Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The proof is in the reading.... stage

Yay! I have a pdf proof for Divide by Zero and I'm frantically proofreading. Actually, I'm trying not to proofread too frantically as I know if I get too involved in the story I'll stop reading carefully enough. There's something really amazing about seeing the pages spread across the computer screen though, all nicely laid out, formatted beautifully, headings just where they ought to be--and my name at the top! So, the proof is in the reading stage, and the real thing should be released, in ebook and paperback, on August 20th. Real date, real book cover, real proof... does this make me a real author yet? I suppose the proof of that comes when we see if people read it and if they like it.

Please read it.
Please like it.
Pretty please with white cat curling around your ankles. (Hey, sugar and cherries on top might be fattening.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Can a novel change world history?

I'm happy to welcome author Noah Beck to my blog today with a fascinating post addressing the question of whether a novel can change the world. My own first novel, Divide by Zero, comes out next month, and looks at much smaller themes of small-town life facing very personal disaster. But Noah's novel, The Last Israelis, takes on the world with serious global intent. I'm hoping to read the Last Israelis later this year. Meanwhile, meet author Noah Beck and consider how your reading, writing and dreaming might change the world. Over to you Noah, and thank you for visiting my blog today. 

By most measures, fiction writers are a fairly self-indulgent lot: they sit around mulling and forming ideas, converting concepts into stories, refining their drafts, and then hoping that someone — perhaps with enough prodding — takes notice. In most cases, when stacked up against physicians, firefighters, and home builders, it’s hard to see how scribes have earned their right to food and shelter on any given day. At best, they produce a few days or weeks of occasional entertainment for whomever happens to enjoy what they write. And yet, story-telling has been around since the dawn of time, so clearly fiction has the potential to serve an important purpose — to provide a call to action, a warning, or a source of courage or inspiration.

But can a novel change world history? It’s a fanciful idea, yet not outside the realm of possibility. As with free speech generally, the novels that have the greatest potential to alter world events are probably those that governments most vigorously try to censor and repress. For example, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” the 1928 novel by D. H. Lawrence that was internationally banned or censored for its sexually explicit content, may have been most responsible for overturning book censorship, even though — ironically enough — the novel had nothing to do with censorship and was never written with the intent to subvert it (unlike, say, Ray Bradbury’s “Farenheit 451″).

Some writers who set out to change the course of human events with their stories actually succeed, as did Harriet Beacher Stowe. Her anti-slavery novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was published in 1852 and is credited with helping to foment the US Civil War. Legend has it that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, he declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”

Nevertheless, writing a world-changing novel is an outlier so beyond any writer’s control that there is something preposterous about aspiring toward such an outcome. Thus, when I decided to stop the ayatollahs’ march toward the bomb with nothing but the imagination of an unknown author telling an Armageddon story about 35 men on an Israeli submarine, I knew the odds were slightly against me. And yet, with a trace of the irrepressible optimism that I apparently inherited from my father, I quixotically dropped everything else in my life — my job, my plans, my social life — in pursuit of an absurdly improbable objective. After all, the odds of writing a novel that stops Iran from getting nuclear weapons are infinitely better if one writes it than if one doesn’t. So I did. The book that resulted from that sleepless, ten-week effort is titled “The Last Israelis

What struck me most about this writing experience — besides the absolutely exhausting, marathon-like nature of it — was how surreal the whole endeavor seemed at times. Creating a world out of one’s imagination inherently detaches the writer from reality to some extent, but that experience is somehow intensified when the imagined reality takes place mostly in the cramped hull of a submarine. My small apartment, which I had barely left during the few months that I was writing, began to resemble the submarine that I was writing about and which the main characters were also stuck in for months. There was also something bizarre about writing a doomsday novel that takes place in the very near future and is based entirely on the facts of today. The writer becomes one part omniscient spectator, one part passive participant in a gruesome end that is theoretically just around the corner.

Now that I am firmly back in reality, I’m relieved to see that there is still time to prevent the fanatical regime in Iran from acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons. I can only hope that my novel — by reaching the right decision-makers and/or changing the terms of the public debate — helps to inspire the policy changes needed to prevent the Iranian nuclear threat from materializing. Even if six rounds of UN Security Council sanctions could not stop Tehran’s atomic warpath, surely my submarine thriller can!
*       *       *
Noah Beck has been telling stories and writing creatively since he was a child growing up on the West Coast of the USA. Despite early literary leanings, his two Ivy League degrees (or, more precisely, the debt that accompanied them) diverted him to over a decade of corporate jobs. He kept his sanity with extensive journaling and globetrotting to over 50 countries, while maintaining a large collection of story ideas waiting to be developed when he finally decided to turn his real passion into a career.

This post was first published in the Times of Israel on July 12th, re-posted with permission.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When Fiction Crosses Lines

Some while ago I enjoyed reading and reviewing Russell Blake's The Voynitch Cypher (click the link for my review). When I heard he had a new book coming out, Silver Justice, I was delighted to be invited to host the author on his blog tour. The novel's about a single mom FBI agent hunting a serial killer on the East Coast--sounds intriguing doesn't it, and I hope to read it soon. But the story's much more than just another high-octane thriller with a cool protagonist, as you'll see in Russell's post below. So, over to you Russell, and thank you for visiting my blog...


When Fiction Crosses Lines



One of the things as an author I have to grapple with on a regular basis is whether to stay in one genre, or risk losing my audience by moving into others. I write action/adventure thrillers, with a strong conspiracy undercurrent, a la Robert Ludlum. That's what I like to read, so that's what I write. I currently have 14 novels out, all of which are doing well and have good reviews, so I'm fooling at least some of the people.

But occasionally I get the desire to write something more serious. A Lord of the Flies type of book. 1984. Slaughterhouse Five. Grapes of Wrath. Social commentary disguised as fiction. Books that tackle important topics in impactful ways. I've been interested in doing so for a long time, but frankly that sort of literary fiction doesn't do particularly well, so I view it as a luxury that I can't indulge in quite yet.

My latest, Silver Justice, breaks that taboo and marks an important milestone in my writing career. I've tackled a slew of topics I find important in this novel, which on the surface is a Silence of the Lambs type serial killer hunt, featuring a single mom FBI Agent - Silver Cassidy - who's forced to go to the brink to capture a brutal murderer who targets financial industry bigwigs. That sounds fairly benign, I know, but where it gets twisted is the subplot, which is based on the 2008 financial crisis and the reasons it happened.

One of the things that makes Silver an interesting character is that she's swimming upstream in a male-dominated profession and succeeding, without having to compromise her values or suck up. Simultaneously, she's balancing a slew of challenges involved in raising her kid, dealing with a crummy ex, operating a task force that's really a twenty-four/seven proposition, struggling with romantic possibilities, and grappling with the ever-present danger element that's a constant in her job. I wanted to write a truly three-dimensional character, and I think Silver is probably the most rounded and real I've ever done.

But what will polarize readers, who will either love the book or hate it, are the financial industry revelations throughout. I spent half a year researching the underlying plot hypothesis and read countless books and websites on the topics of market manipulation, monetary policy, the creation of the Federal Reserve, Keynesian economics, the causes of the Great Depression and the Crash of '29... And as I researched, I discovered a set of facts so strange, so disturbing, that I wanted to introduce them to the casual reader, ostensibly as fiction. Silver Justice is that vehicle.

The biggest challenge I had was how to synthesize all the information down to something that was both interesting and easy to follow, yet didn't sound like an economics lecture. That was a considerable hurdle, but I managed to cut 15K words out of the finished manuscript and limit the financial industry stuff to a few well-placed paragraphs throughout the book. I think it works well that way, but is still plenty disturbing. I know my editor was disturbed when he read it. The implications are profound and jarring, and will leave readers unsettled or furious.

Silver Justice is my attempt to write a novel that, in the end, makes readers think - to question what is advanced to them as reality by the mainstream media and the government. I won't say just how much of the plot is fiction and how much is fact, but I encourage one and all to research the subject. I include a list of suggested reading in the Afterward section for that reason.

There aren't that many topics I feel all that strongly about. But after spending plenty of time researching this one, you can put me in the camp that believes it is the story of our lifetime, and one that is being deliberately obfuscated and hidden by powerful interests intent upon robbing the nation of its worth. So far, they're winning by a landslide, because nobody will discuss or print the truth. It's every bit as orchestrated as the articles about happy, singing tractor workers in the former USSR - in fact, not as believable.

That's not the case with some international publications, like the Financial Times. Nations outside of the U.S. can and do recognize what happened, and comment on it regularly. You just don't read about it if you live in the U.S. Because the entire topic is verboten. It's just as managed as Nixon's Watergate hijinks were - until a pair of reporters put the Washington Post over a barrel and it had to print the truth. Until then, the media and the administration had a cozy relationship, where the press overlooked any wrongdoing in exchange for access and privilege. That's been the case for generations. Samuel Clemmons railed about it. It's nothing new. But we tend to forget, or believe that somehow this time is different.

If you enjoy suspense novels that feature a strong, realistically portrayed female protagonist, you'll like Silver Justice. If you aren't opposed to a read that poses some controversial explanations for the last four years of financial global misery, then you will probably love the book. If you prefer to dismiss any ideas that don't mesh with whatever is on the cover of USA Today, you probably won't be happy with it.

In the end, it was a book that I needed to write. I hope you'll give it a chance, and see if it lives up to my hype. I'm awfully proud of it, and think it is one of my best.

I hope you think so too.

Strong female protagonist, serious research, the role of the media in shaping perceptions... this sounds like one I'm really going to enjoy. Thank you so much for visiting my blog Russell, and I hope you'll revisit and answer any questions left by readers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Non-blocking issues and more book reviews

 Createspace keeps finding non-blocking issues with my books--images that aren't quite clear enough are the usual culprit, with not enough dpi. I've worked on fixing some and appreciate knowing about others, but now I'm nearly ready to say they're done. I'll order proofs for the titles I've not seen in print (in Createspace print) yet, finish proof-reading the ones *I'm still reading, approve the proofs online for the ones where I've just made minor changes... and maybe soon--please soon--I'll push the button and publish them. Maybe I'll even get a Createspace internet store then.

I really like the new covers for my seasonal books. Okay, the cover creator's not brilliant, but it does some really neat stuff (and it's way cheaper than hiring someone). I wish they'd print titles on the spines like Lulu does of course, but still... I'm proud of my efforts.

Then there are the Smashwords versions. I still have to make sure the edits agree across different editions, and I'm almost wishing I'd waiting to convert to Smashwords till completing this step. But I've learned a lot and it's been fun. Best of all was Smashwords letting me know one of my pictures wasn't coming out on the epub version. Since I don't read epub I'd never have known. I feel like someone's looking out for me and I'm really grateful. Smashwords doesn't just smash words--they care about their product and their customers. Thank you Smashwords!

Meanwhile, of course, I've been reading other people's books too. So here's my next list, with the usual links to reviews on gather and coffee recommendations. You'll have to go to your own kitchen for the coffee--mine's full of books.

First is Stormy Weather, by Sherrie Hansen. The first in her Maple Valley trilogy, it reads very comfortably as a stand-alone novel (though I do plan to read the other two this week). There's a nice low-key element of Christian faith in the background, while small-town politics seeks a balance between atmosphere and materialism, and wounded souls balance romantic dreams with genuine love. Storms, emotional, financial, and rainy, pour over very real characters, and a few cups of well-balanced 3-star coffee will accompany the tale very well.

Next comes Love Notes, also by Sherrie Hansen. (It must be my Sherrie Hansen week!) This one's definitely Christian fiction, but the faith is so closely interwoven in the tale there's never any feeling of being preached at or dragged into church. A fading musician seeks his next big hit and a desperate widow tries to weather the storms of repeated betrayals to keep her husband's dream alive. Neither wants to hurt the other, but they're thrown together by accident, ride through the trials of false assumptions, and slowly learn that even mature adults can change. I'd go for another well-balanced 3-star coffee and reread this one any day.

Sticking with a theme of Christian books, my next volume is entitled From the Library of C.S. Lewis, compiled by James Stuart Bell. To be honest, not all the books excerpted here would be called Christian, but they're certainly a delight to dip into, and not just because C.S. Lewis liked them. One-page excerpts are grouped by topic, and each author merits a short paragraph of history. Poets, philosophers, modern writers and ancient (even Aristotle!) stand back to back, and there are quotes both familiar (I wandered lonely as a cloud) and completely, enthrallingly unfamiliar. Not one to read all at once, but a great reference book and an enjoyable evening's browse, this is one to read over that 1-star mild crisp coffee in the morning, or the dark intense 5-star evening brew as well.

Gus Pelagatti's The Wicked Wives is an entirely different tale, dark, detailed, intense, like a televised re-enactment complete with courtroom scenes, dark tenements and frozen river. It retells the history of Philadelphia's 1930s murder trial where seventeen women were accused of systematically killing their husbands! A pretty amazing case which really happened, and a fascinating glimpse into the underworld of politics and race relations in 1930s America, this is one to enjoy with a 5-star bold intense coffee.

Derek Keeling's The Umbras has a similar noirish feel with just a touch of John Creasey-style sci-fi as a private detective investigates the murder of a woman's husband while police proclaim it death by natural causes. A conspiracy theorist has his own ideas, and  someone seems to lurk in the shadows, ever watching. The detectives are very humanly fallible and miss various points, but plenty of detail fills in the gaps. Enjoy this quick read with a 2-star easy-drinking coffee.

And then, when you're ready to use your kindle for puzzling too, there's Grabarchuk's Matchstick Puzzles, a fascinating addition to their line of kindle puzzle books. It's less tactile than some of the others--after all, you can hardly pick things up and rearrange them just with a five-way controller. But the puzzles are fun. The hints are nicely helpful. And the whole is thoroughly enjoyable. BYO matches, and enjoy a mild crisp 1-star coffee as you play--just don't spill it. on the kindle.








Friday, July 20, 2012

The Story behind Finding Emma

Finding Emma sounds the sort of novel that would grip me and not let go, every mother's nightmare yet, according to the reviews, still a tale of hope...


Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She's the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it's never Emma -- because Emma's been missing for two years. Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan's husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan's life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on. When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both family’s lives. 

Praise for Best-Selling "FINDING EMMA":
·         Finding Emma is a heartbreaking story of a mother's journey of hope...captured by the emotion and depth of the characters from the beginning."
·         "Finding Emma may be the most heart-wrenching and heart-warming book I have ever read...Tense, emotional and realistic it will ring your emotions dry."
I'm delighted to welcome the author, Steena Holmes, as a guest on my blog today. I always love to find out why authors write their stories, and it seems she has the same interest. So here's her post on the story behind the novel, Finding Emma. Over to you Steena...


The Story Behind Finding Emma

I always love to find out why author’s write the books that I fell in love with. I love finding hidden gems that make the stories just that much more special to me.

I consider Finding Emma to be the story of my heart - for more reasons than one. I knew when I first started to think about the story that I needed it to be hard hitting to me as a woman, a mother, a wife. I wrote oodles of story ideas but nothing was really hitting home to me until I thought I had lost my youngest daughter. My heart stopped, it hurt to breathe and it took everything inside of me not to scream. The immediate relief I felt the moment I saw her was heart changing. I knew that I wanted to write this story and in the moment that I saw my daughter come around the bush in our front yard I knew exactly what would happen.

Another reason this is a story from my heart is that my daughters helped me to write it. The three sisters in my story - Hannah, Alexis and Emma - they are my daughters. They each helped me to name the characters, they helped to create scenes and were the first ones to let me know when they didn’t like a certain scene.

Throughout the journey of writing this story I grew to realize that I needed to cherish every single moment with my children. Each hug become memorable. Each time I said “I love you” I made sure I meant it and that it wasn’t rote. My heart also broke as I researched what it meant to lose a child and I realized I could never fully understand what it meant to have a child taken away like that. It’s a nightmare I pray I never have to experience and one I pray others can wake up from and have their children found.

Finding Emma was written from a mother’s heart to a mother’s heart and I hope, whether you are a parent or one who loves children, you will enjoy it!

Steena Holmes

Come join the conversation on my Facebook Page:

Follow Steena on Twitter:
@SteenaHolmes

Amazon link to but the Kindle version of Finding Emma:

Amazon link to buy the printed copy of Finding Emma:


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reading Independence after July 4th

Still reading, still trying to catch up on that list, and still working on adding my what IFS books to Createspace and Smashwords, I really ought to stop and do the housework. But first I'll post a few more book reviews and ponder why I didn't read these War of Independence books before July the fourth instead of after. I certainly learned a lot, and enjoyed the reading.

First in this week's reading was Doug Lucas' Conversations with a Dead Man. Told in a leisurely conversational style, the story paints a well-researched image of life at the time of the American War of Independence, bringing pride, prejudice, love and the economy into focus, all seen through the eyes of a man now buried in a small town cemetery. Enjoy with a 3-star well-balanced cup of coffee.

Next comes another War of Independence novel, Michael S. Adelberg's The Razing of Tinton Falls. Beautifully researched and convincingly imagined, it tells the story of a small town's demise through the eyes of Patriots, Loyalists, men, women, servants, slaves and children, each person's account adding a vivid new viewpoint and extending the story from the last. You'll find your sympathies pulled in many different directions as you're drawn into the viewpoints of the various characters, and you'll learn some history, all painlessly and enjoyably. A 4-star elegant cup of coffee would go well with this.

News on the Home Front, by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson, is a historical novel set a little more recently, in the time of the second world war. The American Home Front is different from the British, of course, and these upper class women reminded me of old movies. But their efforts to keep up a front of their own lead to a nicely emotional conclusion in this well-researched novel. Best enjoyed with a 3-star smooth cup of coffee.

Terror Comes Knocking, by Aaron Paul Lazar, is set in the present day against a backdrop of terrorism and war. The author combines global themes with small town America very successfully without doing any injustice to either--a rare feat! And the protagonist, Sam Moore, small-town doctor, doting grandfather, loving husband, frantic father of a daughter who hasn't phoned home in ages and a son away at war, is a wonderful character. His magical green marble's pretty neat too with its ability to almost answer questions. Enjoy this mildly paranormal mystery with a 3-star well-balanced full-flavored coffee.

And now for a short, pleasing, contemporary romance, New Orleans Gentleman by Jessica Joubert is a sweet lunchtime read about second chances and learning to trust. Enjoy a 1-star mild crisp coffee with this quick uplifting tale.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I can't resist these deals!

Seventh Star Press are having an Open House with lots of free books on Kindle. And Knox Robinson has a great free historical novel available tomorrow. How can you resist?

Just go to http://www.seventhstarpress.com/ for sci fi and fantasy delights

Brotherhood of Swords
Angelkiller
The Exodus Gate
Crown of Vengeance
Poseidon's Children (see my review of Poseidon's Children)
Cinema of Shadows
Overkill (see my review of Overkill)
and Redheart (see my review of Redheart)















And for Anne Brear's To Take Her Pride, go to http://www.amazon.com/To-Take-Her-Pride-ebook/dp/B007I8RSXO/  on Friday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Connect those Connections

Taken from a talk I gave on Sunday at the Writers' Mill. This is a very low-level approach to getting connected, from one beginner to another...

Internet Writing, Marketing and Networking

If you’ve got an email address you’re on the internet.
If you’ve got a book out or an article in a magazine, you’re into marketing.
If you’ve got friends, you’re networking.
And if you use Google, you can do almost anything.

Google

Google is your friend.
Google “how to join facebook” “How to join goodreads” “How to join Twitter” etc…
Google “facebook badges” “blogger widgets” etc… to spice up your pages.
Anything you want to know, a nice simple question to google will almost certainly tell you. But keep safe. Don’t just click on the first link you see. Make sure it looks vaguely genuine. “F*@!book.com/badges” might take you somewhere you don’t want your computer to go. “Facebook.com/badges” tells you all about badges.

Why would you want to join all these internet sites?

1.       To get your name out there, so agents, editors, publishers, maybe even readers might spot you
2.       To connect with people you can help so maybe they’ll help you one day
3.       To look professional or at least serious about your public, writerly persona
On the other hand, you might not want to join them because they’re black holes with a giant appetite for time. I’ll try to tell you how to be “connectedly connected,” thus reducing the black hole effect.

Stuff you need

Try to have all these things ready before your start joining or connecting sites.

Email

What does your email address say about you? Your nickname? Your date of birth? Something really embarrassing?
If you’re writing under a pen name, or under just part of real name, think about getting a separate address that reflects the right name.
If your email folder keeps getting full, think about separate addresses for networking (or use gmail’s myaddress+facebook@ gmail facility to filter your emails).

Photos

Of you—a headshot. It doesn’t have to be professional but keep it simple.
Of your professional identity—book cover, location, sport, symbol, anything that represents you to readers.
Some kind of a banner if you think you might want one—several books covers together, a long photograph, collage, etc.

Author bio

No more than 100 words. You can change it slightly for each site, but keep them all similar and don’t try to say everything. Give the reader something to look forward to.

Favorite Sites

Time to join or tidy up Facebook

What do people use facebook for? Keep in touch with family. Keep in touch with friends. Make casual friends. Or for networking?
If you’re not already there, go to http://www.facebook.com/ and click on Sign Up (or type in the requisite info and sign up—just keep in mind, nothing looks the same next time you revisit, and google is still your friend).
Give your name, email, password and birthdate. They say they need the birthdate to encourage authenticity and avoid inappropriate content. They also want to let ALL your contacts when it’s your birthday—great if they’re just family or friends, not so great if they’re strangers. Go to your account settings and make the birthdate private—you don’t want to make it easy for people to hack your various accounts. But use the real date—things get connected and you might find you lose your email account because you gave different birthdates to facebook and yahoo.
Now you have a (possibly boring) personal facebook page. When you’ve had it long enough/got enough friends it will even have a sensible address. Till then, just put the address in favorites so you can link to it when you want to.
Why not make friends with me. I’m at http://www.facebook.com/sheila.deeth. And my professional page is at http://www.facebook.com/SheilaDeethAuthor.
Once you’re ready, get a professional page. (It’s offered right at the start, or you can click on create a page after making a personal page. Go to my author page and you’ll find +create a page at the top right. Who knows where it will be tomorrow?
You have to say what type of profession. You’re probably an artist, but there are other choices too. Choose a category—author… Agree to the terms and that’s it.

Things you might need for your facebook pages.

1.       Upload those picture—the book for your professional page, your portrait for your personal page.
2.       Upload a banner. Professionals do this right. Me, I get a fairly big picture (I combined pictures of my book covers for one). Upload it. Decide if it looks right and change it with Microsoft draw if it doesn’t, then re-upload.
3.       Your author bio.
4.       Things you want to make public. Favorite bands, music, sports… but ask yourself, how much of this do you really want half the world to see. I avoid “liking” book pages because I know so many authors and I don’t want to pick and choose whose books to advertise. But “liking” an author page doesn’t appear on my public persona—yet. When it does I’ll reconsider.
5.       Always check how your page looks to strangers—either ask facebook to show you (view my page as…), or go to your page before signing in. (Try going to facebook.com and searching for yourself.)
What to do next?
Always go to account settings and/or profile whenever you open a new account anywhere. Try to revisit on a regular basis too—these sites don’t owe you anything. They can change their policies beneath your feet and there’s always something you’d prefer to keep private that they might suddenly decide the world wants to see.
1.       You can set your facebook username (but you might have to be a member for a while first) and change your email address, password etc, but don’t forget to visit the other tabs.
2.       Security—active sessions. You might want to delete those phantom sessions
3.       Notifications—this is the place to reduce the amount of facebook email you get.
4.       Subscribers sets how publically your “posts” can be commented on. More about posts later.
5.       Apps—this list will grow. Expect to add a goodreads app, networked blogs, and many more. Usually they’ll just “appen.”
And Always check what your page looks like when you’re not logged on, just to make sure nothing private has sneaked onto there.

Next let’s try Goodreads

Steve Thieme mentioned goodreads as a good site for authors. If you’re on facebook, joining goodreads is simple. Just go to http://www.goodreads.com/.  Click on register and click on sign in with facebook, which might even upload your picture straight away. You probably just need a name, email and password to create a new unconnected account.

Why connect the accounts?

1.       There’s an app for that. Once goodreads and facebook are connected, you can add a goodreads “tab” to your facebook page. The one on your professional page will list books you’ve written (once you add them to goodreads). On your personal page it will list books you’ve read, reviews you’ve read, ratings you’ve given, etc. It’s great for that networking thing. (Well, except it’s broken for oldsters like me and any of you who are already there. Until they fix it I can only list the most recent books—since I review a lot of “stuff” that’s not really indicative of who I am so I made the tab invisible—play with it. You’ll soon see how, and it’ll change.)
2.       Linked accounts make life easy—fewer passwords to remember.

What can you do on goodreads?

1.       Join reading groups
2.       Connect with other readers and authors
3.       Offer free copies of your book.       http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/new is where you start a new giveaway. Find out more about the author programs here http://www.goodreads.com/author/guidelines
4.     Add your books and bio to your page.
5.       Apparently you can autopost your reviews to your blog too, but I post mini-reviews on my blog (six to a page) instead. (Just go to apps, which you should do anyway to set up autoposting to facebook).
6.       Create an author profile and make sure you edit that too.
7.       Attach your blog. From the author profile, choose edit blog, then use add an external blog fee URL (http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com for example).

Then Twitter

Okay, twitter sounds daft; it is daft; but it gets you connected. At the very least, it’s something you can do for a fellow author. I’m always happy to throw out a few tweets when I hear a book’s on sale, just coming out, or the author’s just done a guest post on my blog. It costs me very little time, gains them exposure, and gains me friends who might do the same for me.
Go to https://twitter.com/, Click on Sign up—first name, last name, password and username.
Now you can connect the account with facebook.
Go to settings, profile, sign in to facebook and connect. You’re giving permission to twitter to post items as you—sounds scary, but that’s exactly what you want it to do. However, you probably don’t want to clutter your facebook page with all your tweets (tweets are frequently repetitive; it’s a different world), so make sure you uncheck “post tweets to facebook” in your profile settings.
And you can follow me. I’m at https://twitter.com/sheiladeeth. (Seriously, I’m not trolling for friends and followers—I’m just giving you links so you can see what I’m doing with the pages. But if you do follow / friend me etc. I’ll do my best to follow back, thus adding to your numbers.)

Do you have a Blog yet? Go to Blogger or Wordpress

I’ve heard wordpress is more professional and blogger easier to learn. I use blogger—I’m not sure what that tells you about me J Actually, it tells you I use google / gmail and I like to keep passwords to a minimum.
Twitter is the place for quick short stuff—for networking, for advertising…
Facebook is the place to connect with people.
Goodreads is the place to meet reviewers.
Blogger is a place to communicate—it’s where you write stuff. Personally, I think the blog is the “master plan.” The rest is just connections.

What you can do with a blog

Remember you can have more than one blog (on more than one site too), so don’t feel trapped. My first blog was going to be about trying to self-publish. Now it’s about book reviews, guest posts from authors, notes on my attempts to convert to Smashwords, etc. But I have another one for 25-word daily stories, another for Bible studies, another to advertise my books, plus two that masquerade as websites. If you go to http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com/ and follow those links across the top you’ll find most of my blogs (but I think a couple are in banners instead of links).

How to get a blog on blogger

1.       Go to blogger.com and you’ll be redirected to sign in to your google account. Or go to my blog and click on create a blog (top right?) The same thing will happen. Make sure you have a name on google (not just an email address—you’ll do this by updating your profile—remember, account settings and profiles define you so you should always check up on them). Upload your picture to your profile (same picture as facebook). Upload your bio, etc.
2.       Click new blog / create a blog / whatever the current phrasing is.
3.       Give your blog a good name—a catchphrase from your writing, your pen name, something publishable…
4.       Choose your background. There are lots of good ones to scroll through. Mine’s pretty plain because there weren’t as many choices when I started so I created my own and I’m not very good at it.
5.       Click on layout. Blogger sets up some defaults—shows your bio, stuff like that. Try “add gadget” and see what things you’d like to add. I like adding pictures of my books down the side of my blog, and “badges” from facebook, goodreads, etc. (Find badges by googling facebook badge if you can’t find them by any sensible way.)
6.       Click on settings—settings are always good. Set up whether people have to jump through hoops to leave comments (the hoops are a real pain but they avoids spam—though you’re not likely to find spam a problem). Set up how many posts to display per page. Set up where the emails go to when people leave comments—I make mine go to my email address +blog@gmail so as not to clutter my inbox.
7.       Pages can be really neat if you want a cheap convenient website. They weren’t there when I started, hence my extra blogs masquerading as websites. You can create new pages and post links to all your books on one, places you plan to submit to on another, links to all your posts about smashwords on another… You’ll figure it out, and it really does help you make a really neat cheap website.
8.       Write your first post. Just write. Journal. Give your reason, however boring, for being here. How far you’ve got in today’s exercise in conquering the internet. Anything!!! Chances are, no-one’s going to read it so it’s really not scary.
9.       Then start reading other people’s blogs, “connecting,” “following” (with networked blogs or google friend connect… just look for the place that says follow or join and click on it—the method keeps changing.)

Networked Blogs

Now tie your blog in with facebook, twitter, goodreads etc. Lots of ways to do it. I use networkedblogs.com.
1.       Go to http://www.networkedblogs.com/
2.       Sign in with facebook.
3.       Register your blog, add your blog, or whatever the current phrasing is.
4.       Go to your dashboard and set up details—public, automatic posts, etc.
5.       Syndication is where you say how it publishes. I’d say publish to facebook and twitter (which is why my accounts are connected). I don’t want to publish my tweets to facebook as they’d clutter the page, but I only write two or three times a week on my blog, and it’s meant to be interesting, so I like that to appear on my facebook page.
6.       Did I mention, set your goodreads app to link with facebook? (Account settings, apps is the current way to set it.) After all, your book reviews, ratings, reading list etc are all interesting if you’re advertising yourself as an author. And Don’t forget to set yourself up as an author on goodreads, so you can attach your blog as an external blogfeed there as well. I think I had to do that from goodreads rather than front networked blogs.

Other Sites

Google Plus

If your blog’s on blogger (and your email’s on gmail, and your life’s on google…) you should probably do that extra step that gives you a google plus account. To go http://plus.google.com and sign in with your google account. Everything should link up easily—your blog, your google profile, etc. And now you whenever you create a blog post you’ll have the option of posting it on your google plus page too. Plus…

Google plus lets you organize your “friends” much more conveniently. Everyone goes in a “circle” which you name and define. Then you can say what information is visible to whom. Well, you can if you’re organized… You’ll be amazed how many circles you end up with, which makes you feel organized anyway.

LinkedIn

This one’s growing. I used to think it was just for professional use, so I had my programmer ID there and my writer ID elsewhere, but now everything’s connected.
1.       Go to http://www.linkedin.com/
2.       Click on Join Now
3.       Set up your profile information—use the same picture again.
4.       Connect your blog. I used bloglink powered by type pad this time. Just click on add an application when you’re editing your profile and see what comes up.
There are some really good writing groups, writing challenges, etc, plus the chance to get some nicely worded recommendations from other authors (mainly an I’ll scratch your back if you… type of thing, but anything helps).
I’m at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sheila-deeth/17/21b/3b9 and I’ll happily recommend you, friend you, or whatever…

Gather

Gather was actually my first venture onto the internet. I didn’t even know what a blog was. I just wanted to enter a competition. Again, there are good writing groups. The page isn’t very personalisable. Groups can be hard to find, but it’s really great for writing prompts. Plus…
You can set it to connect to facebook and twitter as and when you choose. I connect book reviews but don’t connect stories, so I can keep them more private. But it’s nice having the option to check or not check the box.
I’m at http://smd.gather.com/ (see, I hadn’t realized I’d want a professional name back then and I'm stuck with what I gave myself).

Nings

Nings are a bit of an oddity. They’re smaller social networks, typically with a core of really friendly really helpful people and a crowd of hangers-on, like me. (See, I’m not friendly!) I connect the status line to twitter so I can generate more tweets while advertising stuff elsewhere. The one I use most is http://booktown.ning.com/. I post book reviews there.

About.me

This one’s actually my favorite. It’s just one page, one photo, one author bio, and links to everything else. I’ve linked it to my blog, my facebook, my goodreads, my twitter… my universe. And if anyone wants to find me, they just go to http://about.me/sheiladeeth and can jump to anywhere I exist on the internet.

Weebly

My second favorite place for a website. It’s the easiest place on earth to create a professional looking website. It does blogs too, but they’re more obscure and you’ll not get so many visitors. My books are all on my weebly site (though I’ll have to make sure I update it when I transfer them from Lulu to Createspace, which is a talk for another day). You can  find them at http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com/, and again, click through the links. It was really easy to set up.

GoDaddy

This isn’t a place to “do” anything. It’s just in case you want to change those web addresses to something more memorable. My home page is at http://www.sheiladeeth.com, but it takes you to my blog. My book page is at http://www.sheiladeethbooks.com and takes you to weebly. I even have http://www.InspiredbyFaithandScience.com which goes to another part of my blog. The domain names cost around $8 per year and making them point wherever you like is really easy.
But all of this takes time when you could be…

WRITING !!!!!

So what have I given you—a whole load of sites, a way to keep posting on them with minimal effort, places to explore, and a way to get your feet wet. You won’t drown. Just click on links, leave comments, accept offers of friendship even if it’s a very vague term, and slowly you’ll find you really are networking.

Does it work?

I started writing book reviews because a friend on gather got published and I thought I really should review his book. Five years later a publisher acquired a client whose book had been reviewed by me. The publisher asked if she could post my review on her site and added P.S. If you have something you’d like to submit to us feel free to send it. Love on a Transfer has been accepted and should come out in the next twelve months. No, I’m not making sales, writing bestsellers, or being added to all those lists of up-and-coming authors. But I’m taking baby steps and they’re headed in what looks like the right direction.