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Posts tagged ‘blogs’

Is the blog on your website empty or out of date?

If the answer is “yes,” then why is “blog” a menu selection? I see out of date blogs a lot on writers’ sites, social service organization sites, and environmental group sites every week. Sure, they’re a lot of work even if they’re only updated once a month. Perhaps they were started when writers were less famous and had more time or when volunteer groups happened to have somebody on hand to write a blog who has since left the organization.

When I visit a social service or environmental group and see that the latest post is two or three years old, my first thought is, “Have you people done nothing since that post worth talking about?”

I realize that social service and environmental groups have to be more careful than other bloggers because they don’t have to luxury of posting rants or even reasonable debates because such things are construed as the voice of the organization rather than how the blogger happened to be feeling one day. So, most likely, blog posts have to be approved by upper management–or by the publicity department–and that can be time-consuming. However, I think an out-of-date blog creates about as much damage as any inadvertent post that headquarters may not like.

Much better to remove the “blog” menu selection than to leave it there and have people think you’re lazy and/or have nothing to say.

Writers get busy, especially those who are on the faculty of a college, on the board of one or more writers’ groups, or are charged with organizing writing workshops and conventions. The amusing thing is, many writers proclaim on their web sites that they write daily. That said, how long could it possibly take to add a hundred words to a blog? When a writer’s blog is empty, I feel cheated, especially if they haven’t come out with a new book in a while or been interviewed in a writer’s magazine. “What are you thinking about these days?” I want to ask. An out of date blog makes me think the answer to that question is “nothing.”

It may seem like a little thing, but that empty or abandoned blog on the writer’s or organization’s website is causing a lot more damage than most people realize.

–Malcolm

 

 

Writer’s Platform: Writing About Your Novel’s Subject Matter

The experts–and I use that term cautiously–tell authors not to write posts, tweets, and Facebook updates that say, one way or another, “Buy my book.” Why not? For one thing, it’s SPAM insofar as others are concerned. For another thing, it’s boring.

I think the experts are right when they say prospective readers won’t flock to your blog or Facebook page if all you’re doing is running a series of advertisements. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that most readers of popular fiction are drawn to mainstream novels because they’re interested in a novel’s location, the careers/hobbies of the characters, or the various tie-ins the novel has to old myths and legends.

Most of us buy books for a compelling story. I read a fair number of black ops books. Right now, I’m reading Agent in Place by Mark Greaney. I picked it up at a CVS and thought it looked interesting. I wasn’t attracted to it because I’m a student of guns, spies, conspiracies, or anything else related to the plot of the thriller. I think a lot of readers are like me in this respect.

We see a few reviews, we hear friends talking about what they’re reading, and we read the back covers of the novels we see in the local Barnes & Noble. I doubt that many of us consider ourselves experts in the subject matter itself except, perhaps, in historical novels where we like certain time periods and dynasties.

So why do the experts tell us to write about the subject matter behind our novels? Obviously, they think that we’re writing for people who like certain subjects and might tend to read novels about those subjects. I can see that readers might choose novels about witchcraft or political intrigue or rogue lawyers. Yes, they may find an unknown author’s novel by using search terms focused on the subject matter and discover his/her novel in the process.

While this seems logical, my experience is that very few of the readers who come to this blog and read about the hero’s journey, hoodoo subject matter, or magic ever purchase my books related to those subjects. They read the blog, enjoy a few hundred words about a subject they like, and then move on. That’s to be expected because most fiction readers buy books by authors they’ve already heard of.

I’m not a typical reader. I buy black ops books and I buy magical realism books. I suspect many readers are like this: they have likes that nobody suspects. Yet, the marketing gurus have to tell little-known writers something. They tell me to write posts about hoodoo, magic, 1950s racism, and Florida. So that’s what I do, but not because I think those who read those posts will zoom out to Amazon to buy my novels. I write posts about those subjects because I’m interested in them.

It’s gratifying to see–from this blog’s statistics–that a fair number of readers have been lured to Malcolm’s Round Table to read those posts. I read similar posts on other people’s blogs and get a lot out of them. In fact, finding readers for our posts is almost as good as finding readers for our novels. We’re exchanging facts and ideas, and that’s a good thing.

As a writer doing research, I love finding blogs and websites created by people who believe in their subjects and freely give away information and ideas. I compare such information to Wikipedia, peer-reviewed books about the subjects, and professional websites hosted by museums, societies, and foundations. One has to double-check everything. But those who offer information for free on their blogs have my respect and admiration. Many hope that I will click on the Amazon links to their books, but as a poor, starving author, I can’t buy from everyone!

I wish I could. I’m often tempted. Yet, months or years later, I see novels by those blog posters and recognize their names. I read the blurb on the Amazon listing or, in bricks and mortar store, the back cover of the book. And I think, “I’ve seen this author’s name somewhere before.” So I buy the book. That’s what most of us hope will happen even if it takes a while.

–Malcolm

 

Why do old posts suddenly catch a lot of people’s attention?

When I log on to my WordPress dashboard, I see how things are going. Quite often, posts I think will have traction aren’t noticed while silly throw-away posts attract hundreds of readers.

Sometimes, I do a Google search to see if the subject of an old post that suddenly has hundreds of hits has been in the news. This time, it’s my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began. Why are people suddenly reading this old post?

  • I check the news to see if the hotel burnt down, had a string of murders in the basement, or got sued for not having an elevator in the annex.
  • As far as I can see from scanning Amazon, no new books have come out about the hotel that might cause people to put it into their search engines for more information.
  • President Trump isn’t staying there, nor has he unleashed a Tweet Storm about the place.
  • My publisher hasn’t made a surprise announcement to the press that I’m going to be there to talk about my two novels set in the historic structure.

So, I’ve got nothing. If any of you who went there see this post, I would like to know why you went there.

This is very a perplexing thing for a blogger. Why people read what they read. Lately, I saw that a lot of people arrived on my blog after a search for subject XYZ. So, I wrote a post about XYZ. Nobody read it even though my search terms index kept showing me that people were looking for more information about it.

Sometimes I think the Feds are doing this to make me go crazy to they can put me in a home, a One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest kind of home. Why would they do that, you wonder. My guess is that it’s because my alter ego Jock Stewart has contributed a lot of guest posts on this blog that made fun of the Feds. (Lately, the real news has become so crazy that Stewart couldn’t think of any way to satirize it.)

Okay, let’s pretend the Feds aren’t going it. Maybe some of you are doing it. You probably have a ringleader, some tough guy or badass chick from Chicago who calls the shots. Why would s/he do this? Kicks? Too much free time? A dislike of bloggers? Nurse Ratched withholds their meds unless they click on old blogs of mine to make me wonder why they’re clicking on old blogs of mine.

I’m sure there are other possibilities. The Russians hacked into my blog or maybe the Mafia did it. Or, possibly aliens from a place where no one has gone before.

Like those cop shows where a crime is committed in the middle of a crowded mall where nobody saw nothin’, I strongly suspect nobody knows why everyone’s headed out to that old Many Glacier Hotel post.

Okay, I can play that game, too, because my hacker software knows who you are and what you did. <g>

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of fantasy and magical realism novels which, after youve read this post, shouldn’t surprise you.

If you don’t know where you’re going. . .

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

This blog came into being after I tinkered with earlier blogs on Blogger, MySpace, Typepad, and Xanga. Since this blog doesn’t have a real niche, you might say that in all its incarnations I never knew where I was going. Except in wholly practical matters like getting on a plane and ending up where my ticket says I’m supposed to end up, I much prefer not to be going to any particular place. I dislike planning.

I took a look at the first post on this blog in 2008 to see if I began with a plan, forgot about it, and then decided there was no need for a plan:

As of 2008

Photo by João Barbosa on Unsplash

A friend asked in a recent post on her MySpace blog “How Do You Define Success?”

Essentially, her answer was finding the freedom to be herself and to follow her dreams. The challenge for her–for many of us–was that while following our dreams requires a measure of security and financial well-being, if we spend too much time or stress establishing that, we may not ever get to our dreams.

My answer to her question was similar to hers. Success to me is doing what I’m here to do: making an inner journey and writing about it. This blog represents my random thoughts, and a lot of yours, about the challenges we face and about the things we see along the trail.

I’m influenced, as many of you can tell, by the work of such writers as Edward Abbey and Colin Fletcher and by the dedication of volunteers in such organizations as the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. I’m also influenced by Jane Roberts’ “Seth Books,” by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and Caroline Myss.

As we walk the trail, we learn–as Carlos was taught–that our outer journey is a reflexion of our inner journey and, conversely, that if we are impeccable in what we do in the physical world, we will be more centered within.

For me, success is being on the path and experiencing what I find there and then putting those feelings into words on the page.

What about you?

As of Right Now

My novels and blog posts still reflect my inner journey–more or less. The journey has been satisfying, if not profitable. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done better, though I’m not sure better would have yielded the same lessons.

What about you? Have you changed your basic philosophy and/or how you view success since 2008?

I envy people who keep diaries, real diaries rather than those they write in such a way that people years down the road will read them with great admiration. I could never do that. I either couldn’t stay with it or I couldn’t stay with it without fictionalizing what was happening while it was happening. Maybe the embellishments were the real me. I don’t have a clue, and that’s probably just as well. But those can do keep honest diaries can go back and see what the hell they were thinking long, long ago.

I think this blog is just as chaotic now as it was when it began. I like it that way because it makes every day a blank slate where everything is possible. Plans seem to limit what is possible because they’re based on preconceived notions about what I ought to be doing tomorrow or next week.

My wife will tell you that–like most men–I don’t like to stop and ask directions. Frankly, I don’t know why that lack of practicality is a “male thing.” If we’re on the way to the hospital ER or maybe to pick up the Pulitzer Prize, I’d ask somebody where we were and where we needed to go.

Otherwise, I don’t want to know. I want the road to surprise me.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Stories, three novels in one e-book.

 

 

If you’re naughty. Santa leaves SPAM in your stocking

Not the SPAM in a can, but the crap that shows up uninvited in your e-mail inbox and in the comments section of your blog. Fortunately, WordPress weeds out a lot of the junk. Google’s Gmail separates a fair amount of the annoying stuff, but I still get a lot of e-mails asking for money, asking for me to sign urgent petitions in which a million signatures are (for reasons never specified) “needed by midnight,” and offers far more Viagra than anyone would consider using in a hundred lifetimes.

Most of the SPAM weeded out by WordPress starts with something lame: “Hi, I want you to know that I read your blog every day and intend to tell my friends about it.” And then there’s a link to an online store or service that I don’t want.

My assumption is that as Christmas approaches, Santa reads the news and discovers that coal is really bad or really good depending on your politics. So, after a discussion with Mrs. Claus, he decided not to touch the stuff. Plus, many of today’s young people don’t equate coal in the stocking as evidence that their wrongdoings have been noted on the naughty list.

But SPAM, how nasty is that? It’s just another advertisement at best. At worst, it’s a way of opening a doorway to endless malware, viruses, and perhaps death. Of course, most of the medications we take indicate that death is a potential side effect, so how bad can death be? From Santa’s viewpoint, your friendly pharmacist in the white coat pushes more death than the anonymous spammer who promises riches in the Bitcoin market.

Most spammers who try to sneak their comments into this blog are trying to sell software that will write this blog for me and/or monetize it in some way that will be better for me–and any reader who believes the pitch–than winning the lottery. The pitches often begin with: “I notice you don’t have much new material on this blog.” Gosh, they probably sweet talk everybody like that. And then they continue with: “Most bloggers aren’t writers, so we’ll supply a slew of curated crap that will fill up your week’s post with the kind of stuff people want to read. You won’t have to write another word.”

My only question is this: “will the people who read that curated crap be so happy and inspired they’ll buy my novels?”

The spammers say, “Malcolm, of course, they will. You’ll be the new James Patterson.”

Wow, really? Where do I sign?

“Right here where you promise to hand over your next child, your house, your Jaguar, and the access codes to all of your bank accounts.”

Does that sound good to you? No, I didn’t think so. The thing is, the SPAM industry keeps trying to sell it to me. Apparently, it’s illegal to harm those people or even to create a virus that goes back to their computers and fries the hell out of them (the computers). Maybe I should call a conjure lady and ask her to put a hex on them, some kind of plague maybe like frogs in the kitchen and wasps in the bedroom.

Christmas SPAM seems to be the worst SPAM. Supposedly, if I sign up, I’ll experience joy and love and a guarantee that my stocking will never be filled with coal or more SPAM. Gosh, if that doesn’t represent the true magic and spirit of Christmas, I don’t know what does.

I almost feel like wishing the spammers Merry Christmas. Hmm, maybe next year. Between now and then, I’ll try to stay off the “naughty list.”

This has been a wonderful Christmas, one that didn’t require SPAM or smoke and mirrors to make it happen. I hope your Christmas Day is unfolding the same way.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Indies Unlimited

“Seven years ago, the Evil Mastermind launched Indies Unlimited. Since then, we’ve had over 2.5 MILLION page views, been named as one of Six Great Blogs for Indie Authors in Publishers Weekly, and ranked as one of the top writing-related sites by Alexa.”

Source: Indies Unlimited – Celebrating Independent Authors

Indies Unlimited is the go-to blog for writers learning their craft and then learning how to market their work in competition with the one million self-published books released each year. Since the blog is run by volunteers, it’s obviously a labor of love, though I hate using that hackneyed old phrase to describe their work.

Even if you don’t have time to check the blog every week, a scan through their archive of posts will usually materialize what you’re looking for whenever you have a question or the need for a little inspiration.

I hope Indies Unlimited is going strong seven years from now.

Malcolm

 

I’m not psychic enough to know what people want to read

If I were a super psychic, every one of my posts on this blog would have thousands of views and, better yet, people clicking through to look at my Amazon author’s page, my website, and the books mentioned at the ends of the posts.

Alas, as a blogger, I don’t have a clue.

No, this is not me. It’s clip art from Vital Images, Ltd.

I started this blog in 2008 after having been on Blogger and other sites for a while. In ten years, nothing stands out as a niche. I asked people on my Facebook friends list a week ago if anything had been on the news about the herb called Holy Ghost Root because a post I wrote about that was suddenly getting lots of hits. Nobody was sure why.

Naturally, some of the posts I spend the most time researching and writing often get the fewest hits and no comments. I believe in whatever Murphy’s law applies.

About ten of my posts have received over a thousand views. My home page has almost 24,000 views. Surprising to me, here are the top two posts since 2008:

  • The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale – 14,540 views. Frankly, I thought few people would read this and remain surprised that it continues to come in first every week in activitiy.
  • Heave Out and Trice Up – -5,010 views – I’m less surprised about this because the title is a bit of Navy slang that makes no sense to people who haven’t been in the Navy. A lot of people probably search on the terms I listed in the post.

Other posts get readers while an event is in the news. For example, my post about several books written by survivors of Florida’s Dozier School (The White House Boys) kept getting hits while the state investigation was ongoing.

Overall, I’m happy with readers’ response to my posts and appreciate every one of you who stops to read one of them. I don’t have a niche, because I don’t like being confined to a narrow area of subjects. And, I make no attempt to compete with the top writing and publishing sites even though you will see writing ideas here. (Yes, I know, those posts are probably a “who needs it” for non-writers.

When it comes down to it, I’m just shooting the breeze.

Malcolm

 

 

Blog Traffic is Often a Puzzlement

I appreciate those of you who regularly stop by, read, leave comments, and subscribe. Without Google Analytics, I often wonder where some of the other blog traffic comes from.

Suddenly, a two-year-old review of “Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse gets 35 viewers. Last week, an old article called “Branding at Sea” about the USS Ranger was ranked as a top post. Sometimes I can figure out these puzzles. A news story prompts a sudden search. An author comes out with a new book, leading people here to reviews of earlier books. But most of the time, I can’t track down the why of sudden bursts of traffic to old posts.

I often post news and articles about Glacier National Park, the hero’s journey, and the heroine’s journey, so I’m not too surprised to see search terms listed on my dashboard from readers looking for more information. My new novel “The Seeker” will be coming out soon. That means more fantasy and magical realism posts. Later this year, I plan to visit Glacier National Park, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to see more posts about Swiftcurrent Valley and Many Glacier Hotel.

Coming soon, is a very interesting guest post from author Dianne K. Salerni (“We Hear the Dead”). If I told you the subject, you’d probably think I was making it up. I’m already wondering what kind of search terms will lead people to that post.

I’ll have another book review to post in several weeks. I liked this author’s collection of short stories. It’s fun seeing him focus his talents on a novel. When I post reviews, I often see more traffic for the older reviews.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, check out my Magic Moments blog for more posts about fantasy, the natural world and sometimes a bit of Zen. Several times a week, I post links to book and author news, writing tips, and book reviews in “Book Bits” which appears on Sun Singer’s Travels.

The traffic on the older posts on those blogs is also a puzzlement, but I figure the Universe, Google and the Internet in general pretty much know who needs to stop by for a visit. When I start following links, I often end up at sites and blogs I’ve never heard of and find that it’s almost as though I was destined to go to them and read a specific article or post that somehow applies to whatever I’m doing.

Even if Google Analytics were available for WordPress blogs, I’m not sure it could figure out the logic of traffic that the fates send to one place or another.

Malcolm

Inspiring Blog Award Nomination

Thank you, Christine, for nominating Malcolm’s Round Table as an inspiring blog in yesterday’s post on your C. LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog. I’ve been enjoying your posts, especially those that focus on individual Tarot cards and the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey has been a long-time special interest of mine, so when others write about it, I usually find my way to their words.

Now, in the spirit of the Inspiring Blog Award, I’m supposed to tell you seven things about me.

  1. My website’s bio page says that I was raised by alligators in the Everglades. I’ve given this matter further thought, and suspect that it may not be true. I did enjoy reading  Karen Russell’s novel Swamplandia! (which was a deja vu experience) about a Florida theme park featuring alligator wrestlers, and I did grow up in Florida: I’m reasonably sure about these things.
  2. Among other things, I like anchovies and feta cheese on pizza. I had a boss who insisted on ordering pizza with pineapple on it on Friday afternoons to celebrate the end of the workweek. Ursula, I gotta tell you, I never understood the pineapple. Of course, most people don’t understand anchovies because (possibly) evil spirits brainwashed them when they were kids.
  3. The URL for this blog lists it under knightofswords. This is the Tarot card that signifies me for those of us who view the court cards as knights, queens, princes and princesses. The Knight of Swords is a card of wind and storms.
  4. My sun sign is Leo. I guess most of you have figured that out already.
  5. My introduction to myths and heroes’ journeys began in secondary school when I read every book I could get my hands on about the Arthurian legends. My favorite King Arthur book is T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.  So, no surprise that I would call this blog Malcolm’s Round Table.
  6. My writer’s muse is named Siobhan and she appeared as a character in my contemporary fantasy Sarabande and in my hero’s journey novel Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey.
  7. My first jobs were delivering telegrams and newspapers (though not at the same time).

Seven Blogs that Inspire Me

  1. Montana Outdoors
  2. Smoky Talks
  3. The Drawing Board
  4. Lingwë – Musings of a Fish
  5. In the Labyrinth
  6. Patricia Damery
  7. The Spiritual Edge

The Round Table

I’ve never been able to settle down and confine this blog to a tightly focused subject area. As an author, I’m going to talk about my books along with the themes and settings in them. This has led to a fair number of posts about Glacier National Park, the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey, the environment, and fantasy and magical realism. I also review books here and at Literary Aficionado. I’m glad Christine enjoys stopping by the Round Table, and I hope you do, too.

Malcolm

Contemporary fantasy for your Nook at $4.99.

Around the Links

On this slow, lazy southern Saturday, I’m taking the easy way out by posting a few links to recent posts in my other blogs.

“The Apartment” to the rescue on Sun Singer’s Travels discusses my use of a reference to this old Billy Wilder movie to show how my protagonist Jock Stewart feels about himself on a down evening. I think the reference works even for readers who’ve never seen the film. Check out my “FriendFeed” while you’re here.

In Movie and Book References Help Define your Characters on Writer’s Notebook I suggest that while current popular culture references can date a book, mentioning older movies and books can add atmosphere and show what your characters are all about.

Eye Blink Fiction features a short excerpt from my novel “Garden of Heaven” about liberty in a 1960s sailor town.

Readers Looking for ‘The Lust Symbol’ Ravish Bookstore on Morning Satirical News is another off-the-wall satire about what happens when a bookstore owner gets the name of Dan Brown’s new novel wrong in his advertising.

When our water heater went out earlier this week, I wrote about it in The Water Heater on my MythRider weblog.

If you read book reviews on your quest for new books, I invite you to read take a look at Janice Harayda’s One-Minute Book Reviews and The Rose City Reader (out of Portland, Oregon). See also, Ms. Bookish – My life among books.

As always, I hope you’ll stop by my publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing and take a look at their wonderful selection of books including “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.” If you’re a writer of poetry, essays/articles and short stories with a focus on the out doors, you might be interested in submitting a piece for the upcoming “Earth’s Gifts” anthology which will celebrate Earth Day 2010. The deadline is December 31, 2009.

Have an enjoyable weekend.

Malcolm