Blog Hop: Starting a Blog?

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

I’ll give you the same advice I give everyone I know who’s considering starting a blog: have a plan.  Plan your content, and plan your schedule.  I don’t mean you have to have every blog post already formulated, of course, but know what kind of content you want to write about (and make sure it’s something you can generate a lot of content around) and know how often you want to blog.

When I started this blog, I committed to two book reviews every week, and I’ve stuck to that for four years.  I knew how much I read (and have read) and knew that I’d be able to generate content around two books every week.  I honestly don’t think there’s any other topic I could manage that kind of volume of content around!  But for me, there are always new books (or a loooong list of old ones), so that always gives me something new to write about.

Blogging is just like any other writing.  You have to make it happen.  If you decide to write whenever inspiration strikes…well, you might be different, but for me, I find strikes of inspiration can be few and far between, especially if I’m not consciously striving towards producing a certain amount of content on a regular schedule.  When I started blogging, I also thought I’d do “Ruminations” posts on writing topics whenever the inspiration appeared…and those posts have been pretty few and far between!

Two book reviews per week may not be the right schedule or content for you–but know what schedule and content will be right, before you start blogging.

Other bloggers–what kind of advice would you give?


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Quotable Jane Smiley

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”
― Jane Smiley

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Book Review: Tales of the Little Engine

EngineTalesYesterday I did an interview with my friend and fellow blogger Lynn E. O’Connacht, and today I’m delighted to review her newest book: Tales of the Little Engine, a collection of closely-related short stories. The description was so adorable I knew I’d have to get a copy—and was so happy to find that the stories were charming and made me think.

The first story in the collection is “The Little Engine That Couldn’t,” about Jan, a little engine who tries and tries to achieve its dream…and reveals an important and rarely-heard lesson in the process. I’d really love to talk about it, but I don’t want to give too much away…although the title is a definite hint! Lynn included a personal essay at the end of the book discussing the inspiration and intention of the story, and I found that as fascinating as the short story itself.  (There’s more discussion on this in Lynn’s interview too.)

The other stories focus on the Bravest Little Engine, star of a series of stories Jan tells to children when they come for rides, and which Jan told to the narrator—who now tells us. It’s all very meta and layered! The Bravest Little Engine confronts the evil Nethertrain and makes friends with a dog named Mister Whiskers, among other adventures.

As you might guess already, this is a collection written for kids, with simple writing and a lot of sweetness–but as I always say of the best kids books, it has cross-age appeal.  There’s depth to the stories, especially the first one, and they’re just fun for adults too.  The voice is charming and stays light even when dealing with spooky monsters and difficult challenges, but doesn’t shy away from sadness either.

I love the narrative device of the storyteller speaking to the reader and relaying the story. That’s something I always enjoy and it’s particularly well-done here. In fact, the style and voice reminded me very much of J. M. Barrie—and regular readers will know that I don’t say that lightly! But the stories had much the same feel, that I was sitting down to be told a story, by a charming storyteller who wants to share something magical.

If I have any complaint, it’s only that I wish there was more!  The last story of the collection has a very open ending.  It does feel like an ending (in a “and then they continued down the road to new adventures…” kind of a way) but also like there could be so much more!  Lynn tells me there may be new stories eventually…and in the meantime, what we already have is a lovely read.

Author’s Site:

Buy it here: Tales of the Little Engine


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Author Interview: Lynn E. O’Connacht

You may remember that last month I did an interview with my blogger and author friend Lynn, as part of my Blog Waltz for The Storyteller and Her Sisters. I also promised you an interview with Lynn about her most recent book release, Tales of the Little Engine. I’m very happy to offer that interview today! (And come back tomorrow for my review of the book…)

First, a little about Lynn:

lynn_artLynn E. O’Connacht is a writer by twilight and, occasionally, sunlight and moonlight. At all times she is a cisgendered white woman. She holds an MA in English literature with a focus on creative writing and fantasy literature. She has geographically confused spelling despite her education’s best efforts to fix this and has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to write. She used to type her works on an old-fashioned typewriter using red ink, but alas both the equipment and the stories have since been lost to time.

Lynn focuses on secondary world fantasy and has a great love of short fiction. She can often be found running around undecided about what shiny project to work on next or thwapping her sentences until they cooperate, but usually she is busy balancing several projects whilst entertaining her cats or slaving away at her day-job. She also loves windy days, singing, reading, gaming, watching movies/tv series, listening to music, and editing, not necessarily in that order.

And a little about the book… Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo, Day 16 – Secret Goals and Major Plot Turns

Strange as it seems, we’re already just past the halfway point of November–and of NaNoWriMo!  In some ways I’m having a quiet month…because I’m spending a lot of it over my keyboard, and I am happy to report that my characters have had plenty of excitement. :)  Long update today, so I’m taking it in sections.

First on Numbers

I was worried about this past week, because I knew I’d be out of the house four evenings out of five…so I deliberately built up a big cushion last weekend, with three days in a row that each topped 3,000 words.  And then I managed to get at least some writing done every day last week, including the day I was out of town from 8 am to 8:30 pm for work.

So where do I stand now?  I just passed 33,000 words today…which if you’re counting along at home, puts me well above NaNo’s official goal for Day 16, which is 26,672.  But I have a small confession about that goal…or rather, my goal!  You see, my real end goal here is to have a complete first draft by the end of December, which I’m guesstimating as about 75,000 words.  I blocked off a lot of time in November, but December is going to be busier…so my November goal is actually to hit 60,000, leaving 15,000 for next month. Continue reading

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