I’d intended to be doing a blog hop today. It’s St Rita’s day and she’s the patron saint of the impossible. Indie authors do the impossible in my view by finding the time and motivation in their busy lives to write, self-publish and self-promote on top of everything else. It seemed a good day to choose. So I set things up about a month ago but annoyingly I’ve been under the weather and also suddenly, but nicely, snowed under with editing work, so I didn’t do enough publicity and had very few prospective hoppers so I cancelled. I’ll be rescheduling though, definitely. Blog hops are brilliant.

But why? What’s so good about them. Here are five reasons:

  1. They bring new readers to your blog. Most blog hops offer freebies to readers so there’s lots of interest out there. If someone lands on any one of the blogs in the hop, they’ll be able to get to yours quickly and easily, and usually they bother. I’ve been in a couple of blog hops now and my readership figures have soared each time.
  2. They’re fun! There was certainly a great atmosphere surrounding the expat blog hop I organised in April. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, both bloggers and hoppers alike.
  3. You meet new people – not just new visitors to your blog, but also fellow bloggers in the hop. I always visit everyone one else involved and I’ve discoverd some great blogs that way, and some great new cyber friends!
  4. You learn things. I picked up some handy hints about expat life from that blog hop, and through a writing related blog hop I signed up to I found some new sites and learned some great tips on marketing.
  5. You give and get freebies and goodwill. If you’re blogging then you give some freebies, for which people are grateful, and you can get some too by visiting the other blogs involved. I’ve accumulated lots of great short stories that way and definitely feel loyalty to those writers who were kind enough to hand out some of their work for free. They’re at the top of my ‘to buy’ list now.

So, I’m all for blog hops. What do you think of them? And do watch this space, because I’ll be running one very soon …

 

Don’t get bogged down at your writing desk. For many of us with limited time for writing, it can easily become stressful when we fire up the computer, knowing that we’ve got to get that next bit written NOW before life gets in the way again.

So here are 5 suggestions to help you stay zen in your writing den.

1. Wear something bright or silly. Don’t just plonk yourself down to write in your work clothes. Pin on a fun brooch or put on a stupid tie or slip into a garish cardi. A bit of fun will brighten your spirits and loosen up your fingers.

2. Smile. Seriously, a little smile will lift your mood and make you feel good. OK, you may be about create a heart-rending scene or a truly horrific one, but a smile will help you get underway.

3. Make your work area pleasant. A potted plant, cheery family photos or a stuffed toy will jolly it up nicely. If it looks nice, you’ll feel happier there and maybe want to put in a bit of extra time if you can.

4. Stay serene and focussed. A scented candle or incense stick or a bowl of pot pourri will make for a peaceful atmosphere and help your concentration.

5. Stash a few secret goodies in a desk drawer or other hidey hole to give yourself a little treat once in a while – when you’ve written those 1,000 words or finally got the plot sorted. Boiled sweets or chocs are just the thing, or for you healthaholics, a handful of sawdust or seeds or whatever is a bit naughty but still good for you!

I hope you’ll enjoy these. I’ve put my favourite three in bold – they sum me and my writing up quite well.

 

1.       There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder. Brian Aldiss

2.       Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Anon

3.       Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders. Walter Bagehot

4.       He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license. Milton Berle

5.       It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly. C. J. Cherryh

6.       Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. E. L. Doctorow

7. Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. E.L. Doctorow

8.       Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. Gene Fowler

9.       Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will. Goethe

10.   A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one. Baltasar Gracián

11.   Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne

12.   A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. Eugene Ionesco

13.   Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing, and it becomes chronic in their sick minds. Juvenal

14.   If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves. Don Marquis

15.   Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say. Sharon O’Brien

16.   Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. Jules Renard

17.   The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book. Mickey Spillane

18.   I do not like to write – I like to have written. Gloria Steinem

19.   How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. Henry David Thoreau

20.   Keep a diary and one day it’ll keep you. Mae West

I may have to sacrifice a bit of knitting time too ...

This August is going to be a big month for us. On the 9th, Chris and I celebrate our silver wedding anniversary, and on the 13th, it will be five years since we arrived here. We’re having a big party on the 7th to jointly mark these occasions. Actually, I mean huge! And I’ve set myself the challenge of having self-published a book on the Kindle by then too. And why not? It’s something I want to do and it’s achievable with a bit of hard work between now and then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No wonder he's smiling! Photo from peoplefamous.why.com

I really do want to get my head down and start producing adult fiction. In particular, I want to get my life in France book out. It’s not just that I’m loving writing it, and that I think it will be fun to read too, but I have been spurred on by Peter Mayle’s success. I recently read that he is about to sell up his current home – for nearly 6 million pounds! And I imagine he’ll be going for somewhere bigger. He’s had a phenomenally successful writing career which came on the back of his moving to France. He’s deserved it. His books are very well written and extremely entertaining. For Christmas, my sister gave me the DVD of the TV series based on A Year in Provence. I was horrified to see that it bears next to no resemblance whatsoever to the book. I can’t see why the producers felt the need to make such changes. The book is wonderful.

 

I could handle moving into a mansion in the not-too-distant future with the proceeds of a writing career like his, no problem. So I’d better stop blogging and get another 1000 words written …

P.S. Keep an eye on the ‘My books’ page. I’m steadily adding a few more titles every day so you can see what I’ve been up to in the past.

Books Are Cool, my books and writing website – me being Stephanie Dagg – is back. It started out back in 1996 when I began my authoring career as a children’s writer in Ireland. The site was aimed at kids with online stories they could contribute to, games, colouring pages, and poems and competitions. A lot of people had a lot of fun.

 

And I certainly had fun as an author in Ireland. I visited schools and libraries, handed out awards, toured round Irish bookshops with Don Conroy and enjoyed my writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Then the life of Dagg family changed dramatically in 2006 when we moved to France. As well as leaving Ireland behind, I left my children’s authoring behind. Building our new lives and business here took a lot of energy, on top of looking after our 75 acre farm, taking care of our herd of llamas and alpacas and our three lakes of carp, renovating two very old houses. We run a gite and carp fishery and offer llama and alpaca treks. Books Are Cool, like my writing, took a back seat.

But we’re back! I’m writing for adults now. Children’s writing was fun, and I have a couple of Young Adult ideas swilling around in my head at the moment, but my main focus will be grown up books. Which I am intending to self-publish on Kindle. I bought a Kindle in January and have become hooked. Take a look at these blog entries about it from my living in France blog, Blog in France. (Kindle Thoughts, Curling up with a Good Kindle)

In my post Write Back Where I Belong I talked about getting more books with my name on the spine onto the shelves. That was pre-Kindle. I will definitely be going the electronic route, so I’ll be doing a lot of research on that and sharing my findings with you.

I’m mainly working on three books – Something Fishy, my fishing mystery, a vaguely-knitting-based mystery and my moving to France book. All are coming along well and I’ll be posting up snippets in the very near future.

As part of my preparation for my France book, working title Heads Above the Water, I’ve read a lot of books written by other ex-pats. Some have been brilliant, some have been dull, some have been downright dreadful! Anyway, I shall be including reviews of the good ones. I don’t like doing bad reviews, there doesn’t seem much point.

So join me as I get busy again at my computer!