Internet

That’s the sound of a truck backing up. (Can you hear it?) Anyway, this week has been very frustrating. A virus wormed it’s way into my computer and infected EVERYTHING! Tentacles wound themselves so tight around my stuff that the tech guy couldn’t find the heart of the beast.

I was amazingly calm for someone who lives on her computer. I’m not exaggerating. I turn the thing on around 8 am and shut it down as late as 10 or 11 (if I’m writing–even later than that.) Besides my books, my budgets, both business and personal are electronic.

But when I called PCWebDoc.com (yep, that’s a shameless plug for an amazing business out of Pennsylvania) I was very calm as I told them my computer was being held hostage and I wasn’t sure I could get the ransom before … oh, sorry, that’s one of my books. Anyway, things looked very bleak for my dear electronic friend as I handed my very sick computer off to the PCWeb doctor at their ER. Well, I’ve already shared the story. (Scroll down two posts to “It’s Alive”.) Dan (whom I will always secretly love) remotely took over my computer and the news was baaaaaaaad!

But I was not panicked.

I have a handy-dandy flash or jump drive that holds every single one of my books. EVERY one of them. (Even the ones that are merely a page or two and just notes.) My finshed books along with all my author copies are tucked safely into it’s folds.

Plus …

My finished books AND author copies are burned on to CDs. I even have my book trailers and website/blog info stored on both flashdrives and CDs. Overkill? You betcha. But guess what? When Dan said it may wipe out everything. I didn’t shed a tear. Groaned loudly, but truly didn’t panic. All of my gems are right here next to me. I knew my babies were safe.

There are now online ways to backup your files though I’ve never been able to get one set up.

In the end, it didn’t come to that. Everything worked just fine and I didn’t lose even one day’s worth of writing. If you live on your computer and depend on it whether you’re a writer or not … BACK UP! BACK UP! BACK UP! and back up again. Because Dan mentioned this new virus smooth-talked its way around my firewalls and there’s a high probability, now that it has my number, it may very well come back a third time.

So, did I mention you need to be dilegent about backing up your stuff? You never know when some virus will come wandering into your sanctuary and steal away everything near and dear to you.

This happens every once in awhile. The whole “to blog or not to blog” argument I have with myself. Yeah, it’s reared it’s ugly head … again.

This time it’s not just the fact that–in this time of 140 character (Twitter) or photo (Pinterest) updates–people are running around the internet looking for a quick way to keep in touch. I’ve come to realize that I have no platform.

No, that’s not the right word. It’s not like I want to be the voice of a “cause”. What I mean is, I’m not sure who I’m blogging for. I mean, who do I expect to stop by and read my posts? I know it’s mostly my writer friends (whom I appreciate *mwah*), though I get some people stopping by who aren’t part of the publishing world. So do they really want to read about editing or rejection? Perhaps they do. Perhaps they want to know about the life of the writer including it’s ups and downs.

Do I want to attract people with posts about my books or invite them to check out excerpts? Are people interested in that or is there just too much of that out in the cyber world?

Maybe the best I can expect is to just spew whatever is on my mind and hope to have different people stop by who are interested in that topic. Of course that means I have to talk about it on facebook and goodreads. I don’t know. But since you’re here, I’d love to hear what blogs you visit and why. Do you think blogs are going the way of the wall phone?

Obviously I seem to be having a some crisis of identity. Some internal search to figure out my place in this world. More specifically, where I fit in this whole crazy-ever-changing-dear-lord-what-have-I-done world of publishing.

I’ve been thinking about blogs and the WIDE universe of the internet and how many people every day who are seeking our attention. I don’t take a lot of time surfing blogs. Very little as a matter of fact. Which I believe is directly proportional to the number of people who stop by The Block on a regular basis. (And I love and enjoy chatting with all three of you. *g*)

I have only a couple of blogs I visit nearly every day Julia Rachel Barrett because Julia blogs on everything from movies to television to interesting authors she enjoys reading. And Penelope’s Romance Reviews because I just relate. The rest of my blog surfing is done from recommendations. But since I’ve dropped out of most of my Yahoo loops, I don’t get many of those anymore either.

So what makes you visit a blog? Besides the three dear friends who come all the time … what brought you here today? Just curious.

And if you’re up for following me around the internet, I’m trying to do a bit of marketing at Hesperia Loves Books because she’s showcasing indie authors for the next couple of weeks. And also at The Tiki Hut, Author Island’s guest blogger hang out. I’ll be there all week.

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

I’m a creature of habit. I don’t pretend otherwise. I mean there are times I can be spontaneous, but mostly I’m happy plodding along with some semblance of a routine. Yeah, it’s sort of boring, but it works for me.

Which means when something screws with things the way I like them, it makes me all prickly. Like this blog for instance. For years … years I happily typed up my posts and posted them to the Internet. Yeah, there were always these big strips of yellow on the top of my dashboard proclaiming how behind the times I was and wouldn’t I please update the WordPress software. But I refused. Because I knew their new fangled up-to-date version wasn’t going to look or act like the old version that was as comfy as the jammies I was working in.

But then I had the wonderful idea of doing an overhaul and Tracy Cooper-Posey just did a slow eyeroll when she realized how outdated the platform was that I was using. After we revamped the Block, giving it a sexy new look that fit better with my website, she made me promise, promise to faithfully do the updates when they appear. And I have. I close my eyes and go through the steps, knowing when I open them again, nothing will be the same.

URRRRRRRR!

It’s not fair. There should be an option to update the backend (that’s all the stuff I can’t work anyway) but keep what I see exactly the same. But nooooooo, they have to screw with something that’s already working.

Oh, and WordPress isn’t alone. Goodreads changed where they put things in their drop down menus. Followed by photobucket. And then Twitter wanted me to upgrade and add all their new bells and whistles. (Of course that only turned me off and kept me from going over there for the longest time.) And don’t even get me started on Facebook … the update, new fangled app, change-your-settings-every-other-day KING!

And even Google changed how I view images! Why?

Don’t they understand there are techno-idiots like me barely hanging on by a cyber thread pulled so taut that one more new-fangled-who-dinger may be just the thing that drops us into the deep pool of 404 error … page not found!

What about you? Are you one of those tech-savvy people who love everything new and sparkly or is the cyber-verse a territory best left to the professionals? Because you know me … I need to know if I’m alone in all of this!

Why? Why do they want to cause the

When life conspires against you, there’s only one thing to do … make it allllll go away.

And I’ve decided it’s time! i’ve shut down my Yahoo loops where I chat with my friends (boo). I’ve promised myself no twitter or facebook where I chat with my friends (double boo). And it’s time I buckled down and finish the book that’s been percolating for some time.

I’m happy you’ve come to visit. And please come back again. It will be just this week … I promise!

I’m going to admit I spend all day on the computer, but do very little internet surfing. I have places I hang out, but I don’t have a regular route of blogs I visit. I find posts via other people who post the links on the loops I frequent. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t see some really good, thought provoking stuff. I just want to share with you some great places I’ve been this past week.

Like Maureen Johnson’s great post on social media and a call to authors who choose NOT to brand themselves. (Note: This blog was posted in the summer, but this is the first time I’ve seen it.) This approach isn’t for every author, but she makes some great points. Everyone is screaming for authors to get out there and market themselves on every social media platform available. Yes, I believe it’s important to market onesself, but I really like Ms. Johnson’s take on things.

Julia Barrett did a great three part series on “The Secret Success of Romance”. Unfortunately, the people who need to see this post aren’t the smart and talented readers and authors stopping by. It really needs to get out to the people out in the blogosphere who still believe the romance genre involves Neanderthal Dukes bullying women and virgin waifs who do nothing but simper and whine. It’s a great series. You should check it out and then repost it … perhaps it will go viral and help educate the masses who wouldn’t pick up a “bodice ripper” novel if their life depended on it.

And this shout out goes to a good friend, Constance Ruth Clark whose debut release is coming out in May 2011 from Lyrical Press. She’s been blogging for awhile and now is on bed rest for a couple of weeks. Why don’t you head on over there and show her some comment love, she could use the company.

Of course I’ve got internet surfing on the brain as I’m gearing up for a two week blog tour (which is kind of like a virtually book signing without the fur of having cookies and coffee) to promote “Maid for Master“. Here’s the schedule:

Dirty Sexy Books: Jan 12 RELEASE DAY!
Amber Skyze: Jan 17
Tina Donahue: Jan 18
Adele Dubois: Jan 19
Romance Books R Us: Jan 20
Julia Barrett’s World: Jan 21
Taige Crenshaw: Jan 22
Francesca Hawley: Jan 24
Renee Vincent: Jan 25

I’ll be posting different guest spots and there will be a give away to one lucky commenter chosen from all the guest posts. So please stop by and say hello to my hosts!

And of course if you have some time on your hands, feel free to swing over HERE. It’s become one of my favorite places to hang out and drool. 😉

Okay, so when I first found out I had a contract I jumped onto MySpace. I made a beautiful page and uploaded book covers and found a whole bunch of friends. Or should I say, they found me. I loved MySpace. I went there nearly every day and left comments and updated and even posted blogs. But then it started doing weird things to my computer and some people’s pages were too big and wouldn’t load and MySpace slowly faded into the background.

Then I found Twitter. I loved Twitter. It was like having a massive chat with 300 of my best friends. I’d post, they’d post, we’d laugh. A good time. But then somehow I ended up following 600 people. Now granted, they’re not all active, but still, that’s a lot of 140 character info streaming into my computer. Not quite so intimate.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I found Facebook. Mostly because my family was all hanging out and chatting and I was feeling very left out of everything. And I love facebook. But some people now have their tweets streaming to their facebook status. Which is all very cool, but it makes for an incredible overload of information on some days.

And now facebook has fan pages and I’m being asked if I want to “fan” some of my friends. Really, I’m not sure what to do about this. Every day I have people making friend requests … and this is great really it is, but I wonder if there’s such a thing as friend overload. Being both a middle child and a mother I have this need to make sure everyone gets their attention. With all this information flying at me I’m seriously wondering if I’ve taken on too much. On the other hand I don’t want to offend someone who loves my books. For goodness sake, that’s the person I most want to chat with.

And as if all that isn’t confusing enough, now I’ve discovered that some agents and editors are using twitter to send out mass rejections. As in “if you queried me prior to April 1 and you haven’t heard from me, I’m not interested in your manuscript”. There are mixed reviews on this, from “it’s great to have an answer” to “what if I’m not on twitter?”. I guess my worry if I queried one of these people would be what if I missed the post. I’d be a maniac frantically checking and rechecking their twitter stream (as well as my inbox).

It’s definitely a whole new world out there. Social media has made it possible for authors and readers to connect in a way they never have before. Which is awesome. On the other hand it’s also created a situation that sometimes feels like a feeding frenzy to the harried author trying to balance marketing with writing. Twitter and Facebook and Yahoo Loops and MySpace and blogging are all part of the publishing landscape these days. I guess it’s just a matter of planting seeds where you’re most comfortable and nourishing the buggers in hopes it helps grow your career.

If you talk to any author … and it doesn’t matter if it’s a top seller at a NY publisher or a newly pubbed e-author … I think they’re all going to say one of the hardest things about the publishing industry is marketing.

Every author wants to find the one thing that gets their book information out to the readers. I know, I keep talking about this because it’s such a difficult tight rope to walk. Especially when it comes to spending hard earned royalty dollars. Everything from maintaining a website to gifts to give away in contests. It costs.

Now there are those free things an author can do. Like chatting on live chats or now doing blog-talk radio (er … which I know nothing about), posting excerpts on Yahoo loops through to having a blog. And there it is, my new four letter evil word … B-L-O-G.

You know, this week is the second anniversary of Around the Writer’s Block. I’m very proud of the fun I’ve had hanging out here chatting with everyone. I’ve celebrated accomplishments and shared my setbacks and disappointments. And I’ve really enjoyed having this space of the web to chat about anything and everything. As an extrovert, my blog gave me the opportunity to reach out beyond my little world that is my office and “be” with people.

But things have changed.

Now there’s twitter and facebook. These venues also give me an opportunity to jump up and down and share the wonderful things that happen or pull out my soap box and express an opinion. It’s not like I’ve run out of things to say … it’s just that I don’t think I have ENOUGH interesting opinions and events in my life to entertain so many people in so many different places. And of course, since there’s cross over, it’s not like I can duplicate the same amusing anecdote all over the internet without driving a few people insane with the repetition.

What does this mean? It means I’m sitting on the fence trying to decide if I really want to hold onto this corner of the web. Do I really want to continue blogging? *sigh* I just don’t know. I love having a place to display all my book covers. I like being able to put up my links to great reviews. But then I wonder if the information in my sidebar isn’t just to stroke my own ego.

I just don’t know. I’m not even sure how a blog slips into a cyber graveyard. Am I supposed to hold services and final blessings? or do I just let it quietly slip away into the darkness? I haven’t figured that out yet either. 

Anyway, I just thought I’d mention that I’m wrestling with this. There aren’t a whole lot of people popping over to read my musings. And for those of you who do … you have no idea how much it means to me. Anyway, I’m just trying to figure it all out and decide where best to spend my time visiting and marketing on the internet. Obviously I haven’t made any decisions, but I’ll let you know when I do.

Where does an author go to keep in touch with and find new readers? Where do we hang out to gain words of wisdom from successful authors? And how do we do all this without sucking so much time from our day that we don’t have time to write?

These are all questions authors ask themselves. Social media sites have exploded exponentially with the growth of the internet. And in my opinion this means authors and readers are having a harder time finding each other. I absolutley love to talk to people. As an extravert it’s how I recharge my energy levels. Since writing is such a solitary endeaver and I’m now disabled and not getting out of the house to work, it’s the social sites that keep me in touch with the outside world. But how much is too much?

Here’s a list of some of the places I hang out on the internet and some of them I understand and use effectively, but others I’m still not sure about …

MySpace – I LOVED MySpace when I was first contracted two years ago. I had a teenager in the house who walked me through setting it up. I went there every day to touch base with my “friends”. This means I read comments left on my page and usually went over and commented on other’s pages in reply. MySpace has a blog feature which I tried to see if blogging was something I wanted to jump into. I really enjoyed it. But over the past year or so MySpace has become cumbersome. It loads slowly and often times locks up my computer when I try to visit other people’s pages. I have no doubt that it has invited several unwanted viruses onto my computer. I’m moving away from MySpace. I’m not sure if I’m going to delete my page, but I’m definitely not using it as much.

Blogging – Wow, this one is hard. If I were to do it all over again I don’t think I’d have my own blog. Though I do love having this space that’s all about me and a place where I can display all my book covers and buy links, a place where I can share my life with my readers, I’m not sure whether or not if I’ve run out of things to say. (Don’t laugh … yes, I can talk … blogging is something a little bit different. LOL!) If someone were asking me whether they should blog I would caution them about the time it takes to post blogs. In order to get followers YOU MUST BE CONSISTENT. IMHO there’s nothing worse than someone stumbling upon your blog and finding the last post was one month earlier. You’re going to be hard pressed to get them back when you have posted something that would be helpful. If you don’t have your own blog I would highly recommend finding a group of authors willing to start (or joining in) a group blog. But again, it’s very important for everyone to agree that posting on their scheduled days is important. Building a readership is hard. Losing a readership is very easy … don’t be consistent in your posting.

Yahoo Loops – When I first started writing I joined RWA and through that my local writing chapter. We stay in touch with each other through email on a Yahoo loop. The wonderful thing about loops is you email one announcement and it goes to the inbox of every member of the loop. It’s a great way to communicate. Many authors started their own loops. It gave them the opportunity to share news with readers. As I started looking into Yahoo loops I realized there were soooo many that I chose not to start my own group. As a matter of fact, at one point I was on so many loops I could receive up to 1000 emails a day! Though these groups allowed me the opportunity to post excerpts and chat with others about books and writing I found myself spending my day answering emails. (Mostly because it’s important to me not to be a “fly-by” poster. I try to chat with people on the loop even as I post my own promo.)

Forums – My first publisher had a forum. THAT threw me for a loop. It looked like one long list of goble-dee-gook. It just seemed so confusing. Then I realized chats were in threads and if I wanted to participate I simply needed to open the thread. I found a wonderful forum in Romance Divas. I highly recommend this group. It’s filled with authors both published and unpublished, new and some very established authors. They are a very welcoming group that is willing to share without reservation. Again, this is a place I visited every day, both my publisher and Romance Divas forum. But I found I was hanging out and chatting for so much of the day that I wasn’t writing. So I’ve slowly moved away from forums.

Facebook – This is the newest place I’ve set up housekeeping. I really enjoy it over there. There’s none of the personalizing of MySpace, which is good … because everyone’s home pages come up without having to take time to load. Again, besides posting my own news I do comment on the posts of my friends. I am really enjoying this social media and IMHO, I think more people are shifting to this site and away from MySpace. Mostly because it’s easy to set up and easy to use.

Twitter – The best way to describe this is that it’s an instant chat with 800 (or however many followers you have) of your very best friends. When I post a tweet it feeds to the home page of anyone following me. When anyone I follow tweets it streams to my home page. If you enjoy chatting, twitter is a great place. Some people complain that people are chatting out about what they’re eating or the fact that they’re doing their laundry. Some are. It doesn’t bother me to follow a few people who do that once in awhile. I’m probably guilty of doing that as well. I use Twitter to give links to my blog posts or share a link to someone else’s blog if I think it’s a good post. I also use twitter to follow links to blogs on subjects that interest me. Since I don’t surf blogs I do find this is a great way to visit blogs with relevent posts. I like twitter. But there are a lot of people who don’t and avoid it at all costs. I do have this linked to MySpace and my blog (you can see it in the sidebar) so it posts to those two places whenever I tweet. (But couldn’t figure out how to get it to go to my facebook, but it does have that feature.)

These are the places I’m active. But I also have accounts at

Goodreads – I can’t help you here folks. On most days I can post what I’m currently reading and what I’ve read. But I don’t go there enough to be able to remember how I did it the last time. *g* I know you can post events or join groups and do a whole bunch of stuff, but I don’t know how to do it.

LinkedIn – Again, I’m hanging there … but I REALLY have no clue what to do with it. Not even sort of.

And that’s where I am. Now there’s NING’s and I know some people on Live Journal (who love it). But at the moment I’m pretty overwhelmed with all the places I’m visiting right now. Sometimes my social obligations can take over my whole day. I’m trying to figure out what’s an efficient use of my time. I’d love to hear your opinion. Where do you go and what do you enjoy. Because in the end it’s all about what helps readers find new authors and authors to help readers find their books. And sometimes it’s having the opportunity for experienced authors to share what they know.

So what works for you as a reader or an author?

I love the internet. I mean I LOVE the internet. All the social media including Twitter, Facebook and blogs. I could spend all day chatting on the internet and be perfectly content. But it’s not conducive to getting any writing done.

Sooooo ….

I’m shutting it down. Turning it off. Not letting the pretty colors of all the internet sites distract me from my mission … finishing my latest WIP. In four weeks I’m headed to Ohio for a convention. (You’ll get some of the juicy details soon.) And of course there’s a TON of other stuff I’m doing in between. But I need to have some writing stuff finished before I head out to play. In that vein I’ve decided to ignore my blog (a little bit) and refrain from opening Twitter and facebook (as much as I can) until my daily word count is finished.

I’m thinking I may mine through some of my older posts and put a few of them up to keep you entertained. But until I feel I’ve caught up with myself, I’m hiding away in my writing cave. Don’t have too much fun without me!

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