Maybe it’s morbid to talk about your inevitable death on your birthday.
Or maybe one’s birthday is an ideal time to reflect upon the natural ending of things, as well as the things you want to accomplish before your own end time, and more importantly, the barriers, both real and imaginary, that stand in your way.
I’ve known for some time that I need to get my social media shit together.
Like many people, I’m sure, I have a love-hate relationship with social media.
Ghostbusters original cast (1984).
By now, most people have heard about the plan to reboot the movie Ghostbusters with an all-female cast.
Some people are really excited about it.
Others are really upset.
Like really upset, to the point of borderline self-righteousness, with words like “gimmick” and “pandering” receiving a thorough workout.
Maybe I’m just splitting hairs over semantics, but in and of itself, I don’t consider a gimmick to be a negative thing.
All marketing and media uses gimmicks or “hooks” to attract a target audience, in this case the hook being the casting women where previously there’d only been men, ostensibly to attract – at least in part – a target audience of female viewers.
Which right there may well be the real issue.
The Dark Angel Design Company, photography by Lunaesque
Time to talk about my WIP again!
I never used to do this at all, as the thought of giving the dreaded “elevator pitch” makes my stomach churn like too much greasy pizza too close to bedtime.
But like anything bearing the label “dreaded”, said dread is usually lessened over time through devoting regular thought and effort to improving at the task at hand.
In other words, I need to practice pitching and promoting myself more.
Which is why, when tagged by my blog-buddy Eric J. Baker, to answer four questions about my WIP as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, and I agreed to participate.
The four questions are thus as follows:
Back in the medieval times, blue was considered a colour for girls.
This is due to the shawl of the Virgin Mary having been that colour. Blue was considered to denote the womanly virtues of obedience, penitence, devotion, and grace.
Pink, meanwhile, in belonging to the red family, was viewed a colour most appropriate for boys, presumably due to the redness of all the blood they’d be spilling as future knights and fighting men.
I mention this not to argue that pink isn’t truly as feminine a colour as it’s portrayed present-day, but rather to demonstrate that the practice of colour-coding by gender is by no means a modern phenomenon.
Although perhaps the opposition some feel towards it is.
If I were desperate, the internet is not without various resources.
I’ve been unhappy with the name of my blog for some time now.
Not that The Rules of Engagement is terrible as far as names in general go. There have been at least two movies called that (one about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas no less; the other a military legal thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson) as well as a sitcom that just concluded its seventh and final season last year.
And yet, The Rules of Engagement is indeed the name of two movies and a long-running sitcom.
Which is to say, it’s not particularly original.
Plus, I didn’t put any real thought into it when I chose it as the name for my blog.
Of all the various forms of social media out there, blogging is definitely my favourite.
The ability to blog is a wonderful privilege for someone like me, for I was always the kid everyone was trying to shut up.
At school, despite being a strong student, I was constantly criticized on report cards for talking too much – both in and out of turn – and in general disrupting the class with my compulsive need to share every last idea that came into my head.
Thankfully, my father, who was a huge proponent of self-expression, told my teachers he’d much rather I talk than not talk.
Yet for someone like me, blogging is the perfect pursuit, for I get to express my thoughts (and my thoughts are usually fairly detailed, which is why I do better on WordPress than Twitter), and those who care can read it while those that don’t can tune me out entirely.
And yet, I’m not really that good of a blogger.
One of the most important and oft-cited tenets of marketing is to identify your target audience.
When it comes to books, an easy was to start doing this is through identifying your novel’s genre, thereby making your target audience the readers of said genre.
Many writers descry genre. I’ve hear it stated that genre conventions impose limits to creativity and the possibilities a writer can introduce into a story.
Some also claim that genre is a means by which the traditional publishing industry pigeonholes the market by only publishing stories adhering to this or the other trend, which ultimately comes to define various genres as a whole (e.g. the dystopian trend in YA).
Yet, whether one agrees with the above statements or not, genre is the means by which readers have been trained to locate books within the publishing landscape. Whether a book is traditionally published or self-published, it’s the GPS that helps lead readers to the promised land of similar content and fulfilled expectations.
According to bestselling sci-fi author Hugh Howey,
[W]riting within a genre is a huge first step in becoming discovered. No one is looking for you or your particular book. You are both unknown unknowns. So you better write a book that’s near a specific book…. Random fantasy books sell better than random randomness.
But what happens when your book doesn’t quite fulfill those expectations? What happens when it meets some of the conventions of its genre, yet blithely disregards others?
What happens if your book is like my book?
A lot has changed in publishing in the last six years.
Six years ago, when I was busy working away on my novel (the same novel I’m still working on to this day, no thanks to a six-year writing hiatus), I dreamed of someday being a published author.
This dream had a distinguishing look and feel and smell, as the most vivid dreams often do:
It looked like a hardcover book on a bookstore shelf.
It felt like thick, fibrous paper with ragged-cut edges.
It had that new-book smell; it sounded like my mother bragging to all her friends that her daughter’s book new book was destined to be a bestseller.
It tasted of sweet success.
The steps I had to follow to realize this dream constantly knocked around in my head like the chorus of a song: query, agent, revision, submission, contract, revision, revision, revision, release.
This, of course, was assuming I’d actually made it past steps one and four. It was an assumption I was all too happy to make, for if I didn’t, the dream would be dead before it even fully began. This was the only path to publication.
Then, everything changed….
A new road opened up.
I don’t get Twitter.
Or in Twitter parlance: #IDon’tGetIt.
It is, at face value, actually quite simple: an online venue in which one expresses him-/herself in 140 characters, follows the expressions of others, and categorizes his/her own expressions with hashtags for ease of allowing others to follow him/her.
Indeed, Twitter’s liberal use of symbology – #, @, RT, MT, and links beginning with bit.ly or ow.ly or foreshortened forms of other familiar websites (e.g. amzn, goo.gl, wp) – gives it less the air of a web service and more that of a futuristic language.
And who doesn’t think it’s cool to be bi-/tri-/multilingual?
I get all that.
I also get that Twitter’s a great way to keep up with news, which is the primary reason I joined up in the first place.
What I don’t understand is how some people manage to actually get said news.
Because there is just so much of it.