Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Buy Me A Book

Buy me a book!

You're probably familiar with the "buy me a coffee" or "buy me a beer" campaigns some bloggers engage in. I'm starting my own and I'm calling it "Buy Me A Book".

What that means is if you read a story, blog post, or book review on this site, and feel so inclined, feel free to send me a small donation (I'm not a non-profit, so it really isn't a donation, but I'm sure you get the idea).

There's obviously no obligation. I'll keep doing what I'm doing regardless. But even small amounts add up and would help cover some of the initiatives I'm ramping up. One of those is supporting writers who have self-published in the Amazon Kindle store. In that case, your donations will be going to help support these new writers as I purchase their novels and review them.

Other initiatives are in the works, though it's important to note that I won't be using any of the money collected through the Buy Me A Book program to pad my wallet. All of it will go back into this site or to other writers via purchases of their books.

I do something similar with my Amazon Associates account: the associate fees I make are paid to me as an Amazon gift certificate, which I then promptly turn back over to Amazon via book purchases. So, again, the money goes right back into the community.

That being said, this is not a way for me to make money. Think of it more as a way for me to keep things moving along smoothly.

Thanks for your time.

New Look

Every once in a while it's a good idea to freshen up the ol' web site/blog. Truth be told, that light blue background has been bothering me for some time now, but every time I tried to swap out the color I just couldn't find the right one. I was trying to go with a darker blue, and it kept coming out too… purple.

But last week I had sort of an epiphany. The layout, color scheme, and an overwhelming desire to simplify all hit me at once. Next thing I know, I've got a new look for the site.

The overall layout is more or less the same, except I cleaned some things up, took out the "About Me" section, and added a new "Bookshelf" section to highlight what I am currently reading.

Here are the old and new looks, for purposes of my own nostalgia if nothing else.

New look:

(Hopefully the menu bar color looks darkish red; it's actually CSS brown… doesn't look brown to me, but I like it)

New look

Old look:

old look

Much improved, I think.

[ Advertisement: SF/F Shorts by Amazon ]

[ Follow me on Twitter ]

Yes, I'm still here… and still writing

Rumors of my death are false. I'm still alive and kicking and trying to squeeze in some writing whenever and however I can. I'm relying more and more on Office Live Workspace for those days when I don't have my laptop with me. It's working out pretty well; I'd like to do another blog post on the topic as a follow-up. Stay tuned for that.

Now, however, I've slowed the blogging, including doing weekly writing updates because I've been finding it harder and harder of late to make any significant progress. I hate to just post that I didn't make any progress week in and week out—of course, here I am doing just that.

On writing… I did take a couple of weeks off. I needed the time to step away from my current project (the one I'd been posting weekly about). I like the characters. I like the story. But still, it was missing something. To that end, I've started over on the editing. Page 1. With a mind towards adding another layer to the story and, in particular, to one character. The end result is that I hopefully end up with a better story. Whether I accomplish that or not… we'll have to see.

So, it's back to writing for me. Blogging will likely be kept to a minimum while I concentrate on wrapping up this novel. But I'll be around and back on the blogging thing in time.

Unpublished Writers: Web Sites and Blogs Recommended

image

Agent Kristin of PubRants fame talked yesterday about web sites and blogs, and if unpublished writers should have either or both.

Something I've often wondered about is whether or not an agent or publisher bothers to look at a writer's site. I know I've read in the past about specific ones who do not; Agent Kristin lays this question to rest (inasmuch as she's concerned, anyway):

"When reviewing sample pages where we like the writing, we’ll often give the writer website a glance and see what’s there. I don’t bother if the sample pages haven’t caught my interest."

She goes on to offer a few tips:

"Don’t have a website/blog unless it can be a professional one. The homemade sites look it and just make me cringe. It won’t keep me from asking for your full (or if I like the novel, offering representation) but it’s not putting your best foot forward and that’s never a benefit."

This is a given. We're not aspiring to become professionals--we already are professionals; we want our web site or blog to reflect that. Choose colors that are easy on the eyes. Use a layout that makes sense. There are a ton of resources available on the web that discuss how to choose color schemes or even ones that generate one for you. If you're using WordPress or Blogger or, if you've chosen to be a little more adventurous like me and opted to use BlogEngine.NET, choose a theme that both complements your message while maintaining a professional look.

Content? Agent Kristin says:

"...the standard. About you, what you are working on, any cool interests you have that might inspire your writing, workshops you are doing, critique partners or anything about the writing process."

And the most important aspect of our blogs and web sites:

"...remember that the writing you have there needs to be representative of you and your good work. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you shouldn’t blog if the writing doesn’t represent your “usual” quality."

We've all read about the job candidate whose prospective employer decided to take a look at their blog... keep the content professional and relevant but, more importantly, put your best quality out there. If you're still learning the craft (we all are), think of your blog as a way to hone your writing skills. Use the same attention to detail when writing blog entries as you do when writing your "stuff". Do a rough draft, revise, proofread. If you happen to be looking through an old post and notice a typo or some other oddity, fix it. Our blog entries remain forever, indexed by Google and other search engines, so who knows when someone is going to access that post you wrote 2 years ago. Make sure that first impression is as good a one as if that person landed on your current home page or latest blog entry.

Now I need to practice what I preach and do some proofreading of my own on this post.

Good luck with your writing.

How Much Time Should Writers Spend Blogging?

IMG20002There was a pretty good take on the Vigorous Writing blog (which apparently, as of 11/28/08, has disappeared) concerning the question of how much time one should spend blogging.

Of note:

"Newer writers still trying to build their credibility and client list might protest that they have much more free time than Bly has and they need to find a way to market themselves so blogging is a great, forward-thinking way of doing it. There's something to that, but honestly, I think it's an easy way out, the path of least resistance--what new writers should probably be doing, instead of blogging and reading other blogs and commenting on other blogs and brain-storming ideas for their latest blog post, is what many writers hate doing--cold-calling for leads non-stop."

Of course, this applies to people like me--mostly unpublished, 'new', if you will, and looking for a way to promote my name and my work. First and foremost, this blog is a marketing tool. It's all about increasing exposure. But it's also about connecting with like-minded individuals and sharing information.

According to one referenced blogger, one shouldn't spend more than 10 minutes/day or an hour/week blogging. How in the world are you supposed to have any quality posts with such time constraints? Geez. The guy is really saying that blogging isn't really work, and that time spent blogging is time not spent working.

Another blogger says to blog in moderation--only post every 4-6 days. That way each post has time to stew, be read, and garner comments.

Robin Hobb weighed in on the issue in a decidedly negative (but productive) way. Her reasoning is that time spent blogging is time NOT spent writing. In a way, blogging is a distraction, and we all know that distraction is the enemy. Another way to look at is this: ask yourself if you are a creator or a consumer?

What it really boils down to is finding a happy medium between the two. For some that medium might be more of one and less of the other, or it might be both in equal portions. It's up to the individual and, ultimately, one's goals. If you are or want to become a writer, though, best to heed Hobb's words: "Don’t blog. Write."