOK (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard).

I challenge you to find a successful writer who spends his entire day chillin' on Facebook and Twitter. Dedicating hours per day to online activity is only going to take you away from writing. And writers get paid when their writing is done, not when the Facebook status, tweet, or blog post is published.

Don't get me wrong, I think social activity is a good thing, but it isn't the best thing. Why settle for good, when the BEST thing you can do is write?

So what am I saying? Am I quitting social media? Is this website going away?

No. I'm just cutting back on the great time suck that is Facebook, et al. But I'll still be around, having fun, saying stupid stuff, and responding to interactions. Since blogging is closer to writing, I'll keep at it. Posting might even become more consistent. I'll re-evaluate in a few months on whether I need to cut back more.

Agree? Disagree? What are you thoughts?

So, off I go... to write!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May The Fourth Be With You

Saturday is Star Wars Day (May the 4th be With You). Since David Farland/Wolverton has written several Star Wars books,we'd like to celebrate this day of geekdom by letting the Wolverton Family know that "the force will be with them" in their time of need. Help Ben by tweeting, retweeting, and sharing this throughout the twitterverse.

Help Star Wars author's son on Star Wars Day! Visit http://www.helpwolverton.com to learn more. #davidfarland #starwarsday #HelpBen



Our goal is to get #HelpBen and #davidfarland trending, thereby reaching more people who can help Ben. Please tell others about the event. You can also share this tweet on other social websites like Google+ (get it trending there!), Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, blogs, and anything else. Several independent studies confirm that spreading the word will significantly increase your midichlorian count.

Trending Goals


While having several hundred people mention it throughout the day will be helpful, it might not be enough to get the topic trending. While every tweet helps, timing of the tweets can make a difference. If we can have 100+ people mention it at once within a coupe of minutes of each other, it ups the chances of it trending. So, here is what we suggest. If you are looking for the right time to do it, do it at the top of the hour. If we can get enough people tweeting it, we should be able to trend every hour for a few minutes. Retweeting similar tweets should also add into the formula.

If tweeting during those times don't work, we understand. Please still mention this event on Twitter at whatever time works best for you. Every mention helps.

If we are trending, mention the fact. It will keep it alive.

This is our suggested tweet:

Help Star Wars author's son on Star Wars Day! Visit http://www.helpwolverton.com to learn more. #davidfarland #starwarsday #helpben

That is only suggested. Feel free to make it your individual tweet, or add additional information. Just make sure every tweet directs people where they can find more information (http://www.helpwolverton.com) and includes the hashtags #HelpBen and #davidfarland . Otherwise, have fun with it!

What Happened to Ben?

The twitter bomb fundraiser is for David Farland's son, Ben Wolverton, age 16, who was in a tragic longboarding accident on April 3rd, 2013. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, road rash, pneumonia. He recently woke from coma and is facing months of rehabilitation. Due to unfortunate circumstances, his family has no insurance.

To learn more about Ben and his accident, read the Ben's Story section. Regular updates and photos are posted on this blog, charting his progress (and occasional setbacks) during his recovery.

How Can I Help?

You can help by spreading the word on social media, buying Dave's books, and/or donating directly to the fun set up to cover the medical expenses required to get Ben walking again.

Spreading the Word

Our goal is to trend on Twitter, which should attract attention around the world. Google+ has a trending page as well, so use the same message there. Otherwise, sharing it on all your social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, blogger, wordpress... anything. We'd settle for neighborhood smoke signals if you think it would get people to notice. Encouraging your friends to pass on the word helps as well.

Buy Dave's Books

David Farland (also known as Dave Wolverton) has written many Star Wars novels and contributed to anthologies, such as Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia, Star Wars: The Rising Force, Star Wars: Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina, Star Wars: Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and Star Wars: Tales from Jaba's Palace.



You can also help by purchasing David Farland’s young adult fantasy thriller Nightingale. This powerful novel has won seven awards, including the International Book Award for best young adult novel of the years, and the Hollywood Book Festival for best book of the year. It has been praised by authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series). Nightingale follows the story of Bron Jones, who was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he is rejected by one family after another, until he meets Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognizes that Bron isn’t even human—he’s what her people call a "nightingale."

You can purchase it on Amazon/Kindle and Barnes and Noble/Nook. You can purchase the book and the audiobook on the Nightingale website Also, Apple/iTunes has an enhanced version complete with illustrations, interviews, animations, and its own soundtrack for your iOS devices.

If you’ve read Nightingale, don’t forget to write a review (it’s okay if it’s short!) and post it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. This will help too.

If you are a Star Wars fan, you may be more interested in downloading and purchasing David Farland’s Golden Queen trilogy as an e-book. Proceeds will also go toward Ben’s medical expenses.

International best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson called The Golden Queen "A rainbow mixture of technology and mythology, filled with vibrant colors, larger-than-life heroes, and thunderous action. A grand quest across a kaleidoscope of parallel worlds." Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning author Orson Scott Card said, "David Farland's Golden Queen trilogy....is . . . the equivalent of Lord of the Rings in space. . . . Even though it's a rollicking good yarn, you experience it with all the power of real life. Farland is simply one of the best sci-fi and fantasy writers alive."

The Golden Queen follows Gallen O’Day, who is hired as a bodyguard to escort a young woman through the woods to the forbidden ruins at Geata Na Chruinn. It seems like an ordinary job—but all too soon, he finds himself fleeing for his life from creatures that seem like escapees from a nightmare—the alien dronon, led by their golden queen. With his best friend, a genetically engineered talking bear named Orick, and his girlfriend Maggie, Gallen soon finds himself tangled in an interstellar war that he never knew existed, racing across a host of worlds, confronted by a future unlike any that he had ever imagined.

The first book in the trilogy is currently available for free on AmazonBarnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo.

Purchase the second and third books on Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Donate

You can also donate straight to Ben on the GoFundMe: Help Ben Walk page right here.

Thank you, everybody, for your continual kindness in this great time of need!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Released: The Buttersmiths' Gold

Like I wrote the other day, The Buttersmiths' Gold by Adam Sidwell is out today. You can join in on the action on the Facebook event by clicking here.


This is book two (or 1.2 since it is a novella) in the Evertaster series. Here is the book discription:


BATTLES. BLUEBERRIES. BOVINES.

TORBJORN AND STORFJELL'S HISTORY UNFOLDS IN AN EPIC EVERTASTER NOVELLA.


Everyone knows the most coveted treasure of the Viking Age was blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins so succulent that if you sniffed just a whiff, you'd want a whole bite. If you bit a bite, you'd want a batch; if you snatched a batch, you'd stop at nothing short of going to war just to claim them all.


Young Torbjorn Trofastsonn comes from the clan that makes them. He's a Viking through and through, he's thirteen winters old, larger than most respectable rocks, and most of all, a Buttersmith. That's what he thinks anyway, until a charismatic merchant makes Torbjorn question his place among the muffin-makers. When Torbjorn lets the secret of his clan's muffin recipe slip, he calls doom and destruction down upon his peaceful village and forces his brother Storfjell and his clansmen to do the one thing they are ill-prepared to do: battle for their lives.



Adam is doing something really interesting. When I release my book, I'll have to remember to do the same thing. If you buy the book from Amazon today he will send you signed book plate, so it is almost like you are getting a copy signed by him.

Details are here, on his blog.

I'm picking it up, but I also plan to see him next week, so I'll get it from him in person. :) If you don't have the luxury, this is a nice alternative.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Ready for Buttersmiths'

Last summer, I got the privilege to meet Adam Sidwell when he was doing a book signing after releasing Evertaster. Adam was talented, engaging, funny, entertaining, and a real delight to hang out with for half an hour. Plus, he gave me free food, which is always a bonus. AND, he had a gorilla out on the street holding a sign so I wouldn't get lost while looking for him. Rumor has it that it was some guy in a gorilla suit, but I don't buy it.

If you haven't had the chance to read this fascinating book, check out the book trailer below. This is easily one of the best book trailers I've ever seen:



You can check out the book yourself, which has an impressive average of 4.8 out of 5 stars from 78 reviews by clicking here.

The sequel is coming out on Thursday; I'll be sure to post something then. Until then, check out its wonderful cover:


Adam has a Facebook Event to track the launch. You can join it and learn more information by clicking here. Also, for a chance to WIN the book, head over to Goodreads where he is giving away two copies on Thursday. He has more information about the contest and the series on his blog (which you can hit by clicking here).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Bomb for Ben Wolverton

Ben Wolverton, age 16, was in a tragic long-boarding accident on Wednesday the 4th, 2013. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, road rash, pneumonia, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.

Ben is the son of author David Farland, whose books have won multiple awards, and who is widely known as a mentor to many prominent authors, such as Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Brandon Mull.

Ben's treatment are expected to rise above $1,000,0000. To help raise money for Ben, we are having a book bomb (focused on Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines) on behalf of Ben.

Information on the book bomb is found here: http://www.helpwolverton.com/p/books-for-book-bomb.html

Or simply donate to the Wolverton family here: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery

I WANT TO HELP BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY MONEY!

The best way you can help is by spreading the word of Ben’s donation page, and/or this book bomb. Share it on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog—anywhere you can. Invite others to the event.


TELL ME MORE ABOUT BEN. WILL HE BE OKAY?

David Farland has been keeping everyone posted on facebook. Subscribe or friend him to get up-to-date information: Dave's Facebook. At the moment, Ben is stable and appears to be improving.

From Danielle Wolverton, Ben's Sister:

A few weeks before his accident, I was staying at my parents house and feeling a little down. Ben walked into my room, guitar in hand and sat down on my bed. “Are you ready for your good night song?” I laughed hysterically. Don’t get me wrong, this was a dream come true. I just didn’t think my first evening serenade would be from my 17 year old little brother. Ben strummed some distantly familiar chords for about thirty seconds, and did not attempt to sing. He then stopped abruptly and said “I bet you feel way better now. I’ll see you in the morning. Here’s some chocolate.” He got up, threw a snickers bar on my dresser and left with a teasing grin. “Oh my,” I thought to myself, “I feel bad for the 16 year old girls out there. This one is going to be a heartbreaker.”



Beyond being the sweetest brother ever, Ben is an amazing person. He is athletic, a straight A student, and hysterically funny. He has visited Japan on a foreign exchange scholarship, and is always up for a good time. He has crazy ping pong skills, and can do all kinds of trampoline tricks. He goes to Dixie High and has been on the football, rugby, and wrestling teams.


Ben is someone who lights up your world. If you talk to him, you want to know more. He is always full of compliments and goes the extra mile to brighten your day. I can’t imagine my world without him. I also can’t imagine a person being better fit to pull through this. Ben is incredibly strong, and is already beating all the odds. Ben is meant to do great things. He has not yet left his mark on the world, there is more for him to do. I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and support our family has received on his behalf. Keep rooting for him, this is one hero who won’t let you down.








WHAT IS A BOOK BOMB?

A Book Bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day (in this case, Wednesday, April 10th) to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton.

WHAT BOOK SHOULD I PURCHASE?

David Farland’s young adult fantasy thriller NIGHTINGALE has won SEVEN awards, including the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival--beating out ALL books in ALL categories. It is available as a hardcover ($24.99), ebook ($7.99), audio book ($24.99), and enhanced novel for the iPad ($9.99).

You can purchase it on Amazon: Order on Amazon


Barnes and Noble:  Order on B&N

The Nightingale website: www.nightingalenovel.com/

You can get the enhanced version complete with illustrations, interviews, animations, and its own soundtrack through iTunes: Order on iTunes

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness. Others sing to summon it. . . .

Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was--what her people call a "nightingale."

But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know. Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all.

IS IT GOOD?

Authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series) all PRAISED it. Nightingale has 4 and a half stars on Amazon. Read what other people are saying here: 

Or, purchase the novel and find out for yourself.



WHAT IF I ALREADY OWN NIGHTINGALE? OR I'M NOT INTERESTED IN IT?

If you are a writer, you may want to consider purchasing David Farland’s MILLION DOLLAR OUTLINES. It has been a bestseller on Amazon for over a month and is only $6.99.

As a bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

In Million Dollar Outlines, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.

Get it on Amazon: Amazon Link

Get it on Barnes and Noble: B&N

Read one of the 26 reviews here: Amazon Reviews

Thank you!

Ben and his family greatly appreciate your support, and so do all who love and care about them.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

I was excited to get my hands on an ARC for Brandon Sanderson's upcoming YA novel: The Rithmatist. I should note, for the purpose of full disclosure, that I am a HUGE Sanderson fan. Will that introduce a level of bias on my part? Likely. I had picked this up with huge expectations and I must admit, I was not let down. I'll hit on what I liked, didn't like, and do my best to avoid spoilers.

Plot (taken from the book description)


More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

What I Liked


Oh, boy. Where to begin?

1) Characters. I really liked the characters. I felt the characters of non-Rithmatist Joel and Rithmatists Melody and Professor Fitch were fantastic. They came to life for me, all having their own distinct personalities. I liked the absent-minded manner that Fitch mentored Joel and I liked the type of relationship that Joel and Melody have. They are complete opposites of each other and I thought Sanderson played with that brilliantly.

2) Setting. Most of this takes place at a school, so this does have a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it. In fact, I think you can draw a lot of similarities, almost like if Harry Potter went to Hogwarts with an interest in magic, but could not perform magic himself. There are more, but I think to delve into that would introduce too many spoilers. For some reason, this really added a level of resonance that made me feel comfortable reading this book.

3) World building. The world building is fantastic! This seems to be our world, with even some familiar historical figures, like Leonardo Da Vinci. However, the landscape is slightly different with America being broken up into a number of islands and such. The United States are named slightly different because of this, for instance he makes reference to a East Carolina and Nebrask, which I imagine is the island of Nebraska.

Because this has the magic system of Rithmatics, which seemed to be introduced in this world about 600 year prior, technology took off in a different direction. There are no engines like we have today, but a huge focus on gear-driven machinery. On the American cover of the book you can see a horse with a bunch of gears sticking out of it, this is how they get around in this version of our world. What fascinated me the most was a train that they took, which was spring-loaded and also seemed to fly over land and over water. It was subtle in the background, but I thought that scene alone really brought this world to life.

A big, though minor to this story, change was the naming and customs of the countries. Apparently, the Aztecs thrived and a common European staple appears to be what we would consider Asian foods. Again, subtle, but added to the history of this world.

4) The Magic System. Brandon Sanderson has been known to come up with amazing magic systems. When I heard he was doing a chalk-drawing book I imagined some kid drawing a dinosaur and suddenly having a new pet. Well, it doesn't happen quite that way. This magic system has certain limitations and capabilities, as every good magic system should. I'll cover how I struggled with the magic system a bit, but in the long run I totally fell in love with it. Reading this book, there appears to be a lot of things yet to be discovered, and I look forward to see what Sanderson does with it in future books.

5) The artwork. This is a book on chalk drawings, so of course this book has a lot of artwork inside of it. There is a form of dueling that is performed with the chalk drawings, which is central to the entire plot, and Ben McSweeney draws several instances of how the chalk drawings work. Also, there are drawings here and there throughout the rest of the text, fleshing out the chalk drawings that Sanderson had depicted in the story.

I loved it.

It really helped me make sense of the chalk-drawing magic system and allowed me to visualize a lot of what was going on in the story. I'm sure there will be an audiobook version of this, but I would suggest picking up the actual book instead for the artwork alone.

And when I say artwork, I don't mean that there are pictures of what happens in the story. All of the artwork--with the possible exception of one picture--is what is drawn with chalk by the Rithmatists. So they aren't high-quality, really. Just informative.

6) The ending. I thought this had a satisfying ending. Sanderson is great at adding twists to the end of his stories, and I didn't see this one coming at all. I loved it. Also, it has one of the best denouements I've ever read. This is a first of a series, so it does leave you wanting more. No cliffhanger, thank goodness, but this is a great setup to a series that I'm sure is only going to get better.

I could not put this book down the last 100 pages, which left me reading until way past my bedtime. I paid for it with sleepiness the next day at work, but it was WORTH IT!

7) Religion. I was fairly surprised what impact Rithmatics plays in religion. I thought Sanderson worked in the topic of religion in this imaginary world quite well. I'm sure future books will delve more into this, but I thought this book did a great job of introcuing the religion and its role over Rithmatists.

What I Didn't Like


1) Length. Only 370 pages? I thought this was a Sanderson novel!! Well, this is one of his shorter works, but it was long enough to tell the story he wanted to. I wouldn't have complained if this were longer and more of the magic system was fleshed out. I guess we'll get that in future books.

2) The Secret Societies. This seems to be a world where Rithmatists are supposed to keep secrets to themselves, and they even have a secret section of the library. So, there is a lot of mystery, but I just didn't buy it. It seems that if a character befriended the right person who was willing to talk they could find out all they wanted to about Rithmatists. Also, you can check out the books in the secret section, which means borrowing the books from Rithmatic friends isn't difficult. Well, for me, it seemed that anybody could figure out anything they wanted if they were willing to spend a little initiative trying to figure it out.

3) The learning curve. For some reason, I struggled understanding how Rithmatic dueling worked. I had an easier time understanding Allomancy in Sanderson's Mistborn series. I stopped reading about a third of the way through and tried to see if I was missing a frame of reference or something. Best I can tell, this is a very unique magic system, so I just continued with the book.

I'm not sure where I felt comfortable with the magic system, but in time it finally did click. This might just be me and a personal hangup. But if you are reading this and having problems grasping the magic system, hang in there. It seems to come together well enough.

Conclusion


I loved this book and can't wait for more to be written. It isn't perfect, but what book is? So, I'm giving it a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (round it up to 5). Like I mentioned, this is the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and I noticed a few mistakes throughout. When this book is released I'm looking forward to picking up another copy and reading it again... with the typos fixed, keeping an eye on the twist, and with a better understanding of Rithmatics throughout the book.

If you love urban fantasies with unique magic systems, this is right up your ally! If you, like me, love Brandon Sanderson, then I don't think you'll be disappointed in this book.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Take on the Death of Google Reader

For those who don't know, I work with computers as my day job. There is a saying in my field: the only constant in computers is change. I'm sure that also applies to life, and it is certainly a current reality with the writing industry.

There were two recent changes that kind of took me by surprise. I was going to share my reaction to both the death of Google Reader and Amazon acquiring Goodreads, but I'll save the latter for later since the former topic is getting pretty long.

Google Kills Google Reader and Google Friend Connect

A few weeks ago, Google announced that Google Reader will be shutting down on July 1st as part of their spring cleaning.
Bye-bye, Reader
My first thought, and I suspect I'm not alone, is how I'll be able to keep up with all of the blogs that I commonly read. A few replacements have stepped up to the plate, and one of them caught my eye since it seemed well developed and (most importantly now) supported. So I've converted to Feedly, which allowed me to import my feeds list and my favorites.
Hello, Feedly. Thanks for saving the day!
I'm a big fan of Evernote, so I'm slowly going through my favorites and storing the posts I really want to keep in Evernote. This will make these posts more accessible to me, and take away my reliance on maintaining favorites.

Okay, with that squared away, I then thought of the other side of the coin. What is going to happen to my followers? As of this writing, I have 209 followers, which is managed by the Google Friend Connect. Will they disappear with Google Reader? Sure enough, Friend Connect is also going the way of the dodo bird. I don't know if most bloggers realize this is headed their way. I had to dig around to confirm it's eminent departure since it isn't receiving the publicity and reaction that Google Reader's death has received.

And what of RSS in general? Some say that the death of Google Reader and Friend Connect, which made RSS management easy, could be the final nail in RSS's coffin. I'm inclined to agree. As great as I'm finding Feedly to be, I don't think it is enough to save RSS.

Why? It all comes back to why Google Reader is being shut down to begin with. Google says that usage is down and that social media is what drives people to your content, not Google Reader. And... I think they're right. If I make a blog post and don't mention it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I'm most likely to receive a small handful of hits, comments, and other social interactions.

In fact, I'll test that with this post... I'll not advertise on my social connections and see what kind of response I get for 24 hours. Then I'll hit the social networks as I usually do and see what that does. If I were to put money on it, driving people to my blogs via social media is going to be a lot more effective than waiting for my followers to catch me through their RSS feeds.

A side effect is that I'm going to have to change my blog around. I won't bore you with the details, but pardon the dust while this blog goes through some changes. I've already done some behind-the-scenes testing and changes and I look forward to pushing out my new look and feel. Soon. It is part of why I plastered my face all over a recent blog post.

So, what do you guys think? Are you going to miss Google reader? Are you ready for the disappearance of Google Friend Connect? What have you done to prepare for July 1st?

Update 1:

I went about a day and a half to see what my buddy list did. I got 32 visits and five comments, though one of those comments were mine and two of the comments was from the same person. Now, I'll make mention of it on social media and see what that does.

Update 2:

Well, another day and a half (roughly) has gone by, and I threw things up on Twitter, G+, and Facebook. The number of people who visited rose to 70 and I got one more comment.

I know, this isn't scientific, but I now think Google has got it wrong. Google Friend Connect does help drive people to my blog, and it seems to do a better job of driving people willing to comment. I'm wondering how this will impact Google themselves, since Google Friend Connect drives people to Blogger, which is owned by Google.

Conclusion: Nobody wins.