Infinity Dreams Award #writerslife

wpid-infinity-award

Thank you to the ever-classy Caitlyn @ Rhodes of Reading for nominating me for this  Infinity of Dreams Award. Caitlyn is a teacher who adores YA fiction, so of course she’s one of my favorite peeps.

Rules:

1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you
2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself
3. Answer the questions that were set for you to answer
4.  Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

Eleven Facts About Me

  1. At major crossroads moments in my life, I’ve had a hummingbird fly out of seemingly nowhere and hover right in front of me, which I see as a sign that “everything is going to be alright.”
  2. As a kid I enjoyed scary stories. I’d save up to buy graphic novels about ghosts and hauntings then moved on to Edgar Allan Poe stories and Stephen King novels. Maybe it’s because of my overactive imagination, but now scary stories freak me out.
  3. I love riding my bicycle, especially through nature.
  4. I am calm in crisis situations. Afterward is when I get nervous and shaky.
  5. Because I’d love to be able to enter them all into Goodreads, I’m bummed I can’t remember all the books I’ve read, many of which were randomly grabbed off library shelves with barely a glance at the title.
  6. I enjoy collecting coffee mugs to commemorate trips I’ve taken.
  7. Before writing fact #6, I had to look up the difference between “coffee cup” and “coffee mug.” If you’re curious, too, here’s the link.
  8. My lucky number is five, so on all the athletic teams I played on growing up I liked having five as part of my jersey number.
  9. Whenever I take left-brain/right-brain tests, my results are always exactly in the middle.
  10. On the rare occasions that I feel overwhelmingly distraught, I drive to the parking lot of a nearby congregation/compound for nuns (though I’m not Catholic), and it makes me feel better.
  11. I love dogs and am like a little kid at the dog park.

Questions from Caitlyn

  1. If you had to choose, would you rather be a contestant on The Amazing Race or The Great British Bake-Off? (Or The Great British Baking Show…depending on where you’re from!) Sorry to say I’ve never seen either show, but I enjoy baking.
  2. If you were on a deserted island and only had one book with you, what book would it be? Moby-Dick because if it’s the only book I own, I might actually finish it.
  3. Cake or pie? Pie, definitely, blueberry or peach, please.
  4. How many different cities have you lived in? Seven.
  5. Hot chocolate or apple cider? Hot chocolate.
  6. What super power would you want to have? The ability to speak and understand all languages.
  7. Who’s the last person you texted? A friend.
  8. Do you buy DVDs or watch movies online? Online streaming all the way.
  9. Which 3 people, dead or alive, would you want to invite over for coffee? I’m curious about historical mysteries so, first, I’d invite my 5th great-grandfather for coffee and chat about why he assumed a new name at the turn of the 19th century, find out what his real name was and where he came from. Assuming we could understand each other’s languages, I’d also invite one of the last surviving Picts and inhabitants of Easter Island to ask what happened to their civilizations and find what all their cool stone structures were for.
  10. What’s your favorite accent to hear people speaking with? (British, American, Spanish, etc.) The sound of a Scottish brogue makes me pretty happy.
  11. Would you rather have a pet dragon or be a centaur? Both are pretty wonderful, but I’d go with the pet dragon since it can fly me places, which would come in quite handy during rush hour.

I nominate. . .

Mary Cathleen Clark
Abbielou @ Café Book Bean
Beth @ betwixt-these-pages
Madi Uram @ Writing Every Which Way
Sumaya @ Sue’s Reading Corner
Nate Philbrick @ You Write Fiction
Jennifer F. Santucci
Josie @ Josie’s Book Corner
Kelly Deeny
Melanie Noell Bernard
Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets
Jesalyn @ Life: Books, the Arts, and Nature

 Your Questions

  1. If you had two weeks and unlimited funds, what would be your dream vacation?
  2. What was one of your favorite books as a child?
  3. What was one of your favorite recent reads?
  4. What is your dream/life’s ambition?
  5. What three things would indicate you’ve achieved your dream?
  6. What is your favorite board/card/casino game?
  7. Would you prefer camping in nature or staying at fine hotel in the city?
  8. If you could write like any author, who would it be and why?
  9. If you could visit any historical time period, which would you choose and why?
  10. Romance or adventure?
  11. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Writing and Balancing Social Media #amwriting

social-media

graphic courtesy of Ryan Lanz @ A Writer’s Path

As writers, most of us have four jobs: our day job, family life, writing, and social media. For obvious reasons, we have to spend time at our day jobs. We also have to spend time with our families because, well, relationships make life worth living. As for writing, that’s non-negotiable. Except it is. Even when our life’s ambition is to publish novels, we don’t always make enough time to write, and sometimes (often) the culprit is our fourth job, social media.

If you’re like me, you worry that you might be spending too much time on social media. Try not to beat yourself up about this too much. Marketing experts and industry specialists universally agree (I know, that surprised me, too) that, if you’re serious about building a writing career, social media is necessary. Authors must be visible to the public, accessible, and connected to what is happening in the publishing world.

Yay, so we don’t have to worry that we’re spending too much time on social media!

Well, maybe.

How Do You Know You’re Spending Too Much Time on Social Media?

Most of us have an innate sense for when we’re spending an unhealthy amount of time online. And our manuscripts definitely know because they’re not growing as fast as we’d like them to.

According to literary agent and writer’s-best-friend, Jane Friedman, “If it’s starting to drag on your resources and time to do other things more important to you (such as writing), then it’s time to re-assess.”

Why is social media so tempting?

“When we go on these sites, our underlying drive is to satisfy that innate need to connect to others. It comforts us and fulfills us to know that we are not alone.” Well put, Melissa Joy Kong.

Speaking mostly for myself, I’ll hazard a guess that writers are particularly susceptible to social media’s siren call. Since we writers are not the world’s most extroverted creatures (hence, we immerse ourselves in imaginary worlds), the “comfort” of social media is logically a huge temptation.

Now for the Big Question . . . How to Balance Writing and Social Media?

#1 Set Goals and Prioritize

Just like setting goals for your writing, also set goals for the time you spend on social media. Joshua Graham recommends that you “Make to-do lists every day and put tasks in priority order.”

#2 Quality over Quantity

Don’t try to do it all; stick to social media platforms you enjoy and do them well. If blogging every day doesn’t negatively impact your writing time, then go for it. However, Chuck Sambuchino suggests, “It’s very possible to have a platform with the ‘less is more’ philosophy, as long as you focus on the absolute quality of your efforts.”

#3 “Batch” Your Time

There’s this term efficiency experts use called “batching” time. This means setting aside blocks of time for, in our case, writing. During that time block, all you should do is write. Then you can set aside other blocks of time for blogging and each social media platform. You’ll get far more accomplished if you’re not constantly switching between blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and, of course, all-important writing.

If resisting social media during your writing block is too difficult, consider downloading the Anti-Social app ($15), which you can program to block overly tempting websites during time periods that you set.

#4 Frontload Blog and Social Media Posts

During your “blog time block,” frontload blog posts. For example, set aside each Sunday afternoon to write all your blog posts for the week. You can also write and schedule social media posts in advance using programs like Hootsuite.

#5 Set a Daily Limit on Your Social Media Time

What is a reasonable amount of time to spend on social media? “It varies from person to person” is an answer I hate, so I won’t say that. Instead, I’ll give you Jody Hedlund’s wise answer, which is: “The time we give to our writing should be greater than the time we spend on marketing.” This makes sense, right, writers?

Here’s my favorite answer. (Way to be bold with your very specific answer, Katie Wagner.) In her video blog, Wagner says you should engage in social media for “fifteen minutes, three times a day.” During each fifteen-minute social media block spend:

  • Five minutes posting;
  • Five minutes responding to posts from others;
  • Five minutes reading and commenting on other people’s blogs and social media accounts.

There you have it. If you follow all these suggestions, you will never again have to worry about spending too much time on social media.

Right?

Well, except that we’re writers and we’ll always find reasons to worry. Plus, we’ll probably still spend too much time on social media. But even if you incorporate one or two of these suggestions into your daily or weekly routine, you’ll be making more time to write, which will move you ever closer to your ultimate goal of publishing novels.

If you’ve found other ways of balancing writing and social media, please share!

— Eve Messenger

300th Follower Celebration

Blow the party horns, toss the confetti, my blog just hit 300 followers. In the three and a half months since launching this blog (with a post that I later deleted–there’s a learning curve, okay?), I’ve learned far more than I ever imagined I would. I’m grateful to everyone I’ve crossed paths with: to the readers who’ve visited and commented and to the writers who’ve entertained and enlightened with their own wonderful blogs about writing, reading, and life.

On this special day, I would like to recognize…

My 300th Follower!
Thank you, redheadedbooklover, for taking my blog over the top. You seem like a genuinely nice person, and I really like the books you’ve reviewed.

Smart, Savvy Book Bloggers
As always, Josie’s Book Corner, in whose reviews I’ve found a treasure trove of YA books.

Carolyn at A Hundred Thousand Stories, who went above and beyond to help find a particular kind of book I was looking for a while back.

Fabulous New Writer Friends
During the often solitary pursuit of writing, it’s a comfort and an inspiration to be able to connect with fellow writers.

As always, familyrulesbyplainjane, a genuinely kind person and an eloquent writer.

Kristina Stanley, who’s taking the publishing world by storm.

Jennifer F. Santucci, a gifted writer with great ideas.

Wallace Cass, funny and really talented.

Dale E. Funk, who genuinely writes from the heart.

Liebster Award!

Thank you to writer Wallace Cass for nominating me for a Liebster Award. With a desire to meet other writers online and to gain insight into my journey toward becoming a successful published writer, I started blogging about three months ago. If my blog were a baby, it would just now be learning to raise its head and chest when lying on its stomach; open and shut its hands; and follow moving objects. In other words, I’m still getting the hang of things, and it’s nice to be acknowledged.

According to the Liebster Award rules, I must now:

  • Answer a list of questions
  • Nominate other bloggers.
  • Pose eleven  questions of my own.
  1. Do you feel that Writing is a Craft or an Art Form?
    I believe that writing is an art form but that writing novels is a craft.
  2. Where we came from is as important as where we are going. Agree or Disagree?  Embracing and overcoming my past is an essential part of who I am, but striving toward the mission of becoming a successful published writer is the most important thing in my life, so I’ll go with DISAGREE: where we’re going is more important than where we came from.
  1. I believe in hopeful futures. What do you believe in?  I believe in being positive. Through my teen years I was a worrier and a pretty negative thinker, but at 20 I made a conscious decision to be positive, and it changed my life — all because of a fortune cookie.
  1. What is your dream vacation?  Every time I see a clock at 11:11, I wish for a vacation to Europe, starting with my ancestral homeland Scotland.
  1. Did that last question snap you out of deep thoughts?  The last question snapped me deeper into thought.
  1. It has been said that everything has already been written. What are your thoughts on that?  I pretty much agree that all stories have been written, but they haven’t been written the same way.
  1. This is a long list of questions, isn’t it?  It’s not too bad.
  1. What do you like to read most?  I adore reading novels and always have.
  1. It has been said that Truth is stranger than Fiction. What is one strange truth that you know?  I think it’s remarkable that, as complex as human beings are, a fully formed one can be “built” in nine months.
  1. Is it possible to truly agree to disagree?  We don’t have to like it but, yes, it’s possible to agree to disagree in most situations.
  1. Did you find these questions interesting or difficult? Please be honest.  I thought the questions were pretty interesting, but I don’t think “interesting” and “difficult” are mutually exclusive. In fact, I find many difficult things particularly interesting.

Now *drum roll, please* the new nominees for Liebster Award are:
Eclectic Scribe
Kristina Stanley
Kelly Deeny
Dale E. Funk
Stephanie Flint
Glitter Afficianado
Linda Maye Adams
Jay Dee Archer

Here are your questions, nominees. I’m curious to read your answers.

1. How important do you think it is to network with other writers?

2. Do you ever read books more than once? Which ones?

3. What’s the scariest or most challenging thing for you about writing?

4. What is the most amazing thing about writing?

5. Where is your favorite place to write?

6. When’s your best time of day to write? Why?

7. What are three of your favorite words?

8. What’s one thing that would tell you you’ve “made it” as a writer?

9. In terms of writing or reading, what’s the best thing anyone could say to you right now?

10. Do you have any rituals, superstitions, or preferences related to writing or editing?

11. In the face of all the rejection that comes with being a writer, what advice would you give to someone to help them stay on a path toward achieving their dreams?

Blogger Recognition Award!

Must stop fanning myself with my hands and use them to type now because, my, my, (sounds more like “mah, mah” since I’m speaking Scarlett O’Hara-style) I’ve received a Blogger Recognition Award from the lovely Rae of Bookmark Chronicles. Thank you, Rae! If you enjoy bright, insightful book/TV show/movie reviews that make you feel like you’re chatting with a smart friend, check out Rae’s blog.

blogger recognition

Blogger Recognition Award Rules

  • Tell the world why you started blogging
  • Give advice/tips to new bloggers
  • Share the picture above
  • Nominate other blogs and let them know how awesome you think they are.
  • Share the link to Edge of Night for the original post.

Okay!

Why I Blog

If this makes any sense at all, my writing dream feels so much bigger than the small life I live that, for fear of diminishing the dream, I tend not to discuss my writing with friends and family. However, I DO feel comfortable sharing about my awesome, scary, exciting, joyful experiences writing for publication with folks in the blogosphere because they are safe, and they get me. 😉 Which brings me to my next point.

Advice/Tips to New Bloggers

100% be yourself. Read lots of other people’s blogs and be brave about leaving comments, even if they seem lame. Don’t worry that people will judge the crazy, silly, way-too-honest things you write. By blogging honestly, you will find the people who “get” you.

And now – drum roll, please – announcing Eve Messenger’s new Blogger Recognition Award winners!

Book Snacks – A mecca of great fantasy book reviews, plus Heidi seems like a really nice person.

The Book Minder – Happily stumbled upon this book blog and recently enjoyed a fun back-and-forth comment conversation with its author, the kind and funny Anaya De.

Writing Considered – Catherine C. Mead-Brower’s blog is a must-visit for anyone trying to making her way through the writing and publishing world.

Agnes Jasinksa – When Agnes writes about topics like enhancement and mind manipulation, it really gets you thinking. She’s so smart!

Angel-Lithium – steampunk writer and commenter extraordinaire

7 Things About Me

Many thanks to Glitter Aficianado for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award!

Blogger Award - Versatile

There are three simple rules for this award.

  • Link back to the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  • Post seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate some other bloggers of your own!*

7 Facts about Me, Eve Messenger

  1. Possums do not play possum around me, opting instead to morph into hissing, fanged, razor-clawed creatures with snakelike tails. Thus, I do not like possums.
  2. I am half Japanese incognito.
  3. On the rare occasions that I’ve called radio stations to request a song, they put me live on the air. This has happened to me six times in my life.
  4. The book series I was most obsessed with as a child was Fairytales from Around the World.
  5. I’ve always wanted to pilot a helicopter but have never ridden in one.
  6. I dream of going to Europe.
  7. It took me 90 minutes to figure out how to post this . Linking is now my b*tch.

Bloggers I Nominate . . .

I agree with Glitter Aficianado that nominating 15 bloggers seems to diminish the prize somewhat, so here is my much more selective list of bloggers who, in my not so humble opinion, deserve a Versatile Blogger Award for making the blogosphere shine.

Josie’s Book Corner  – My favorite place in the blogosphere.

Crohn’s and the Real Girl – Each and every brilliant story is a joy to read.

illustr8d – Super intelligent blogger who makes me feel less alone in the blogosphere by commenting even when no one else does.

A Simple Life – because she’s the best kind of nonconformist cool.

familyrulesbyplainjane – For the kindness and imagination that shine through her every post.

I Want to Sell Books, but I Won’t Sell My Soul

dollar sign eyes

Something unusual happened when I served jury duty a while back, not just that I was excited about it. I struck up a sort of friendship with a fellow juror — I don’t recall her name, so we’ll call her Ann.  She was very different from me, worked as an accountant, was years older, married, with children, while I was still years from all that.

Despite the differences, Ann and I were conversational, conspiratorial.  She was friendly, albeit a little aloof. I was flattered, I guess, that she seemed interested in what I had to say. She was smart, well-spoken, dressed in expensive clothing and nice shoes – I didn’t recognize the brands, just that they weren’t from Payless or Target. When the trial was over, Ann invited me to a gathering at her house. Vague, just a “gathering.” I didn’t want to be rude and ask what kind of gathering, opting to chalk it up to that’s how rich, white working moms invite people over.

So I drove to Ann’s house, which was lovely.  And large. At 4, 000 square feet her home was nearly 10 times larger than the apartment I lived in. Clean, new, not-thrift-store-bought furniture, a sunken living room. Ann met me at the door wearing only a smile.

Just kidding.  Wanted to see if you were still paying attention.

Actually, Ann was dressed fine, sort of business casual. She led me from the foyer, through the sunken living room, back to a large den where twenty or so people of all ages milled about. A few light snacks were laid out on a dining table, and there were – I don’t know – packages of things, boxes, pamphlets. The event had an unusual vibe. The other guests weren’t unfriendly, but it all sort of reminded me of when I was nine years old in small-town Virginia and had just started Majorettes (remember baton twirling?).  The girls and our moms had all gathered at the coach’s house for our first meeting.  None of us really knew each other yet. Ann’s “gathering” kind of felt like that.

Then Ann started pitching Amway products.

Amway, the pyramid scheme multi-level marketing company in which sellers at the top get a cut of everything sold by people under them. The more sellers you recruit the more money you make. Simple as that.

I was a mark.

I’m slow sometimes, but I get there eventually, as my friend Marcia would say. I now saw the gleam in Ann’s eyes, the dollar signs. Her invitation had nothing to do with friendship or a desire to chat about our shared jury duty experience. Ann had seen nothing special in me. Feeling foolish and betrayed, I left.

A couple of months later, would you believe, this super cute guy asked me out to a “friendly gathering.” “What kind of gathering?” Vague response. I pressed. “I’m doing well with this business networking thing (or whatever euphemism the cult members employees had for it at the time).  Maybe you’d like to check it out with me.” Sorry, cute guy, Amway is not my idea of a good first date. Next.

It’s easy to recall those memories when now, as an aspiring author, waves of advice crash all around me to promote, promote, promote. Start even before your book is sold, the blogs and tweets and writers’ magazines say. Show agents and publishers you know how to work the ‘net, that you’re the queen of social media, that you’ll be able to promote your book when it’s published. I get it;  if you have no audience then you may as well not have a book.  But what the advice-givers don’t mention is that this whole networking, community-building process could easily turn us into a bunch of Anns.

The artist’s lament? Sure.  I want to sell books, but I won’t sell my soul.  I love communicating with people in the online writing and reading community, sharing insights, fears, successes, and passion for literature.  I don’t ever want to lose that.  If, in this blog of mine, you ever see me mutating into an Ann, please, dear reader, slap me upside the head (in writing, please). Thank you.

EBM

P.S. If your name is Ann, I’m sorry I just tarnished it.  I actually really like the name.